Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 25

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
← Archive 24 Archive 25 Archive 26 →


Number of cites per inline statement

If we have a statement like "Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall", and that event is reported by 100 news agencies, is it appropriate to list as cite every one of them using an inline EL? I think its obviously redundant and clutters the article. Let's say only 3 sources report the event. Shouldn't that also be considered redundant? At what point does one how many cites is enough and over that is too many?--Fasttimes68 (talk) 13:51, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes that is excessive, especially since all reports are copies of a single eye-witness report. In general it is good practice that if you want to report an undisputed fact, a single reference suffices (e.g.: "Humpty Dumpty fell of the wall [1]"). If there are opposing views, or you want to refer to several examples you need more (e.g.: "there are several reports about Humpty Dumpty falling of the wall [1],[2],[3]"). Arnoutf (talk) 14:04, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
Normally, one would be enough, but more might be useful if the best source is hard to access, so a more accessible but less reliable source is required. For example:
"Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and died." [1][2]
[1]Death Certificate of Humpty Dumpty. (12 December 2007) On file at Wonderland County Clerk's office.
[2]"Egg dies in fall." (8 December 2007) Wonderland College Student News. Retrieved from 9 August 2009.
--Gerry Ashton (talk) 14:05, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
Well, could you look at the multiple references listed in Stephanie_Adams and comment as to why those extra references are acceptable or not?--Fasttimes68 (talk) 15:39, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
Biographies of living persons have particularly strict demands on referencing, especially when dealing with potentially contentious issues like sexual orientation and legal issues. Multiple references can sometime be bundled together, however, using the syntax <ref><ul><li><li></ul></ref>, to help with ease of reading (this does not work with named references).
In any case, as I've mentioned above, I think a guideline should be introduced to curb the unnecessary multiple referencing that we see in some articles. It's an impediment both to reading, editing and page load. Lampman (talk) 16:15, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

slobbovia (not the game)

Al Capp the cartoonist made references to Slobbovia and Slobovians in his cartoons which are not available to me to be specific. I Dont have the resources to research this. Help (talk) 21:30, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

Name order

Why do we put surname before given name(s) in our citations? I.e. "Bloom, Harold" for Harold Bloom. Most sources (both news and academic publishers) seem to do it the other way. --Apoc2400 (talk) 17:02, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

One of the allowable citation styles is Parenthetical referencing, where the author and either title or year are placed after the passage to be supported, in parentheses. If this is done without templates, or if the article has been printed, the only reasonable way for the reader to find the reference is to look in the alphabetized "References" section. Placing the surname first in that section makes it easier for the reader to find the reference of interest. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:58, 2 March 2009 (UTC)
I suspect this is not what Apoc2400 is talking about, though. I have noticed many articles not with parenthesized, in-text author-date citations, but rather with footnote citations, which use templates clearly designed for lists of references or bibliographies. These templates invert the author names, which is decidedly not normal practice in footnotes found in both news and academic publications.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:01, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
Many of the citation templates can be used for either parenthetical referencing or footnotes, so they must put surname first in case they are being used with parenthetical referencing. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 17:26, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that is basically what I said. The question is, why can they be used for footnotes, when the format they generate is clearly meant for alphabetized reference lists?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 17:42, 3 March 2009 (UTC)
It's infuriating. qp10qp (talk) 14:41, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

What is a legitimate source?

Are there any guidelines as to what is a legitimate source? I cited an editorial review of a DVD (not a user review, the site's official review) and it was removed as not notable. That seems strange, since Amazon is one of the largest retailers in the world and I have seen their reviews cited elsewhere. Note that this is in an article where there are a couple of editors who are very adamant about removing things they deem unworthy, and so I'd like to get some sort of official word on this. Thanks. (talk) 21:41, 4 March 2009 (UTC)

I am unaware of any notability requirement for qualifying supporting sources. WP:RS provides source reliability guidelines. It seems to me that the an editorial review by Amazon staff should be as acceptable as editorial reviews from other sources, and that reviews by individual readers which might be found on Amazon should be unacceptable. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 00:20, 6 March 2009 (UTC)
A close reading of WP:RS might suggest that a "review" by the seller of an item, might not be considered neutral or reliabel. Jezhotwells (talk) 09:57, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

New template related to CITE proposed

Please see here for my proposal of a new template, that would be put on articles that need to have their sources globalized - i.e. on articles that rely on a very similar set of sources likely representing one and the same POV.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 13:58, 6 March 2009 (UTC)

American to International date.

On a lot of Articles you are doing American format, how about changing format to non US? Govvy (talk) 23:11, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

The relevant guideline to apply here is "Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Full date formatting". — Cheers, JackLee talk 05:08, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

hmm, k, I because a lot of editors doing 2008-11-11 type style I noticed. So maybe they have been doing it wrong? Govvy (talk) 17:50, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Do you mean that editors have been putting dates in the format "2008-11-11" in citation templates? This is probably because the previous practice was to wikilink such dates (like this: "[[2008-11-11]]"), but later on consensus was reached to stop linking such dates. Therefore, what could have happened was that an editor or a bot removed the link without changing the format of the date. You can help to convert such dates to "11 November 2008" or "November 11, 2008", following the guidelines set out in "Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Full date formatting". — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:02, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

k, I shall use the British format day-month-year. Cheers. Govvy (talk) 20:30, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Govvy, do have a look at the guideline. It's not just a matter of what you prefer. It also depends on the subject of the article (US format for US-related articles, UK format for UK-related articles and articles relating to countries that use British English), as well as whether one format has consistently been used in the article in the past. Simply changing from one formatting style to the other without following the guidelines is a no-no. — Cheers, JackLee talk 14:20, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Parenthetical referencing

Apologies if this has been discussed here before. I wonder what others' opinions are of the readability of articles such as Harold Pinter and The arts and politics where a form of MLA style citation is used. In the case of the Pinter article, clicking on an inline footnote number brings one to a footnote, somtimes the footnote quotes from the source, and gives the name of the cited autor, e.g. Pinter's paternal "grandmother's maiden name was Baron … he adopted it as his stage-name … [and] used it [Baron] for the autobiographical character of Mark in the first draft of [his novel] The Dwarfs" (Billington, Harold Pinter 3, 47–48). (footnote 22), sometimes the footnote simply directs to various authours, e.g. See discussions of these plays throughout Batty; Grimes; and Baker (footnote 35), sometimes the inline citation is simply parenthetical, e.g. ("Still Pinteresque" 16). In all of these cases one has to seek out the actual source in another article Bibliography for Harold Pinter.

It is very confusing and several users have commented on this in talk pages, but the editor who imposed this style insists that it is perfectly clear. Please check out these pages if you have the time and energy. Jezhotwells (talk) 21:10, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

Are all the references to the articles listed on the page itself, or are there cited sources whose bibliographic information is only listed on another page. The second I would find problematic for various reasons, including reuse, but the first seems pretty workable (if the bibliography subpage is only for "further reading" type works). Christopher Parham (talk) 22:58, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
As I stated above, to pursue the references in the article Harold Pinter one has to look up another article Bibliography for Harold Pinter. Take a look at Harold Pinter to see what I am talking about. Jezhotwells (talk) 09:39, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

As the editor (J.) commenting above already knows, since I have explained it several times, and since the "Style Sheet" makes it clear, the format is The MLA Style Manual format, it has existed in the article through its "good article" review (since October 7, 2007), and the Bibliography for Harold Pinter is not a "separate article"; it is a split-off section that serves as the "Works Cited" for Harold Pinter, which contains many print-published sources. [The split occurred as a result of the 2007 "good article" review; there are many sections of earlier versions (pre-good article review versions) of the article that became developed parts of sections; but the Bibliography is clearly still a major section of the article, as it serves as the article's "Works Cited" (Harold Pinter#Works cited = Bibliography for Harold Pinter).]

(cont.) This is a very common method in Wikipedia that exists for many articles; e.g., see Rwandan genocide#Bibliography, where a (earlier version) model for devising such a split originated in my own 2005 to 2007 editing experience in Wikipedia. [since I've looked at it then, the citations appear to have become a mixture of formats, due to other editing, but it still uses the short parenthetical citation method keyed to its bibliography for its print sources; people have been strewing ELs into Rwandan Genocide and it needs further cleaning up. Not a job that I can now engage in due to too much other non-Wikipedia etc. work obligations.] --NYScholar (talk) 11:14, 13 March 2009 (UTC) [updated in brackets. --NYScholar (talk) 13:31, 13 March 2009 (UTC)]
(cont.) J. has been "shopping around" in various project pages, talk pages, and wherever possible, to oppose a long-standing prevailing citation format in an article that apparently J. first encountered only after the death of the subject on December 24, 2008. This topic [the use of MLA style parenthetical source citations keyed to a list of "Works cited": the "Style Sheet" of Harold Pinter since 2005 and through its "good article" review culminating in "good article" status in October 2007] is fully discussed in the appropriate place for such discussion, in the RfC that J. started in Talk:Harold Pinter.
(cont.) The need for citations is for verification. They are not meant to interrupt reading the article. If one wants to read the sources (if online), one can either read them via the links (convenience links restored to the article) and/or in the Bibliography section. As the one who has added almost every source in that article, I have verified every print and every online source.
(cont.)The point of MLA style of parenthetical referencing is actually (as the articles relating to parenthetical referencing already state) to give the simplest way of doing that. Author-title is simpler than author-date, and for humanities subjects (as pointed out) more relevant. Dates are not as relevant as authors' identities and titles to humanities subjects[: "Moreover, in the arts and humanities, one is more likely to know the title of a work rather than its date (as opposed to the sciences, where it is common to refer to, for example, 'the 2004 study by Jones, et. al.')." (Some earlier ed. contributed that.) --NYScholar (talk) 11:19, 13 March 2009 (UTC)]

Please discuss this [in context on the relevant talk page, not here, where it is being taken out of context of extensive discussion]. Thanks. (I am exhausted from the contentiousness of J.'s approach, which elsewhere often moves into incivilities, as it works against the article's major contributors and good article reviewers rather than with us.) --NYScholar (talk) 11:03, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Quotation from the lead of Bibliography for Harold Pinter: "Bibliography for Harold Pinter is a list of selected published primary works, productions, secondary sources, and other resources related to English playwright Harold Pinter (1930–2008), the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Literature, who was also a screenwriter, actor, director, poet, author, and political activist. It lists works by and works about him, and it serves as the Bibliography ("Works cited") for the main article on Harold Pinter and for several articles relating to him and his works." --NYScholar (talk) 11:30, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

One has to make an effort to understand Parenthetical referencing which is not merely "Harvard style" or "Harvard referencing" as many editors from outside the U.S. appear to think; that is a misunderstanding of Parenthetical referencing. The article Parenthetical referencing and the section of Wikipedia:Citing sources seem to have been in the past controlled by various editors from outside the U.S. who do not realize that there are multiple methods or multiple styles of parenthetical referencing, because they only use one method where they are located. (And their specialties may not be writing.) Bibliographical specialists within the fields of writing and literary studies (English departments in U.S. colleges and universities)--and I am one of them--recognize, however, that almost every discipline now has adapted use of parenthetical citations (parenthetical referencing) to its various specific formats. Wikipedians, who may not be knowledgable about bibliography and documentation formats (specialties within writing and literary studies, where such formats are taught in American colleges and universities in introductory courses in "writing across the disciplines") just may be unaware of the breadth and scope and variety of documentation and citation methodogies. --NYScholar (talk) 11:30, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

(cont.) J.'s account is confusing (or the product of J.'s own confusions), not the format of the citations themselves (which are consistent). Please go to the article and examine it firsthand. It will stand up to scrutiny. --NYScholar (talk) 11:33, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
It is our current consensus that we should allow editors to invent any system for placing citations in articles that accurately verifies the text. This allows editors to be creative and perhaps someone will come up with a method that we all like better that anything we are currently using. That being said, there are many who have argued that a more consistent style between articles would be a benefit to readers and editors. So I think the appropriate attitude is that we may encourage editors to change unusual citation styles, but, if they feel strongly that their idiosyncratic method is better, they should be allowed to continue to use it. In other words, this isn't worth fighting over. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:31, 22 March 2009 (UTC)


Hi folks - hope life is treating everyone well. Question. I'm citing a book, and pulling information from various pages - I'm assuming that I don't need to list the book as 15 different references - and that if I just put (ex: pages: Preface, 3, 7, 25, 78, 124 etc.) in the one reference that I'm doing it the proper way. The question is, since I don't like to assume, is where would I find that documented in policy, or rather guideline I expect. I'm not asking anyone to do my wiki-homework - just point me to the proper section/page. Thanks. — Ched ~ (yes?) 07:23, 13 March 2009 (UTC) (a tb tag would be nice, since a lot of these pages go many days without answer) — Ched ~ (yes?) 07:24, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Sounds like a case for inline Parenthetical referencing. Jezhotwells (talk) 09:53, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
Parenthetical referencing is one possiblility, as Jezhotwells says. The guideline you are looking for is WP:CITE#Including page numbers. It's really a question of attitude. The wrong attitude is "I can prove I didn't make this up if I really have to". The right attitude is "assuming the reader has a copy of the book, how can I make it easy to find where the statement in the Wikipedia article is supported, and possibly find additional material of interest?" --Jc3s5h (talk) 15:49, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
You are free to use any method that you like, just so long as it is still possible for the reader to find the source for any information in the article. There are thousands of articles in Wikipedia that use several pages from the same source. Most (but by no means all) editors have chosen to use WP:Citing sources#Shortened notes to solve this problem. WP:Citing sources#Parenthetical referencing will also work, but is far less popular.
It's not clear from your post whether the citation you describe appears in a footnote, or in the references section at the bottom of the article. In either case, there is something you should consider. What if, several years from now, another editor changes the paragraph in the article that is based on the information on page 7 of the source. Now the citation claims that there is information in the article from page 7 of the source, but this isn't true any more. The citation needs to be fixed, but it is very unlikely that anyone will ever fix this, unless you fix it yourself. Do you see what I mean? This is one motivation for shortened notes (or parenthetical referencing): the short citation is right next to the text it supports, and it's easier for later editors to keep the citation in sync with the source.
Again, you are free to use any method you like, just so long as it works. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:23, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Precise language

Use of terms: “This guideline uses the terms citation and reference interchangeably.”

Why not reduce ambiguity, and use precise language? A reference is a source which is referred to. The “References” section of an article is a list of references. A citation is the occurrence in the body of an article where a quotation or passage from a reference is cited.

This stuff is discussed in a thousand talk pages. Why not help editors say what they mean by avoiding loose language in the MOS?

(Yeah, it's too bad the WP:Cite extension uses the terminology incorrectly, with the <ref> tag representing a citation, and <references/> for the “Notes” section, and not “References”. C'est la vie.) Michael Z. 2009-02-07 17:21 z

I made a pass through the guideline removing ambiguous uses of the word "reference" where the less-ambiguous words "source" or "citation" would work. The guideline no longer uses the words interchangeably, so I rewrote the Use of Terms section so that it reflects how the article is using the words now. (I actually remember doing this a couple of years ago, and I remember deleting the "use of terms" section. But it reappeared, I guess.) Like you say, why be unclear? Why not just use the words in a consistent way? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:25, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Four issues

I have several long standing problems with this guideline. (I've placed each under a different topic to keep the threads from getting entangled.) I plan on making changes based on these suggestions later in the week, if no one freaks out. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:15, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Avoid prescription when description is called for

This guideline discusses several issues for which there is no consensus. There is wide disagreement about citation templates, about various citation styles, about particular techniques and so on. When we discuss one of these issues in the guideline, we should try to stay descriptive rather than prescriptive. We are letting newer editors know what the alternatives are and hopefully showing them how previous editors have chosen to solve the same problems. We're not telling them what to do; we're describing what's been done. So it's better say that a technique is "commonplace" rather than "encouraged" or to say that it is "preferred by some editors" rather than "permitted". This is a more accurate way to talk about the current status of this guideline. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:15, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Too much detail

This guideline only needs to describe the most popular methods, used in thousands of articles. It should, of course, also note that other methods exist and make it clear that the editor is free to use (or invent) any method that works. But right now, some parts of the text bog down unnecessary detail (the second list under WP:CITE#How to present citations is a prime example). We don't need to iterate over every possible permutation of these techniques; the reader can figure it out. By attempting to be comprehensive, we only succeed in confusing the reader and making it look like there are a lot more rules than there really are. We could improve and expand (and retitle?) "WP:Citing sources/Further considerations" or WP:Verification methods so that it covers every permutation. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:15, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Define "Reasonable Time"

The Citing Sources article says: .. remember to go back and remove the claim if no source is produced within a reasonable time, my question is: how long is considered reasonable time? NinjaKid (talk) 11:13, 19 March 2009 (UTC)

I don't think this is one of those matters where it is a good idea to be too prescriptive. It's really up to the person who has taken an interest in the article and has added a {{fact}} tag. In normal cases seven to 14 days would probably be reasonable, but if the editor who has been working actively on the article says she needs more time to hunt down a reference I don't see why it wouldn't be reasonable to allow a longer period. — Cheers, JackLee talk 11:51, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
Great thanks. Should this information be added to the article for others? NinjaKid (talk) 14:41, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
It's probably not necessary, in view of WP:CREEP. But let's see what others think. — Cheers, JackLee talk 15:47, 19 March 2009 (UTC)
I have waited as long as a year. Sometimes the authors of unsourced information simply disappear. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:25, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
I would not specify a time, because it depends on the specifics. If you're pretty sure it's catastrophically wrong, you might remove it within a few days (or even immediately, skipping the tag step). If you're pretty sure it's right, but it deserves a proper citation, then a year -- or forever, really -- is fine. As a rule of thumb, if I know nothing about the subject, I avoid deleting facts that haven't been tagged for at least a month. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:23, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Conflict of referencing styles

There appears to be a collision of methods by which to reference an article at Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis. If others with a more detailed knowledge of referencing styles - especially within Wikipedia - could offer their input, it would be appreciated, especially as I, at least, can take any lessons learned on to my future editing. The discussion is taking place at Talk:Harold Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis#References. --Miesianiacal (talk) 19:14, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Okay with you?

This is a little thing, but I'd like to retitle "How to present citations" to "Where to put citations in articles". It's clearer. Anybody married to the original language? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:15, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Not really a "little thing" at all, the use of established language should be discussed. I tried fitfully and fruitlessly to define citations, footnotes and bibliography previously through a protracted and extended dialogue. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:44, 22 March 2009 (UTC).
I do agree that "references" is an entirely ambiguous term. Does it mean reference sources? are print and non-print sources included? why is there an "external links: and what is the reason for the infernal "for further reading"? FWiW just ranting at this point... don't get me started on the citation templates. Bzuk (talk) 12:47, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
Um, I think CharlesGillingham's proposal is solely to change the section heading WP:CITE#How to present citations to WP:CITE#Where to put citations in articles. I don't care what the section heading on this page is. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:27, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that's right. I just want to change the title to something a bit clearer. I'm still calling citations "citations". ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 11:12, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 01:25, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
Unfortunately, your edit has broken links to the section, including one on the page itself (in the last paragraph before the TOC). This is an important section, and probably has links directly to it from all over the place. It's important to maintain those links, especially for novices. When you change a linked section's name, anybody clicking on a link to it goes to the top of the page, with no indication of the link not being found. That's confusing for novices, and doubly so since they won't find the section in the TOC any more. Unfortunately, you can't use the "What links here" tool to find these anchor links. Although I like the new name better, I think you should change it back until/unless you find everything that links to it and change those, too. Unconventional (talk) 13:48, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
Never mind. User:Philip Baird Shearer fixed it using something I was unaware of: You can add additional anchors using the {{anchor}}, {{anchors}}, or {{section}} template. By adding anchors for the previous names of the section, the old links have been restored to working order. Unconventional (talk) 03:30, 28 March 2009 (UTC)
In my defense, the link was working after my edit. Check it. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 16:16, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

My revert

I've gone back to Charles Gillingham's March 22 version, as the writing was clearer and more streamlined, and the terms were used more consistently. Some of the changes since then seem to be a deterioration, especially the replacement of "citation" with "source." SlimVirgin talk|contribs 13:21, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Retrieval dates for online versions of old printed sources, again

I know this has been discussed a couple of times in these Talk archives, but I want to bring it up again. What is the rationale for requiring access/retrieval dates for online versions of past printed materials?

