Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 31

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Imperative to use in-line citations

I think an imperative of using in-line citations should be added to that section in this article, such as: "If not already in use, the references in an article should be converted to in-line citations as soon as possible, because the more an article grows, the harder it is to figure out which reference refers to which statement.". Mikael Häggström (talk) 10:39, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

We need no imperative here, just a recommendation of what to do, when article grows and not before that. Small article being based an a very few sources need no inline citation and there is no need to mandate them, that just unnecessary regulation (see WP:CREEP).--Kmhkmh (talk) 11:43, 29 January 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. But still, I think there should be a more clear recommendation as to when an article is in need of having its reference list converted to inline citations. In my opinion, it would be ASAP, because too many times I've seen such lists grow until it's basically impossible to know what reference belongs to what claims. Mikael Häggström (talk) 19:30, 31 January 2011 (UTC)
What happens when an editor converts inline citations into a reference list? Surely this should be against policy.--Logicalgregory (talk) 02:17, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Have you ever seen it done? I haven't.
Writing rules to prohibit behaviors that no one is doing is WP:Instruction creep. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:34, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

MOS discussion on ISBN formatting

There is a discussion at the MOS about ISBN formatting here that editors here may be interested in. Rjwilmsi 08:35, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Help with 2012 phenomenon

Ref 21 keeps telling me that no title is cited, but for the life of me I can't figure out why. Serendipodous 23:59, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Well, because it doesn't. Here's the template, formatted vertically for ease of scanning:
{{cite web
|publisher=USA Today
|author= G. Jeffrey MacDonald

You're missing the | title = parameter. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:43, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

General references in FAs

Recent addition by User:WhatamIdoing states "General references are allowed in all articles except Featured Articles." I do not see this addition discussed or the fact mentioned at WP:FACR. It would be impossible for an article to become FA with just general refs, but this doesn't mean they are not allowed. Am I missing something? —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 19:49, 23 February 2011 (UTC)

Is the added text trying to say that FAs cannot replace inline citations with general references, or that they cannot have general references at all? The latter case would be somewhat unfortunate, although the FA project does have the prerogative to invent whatever rules they want. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:18, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
We agreed not long ago that general references weren't acceptable except in under-developed articles where they may only be one ref. I've reverted that change and asked WhatamIdoing to start a new discussion. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 20:30, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree with SV, WP:CHALLENGE makes it clear if a citation is needed it has to be in-line. For a time we had wording here that fudged the issue by placing general references under the citation section, but I never thought that satisfactory as I do not think it is supported by WP:V. (This is a debate that goes back to at least January 2009 (see Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 24#General reference and presenting citaitons. On 29 March 2009 change to remove general references from citations but it was reverted by SV about 2 hours afterwards).
It is not that general references can not be in articles (they are needed for short citations and Harvard citation styles), it is just that they do not meet WP:V policy requirements for citations (which have to be in-line). In a short article, such as a stub, there is absolutely no reason why a general references should not be either made into a citation as a footnote or be coupled to a short in-line citation. If there are several general references and someone other than the editor who added the general references can not tell which part of a Wikipedia article is supported by one of several general references, then then it is likely that the general reference section is inadequate to meet policy requirements. -- PBS (talk) 23:24, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Assuming the article has content for which WP:V or WP:BLP actually requires an inline citation, sure. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:01, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
It is a bit a question of common sense. References are required to verify the article's context with a reasonable effort. Now if you have a short article based only on a few (ca 2-3) specific short sources (short journal articles,a specific page in a book, some article in another encyclopedia), then being required to skim them quickly may not be perfect but is still within reason. In other words in such cases (short articles with a few short specific sources) having only general references might be sufficient. However if the articles' content and its sources grow general references become insufficient, because it is obviously unreasonable, that for checking a single statement in some paragraph you'd have to check 10 possibly even unspecific (like a whole book) different references. Since FA or GA are never short it is fair to assume that general references only are not sufficient. You can of course combine a general references with a notes section, where in notes section you use shorthand descriptions of the sources giving the specific page information and in reference section you list the full reference (no shorthand) without the page information.--Kmhkmh (talk) 00:10, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
If an article contains a list of works (usually in alphabetical order) that does not necessarily mean those works are general references. Only works that are not sited with a short footnote or parenthetical reference are general references. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:36, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
Kmhkmh you write "(short articles with a few short specific sources) having only general references might be sufficient", they may be sufficient but they do not meet policy requirements. Either a short article needs in-line cited sources or it does not need any sources. And at a practical level I think it is much better that a stub starts out with in-line citations so that when it gets expanded the editor expanding the article makes a conscious effort to cite the new information (or (s)he does not). I think that "general references" not coupled to in-line citations make the detection of the insertion of unreliable information (or information not covered by the article's sources) and subtle vandalism, more difficult than in an article that has in-line citations. --PBS (talk) 01:20, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
But there is a difference between an optimal and an sufficient approach and between what we might recommend to and what we demand of authors. For new authors, less tech savy authors or even authors in general footnotes are an additional hassle, so i can understand authors not using unless they are really required. Also personally i really dislike the notion that inline citations are automatically more reliable. Yes with many inline sources an average author might be somewhat less likely to add unsourced information, but that doesn't mean people won't do it anyway at best the likelihood is reduced. Also the only way to really confirm an article is to actually read the sources yourself, once you've done that (with a short article) you know whether piece of information was sourced and it doesn't really matter whether an inline citation was used or not. They key idea is really that verification is possible without an unreasonable amount of work and the original author is not obligated to take preventions/precautions for all kind of things that might happen to his contribution later on.--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:38, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
PBS, can you help me out here? In what way does the provision of an extra citation "not meet policy requirements"? Zero source is required by policy. I name one anyway, just at the end of the page rather than at the end of the sentence. Exactly what policy have I broken? WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:02, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
The policy requirements are for in-line citations, unless a general reference is coupled to an in-line citation it does not meet policy requirements. (I think it better if one uses citation as a shorthand to mean "in-line citation" and references to mean "those sources listed in those references section"). In the example you have given you have broken no policy, but neither would you have done so if you did not provide a source. Last year I went through and corrected 100s of articles where {{Catholic}}, {{DNB}} and {{EB1911}} had been placed at the bottom of articles. There was nothing wrong with that when they were first ported to Wikipeida, but since then new sections such as ==external links== had been added above and so the articles were not being attributed in the right section. As the text often carried no in-line citations it was next to impossible (without using the history of the articles) to tell what was supposed to be covered by the statement "This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain". If the article had incorporated citations from the beginning with in a references section, then the work for copy editors two or three years down the line trying to bring the article up to meet the various guidelines such as WP:Layout, WP:Plagiarism and WP:CITE would have been much easier and the text with the attribution in the external links section would have been less confusing. Many of these articles were half a decade old, so there is no disapprobation attached to what the importing editor did at that time, but today we should be writing guidelines that speed up the development of good articles and sources not in in-line citations either at the end of an article or in a ==References section== when they could be in in-line citation from the creation of an article should not be encouraged in this guideline, particularly as many inexperienced editors will tend to go with the flow and copy what already appears in a developing article.--PBS (talk) 10:31, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
About FA: General references (and Jc3s5h is correct about what constitutes a general reference) were once acceptable in FAs, but are no longer. See this example: Promoted to FA with six general references in 2004, and demoted for having zero inline citations in 2008. Reviewers seem to take the approach that if a citation is required, then an inline citation is required.
While I agree with SV that general references are both uncommon and undesirable once the article reaches the beyond about two paragraphs and two sources, they are actually permitted (except, apparently, in the unwritten rules at FAC), and if you actually use a source significantly, you should acknowledge that, even if it shaped the general outline and balance of the article rather than supporting some specific sentence. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:10, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't think we need to worry about FA requirement in general guidelines like this. The page WP:FA? has FA requirements, which go far beyond what is required by general policies. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:14, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
What is true for FA requirements is true for all articles. Either they need in-line citations or there is nothing that has to have a referenced source. -- PBS (talk) 01:20, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
I think we agree on that. So there's no reason to mention FA specifically here. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:31, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
That's of course not true, that's exactly the difference between "optimal" and "sufficient". And the need (aside from the quotes argument) is related to the scope.--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:43, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
General references on their own are not sufficient. An article either meets policy requirements because it has no quotes and the content has not been challenged or likely to be challenged, or id does not meet policy requirements in which case it needs in-line citations. A recommending of a general references section (on its own) obscures this policy dictate. As you say Kmhkmh the there is agreement that the technical complications of ref tagged footnotes are daunting for novice editors, then we should encourage the them to use Harvard style citations along with a general reference section. -- PBS (talk) 03:01, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
So in your opinion, general references are permitted, but (we all agree) are not substitutes for inline citations whenever inlines are actually required (see WP:MINREF for the complete list of when inlines are required policy). So why don't we just say "General references are permitted in all Wikipedia articles"? It's true, isn't it? WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:06, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
I roughly agree WhatamIdoing and the MINREF essay here. General refrences can be sufficient in short articles but certainly not for GA, FA since they are not short anyway. Whether this is formally covered by policy or not depends (aside from quotes) entirely on the rather vague and subjective "likely to be challenged". To give a more concrete example. Let's say you have an sort article on some math theorem with a lead and maybe 1-2 paragraphs text and in the end in general references 2 journal papers on that theorem or maybe 2 books with page numbers covering it. Now while you don't want to have that theorem not without any references (which most likely would challenged) there's imho normally absolutely no reason to require footnotes here with the general references given (=challenge unlikely). And if other editors start tagging such articles as "insufficiently sourced", "no inline citations" or similar, then they'll be causing problems, because they draw resources and attention away from the articles that actually need any real fixing. So I'd like to emphasize again the goal here is a verifiability that is "easy enough" and the policy serves that goal and is not a formal goal of its own.--Kmhkmh (talk) 08:57, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
I realize my opinion isn't highly valued by many editors these days but IMO we should have a standardized rule regarding Citations. If an FA articles requires inline citations then that should be the requirement for even the lowly stubs. Otherwise the rules would become too confusing when you start throwing in Caveats like BLP's, what about GA, A and FL class articles, etc. I think its best to stay with the rule we have had for sometime which is that the articles require inline citations not general ones. --Kumioko (talk) 19:44, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Break 1 (general references)

I think I've identified one source of apparent conflict. These two sentences are not identical:
  • General references may be used in any article.
  • General references may be used exclusively in any article.
I support the first, not the second. That is, I think it mandatory to provide inline citations for each and every item named at WP:MINREF, and I think it highly unlikely that any article with more than about two paragraphs will not contain material named at MINREF (at least, not any article that I bother to write).
However, I think it acceptable to also name, at the end of the article, all the other sources I used, in addition to the mandatory inline citations, even if the sources were used for information that does not require an inline citation, were only consulted in a general way (e.g., to see that the sources I name inline represent typical views/DUE weight/etc), or confirmed what it already supported by an inline citation.
Does anyone think that these general references must be removed from articles, or renamed ==Further reading== (as if they were not actually used in writing the article)? Or do we all agree that general references may be used (just not exclusively in an article of any length)? WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:11, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't think people want to allow general references of any kind (except in Further reading/External links, where they're not sources), which seemed to be the conclusion of various discussions we've had here on talk going back some time. The direction of the project for the last few years has been toward making sure just about everything is sourced, and using more precise citation methods so that it's clear which words are supported by which source.
Can you give examples of any reasonably developed articles that still rely on general references sections? SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:05, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I'm not convinced this is a real problem. It isn't any more onerous to use an inline citation, even in a stub. For example:

Stub with inline citation
"Sam Smith is an American writer, best known for her studies of urban poverty."[1]
  1. ^ Jones, Paul. Urban Poverty. Routledge, 2011, p. 1.
Stub with general reference
"Sam Smith is an American writer, best known for her studies of urban poverty."
General references
  • Jones, Paul. Urban Poverty. Routledge, 2011.

I can't see why we would want to say the second is okay, when the first is just as easy to write and more informative. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:14, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

The second is OK because we expect people to actually look at the references before they challenge things, so with that general reference provided that particular fact doesn't seem "likely to be challenged". The direction of WP:V is not to make sure "just about everything is sourced" - the consensus on sourcing is quite stable, and only requires inline citations for certain types of claims, not for every claim (not even for every paragraph). — Carl (CBM · talk) 22:31, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
I don't see why the second (no page number) is better than the first (with a page number), when they are both just as easy to write. I disagree with you about the direction of the project. Anyone who edits regularly can see the difference in sourcing requirements with every passing year. Just about everything is either challenged, or likely to be, or is a quotation, or is close paraphrasing, or is about a living person or something that affects living people. Take all that away, and we really are just left with Paris being the capital of France. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:36, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

"Likely to be challenged" refers to a particular type of material that a typical reader would understand is more in need of a source than the average sentence. It's a form of "unusual claims require unusually strong evidence". "Likely to be challenged" does not mean "anything without a source", it's intentionally meant to be a stricter standard than that.
A one-or-two sentence article with one or two general sources can be understood to claim that the general sources support those sentences. Anyone who wants to challenge the sourcing needs to actually look at the reference first. — Carl (CBM · talk) 22:53, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
And it's easier to do that with a page number. Please don't say it isn't, or I really will despair. We're not here to reinvent the wheel. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 23:25, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
It's easier to do that with a page number if your source is a long (and perhaps poorly indexed) book. If your source is a website or a two-page magazine article, the supplying a page number is silly.
But you're missing the point: What if I what to cite two sources: Paul Jones (page 1) on some specific point that is LIKELY to be challenged, plus Alice Smith's website, which I used for general, non-controversial information? What's wrong with listing Alice Smith's website as a general reference? Why should Alice Smith's website be listed as WP:FURTHERREADING or an WP:External link—where, in fact, I'm not supposed to list it, because it was used to build article content per WP:ELPOINTS #1?
I have not asked for this guideline to say that the use of general references is either encouraged or a substitute for inline citations. I have asked that it directly say that they are permitted. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:42, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps it's a weakness of our section headers. When you write academically, say, you tend to add a bibliography section that would include material you've used to build the article, and material you've mentioned throughout in footnotes. So there would be no harm in someone adding that kind of section to their article—a section that's effectively "in addition to the sources in the footnotes, I've also read this stuff to create this article." The only problem with calling that kind of section "general references" is that it conjures up Wikipedia pre-2005 (ish) where we would write articles with no inline citations, then add a bunch of references at the end, leaving readers no way of knowing which supported what. So maybe the only thing we disagree on here is what the section should be called. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 00:53, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Usually the sources you used when writing an article are called the references. Remember that articles don't have to have full citations in footnotes at all. They could have Harvard-style inline citations along with a full list of the references that may be of interest to the reader. In that case, it's silly and formalistic to require people to shuffle references back and forth between "references" and "further reading" depending on which ones happen to have an inline citation in the current version of the article. The same is true for shortened footnotes. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:14, 25 February 20a11 (UTC)
Usually if I use the term references I use it use it as a short hand for "an item in the general reference list in the references section" and otherwise I call then citations (short for in-line citations). I do no think it silly or formalistic to require people to shuffle references back and forth between "references" and "further reading" depending on which ones happen to have an in-line citation in the current version of the article as most articles are usually fairly stable. Today I looked at the article Glorious Revolution and since I went through using {{sfn}} and moving all the bullet pointed sources not used as in-line citations out of the reference section and into the further reading section last August no changes had been made to either section. -- PBS (talk) 11:59, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

SV I think that a general reference section is useful with short citations. to take your example:

Stub with 2 inline citations to the same book
  • Sam Smith is an American writer, best known for her studies of urban poverty.[i 1]
  • John Smith is an American footballer, best known for his charity work for the urban poor.[i 2]
  1. ^ Jones 2011, p. 1
  2. ^ Jones 2011, p. 100
  • Jones, Paul (2011). Urban Poverty. Routledge. 