For example, editors are beginning to link book cites to Google Books. Thus, editors are putting "Retrieved on" on their cites, in addition to the usual author, title, publisher, year, ISBN, and page information. It looks very strange to see a book being "retrieved" ... such a link is just a convenience link (problematic too, given the semi-random way Google Books' "limited view" works); the content of the book is unchanging. If the link goes bad, the rest of the cite remains: an unchanging reference to an unchanging book.

Another case are old newspaper and magazine articles. If a cite gives a 1983 New York Times story's publication date, title, and author, and also gives a convenience link to the NYT archive, what is the value of having the retrieval date for this? The content of the story is fixed and unchanging, and is defined by the print/microfilm version. Again, if the archive goes away, the rest of the cite remains, an unchanging reference to an unchanging story. If the archive gets moved, one would re-lookup the online version by the published date/title/author information; knowing the old retrieval date wouldn't tell you anything.

And there is a real cost to having retrieval dates in place everywhere: to us they take up article edit space, to browsers they increase output HTML space, and to readers they clutter up the cite and can be visually confused with publication date. I understand that retrieval dates are necessary for web pages without publication dates, and arguably necessary for dated news stories originally published online (CNN, current NYT, etc.), but I just don't see the rationale for them in the above cases. Wasted Time R (talk) 23:08, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

It's useful to be able to refer to that date in the WayBack Machine at In the case of the NYT archive, we can be fairly certain that those will always remain, but other links won't. It's quite possible that some print sources could be basically impossible (or rather expensive/time-consuming) to track down. People will increasingly rid of print archives. However, if you're crunched for time, do what you can. If it's a podunk town newspaper, put the date; if it's the NYT, don't worry about it. That's my take at least. ImperfectlyInformed | {talk - contribs} 23:40, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
The most common cause of newspaper links going bad is that articles get moved behind pay/subscriber walls. Is the WayBack machine able to show the article anyway, or are they enjoined from making free what is otherwise supposed to be charged for? Wasted Time R (talk) 23:58, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
One of the issues with the citation template is that the nomenclature of "retrieved on" is tacked on automatically and now has become part of the architecture of the citationa as judged by the amount of citation templates in place. I agree that the term looks arcane but with its widespread use, it is hard now to incorporate a "found," "accessed" or "located" tag as an alternative. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 14:25, 11 May 2008 (UTC).
To clarify, my issue is not with what word is used here. I don't think books or old newspaper articles should be listed as "found", "accessed", or "located" either. Those printed sources are unchanging over time; it doesn't matter if you "find" a 1976 book in 1988 or 2008, it's the same book. Wasted Time R (talk) 12:04, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
Absolutely agree on that point, sources that are "fixed" in time, do not require a location date. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 19:26, 13 May 2008 (UTC).

The "retrieved date" merely refers to the convenience link to the online version, and may be safely removed on any cite that is not an online link. That's all. (And if the link goes bad, the dead-tree portion of the cite remains valid.) -- Yellowdesk (talk) 00:40, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

But what's the purpose of a retrieval date for an online version that's just mirroring a print original? What usefulness does it have? What does it tell anyone? Wasted Time R (talk) 04:29, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
  • On more than a few occasions I have used the retrieval date for munged references to rediscover the orginal edit that created it, and on more ephemeral sources, search for likely new location for the changing location of the convenience link. In some cases a retireval date indicates when the (changing) source was viewed and relied upon, occasionally important, when the source has changed. It's not superflous, but I would consider it optional.
    Who's to say that even a supposedly fixed archival convenience link will stay that way, and what harm comes from using the access date even there, such as in this example:
    "New Hampshire: Nomination of Bainbridge Wadleigh for United States Senator at the Republican Caucus.". New York Times. June 14, 1872. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-05-05.  -- Yellowdesk (talk) 14:29, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
  • The harm is that the "Retrieved on" takes up extra space (a real issue for our longer, heavily-cited BLP articles) and moreoever is visually confusing — the reader sees two dates, instead of the expected one, and has to figure out what each means, which a possible risk of mistaking the retrieval date for the publication date. In the example of this old NYT story, if the link stops working, it's because the NYT moved its archive or changed its for-free policy on this time period or something like that. If you need to find where they moved it to, you'll do a lookup within using the article's title and publication date; when someone last retrieved it won't matter one way or another. And would you really use a retrieval date for a book, that someone happened to look up in Google Books instead of at a physical library? That really seems offbase to me. Wasted Time R (talk) 21:44, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, I would, and have. Especially on heavily edited articles. For the reasons I stated further above: an indicator of when the convenience link worked. I do consider it optional. For example, if some link has an old retrieval date, and apparently not findable by search, then I tend toward deleting the convenience link. For more recent dead links, I'm less likely to remove the link--perhaps the publisher/source is in process of revising the link/location. Essential? No. Useful? Yes. The "retrieved on" is in english, and if using a template, the template does indicate through the parameters how to properly use it. Say more about the confusion you've encountered. (I have to remark, there's plenty of other confusion on articles surrounding refs, such as puctuation, quotations, where to place it and so on, and I've done a fair big of cleaning up other's typos and misplacments on that score. Is this that much different?) -- Yellowdesk (talk) 05:23, 18 May 2008 (UTC)
I think this largely depends on the 'dependability' of the on-line source. For the NYT above, the accessdate is not really needed. On the other end of the spectrum, here is where someone (it's not even clear who) added sections of a (very) small town newspaper from the first half of the 1900s. It's true that this is on-line copy of a print original, but I think it would be rather difficult for even a motivated researcher to find that original. So in practice, the web copy is all that exists, its maintenance is unknown, and an accessdate tag is appropriate. As to how this might be implemented in practice, I think there could be a list of sources that are considered stable enough that accessdate tags are not needed (major newspapers, academic journals (DOIs are an explicit attempt to address this here), arXiv and other pre-print servers, and so on). LouScheffer (talk) 17:51, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
(off topic) You deserve a barnstar if you've been cleaning up refs. I'm surprised you haven't run off screaming. :) -- Fullstop (talk) 19:14, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

Hide the access date

In order to find the content of broken links in archives it would be sufficient to store the retrieval date in a comment that is not visible to a reader, only to editors. This is an approach I would support.
Otherwise, I second the notion that (visible) retrieval dates for off-line media are visually irritating, cluttering and superfluous. --EnOreg (talk) 05:50, 20 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Fair enough. How do you propose to obtain uniform use of the proposed standard? -- Yellowdesk (talk) 04:44, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
A partial solution would be modify the citation templates to store info generated by the accessdate= parameters as a in an HTML comment that is not visible to a reader, only to editors. That would quickly handle a large percentage of retrieval dates. Many thousands of articles would need to be individually edited to bring the handcrafted cites into line. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 05:41, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
Bill suggests what I had in mind: Leave the parameters of the citation templates as they are, just modify their implementation to not display the access date (except cite web). And adjust the WP policy pages to reflect this change. --EnOreg (talk) 01:27, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
Wouldn't it be easier to just use a field that is visible to people editing the page but not to people viewing the page? But that function is available now in all templates: just use a field that the template does not itself already use. E.g. invisible-retrieval-date= ... —David Eppstein (talk) 16:23, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. By removing any mention of {{{accessdate}}} in the template implementation, the data would remain, but wouldn't be parsed by the server, so the casual reader's display wouldn't be cluttered. I'd support that for {{cite journal}}, at the very least, as with this template the accessdate is of no real utility when rendered. Smith609 Talk 16:59, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
Not sure sure I follow. Sounds to me like we violently agree. What's the difference between your proposal and Bill's? --EnOreg (talk) 18:19, 26 May 2008 (UTC)
To "hide" the access date, the templates only have to not parse accessdate= parameter. No HTML comment is necessary, nor is it necessary to rename the parameter. After all, its still in the source.
But "hiding" the access date only addresses the symptoms. It does not fix the underlying problem, which is the misconception that a source on the web is a web source.
As such, merely hiding the access date (however that hiding occurs) for all but {{cite web}} will not be much use -- {{cite web}} is being used for virtually everything that editors happen to find on the "web".
The source of this misconception is of course the {{cite xyz}} farrago. That a source on the web must be cited with {{cite web}} is merely a "logical" continuation of that nonsensical paradigm. That is the real problem (and living proof that caring about sources has zero priority).
But hiding accessdate is a start, even if its only a band-aid. Next step other insane linking (e.g. google books, amazon, jstor and so on). In the long run we must teach editors how to cite properly, how to quote properly, and why it is necessary to do both.
-- Fullstop (talk) 19:14, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

The retrieved date allows a reader to understand the age of the online link. In the past, I have done a manual link check and have updated those retrieved dates to show that the links were still valid as of that date. The CheckLinks tool checks links, updates to archived links on dead links and now optionally updates the retrieved dates. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 15:30, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

  • I invite someone to apprise those who watch the various "cite" templates to put a notice on each of the cite-template talk pages, that this conversation is occurring. -- Yellowdesk (talk) 05:19, 28 May 2008 (UTC)
I put a notice there already some days ago. Anything else we can do to invite feedback? --EnOreg (talk) 15:48, 28 May 2008 (UTC)

I do not see how an accessdate on sources which do not change - such as journal articles - is beneficial. However, on sources which may change, such as web content, it helps clarify which version of a page is being cited. Therefore I feel it ought to be displayed only in the cite web template. I don't think anyone has disagreed with this feeling here, so I suggest that someone bold goes ahead and proposes or enacts the change at all non-"cite-web" templates. People have had the chance to complain if they feel otherwise! Smith609 Talk 23:12, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

I appreciate what is being discussed here. In my opinion there are two issues popping up:

  1. Print sources of which you get a copy from the web (JSTOR etc) should be referred to as their print version. Access date is irrelevant as the content is not dependent on the web, nor will it ever change. For such sources the use of citeweb should discouraged, and access date not listed or removed
  2. True web sources, which are rarer than most editors seem to think is another issue altogether. Websources are not permanent, and even if they are long term the content may dramatically change. Therefore it is not only essential that access date is recorded and reported, but also that when updating text for such sources a critical reflection whether the text is still covered by the website has to be applied. In printed articles, this is not so much an issue as you refer to the website once, and your text will not change, even if the website content does. As both Wikipedia and referred to websites change this is very complicated indeed. Arnoutf (talk) 06:18, 4 June 2008 (UTC)

Consensus: It indeed seems we have consensus that access dates for online copies of offline sources, while helpful as a comment in the source, should be hidden from the reader. I have removed the RFC (style) tag and will modify the policy. Anybody who is competent to adapt the citation templates, please do so. Thanks everybody, --EnOreg (talk) 08:41, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

HTML comments are stripped out by the Mediawiki software, so these won't be visible except in the original template call. I've included one here, for instance: Would it be better to hide the date with CSS? — Omegatron (talk) 17:28, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

That's a good idea. We can also assign an ID to it in case people want to make it visible with user css. --Karnesky (talk) 18:22, 7 June 2008 (UTC)
I've responded to all the editprotected requests that are up at the moment by wrapping the "retrieved on..." text in a CSS class (reference-accessdate), so it can be hidden in either personal or sitewide CSS while still being accessible for those that want to see it. You can personally hide the accessdates yourself by adding
.reference-accessdate {display: none}
to your monobook.css. If there is a real and extensive consensus to hide these data, adding the same code to MediaWiki:Common.css would have the same effect for all users who didn't override it in their own monobook. Happymelon 17:54, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
Thank you. Options are better than hard coding here. Where do we document this? --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 18:36, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
No idea :D. From a technical end, I've added to the catalogue at WP:CLASS; where and how you note the new feature is the balliwack of people on this page. As an ultimate goal, we ought to be working towards encapsulating all the similar reference 'facts' in suitable css (reference-title, reference-volume, etc) and defining their appearance centrally in Mediawiki:Common.css. That greatly facilitates updating and standardisation between cite templates (I shouldn't have had to edit five templates to implement this change), and instantly circumvents the "data X should have formatting Y because it's the standard of source Z": we can just say: go on then, add foo to your monobook and the problem is solved. Ultimately, I have yet to see a good reason why a properly-built {{cite meta}} is not possible, to centralise and de-duplicate the considerable amount of code (the CoinS tags, for instance) that is almost identical across all the cite templates, and needs to be maintained in the same way in each. But that's another story. Happymelon 19:32, 8 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree that this is the better implementation. Many thanks, Happy-melon! I believe now the default CSS should hide the access date from unexperienced users. They are most unlikely to go and research a broken link and therefore wouldn't lose anything. But they would gain a less cluttered WP appearance. The same is probably true for the vast majority even of experienced users. Where do I campaign for this change? Cheers, --EnOreg (talk) 05:36, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

No. Doesn't agree with best practice, no discernible benefit, doesn't agree with most common ciation methods on Wiki. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:37, 17 August 2008 (UTC)

I really can't see the point, as the page currently appears to require, and is certainly believed by most to require, of adding access dates for Project Gutenburg and similar online texts, and museum images with a numbered page name. Either may one day go dead, but the links won't change to new content. Johnbod (talk) 08:56, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Do you really think so? I don't. Jane Eyre, accessed through Project Gutenburg, is still the book Jane Eyre. I might link to PG for convenience, but the access date is really about citing websites that were created as websites, not books that happen to be conveniently available online. I don't cite access dates for news articles that I read online, either. Reuters News or Associated Press stories will be verifiable for many years after the link goes dead.
Have you looked at what this guideline actually says? Access dates are never required. They're only deemed helpful. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:31, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
That isn't the line taken by many PR/FAC reviewers, and if what you say is the case, which I am glad to hear, the wording is far from clear. Johnbod (talk) 18:51, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Perhaps you'll ask them nicely to show you exactly where this guideline requires it. The effort to find a non-existent requirement should be an educational experience for them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:58, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
As I say, the wording is not very clear, and whenever this is the case people will become entrenched in a particular view. Johnbod (talk) 22:48, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Maybe they consider it the best practice to inform the reader when certain information has been used. It's academic accuracy and may affect the reading of the material in some cases. Ty 22:34, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't see it myself - see the PR on Raphael, although this often comes up on other articles. Johnbod (talk) 22:48, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Peer_review/Raphael/archive1 specifies "internet refs". Since websites do change, it is reasonable to include the access date, just like you'd include a publication date if you were citing a newspaper. If the ref isn't web-only -- and I see no reason to think that this comment is intended to apply to anything else -- then an access date is unimportant.
I'd like to make this less confusing, but I honestly don't see the problem. Exactly which words in this guideline do you find unclear? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:54, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
I've removed the dubious-discuss template after a review so cursory it missed this section (obviously, my bad but I'm going out on a BRD limb). Since webpages change, accessdates should be given and should be visible in the references section to enable verification in case the website changes or disappears and the Internet Archive is used (though obviously updating the link and information is preferred). Invisible links help only on-line editors who are really interested in this, there's no help for print versions. Citation templates all allow for an accessdate= parameter, which produces a visible datestamp. Seems a good idea to encourage including accessdate for all online sources. WLU (t) (c) (rules - simple rules) 12:56, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
WLU, according to this discussion I don't think there is a consensus for your change. As you mentioned BRD I hope you don't mind if I revert... --EnOreg (talk) 20:12, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

Access date for newsgroups and mailing lists

I don't see any strong consensus to hide this parameter for templates where the availability of material might be ephemeral. I think it should stay visible on, at least, the generic citation template, the mailing list template, the newsgroup template. --Karnesky (talk) 13:22, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

Right, I'm afraid this hasn't been discussed properly, yet. To make this clear: I don't advocate removing the access date, only hiding it from the reader. Unlike most web pages, posts to mailing lists and newsgroups carry a "publication" date that doesn't change. Therefore, the additional access date doesn't add any value for the reader. It can, however, make it easier for editors to recover a link that has become unavailable. That's why we should keep it in the page source as a comment. Note that mailing lists and newsgroups are being replicated and archived in so many different places that it is much easier to find a post than a copy of an arbitrary web page. --EnOreg (talk) 13:49, 5 June 2008 (UTC)
I understand what you are advocating, but I think that it should stay visible for content that might not be locatable or might have changed at some future date.
As a reader, I've printed out articles & retrieved the references from them (both physical sources & online sources), and the accessdate is useful for sources that might change URLs, disappear completely (some usenet posts have requests not to archive, for example), etc. The parameter's utility is greater than any aesthetic objections. At bare minimum, the accessdate should be visible when the publication date parameter is not given. But I think it should always be visible for sources that don't have physical manifestations. --Karnesky (talk) 14:21, 5 June 2008 (UTC)

I'd like state that I'm strongly opposed to this idea for any template that may cite any kind of online material. For Cite book, Cite paper, etc, that are only used to cite physical or "permanent" publications (even if it may be found online and linked to in a particular template), then so be it, Accessdate isn't necessary. But to hide it in Cite news, Cite press release, Cite map, etc etc (which more and more may cite a document online that *cannot* be found in print) is doing a grave disservice to anyone who doesn't want or know how do delve into the edit page and figure things out, yet still may want information that will allow them to access a website that has been lost over time. That is precisely what Accessdate is useful for; not to mention, even for webpages that are still existent, it says precisely when data was originally pulled from the source. "Accessed on..." or some variant of it is an almost universal standard for citation formats outside of Wiki...I see no reason why we should be the oddballs and not use them in a citation display. Huntster (t@c) 14:25, 6 June 2008 (UTC)

I only argue to hide the access date for sources that already have a publication date. These source typically don't change after initial publication, and even if they do the publication date is enough to find the original content in the Internet Archive. What additional value do you see that the access date provides that makes it too important to hide? --EnOreg (talk) 05:55, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Hiding the date for one template such as {{cite news}} without changing all of the templates is going to cause some inconsistency. There are already enough differences among the cite templates. There are opinions on both sides of the issue as to show or hide the accessdate— why not allow editors who don't want to see the accessdate to be able to hide it? We should be able to come up with a script to do this and get it approved as a gadget. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 19:17, 7 June 2008 (UTC)

I guess this has largely been taken care of by Happy-melons implementation (s)he explains above? --EnOreg (talk) 05:55, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Default setting: show or hide access date?

After Happymelon's CSS-ification of the access date it is up to the users whether they want to see the access date of stable references or not—that's great. (Note that this only applies to references that also have a publication date!)

Changing the default behavior, however, requires fiddling with the user's monobook.css which only expert users will be competent to do. Now after the discussion above it seems to me that the access date is relevant mostly to these expert users and editors. For casual WP users showing two different dates for one reference is confusing and clutters the reference sections—but they don't know how to hide it. Therefore, I would suggest to hide the access date of stable references per default, i.e., modify MediaWiki:Common.css accordingly. Comments? --EnOreg (talk) 00:12, 20 June 2008 (UTC)

I suggest not hiding it by default for web references, since such a source can change with time. It's important to document when the page was visited, in case content changes or becomes unavailable. This remains true even if the page has a known publication date.--Srleffler (talk) 02:07, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
Right, this question has been discussed in the previous sections. Three points:
  1. Most web references don't have a publication date, hence hiding the access date doesn't apply to them. This discussion is only about sources that don't change after publication.
  2. I would argue that chasing broken links can safely be left to slightly experienced editors in the interest of not confusing readers with two different dates.
  3. Could someone explain again why we wouldn't find the original content under the publication date?
Thanks, --EnOreg (talk) 03:40, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
I think the true source should always be given, even if that is a Web source that purports to be a true copy of a print publication. In that case, the access date should be specified and should not be hidden by default, because it is part of the correct reference. I suppose it occasionally happens that the editor has actually read the print version and is merely adding the URL for the convenience of the reader; in that case, I suppose a case could be made for omitting the access date. --Boson (talk) 06:38, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
Quite often; many weblinks are for the reader's convenience. Commenting out the access date would be a reasonable compromise. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:02, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm definitely in favor of hiding the access date by default for stable references. The extra visual clutter and possible confusion of having two dates on cites affects many, while the need to track down and inspect cites by access dates affects only a few (and they'll still be able to do it by looking at the article source or changing the default setting). Wasted Time R (talk) 18:52, 5 July 2008 (UTC)

Can this thread be archived now?

Any objection? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 01:27, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Okay. We could keep a permanent link from there to the archive, though, as this topic keeps coming up. --EnOreg (talk) 11:56, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Poll on date autoformatting and linking

People may be interested to know that the Poll on date autoformatting and linking is now open. All users are invited to participate. Lightmouse (talk) 17:23, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

New section on over-referencing added

There seems to be general agreement that the number of references should be kept to a reasonable number, so I went ahead and added the following section to "Dealing with citation problems":


In some cases, more than one reference may be necessary to support a fact. This can be because the claim is particularly controversial, because links can go dead (as described above), because the superior source is not available online, or because the claim itself is one of wide external coverage of a fact. Excessive referencing should nevertheless be avoided, as this can impede readability, complicate editing, and slow down article load time. If an article contains too many references, feel free to remove some of these, but take care that no essential information is lost.
Lampman (talk) 02:14, 6 March 2009 (UTC)

I really do not think that this is the correct page for such a statement. Yes, it's stupid to list a dozen nearly identical refs for the same non-controversial fact. But this issue belongs at WP:V, not here. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:31, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
Why is that? The way I see it, WP:V is about the theoretical aspect of verifiability, while this page deals with the practical aspect of citing sources. Lampman (talk) 02:31, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
Because WP:V deals with whether, when, and how to select sources. "How many sources to select" is a clearly related to whether (is zero sources an acceptable number of sources for a statement?) and source selection (one good source is better than two weak ones). This page is primarily about "How to write and format the citation".
BTW, your 'reversion because there was no consensus to remove it' is silly. There was no consensus to add it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:38, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
There is a huge difference between "zero or one source" and "one or seven sources". The first is a question of WP:V, the second is a question of formatting, as it affects layout, load time etc., as I've explained.
I think the above discussion constituted consensus; there was really only one dissenting voice, and that was someone who didn't seem to understand the issue. There have also been plenty of other discussion of the same issue, all arriving at the same conclusion. It seems to me you're playing the system by asking for a wider consensus, as this is almost impossible in a forum with as low participation as this one. I'd be happy to put it under a straw poll though:

Should the above section be included in the guidelines?

  1. Support per reasons explained above. Lampman (talk) 23:08, 10 March 2009 (UTC)
  2. Oppose I'm unconvinced that the claimed problems really amount to much. I'm also unconvinced that, if they are real problems, this guideline is the place to address them. The problems being addressed are that overciting is said to
  • impede readability (This sounds like a WP:MOS issue to me. Also, there has been some past discussion of technical approaches to address this by hiding css classes reference and/or references either by monobook.css entries or via some more dynamic means.)
  • complicate editing (Yes, and there have been several proposals to address this with changes to cite.php, some of which were entered in WP:Bugzilla complete with code necessary (at the time) for implementation. None of these have made it to a cite.php release. Message me on my talk page if interested in more info.)
  • slow down article load time (Not significantly is my guess, unless the footnotes use templates which impact load time significantly.)
I also do not think that this belongs in the WP:V, which is the Wikipedia core content policy regarding verifiability, and should not defocus from that. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 02:25, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
Rather than holding a "straw poll", why don't you just move the text to WP:V, where it probably belongs (and where more editors are likely to read it, thus making it more likely to improve Wikipedia)? WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:53, 11 March 2009 (UTC)
I just wanted to follow up on this: I still object to the inclusion of this information on this page. Do you object to adding it to WP:V? WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:40, 14 March 2009 (UTC)
Well, I explained above why I think it belongs here and not on WP:V. To me the suggestion to move it to WP:V seems like just another instance of gaming the system; WP:V is a policy page, not a guideline page, so any inclusion there will meet with infinitely much more scrutiny. That way a much needed and highly agreed upon guideline will be caught up endlessly in wiki-lawyering limbo, instead of simply being agreed upon here. Lampman (talk) 04:44, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps it should be its own page, then. I really do not believe that it fits in this page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:35, 16 March 2009 (UTC)
  1. Oppose This is not something that should be dictated by a guideline. This is a matter that should be left up to the editors of that particular article. Some topics require extensive sourcing. Some do not. It requires a great deal of subject-specific knowledge to know the difference. There are a large number of considerations that come into play. I particularly object to the last sentence, which has the potential to harm to articles and accidentally delete the result careful research and hard work. This is WP:CREEP at its worst. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:40, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
With no reply I'm killing this section in a few days. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:25, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
Killing this section tonight. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 16:25, 4 April 2009 (UTC)


The article is too long to be useful. I'm particularly bothered by the repetition between WP:CITE#Quick summary, the first list in WP:CITE#How present citations and the second list in WP:CITE#How to present citations. Do we need all three of these? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:15, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

Are you aware that much of what you dislike was evicted from WP:LAYOUT, and needs to be presented in a style guideline somewhere? I'm sure that it's been a long time since you or I looked up the most common ways of doing these things, but new editors seem to appreciate it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:31, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
I only object to the repetition. For example, "general references" are described four times in the article. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 11:08, 24 March 2009 (UTC)
Specifically, "general references" are described in WP:CITE#General reference summary, in WP:CITE#General references and in WP:CITE#Presenting the citation twice—within inches of each other. The last one is the most egregious, in my opinion. I have two specific suggestions:
(1) I would rewrite and radically shorten the second list under WP:CITE#Presenting the citation. I'm not sure what the second list is trying to say, except that there are exceptions to every rule and my goodness exceptions can be complicated. I think that this point is a waste of the reader's attention. This section should summarize the material below and aid the reader in navigation, not act as a catch-all for esoterica. Specifically, I would replace this list with this short paragraph:
"Some articles use a combination of general references, citations in footnotes, and shortened notes. (See, for example, Starship Troopers, Rosa Parks or Absinthe) Some articles use separate sections for citations and explanatory notes (e.g. Augustus).
(2) I wouldn't mention general references in the quick summary, which need only describe the most common method.
That's my concrete suggestion ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 17:15, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Saying where I got it

I'm in two (or even three) minds about how far to take the idea of "saying where I got it", particularly when I have used Google Books to find a source. I don't usually link to the Google Books page if I have an ISBN, as I prefer to let readers use the ISBN link to choose where to look up the source rather than push them in one direction, but by the letter of this guideline it looks like I should. Is it really necessary to say where I got it when it came from a source that is widely accepted to provide reliable copies of the original? I don't think I had read this guideline before now, but I just did so to look for guidance on how to cite a journal article reprinted in a book. By trying to follow the guideline I came up with this citation:

Smith, Malcolm; Susan Briggs (1999). "From Bean-counter to Action Hero: Changing the Image of the Accountant". Management Accounting (UK) 77 (1): 28–30.  reprinted in Smith, Malcolm (2003). Research methods in accounting. SAGE. p. 202. ISBN 9780761971474. Retrieved 2009-03-27. 

Is it really necessary to do all of that "saying where I got it"? Can't I just make the citation to Management Accounting on the assumption a book published by SAGE and displayed by Google Books is a reliable copy of the original source? Phil Bridger (talk) 22:49, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

You should give the ISBN unless you have a good reason to think that the scanned book is likely to be materially different from the print version of exactly the same edition of the book. The fact that you access the book electronically does not change its contents.
To give an example of something you might cite the specific copy for: If there's a famous handwritten comment in the margin, or if you're citing it for a rubberstamp that the university library put in the specific copy that happened to get scanned. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:54, 28 March 2009 (UTC)
I think the way you've cited the article above is the right way to do it. A strong reason to present the reference in the way that you did is that readers may find it easier to access the book than the original article. If you are able to provide an online link for the work that you actually located the material in, this will make the work even more accessible. (Although in this case the Google Books link may not be particularly helpful – when I clicked on it I got a "Restricted page" error message.) — Cheers, JackLee talk 07:06, 28 March 2009 (UTC)
I think it is better to place the link to the page number rather than the title:"Smith, Malcolm; Susan Briggs (1999). "From Bean-counter to Action Hero: Changing the Image of the Accountant". Management Accounting (UK) 77 (1): 28–30.  reprinted in Smith, Malcolm (2003). Research methods in accounting. SAGE. ISBN 9780761971474.  p. 202", because then if several different pages are referenced the citation can be turned into a short footnote and each different page links to a specific page in a book. BTW I don't usually use citation templates so I don't know how to link pages to URLs inside the template -- perhaps someone else can tell us how to do it. Also you can strip the search string out of the URL as it is not needed to link to the page in this case all of this: "&dq=%22lion+tamer%22+%22monty+python%22+accountant&num=100&client=firefox-a&output=html". One you have done that it is easy to reference any other page in the book. Just scroll down one page to p. 203 and the format is clear you can add any page to the new addition to the URL "#PPA203" by changing the "203" to the desired page number. --PBS (talk) 10:18, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
You add | to the template. More pointfully, the URL is redundant with the ISBN magic word, which (1) can be configured to go to your personal favorite source of books and (2) if unconfigured, provides the reader with dozens and dozens of ways to get a copy of the book (online and offline). WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:05, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
This guideline would seem to suggest that I should link to Google books if I haven't read a hard copy of the book: "unless you look at the book yourself to check that the information is there, your source is really the Web page, which is what you must cite". I agree that the Google Books link is redundant with the ISBN link, and my preference would be not make it, but this guideline as currently worded says that I should. Phil Bridger (talk) 22:31, 29 March 2009 (UTC)
No (and perhaps we need to explain that better): That section is trying to say this:
If you read, and Joe says that Great New Book says that the moon is made of green cheese, then you need to cite, not Great New Book, because Joe might lying about what the book says.
Reading an apparently authentic scanned copy of the book is not materially different from reading an apparently authentic print copy of the same book. Google Books is just about as likely to have a fake book in their archives as the local library is likely to have a forged book on their shelves: It might happen, but it's really, really, really unlikely. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:20, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
And we cite the book, not the library or bookstore which presented it. A link to an online copy is for convenience, not citation. -- SEWilco (talk) 18:13, 4 April 2009 (UTC)

Collapsible reference lists

How can I implement a collapsible reference table, such as here. Thank you. ---AltruismT a l k - Contribs. 13:46, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Answer: You don't. It's a violation of WP:ACCESS. It also doesn't work on all browsers. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:54, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
In your example the problem is not collapsing the reference list, but making sure that the single reference gets a single place in that list. You should used named references for that. See for example reference 7 in Utrecht (city). Arnoutf (talk) 17:23, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

Thanks a lot to both WhatamIdoing & Arnoutf for your responses. -AltruismT a l k - Contribs. 10:16, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Question on using wiki articles from other languages

Is it alright to use it as a reference? I recall reading somewhere from the rules that it's not allowed? Ominae (talk) 04:11, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

No, for the same reason you can't cite the English Wikipedia: you don't know who wrote it and if they know they what they are talking about. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:19, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
No, Wikipedia articles themselves should not be used as references. But there may be reliable sources referred to in those articles that you can copy and use in your article: see "Wikipedia:Verifiability#Wikipedia and sources that mirror Wikipedia". — Cheers, JackLee talk 08:54, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
To use the sources from the other article, you would need to go and get those sources and check them yourself before you cited them. See WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT. You need to be certain that the material you need actually comes from those sources. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:40, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for clarifying. — Cheers, JackLee talk 09:42, 27 March 2009 (UTC)
It's a little more complicated, and less stringent than that. There is nothing wrong with just taking text from another wiki and translating it. For GFDL purposes and common sense, the thing to do then is to use an interwiki translation template if you translate most of an article. See Category:Interwiki translation templates There is no dire need to check sources in the other article yourself, although of course it is very good practice, as WP:AGF is usually appropriate, just as it would be if one took text and supporting sources from another English article. On the other hand, what you write is always subject to verification of challenged items and English wiki rules.John Z (talk) 10:36, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

Based on the Tokusatsu article, the Foreign productions as tokusatsu subsection uses the Japanese Tokusatsu wikipedia page as a reference. When I checked it, there was no reference whatsoever there. Please advise. Ominae (talk) 00:55, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

If I can summarize what Charles, John and I are saying, there is nothing wrong with doing a translation of the text of a non-English Wikipedia article and using that as the basis for an English article. Ideally, you should check the references in the non-English article to make sure that they really say what you think they say, but as John points out it may be acceptable to assume good faith and take it that the editor who worked on the non-English article got it right. However, if the non-English article has inadequate references, then your English article will also be inadequately referenced and may fall afoul of "Wikipedia:Citing sources" and "Wikipedia:Verifiability". Finally, it would not be appropriate to mention the non-English article itself as a reference in the English article. — Cheers, JackLee talk 07:00, 28 March 2009 (UTC)
  • Don't these language translation templates used in the main articles run afoul of WP:SELFREF? I ask because someone recently asked me to remove over 21,000 lines inserted by an editor "Based on an article in the French Wikipedia"? My thoughts on this are that these mentions really belong on the talk page (in banner form using {{translated}}, for example). –xeno (talk) 15:19, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Could you explain what you mean by "these language translation templates"? — Cheers, JackLee talk 19:28, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Category:Interwiki translation templates. –xeno (talk) 19:34, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
I understand WP:SELFREF to be aimed at discouraging editors to cite other Wikipedia articles as references. Therefore, a statement like "Based on an article in the French Wikipedia ..." in either the main text or a footnote of an article is definitely a no-no, and indicates that the information in question is inadequately referenced. I also tend to agree with you that interwiki translation templates are probably best confined to article talk pages. I would point out, though, that following a TfD, {{1911 talk}} was deleted in favour of {{1911}} which is supposed to be placed on article pages. — Cheers, JackLee talk 19:57, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but presumably we would say that Enc. Brit. is a reliable source. Wikis, by their very nature, are not. –xeno (talk) 17:52, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

Citing partial transcriptions

I've transcribed part of a public domain U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission report at Wikipedia:WikiProject Trains/ICC valuations/Chesapeake and Ohio Railway of Indiana, and am citing the report in an article. I know that I can simply cite it without a link, but would it be appropriate to link to that transcription? If so, should it be an internal or external link? --NE2 20:26, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

In my view your transcript is not a published source, and therefore should not be used as reference. I do think this is a borderline case though. Arnoutf (talk) 19:30, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
It's not being used as a reference; the ICC valuation report is. This would be a convenience link, like a link to [1]. --NE2 22:41, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Add Parenthetical referencing (Harvard)?

The section Citation styles names some reference styles like APA style. Could we add Parenthetical (a.k.a. Harvard) referencing? The list is limited, isn't it? -DePiep (talk) 11:07, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

Many styles use parenthetical referencing in the body text (among others APA). The section you are referring to is more about the information that should be given in the reference list. There is also a section about in text references a bit lower [includes parenthetical refs] Arnoutf (talk) 20:12, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

"ISBN Number"

The use of "ISBN Number" is an incident of RAS syndrome. (talk) 11:03, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Fixed ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 20:04, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Citations in tables

There's a small debate going on at Talk:Canadian Forces casualties in Afghanistan#References column removed? about how to format citations in the table/list of casualties. The guidelines seem very clear on what is expected in terms of metadata, however, they seem a little unclear on the idea of footnote tags being in their own dedicated column of the table, as opposed to within the text. Could someone perhaps drop in and clarify what's possible? Cheers. --Miesianiacal (talk) 12:52, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Avoid citing Wikipedia

I have removed the following passage:

  1. Direct reference: Explicit reference in prose with internal link, particularly for notable law or other declaration/edicts of sorts ("In Brown v. Board of Education...").

One can argue that just the citation Brown v. Board of Education would be good enough in an article, but it makes a poor example for the Citing sources guideline. It is a poor example because it appears to cite a Wikipedia article, rather than a reliable source, and it cites a court case by a popular name. A handful of court cases are famous enough for the general reader to find them by their popular name, but most cases can't be found by a non-lawyer if given only the popular name. The guideline should not give advise that only works in a handful of situations.

The bullet point is also faulty in that a reference in running text may be used whether or not an internal link is included: "Gibson's Neuromancer (Ace, 1984) was a science fiction article that featured direct interfaces between brains and computers" is an acceptable citation even without an internal link to either William Gibson or Neuromancer. --Jc3s5h (talk) 16:40, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Makes sense to me. — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:31, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

Citations are why Wikipedia SUCKS!

Seriously, some people don't beleive everything they hear, and would love to contribute what they discovered themselves. Think about this, how did Albert Einstein know about E=MC^2 if nobody told him it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:20, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

When Einstein discovered E=MC2 he published his results in a journal, not an encyclopedia, because publishing new results is not what encyclopedias are for. --Jc3s5h (talk) 00:34, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Well, true. Just make sure the more trivial topics be left alone. For example, pages about computers are fine listing facts such as color palette, resolution, ect, but rating the cpu's speed isn't a good, since benchmarking can be easily scewed towards the benchmarker's favorite cpu to make his cpu look better than it really is. It doesn't have anything at all to do with how "professional" the website looks.
For example, a little while ago I read some pages called "DTACK pages" or something like that, that compared the 68000 to cheaper cpus such as the 6502 and 6809, and whoever wrote that, obviously didn't even look through the 6502 and 6809 instruction sets before he started comparing the 68000 with them, and pretty much every code tested there was simply ported to the 6502 and 6809 from the 68000.

A simplification

I would like to replace the second list under WP:CITE#Presenting the citation with these two sentences:

"Some articles use a combination of general references, citations in footnotes and shortened notes. (See, for example, Starship Troopers, Rosa Parks or Absinthe) Some articles use separate sections for citations and explanatory notes (e.g. Augustus)."

The way the list is written now, it repeats the points made just inches above in almost the same order. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 16:47, 15 April 2009 (UTC)

Two weeks no discussion. Going ahead with this. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:11, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

Style Recommendations in WP:FOOT questioned

I dithered about whether to place this here or on WT:FOOT. WP:CITE and WP:FOOT both identify themselves as Editing style guidelines. I decided to place this here because of the {{Nutshell}} info at the head of this page which says, "This citing sources guideline (a) discusses when to use citations, (b) shows how to format individual citations, and (c) provides methods for presenting citations within Wikipedia articles."