I think that your example above would have been better if you had included the page number in you example because we have got distracted. Let us suppose that we used you two examples but both had page numbers and no quote. Then another editor adds a line:

Stub with inline citation and an addition
Sam Smith is an American writer, best known for her studies of urban poverty.[1] In 1989 she punished a work on poverty in Mexico city.
  1. ^ Jones, Paul. Urban Poverty. Routledge, 2011, p. 1.

Stub with general reference and an addition
Sam Smith is an American writer, best known for her studies of urban poverty. In 1989 she punished a work on poverty in Mexico city.
General references
  • Jones, Paul. Urban Poverty. Routledge, 2011. p.1

The problem is that the second version not using in-line citations is already obvious. It is impossible to spot which part of the stub is not referenced without resorting to the history of the article. This makes it much more difficult for an editor (or general reader) just arriving at an article to know which parts are sourced and which parts are not. If it is fixed then the problem remains in the version using general references (but not with in-line citation), because unless one read both sources one can not be sure that both facts are covered (as they could both cover the same one fact):

Stub with general reference and an addition
Sam Smith is an American writer, best known for her studies of urban poverty. In 1989 she punished a work on poverty in Mexico city.
General references
  • Jones, Paul. Urban Poverty. Routledge, 2011. p.1
  • Star, Ringo Adventures down Mexico way, OUP, 1993, p.10

-- PBS (talk) 11:59, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

In that case, it's still easy to tell what goes with what: you have two sources with page numbers. Just read them. Anyone who is actually worried about sourcing has to read the sources anyway. Yes, that means actually checking books out of the library, but looking at the actual sources is unavoidable if you're trying to do source-based writing.
However, this is a side issue, because general references are useful not only when there are not inline citations, but also as a supplement to the references that have inline citations. It's commonly taught to students that if a work is consulted when writing, that work has to be included in the reference list. — Carl (CBM · talk) 22:54, 25 February 2011 (UTC)

Responsibility toward new editors

There's a lot of talk in various places about how to attract new editors, particularly women and more mature people. One of the issues raised is the shock they often get when articles they've created are deleted or proposed for deletion. Having a page that seems to imply general references are okay feeds into that, by creating false expectations.

The fact is, as we all know, that a page with clear inline citations is much more likely to survive—and not only survive, but stabilize—that a page without them. It's the secret sauce of experienced editing. Citing inline, using good sources, and citing very clearly so that sources are easy to find, is the way to create stable articles. It isn't fair not to make that clear to new editors up front. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:44, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

In my experience, as long as I include just a general source, I never have problems with new articles being nominated for deletion.
If the problem is that the same source would be fine if only it was formatted differently, then we need to talk to the people doing page patrol, because we can't expect new editors to be familiar with idiosyncrasies like that. A source is still a source even if it's not in a footnote; moving it to a footnote without adding info makes it an "inline citation" but doesn't make the article any better sourced. — Carl (CBM · talk) 22:55, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
I completely agree, we're are in danger of losing track of the goal in favor of a (mindless) formalism.--Kmhkmh (talk) 00:25, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
It's not mindless formalism. What's being suggested is that we don't require page numbers (which general references don't include), though clearly we do, and have for years. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 00:33, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Then we are talking about different things. I consider a "general reference" any reference given/used without an inline citation, whether that reference has a page number or not is a separate issue. That would be a question of specific or unspecific (general) references.--Kmhkmh (talk) 02:55, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Can you give an example of a new article you've created with a general reference only (which I promise not to fiddle with)?
Regarding your second point, the thing about general refs is there is no page number, so the material is not sourced so that someone else could find it easily. It's therefore not just a formatting issue. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 23:05, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
How do they know if they can find it easily if they don't look? It could be in the table of contents or in the index. We expect a reader to actually have the source if they are going to be worried about what it supports, and looking in the index is what we'd expect them to do first.
I'm looking at a list of articles I created, and it seems like I generally try to put in some formalistic inline citation just to establish Harvard-style refs (e.g. [1]). However, here is one that I once created in a hurry with only general references. Nobody is going to seriously doubt that the sources provided are sufficient for the notability of the topic, even without any inline citation. [2] My guess is that I created that because I wanted to link to it from whatever article I was actually working on at the time. — Carl (CBM · talk) 23:18, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
When we offer books as sources, in whatever format, we're meant to cite page numbers. See Wikipedia:CITE#Books. And thanks for the example. As for whether pages are easier to find with page numbers (is that what you said?), I don't know what to say, because of course they are. :) Readers may not have it to hand, and if you have to go online (e.g. Google Books or Amazon), having a page number helps a lot. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 23:24, 24 February 2011 (UTC)
The section on books is (1) only an example and (2) says "chapter or page number(s) where appropriate". That's hardly a requirement that every time we cite a book we have to include page numbers. In the stub I linked, the point of the references was to establish notability, and so referencing the "whole book" was fine. Adding a reference like "(Wiehrauch 2009:1-400)" wouldn't help anything. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:11, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
I've seen specific page numbers in books listed as general references, but the bigger point is that listing something as a general reference does not mean that you are listing an entire, thousand-page book as a general reference. You can list a web page, a short magazine article, or a couple of pages in a book as a general reference. I see no reason why "The chapter on this subject in Campbell's Biology" is magically turned into a better reference by enclosing that citation inside ref tags or by adding (Campbell) to the end of the sole paragraph in your brand-new stub. Getting hung up on the format really is mindless formalism.
If you write a one-paragraph stub and someone pitches a fit because you typed the citation at the end, instead of typing the same citation and enclosing it in ref tags, then, yes, we have a problem. IMO the first step in fixing that problem is to state that general references are permitted (assuming inlines are not absolutely required). WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:51, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree.
General references are quite commonly used. They're not a replacement for inline citations for specific facts, but at the same time they are not forbidden by policy and many articles use them. They are useful for establishing notability or for just documenting which sources were consulted in writing the article ("say where you got it" and all). — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:11, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Exactly and for short, uncontroversial articles they often provide sufficient sourcing as well.--Kmhkmh (talk) 02:58, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Just because an article has a "References" section with some books or links in it doesn't mean its referenced. I agree that we don't need a reference after every sentence but we absolutely need an inline citation after a quote, at least at the end of each paragraph and I would say after any piece of information on a BLP that could be considered negative or incriminating to a reasonable person. I still believe as I stated above that if it is a requirement for FA it should be so, for the most part all the way down to the lowly stubs. I do admit there is some wiggle room as you get lower down on the quality scale but I don't think waiving the need for an inline citation should be one of them. If the article is only a one or 2 line stub it should be very easy to add an inline citation for the few facts that are there. --Kumioko (talk) 03:00, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
It's not about waving a rule for stubs or having different rules, you can have one rule, which simply states (aside from quote or single controversial statements in BLPs) that the references must allow an "easy enough"-verification - period. For longer articles this automatically means inline citations on paragraph basis at least, but for short articles consisting of only 1-2 paragraphs anyhow you might as well simply list them at the end. Such "general references" don't mean you simply list some books, you can be as specific as you would be with an inline citations (including a page number). Imho this is also a question of avoiding a formalistic instruction creep, when it is not needed. The goal of the policy is an "easy enough veriafibility" and not having footnotes for footnotes' sake. If the "easy enough verifiability" can be achieved without footnotes in short articles - so be it. There is no reason to force authors in such a case to do something that is strictly speaking not needed.--Kmhkmh (talk) 04:49, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
There is no rule that says you have to have "further reading" or "external links" sections but a "References" section is does no more to meet policy requirements on proper sourcing than having no sources in an article.
See my example in the previous section for why sources in a general references section are inadequate: As soon as new information is added to an article, (that already contains one general references), with a new source, it increases the number of sources to two in the general references section. Without them being coupled to short in-line citations, it is impossible for a new reader to know if the whole article is covered by the sources in the general references section, without reading both sources to verify if that it is. There is no such problem if in-line citations are used.-- PBS (talk) 12:27, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Again general references can be sufficient for short articles (see described examples above), being required to read 2 sources to verify a short article is not an unreasonable effort. What other authors might do later is not the responsibility of the authors before. Later authors need to switch to inline citations if they significantly extend the articles and/or add new sources. And the problem being required to read more than one source does not go away with using inline citations either. Because authors may often use several sources/inline citation to source the same fact. Later authors can also introduce new content changes in articles with inline sources and others do not know whether they are still covered by the old inline citations unless they actually check them. In short the key to all of this is checking the sources anyhow and making sure that this should not entail an unreasonable effort. For short articles/stubs this can be achieved without inline citations.--Kmhkmh (talk) 13:16, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
"What other authors might do later is not the responsibility of the authors before." I disagree this is by its nature a cooperative project.
The last example I gave above it is a small one, (one line with an addition of one line). Suppose in that example one of the sources is hard to access (only in a library in Valletta) -- which is difficult for a non Maltese resident to verify and that makes verifying a two sentence stub difficult. With in-line citations the information is verified thought the structure and an assumption of the of good faith. -- PBS (talk) 22:35, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
If we're assuming good faith, if we have a two sentence stub with two references we should already be assuming that the sources cover the content. In other words: if we're assuming good faith and trusting the previous editors then we don't need inline citations very often, and if we aren't trusting then we don't trust the inline citations anyway. — Carl (CBM · talk) 23:01, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
I think that an assertion that inline citations protect against screw-ups by subsequent editors is quite strange, given #On_citing_every_sentence above. I've seen multiple cases of subsequent editors screwing up source-text integrity despite the original text being provided with inline citations, and I'll bet that PBS has, too.
But Kumioko and PBS are missing the bigger point, which is that general references are suitable and permissible for the substantial portion of material that does not require inline citations. To say that they are not acceptable in addition to any necessary inline citations is quite odd. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:37, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

(undent) At User:Philcha/Essays/Advice for new Wikipedia editors I'm putting together some advice. It aims to show what happens when a new editor enters WP for the first times, emphasises tools and techniques rather than rules, and uses a more informal style than WP's policies and guideline. Would it be worth publishing as an essay in main space? --Philcha (talk) 09:34, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

WhatamIdoing you wrote "To say that they are not acceptable in addition to any necessary inline citations is quite odd." I do not think that anyone is saying that they are not to be placed into an article, but as citations for verification they are not acceptable any more than list of items in "further reading" or "external sources" are acceptable as verification. Indeed I would go further and say that sources listed in a ==References== section that are not used as in-line citations should be moved into ==Further reading== if that was a rule, it would clarify the difference between referenced and unreferenced articles. -- PBS (talk) 21:41, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

For the distinction, that you are suggesting people, so far people usually use notes and references, where the inline citations are under notes and all (general) sources used to write the articles are under references. Keep in mind that people may view "references" somewhat differently, some restrict it to material used for (required) inline citations only, while others consider it as the place where you list all sources used to create the article and not just those sources you used for literal quotes and content likely to be challenged. You seem to be in the former group, whereas WhatamIdoing and CBM apparently belong to the latter (and so do I).--Kmhkmh (talk) 21:57, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
I really don't think it's that complicated:
If you actually refer to the source when writing the article, you should list it as a reference.
If you do not use the source when writing the article, you should not list it as a reference. Both ==External links== and ==Further reading== are explicitly intended for sources that you did not use to build article content (and neither are limited to reliable sources). WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:00, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Citing tables

How might one go about providing a citation for a table in which all information comes from a single source? Specifically, the Pirate Party of Canada article contains two tables that are taken from information on the website, and it seems redundant to add a <ref> tag to each cell. Right now it's provided by a single tag at the end, but it looks a bit odd. —INTRIGUEBLUE (talk|contribs) 12:57, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

You can add the in-text cite to a caption or header. See Boy Scouts of America#Units and chartered organizations an example. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 13:24, 26 February 2011 (UTC)
Will do; thanks. —INTRIGUEBLUE (talk|contribs) 07:27, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Note - the Boy Scouts of America page has changed since this comment. The table mentioned can be viewed at [3]. Thanks  — Amakuru (talk) 14:07, 17 October 2012 (UTC)

Ongoing discussion of fundamental interpretation of "citing sources" and "verifiablity"

There is a discussion regarding fundamental interpretation of the verifiability policy regarding citing sources is here[4], which is based on the discussion here[5]. PPdd (talk) 00:51, 2 March 2011 (UTC)

Could WP:CITESHORT be automated?