WP:FOOT#Style_recommendations contains recommendations regarding placement of superscripted footnote links in relation to punctuation which appear to me to conflict with consensus results from discussions of this subject which I have seen here in the past. I want to raise a yellow flag about this. I will leave a note on WT:FOOT mentioning this and pointing here. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 01:43, 23 April 2009 (UTC)

I am the editor who added the recommendation in question - that "footnotes should immediately follow, not precede, punctuation marks indicating the end of the paragraph, sentence, or clause in question." Sorry, I was not aware of any previous discussion on this subject. I came to WP:FOOT#Style_recommendations looking for formal confirmation of what I consider to be a rather obvious style convention, but found nothing on the matter whatsoever... so I added the recommendation myself.
In defense of the recommendation: first, by placing footnotes before closing punctuation one inevitably ends up with situations in which a period, for instance, is displaced a substantial distance from the rest of the sentence it is closing. This is confusing to both the mind and the eye. If at all possible, footnotes should serve to enhance, not confuse the basic sentence. Second, I looked at the footnote conventions used by ten randomly selected featured content articles and found that all of them follow the post-punctuation format. If a consensus was reached here on a different approach, it is not being used in the best articles. Third, I know of at least one style (MLA) that explicitly requires this format. ---Wormcast (talk) 04:54, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
(See 2 threads up!) The primary guidance is at WP:REFPUNCT (part of WP:Footnotes). We recommend one, but won't tend to quibble if another style has been in use consistently throughout an article. -- Quiddity (talk) 17:09, 23 April 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the info. When I stumbled across that in WP:FOOT, I checked WP:CITE and, remembering some arg^H^H^Hdiscussions about the point here in the past, I thought I would raise a flag. Clearly, I haven't been keeping up with changes in these guidelines. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 07:43, 24 April 2009 (UTC)
Whoops - missed the relevant WP:REFPUNCT entirely. I have deleted my redundant style recommendation and moved the examples to WP:REFPUNCT. If they strike anyone as excessive, I am not strongly attached to them. --Wormcast (talk) 19:54, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

After/Before the period?

Why do we use reference marks after the period instead of before it? I think it should be attached to words but not a punctuation. (talk) 12:00, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Precisely because the citation should apply to the whole phrase/sentence and sometimes the whole paragraph. Plus it looks cleaner. See WP:REFPUNCT for the full explanation. -- Quiddity (talk) 17:11, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
Because after a heated debate we decided to do so (although it looks weird and messy - to give my own subjective perception; which does not matter here). Arnoutf (talk) 17:14, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
I second Quiddity and Arnoutf. — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:01, 22 April 2009 (UTC)
"Why do we use reference marks after the period instead of before it?" We don't. We keep the the style agreed in the article and the talk page of the article. Most people prefer after, so the majority of pages start out that way and stay that way unless there is consensus to change it. -PBS (talk) 15:59, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

General and inline refs

I recently wrote an article. I had three sources which each had a lot of info. Most of it overlapped, but each one had some info that the other two didn't. So I listed those three sources in the References section. I had three more sources, each of which applied to specific sentences or paragraphs, so I made those inline refs, with the references appearing in that same References section (two different lists in the one section). Is this okay? Also, since all of my sources were web pages which would be of interest to the reader, and there is also an External Links section, should my three general sources be listed under External Links, References or both? -Freekee (talk) 02:07, 28 April 2009 (UTC)

This is okay. I wouldn't list the sources as external links. Many editors think it looks nicer to have the inline refs in a section called Notes and the general references in a section called References (see, for example, Rosa Parks) but this is up to you. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:01, 28 April 2009 (UTC)
Sounds good. Thank you. -Freekee (talk) 13:31, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Citation tools

A while ago, I hacked together a stupid script (works only on Firefox, with Greasemonkey) to automatically generate {{citation}} text by scraping data from Google Books webpages. I don't know if it's good enough for inclusion in the list of citation tools (I'd say it's not) but just in case anyone's interested, I've uploaded it here. Regards, Shreevatsa (talk) 15:58, 2 May 2009 (UTC)

Reference punctuation

What is the actual proper punctuation for referencing? I am unsure how this actually works. I'll give a few examples:

When citing a reference in the middle of a sentence-
Example 1: This is a reference, [1] after a space.
Example 2: This is a reference,[1] after a comma.

When citing a reference at the end of a sentence-
Example 1: This is a reference, after a space. [1]
Example 2: This is a reference, after a period.[1]

Which ways are correct? Thanks, VG Editor (talk).

See WP:REFPUNCT. Your Example 2 is 'correct' in each case, although if the article predominantly uses the references before punctuation, you should stick to that. Shreevatsa (talk) 04:38, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

Thanks. VG Editor (talk)

How to cite a video or DVD

How do you cite a video or DVD? Presumably Title, copyright year, then Chapter and hmm:ss(hour,minutes,seconds from start) of start of relavent portion? What of author? Producer? Director? Many DVDs have a whole list of entities making/paying for/comissioning the work. Is there a guideline already? GraL (talk) 13:26, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps with {{Cite video}}, using the people= parameter? Note that the time= parameter is intended to be used to to locate a specific relevant snippet, not for the total length of the video (like the oft-misused pages= parameter in citing snippets from textual works). -- Boracay Bill (talk) 23:38, 1 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks - now if I can just figure out how to use it! GraL (talk) 15:14, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

BetaMax VOIP

This is the billing address for numerous false charges made to credit/debit cards in Texas. I am in the process of forwarding the multiple theft complaints from various banks in the Central Texas area. Traditionally, like Googletree, credit/debit card "charges" are run through banks in a money laundering - theft scheme. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:25, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Including ISBNs for old works

A statement made by an editor, Almost-instinct, at "User:Citation bot/bugs#Philip Larkin" worried me. The editor was commenting about supposed errors in the article "Philip Larkin" created by Citation bot, and said: "The information given on the page relates to the initial publication date, but the ISBN numbers are there to link to current available editions (no point linking to ancient first editions)". My view is that one shouldn't be adding modern ISBNs to older books that did not have such numbers because that is misleading. It would be better to do something like this: "[citation of old work without ISBN]; now reissued/reprinted as [new citation with ISBN]." Anyway, you are welcome to comment on the issue here or at the Citation bot page (though perhaps a discussion here is better to avoid forking). — Cheers, JackLee talk 04:22, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

This article has plentiful, detailed, well-formatted citations. Compared with the million or so articles in Wikipedia with missing or badly formatted citations, this article is written by one of the good guys. That being said, I think you bring up a fair criticism.
The ISBN numbers in the "Publications" section are misleading. The citation template is being used to refer to two different editions at the same time. The reader should be notified that there are two different books here. A similar solution would be: "[citation of old work without ISBN]. (ISBN 0123456789, 1994 edition)." Pulling the ISBN out of the template would also solve this article's hassles with citation bots. The bot assumes the citation template is describing exactly one edition of the book.
(This is the right assumption, by the way. Normally, you would never want to refer to two editions with the same citation. The purpose of a citation (in Wikipedia) is to allow a skeptical reader to find the source, flip to the page, read it and then be satisfied that it makes the same point as the article. To be able to do this, the citation needs to identify exactly which edition of the book that the editor actually looked at. Otherwise, it can't do it's job — at the very least, page numbers tend to be different in different editions.
This reasoning doesn't apply to the problem in the Philip Larkin article, because these are "Publications", not "References". They're not intended to verify anything specific in the article, at least as far as I can tell.) ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:45, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
Any citation of a book, whether as a reference or in a list of published works, should refer to one particular edition and printing. The ISBN, if there is one, should be the one assigned to that edition and printing. Using the ISBN of a newer (or different) edition is as incorrect as using a newer (or different) edition number or year. When used in a reference, the edition cited should be the one that the editor actually consulted, even if it is a paperback, a reprint, or an out-of-date edition. In a list of works not used as sources for an article's content (for example, in a list of works by a particular author), best practice is to give a full citation of the best printing (e.g., hardbound and printed on acid-free paper, if one exists) of the most recent edition. In any case, when citing to an edition later than the original, it is also good practice to indicate the year of the first edition; the {{Citebook}} template includes a parameter for this. Finell (Talk) 07:34, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Quotation marks in names

I notice that the format for a named references according to the article includes quotation marks: <ref name="somename"> I wasn't aware of this, and have often found, and used, names without marks: <ref name=somename>

The use of quotation marks doesn't have to be consistent within the article; the name can be used with marks in some places, without in others.

Presumably the actual rule is that quotation marks are required only if names have embedded spaces, slashes, etc., similar to general computing practice, and are otherwise optional. Perhaps the documentation can be revised to make this official? I can't see the use of quotation marks being enforced: a great many articles would suddenly misbehave. Pol098 (talk) 15:22, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

You might want to mention this at Wikipedia talk:Footnotes, since the is in regard to WP:REFNAME. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 19:13, 10 May 2009 (UTC)
You're welcome to revert my edit giving the example as with quotation marks - though it does explain the circumstances in which they must be used. I changed it because a) ILIKEIT b) OTHERPEOPLELIKEIT c)If we're going to have consistency, we might as well use the version that works all the time d) In examples, I feel we should give the version that will work fofr all newbies. - Jarry1250 (t, c) 19:37, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Section Name

One editor is insisting on renaming a "References" section to "Notes", stated "enumerated in-line citations marked by superscripts are universally referred to as "notes""[2]. I have repeatedly asked him to stop per the guideline noting that one should not change an established style and there is no "universal guideline" dictating that a references section be called notes. It is called references in every article I have ever worked on, with notes only used when having separate notes or using the shortened form of referencing. The guideline is not entirely clear on this, and as it has NEVER been brought up in a single FA, FLC, or GA discussion I've been in, I'm curious as to how this can be made clearer that "References" is a perfectly acceptable section name for this type of reference, or to see if someone can point out to me exactly where it says it is not. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 13:14, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

In a pice about this question on his user page Ed Fitzgerald claims that outside of WP these sections are not titled references. That is not true. Each an every research paper I've ever seen does indeed follow this convention. There may be other disciplines with different conventions. But this is no argument to change all of WP without prior consensus.
AnmaFinotera, can you please make him aware of this discussion? --EnOreg (talk) 13:54, 11 May 2009 (UTC) seems like my initial thought that he was pushing a personal POV rather than actual guidelines is correct then? -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 14:07, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
This guideline does not specify whether the section should be titled Notes or References. Both titles are commonplace in Wikipedia and there is no consensus on which is better. The editors of each article are free to choose the title they prefer. (IMHO, the difference is genuinely insignificant and is not worth fighting over.) ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 17:14, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
As the editor in question, I concur that it's not particularly worth fighting over. I do not agree, however, with the assesment that "references" is a standard usage for this particular type of citation. "Notes" (in its various forms) is. This is not a "personal preference" that I am "pushing", it's reality, folks. Ed Fitzgerald t / c 19:32, 11 May 2009 (UTC)
On the contrary, the title References is used almost universally for articles that place all of their citations in footnotes. (I.e., articles that use the "footnote system" exclusively). The article under discussion (The Skeptic) is such an article. Consider these similar featured articles:

1080° Snowboarding · 1933 Atlantic hurricane season · 1981 Irish hunger strike · 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack · 1987 · 200 (Stargate SG-1) · 300 (film), · 35 mm film · 3D Monster Maze. · Ace Books · Acetic acid · Acrocanthosaurus · Aggie Bonfire · Ahmedabad · Aikido · Al-Kateb v Godwin · Alanya · Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act · Aldol reaction · Apollo 8 · Archimedes · Flag of Armenia · ASCII · Asteroid belt

The title you recommend, Notes, is commonplace in articles that (unlike The Skeptic) use general references, shortened notes, parenthetical references or some combination of these. This is not a rule, of course, as I said above. There are some exceptions (consider 7 World Trade Center, for a counterexample). ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:20, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Multiple authors

What's the correct way / template to quote a book (not a journal or conference proceedings, but a "real" book) where each chapter was written by and credited to different authors? The wiki-article cites at least six of these chapters, should I do six separate {{cite}} entries or ... ? TIA, NVO (talk) 22:47, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

I would suggest that you cite each chapter separately, like this: "{{citation|author=Just Testing|chapter=Totally Fictitious Chapter Title|editor=I.M. Bluepencil|title=Completely Made Up Book Title|location=Somewhere|publisher=Entirely Nonsensical Publications|year=2009|page=45}}". — Cheers, JackLee talk 06:15, 12 May 2009 (UTC)

Can Wiktionary be used as a reference?

Well, the name pretty much says it all. Wiktionary probably can't, or can it? --The High Fin Sperm Whale (talk) 00:43, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

As far as I know it should not be used indeed. Arnoutf (talk) 17:31, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
I think it is acceptable to link words and phrases in articles that readers might find difficult to understand to Wiktionary, but it should definitely not be used as a reference: see "Wikipedia:Verifiability#Wikipedia and sources that mirror or source information from Wikipedia". — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:17, 6 May 2009 (UTC)
Links good. Citations bad. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:48, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
I used to consider linking non-common words to Wiktionary a good thing, but stopped this practice because the majority of editors opposed it by voting with their editing powers. In general, links to Wiktionary should be restricted to being at the article level or included in the See also section (I don't think they should go into the External links ... but that is a personal preference, I think). Words that are sufficiently important for understanding, uncommon in use and cannot be replaced with more colloquial language should be either dealt with in the context of the article or via an internal Wikipedia link to a section or article that explains the concept. On the second topic — citing of wiktionary is right out bad; however, there isn't any reason why a citation included in a Wiktionary reference can't be brought into Wikipedia for use as a local citation, though there are very very few supporting citations in Wiktionary which could be so used unfortunately. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 18:56, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Referencing styles

It should be noted that while a list of external links is not standard or correct referencing format on Wikipedia, a significant number of articles do exist which use that format instead of inline references. Before Wikipedia developed its current inline referencing tools and practices, in fact, piling on the weblinks was a common and virtually normal manner of "citing" references. Some articles have simply never been upgraded properly, and some newer articles are "referenced" in that style precisely because older articles with that style of referencing still exist.

This policy, thus, should probably point out that an article which contains no individual footnotes, but does contain one or more external links which do provide reference support for the article's content, should not be tagged as {{unreferenced}}, but rather {{No footnotes}}. Using ELs is a poor and outdated style of referencing which certainly needs to be upgraded to current referencing standards, no question — but the fact that such conversion hasn't already taken place doesn't, in and of itself, make an article unreferenced if the existing external links are to sites that would be valid as footnotes. Bearcat (talk) 18:28, 17 May 2009 (UTC)

A quick cure for the problem would be to sort through the external links, and decide which ones are reliable and support the content of the article; move those to a "References" section. General references are allowed, although they are not usually the best choice. --Jc3s5h (talk) 18:38, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
True. My main concern is that some users are skipping that step and going straight to {{unreferenced}}, sometimes even going so far as to remove statements that haven't already been individually footnoted but are fully supported by the existing ELs. I don't think what I'm asking for here is an actual change in referencing policy, though, so much as an increased clarity about the steps that users should already be taking before deeming an article to be completely unreferenced. Bearcat (talk) 18:50, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
Technically, they are unreferenced by current standards, particularly as it tends to be very difficult to discern regular external links from possible "intended to be references" links (and on articles that are still in that old style, most of the ELs tend to be non-RS anyway). And often times the original adding editors are no longer around. Tagging as unreferenced isn't really an issue, to me, as anyone wanting to fix the problem is still free to look through the ELs to see if any really are supposed to be references and add the appropriate citations as necessary. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 20:07, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
My concern still has as much to do with the wholesale removal of non-controversial and non-BLP-violating material that is supported by existing ELs as it does with which individual tag gets added to the top. Bearcat (talk) 20:30, 17 May 2009 (UTC)
In my opinion, references (in any format) should never be deleted if they support the material in the article. It is far easier for later editors to improve the format than it is for later editors to find new references. Is there any specific language in this guideline that you wold like to see changed? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 20:07, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

ISBN magic word

Someone has (indirectly) requested at WT:EL that this page deprecate links to (for example) books listed at in references. For books with ISBNs, the magic word is clearly preferable, even to full view Google Books links, as it's not location- or browser-dependent. Can someone here figure out a good place to include that information? WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:14, 13 May 2009 (UTC) who is not watching this page

ISBNs and external links are not mutually exclusive, so I don't understand what the problem is. External links are clearly often useful. To include the ISBN, just type, say, ISBN 9780814762080; it produces: ISBN 9780814762080. Shreevatsa (talk) 15:31, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
I think the problem here is that inclusion of only one ISBN number is OK in the vast majority of cases. However, a link-to-instance at or Google Books is only one of dozens or hundreds of possible URLs, and there is no guideline that would provide for inclusion of one URL over another; thus, it is a potential source of contention among editors and bias with respect to source selection (i.e. Alibris, Google Books,, an editor's website - how would you choose among these on the basis of present guideline? You can't, in my opinion.) I don't like to come down on the all-or-nothing side very often, but this is one case where using either URL or ISBN, with preference for ISBN, would likely be of benefit to Wikipedia as a whole. Consider another area where this problem is common - map links. We generally now see the use of the Coord template, which links to the GeoHack page; seldom do we see links to MapQuest, Yahoo Maps, Wikimapia, or any of the hundreds of other online map sites which are general in scope and addressable by unique IDs or coordinates. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 18:51, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Please be aware that ISBN (the International Standard Book Number) is a guide to finding the book at a bookseller and is neither part of a bibliographic entry nor required. There is also a confusion over whether to use ISBN-10 or ISBN-13 conventions. If the editor is unfamiliar with the use of ISBNs, it is often more prudent not to use them at all. FWiW, an ISBN does not automatically link to an inline text source from the work as there are only a fraction of published works available and many of them are also only issued in extracts. Bzuk (talk) 12:05, 19 May 2009 (UTC).

Citing a TV show

Is there a way of citing media sources such as a TV show or episode? After watching the A&E special: "The Secret Life of Vampires", I looked at the wiki article of Vampire lifestyle. I noticed that two of the terms in the article, were also attributed to sources in the show. How can this be cited? Sephiroth storm (talk) 18:12, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

{{cite episode}} is the appropriate template to use. You'll need to know the original airdate if possible and preferably have details on the special like director, producer, host, etc. Check the template for full usage details. :) -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 19:05, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
...and again, identifying the episode in a non-templatey way is also possible. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:06, 19 May 2009 (UTC).

Retrieval dates: not dubious

I propose to take out the {{dubious}} tags from the Citation styles section re the advice to make the retrieval date invisible to the reader.

If previous discussion otherwise hasn't managed to agree this then alternatively reword it more optionally.

My preferred options (i.e. left as they are with the dubious tags simply removed):

Citations for newspaper articles typically include: ...

  • and a comment with the date you retrieved it if it is online (invisible to the reader).

Citations for World Wide Web articles ...

  • the date you retrieved it (invisible to the reader if the article has a date of publication),

Alternate options:

Citations for newspaper articles typically include: ...

  • and the date you retrieved it if it is online (optionally as a comment - invisible to the reader).

Citations for World Wide Web articles ...

  • the date you retrieved it (optionally as a comment - invisible to the reader - if the article has a date of publication),

Either way, there's already been discussion and I don't think the {{dubious}} tags should remain in the project page forever.

--SallyScot (talk) 18:34, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Foreign-language titles

How should titles in foreign language scripts be presented? Original text, transliteration, and translation could all be useful to the reader.