Has anyone looked into adding a way to make WP:CITESHORT citations easier? Seems that all it would require would be the addition of a tag like the "ref name=" functionality that would be used to distinguish what appears with {{Reflist}} and the like versus what currently has to be added by hand to the second section that WP:CITESHORT requires. Eg: When using WP:CITESHORT, there is the "Notes" section that is populated with {tl|Reflist}} or the like, plus there's a second section for the full citations, "References", that has to be filled by hand. I don't see why the second section cannot also be automatically populated as well by adding a way to identify the full citations. --Ronz (talk) 18:22, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Thinking a bit more on this: By automating it in a manner similar to what I've outlined, it shouldn't be too difficult to automatically create links from the entries in the "Notes" section to the corresponding full references in the "References" section. --Ronz (talk) 17:07, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

You have to insert the in-text cite in some manner and you have to create the full cite— I don't see how these could be automated. Linking the short cite to the long cite is fairly easy as shown in Chaco Culture National Historical Park. I suspect it isn't done a lot as we haven't documented it. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 18:19, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
There's some documentation about that at WP:CITEX. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 17:40, 1 March 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Citing sources has about 4000 views per day and CITEX has about 20. It doesn't seem like CITEX is getting the job done. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 18:15, 1 March 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the responses. Maybe we don't need the additional automation. I certainly don't have the time to look into implementing the changes. Still, a few more thoughts: Because we wouldn't want any of the currently used citation templates to need changes, it would have to be done as new parameters in citation templates. Let's call them "Isshortref" and "Fullrefname." Isshortref would simply identify short references, distinguishing them from full references. Fullrefname would be a parameter used with short references to identify the name of a full reference used, and this assumes that full references would be named. With this, both the Notes and References could be populated automatically, and entries in each section could be automatically linked to the corresponding entries in the other section. --Ronz (talk) 02:06, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

The closest thing to automating this process is {{sfn}}, which is a more advanced version of the "standard" technique which uses <ref>{{harvnb|...}}</ref>.
(I'm surprised that you all would say "we haven't documented it". The documentation at {{harv}} is pretty thorough, I think. And the section at WP:CITESHORT links to this documentation in two places!)
But I think what User:Ronz is talking about is something like this: User:CharlesGillingham/Wikipedia/Wish list. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 20:44, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
I outlined some pseudocode to see where it would go. Yes, a person still has to type each full reference, so it wouldn't reduce the amount of work editors would do.
However, it would allow links between the Notes and References section, and identify when a short reference is missing the corresponding full reference and the reverse. --Ronz (talk) 17:03, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Citation template inconsistencies

It was recommended that I bring this here. I have been updating some references in a couple of articles and have noticed several stylistic inconsistencies between the various templates I have been using. Here is an example of what I am referring to:

Here are some examples of the more widely used templates with the most common fields filled in:

  1. Author (2 March 2011), "A sample title" (PDF), A sample work (in English) (Publisher), retrieved 2 March 2011  ({{citation}})
  2. Author (2 March 2011). "A sample title" (PDF). A sample work (in English). Publisher. Retrieved 2 March 2011.  ({{cite web}})
  3. Author (2 March 2011). "A sample chapter name". A sample title (PDF) (in English). Publisher. Retrieved 2 March 2011.  ({{cite book}})
  4. Author (2 March 2011). "A sample title" (PDF). A sample work (in English) (Publisher). Retrieved 2 March 2011.  ({{cite news}})
  5. Author (2 March 2011). "A sample title" (PDF). A sample journal (in English) (Publisher). Retrieved 2 March 2011.  ({{cite journal}})
  6. Author (2 March 2011). "A sample title" (PDF) (Press release) (in English). Publisher. Retrieved 2 March 2011.  ({{cite press release}})

Here are some of the main inconsistencies:

  • Language and format fields will modify the date field, not the title field in the three examples ({{citation}}, {{cite book}}, {{cite journal}}) if you do not include certain fields. My question here is shouldn't the language and format fields follow the title of the work not the name of the article so that this error doesn't occur? I have yet to encounter a book or journal that is in more than one language, so having it appear after the work title would not be that strange.
  • The access date field produces a capitalized "Retrieved on" in some templates and not in others.
  • Some templates have a full stop/period (.) after the title, while others have a pause/comma (,).
  • Some templates have a full stop/period (.) after the work, while others have a pause/comma (,).
  • Some templates have a full stop/period (.) after the publisher, while others have a pause/comma (,). ({{Cite press release}} is different because of the formatting of press release citations, there is no author field.)
  • Some templates put the publisher field in parenthesis, while others do not.
  • The air date in the cite episode template is not in parenthesis.

Wouldn't it make sense to have all the templates format citations the same?

There were some other issues I raised in some of my original posts in a few locations, but they errors of my ways have been pointed out and I have removed those issues from this post. --Jeremy (blah blahI did it!) 06:12, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

You can't compare {{citation}} with the {{cite book}} family. The former uses commas and makes one sentence, while the latter use periods; this also affects capitalization. You should not mix these templates in a single article; they are not meant to work together.
The most likely reason the publisher is parenthesized in citations for journal articles is that it's rarely included. There's little reason to include the publisher in a citation to a journal; the normal info used in print is just the author and title of the paper, the title of the journal, the publication date and the volume and issue. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:37, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Before this goes too far, I have already done a lot of this at User:Gadget850/Citation templates. The templates listed under Other were developed separately from the other consistent styles. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 12:26, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
For those interested, the "other issues [Jerem43] raised in some of [Jerem43's] original posts" mentioned above include some pertinent replies which have not been copied over. To save tedious re-posting (see WP:MULTI), they may be viewed at: Template talk:Citation#Edit request; Template talk:Cite book#Edit request; Template talk:Cite web#Edit request; User talk:MSGJ#Citation template inconsistencies. --Redrose64 (talk) 14:34, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
I am starting to agree that there are reasons why these are separate but I do see some things that we should do to cleanup some of them. For example,
  1. I do not think publisher should be in Parenthesis and those could be standardized.
  2. I think we should change all the periods (full stops) to commas like example 1 (I have seen many comments and discussions about this in the past and how many editors don't like the periods after everything)
  3. I think we need to decide whether retrieved should be upper or lower case (I prefer upper but some probably won't agree). --Kumioko (talk) 15:00, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
You are comparing templates from two different styles that should not be used in the same article:
  • Citation Style 1: {{citation}} uses commas, thus retrieved is and should be lower case.
  • Citation Stlye 2: {{cite book}} et al uses periods, thus retrieved is and should be upper case.
  • Publisher is inconsistent and worth discussion. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 15:30, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── My point is that there should be one citation format for consistency sake, they should all utilize a standard layout of design regardless of who designed them. They should all use commas or the should all use periods, not some this format while others use that. If you look at professional publications, the formats of the citations are consistent across the entire document, not a mish-mash of competing styles. Do the citations in volume 1 of the Encyclopedia Britannica differ from those of volume 14 because the editors preferred different citation formats? No, they do not and since the project is putting out published version eventually, whether on electronic media or hard copy, this should be addressed.

If you could, please take a look at the article Burger King products (the one I was editing when I noticed the variances). There are over two hundred citations and close to fifty notes, and as you scan through the various references you see the differences and it doesn't look neat. Yeah, they're mostly the same, but mostly really isn't very good. I understand that there are some differences because of the source cited has different pices of data that need to be included, but the general layout should be standardized. I would like to discuss this and come to a consensus as to how we should design our citations to insure that we have a constant look across the project, regardless of who developed what.

Gadget's list is a lot more comprehensive than my little one above and he points out every inconsistency in every citation currently used. --Jeremy (blah blahI did it!) 16:24, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

I agree. I understand these format might be based on some formatting standard somewhere but I don't think we are tied to that and I believe having the incosistent multiple styles is much more confusing than just having one. Just because 1 is a book and one is a web citation shouldn't matter. A citation is a citation. --Kumioko (talk) 16:33, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

(edit conflict)

I think you are asking for a consensus on the OneTrue citation style. I have been down that road and it is dark, twisted, unpaved and full of holes. Please check the archives for the myriad of previous discussions on this.
If there are issues within one style, then yes, bring it up and we will see what needs to be fixed.
Looking at the BK article, it uses citation and cite (which redirects to citation) which is one style and cite book, cite news and cite press release which are a second style. These should not be mixed and this does need to be cleaned up. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 16:36, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm talking about standardizing punctuation and capitalization only, not one universal citation format. They should look alike and that is all I am saying. --Jeremy (blah blahI did it!) 23:08, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
There are two different series of templates, they deliberately have different styles and should not be mixed. I am not sure how else to explain this. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 10:54, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
Concerning applying the language and format to the article/chapter rather than the work, book, or journal, I have seen books and journals where not all the articles or chapters were in the same language, and if my background was not in technology, I suspect I might have seen more. As for format, it is common for a web site to have documents in several different formats, such as JPEG, HTML, and PDF. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:37, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
There is a small but nondecreasing number of non-English-language articles in mathematics journals that otherwise publish in English (for example, some French scholars are required/encouraged/eager to publish in French). When I cite historical sources, e.g. early 20th century research papers, they are often in other languages. So the language should be attached to the article, not the journal, like Jc3s5h said. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:45, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I think that good points are made here — for example, the comment now just above but which I will requote as "There is a small but nondecreasing number of non-English-language articles ..." in case later comments separate it. IMHO, consensus developed here (if that can happen) could/should be propagated to developers/maintainers of {{citation}} {{cite xxx}} and {{citation/core}} as Requirements (Requirements with a capital R, in the software engineering sense). Whether such a thing can ever happen in a wiki environment is an open question. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 13:27, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

RFC: WP:REFPUNC and parentheses

Yet another CITEVAR/REFPUNC issue has come up. An editor is insisting that refs relating to parenthetic material must go outside the parentheses. [6] [7] It is my view that WP:REFPUNC allows refs inside parentheses, and so moving the ref outside is contrary to the WP:CITEVAR principle. The opposition appears to claim that "inside" is allowed only when the referenced material is "part" of the material inside the parentheses, and that a ref which covers the "entirety" of a parenthetic ref must, without exception, always be placed outside the parentheses. Gimmetoo (talk) 03:51, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

More appropriately placed at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (footnotes)#Cites for whole phrases going outside parens, but note that it's not "an" editor who reads WP:FN to place the refs outside of parens unless the ref applies to only part of the parenthetical. -- JHunterJ (talk) 03:59, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

The MLA Style Manual (Achtert & Gibaldi, 1985), referring directly on point to superscripted note numbers, says: "They follow punctuation marks except dashes and occasionally parentheses. (When the note is to only the material that appears within parentheses, the note number is placed before the closing parenthesis.)". Gimmetoo (talk) 02:33, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

If you are editing a document under the MLA, that would be the guideline to follow. If you're editing a document under the WP:MOS, this would be the guideline to follow, where the two disagree. -- JHunterJ (talk) 12:00, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
If an article was started with a style that puts citations for parenthetical material inside parentheses, that style is acceptable. If the article was started with those refs outside parentheses, that's also acceptable. This isn't the same issue as the placement of footnotes with respect to commas and periods. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:23, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
Can you update WP:FN so that it does not specify otherwise, if this is the guideline? Thanks. -- JHunterJ (talk) 12:25, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
I see two ways to look at this. The first way is that CITEVAR allows one to follow all citation rules in a printed style manual that has been adopted for a particular article, and two the extent REFPUNC conflicts with this, the guidelines are in conflict and nullify each other, so the editors at the page can do whatever they want. Another way to look at it is that there is some undecided boundary between what MOS controls and what CITE controls, and once we decide where the boundary is, we will know how far to go in following a printed style guide with respect to citations. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:29, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
I think that (after extensive arguments I didn't participate in) the MOS seems to have settled on putting footnotes after commas and periods. So I think that even if another style manual said otherwise, the order of footnotes and periods is pretty much settled. But extending that to all punctuation whatsoever seems like a stretch.
In the case at hand, also, the citation is for a particular thing in parentheses: a year of birth or death. I think those could be reasonably construed as a "particular term" in the parenthetical material, like a foreign-language word or IPA pronunciation would be. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:37, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
In the cases at hand (Kevin Pereira and Jennifer Lopez), the only thing in the parentheses is the date, which would put the ref outside of the parens per WP:REFPUN, since it applies to the whole parenthetical ("the entirety of that phrase"). -- JHunterJ (talk) 13:04, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
But it also applies only to a specific term, the date. The MOS language makes the false assumption that there is more than one term in the parenthetical phrase. In any case, I don't see this as the same as commas and periods. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:21, 4 March 2011 (UTC)
And if that's the case, the bit about "a specific term within a parenthetical phrase, rather than the entirety of that phrase," needs to be updated to reflect the case of the parenthetical phrase consists of just one specific term. As written, if there is only one term in the phrase, it's specifying that the cite goes outside the parens. -- JHunterJ (talk) 13:38, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

[8] A point about broader implications, here. Gimmetoo (talk) 23:52, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Like CBM says, it looks like the currently prevailing view is to place refs after periods, commas, colons, and probably semicolons, and before dashes. I don't think we have any resolution about parentheses - and indeed, BAG-approved ref-placement-changing scripts that I know of do not touch refs near parentheses. The MLA handbook I have access to clearly says to put footnotes for parenthetic material inside the closing parentheses. This was also consistent with the 15th edition of the CMoS (2003), and it may or may not be consistent with the 16th edition of the CMoS (2010) depending on how one chooses to read it. We could survey other style manuals, but I think it ought to be clear that putting refs for parenthetic material inside the parentheses is at least an accepted style. The last major editorial discussion about ref placement that I recall resolved to allow any established style. Gimmetoo (talk) 00:04, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Citation templates now support more identifiers

Recent changes were made to citations templates (such as {{citation}}, {{cite journal}}, {{cite web}}...). In addition to what was previously supported (bibcode, doi, jstor, isbn, ...), templates now support arXiv, ASIN, JFM, LCCN, MR, OL, OSTI, RFC, SSRN and Zbl. Before, you needed to place |id={{arxiv|0123.4567}} (or worse |url=, now you can simply use |arxiv=0123.4567, likewise for |id={{JSTOR|0123456789}} and |url=|jstor=0123456789.

The full list of supported identifiers is given here (with dummy values):

  • {{cite journal |author=John Smith |year=2000 |title=How to Put Things into Other Things |journal=Journal of Foobar |volume=1 |issue=2 |pages=3–4 |arxiv=0123456789 |asin=0123456789 |bibcode=0123456789 |doi=0123456789 |jfm=0123456789 |jstor=0123456789 |lccn=0123456789 |isbn=0123456789 |issn=0123456789 |mr=0123456789 |oclc=0123456789 |ol=0123456789 |osti=0123456789 |rfc=0123456789 |pmc=0123456789 |pmid=0123456789 |ssrn=0123456789 |zbl=0123456789 |id={{para|id|____}} }}

Obviously not all citations needs all parameters, but this streamlines the most popular ones and gives both better metadata and better appearances when printed. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 15:24, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

I post this earlier on several notice boards and Wikiproject talk pages, but I somehow missed this one. So here goes. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 15:24, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Using names or initials in citations

Is there a standard somewhere about whether to go through the references on an article and change all the citation author's first names to initials in the name of consistency? (I seem to recall a page about this but I can't track it down now.) I don't agree with this practice, but I would like to know the consensus first. Thanks.—RJH (talk) 17:10, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