(For transliterating Cyrillic titles, I'm proposing we follow worldwide English-language libraries by using the Library of Congress system, at WT:CYR#Bibliographic information.) Michael Z. 2009-02-07 17:39 z

Mixing and matching citation templates

I've had users complain to me about this when reviewing GA, and I've had users complain to me about this when I bring up FAs. Where exactly does it say in the Manual of Style where you shouldn't mix and match citation templates (i.e. using a combination of {{cite web}}, {{cite news}}, and {{cite journal}} in the same article). MuZemike 07:59, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

The main problem is that the end product is often compromised and in that case whenever it is an issue of "garbage in, garbage out", one of the most expedient solutions is to eliminate the templates entirely and write in WYSIWYG "scratch cataloging" if the user/editor is familiar with bibliographic conventions. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:00, 19 May 2009 (UTC).
Although that is an interesting point, I don't believe that's what MuZemike was asking.
It is perfectly acceptable to mix {{cite web}}, {{cite news}}, {{cite journal}} and {{cite book}}. (In fact, these are all front ends to the same template, {{Citation/core}}). {{Citation}} uses a full stop rather than a comma, so shouldn't be mixed with the templates above. See WP:Citation templates. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 12:11, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
I misspoke here. I meant to say that {{Citation}} uses a comma rather than a fullstop. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 12:10, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
As Charles already noted, there is nothing wrong with using cite web, news, journal, etc together. They should not, however, be mixed with citation nor with "scratch cataloging" (nor would I saw say doing it by scratch is any better at all). -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 13:05, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
What would you saw, exactly? (LOL) Bzuk (talk) 13:07, 19 May 2009 (UTC).
Blech...lack of coffee this morning. Stupid spring break university hours. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 13:12, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
University?! (I remember that... ) FWiW Bzuk (talk) 13:17, 19 May 2009 (UTC).
Yep (as an employee, not a student...can't stand those things :P) -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 13:29, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
So the other cite templates together do not utilize a full stop, then, right? MuZemike 14:42, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
Actually, all of them use a full stop, so I don't understand that point. The main reason not to mix those with {{Citation}} is Citation uses a different formatting/ordering, I believe. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 14:46, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
All the major templates (mentioned above) use the same ordering. All of them use {{Citation/core}} to do the actual work. See the documentation at {{Citation/core}}. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk)

See this. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 02:46, 20 May 2009 (UTC)

Over there in that other discussion, I've stumbled across the separator= parameter to {{Citation}}. Compare the output of {{cite book|...}} with {{Citation|...|separator=.}}. (note the manually-supplied closing full-stop there).
  • Lincoln, A.; Washington, G.; Adams, J. (2007). All the Presidents' Names XII (2nd ed.). Home Base, New York: The Pentagon . (Citation with separator=. and with a manually-supplied closing full-stop)
  • Lincoln, A.; Washington, G.; Adams, J. (2007). All the Presidents' Names XII (2nd ed.). Home Base, New York: The Pentagon.  (Cite book)
-- Boracay Bill (talk) 00:18, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

The various citatation templates can only cover cases that the template editors have thought of. There will always be a place for citations written from scratch for situations not covered by the existing templates, even in an article where most of the citations are use templates. --Jc3s5h (talk) 00:26, 21 May 2009 (UTC)

Question about formatting of quotes

I should know the answer to this, but I don't.

When you're quoting something that a person has written, are you supposed to respect their formatting? That is, if someone has written something in very short paragraphs, must we reproduce those paragraphs, or is it acceptable to compact it?

I'm asking because of this quote, which was a letter to the editor, and which is taking up too much space:

We, the Arab inhabitants of Lod train station, did not participate in any defiant acts against the Israeli army ... Neverthless, we were treated in a hard manner ...

Since the occupation, we continued to work and our salaries have still not been paid to this day. Then our work was taken from us and now we are unemployed.

The curfew is still valid ... [W]e are not allowed to go to Lod or Ramla, as we are prisoners.

No one is allowed to look for a job but with the mediation of the members of the Local Committee ... we are like slaves.

I am asking you to cancel the restrictions and to let us live freely in the state of Israel.[2]

Is it acceptable to format it as one paragraph? Does anyone know what the accepted practice is (e.g. in academia)? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 02:04, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

I suggest asking Awadewit. She is the most rigorous Wikipedian I know and will know the answer. qp10qp (talk) 13:28, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
In my experience, one folows the author's formatting. But this is just what I have seen in other books and articles. I think we need to look at the Chicago Manual of Style, I do not own a copy or have access, but of someone does I'd follow their guideline. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:45, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
I looked in it already. As far as I can see, it doesn't say anything about compacting paragraphs. Usually the original must be followed exactly. But my experience is in fields of history and literature, where original text is almost sacred; perhaps it is different with newspaper prose, which is often written one line per paragraph. qp10qp (talk) 16:13, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
Personally, I see nothing wrong in compacting paragraphs provided that this does not change the meaning of the quoted text. Newspapers often start each sentence on a new paragraph as this makes narrow columns of text more readable. — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:28, 23 May 2009 (UTC)
There is nothing in our MoS, and nothing in any style manual that I have ever seen, that permits a quotation to alter the author's paragraph divisions. The paragraph structure is part of the text quoted. Changing the author's paragraph would violate Wikipedia's policy of minimal alteration of quotations. The pertinent part of the MoS is WP:MOSQUOTE, not WP:CITE. Finell (Talk) 04:26, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
Okay, many thanks. I should probably leave it as it is, as I'm assuming the original author wrote it that way, not just the newspaper. Thanks for all the responses. I'll also check with Awadewit, as you suggested Qp10. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 07:00, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
"Every text is sacred", you know. I would leave the original as it is and not collapse the paragraphs. One of the reasons for doing this (and Wikipedia's policy on quoting states that "Wherever reasonable, preserve the original style") is to present to the user the "original experience" of reading the text. Note that these short paragraphs are a completely different reading experience that one long paragraph. That experience should be replicated as closely as possible. Does this make sense? Awadewit (talk) 17:44, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it does make sense; I'll leave it uncollapsed. Many thanks, SlimVirgin talk|contribs 18:24, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Proposal - making the edit code clearer

When I see a lack of distinction between refs and article text such as in the Swine flu 2009 article - [3] I am discouraged from editing. I believe that a far clearer and more user friendly way of formatting refs was implemented in the British Airways Flight 38 article - [4]. Which do other experienced and inexperienced editors find clearer and more user friendly ? I propose that the latter format should be Wikipedia desired format for inline references. -- John (Daytona2 · Talk · Contribs) 08:17, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Are you talking about the difference between:
Blah blah.<ref>{{cite web | url=x | title=y }}</ref> Blah blah blah.
Blah blah.<ref>
{{cite web
| url=x
| title=y
Blah blah blah.
? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:49, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Yes - sorry I forgot how to quote things. -- John (Daytona2 · Talk · Contribs) 12:59, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I have grown used to the compact editing style, and don't find it to be a problem. The expanded editing style is not very common, perhaps because it is seen as space-wasting. — Cheers, JackLee talk 09:54, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I wonder if it's because the article doesn't refer to it ? It uses negligeable more space - ~10 characters/bytes -- John (Daytona2 · Talk · Contribs) 12:59, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I have to agree with the original user's analysis in that the first article is an example of templates clashing and too many editors "making the soup" which has led to an inconsistent referencing format. It's also a matter of "garbage in, garbage out." FWiW Bzuk (talk) 11:29, 26 May 2009 (UTC).
I avoid templates whenever I can. When I have to use them, I prefer to format them one parameter per line. I have read comments on this talk page from others who greatly prefer all the parameters on one like.
Daytona2 has not put forward a clear proposal. If Daytona2 does so, the proposal must allow for the consensus that citaton tempates are not required, and articles that use manual citations rather than templates should not be changed to templates unless consensus is formed on the article talk page. --Jc3s5h (talk) 16:34, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Apparently, this is a concern that comes up repeatedly. It is also known that new editors are overwhelmingly confused by the markup soup. Having the citation template split on separate lines would make it slightly more readable, but it wastes a lot of space (visually, not wrt number of bytes) and interrupts the paragraph even more than the one-line style does, thus increasing the 'distance' between the source and the rendered output. One solution might be to put references entirely outside the paragraphs they interrupt, and I was told at here that it is something many people want from time to time, but unfortunately it is not possible with the existing software in a clean way. It would be good to have some further discussion on how the markup can be made less intimidating. Shreevatsa (talk) 17:29, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
Jc3s5h, "Wikipedia:Citing sources" does not mandate that editors use citation templates. Editors are free to use manual citations, provided that they maintain consistency within each article. I, for one, find citation templates very convenient because I don't have to worry about making sure that the format of all the citations in the article are consistent. Shreevasta, I agree with you. It would be great if, for example, there were two editing windows, one for the main text and another for footnotes. However, I suspect that requires a major update to the wiki software so I don't see that happening any time soon. — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:03, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
For the citation of scientific sources, the {{cite doi}} and {{cite pmid}} allow articles to be referenced by specifying just a short article identifier, which addresses this problem. These might help in some cases. Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 14:02, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

References, Inline references, and further reading

Please consider these points, which follow from a discussion started on User_talk:TedPavlic#Restoring_some_references_sections.

  1. Something isn't a reference unless you refer to it explicitly in the document. A reader shouldn't be expected to search for a needle in a haystack when looking for verification.
  2. For consistency, the recommended {{reflist}} template should be used in most places and {{refbegin}} and {{refend}} should be used for Further reading type lists.
  3. (**) What happens when someone has explicit reference bullets shown and then later adds a <references/> or a {{reflist}}? The resulting list may be inconsistent (e.g., numbers in one part and bullets in another or different fonts in the different lists). Additionally, the resulting list will necessarily be out of order – the <references/> section will be ordered by appearance and the other section might be ordered, for example, alphabetically.

Ideally, we would like to have three sections (at most):

  • Inline references (and notes)
  • References
  • Further reading section

( It would be even better if MediaWiki's <ref> would have the ability to refer to an existing in-line citation with some additional note (like a page number) ) There's no way to enforce this much discipline among Wikipedia editors. Hence, the next best thing is to have a References section containing documents that are referred to and a Further reading section for everything else. If you want your doc to get listed in the References section, then refer to it within the document. —TedPavlic (talk) 15:26, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps Works cited would be more conventional than Inline references. Regardless, every journal I've submitted to in engineering, biology, and psychology has had a note to authors that, "All listed references must be cited in the text." I see no reason why Wikipedia should be different. If it is different, it shouldn't group cited references with uncited references for, at a minimum, style reasons (it looks awful when a numbered list is followed by an unnumbered list or another numbered list). —TedPavlic (talk) 12:48, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Regarding the choice of nomenclature, this is dictated to some extent by Wikipedia:Layout. "Further reading" should never be used as the designation for sources (whether cited or not) that were used as sources for the text. Perhaps "Bibliography", although apparently uncommon, should be explored as a potential alternative. Sławomir Biały (talk) 13:46, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
An example of a problem that commonly occurs because there is no "Works cited" or "Bibliography" or "Inline citations" section. Let's say a page initially uses uncited references, and so the reference section looks like...

== References ==
* Doe, John. "A reference." 2009.

...then, later, people start adding in-line references with ref tags. That leads them to change the references section to be

== References ==
* Doe, John. "A reference." 2009.

...or, even worse,

== References ==
# Doe, John. "A reference." 2009.


== References ==
* Doe, John. "A reference." 2009.


== References ==
# Doe, John. "A reference." 2009.

All three of these look awful; they mix number order, numbering type, font, etc. The only remedy (at the moment) is to go and FIND A WAY to cite the old reference. However, without consulting the old reference directly and then parsing through the Wikipedia article, it's impossible to know where to add a citation. So, without an "unreferenced references" or an "uncited references" section, it's better to advise people to always use explicit citations. —TedPavlic (talk) 14:37, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Sorry Ted, but you're wrong. Suppose, for example, I'm writing a non-controversial article about a stable subject, and I use a well-regarded textbook as my main source. The source supports the entire article. So it would be wrong to toss in a few inline citations to a few spots in the textbook; that would imply that the rest of the article has no source. In that situation, it would be more accurate to just list the textbook as a general reference. --Jc3s5h (talk) 14:45, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Also, the statement near the beginning of this section borders on being wrong: "something isn't a reference unless you refer to it explicitly in the document. A reader shouldn't be expected to search for a needle in a haystack when looking for verification". It's true that in an article with a dozen sources, each of which supports a few details in the article, the reader shouldn't be expected to figure out which source supports which detail. But if there are one or two general references that cover most of the subject matter of the article, and those sources have decent aids to finding information, such as a table of contents and an index, that suffices. --Jc3s5h (talk) 14:52, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
But what about the example above? Pages (especially stubs) grow, and listing references in a "References" section invites them mixing with future <references/>. As suggested above (by Sławomir Biały too), there should be separate sections for in-line and general references. —TedPavlic (talk) 15:27, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Indeed, it is necessary to separate general references from endnotes. Of course, if the article uses Harvard citations, general and specific references can be in the same list, but some kind of annotation might be desireable to indicate which are the general references. --Jc3s5h (talk) 21:32, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
Citation style should probably be consistent; it's probably not be a good idea to mix Harvard-style cittions and ref tags (which are numbered). Hence, although it's completely okay to use textual (rather than parenthetical) citations (e.g., "Walker [5] states that..."), all parenthetical citations should probably be numerical to prevent headache when the first "ref" tag is added. Regarding separation at the end, if a {{reflist}} is used, the separate section should use {{refbegin}}...{{refend}} to be consistent, I should think. —TedPavlic (talk) 11:23, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
On an basic level, let me make note that there is a world of difference in the terminology: "Bibliography" versus "For further reading". In publishing, there is no such thing as "further reading" and it is so imprecise a term as to be impossible to find outside of our Wickywacky world. Authors create a list of reference sources, provide "markers" and "pointers" through end and footnotes (we call them "citations") and record a bibliographic notation (this is where Wikipedia has no direct equivalent) as a bibliography. Bibliographies consist of all sources that were necessary for the author to gather research, whether they were general or specific sources (we tend to disregard or deprecate "first person" sources, but nonetheless, all sources are identified, sometimes with a breakdown of the type of print or non-print sources used). I agree that citation styles should be consistent but when Wiki editors use a mix of templates, full text cataloging and "who knows" cataloging, then you get the fun of ISO dating along with d-m-y (or m-d-y dependent on their location), along with ASA, MLA, Chicago style, Harvard and a dizzying array of other reference and bibliographic notation styles. If you want consistency, then one editor chooses a consistent style and sticks with it, all other editors then adhere to that style as a "house style". Might I suggest:
"References" (as a section title, only because there are already a gazillion articles using the word "references") with the "Notes" (again, only due to the proclivity of usage of the term) followed by "Bibliography" as sub-section titles. Please deprecate "For further reading" [what the dingdong does that mean, a book on the night table, something that was unrelated in research gathering but may be of interest? aargh (LOL)] FWiW Bzuk (talk) 11:41, 2 June 2009 (UTC).
Returning to this indent level for sanity... Notes is fine except for when the original author makes the decision to separate footnotes (e.g., when using an "nb" ref group with <references group="nb"/>) from reference notes (i.e., no reference group, as in <references/>). I recently added a couple of references to Controllability#References; there, I split the References section into a Cited references and a General references section. Before today, that page had no references, but I knew that most of that material can be found on the reference, but I also knew that certain parts of the article would certainly not be in that reference. I think the approach looks clean (though the wording could be tweaked). —TedPavlic (talk) 12:29, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
The actual use of "notes" is intended to be general, in that notes can refer to further information, such as sources, quotes or details that assist understanding. The use of "cited references" is a canard, whether the citations are cited or not, the author is presumed to have used the references for background, or for research. There are some strict constructionists that insist that only a reference source that is cited should appear in the "references" but that is mainly a subjective decision as another author may use the source in a wholly different way and it would be of use to see where the research originated. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:52, 2 June 2009 (UTC).
Regardless, there are going to be some pages where it's better (or merely consistent) to have separate Footnotes and Inline references sections. Perhaps "Inline references" is better than "Cited references." —TedPavlic (talk) 13:05, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
...and that being entirely subjective, and an "author decision" rather than following editing conventions (in the other world, you know, "reality"). When you try to define "notes" are they really "footnotes" at all because there are really no separate pages, they most likely are "endnotes" or simply "notes." "Inline references" is another made-up concoction that refers to non-print resources. "Cited references" is more of the same; there should be no differentiation between a cited or non-cited bibliographic notation. Again, I am trying to turn the Titanic here... (LOL) FWiW Bzuk (talk) 13:17, 2 June 2009 (UTC).
I don't know why there's so much bikeshedding here about semantics. Whatever you call them, there is precedence (if not value) behind separating endnotes from in-lined citations. In the cases where they are separate, the sections need to have different names. Hence, something like Endnotes, In-line references, General references should be acceptable. —TedPavlic (talk) 16:26, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

I can't quite follow what's being suggested here, but best practice is to have a Notes section listing inline citations using "reflist"; a References section that lists the sources with full citations in alphabetical order; and a Further reading or External links section, for relevant material not used as a source.

Although that's best practice, usual practice is just to have the Notes section, and FR or EL. But when going to FA, it's best to have the three. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 16:40, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

All that matters is that readers know which sources are cited where. It's unnecessary to have separate sections for cites and ref lists in short articles. "Further reading" has no defined purpose, but I use it myself for seminal or significant books or articles I couldn't get hold of. When one writes or reworks a whole article oneself, one can format everything consistently, but it is the nature of Wikipedia to usually have a mishmash. So the most important thing is to give the source clearly, whatever style or unstyle one uses. qp10qp (talk) 16:49, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
As mentioned, it certainly may be semantics but "For further reading" or "Further reading" to me means a "Bibliography". As to precedence in editing with the Wiki MOS, yes, there is, but that is still a "moving target". FWiW Bzuk (talk) 17:02, 2 June 2009 (UTC).
I wouldn't say that's really best practices in all cases. Its best practices if you are using that style of citations. Those who prefer straight inline citations need only a References section, with Notes being for actual notes that are not citations. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 17:09, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
Then you are faced with the dilemma of accommodating multiple citations from a common source. My usual solution is to resort to a Harvard citation in this case for each citation source and a full bibliographic record noted only once in the "bibliography" (whoops, I said it again... (LOL)). FWiW, it would look like this: Notes: 1 Doe 1995, pp. 12–13. 2 Doe 1995, p. 16. Bibliography: Doe, John. A Reference. London: Basketville Books, 1995. ISBN 1-38078-123-X. (If ISBN:10 is included- entirely optional). Eh, that's not you agin, Collecty?! (note Canadianisms) Bzuk (talk) 17:20, 2 June 2009 (UTC).
That's why we have named references. :P Not everyone likes using Harvard citations and fortunately, Wikipedia leaves that to editorial discretion :) (Collecty? Eww...bad enough we have me and Collect possibly confusing people :P) -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 17:45, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
The problem with Wikipedia's named references (e.g., <ref name="Doe09">Doe (2009).</ref&gt and then <ref name="Doe09"/> at each repeated instance) is that there's no way to add (for example) page numbers to each new instance. One answer to this is to list the full reference in a "General references" section and then use unnamed ref tags to generate "Inline references" refs that look more like Harvard-style refs (e.g. <ref name="Doe09">Doe (2009).&lt, p. 205). However, if you ever need to refer to the reference as a whole, then you end up with the general ref getting repeated in the in-line refs. Nevertheless, if you want to separate out your endnotes (i.e., notes that are NOT references), you still need a separate "Notes" section... Hence, Notes, Inline references, and General references.TedPavlic (talk) 18:20, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
If you are using Harvard style references, then yes, you have that issue. Otherwise, it isn't an issue because each ref is considered independant (so if do have a "common" ref its just cited multiple times). Wikipedia already accommodates both styles of referencing, so I'm still confused as to what the actual issue is? -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 18:22, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
One solution for page numbers is by using {{rp}}. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 18:24, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
Excellent. Thanks. —TedPavlic (talk) 20:45, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
Aaargh (sorry, had to get that out, not another aberation?!) howzabout: References, Notes, Bibliography and External links since references is such a nebulous term that can refer to any reference source, while notes means that, a note, bibliography means a reference list while I will concede external links is an electronic, off-Wiki link. As to Collecty, Collectie (your more feminine side), what horrible abbreviation/appreciation will do? LOL Bzuk (talk) 18:25, 2 June 2009 (UTC).
==Notes=={{reflist}} ==References== [list of bullet pointed references (usually long references for short footnoted citations)], problem solved. --PBS (talk) 18:30, 2 June 2009 (UTC)
My take: ==Notes=={{reflist}} ==Bibliography== [list of bullet pointed references for short footnoted citations)], problem solved, in a different way. FWiW, I am aware of the heresy that induces... 18:33, 2 June 2009 (UTC).
Again, don't forget that some pages do have separate {{reflist|group=nb}}. Bzuk's list accommodates that, where "Notes" refers to nb footnotes, "References" refers to general references, "Bibliography" refers to in-line references, and "External links" are external links. If we're going to have external links, shouldn't we have something serving the "Further reading" section? Perhaps, "Relevant further reading," for text that is not directly referenced? —TedPavlic (talk) 20:45, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Metadata in citations

The utility of citations is greatly enhanced if metadata is included with them. The COinS microformat is automatically produced by some citation templates. This metadata makes the citation information accessible to bots, so that the citation can be formatted and updated with URLs, object identifiers, etc automatically, reducing editor workload. It also allows readers' browser plugins to recognise citations. Readers may use plugins such as LibX to identify an online version of a source which they can access via their library's subscription, or may use scripts such as User:Smith609/endnote.js to export citation information to a reference manager.