We use the "rule of first editor": use the style established by the first editor to add the content in question; change only after discussion and consensus, to maintain consistency of subsequent edits or where the style is wildly against the norm. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 17:25, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
See WP:CITEVAR. Consistency is good, although a talk-page discussion about whether full names provide more information to the reader (and is therefore an absolute good) might be warranted. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:32, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Found it. Per Wikipedia:Citing sources/example style: "A good guideline is to list author names as they are written in the original article/book, without further abbreviation. The APA guidelines recommend abbreviating first names to initial letters instead, but since Wikipedia has no shortage of space, you need not abbreviate names." I personally like to keep the full name because it helps with certain Wikipedia searches, as well as a few cases where the original link is lost.
The WP:CITEVAR is mainly about the general reference layout. I'm not clear it is as specific as whether to always use initials; that seems like overkill.—RJH (talk)
For context, this concerns a handful of references with first names amongst a sea of references with initials. Like ~15 in "Smith, John" style out of 150 (the rest being in "Smith, J." style). RJH argues that since a few are in "Smith, John" style, they should all be in "Smith, John" style (which will lead to both inconsistency as some of these references have authors that don't have full names listed in databases, and a great pain in the ass to find the first names of several hundred authors). I argue that since most are in "Smith, J.", then the odd ones should be streamlined to that format to conform to the article's established dominant style Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 18:19, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
No, I was arguing that the names should be in the same format as provided from the original source. I see no benefit to this streamlining process; information is being lost in the interest of conformity. There is also no specific policy in favor of this approach, and a pretty clear-cut statement against it in the example provided above.—RJH (talk) 18:27, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
The only information that is lost is irrelevant in the first place. Find me one professional Manual of Style which allows for inconstant citation styles. Chigaco doesn't. MLA doesn't. APA doesn't. AMA doesn't. CSE doesn't. Harvard doesn't. And consequently, WP:MOS (see "General principles: Consistency" and WP:CITEVAR in particular) doesn't. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 18:43, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Again, see the example. You're dragging in style guides that Wikipedia doesn't use; therefore your examples are irrelevant. Wikipedia has it's own standards that are governed in part by the principle that Wikipedia is not paper. This makes it a different medium than all others that have been governed by said guidelines.
Finally, just because you don't find the information useful doesn't mean that others don't. I have found the information useful in the past, particularly when performing Wikipedia searches, trying to recover a lost link or when I want to disambiguate an author for linking. (Smith, J. anybody?) The author information is also available via Google for everybody to use; you are diminishing that capability. This is unnecessary, unhelpful and needlessly destructive formatting.—RJH (talk) 19:18, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
RJHall, Wikipedia does use style guides; it uses whichever one chosen by the author who expands the article beyond a stub, or a style agreed to by a consensus demonstrated on the article's talk page. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:32, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Ah, well that would be me then, since I provided most of the cites for these articles. No matter. I can understand that style guides would serve as a basis, but I also know that Wikipedia styles override said guides. Basically what I'm looking for here is a consensus on how to format citation authors. If it is to be dogmatic following of the style guides, then so be it. But I would like to see it written in stone so I don't have three months of work getting stomped on whenever somebody gets a style preference itch. :-) Thanks.—RJH (talk) 20:39, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
That is only your desire, not the article's dominant style. The vast majority of sources were in "Smith, J." style, so that was the established style. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 01:57, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
If you look closely, you will see that although Wikipedia has a main Manual of style and several manuals of style for particular areas, none of them cover citations, except to refer to Citing sources. That, in turn, says to use the style chosen by the first editor to expand the article beyond a stub. There are families of templates that could be used for citations, such as {{Citation}} and {{Cite xxx}}, but those systems do not have a thorough manual of style describing how to use them, just some documentation pages with cursory descriptions of some of the parameters. In any case, something found in the documentation page of {{Cite book}} would have no bearing on an article that uses APA style.
A common problem is the author who starts an article uses some system of style, but never puts in a comment saying which style is being followed, so later editors have to try to guess from the format of the existing citations. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:10, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Where possible, full names should be used; if the full name of an author isn't given, then you fill in what you can. I don't see why this is such an issue (and I certainly don't see why you would remove author info for the sake of conforming to initials from other sources.) Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 20:38, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Not by a competent editor: E. A. Wallis Budge, the form he used himself - and, more important, by which reliable sources cite him - not Sir Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge, which will only leave readers wondering if this is some relation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:05, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

WP:CITE allows any style. If an article is started with full names, that's fine, and if it's started with initials, that's fine. The style that's already present should be followed for subsequent references. In practice, in the presence of other citation information, initials rarely make a difference in locating a source. To get some confusion, you would need something like two different papers published in the same issue of the same journal on the same pages whose authors have the same last name :) So readers can locate the source with initials or with full names. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:57, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Yes, that is relatively true of modern papers. I have run into instances where there was ambiguity of some sources (such as older books or papers) and I needed to identify the actual author in order to establish credibility. Also useful when author wikilinks are desired, as mentioned previously.—RJH (talk) 22:11, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Any style guide that objects to citing Peter Brown and W. W. Tarn on the same page, in the style in which their names will be recognized, is incompetent and should be discarded. Never let rules interfere with writing the encyclopedia. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:39, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, among the authors of reliable sources for British railway history we have David St John Thomas, who is almost never abbreviated to D. [St J.] Thomas (but is often written Thomas, David St John), and O. S. Nock, who is almost never expanded to Oswald [Stevens] Nock (but is often written Nock, O. S.). --Redrose64 (talk) 22:58, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
I would expect most journals would put all the references into their house style, which would either show initials for all authors or full names for all authors in the reference list. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:43, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
That is indeed the case. I know of no journals, MoS, publisher, etc... which allowed to mix both styles. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 01:57, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Those two names are used together - in precisely those forms - by articles in The Classical Review and Greece & Rome, two of the leading journals in the field. Most journals mix initials and full names in their TOC, to say nothing of bibliographies. The true short form (single initial and surname) tends not to be mixed with other forms, but there are examples even of that (especially for Russian or French authors). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:11, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
For an example, see this page which tends to single initial and surname, but also uses full names, surname alone, and double initials. (N[icholas] Siouffi and most of the others cited wrote in French, and their papers generally have single initial and surname.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:19, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
It looks like all the actual citations there use a single initial, citations to previously mentioned books use just the last name, and the full names are sentences, rather than in formal citations. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:38, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
I was about to make the same observations as Carl, but he beat me to it. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 02:58, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
  • "A good guideline is to list author names as they are written in the original article/book, without further abbreviation. The APA guidelines recommend abbreviating first names to initial letters instead, but since Wikipedia has no shortage of space, you need not abbreviate names."—That is an invitation to make reference lists scrappy and inconsistent within an article. The guideline needs to be updated. First author's choice seems reasonable. I must say, spelling out first names is not the usual way in research publications, but if editors are keen to do this in an article, I suppose there's no pressing reason not to. I guess the middle name would then be represented by an initial, if anything? Tony (talk) 07:01, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
It's a pretty bad guideline actually. If you're citing a paper which lists its authors as "Smith, JC; Jones, T; Morgan, PR", then another one as "Smith, Jim C; Jones, T; Morgan, Paul, R", then other one as "J. C. Smith, T. Jones, P. R. Morgan" as they are themselves cited, you have a horror on your hand. Likewise if you use "Smith, JC; Jones, T; Morgan, PR" half the time, and "Smith, Jim Charles; Jones, Tim; Morgan, Paul Ruben" the other half. Following the original author's style is a bad idea if that style is mean inconsistency. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 08:10, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Re Tony's "spelling out first names is not the usual way in research publications", there's no consistency between research publications in zoology and paleontology. Most journal articles give the author(s) name(s) as "first-name middle-initial surname" but a few journals give only first initial, e.g. The Verdun Syndrome: simultaneous origin of protective armour and infaunal shelters at the Precambrian–Cambrian transition gives the author's name as "J. Dzik" under the title on the first page, and Journal of the Geological Society gives only initials, e.g. Small shelly fossils of late Precambrian and early Cambrian age: a review of recent work. On the hand, all journal articles that I can remember give only initials in lists of cited articles at the bottom of the current article, and PNAS and Royal Society pages use initials for the citation details of the current articles as well as showing the full name under the title.
I've just found another variant: initial, full middle name, full surname at Tardigrades survive exposure to space in low Earth orbit --Philcha (talk) 12:00, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
Sometimes you can't find a full first name, e.g. for Small shelly fossils of late Precambrian and early Cambrian age: a review of recent work I found on Google the first name of the 1st author but not of the 2nd author.
In books there often multiple authors, e.g. "Invertebrate Zoology: ..." by E.E. Ruppert, R.S. Fox and R.D. Barnes. In such cases full first names (which I know, I have the book) would just clutter the "References" section of the WP articles. For reductio ad absurdum, I remember seeing a journal articles with about 20 authors.
But we might want to use full firstnames if e.g. there are 2 "J. Smith"s.
I think there's no feasible general rule, and hopefully common sense reigns. --Philcha (talk) 11:03, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
There is certainly a need for consistent layout of the information, but I remain unconvinced of a need to enforce the use of initials for first names when the source provides the full name. Dogmatically enforcing the use of initials for first names removes value from an article and adds nothing. Now if you wanted to say that first names should only be allowed when the list of authors is brief (say 1-3 authors), I could see that as useful. But for, say, a single-author old book, news story or (especially) a web page, the full name adds value and should be kept IMO.—RJH (talk) 14:15, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
I also argue for consistency, but there are any number of authors where the style of their name is a direct connection to their works. For example, J. R. R. Tolkien would never use the full first name, but Edgar Rice Burroughs always uses the full first and middle names. I have never seen Arthur C. Clarke or John W. Campbell without the middle initial, but Isaac Asimov and Alfred Bester never used middle initials. There there is L. Sprague de Camp who never used a full first name. A few more off the top of my head using initials only: E. E. Smith, E. E. Cummings, F. M. Busby, T. S. Eliot. Authors using full names: Roger MacBride Allen, Lois McMaster Bujold. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 15:27, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
If I am interpreting Headbomb's viewpoint correctly, then he is saying, in effect, that Wikipedia's WP:CONSISTENCY policy means that all author names should be listed the same way in the references block. In other words, if at least one of the citations only has first initials available, then all citations must use initials for the first name. It is an all or nothing policy. Hence, your list would be: Allen, R. M.; Bujold, L. M.; de Camp, L. S.; Smith, E. E., and so forth.—RJH (talk) 16:25, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Haven't read all the previous stuff. I am in favor of a standard (names or initials, don't care). Academice journals differ in if they use names or initials (and even if they put periods on the initials, run them together, etc.) But they follow the same format WITHIN A JOURNAL. So let's pick a style for the journal of Wikipedia and use it. And don't tell me we do it by the article...that is a clusterfuck and we know it doesn't work....the articles endup a mishmash of styles inside the articles and it requires people to learn 10 different styles. Let's standardize.

My inclination would be to go for full names for the same rationale that we don't generally abbreviate journal names and that we do generally give article names instead of just pages. It's because we are not paper. And a fuller citation better allows the reader to decide if he should try to get the cite, and it really helps with all the verification and such. Of course, sometimes we won't have a full name, but no biggie, use it when we have it. But again, if we can standardize, I am totally fine with initials too.

TCO (talk) 06:36, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Journal articles tend to cite other journal articles, so using a single standard is easier for them. I don't think we can use an identical standard across Wikipedia because the various academic disciplines tend to use their own name convention. I think we just need to leave some room for exceptions, minor but consistent variations, and common sense.—RJH (talk) 18:12, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Citation author names proposal

Per the prior discussion, what I'd like to propose is to insert the following compromise recommendation into the Style variation section of the style guide:

"For references with long lists of authors, for brevity it is recommended that the full last name and the first and middle initials be retained. In references where a single author is being listed and the last name may be ambiguous, the full name of the author should be used. When a publication has a single author and is out of print (or likely to go out of print, such as a web page or news article), the full name should be used. In all other situations, use your best judgment."

Alternatively, we could just list cases where we would want to retain the full author name. Thanks.—RJH (talk) 14:44, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Absolutely not. Editors should be free to choose whatever style they feel like, as long as it is consistent throughout the article. The full names work on some article, but certainly not on most. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 14:57, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
No. It's not what "we" want: It's what they want. Editors are free to use any citation style, and this means we give them the freedom to go look up a hundred authors' first names if they want, and the freedom not to, if they don't want. There are both technical (PubMed lists only initials) and cultural (using initials is socially normative in India) reasons to let editors do whatever they want on this point. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:04, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Ah no, we still disagree. Where you say consistent "style", I think consistent "layout". The description of the Style variation section does not get down to the fine detail of how names should be presented and the style guide example page quite clearly shows that the use of mixed names formats is acceptable. Ergo, editors should be free to apply a consistent naming convention, but not necessarily a blanket consistency as you would prefer.—RJH (talk) 15:06, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
WP:MOS, and particularly WP:CONSISTENCY apply here, so no you shouldd not mix citation styles. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 15:08, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Right then, per the example, "A good guideline is to list author names as they are written in the original article/book, without further abbreviation." This is a consistent style and a consistent approach. We aren't disagreeing here; we're just looking at the meaning differently.—RJH (talk) 15:22, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
It is neither consistent, nor a good guideline to be applied on well-developed articles. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 17:26, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes we disagree. In this case, the policy in the second paragraph of "Style variation" applies. Hence, we fall back to using full names on the Supernova article.—RJH (talk) 17:30, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
We most certainly do not fall back on using an inconsistent style based on a minority of citations. That goes directly against WP:CITEVAR.Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 17:44, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
I assume this is the royal "we", and your opinions certainly don't appear in the link you cited. Very well. "As with issues of spelling differences, if there is disagreement about which style is best, defer to the style used by the first major contributor." That would be myself and WolfmanSF. I pretty much got this article cited up to FA standard, so probably me then.
I can certainly scratch your itch about consistency by consistently inserting full names, that is assuming you aren't going to engage in more edit warring.—RJH (talk) 18:46, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
It is the same "we" you used. As far the style that was used by the article, "Smith, J." was the dominant style. You make claim you wanted to use another, but that was the dominant style used, so that's the one that will be used for consistency. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 18:59, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
The "we" I used just above is the "you and I" we, as in you and I disagree. No, the dominant style was to use the name provided by the source, as per the example page. In particular, I generally used full names for books and web pages (where possible) and initials for journals; different types of citations and thus different styles.—RJH (talk) 19:01, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Mixing "Smith, J.C." "Smith JC" "J. C. Smith" "John C. Smith" based on the styles of the original citation is not a recognized citation style anymore than writing "Jim was found dead on March 9, 2009. Two days after, on 2010-03-10, Jim told Bob that he would bring him a toaster by 29 March 2010, but possibly earlier (18-Mar-2010)" based on what the sources write is a recognized date style. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 19:10, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Okay, I think I see where there is a problem in our discussion. You and I may be interpreting the example differently; to me it means to use each of the individual words of the names as they appear in the source: Smith, John Q. rather than Smith, J. Q., when the source says John Q. Smith. For me this follows from the statement that, "Wikipedia has no shortage of space, you need not abbreviate names." Yes, of course we should use a consistent layout. I'm not disputing that. My only concern is with the format of the first (or middle name).—RJH (talk) 19:21, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure that you understand my position. If the editors at the article make up a citation style that says "Use whatever name is on the source", then that's the standard they should consistently follow throughout the article. If they editors at the article make up a citation style that says "Always use full names", then that's the standard they should consistently follow throughout. If they editors at the article make up a citation style that says "Always use initials for first and middle names, even if we know the full name", then that's the standard they should consistently follow throughout.
They can make up any style they want. Once they—not "we here", but "they there"—have decided what style they want, then they should follow it consistently throughout the article. "We here" do not tell them what that style should be. We only tell them to make up their minds and stick with whatever style they freely chose (or invented). WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:22, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Right on. Now, anything left that is specific to Supernova should be taken to Talk:Supernova, then perhaps my watchlist will be less cluttered. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:49, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
I would have taken it there, but this has happened on at least one other FA article and possibly many. Hence, why I requested to discuss it here.—RJH (talk)
I agree. I haven't disagreed with you (as WhatamIdoing). Nor should an editor come along and force a different consistency model on the editors without first gaining consensus.
However, there are many ways to be consistent. If you follow the model that says use full first names when available, or initials when not, then this is a form of algorithmic consistency. If you are going to rigidly enforce a brand of monolithic consistency, then you must do that consistently. Thus, et al. should always be used consistently according to some criteria (whenever there are 3+ authors); capitalization of the reference titles should always be performed consistently; the presentation of dates and access dates must also be monolithically consistent with each other, and so forth. Personally, I think that approach is pedantic beyond all reason, but there you go.—RJH (talk) 17:52, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
"Algorythmic consistency" is utter nonsense. Jim was found dead on March 9, 2009. Two days after, on 2010-03-10, Jim told Bob that he would bring him a toaster by 29 March 2010, but possibly earlier (18-Mar-2010) is not a consistent style because whoever wrote it "consistently wrote the dates as he found them in the sources". It's an utterly and completely inconsistent "style" (and I use the term loosely here) because none of the dates are in the same format. It is exactly the same situation if an article has refers to "John Smith", "Jones, C.", "Daniel K", "O'Neil, F" and "M BOUCHER" because the names are "algorithmically" taken from five different sources, each with a different style. Consistency is picking one style, and sticking with it throughout the article. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 21:37, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Yet more reductio ad absurdum, but only fair since I did the same. :-) At any rate, I remain unconvinced by your arguments. See WhatamIdoing's comments above. Consistency is whatever principles, course or form that the editor's have agreed upon, or whatever principles, course or form was first established. If the principle was to retain first names where they appear, then that is consistent behavior.—RJH (talk) 21:55, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. We ought not recommend specific style (initials, full names, what comes first, punctuation, etc.). Editors choose the style for an article the way they decide. Different fields cite differently. So the editors decide how they cite consistently in the article. —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 22:12, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is playing "my style is better than your style." Fifelfoo (talk) 23:38, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
    • Fair enough, I withdraw my suggestion. I suppose I was attempting to reach a gentlemanly compromise with HeadBomb's position, which appears impossible in any event. Thank you for the feedback.—RJH (talk) 18:01, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Using open library to get a book citation

Open Library has an option to get a full Wikipedia citation for any book in it's catalogue, for example . I think we should mention that somewhere, because it's a really handy and simple way to get citations for books. Any suggestions? Sadads (talk) 14:12, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

What do you mean "has the option to get a full Wikipedia citation" ? Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 14:16, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
If you look down the page you'll see the text "Download catalog record: RDF / JSON / OPDS | Wikipedia citation". Clicking the last pops up a box headed "Wikipedia citation Copy and paste this code into your Wikipedia page. Need help?", containing
    |publisher = Suhrkamp
    |publication-place = Frankfurt am Main
    |title = Steppenwolf
    |url =
    |author = Hermann Hesse
    |edition = Der Steppenwolf
    |publication-date = 1960
    |oclc = 6584578
which will need tweaking to get it to fit in with common citation styles (for example, we'd put the author as "Hesse, Hermann"), and also for Harvard ref linking to work. Also, {{cite book}} is far more commonly used than {{citation}}, and cite book has the advantage that it handles the |trans_title= parameter, which citation doesn't (hence the misuse of |edition=). --Redrose64 (talk) 14:40, 15 March 2011 (UTC)
I am on the mailing list if you want any changes to the format, I can make a request. I would prefer them using the "|first =" and "last =" variables to fix the name thing, but I am not sure how flexible their output is right now. I think this could be very useful for people who want to add citations to books, even if there are small problems with the format, at least it includes most of the more important information that will be needed for future editors to clean up the ref. Any input anyone has would be great, and I can compose an e-mail with a link to the discussion here once we know what we want changed, Sadads (talk) 18:23, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Hmmmm... I see. The citation should most likely use |ol=13538404M rather than the URL, since that will lead to better appearance and tell people the link will take them to OpenLibrary. It should also make better use of the parameters (for this book, the following would be optimal), and give the option of multiline

 |author=Hermann Hesse                          <!-- Or possibly |last=Hesse |first=Hermann       -->
 |year=1960                                     <!-- Or possibly |date=1960 to simplify compatibility
 |title=Der Steppenwolf                              with full dates such as 18 February 1974     -->
 |series=His Gesammelte Werke in Einzelausgaben
 |language=German                               <!-- Which should be omitted if it's English      -->
 |location=Frankfurt am Main

or single line

{{Citation |author=Hermann Hesse |year=1960 |title=Der Steppenwolf |series=His Gesammelte Werke in Einzelausgaben |language=German |publisher=Suhrkamp |location=Frankfurt am Main |oclc=6584578 |ol=13538404M}}

to produce

  • Hermann Hesse (1960), Der Steppenwolf, His Gesammelte Werke in Einzelausgaben, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, OCLC 6584578, OL 13538404M 

Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 07:38, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Re the comment "Or possibly |date=1960 to simplify compatibility with full dates such as 18 February 1974" - please don't use |date= for a pure year, 60% of the time it's misinterpreted and Harvard reference linking fails; as it happens, 1960 falls within the 40% where |date=1960 does work. Further info at Template:Harv#Wikilink to citation does not work item and the linked note.
In connection with Harvard linking, this works best if separate |last=|first= are used, since otherwise the Harvard ref will need to contain the full author name. Compare (Hesse 1960, p. 123), which doesn't link to the above citation, with (Hermann Hesse 1960, p. 123), which does. --Redrose64 (talk) 14:18, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
That stuff can be fixed after the citation is inserted. I'm suggesting |date= and |author= because it might not be possible to ensure data integrity if |last= |first= and |year= are used. If |last= |first= (and |last2= |first2= ...) can't be filled properly, then |author= should be used. If |year= can't be filled properly, |date= should be used (AWB and Bots will convert |date= into |year= when appropriate anyway). Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 15:01, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good, I will have them modify the output then into the more useful/common parameters. Thanks for the feedback everyone, Sadads (talk) 17:21, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

How to apply a single cite to an entire section?

How does one make it clear that a given ref is applicable to the entire content of a section, or a whole list, table, paragraph, etc? Roger (talk) 19:51, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

You can either just add it at the end of the paragraph, and let readers draw the obvious conclusion. Or you can add to the footnote something like: "For the source supporting the preceding paragraph, see Smith, John, etc." Or you can list the different points in the footnote: "for the date of birth, the day of the party, and the reason for the arrest, see Smith, John, etc." SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 20:11, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
The problem occurs when the paragraph is modified or expanded at a later date. The citation is now an insufficient source, except possibly for the final sentence. I've also experienced situations where a paragraph will be properly tagged with a single cite, but then some editor comes along and adds a citation needed in the middle of the paragraph, not knowing that the cite applies to all.—RJH (talk) 21:12, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
I think a problem is that some editors just don't get the concept of supporting statements with citations. Others don't understand the way citations are generally used in academic writing. If editors don't understand these basic concepts, what is the chance they would take the time to decipher some newly-invented Wikipedia-only citation convention that specifies exactly what statement a citation applies to? My opinion: no chance at all. The only way to fix damage from editors who don't understand citations is for editors who do understand to repair the damage. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:47, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes. I was contemplating some form of hidden XML-style tags to designate sections cited by sources. But that would be an implementation and maintenance nightmare. I guess the citation stability and reliability of Wikipedia will continue to depend on editor-custodians who have in-depth knowledgeable about the pages that they watch.—RJH (talk) 21:56, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
I've occasionally left <!-- hidden comments --> in the text if I think future editors will be confused, or comments on the talk page if I think the current editors will be confused. For a table, I usually think it best to put the citation in a caption. For a list, if it leads in with a phrase ("The following are foo:") then it's usually good enough to list the citation after that phrase.
If it's just one paragraph (clearly about a single subject, without direct quotations, contentious matter about BLPs, etc.), then one copy of the citation, usually placed at the end, is enough. In this instance, however, some editors place a citation after both the first and the last sentence in the paragraph. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:58, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
First and last seems very sensible. I, and many others it seems, just throw in a reference every three or four sentences (when a large section is all from one source) which seems to make things clear.  ⊂| Mr.choppers |⊃  (talk) 02:03, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Question regarding "Preventing and repairing dead links"

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result was no consensus to remove item 5 from the guideline, although the community felt that some effort should be made before removing a reference. A summary of suggestions is listed at the end of this thread. - Hydroxonium (TCV) 09:22, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

I have noticed that the following template {{Dead link|date=}} is occasionally added to some references where the reference link has gone dead. This seems to allow for AGF that the reflink did exist when it was added. My question is should we add this as an alternative to item five in the WP:DEADREF section that requires removal of the reference. I am not asking that we chose one over the other, that should be left to an editors discretion. I just think that we might want to acknowledge the template in the guideline. I look forward to your input and thank you for your time. MarnetteD | Talk 16:55, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

I'll leave it to someone else to decide how, or whether, to mention this on the project page, but I have a couple of observations re dead links:
  1. after an archived copy is located, googling for some text quoted from that will sometimes turn up a still-live copy.
  2. if the dead-link cite gives an article title, placing that in quotes and googling for it will sometimes turn up a copy, even if the now-dead URL isn't in the archives.
Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 01:33, 14 February 2011 (UTC)
It looks like this page directly conflicts with WP:Link rot.
DEADREF says, "If the source material does not exist offline, and if there is no archived version of the webpage, then the citation should be removed and the material it supports should be regarded as unsourced."
DEADLINK says, "Do not delete factual information solely because the URL to the source does not work any longer. WP:Verifiability does not require that all information be supported by a working link, nor does it require the source to be published on-line. Except for URLs in the External links section that have not been used to support any article content, do not delete a URL solely because the URL does not work any longer" and goes on to give examples of why a (currently) (apparently) dead link might be useful in the future.
We need to resolve this discrepancy. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:11, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
It often happens with newspapers and magazines--the link goes dead. But the newspaper was actually published and still exists in archives, so it remains a valid source. On the other hand, if a source ONLY existed online, and is no longer online, then I don't think it is a valid source any longer. Rjensen (talk) 22:26, 17 February 2011 (UTC)
The US FDA rearranged their website in 2009. Should all those 'unsolved' links simply be removed? Does the content really become unsourced when the FDA rearranges its website? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:39, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
"First, check the link to confirm that it is dead. The site may have been temporarily down or have changed its linking structure.". So, no, the citations wouldn't be removed. —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 13:50, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
Well, a link can be removed if there really isn't a way to fix it. DEADREF says this -- remove the citation if it doesn't exist offline and no record online. What DEADLINK refers to (if poorly worded at places) is a dead link, but not necessarily a citation beyond help -- i.e. noone has bothered to check for offline version/archives yet. But I agree that the latter (DEADLINK/LINKROT) could use an update/reword. —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 23:28, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

In my opinion, item 5 of WP:Citing sources#Preventing and repairing dead links should be removed as it violates WP:AGF. The same reference could easily pop up at a new site sometime later. New archives of information are constantly appearing online as new services and websites appear. Some examples.

  • Google's Newspaper Archive is constantly being updated
  • The Free Library is always adding new articles
  • NewsLibrary continually updates its archive
  • Google Books is constantly scanning and adding new books
  • Google Scolar continually adds papers
  • New web archiving services in foreign countries, like Wikiwix, are popping up all the time.
  • Archives of Usenet are routinely backed up on media and stored in offline sites that people could get access to.
  • There are offline archives of records, radio shows, news broadcasts, BBSes, and even websites that may be avaialbe online at a future date.

There are many more examples. It would be extremely easy for somebody to think they searched everywhere — not realizing there were other sources — and remove information that could be verifiied by somebody else. Item 5 of WP:DEADREF should be removed. - Hydroxonium (H3O+) 23:49, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

But it already says "If the source material does not exist offline, and if there is no archived version of the webpage". Your examples above are when an archived version exists, so nothing would be removed. It also does not violate AFG, because the material is not removed, only the citation. —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 13:50, 18 February 2011 (UTC)
  • How about a compromise. If the ref is dead, cut it out, stick it in the talk page. Or, just hide it by repacing the ref tags with the <!-- --> things. Sven Manguard Wha? 05:56, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

(TL:DR version: just remove item five as it is harmful) I just found this discussion from Wikipedia:Village_pump_(policy)#Conflict between guidelines and I am quite surprised by item five from Wikipedia:DEADREF#Preventing and repairing dead_links which reads: "If the source material does not exist offline, and if there is no archived version of the webpage, then the citation should be removed and the material it supports should be regarded as unsourced." I am absolutely against this advice. Yes, it conflicts with Wikipedia:Link rot which contains better advice. The compromise is the minimum I would accept, but we should allow a dead link template to remain regardless. Indeed, assume good faith of the editor that added the original cite. A first hand example: back in 2008 I moved cites from a Danish museum to LZ 13 Hansa. I remember going through that site (now dead) carefully gathering all possible sources for several Zeppelin facts. The museum website URL went 404 some time back; I recall another editor finding its replacement URL (and some are now at Zeppelin#Danish Post & Tele Museum Zeppelin articles); nevertheless the old URL in LZ 13 Hansa is still dead and not in the Internet Archive. I now see the museum revamped their site at so someone *may* be able to re-find the Flash page I had cited, but it took me quite a search the first time. If my cite was just deleted (after a dead link tag was added maybe), that would be a net loss to wikipedia. -84user (talk) 19:56, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

Now that I have read more of this thread, I agree with User:Hydroxonium and again call for that item five to be removed. Even cutting and moving it to the talk page runs the risk it gets buried in an archive and lost. I feel how we handle citations is a short-term stop-gap measure until we have a better method of copying cited sources ala WebCite or Internet Archive. Preferably superior to both as they risk "losing" their copies. Another example, David Schwarz (aviation_inventor) has a potentially controversial claim cited by this note which links to exhibit list from now-stale Traum von Fliegen museum site. That link sometimes goes 404 (I use [9] to check). In fact even the Internet Archive cache copy of it went "server error" on me a few minutes ago. Yes, I should add more identifying details. But what if both it and its archive went 404? -84user (talk) 20:24, 18 February 2011 (UTC)

I agree with User:84user, item 5 should be removed. Face-smile.svg. I would like to point out that people often remove unsourced material from articles. The Internet Archive routinely takes 1 and 1/2 years for a webpage to become available. A person could remove a lot of material from articles during that 1.5 year time period. Would they remember to come back 1.5 years later and put back all the material they removed? Another example; dead webpages can be found in search engine caches. Somebody might look in Google's cache for a webpage, but...
It is far too easy for somebody to think there is no archived version of a webpage. People could remove a lot of stuff, not realizing that I or somebody else could find it. Item 5 of WP:DEADREF should be removed. - Hydroxonium (H3O+) 00:30, 19 February 2011 (UTC)