Since metadata increases the utility and verifiability of citations in Wikipedia, and can be readily provided - either manually, or via a citation template - I would propose that the manual of style note that Where appropriate, citations should include COinS-formatted metadata. This metadata is automatically produced by most citation templates, and can also be added manually..

COinS is a developing web standard for citation microformatting and is widely used already; hence it makes sense to advocate the consistent application of this format.

Would anybody have grounds to object to this proposal?

Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 16:56, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

My experience with any form of programming in Wikipedia that supposedly follows standards is that the people doing the programming don't necessarily read the standards, and write stuff that works most of the time, but misses some less-common cases. Also, templates have abysmal error handling, and template users have no knowledge of the special cases that the template might silently screw up.
At a minimum, I would expect any mention of any standard to point to a free official copy of the standard. I would also expect draft standards to be avoided. --Jc3s5h (talk) 17:09, 24 May 2009 (UTC)
I strongly agree with Martin that template-generated metadata is a good idea in the long run. However, I don't think it is necessary to dictate this through the guidelines. To be specific, I don't think the word "should" in Martin's proposed text is the right word. If this is a good idea, then editors will adopt it (eventually). The guideline could make an argument in favor, along the lines of "Many editors believe that ... ". Of course, then the guideline would probably also have to include an argument against. Many editors are deeply opposed to citation templates. (I am not one of these.) As long as these editors disagree, the guideline must remain more or less agnostic about the use citation templates.
(Although your proposal carefully avoids recommending citation templates, I think it is fairly clear that citation templates are the easiest way to generate metadata.)
To Jc3s5h, I would argue that it is easier to correct mistakes made with citation templates than it is to find the "screw ups" buried in handwritten citations. Bots are now routinely checking the citations written with templates, seeking out the original papers or books and correcting any sloppy errors. The mistakes in handwritten citations are still waiting for someone to notice them. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 10:25, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
You are advocating the use of citation templates over "scratch" cataloging?! The powers that be still haven't created a proper template for MLA use, despite requests made in the past. It is surely not easier to correct a poorly formatted template. Don't get me started on the use of the ISO dating in the templates. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 11:25, 26 May 2009 (UTC).
No, I'm saying that this guideline should remain agnostic about citation templates. Forgive me for "mentioning the war". ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 11:29, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
To CG: my argument was that metadata generated by a template will often be invisible in the article as presented to human readers, so most editors won't see any errors. Furthermore, even if they could, most editors will have no exposure to the standards that the metadata is supposed to conform to, and so will not be able to tell the difference between good and bad metadata.
I was not making any argument about screw ups in regular bibliographic data in manual vs. template citations, but since you mention it, I argue that since there is no written manual of style (comparable to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for example) that sets forth how citation templates should behave, there are no criteria for editors to decide whether a template-generated citation is right or wrong. --Jc3s5h (talk) 13:40, 27 May 2009 (UTC)


The only argument I can see against preferring metadata is that "if it's a good idea, editors will add it of their own accord". However, I'm not sure that this is true. Everybody agrees that good spelling, well written prose, and citations are 'good ideas', but there are thousands of articles which don't contain any of these elements. The advantage of providing a guideline is that it demonstrates consensus; with a clear consensus it is possible for bot coders to automate the (somewhat tedious) task.

With that in mind, would the following wording address the points raised above?

Ideally, citations will be accompanied by metadata where appropriate. Wikipedia uses the COinS microformat convention, which is automatically produced by most citation templates. In articles which do not use citation templates, metadata can be added manually according to the COinS specification.

Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 14:11, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

P.S. what is MLA use?

Since no method of embedding the COinS without a template is available, this conclusion favors templates over manual citations. If you add that conclusion to the project page, I will consider it necessary to initiate a well-publicized RfC asking whether this guideline should favor template citations over manual citations. --Jc3s5h (talk) 16:04, 31 May 2009 (UTC)
You need to read his post again. Your comment about their being "no method" directly contradicts what he just said. It can be added "by hand". ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 13:29, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
No, it can't. I read the browsed the spec, and there is no way anyone would get that correct without some kind of program assisting the process. --Jc3s5h (talk) 14:00, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
So your argument is that (1) citation templates are bad (2) the only reasonable way to generate CoinOS is with templates (3) Therefor, Wikipedia should not generate CoinOS? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 15:35, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
On a more constructive note, would you mind posting at Template talk:Citation/core and articulate precisely what is lacking about the current Citation/Core family of template? (Beyond the relentless "date" issue.) Perhaps these problems can be corrected, instantly improving hundreds of thousands of articles. (BTW, I think CItation/core is a better place to discuss these issues than here.) ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 15:39, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
My argument is that templates have been argued about in the talk page of this guideline forever, and neither side has prevailed; thus this guideline stays neutral on the question of whether templates should be used at all. If the guideline is changed to say the ideal citation includes data that can only be reasonably generated by a template means that the guideline would favor templates, which is a drastic change from the present position. As for what template lack, and how they could be improved, the basic problem is they are templates. The people who don't like them just don't want to type extra information such as parameter names in addition to the actual contents of the citation. --Jc3s5h (talk) 16:09, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
The point of this guideline wouldn't be to force hard-working editors who add references to spend more of their time adding parameters (we definitely don't want to scare this type of editor off, as they are probably our most valuable contributors!), but rather to allow bots to add metadata to manually-inserted references. Entering the data 'by hand' in a minimalistic fashion, without templates, would continue to be fine and encouraged, but we could make such contributions even more useful if automated software had permission to add on metadata tags - using templates or otherwise. If the only reason against encouraging the addition of metadata is that it is difficult to add, then I think we should change the guideline anyway - but perhaps with a strong clause instructing people not to bite editors who don't include metadata! If no change in editor behaviour was mandated by the guideline, would you still have any objection? Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 21:26, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

(unindent) It is against this guideline to convert an article that consistently uses manual citations to templates, or to make other wholesale changes in the citation style. So a bot that goes around and changes manual citations to templates, whether adding metadata at the same time, or not, goes against the present guideline. Furthermore, a major objection to templates is the amount of space they take up in the wikitext; if metadata is added, this will make articles harder to edit, whether the metadata is in the form of templates or in some other form. --Jc3s5h (talk) 21:35, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Okay. Here's another couple of scenarios for your consideration: would you still object if a bot converted the wikicode of a manually-formatted reference to use a template without changing the output style (except for the associated metadata)? If so, why? Secondly, if a bot could add metadata to a manually-formatted citation using under (say) 20 characters, would this be acceptable? Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 23:01, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
It isn't just the output style that matters, it is the ease of editing the input, so changing from a manual citation to a template of the same style would still be a problem (and a bot would never be smart enought to understand a manual citation anyway). If the metadata could be put in a manual citation with fewer than 20 extra characters, that might be OK. However, if the 20 extra characters were not plain language, (suppose it looked like {{cmd|qr3$tYuNBR7=&}}) the risk is that someone would come along and update the citation, not understand the metadata, and so leave the citation inconsistent with the metadata. --Jc3s5h (talk) 23:13, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
A bot would not have to put in a citation template at all. If it was able to parse the citation, it could just as well generate the COinS & put that in. Or the metadata could be placed next to the citation in a template that only rendered the COinS. Preferably, this hypothetical COinS-generating template would use the same parameters as the cite template, so that hand-entered references could be converted to use templates if there was a consensus to do so. All of this seems consistent with the guideline. I don't know where you came up with an arbitrary 20 character maximum for metadata. No policy or guideline would seem to endorse that peculiar requirement. --Karnesky (talk) 23:41, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
I would prefer your suggestion, Karnesky, but my 20 character limit was to avoid objections that inserting COinS metadata would add too much clutter to the wikicode. I guess that the bot would have to ensure that the metadata behind a short-template continued to match the written template. So where do we go from here? We seem to have a consensus that metadata is A Good Thing - how are we to determine whether to use an inelegant-but-uncumbersome short template or a human-readable template (which I think is preferable to the direct addition of a somewhat unintelligible COinS span)? I suppose that there's nothing to stop us from creating both templates, and having editors decide which they wish to use in their individual articles. Thoughts? Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 02:53, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
This all seems ill-defined and premature to me (maybe by several decades). I don't think anyone knows how to write a bot that can parse a manual citation and create metadata. A template that looks just like a citation template but only produces invisible metadata is even worse from the clutter point of view than citation templates. If there were a desire to provide software to all users to manually enter citation data into the software, and place short non-human readable data into the text, that would be a major software development project, and it would be a long time before we were ready to update this guideline (and the definition of such a project might change beyond recognition before coding started). --Jc3s5h (talk) 03:23, 3 June 2009 (UTC)
This isn't a discussion about approving a bot. That would be premature (as no bot yet exists). If someone has interest in making such a bot, that's great. They'd need to prove the efficacy of the bot through a bot request & you are free to nay-say there. I will certainly be critical prior to an approval, but there's little reason to be critical now. Contrary to what you say, there are multiple webservices & public code that parse citations. To be sure: not all manually-entered citations are able to be parsed by these tools. But some of the tools give a confidence rating of their parsing & it is completely feasible that something generally useful could be built.
No guideline I'm aware of address what you call "clutter." I find this to be a somewhat dubious objection. The primary reason for policy to allow any citation style (w/ or w/out templates) seems to be to be inviting to new contributors. If there is consensus that long templates are a real concern, we can probably use a template similar to the cite doi template, where the key used to generate the metadata is not just some arbitrary garbage. I'd prefer that we use full, multi-parameter templates, though: easier to tweak in fixes & also to convert to actual cite templates if there is consensus for that change.
I see no reason to oppose to suggesting (and not requiring) ways for metadata to be included. We show how/why to use templates & don't require people use those. --Karnesky (talk) 04:23, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

Phrasing/placement in guideline

I see no objections of allowing metadata to be added. As with the use of templates, it appears that some want to be able to keep their own style. While they may choose to use or not use the tools available, there seems to be no reason to not inform people that the tools are available. As such, I've rephrased the section on the guideline. It should probably be "demoted" in the position on the page. Perhaps right above or below the template section? I'd personally prefer, like Martin, to see it phrased a bit stronger. But I, like AnmaFinotera, do not yet see clear consensus on this issue. --Karnesky (talk) 17:45, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but no-body seems to have any strong objection to including metadata. While there may not yet be consensus on the best way to achieve it, I don't see any argument against encouraging its use. Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 20:22, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Metadata potentially takes up too much room in the wikitext, making the article hard to edit. --Jc3s5h (talk) 21:24, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
Can we have a definition of 'too much room'? Would you accept 20 characters? 50? Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 03:27, 7 June 2009 (UTC)
It is not for me to say. Open an RfC if you want an idea of what the community thinks. --Jc3s5h (talk) 03:55, 7 June 2009 (UTC)

French wikipedia's method of collating information about references

The French Wikipedia has a really interesting way of collating information about references. Information about a reference book can be stored in the "Reference" namespace, for example fr:Référence:La vie quotidienne des Aztèques à la veille de la conquête espagnole (Jacques Soustelle), where you can find for instance a list of editions and can choose from a drop-down a range of formatting options for the reference. These references can be categorized by topic (for example this one is in fr:Catégorie:Ouvrage sur l'Amérique précolombienne). To insert the reference into an article, it's possible to use a template (in this case fr:Modèle:Soustelle VQA) to include key bibliographic data and provide a link to the list of editions in the "Reference" namespace - see for instance the article fr:Calmecac. The template aspect of this would need a bit of amendment to fit into the English Wikipedia, particularly bearing in mind that the template only lists one edition (and editors on different articles may use different ones), and also in terms of formatting, but the basic idea would work fine without the template, with the appropriate link to the "Reference" namespace placed after the reference is used (in cases like Checkers speech, where the reference inside the <ref>...</ref> tags is just the minimal Template:Harvnb author, date and page and with a link down to the full reference information in the "Bibliography" section - not sure how consistently those sections are named - then the link to the Reference namespace would belong by the fuller citation in that section).

I wonder whether there is a discussion somewhere, perhaps relegated to "perennial proposals", where it has been discussed to bring a similar set-up to the English Wikipedia? TheGrappler (talk) 22:20, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

I have been involved in such a discussion, and the verdict was that there was too high a cost in terms of performance. However, no-body presented any evidence to back this up, so it might be worth re-proposing - if it works for the French it can't be that server-crippling. Apart from having a different name-space and fancier gizmos, this approach is similar to the one used by the {{cite doi}} template. Perhaps it would be possible to roll out a {{cite isbn}} and {{cite url}} template too, which would function in a similar fashion, and avoid users having to search for references?
Also, I've had a gander at the French system and don't entirely understand it. Could you outline a little more clearly how a user goes from finding a reference to including it in their article in the 'correct' format? Martin (Smith609 – Talk) 15:18, 6 June 2009 (UTC)
I can't say that I am dead set on implementing the fr: system here but I can see some benefits from it (principally that information on book references can be centralized, that categories can be created of references on a particular topic area, and that it would be easy (although I haven't seen it done on fr:) to systematically catalogue which users have access to certain reference books (perhaps users who have a copy can just put a note on the talk page!), which might aid source-searching. I'm not sure quite to what extent this mirrors the doi template; the fact that it can show various different editions (including possibly different editions in different languages) is definitely handy. One thing that would be really good is that metadata (including DOI or microformat terms) could clearly be added in the "Reference:" mainspace, without the need for it to be inserted into every single article manually.
As far as I can see, what people currently do if they have a reference book and want to create a full-on reference using this system, is the following (NB even for most reference books, most people don't seem to bother doing this all and just reference it in the article in the normal way). The first step is to create a page in the "Reference:" mainspace, using a template they have called fr:Template:édition which contains various pieces of information about the edition of the book. Sometimes there are more than one edition listed, like fr:Référence:Message de Frolix 8 (Philip K. Dick) (press "modifier" to see how the template works). This is an example of a work where there isn't a shorthand template to cite it. If you look at fr:Philip K. Dick#Œuvres you can see that Message de Frolix 8 is listed (it's not strictly a citation but I'm sure you can see that a citation would work a similar way). Those little links ("détail des éditions") go to the "Reference" namespace, and are created using the ref parameter of fr:Template:écrit. Some other works, like fr:Référence:Marie-Monique Robin (Escadrons de la mort), have a shortcut template to cite them (listed at the top of the "Reference" page, in this case as fr:Template:Ref-Robin-Escadrons. If you edit the Reference: page you can see the link at the top of the page is inserted by typing {{Référence|modèle=Ref-Robin-Escadrons}} ("modèle" = "template"). The linked template is fr:Template:Ref-Robin-Escadrons, which is created in order to cite the source more easily (but I have no idea what you do if there are different editions of a work in Reference: space and different people are referencing different editions, e.g. US and UK editions, in articles, and want to have shortcut templates for the two different editions; will have to find a more experienced fr: user!). You can see an example of it being used in an article here. Does that help you? TheGrappler (talk) 17:47, 6 June 2009 (UTC)

Wiki-links from footnotes

Can the standard reference templates be expanded to auto-generate wiki-links to media (and other) sources? So if for example I've never heard of the New York Times and have doubts about what this guy Blair is saying I can click over and see that it is a well respected source. Hcobb (talk) 13:36, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm guessing probably not because of issues of dealing with diambigs and having to make such a feature work with the existing wiki-links most people already put in. Usually best fix is just to fix the citation to properly wikilink source names (since they are supposed to anyway). -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 14:36, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

Good Articles

WP:GNGA#Inline_citations asserts that <ref> tags must always be placed immediately after punctuation -- a practice that I always use, because I happen to like it, but one which I thought was not actually required anywhere. In fact, I was rather under the impression that we used the original author's style/spelling/etc unless there was a good reason to change it, and that this might reasonably be construed as following the punctuation pattern.

I have long-term concerns about the Good Article process being pushed well beyond its original "pretty good" mandate into "Really, Very, Extremely, Officially Certified Good Articles" territory, and since this "essay" is recommended by the GA process and followed quite closely by both nominators and reviewers, it has a lot of power to shape "normal practice", even if that's not the stated intention.

If any of the regular editors here would like to take a look at this section, I'd appreciate it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:39, 17 June 2009 (UTC) who is not watching this page

should it be page or pages

I have noticed the the pywikipediabot has changed a few citation templated to say page instead of pages even when the are more than 1 page. For example ir might say pages= 22. Is this appropriate and if so where is it mentioned?--Kumioko (talk) 20:10, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

That sounds like a mistake. Notify the bot owner by leaving a message on his or her talk page. — Cheers, JackLee talk 03:49, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Thanks.--Kumioko (talk) 13:28, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

citing websites that use flash

A question has arisen in the Pro Wrestling project about citing a flash based website where you can't directly link to the subpage the info is on. Is there a general take on this problem? Can you site a site when you can't directly link to the page the information is on?? MPJ-DK (talk) 12:53, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

This question has come up before – do a search of the talk page archives if you want to read the previous discussion. My view is that it would be best to find a different reference if you can, but if you really want (or need) to cite the flash website, then just provide a link to the home page and describe the subpage and how to get to it. For instance, state the title of the subpage if there is one, and explain what buttons or links a reader should click on to reach the subpage. — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:18, 23 June 2009 (UTC)

Citing directly after a quotation

According to WP:Citing sources#When quoting someone a citation must directly follow a quote (I'm ignoring the other location for the time being because it's irrelevant to my query.) However, does that really have to be taken so literally? For instance, look at the this section of the article that I am currently working on: Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen#Reception. This edit is perfectly in-line with what is said on the policy page, but if you look at the article, it simply makes more sense to cite the entire thought, as opposed to attributing every sentence to the same citation, like WP:Citing sources#When quoting someone seems to advocate. It seems to me that the way the section was written did not account for the possibility that more info about the review/paper would follow the quote. Perhaps the section should be taken liberally? Artichoker[talk] 16:51, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Looking For Modoc Scroll Of Indians

I am new at this so please bare with me. I am Modoc Indian. My mother had all the paperwork i.e. scroll, type of Indian, ect. When she passed away, I could not find any of the paperwork she had. We all were paid a certain amount for our land, but still being able to use it. I would like to know how I can find out where the scrolls are located and ask for information regarding how to get myself and my childrens names on the scrolls. I know we are on them. Need a phone number or address to get me started. I have been looking all over the net and cannot seem to find anything regarding this information. If you could be of any help I would surely appreciate it.

Thanking you in advance. Pat Roth aka Rambo and Maloney Rambo from Mom, Irish from Dad. My e-mail is : Address Pat Roth, P.O. Box 720, Wofford Heights, CA. I was born in Klamath Falls, lived in Merill till I was 5, then moved with Mom to San Francisco. Still in California, am located in the beginning of the Sierra Mountains.

I look forward to hearing from those who have any info I can get.

Thanks, Pat (talk) 16:09, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

I have forwarded this post to Modoc. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:17, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Just note that article talk pages aren't for finding out info such as this. I've replied on the Modoc talk page, however. In the future, I'd suggest Wikipedia:Reference desk. Thanks! Katr67 (talk) 18:04, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Internal consistency is unnecessarily restrictive

The problem is that different articles in the wikipedia are not mutually consistent. This means that moving appropriate references from one article to another in general cannot be done without significant rework, work which does not improve the accuracy or readability of the wikipedia or anything else of any importance. We're not doing this to make pretty looking references for someone with OCD, we add references for purely practical reasons; any form of reference that permits the fact to be checked is fine.