WP:DEADREF#5: "If the source material does not exist offline, and if there is no archived version of the webpage, then the citation should be removed and the material it supports should be regarded as unsourced." should remain in some form identical to or similar to its current form.
§ I agree that even if no archived version of it currently exists and it was not ever published in some other medium, a dead link might become useful again in some way in the future if the link is by some means restored, or a previously unavailable archive of it becomes available from a reliable archive. However, for the time being it has ceased to be Verifiable, and may well remain so.
Assuming good faith does not mean that, while a link is working, we should not verify the reference for ourselves. The editor who added it may have made a good faith edit in which ze accidentally mistranscribed, misparaphrased, or misunderstood the source. It is likewise possible that the editor intentionally ascribed to the source something which was not in it.
§ When a link is no longer working, it simply can't be used as a source. If on 1 January 2010 I added a web source to the article on Link rot, and the webpage has since ceased to be, the source and reference in the Wikipedia article have ceased to be:
  • Scholar, Reliable (August 2009). "Reliable Source". Reliable University Online Journal. Department of Reliability, Reliable University. Retrieved 1 Jan 2010. 
and have effectively become:
  • Шизомби (Sz) (1 January 2010). "Link Rot". Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 20 February 2011.  citing Scholar, Reliable (August 2009). "Reliable Source". Reliable University Online Journal. Department of Reliability, Reliable University. Retrieved 1 Jan 2010.  {{deadlink}}.
§ It is sometimes acceptable for certain qualified people Z other than Wikipedians to make use of source X that cites source Y, where source Y is at the current time believed to no longer be in existence. Those people Z must evaluate the reliability of source X, and source X's judgment about source Y, and the strength of Z's evaluation is based on their own scholarly expertise and how other qualified people regard Z. A well-credentialed, well-regarded Doctor of Theology Z citing an early Christian text X citing a no longer extent "heretical" text Y, for example. It's conceivable that a reliable source may have cited the dead link webpage, and that could be used in the Wikipedia article, provided one were sure that the reference was not a WP:CIRCULAR one where the source was really citing what Wikipedia said about the webpage, without having acknowledged Wikipedia.
§ Wikipedians cannot evaluate a source in quite the way Z can, nor can a Wikipedian legitimately cite me or a Wikipedia article (which they are in fact doing, even if they haven't actually altered the citation to one like the Link rot article example I give above). It has nothing to do with a bad faith assumption about me. It's just that the original source is no longer verifiable, and it becomes original research to rely on my claim about a source. It really has to be removed, if all other options were pursued and the original source could not be located.
§ That said, there are some other options I think may be available which I'm not sure have been discussed. This first might (?) border on original research; I'd be interested to know what you think:
  1. The site, if it still exists, could be contacted with a request to republish the page. One might try the webmaster, or in this case the Univ. Dept., if it still exists, or the Prof., if she is still there. Or if the Professor is now elsewhere, the Prof. could be contacted with the request to republish it, though this might result in the source becoming a self-published one, depending on who is now publishing it. Obviously the Wikipedian could not reference an archive of it that was sent to them privately, nor could the Wikipedian self-publish it, even if they had permission to do so.
  2. It might also be useful if there were a subpage where editors could manually add sources which have been removed for any reason to a list, e.g. Talk:Link rot/Sources removed from article#Dead links. Conceivably wiki software could be programmed to automatically put references removed by editors there, though I suspect that is beyond the current capabilities of the software.
§ In the end, though, some form of #5 must be there. The claim could remain if it is not a contentious one and it is not a BLP, provided {{Citation needed}} were substituted for the reference no longer available. And if sometime after that it just couldn't be sourced to some other source, it could be removed entirely. One supposes if the claim was never made elsewhere by anyone else, it's possible (but by no means definite) that it might not have been such a notable claim or such a reliable source to begin with anyway. Шизомби (Sz) (talk) 18:39, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
How would we prevent mistakes such as those outlined above? - Hydroxonium (H3O+) 06:56, 21 February 2011 (UTC)
I think the WP:DEADREF list should have another item something like, "If the reference with a dead link contains an exact title, or if a literal snippet of text is known, a web search will sometimes turn up another copy of the referenced item at a different URL. This is often the case for dead links to news articles. In this case, the link can be updated (along with information on the publisher if appropriate)." I'm not sure whether this should go in the list prior to #2 or #4, but it probably should be in there. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 07:34, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

"Not visible today in the archives" is importantly different from "not in the archives". Given that it is impossible to determine whether a recently dead link has or has not been archived recently, I think we should probably change the guidance to normally retaining dead links, but labeling them as dead citations. Specifically, given the ~18-month delay in archive visibility, I think it appropriate to retain dead links for at least ~24 months (to increase the likelihood that they're actually not in the archives). WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:22, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

I very much agree with this. Stripping out deadlinks too quickly risks rapidly degrading articles when a website changes its linking structure. Fences&Windows 21:08, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

Hydoxonium responded to my post above asking for specific recommendations. I think it might help to have a step-by-step process of recommendations and/or requirements for preventing and repairing dead links. What we have now is something like that, but falls a bit short. Following are some ideas, not exactly what I think should be put in the guideline, as I have a number of explanatory remarks to the editors here about why I thought some of these things are good ideas. When editors find a dead link in an article, even though that reference has ceased to be Verifiable, they should follow this process:

  • Step 1) You must leave the link in the article, unless:
  • a) it is clear the reference was added as an act of vandalism,
  • b) it is clear that the reference would not have been a reliable source, or
  • c) it is the only reference attached to a contentious claim about a living person.
  • Step 2) You must, if someone else has not already added the {{Dead link|date=}} template following the reference, add that template yourself.
(I think the Dead link template should be rewritten so that the date is automatically added, including the day of the month. I think the display should change from:
[Dead link]
[Dead link?] (Access failed DAY MONTH YEAR).
"[Dead link]" by itself is not particularly informative.)
  • Step 3) You must, if someone else has not already added the {{Citation needed}}</ref> template directly following the inline citation or footnote for the reference with the dead link. I.e. Link rot is the worst problem on the internet today (Smith 2005).<nowiki>{{Citation needed}} or Link rot is the worst problem on the internet today.[1]{{Citation needed}}. Because, at least temporarily while that webpage has a dead link, there is no existing Verifiable source for that claim in the article. Alternatively, a different template could be created for use in the body of the text that would explain why a citation is needed. It could be something like: Link rot is the worst problem on the internet today (Smith 2005).[Dead link; citation needed] One might argue this is overkill, because the reader presumably has the capability of looking at the reference in the footnotes or bibliography and seeing the dead link template there. I think, however, that doing it this way might help either get that dead link fixed or an additional source added, and it's also more honest. The inline citation or footnote give the appearance of a verifiable source existing, and the reader may never look to see that the reference is a dead link. If I found an author included in the back of her book Author, Title, Website. URL (Dead link), I'd be pissed; it would be academically dishonest. Something like: Author, Title, Website. URL (Dead link)(on file with the publisher), i.e. where the publisher had a saved electronic file or printout of the page made when it was working that they could make available to people who request it might be OK, if the author were reputable, but we can't do that.
  • Numbered recommended steps) (things like what are already there or what has been discussed here: the online archives to look at, how to look for it elsewhere on the web or in print, editors to ask for help locating it, etc. Contacting the author or site to see if it was or could be republished (if that's not OR). Finding a different source for the same information.)
  • Last step) Remove the whole reference from the article after the above process has been followed, and after:
  • a) X amount of time has passed since the link went dead (and place it elsewhere than the article, if that seems to be a good idea) or,
  • b) a different source for the same information has been found.

Thoughts? Шизомби (Sz) (talk) 22:54, 21 February 2011 (UTC)

Four quick thoughts:

  1. "Must" is over the top. Editors must always use their judgment.
  2. A bot already dates all these tags for us, so supplying dates isn't something we need to insist upon.
  3. Not all the material supported by a dead link is unverifiable. We tag as dead links the URLs to dead-tree publications whenver they rearrange their websites. Your proposed process does not accomodate the difference between 'no longer available at this URL' and 'no longer available anywhere'.
  4. Why "must" I fact-tag a statement that has dead-link citation, if I wouldn't have tagged it that way if it had always been entirely uncited? WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:24, 22 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the thoughts.
  1. Must could be dropped. One could replace the entire text of Wikipedia:Linkrot#Repairing_a_dead_link and Wikipedia:DEADREF#Preventing_and_repairing_dead_links (indeed all policies, guidelines, and essays) with See WP:IAR, which itself could be deleted at that point. I think the idea here is to instead develop a consensus of good judgments about what to do, so that another editor who isn't sure what to do can use their own judgment about following others' judgments.
  2. That's true; it ought to explicitly take into account dead links that were convenience links in the first step. Convenience links are nice, but not necessary, so if one is dead it could be taken out and the editor need not bother with looking for a replacement convenience link.
  3. Yes, the bot can fill in the date.
  4. If it is something that warranted adding a citation in the first place, then in the event it had always been entirely uncited, it should have been tagged, no? Шизомби (Sz) (talk) 00:19, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
On point 4: The fact that a citation exists does not prove that a citation is required. Perhaps it was WP:REFSPAM. Perhaps the point is repeated or expanded upon elsewhere in the article, so this citation was redundant. Perhaps it was simply added because someone erroneously thought that every sentence was required to have a citation. Perhaps the statement used to contain information that required a citation, but since has been edited such that it no longer does.
Any of these things could be true. We should not tell editors that they should mindless tag sentences as needing citations simply because they used to have a functional URL associated with them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:30, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
You bring up a valid point about redundant citations for which I failed to account. I'm not sure why you're saying I'm advocating that editors mindlessly tag. I did not put forth a suggestion I thought was perfect, but ideas in need of other people's thoughts. Шизомби (Sz) (talk) 23:50, 23 February 2011 (UTC)
Looks like there is no consensus to remove item 5, but there have been a number of suggestions. Does somebody want to summarize where we are at? If not, I will later. - Hydroxonium (H3O+) 23:15, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

There was no consensus to remove item 5, but the general feeling was that due diligence should be taken before removing references. This could include the following:

  • Searching the web for quoted text from the reference
  • Searching for the article title in quotes
  • References that are physical (i.e. books, newspapers, etc.) should not be removed
  • References that change when websites are restructured or temporarily down should not be removed
  • Adding the reference to the talk page before removing it, so that it could be found later
  • Searching web search engine caches for the reference, including search engines from foreign countries
  • Contacting the website/person that originally published the reference and asking them to republish it
  • Waiting 24 months for the reference to show up on the Internet Archives before removing the reference
  • Ask other editors for help finding the reference somewhere else
  • Searching for a different source that says essentially the same thing as the reference in question

I believe that's all of the suggestions people had before removing a reference. - Hydroxonium (TCV) 09:16, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.


Current Proposed
1. First, check the link to confirm that it is dead. The site may have been temporarily down or have changed its linking structure. Confirm status: First, check the link to confirm that it is dead and not temporarily down. Search the website to see whether it has been rearranged.
2. The Internet Archive ( has billions of archived webpages. There may be a delay of six months before a link shows up there. See Wikipedia:Using the Wayback Machine.

3. UK Government Web Archive (, a project of The National Archives, preserves 1500 UK central government websites captured by the European Archive Foundation.[13]

Check for web archives: Several archive services exist; add one of these URLs if available:

Most archives currently operate with a delay of ~18 months before a link is made public. As a result, editors should wait ~24 months after the link is first tagged as dead before declaring that no web archive exists. Dead URLs to reliable sources should normally be tagged with {{dead link|date=December 2014}}, so that you can estimate how long the link has been dead.

4. Remove the dead link and keep the citation without a link if the material exists offline; for example a journal or newspaper article. Remove convenience links: If the material was published on paper (e.g., academic journal, newspaper article, magazine, book), then the URL is not necessary. Simply remove it.
Find a replacement source: Search the web for quoted text or the article title. Consider contacting the website/person that originally published the reference and asking them to republish it. Ask other editors for help finding the reference somewhere else. Find a different source that says essentially the same thing as the reference in question.
5. If the source material does not exist offline, and if there is no archived version of the webpage, then the citation should be removed and the material it supports should be regarded as unsourced. Remove hopelessly lost web-only sources: If the source material does not exist offline, and if there is no archived version of the webpage (be sure to wait ~24 months), and if you are unable to find another copy of the material, then the dead citation should be removed and the material it supports should be regarded as unverifiable. If it is material that is specifically required by policy to have an inline citation, then please consider tagging it with {{citation needed}}. It may be helpful to future editors if you move the citation to the talk page with an explanation.

The above takes the existing text and incorporates the advice that Hydroxonium summarized above. Does this work for people? Shall we update this and be done with this question? WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:07, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

  • Support - Thanks WhatamIdoing. Although I'm not fond of removing references, this seems like a good compromise to me. - Hydroxonium (TCV) 11:04, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Support   — Jeff G.  ツ 23:36, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Support - This looks like it covers things pretty well and will be a help to editors who have not done these archive searches very often. As the one who asked the original question I would like to add my thanks to everyone for their input. MarnetteD | Talk 23:46, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Seems more clear and informative than the current text. Good job. --RL0919 (talk) 00:50, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
  • weak support. I overall support the modification, but the 2 years waiting period seems rather impractical to me (who keeps a task list planning 2 years ahead?). This might only make sense with some central partially automated tracking system/database approach where users can enter urls that might be due to removal 2 years down the road.--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:29, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Since everyone agrees, I'll make the changes in a minute. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:27, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

Cite web and cite news

The explanatory text at Template:Cite web states that it is to be used to cite online sources, but that Cite news can also be used when citing a news source. This seems to clearly indicate that if your source is an 'online newspaper' you can use either template. However, see this bot revision [10] has changed the reference from a cite web to a cite news. Is there any consensus for this? Eldumpo (talk) 12:04, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

Check the archives fro previous discussion. You could use {{cite web}} for a book, a journal or a news source, but the other templates have parameters that are more appropriate. Bottom line: use {{cite web}} only for a web page when one of the other templates doesn't fit. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 12:49, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for your response. I did some checking of the archives but could not see any similar discussions. Can you provide a link, or at least an approximate date? However, I note your comment that other templates are more appropriate and that cite web is more of a last resort if others don't fit. If this is regarded as the consensus then the introduction to the template should have appropriate rewording to indicate this. Hopefully there will be some further responses on here as to whether this is how Cite Web is supposed to be used. Eldumpo (talk) 11:23, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
An additional consideration that should be mentioned is cite web and news output some parameters differently, meaning that consistent citation schemes can be difficult; I've had editors just use {{cite web}} entirely for the reason that the vast majority were web sources. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 19:47, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
Although I understand the standardization argument and advocate standardization whenever I can I also believe that using Cite news for news sources is more appropriate than a simple cite web because of the extra fields that the Cite news template provides. I would like to see the style of both templates be the same though that is a different discussion. --Kumioko (talk) 19:54, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
I was previously asked by another editor (forget who, it must have been more than a year ago) for my bot task to convert {{cite web}} to {{cite news}} when adding cite news instances for the same newspapers to aid overall article consistency. Rjwilmsi 20:03, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

OK, there seems to be consensus that news should be used in preference to web. I therefore propose the following text should be included as the intro to Template:cite web.

"This template is used to cite online sources in Wikipedia articles. However, it is preferred that {{Cite news}}, {{Cite book}} and {{Cite journal}} are used instead for those citations that are online versions of newspapers, books or journals. For general information about citations in Wikipedia articles, see Wikipedia:Cite sources. A general discussion of the use of templates for adding citations to Wikipedia articles is available at Wikipedia:Citation templates."

Any comments on this text, and also, is it OK to just go in and edit the template (given it is in use on so many pages), or does it need to be done by an admin? Eldumpo (talk) 22:59, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Just do it. There is consensus. -- Magioladitis (talk) 23:22, 16 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm going to point out here that it's not at all how many projects go about it, particularly WP:VG from my area of expertise. @Kumioko, what extra fields are necessary than what cite web provides? Work, publisher, page, accessdate, date, author, url, title are all in cite web. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 23:31, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Per your request Eldumpo here is a table comparing the parameter differences between the three citation types above. As you can see, although all three have fields in common each has fields the others do not. The wording looks good to me though.

--Kumioko (talk) 01:18, 17 March 2011 (UTC)

Is the above based upon what the documentation lists, or what the templates actually recognise? --Redrose64 (talk) 09:22, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
Thats a very good point. I went by what the documentation says but its possible that the documentation isn't accurate and needs to be updated. --Kumioko (talk) 20:41, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs asks "what extra fields are necessary than what cite web provides? Work, publisher, page, accessdate, date, author, url, title are all in cite web." In "cite news" you have "newspaper". This comes out the same as "work" but it is clearer what it means. Why it is important to use "cite news" and not "cite web" is that the title of the newspaper or magazine etc. then comes out in italics, which is the required form under WP:ITALIC. (This is also why it is important to put the name of the source in "newspaper" or "work" and not in "publisher", which in the context of "cite news" means something different and is not normally needed. I seem to spend half my life correcting references where editors have not understood this. I wish it could be made clearer somehow.) -- Alarics (talk) 11:12, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
All of these cite templates use {{Citation/core}}, just making appropriate aliases to map their named parameters to the ones used by Citation/core. You can look at the source for e.g. {{Cite web}} and see what parameters it actually supports. For example, Cite web supports 'authorlink2' to 'authorlink9', regardless of what the documentation says. The only reason for these different templates is that it should make it easier for editors to pick the appropriate information to supply to each named field. I would agree that if they fail to do that, then changes should be made. --RexxS (talk) 16:21, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Most editors know nothing of citation/core, and should not need to. The "visible facts on the ground" are that if you use "cite web" for a news citation, it comes out looking different from if you use "cite news", and furthermore it comes out looking wrong, if you try to use the "newspaper" parameter and/or if you put the name of the newspaper under "publisher" instead of under "work". (This is because the name of the newspaper should come out in italics.) Which brings us back to the point of the original question in this thread, which was why can we not spell out that "cite news" SHOULD (not just may) be used for a news reference (whether online or not), not "cite web"? -- Alarics (talk) 19:33, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
It's certainly a good idea to recommend using the template which is most likely to yield good results for the inexperienced. From that view, {cite news} ought to be preferred to {cite web}. The only problem is the pedants who will then make a career out of changing hundreds of perfectly well-formatted {cite web} templates to {cite news} because you SHOULD use it for a news reference – which does sometimes seem to annoy the original authors. If you can find a form of wording that met the recommendation, while avoiding the the problems identified, I'd be keen to support it. --RexxS (talk) 22:29, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
"The only problem is the pedants who will then make a career out of changing hundreds of perfectly well-formatted {cite web} templates to {cite news}" -- well, I am trying not to make a career out of it, but I do often find myself making that change, not because of pedantry but for the sake of consistency: one usually finds the references in any given article are a complete dog's breakfast of inconsistent, and very often wrong, citation styles. Most editors seem to understand little about referencing and/or don't care. So I don't think your "problem" is much of a problem in reality. -- Alarics (talk) 12:38, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
I think you're on very safe ground changing a citation when it brings the visual result into consistency with other references. I think you'll find yourself in conflict if you work on the premise that some citation styles are "wrong" – particularly if you tell other editors that their choice of {cite web} for an online news source is "wrong" if it is producing correctly formatted output. I don't think you'll persuade other editors on this page to prohibit the use of {cite web} for an online news source. --RexxS (talk) 13:13, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, I always thought that already was the rule, but cannot now remember where I saw it. I have been proceeding on that basis for a long time and nobody has ever complained. -- Alarics (talk) 08:52, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Named references mandatory?

I undid an edit that changed this guideline to say that the use of "named" references is mandatory when the same footnote content is used more than once. My reasons:

  • It seems to go against CITEVAR. Historically at least we haven't required the use of named references, and we usually leave that sort of choice up to individual articles.
  • AWB intentionally does not add names to "duplicate" references in an when there are none already in an article, because the editors of the article may have chosen not to use them.

If there is some general agreement that using named references is mandatory, then by all means we should clarify it in this page or at WP:FOOTNOTES. But it seems strange to me to mandate that.

Of course, if we do mandate it, a bot will take care of implementing named references for all duplicate footnotes in all articles; the change to this guideline was by a bot operator who has proposed running that task. So we have to keep in mind whether that's desirable. Other people use footnotes more than I do, so I'd value some other opinions. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:15, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

I think this is nothing to mandate but to recommend. Mandating such things is imho a case of WP:CREEP and WP:Bureaucracy.--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:58, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
A small number of editors seem to really, really hate named ref tags. I see no good reason to impose my personally preferred style on them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:43, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I really really hate them, both as an editor and as a reader. Rjensen (talk) 03:12, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Can I ask why (as a reader)? I assume because they generate a clutter of "a b c d e f g h Smith. J....."? —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 08:27, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
It should be noted that there is at least one bot (citation bot 1 (talk · contribs) springs to mind) which is naming and thus merging duplicate refs, as with this edit. --Redrose64 (talk) 15:07, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
The one aspect of named ref tags I don't particularly like is the arbitrary nature of the name value. The values aren't always very communicative and sometimes an article ends up with duplicate names. Plus I have seen some obscenely long lists of backlinks. Otherwise... they do the job, so that's enough for me.—RJH (talk) 22:32, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree. I hate working with something like <ref name="CROG199"/>. You can't tell what it is. And it's utterly unintelligible to new editors. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:21, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I really hate named refs too. I'm in a dispute over another editor about them now. I think it would be good to include something stating that they are optional. It seems like more and more editors are pushing them, but I don't really get their appeal. If you click on a footnote, it takes you down to the citation, but then you have to choose from a, b, c... to click to get back to your spot. It's much easier to jump back and forth with single citations. Also, I like eyeballing citations to see which citations are used in which sections. You can't do this in articles with named references. Can some explain their appeal besides fewer numbered citations?--Bkwillwm (talk) 05:28, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
well one (obvious) advantage of them is that they make editing the source text of an article easier - in particular the source text gets easier to read, since they allow rather short inline citations (compared to a full citation at least). The latter make the source text often hard to read.--Kmhkmh (talk) 10:43, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I think another appeal is you can see at a glance how often an editor has relied on one source, and whether it's over-reliance. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 19:48, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I still, personally, don't think named refs help that much. Regarding Kmhkmh's points, yes, they are better than full inline citations that clutter the source text, but an editor can simply use short citations and have a separate references section at the bottom of the article. Using a named ref lets you use <ref name="..."/> instead of <ref>...</ref>. Basically, you don't have to close the tag with ref names, but you do have to manage a standardized list of ref names, which can be confusing especially to editors new to an article. Regarding SlimVirgin's points... Really? This is actually one of the main reasons I dislike named refs. In regular, short inline citation articles, I can go to a section; see that it uses ref 40-48; jump to the references section, and then look at whether it is overly dependent on that source. In ref named articles, a section might use citation numbers from all over the article: 56, 3, 6, 22, 33. These references are scattered all over the references section, and I have to click through each one or write down a list of randomly ordered numbers to look up. True, ref names makes it easy to see if one page is used too many times, but I think usually the issue is whether one source is used too much, and it's easier to see that with standard short inline citations.--Bkwillwm (talk) 18:09, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
This discussion is not about whether short inline refs are better or worse than full inline refs - it is about whether or not inline refs (of whatever length) should be named or not. That is, should <ref name=Smith2001p123>Smith (2001) p. 123</ref> be preferred to <ref>Smith (2001) p. 123</ref>. --Redrose64 (talk) 15:49, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
You somewhat missed the point above. The poster above asked regarding the advantages of named references and why many (?) editors prefer them. And one reason for that is that for people preferring full references they are much shorter and even for people using short inline refs they are still somewhat shorter (<ref name="Smith123"/> versus <ref>Smith (2001) p. 123 </ref>).--Kmhkmh (talk) 18:46, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
What would you use as an alternative, given a need to uniquely identify specific references?—RJH (talk) 17:52, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Me? It depends on the existing style, if there is one. If the article already uses inline <ref>...</ref> tags, I name them but only where necessary to consolidate duplicate refs - if an inline ref supports only one paragraph, sentence or phrase, I leave it un-named. For new articles, I use {{sfn}} instead. This names all inline refs, whether necessary or not: but the crucial thing is that it's done invisibly, see Wolf's Castle Halt railway station in particular the Parker & Morris 2008 refs. --Redrose64 (talk) 18:32, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Yes I agree, the {{sfn}} is pretty nice. Perhaps we need something equivalent for people who use full inline cites? (I.e. a template that requires just enough fields filled out to uniquely correlate it with a full cite.)—RJH (talk) 18:44, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Arbitrary break, to get back on topic

I think that this is drifting seriously off-topic, because some people posting here are misunderstanding the original question. Carl (CBM) states that he 'undid an edit that changed this guideline to say that the use of "named" references is mandatory when the same footnote content is used more than once'. Some recent postings seem to be mixing this up with list-defined references, for which naming of the reference is most definitely mandatory.

The relevant revert is here, an amendment to WP:CITEFOOT. The text that Carl reverted was:

When citing the exact same source multiple times in the same article, use the name attribute by using the following form of the ref tag: <ref name=name>details of the citation</ref>. Thereafter, the same footnote may be used multiple times by adding <ref name=name/>.

and the text that he reverted to is:

You can also use the name attribute by using <ref name=name>details of the citation</ref>. Thereafter, the same footnote may be used multiple times by adding <ref name=name/>.

Consider the situation where two facts are drawn from the same page in the same book, but in between them is a fact drawn from a different source. Other than placing all the refs at the end of the paragraph, there are at least two ways of doing this:

  • The first fact.<ref>Smith, J. (2001) ''A book'', p. 123</ref> The second fact.<ref>Jones, S. (2010} ''Another book'', p. 321</ref> The third fact.<ref>Smith, J. (2001) ''A book'', p. 123</ref>
  • The first fact.<ref name=Smith>Smith, J. (2001) ''A book'', p. 123</ref> The second fact.<ref name=Jones>Jones, S. (2010} ''Another book'', p. 321</ref> The third fact.<ref name=Smith />

The question is, therefore,

  • Should we permit either of these forms, or enforce the second form only? --Redrose64 (talk) 20:48, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
The answer is yes both versions are allowed, since we have no mandatory citation style and since there is no consensus (just varying personal preferences) so far. In other words Carl's edit was correct.--Kmhkmh (talk) 13:13, 29 March 2011 (UTC)


A user (User:Fleetham) who likes to provide multiple references for every sentence when they edit, has picked up on the possibility of bundling references. However, since they provide so very many references and often the same one repeatedly, the same reference is often quoted several times in the reference. For an illustration, the reference section of the BYD Auto article currently shows a Wall Street Journal article ("Beijing Halts Construction of BYD Auto Plant") FOUR times and several other cites are listed twice or more.

To me, the obvious solution is to provide less references, but the other user is adamant about providing citations for everything. Is it best to bundle and cite the same reference over and over again, or are multiple superscripts preferred?  ⊂| Mr.choppers |⊃  (talk) 16:13, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

I don't know my first reaction is : live and let live, we don't have a mandated citation style and bugging the primary author of article regarding his particular citation style is almost always a bad move.--Kmhkmh (talk) 16:30, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
It's not just one page, the editor in question is targeting a large number of pages (and also changes my edits to match his preferred style, which is why I was hoping for some outside opinions).  ⊂| Mr.choppers |⊃  (talk) 16:41, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
If he is systemically changing citations in articles where he is not a primary editor then that is a different issue. Generally speaking annotated bundled citation are the most accurate form for a citation and they clutter less then individual citations. The drawback however is the switching or replacing of sources requires more work later on. The preferences differ author from to author and as I said above there is no mandated style and in doubt or in conflict people should follow the citation style that is already established in an article.--Kmhkmh (talk) 17:14, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Mr. choppers, you have my sympathies. If he is not the primary editor for most of those articles and the citation style is already in good shape, then he may be heading toward a pattern of disruptive editing. You might check WP:DDE for suggestions on how to proceed.—RJH (talk) 20:19, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm trying to avoid that, as there has been some seemingly fruitful conversation recently. The pages in question are of very narrow interest (Share taxi, Brilliance Auto, and most may be downright boring to most) so it's hard to convince anyone else to have a look see.  ⊂| Mr.choppers |⊃  (talk) 02:00, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
Understood. Thanks.—RJH (talk) 22:25, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

How do you cite E-Books from Kindle?

How is it done? Kindle does not display page numbers, which is a huge pain in the ass for any student in class who has to refer to a certain page or reference it for a research paper. Instead they have these worthless "location numbers" which as far as I know are not accepted outside of Kindle in any standard referencing. Are location numbers acceptable in a citation on Wikipedia? I would not be surprised if the answer is a big resounding no. And if not, do you cite Kindle like you would a webpage or like a theatrical play? i.e. "Chapter 5, Section 2, Paragraph 8" etc. Thanks to anyone who knows anything about this subject and is willing to answer my questions. Cheers.--Pericles of AthensTalk 20:45, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Just to offer an opinion. If there is print version of a book, if possible try to cite that one. Otherwise use whatever description works to narrow down the content in question for that "Chapter 5, Section 2, Paragraph 8" ais fine, depending on what you want to source even a reference by chapter (only) might be sufficient. The location number should be avoided or rather just given as additional info, since it can only be used by people reading the same ebook version, which makes it unconvenient for other users. However I wouldn't go so far as saying the location number is unacceptable, since the overal goal is simply to provide a precise enough citation for verification and the location number provides that. Strictly speaking even page numbers might be only correct for a particular edition, so the principal problem is the same there.--Kmhkmh (talk) 21:12, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
See previous threads at Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 29#Citing sources from ebooks and Template talk:Cite book#eBooks and page numbers. --Redrose64 (talk) 21:24, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, guys.--Pericles of AthensTalk 22:31, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
Just for information: Amazon adding 'real' page numbers to Kindle (February 7, 2011) -- PBS (talk) 22:49, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Convenience Links

I have a source coming from the United States Census Bureau, but it is convenience linked on I have checked with WP:RSN and it ( is a Reliable Source (since it is actually coming from the Census Bureau). My question is, who do I source in the source template?, the US Census Bureau, or both? - NeutralhomerTalkCoor. Online Amb'dor • 22:13, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:33, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
Done, thank you. :) - NeutralhomerTalkCoor. Online Amb'dor • 17:39, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Access date

Is there any guidance/best practice for the use of the accessdate parameter on the citation templates. If you click on an existing reference which already has a 'retrieved on...' entry, should you automatically update the date to the day you checked it, or should you only update the access date if you make other changes to the citation (title, author etc)? Eldumpo (talk) 10:05, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