Can anyone give a completely convincing practical argument for this, otherwise I am simply going to remove it.

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds". - (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 02:17, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

Citations can be added in a different format, just as words can be misspelled. Eventually someone will fix it. I don't see that it is actually very difficult to reformat a citation when copying it to a new article. Copying citations is somewhat strange as a concept; one should really be looking at the source again to make sure that it supports the claims being cited in the new article. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:53, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
The simplest answer is that an article looks better with a consistent citation style. Note that it is acceptable to mix general references, full citations in footnotes and shortened citations in footnotes all in the same article. Note that it is also acceptable to mix most of the citation templates (like {{cite book}}, {{cite web}}, {{cite news}} etc).
However, judging by the first sentence of your post, you are aware of the deeper issue behind the consistency rule. There are few situations where we don't mix citation styles/methods:
  • Citation templates with hand-written citations, because some editors hate citation templates and don't want them in their articles.
  • Handwritten citations in one format (such as APA style) with handwritten citations in a different format (such as MLA style), because there are editors who prefer these styles over all others.
  • Parenthetical references with other citation methods, because there are editors who prefer this method over any other, or at least think they are more appropriate for articles on some academic subjects.
These disagreements have a long history in Wikipedia. We've agreed to keep each article consistent, so that these disagreements don't flare up. If, for example, an article doesn't use citation templates, then there is a good chance that there is an editor working on that article who hates citation templates. If you were to add a citation template, that editor would be annoyed, and edit warring may follow. Basically, the consistency rule helps keep the peace. We don't fight over articles -- whatever citation style is there, stays there. That's the compromise. We keep articles consistent, in part because we have been unable to agree on a way to make all of Wikipedia consistent. These disagreements are not going to go away soon. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:12, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
So we're making people jump through pointless hoops even when there are no disagreements at all?- (User) Wolfkeeper (Talk) 19:17, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Well, I guess it isn't that obvious, but if you read the guideline like a lawyer you'll note that it really only prohibits the three cases I mentioned above. There five recommended ways to present citations in articles. Three of them can work together, one of them isn't recommended for WP:Good articles (embedded links), and the last one is mentioned above (parenthetical references). As for putting together the citation, handwritten citations must all match (as mentioned above), you can't mix handwritten with templates (ditto), but the templates can be (almost) freely mixed. (The one exception is {{Citation}}, which uses commas, not periods, but it is trivial to change {{Citation}} to {{Cite book}} or whatever. Or leave it for future bots.) ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 12:35, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
As Carl said, no one has to jump through hoops. Go ahead and add the refs; don't bother about the style if you don't want to. Someone who likes doing that sort of thing will come along and clean it up, sooner or later. --Trovatore (talk) 19:21, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

I don't know what universities are like outside the US, but in the US many university professors insist students carefully follow whichever style guildeline has been adopted for a particular course; papers that fail to comply receive lower grades. It is possible that people who attended university in the US will carry this attitude about citations forward in later life and suspect that any article they see with inconsistent citations is poorly written in general, just as many people suspect that articles with poor spelling are poorly written in general. So perhaps consistent citations adds to the credibility of Wikipedia articles. --Jc3s5h (talk) 13:11, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Improving <ref>

I'm in a mood to patch something. In particular, I'd like to improve the <ref> system to reduce the clutter in wikicode. There are several possible ways to do this, but at current I am leaning to towards expanding <references /> to allow reference definitions to appear within a references block, i.e.:

<ref name="foo">abcde</ref>
<ref name="bar">xyz</ref>

One could then change all the prior <ref> calls into <ref name="foo" /> and move the cluttered wikicode out of the main body of the text. Of course the current system would continue to function as is, but this would provide an option for greater readability of wikicode if people chose to use it.

Does that sound like a good idea? Do people have other suggestions for (small) ways to improve <ref>? Dragons flight (talk) 10:25, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Yes, definitely! This has come up many times, and there is great demand for this feature. (The point about section editing is valid, but not a big deal as we already often have sections citing references whose definition is in other sections.) Of the many bugs that Anomie mentioned, bug 18890 is probably the most recent one and with some code too, by User:Wtmitchell. Do keep in mind that it would be good to allow defining references anywhere, not only in one block at the end: that way we could have references defined outside of the prose paragraphs to avoid clutter but still "in" respective sections. I mean something like, say,
This is a paragraph<ref name="foo"> within a section.

<ref define="foo">abcde</ref>

This is another paragraph.
A lot of people would be very happy if you patched this, one way or another! Shreevatsa (talk) 14:29, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • I'm going to move the opposite way and say this is very much the wrong way of going about it. Moving citations from the end of the article into the article text made editing them so much easier. ref could be made better, but this is not how to do it. --Golbez (talk) 14:55, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    Really? How often do you edit the content of references? I certainly don't do so often, and when I do it is usually something like converting a bare link into a citation template, which doesn't really matter where the ref is defined. The reference marker would still be placed inline so, so I assume you mean something other than simply tagging referenced text? Dragons flight (talk) 16:39, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    I create dozens of references for the articles I'm working on, and if I had to jump around the whole article having to do them, I'd be much less happy about doing it. Adding <ref> was a godsend, finding out how to nest refs was awesome too, then I could completely abandon cite/note. So to answer your question: Quite often. --Golbez (talk) 15:27, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
    (ec with Dragon's flight, I repeat some of his points) When I think about the situations I, Gnome, edit references, I think I can break them down into the following three cases:
    1. I see an unsupported fact, and I come in and add a reference
    2. I enhance plain references in articles by the citation templates
    3. I greatly expand an article with lots of references (OK, that has only really happened once)
    In the first case, I agree that it's more cumbersome to have to edit two places.
    In the second case, I'll actually have an easier time if they are all in one place.
    In the third case, this proposal would help my editing style as well cause I'll already have a list of references prepared in proper format when I compiled the article. For me, it sucked to then spread the articles to the first uses of the refs.
    Of course, real content builders are certainly going to have very different editing styles, but I do believe that the editing of *existing* references could actually be easier if they are all in one place, and that the only situation when the new system would give me a harder time is when I add a new citation into an existing article. Shreevatsa's solution is interesting to help with that, but personally I'd prefer to keep them all in one place, and think that it might be confusing if I have to distinguish the type of reference by the attribute names. I'd expect some confusion there, when people mistakenly add definitions inside articles or actual references at the end of a paragraph.
    I believe that the better solution would be to just not care, to place them right next to the fact as before, and, in the (delusional?) assumption that the MOS will agree with the convention, wait for one of the many cleanup-bots and AWBers to move it to the proper place.
    That's of course the crux, getting the MOS to agree that by default we want all references collected at the end.
    Amalthea 17:06, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • How about this? SharkD (talk) 15:50, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
== Improving <ref> ==

I'm in a mood to patch something.  In particular, I'd like to improve the <tt><nowiki><ref></tt> system to reduce the clutter in wikicode.  There are several possible ways to do this, but at current I am leaning to towards expanding <tt><references /></tt> to allow reference definitions to appear within a references block, i.e.:

<ref name="foo">abcde</ref>
<ref name="bar">xyz</ref>

One could then change all the prior <ref> calls into <ref name="foo" /> and move the cluttered wikicode out of the main body of the text. Of course the current system would continue to function as is, but this would provide an option for greater readability of wikicode if people chose to use it.

Does that sound like a good idea? Do people have other suggestions for (small) ways to improve <ref>? Dragons flight (talk) 10:25, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Yes, definitely! This has come up many times, and there is great demand for this feature. (The point about section editing is valid, but not a big deal as we already often have sections citing references whose definition is in other sections.) Of the many bugs that Anomie mentioned, bug 18890 is probably the most recent one and with some code too, by User:Wtmitchell. Do keep in mind that it would be good to allow defining references anywhere, not only in one block at the end: that way we could have references defined outside of the prose paragraphs to avoid clutter but still "in" respective sections. I mean something like, say,
This is a paragraph<ref name="foo"> within a section.

<ref define="foo">abcde</ref>

This is another paragraph.
A lot of people would be very happy if you patched this, one way or another! Shreevatsa (talk) 14:29, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • I'm going to move the opposite way and say this is very much the wrong way of going about it. Moving citations from the end of the article into the article text made editing them so much easier. ref could be made better, but this is not how to do it. --Golbez (talk) 14:55, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    Really? How often do you edit the content of references? I certainly don't do so often, and when I do it is usually something like converting a bare link into a citation template, which doesn't really matter where the ref is defined. The reference marker would still be placed inline so, so I assume you mean something other than simply tagging referenced text? Dragons flight (talk) 16:39, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    I create dozens of references for the articles I'm working on, and if I had to jump around the whole article having to do them, I'd be much less happy about doing it. Adding <ref> was a godsend, finding out how to nest refs was awesome too, then I could completely abandon cite/note. So to answer your question: Quite often. --Golbez (talk) 15:27, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
    (ec with Dragon's flight, I repeat some of his points) When I think about the situations I, Gnome, edit references, I think I can break them down into the following three cases:
    1. I see an unsupported fact, and I come in and add a reference
    2. I enhance plain references in articles by the citation templates
    3. I greatly expand an article with lots of references (OK, that has only really happened once)
    In the first case, I agree that it's more cumbersome to have to edit two places.
    In the second case, I'll actually have an easier time if they are all in one place.
    In the third case, this proposal would help my editing style as well cause I'll already have a list of references prepared in proper format when I compiled the article. For me, it sucked to then spread the articles to the first uses of the refs.
    Of course, real content builders are certainly going to have very different editing styles, but I do believe that the editing of *existing* references could actually be easier if they are all in one place, and that the only situation when the new system would give me a harder time is when I add a new citation into an existing article. Shreevatsa's solution is interesting to help with that, but personally I'd prefer to keep them all in one place, and think that it might be confusing if I have to distinguish the type of reference by the attribute names. I'd expect some confusion there, when people mistakenly add definitions inside articles or actual references at the end of a paragraph.
    I believe that the better solution would be to just not care, to place them right next to the fact as before, and, in the (delusional?) assumption that the MOS will agree with the convention, wait for one of the many cleanup-bots and AWBers to move it to the proper place.
    That's of course the crux, getting the MOS to agree that by default we want all references collected at the end.
    Amalthea 17:06, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • How about this? SharkD (talk) 15:50, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
=== Section ===

<ref display="foo">This is a sentence in a paragraph.</ref> <ref display="bar">This is another sentence in a paragraph.</ref>

=== References ===

<ref define="foo">abcde</ref>
<ref define="bar">xyz</ref>
  • Please don't make us go multiple places to edit a single reference; that will just cause people to abandon the notion. A better editing environment, one that had a separate edit box for refs right alongside the ref itself, seems like a better idea. I like the idea of tying refs with text, but only if we don't have to edit the ref in two locations. --Golbez (talk) 15:47, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    How would your suggestion remove the clutter from page source? SharkD (talk) 15:52, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I welcome this proposal cautiously, but agree with the concerns raised by Amalthea and Golbez. I think that if all the reference definitions were moved to the end of the article, this would make editing cumbersome as it would be necessary to keep moving there to add, alter or delete references, and would make section editing impractical. Placing reference definitions relating to a particular section at the end of that section sounds like a fair compromise. The split screen suggestion by Golbez is also great, if that can be implemented. — Cheers, JackLee talk 16:07, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I really do not understand the point some people are making about section editing being made cumbersome: isn't it already the case that not all references in a section are always defined in that section? Shreevatsa (talk) 17:33, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
At present, most references inside sections of an article are typed directly in between "<ref>" tags. Alternatively, you can give a reference a name using "<ref name=>". Therefore, when you are editing a section and want to use the same reference, you just have to remember the name you gave the reference earlier. However, if a new system requires all reference definitions to be placed at the end of the article, then most of the time it will be necessary to edit the whole article so that new definitions can be inserted at the end. Editing a section will be more inconvenient because it will not be possible to insert the reference definition in that section – unless, of course, we put such definitions at the end of each section rather than at the end of the article. — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:55, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Just to be clear, any technical change would allow but not require references to be moved. References placed directly would still work, but people would have the option of relocating them as a means of reducing clutter, if the community decides that is a good idea. Dragons flight (talk) 18:03, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it should be backwards-compatible. SharkD (talk) 06:41, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
  • For the record, any proposal that requires a separate editing box for references is a non-starter for me. Even if the community unanimously agreed to it, that's a much bigger change than I am personally willing to implement. However, I am willing to consider other options for relocating reference blocks, such as some way of defining them at the end of each section. Dragons flight (talk) 16:39, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    Err, what you're proposing is already possible using the cite id system. Take a look at GRB 970508. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 18:05, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    That's rather different, I'd say. The style used there is a compromise that can be useful in particular if many refs go to different pages of the same book. I personally find that style less useful, from a reader's point of view, cause I have to click the inline ref and the "Notes" item to get to the actual reference. Furthermore, if all you have are sources to online articles, without any page numbers, that system loses all advantages in my opinion, sunce you effectively duplicate all refs. Easier for the editor, while less useful for the reader, whereas the proposed system won't necessitate a visual change. Amalthea 23:00, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Hi Dragonsflight, I don't fully understand what your proposal is (in fact, I don't understand it at all, to be honest), but I'd like to add that anything that sections the refs off from the text (e.g. puts a box around them), or highlights them, or increases their length, makes copy editing for flow very difficult. In fact, it is impossible with some of the citation templates, which leaves us with some badly written articles and no clear way to improve them without removing a lot of the references. So I'd be opposed to anything that would make that situation worse. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:23, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    I, in return, don't understand at all what you are saying. :)
    This proposal is about moving the body of references from the prose into into the "References" section. Only the named reference tag will be placed in the prose, e.g. "<ref name=nytimes/>". This will make copyediting the actual article text easier, and it will have no effect on the rendered page. Amalthea 23:00, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Is it possible to set up a page somewhere showing what this would look like? Even if it's not a working model, it would be good to see how it would appear, and in what way it's so very different from what some editors do already. Amalthea, the way you describe it, I can't see a huge difference between the proposal and editors who already use Harvard refs between ref tags in the text. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 18:09, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  • My thoughts: Keeping the references in the same place as the content is much preferable than having to go somewhere else to print them, as we used to. That's just asking for people to forget to do the reference, or just skip doing the reference at all out of laziness. Having an editing environment where we could collapse references or explode them out to a popup of some sort might help, but please don't return us to the days of {cite and {note. Even as an option, it will just screw things up. --Golbez (talk) 20:43, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    As I mention above, I agree that there are circumstances when placing the body of references in a separate section is cumbersome. Would you agree though that for a new editor and from an editor who wants to edit existing references, having all references listed in one separate section instead of in the middle of the text will actually make things easier?
    I believe that if we still allow editors to place their new inline citations in the middle of the prose, without reservation, just as they do now, and rely on bots/AWB/gnomes to "clean" those articles up, it will very much be a net positive. Or do you see issues when editing existing references will be made (much) harder with the proposed system, Golbez? I'd certainly agree that if any change will make people use less citations, then it needs to be avoided, but I don't see why the proposed change would have that effect. Amalthea 23:00, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    I found things much harder when references were split between prose and the end, I can't assume all new editors feel the same way but I know how I felt, both then and now. The problem with this proposal is that it gives three meanings to a single tag - it makes <ref> dependent on context and values, and I would think that would confuse new users more than anything. I find this proposal difficult for new users to understand (Heck, I have a problem with understanding it), and there are much better solutions than returning us to the old method of separating citation from prose. --Golbez (talk) 23:15, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Finally, a way of moving ref definitions that is fully backwards-compatible and intuitive.
First let me say that I do not support fragmenting articles to the extent of implementing a <define>...</define> tag; that is just asking for confusion and poorly-constructed pages, the wiki equivalent of the evil 'jump' statement in some programming languages. Why are refs different? Because refs are what we'd describe as 'inline' elements: they come between, and sometimes within, the prose sentences. An infobox might be a huge block of ugly code, but it is distinct from the prose: whether or not people understand what the code does, they can easily recognise it as 'the code that makes the infobox appear', and skim past it to the text. Refs are not like that: because they break up the prose so horribly - often many lines of code for something that comes out as four characters on the screen - they are incredibly distracting, and make it almost impossible to copyedit or even read the prose. The reason we have so many problems with punctuation and references being in the wrong order (lorem[3], ipsum), or even duplicated (lorem,[4], ipsum) is because by the time you've skimmed through the huge ref body, you've completely forgotten what the preceeding text was like. Anything that makes ref tags less intrusive into the article prose itself is, IMO, a very good idea.
Editing references can be difficult, everyone knows that. Section editing is particularly irritating, both because references are not displayed in preview, and that the necessary ref may be defined in another section, outside the scope of the edit. These problems are nothing new, and ubiquitous in any article long enough for section editing to be worthwhile. The 'solution' is likely to involve fully separating the references from the content: that might be by having them in a separate edit box; the long-term goal is I believe a WYSIWYG editor. An intermediate solution could be as simple as a piece of javascript or MediaWiki code to pick up reference definitions from the rest of the article and make them available within the confines of a section edit. Do you think writing such code would be easier if the references remained scattered throughout the articles, or if they were collected in one DOM element at the end?
In short, I fully support this as what seems like by far the most elegant and effective way to improve the flexibility of the ref system. Happymelon 22:50, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Thank you Happy-melon, that is an excellent description of the problems caused by the clutter. The only thing I would add is that the existing in-prose reference markup (especially with citation templates etc.) indeed turns away several newcomers, as we learnt from the usability study: please watch File:Wiki_feel_stupid_v2.ogv. Shreevatsa (talk) 23:47, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
From the video it looks like it doesn't compare <ref>s with {{ref}}s; it simply shows people's confusion with <ref>s. That in itself does not mean we should change back to the {ref format. --Golbez (talk) 23:50, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
The video shows that excessive markup is intimidating. No one is proposing changing back to the {ref format, only that anything that reduces clutter is good. One particular instance is that "Person is X,<ref name=nytimes/> Y,<ref name=post/> and Z.<ref name=la/>" is more readable for users than "Person is X,<ref>{{citation | date=...(4 lines of markup)}}, Y<ref>(another 4 lines)</ref>, and Z.". Of course, other ways to reduce clutter and make prose readable when editing are also most welcome. Shreevatsa (talk) 00:23, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Reducing clutter would be great, I'd be all for that. I don't see how this accomplishes that; it moves the clutter out of the article text but it's still there, and this would make it less likely that it would be properly added and maintained, IMO. And if this change makes it easier for people to edit yet decreases the total value of references - as I think it would - I have to be opposed to it. There are other ways of making it easier to edit than this proposal (which really should be just a "what do you think", as the specific proposal here is pretty bad; again, we shouldn't have one tag do three different things depending on context. THAT would confuse new editors even more, I think. No other HTML tag works in that fashion, and few wiki tags do) --Golbez (talk) 00:50, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Moving all references to the references section would organize them and make it a lot easier to a) read the article prose, and b) read the citations themselves, since the article prose would be rid of the citation clutter, and the citations themselves would appear on their own lines with the wiki markup' characters lined up in rows and columns. SharkD (talk) 06:39, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
It might organize them but in IMO it would make it less likely for people to add them in the first place. As for what you say above - "Yes, it should be backwards-compatible." - then there's no point. No clutter will be removed; Some people will still use the present system (since it's backwards compatible); and newbies will still be confronted with a wall of clutter. If you truly want to do this to get rid of clutter then you must go all the way with it and not support the old ref-in-text system. --Golbez (talk) 14:41, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
You're making a lot of assumptions. SharkD (talk) 08:31, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
I am? The only assumptions I see up there is when I say "some people"; that includes me, and I'm pretty sure I'm not making an assumption about my own preferences. --Golbez (talk) 14:37, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
It's not particularly hard to extract the refs from the wikitext, even when they are scattered around the article. If you really want to make that easier, eliminate the three different methods of quoting allowed for parameter values (name="foo", name='foo', and name=foo, all with different rules as to which characters are allowed in the value). Anomie 00:51, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Good thing there's no description of what the script actually does. SharkD (talk) 08:30, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
The sad thing about statements like that is that they go out of date so quickly. Anomie 00:26, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

< It is already possible to separate references from the text, using the {{Note}} and {{Ref}} templates. (This was mentioned before by Golbez and others but I want to underline it to make sure newer editors understand the issues. This example is adopted from WP:Verification methods.)

Article This is some information.1 This information comes from a book.2 This is more information that comes from a different book.3 This is a point that needs clarification.4 This is more information from the first book.2
  1. ^ This tells exactly where this information came from.
  2. ^ ^ Doe, John (1996), Book of Information, Great Books, ISBN 1234567890
  3. ^ Doe, Jane (2020), More Information, Better Books, ISBN 1234567890
  4. ^ This is a footnote that clarifies the point above.
This is some information.{{ref|1|1}} This information comes from a book.{{ref|2a|2}} This is more information 
that comes from a different book.{{ref|3|3}} This is a point that needs clarification.{{ref|4|4}} This is more 
information from the first book.{{ref|2a|2}}

=== References ===

# {{note|1}}This tells exactly where this information came from.
# {{note|2a}}{{note|2b}}[[John Doe|Doe, John]] (1996), ''Book of Information'', Great Books, ISBN 1234567890
# {{note|3}}[[Jane Doe|Doe, Jane]] (2020), ''More Information'', Better Books, ISBN 1234567890
# {{note|4}}This is a footnote that clarifies the point above.

What you propose is certainly an improvement over {{Note}} and {{Ref}}, because it automatically numbers the footnotes. As several people have noted, many editors would like to see clutter-free text like this example. However, as others have noted, this method was abandoned for several reasons that go beyond just the numbering issue, as discussed by Golbez, JackLee and others above. My own view is this:

  1. I agree with HappyMelon and others above that Wikipedia needs a WYSIWIG editor that at least allows us to edit footnotes as easily as, say, Microsoft Word. The logical first step is that the editor window should show the linked, superscripted numbers that link to footnotes in a separate window or window section, where you can edit the contents of the footnote. All other proposals are, in my opinion, temporary and kludgy fixes that don't fully solve the problems and introduce new unforeseen problems.
  2. Most editors don't seem to be aware of {{Note}} and {{Ref}}, despite the fact that these are used in a number of featured articles. Any new system, such as the one you propose, is probably destined to be just as rare and unknown, if not more so. Adding the code is fine, but "marketing" it to the vast majority of editors is another issue all together.

That's my two cents. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 18:40, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Thank you for expressing what I've been trying to say with #1. The problem is not the backend; the problem is in the editor. We've grown beyond a simple textarea form; while that of course can remain available, the only true solution to this is to have an advanced editor that allows us to separate the logic but not the entry. Many many more editors are aware of <ref>, both because it's more widely used and superior to {note}/{ref}; any change to <ref> to add two more types to it would confuse editors and doesn't solve the problem of clutter. --Golbez (talk) 19:42, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
    I've tried working with WYSIWYG HTML editors in the past and have found that they are more trouble than they are worth. While it is easy to get a simple page up and running in little time, they tend to insert junk and "invisible" formatting that shouldn't really be there.
    Also, thanks for mentioning the ref and note templates. However, it seems that they also require the refbegin and refend templates in order to achieve the smaller font. Could you provide an example of them being used along side the standard ref syntax, as well as the Cite XXX and Citation templates, so that we can see if there are any other stylization differences? SharkD (talk) 08:40, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Hold on there, I'm not recommending these templates. The numbering really is kind of a pain. I'm just pointing out that "in the old days" there was a system very similar to what is being proposed and it was soundly rejected in favor of the current system, mostly because of the section editing issue. Just FYI. (I also fixed a bug in the example, just now.) ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:17, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
On the "improved" (but not necessarily WYSIWYG) editor idea: check out the way wikEd handles the problem. It allows you to hide everything between <ref> and </ref>, changing it into a little button. It's a little buggy, but it is developing into a real solution to this problem.---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:17, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Straw Poll on modifying <ref>

Based on the previous discussion, there would appear to be three possible courses of action at the software level for improving <ref> at the present time.

  1. Alter <ref> and <references> as initially proposed so that the content of references may be defined within a <references> ... </references> block.
  2. Alter <ref> so that the content of references may be defined in some other way at an arbitrary point in the page (such as at the end of the relevant section).
  3. Do nothing now, and wait for a WYSIWYG editor or other solution to present itself / become widely adopted.

I would note that the first two of these aren't mutually exclusive, so one could support both and envision changes to allow for both. In order to move forward, I would like to know if a supermajority of Wikipedians support any of these options, hence the purpose of this straw poll, which I will try to advertise in the appropriate places.

Rgardless of any possible changes, the current <ref> syntax would continue to be fully supported, and changes would affect only how wikicode could be written with no change at all to the rendered page. Dragons flight (talk) 11:39, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Option #1: Allow reference content to be defined inside <references>

Alter <ref> and <references> as initially proposed so that the content of references may be defined within a <references> ... </references> block. Each call to the reference, including the first one, would then be identified solely by the name parameter.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet<ref name="foo" />, consectetur adipisicing elit, 
sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.<ref name="bar" />

Anchor text generated by ref tags

While we are discussing how WP handles ref tags, I was wondering if anyone else would prefer a different method for generating the anchor text for a named reference tag. For example, if I create a reference <ref name="NotTheBestReference">, then the anchor used in the generated HTML markup is '#cite_note-NotTheBestReference-1', while for unnamed references you get a simple '#cite_note-0'. Also, the numbering for the references are indexed from 1, but the anchors are indexed from 0, which means that note-0 points to reference 1. This is probably very trivial, but for some reason I find it mildly irritating. Plastikspork (talk) 20:53, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

I found it quite irritating too when I first started using Checklinks on good article reviews. It still causes confusion. Jezhotwells (talk) 21:29, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Then Help:Cite messages may be of interest, as it documents how the references are built. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 21:51, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

Enron scandal

Help! I need formatting assistance with citations & reflist supporting the article Enron scandal. If there is an editor who would enjoy tidying this up, he/she will get a barnstar from me, as this article has more citations than I have had hot dinners, and there are probably more to come. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 09:38, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

You might want to contact one of the users listed at "Category:Wikipedian WikiFairies" or "Category:Wikipedian WikiGnomes" or leave a message at "Wikipedia talk:WikiFairy" or "Wikipedia talk:WikiGnome". — Cheers, JackLee talk 10:51, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
The assistance I need requires a good working knowledge of the referencing makup and a keen eye for detail. I don't think any member of those projects could help. From what I can see from their talk pages, they may as well merge to form Wikipedia:WikiCretins. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 15:25, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Ooooh, snippy. You could also try asking editors Awadewit, Mattisse or qp10qp. They've done FA or GA reviews of some articles I've worked on. — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:03, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I've also just noticed that Esprit15d said in a posting above that he or she is "a huge reference contributor (sometimes I go into articles and all I do is add references or clean up the existing references)..." — Cheers, JackLee talk 20:43, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Enable refTools and use its error check. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 21:57, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Gavin, tut tut. :) SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:55, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Appending <references/> where missing

Someone above commented that it would be nice if <references/> was appended to the end of pages automatically in cases where it was missing. This could be done already by placing <references/> in MediaWiki:Cite error refs without references.

It would need some thoughtful formatting to look good, but it is certainly possible. Do people want to pursue that? Dragons flight (talk) 09:43, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

I think it's a good idea, though I would suggest that {{reflist}} be used instead since that template appears to be the norm now. Also, it would be better if the bot added {{reflist}} in a "Notes" section in the right place among other standard appendices according to WP:LAYOUT rather than simply at the bottom of the article, where it might end up underneath an "External links" section and thus not be in accordance with the guideline. — Cheers, JackLee talk 09:48, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Putting it in the MediaWiki message would always place it at the end of the page. Category:Pages with missing references list is well monitored. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 10:04, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Oh, could this be done by bot instead, then? — Cheers, JackLee talk 10:08, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Even if the section is added automatically, you could still add that Category and have people reposition things correctly later. Dragons flight (talk) 10:09, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Like a warning telling you that <references /> is missing? I did figure out how to link that message to Help:Cite errors yesterday, so that should help. This issue is no longer a major problem. We did a lot of work documenting the problems and creating messages and categories and it is well monitored. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 10:21, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
According to the category page SmackBot already automatically fixes the type of errors that adding a <references/> to the article would fix. If that isn't actually correct, let me know adding a {{reflist}} in the correct spot is already part of the functionality of WebCiteBOT since it occasionally adds the first <ref> to an article. Thus I could easily reuse to code to do it to articles that are known to be missing the info. --ThaddeusB (talk) 03:11, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Comma vs. period in references

I think all references across the project should use the same format. How about once and for all deciding whether commas or periods should be used to separate items within footnotes and reference lists? The citation templates could then be updated and maybe even merged in some cases which would make them easier to maintain and hopefully result in fewer bugs and inconsistencies. Tocant (talk) 12:39, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree, but I believe this is one of those perennial proposals that never seems to gain consensus one way or another. Search the archives of this talk page to find the previous discussions on the matter. Personally, I think commas make more sense because when you have more than one reference in a footnote you can more easily tell where one reference ends and another begins. — Cheers, JackLee talk 12:57, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
I expect we'll do this right after the rest of the world decides whether they prefer MLA style, APA style, CMS style, or something else. Given that multiple legitimate formatting styles exist—and each has good reasons for being used in certain contexts—I think it's better to accept all of them (but constrain ourselves to existing styles) rather than inventing our own, consistent style (but having it incompatible with any of the normal styles used in other writing). Kirill [talk] [pf] 13:15, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
The current styles may have been an attempt to achieve consensus among editors since no one could agree on any one existing style. But then I wasn't around when those discussions took place, so I can't really say. :-) — Cheers, JackLee talk 13:20, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
I think it is better to use a consistent "Wikipedia style", preferably as a php extension so that the templates could be deleted. Tocant (talk) 13:22, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't know what a php extension is, so I have no idea how that would work. But let me point out what the magnitude of creating a Wikipedia style would be.
Editors in the midst of writing an article will not and should not stop writing until a programmer adds support for some new kind of source. There is no chance that the programming of templates, php extensions, or anything else will cover all possible sources. Therefore, a Wikipedia citation style manual would have to be written, both to guide the programming, and to explain how to manually format sources that are not supported by the programming. The APA style manual has about 80 pages devoted to citations; I see no reason why a Wikipedia citation style manual would be any shorter. --Jc3s5h (talk) 13:40, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't have to be any shorter and it doesn't have to be finished any time soon, it could take a year or two. Or a preexisting style could be chosen, does it really matter which one as long it is consistent? Tocant (talk) 15:09, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
Why do you think that consistency across the whole of Wikipedia is desirable? --PBS (talk) 19:54, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
Different styles on different pages doesn't look good. Also, the citation templates are buggy and overly complex since they need to support lots of different styles, with one clearly defined style it would be possible to have a cleaner code base. Tocant (talk) 20:28, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Tocant and JackLee that a consistent citation style would improve Wikipedia. To answer Philip's question, the argument for consistency has three main points, in my view: (1) It would make it easier for new editors to learn how to use citations, (2) it would simplify the development of automated tools to improve citations and (3) it would give Wikipedia a more professional appearance. I also agree with Tocant that there is no reason why there can't be a "Wikipedia style" that is every bit as well developed and specific as APA style or MLA style. And I certainly agree that the commas-vs-periods issue is never worth fighting over.
However, to implement a consistent style in Wikipedia requires WP:consensus, not just between the editors who happen to be watching this page, but all the editors of Wikipedia. So I don't agree that there is a technological solution that is substantially better than the templates, or a solution that involves changing any guideline or the manual of style. There is only one method that respects the opinions of all of Wikipedia's editors. We must unify the citation methods one article at at a time, gaining the consensus of local editors before making any changes.
Note that all the major citation templates have already been unified, thanks to the work of Martin Smith and others. The only substantial difference between the templates is commas and periods, at this point. With this in mind, we can certainly unify the articles that use the major citation templates. We simply replace {{citation}} with the more commonplace versions, such as, {{cite book}}, {{cite news}}, etc., which is a trivial change for most articles. I think the vast majority of local editors would not object to this change. The articles that don't use citation templates are another matter all together—they use a variety of idiosyncratic formats which can't be so easily unified. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 21:53, 9 July 2009 (UTC)
Well, I'm going to have to disagree with you slightly there. I believe {{Citation}} to be superior to the {{Cite xxx}} series of templates because I do not think it is a good idea to have separate citation templates for different types of material. Also, the {{Cite xxx}} series uses full stops instead of commas as separators, and as I have mentioned above I don't think this is a good idea either. (And perhaps this is an example of why it will be difficult to standardize on one single citation format.) — Cheers, JackLee talk 05:15, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Many people, however, have an opposite view, believing that full stops are better than commas, and that having separate citation templates for the different types is a good thing. Different types of citations (books, journals, media, web, etc) may need to have different formats, because they are describing different things and often have different requirements. I use the Cite XXX templates myself because I prefer the parameter setup (and really can't stand the unnecessary and often extreme complexity of Citation), but if a single, unified, logical and simple system were developed that could account for all the various needs, I wouldn't be against its deployment and the phasing out of everything else. I too agree that a unified system for citations on Wiki would be good, but I do not believe there is any currently available system that is ready to become the standard.
As for the comma/full stop issue, I prefer full stops because it better sets sections of text apart from one another, since different sections may contain commas themselves (and rarely contain full stops). I don't understand your original argument for the commas, since all citations should theoretically be isolated on separate lines with leading bullets, so I'm not sure how one could be confused with another. Can you clarify or expound on this preference? Huntster (t@c) 05:49, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Well, this is an example of why we haven't yet been able to settle on a single form of citation :-). I agree that citations in a "References" or "Further reading" section should be on separate lines with leading bullets, but I often string a series of citations together in a footnote, separated by semicolons. In those situations having the elements of the citation separated by full stops makes less sense. The alternative is to put each citation into its own footnote, but I find multiple footnote numbers[1][2][3][4][5] unsightly and try to combine references into as few footnotes as I can. — Cheers, JackLee talk 06:36, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
I use the Cite XXX templates and try to fill in as much information as I can. The extra work is not a big deal. SharkD (talk) 08:32, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Jacklee, to be honest, I don't think I've ever seeing multiple references strung together inside a single "ref" before, and I rather strongly disagree with that practice, because it makes it more difficult (not so much for experienced editors, but perhaps moreso for newbies) to reuse one of the citations elsewhere. Yes, the string of numbers isn't ideal, but there isn't anything wrong with it either...just a minor cosmetic thing. Better than repetitive instances of a single ref, because one was locked into a group and couldn't be reused. Huntster (t@c) 08:58, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
We are deviating from the original point so I won't say much more about this, but of course if a reference needs to be reused elsewhere then it has to be in a footnote of its own. But if some references are not referred to in other parts of an article, I personally see nothing wrong with putting them into one footnote (see, for example, footnote 48 of "Han Sai Por"). — Cheers, JackLee talk 15:48, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
My point was supposed to be that it doesn't matter very much. What does matter is that it is easy for new editors to create citations. To shorten the learning curve, we should simplify the system. If we want to simplify, we have to make it more consistent. To make it more consistent, we have to be willing to compromise about the little things. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:21, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree. Of course, much depends on what one considers "little things" :-). And right now, it appears that a lot of editors do not consider "commas v. full stops" a little thing. — Cheers, JackLee talk 15:48, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Although there's room to accomplish this by simplifying relevant templates, the most important thing is to stress to new editors that a simple embedded link is 90% as good as a full citation ready for FAC. Previous versions of this page made that rather clearer ("If you don't know how to format a citation, provide as much information as you can, and others will help to write it correctly." was in the lead), perhaps some language to that effect should be reintroduced. Christopher Parham (talk) 14:21, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Actually, I thought the lead paragraph was pretty clear about this: "How to format. While you should attempt to format a citation as described in the How to format citations section of this guideline, it is even more important that material in Wikipedia is verifiable. Add your source even if you are unsure of how to properly format the citation—provide enough information to identify the source, and others will improve the formatting." — Cheers, JackLee talk 15:14, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

As a huge reference contributor (sometimes I go into articles and all I do is add references or clean up the existing references) i can say that (1) the vast majority of people don't give a flying flip about formatting references anyway. They stick a url in ref tags or put all pertinent information in ref tags and bolt. I don't think any system would keep people who find that reffing is too tedious from doing that. (2) Wikipedia is ultimately an academic endeavor. I would be highly wary of just coming up with a new consolidated reference system. The current one has been culled from already well-established reference norms in the greater journalistic community. We should put forth some effort to keep with larger academic protocol to maintain respect. (3) If we do simplify, which could be good, we should keep in mind that difference sources have really different needs. Citing a journal, a newspaper, an interview, a magazine article, a television show and a YouTube video has different requirements, and really should be treated accordingly. I'm not against change, and I personally loathe the current citation templates and NEVER use them, but just saying "one citation template to keep it easy" is oversimplifying the issue. I would recommend having a Wikipedia process like Twinkle where you have a series of drop down menus that narrow down which fields are relevant and then auto-formats it. That makes it simple without compromising academic integrity.--Esprit15d • talkcontribs 11:49, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

"One template to rule them all, ... and in the darkness bind them"? :-) I don't disagree that different types of material may have different citation requirements, but would just point out that there still ought to be some attempt to streamline them. No point having the year of publication in front of the title in one case and behind it in another. I'm sure that the editors who work tirelessly to improve the {{cite}} family of templates are well aware of this. — Cheers, JackLee talk 12:36, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Except that, in some scholarly fields eg in hard sciences, the year of publication can be quite significant (the state of knowledge can date rather quickly, within a decade or less), and traditionally it's brought to the fore. In other fields eg literature & the classics, the name of the publication is more relevant than year of publication (& literary works & sources may be republished many, many times, more so than scientific papers). It's horses for courses; either author-date or author-title makes equal sense in the right contexts, as long as it's consistent within an article I don't see benefits to impose tight uniformity across articles that cover very different fields and have their own 'traditional' way of doing it, that (presumably) those writing articles in that field are familiar with. Agree with Espirit15d's points. And on a practical level, the chances of getting everyone to agree on a single, narrow & uniform style, are just about nil. The current tolerance of multiple internally-consistent styles works well enough, & helps to minimise conflicts.--cjllw ʘ TALK 03:14, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree with cjllw about author-date or author-title making equal sense. I disagree with Esprit15d's notion that different kinds of sources have different citation formats (The example "Citing a journal, a newspaper, an interview, a magazine article, television show and a YouTube video" is invalid right off the bat. Journals, newspapers, magazine articles, television shows, and you tube videos all have the same citation format. No idea what "interview" is doing in there; "interview" is not a publication medium).
But these issues don't really have anything to do with comma/period consistency, so I'm not sure why they were mentioned. I keep seeing allusions to previous discussions about comma/period, and notions about everyone being against consistent representation. But I have yet to see any links to these discussions. Could someone provide a link please? -- Fullstop (talk) 19:56, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Interviews are cited by reliable authors. They are not cited in Wikipedia because Wikipedia editors are unreliable and might have either misquoted the interview subject, or made the interview up out of whole cloth. --Jc3s5h (talk) 23:55, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    • ^ a b c d  Missing or empty |title= (help)
    • ^ "An open letter," Al Youm, March 2, 1949, IDF archive 31/50/1860, cited in Yacobi 2009, p. 35.
    • ^ foo
    • ^ bar