I'd say the latter, if at all. I think updating access dates is an awfully long way down the list of priorities on which to spend one's time. It's dreadful how many editors seem to think access date is more important than, for instance, the actual publication date, in the case of a news reference. Access date is only ever an optional parameter, whereas the publication date of a news item is an essential piece of information. -- Alarics (talk) 11:29, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
I completey agree. There is nothing wrong with updating access dates, but it has a rather low priority.--Kmhkmh (talk) 11:40, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
The purpose of accessdate is give a starting point for recovery of the source if the link to an online source goes dead. The more up-to-date that date is, the more likely it is that Internet Archive will have a cached version of the page. That's why we don't bother with accessdate for online sources that are presumed stable. When you check an online reference, you could confirm that the page was available on that date. Whether it is a productive use of your time depends on how recent the current accessdate is and what priorities you assign to yourself. --RexxS (talk) 12:41, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
An additional use of the retrieval date is for sources that can be expected to change as new information becomes available. If you know that there have been recent changes in certain subject matter, and you notice the retrieval date precedes the changes, you should visit the source to see if it has new material. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:09, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
If you change the accessdate, you should make sure that the page at that date still has all the content(s) that it is used to cite. I recall one web reference that didn't contain anything related to the content it was attached in the wiki article at the time. I suppose some wiki editors would have just removed it, but the web page did have the content when it had been added to the wiki article initially, and an appropriately dated archive of the page had the content. Updating the accessdate for that web reference was not helpful. Gimmetoo (talk) 14:15, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, that's another important point to consider. If the content of the online source has changed so as to no longer verify our article's text, then perhaps the url should be substituted with a link to the version of the page at the Internet archive that corresponds to the accessdate (and personally I'd leave the accessdate alone in that case). Obviously, it's important to check that the text in the article has not been superseded by different information in the meantime. --RexxS (talk) 17:10, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
You shouldn't really replace the content of the |url= parameter, instead you should add both |archiveurl= and |archivedate=, leaving |url= alone. --Redrose64 (talk) 12:33, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
In general I'd agree. But in the case of where "the content of the online source has changed so as to no longer verify our article's text", I'm not sure of the value of leaving in a link to that. YMMV. --RexxS (talk) 18:20, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for your responses on this. I wasn't intending to go around randomly updating access dates for various articles, my query really was more related to if I was changing the citations anyway, and I take the point that if you do update the access date you should check that there is not more than one reference and that they are all still referenced at the source. Just to clarify one point above, access date is very important when there is no publication date listed for the source. I think that updating the access date may give some general confidence to the reader that the reference is still current, if it's been recently updated. Eldumpo (talk) 09:19, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Single quotation style discussion

Some time ago there was an extended discussion of adopting a single citation style for Wikipedia. Does anyone remember where the discussion is located? Jc3s5h (talk) 15:32, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Yeah. The same place that all failed proposals go. Please don't revive it: it provokes too much heated debate argument and never goes anywhere other than "no consensus - retain status quo". --Redrose64 (talk) 15:36, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
I was going to say whether or not I intend to revive it, but I won't, because the intentions of the requester is not an excuse for concealing information in a wiki. (Of course, Redrose64 might not know, off the cuff, where it is). Jc3s5h (talk) 15:45, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
I found it: Wikipedia:Centralized discussion/Citation discussion. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:14, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
That was 2010; the most recent that I'm aware of is Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/example_style#why_not_standardize_on_one_format.3F, from January 2011. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:46, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Article on Win Butler, Lead in Arcade Fire Indie Band

I was reading Win Butler's biography which states that he has met co-singer Regine Chassagne at McGill University. Other biographies on the band itself imply that they met at Concordia university.

Which is the correct version???

My Sources: Wikipedia —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:09, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

Join citations

If I have several citations supporting a sentence, say "[1][2][3]", is there a way (a template?) to have this automatically be converted into "[1–3]"? bamse (talk) 10:12, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

I hope not! I think that would look terrible. -- Alarics (talk) 10:57, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
The Cite.php software does not support this. See WP:CITEBUNDLE, which simply moves clutter from the in-text cite to the reference list. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 12:59, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
When you have refs of the form [1][2][3], each square-bracketed number is a separate link to a citation. If you try clicking such reference marks in Firefox, Chrome or Opera (but not Internet Explorer), you'll see that the target is highlighted in pale blue. Since the numbers need not be consecutive (see Me and Juliet (today's featured article), section Inception, paragraph 2 where you'll find [2][4] and also [4][6]), the links need to be distinct so that the correct target is reached. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:40, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
I understand that there are cases where reference numbers are not consecutive and also understand that each number is hyperlinked to the reference section. However there are many cases where reference numbers are consecutive and this method could be used in order to reduce clutter and improve readability. One could link "[1-3]" to all three references, i.e. highlight all three references when clicking on it. I am quite sure that I have seen such citation style in proper publications, so can't really understand the reservation to this proposal. I know there is a LaTeX style to achieve this (which does not help for wikipedia I know). bamse (talk) 17:14, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
See WP:CITEBUNDLE for a version of such a style, except it would just look like [1]. The problems with bundling is that it "simply moves clutter from the in-text cite to the reference list" and that if one reference in a bundle is used several times then serious clutter will ensue in the reference list. If you linked to the article you were working on, perhaps our outside eyes could help you with some style advice?  ⊂| Mr.choppers |⊃  (talk) 17:32, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
The reservation is that is technically not possible without a modification to the Cite.php software extension. Is there any style guide that uses this method? ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 18:09, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
re Mr.choppers: The article in question is this one. Cluttering is due to the way I create content, i.e. checking a number of references, creating notes of the most important facts and then compiling text out of it, transferring all the citations with it. So, often I end up with many references to the same sentence/fact. I guess, I need to get rid of the less important sources at some point. bamse (talk) 20:42, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
I think that it's seriously over-referenced. Do you really need eight refs for the sentence "It is a much more detailed version of the Kojiki, dating events and providing alternative versions of myths; it covers the time up to 697."? I also note that there are four red error messages in the references section. --Redrose64 (talk) 20:58, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Fully agree with you. It is work in progress, so eventually (before nominating it at WP:FLC) I will get rid of some references. Will fix the red error messsages now. bamse (talk) 22:49, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Wow! Yeah, going through and parsing the refs should take care of most of the issues you're having. By the time you're done with that, bundling the ones that are suited for it should leave you with a good looking article, without having to worry about contracting multople references in some new way. Bamse = Världens starkaste björn?  ⊂| Mr.choppers |⊃  (talk) 06:01, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Do we have a cite-family template for purely digital, non-web works?

For an article I'm working on, there is a likely high-priority source that I need to use that is basically, at the present time, an e-featurette written specifically for the iPad (the work is discussed here: [11]). It is unlikely it will be made as a printed work, and also unlikely it would be posted to the web (the app has a website to tell people what it is about), but it may see other OS support (android, PC/Mac, etc), so it always will basically be an interactive application that provides information.

I cannot see any of the existing cite templates easily working for that. I can shoehorn it into them (cite web and pointing to the app's homepage would be one way), but I'd rather see if there's an existing template or should we consider one for the future if such types of works become more common. --MASEM (t) 13:12, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't believe we have any cite templates, however to adequetly cite the source, I would suggest exploring traditional citation standards (like Turabian and MLA) and seeing if you can create a good and flexable citation with a lot of information, Sadads (talk) 13:21, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, the article I've got (90% of it my contributions) uses templates like cite web, so for MOS consistency, I'd want to use what exists. The closest I can see from those without creating a new template would be cite web, with the "format" parameter set to indicate it as an e-magazine/feature. cite media would work as well, with the right "media" field. I can supply the usual things like author, publisher, date of release, etc. I'm more concerned if this style of journalism becomes common, if we need to consider a special template for that. --MASEM (t) 13:40, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Assuming this refers to Portal 2, then it already uses cite templates. Why not give us all of the pertinent info an let us see how it needs to be put together? ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 13:47, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Conflicting reports from multiple reliable sources

Although this may be quite obvious, we still need to have some formal policy on this (I am not sure if there already is. Please point me towards one if there is.). Very often different news reports from different reliable sources do not agree with each other. This happens more often when it comes to numbers (e.g. number of casualties, etc. See July_12,_2007_Baghdad_airstrike for example). Under such circumstances the best thing to do is to clearly mention that there are conflicting reports, and then clearly explain each report/view, and provide multiple citations for each. Please discuss this below. - Subh83 (talk | contribs) 18:32, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

Sometimes the estimates can change with time, so in those circumstances the best approach can be to use the latest estimates. Likewise, I've seen journal articles that provide each of the different estimates along with their authoritative sources. So I think it depends on the circumstances.—RJH (talk) 19:35, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
That's my understanding. As you said, mention both sides, explain what they think, provide very complete citations for each view.
This can be a difficult situation for an editor, because you have to balance two policies: WP:Neutral point of view and WP:Synthesis. If two sources disagree:
  1. For WP:NPOV, you have to be careful to give both sides exactly the right amount of weight. If they are equally reliable, I think that WP:INTEXT attributions for both of them is appropriate. If one of the sources is central and the other is a fringe view, then you can use a footnote for central source, but you need an in-text attribution for the fringe view. Finally, you have to be very careful not to give too much weight to the side you personally agree with (or the side you wish was right, or the side you think is most interesting).
  2. For WP:Synthesis, you have to be careful not to discuss the disagreement in any detail beyond what the sources actually say. Of course, sometimes it is difficult to find a source that says "sources disagree"; you often don't have a source for this statement. You have to try to present the disagreement without actually discussing the disagreement; for example something like "A said, B said" could be used for two equally reliable sources. But you have to be careful not to write too much about the disagreement itself. The more you analyze the difference, the closer you come to WP:SYNTHESIS.
This situation is one that requires intelligence, a solid understanding of Wikipedia's core policies and the integrity to implement them. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 22:53, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the pointer. I guess WP:Synthesis explains a lot what to do under such circumstances. Also, as RJH mentioned, it may be necessary to not give undue weight to outdated references. Indeed it seems to be requiring certain level of discretion. - Subh83 (talk | contribs) 20:39, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

PDF Page Number

My apologies if this has already been addressed and I just can't find it, but my question is what page number should be used when the source is a PDF file: The original page of the document or the page of the PDF file? The PDF file may also contain the document cover and other pages that are not numbered on a hard copy. Thanks, Alanraywiki (talk) 23:09, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Use the page number the author inserted on the page— this will usually be the same as a hard copy version. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 23:28, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! Alanraywiki (talk) 23:30, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Text-source integrity

The section Text-source integrity makes a claim that is not supportable:

The following inline citation, for example, is not helpful, because the reader does not know whether each source supports the material; each source supports part of it; or just one source supports it with the others added as further reading:

N Delia Smith is the UK's best-selling cookery writer.[1][2][3][4]

Where you are using multiple sources for one sentence, consider bundling citations at the end of the sentence or paragraph with an explanation in the footnote regarding which source supports which point; see below for how to do that.

  1. ^ Smith, Jane. Popular Cooks. Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 1.
  2. ^ Jones, Paul. More popular Cooks. Oxford University Press, 2010, p. 2.
  3. ^ Doe, John. Cooks Ahoy!. Harvard University Press, 2010, p. 3.
  4. ^ Doe, Jane. Surely Not More Cooks. Yale University Press, 2010, p. 4.

The next section (Bundling citations) then goes on to suggest :

[Bundling citations] it avoids the confusion of having multiple sources listed separately after sentences, with no indication of which source to check for each part of the text, such as this.[1][2][3][4]
  • it makes it less likely that inline citations will be moved inadvertently when text is re-arranged, because the footnote states clearly which source supports which point.

A simple example of citation bundling:

The sun is pretty big, but the moon is not so big. The sun is also quite hot.[1]


  1. ^ For the sun's size, see Miller, Edward. The Sun. Academic Press, 2005, p. 1.
    • For the moon's size, see Brown, Rebecca. "Size of the Moon," Scientific American, 51(78):46.
    • For the sun's heat, see Smith, John. The Sun's Heat. Academic Press, 2005, p. 2.

But to solve this alleged problem instead of bundling them one could simple add the additional information to the separate citations:

A simple example of not bundling citations:

The sun is pretty big, but the moon is not so big. The sun is also quite hot.[b 1][b 2][b 3]

  1. ^ For the sun's size (Miller, Edward. The Sun. Academic Press, 2005, p. 1.)
  2. ^ For the moon's size (Brown, Rebecca. "Size of the Moon," Scientific American, 51(78):46.)
  3. ^ For the sun's heat (Smith, John. The Sun's Heat. Academic Press, 2005, p. 2.)

AFAICT there may be aesthetic reasons for bundling up citations but Text-source integrity is not one of the other reasons. If bundling is removed from Text-source integrity should the section be removed or should it be altered to say place inline citations where they most clearly support the text. and give an example of a longer sentence such as "Charels II's Scottish coronation took pace on 1 January 1651, while his English coronation was over 10 years later on 23 April 1661." with 2 citations at the end, and then, to demonstrate Text-source integrity the same two sources, one placed after the comma and the other at the end of the sentence. -- PBS (talk) 12:40, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

From my talk page:"Please stop reverting at policies and guidelines. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 05:58, 21 April 2011 (UTC)"
From the history of the article: "05:57, 21 April 2011 SlimVirgin II (then pls discuss instead; some of the addition is unclear)"
I did not make the first first revert you did, and I have explained myself here (while you have been silent). How about explaining here what parts were unclear, and why revert all of the change if only some of it is unclear? -- PBS (talk) 06:13, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
Which claim is not supportable? SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 06:44, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
??? I do know that I posted a comment here three days ago and waited more than two days for a comment before making an edit to this guideline. I do know that that you made a revert of my edit without bothering to explain your reasons on this talk page -- despite this section existing -- and when I made a revert to your revert, instead of then posting an explanation here, with reasons for another revert, you post a request for me not to revert (something you do not seem to adhere to yourself), and instead of answering either of my questions you ask another question!
Coupled to my statement at the start of this section what parts of my edit to the guideline were unclear, and why revert all of the change if only some of it is unclear? -- PBS (talk) 07:02, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

SV you wrote "then pls discuss instead; some of the addition is unclear" If I am to discuss the changes with you need to explain what parts of my changes you think were unclear. -- PBS (talk) 15:55, 21 April 2011 (UTC)

Hi Philip, you said above: "The section Text-source integrity makes a claim that is not supportable ..." Can you say which claim is not supportable? SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 18:35, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
Philip, I also can't see which claim is not supportable. Jayjg (talk) 20:35, 21 April 2011 (UTC)
See above "But to solve this alleged problem instead of bundling them one could simple add the additional information to the separate citations: A simple example of not bundling citations:..." -- PBS (talk) 21:23, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Philip, you wrote above, "The section Text-source integrity makes a claim that is not supportable." Please say what you mean (this is the third time I've asked). SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 17:34, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
I think he overstated it a bit, but it's clear what he means. The guideline currently suggests that bundling is the only way to provide text-source integrity in this situation. He's noticed that there is an alternative solution that doesn't involve bundling. So the guideline is wrong to suggest that bundling is the only solution. That's all. Isn't that clear? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 23:03, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks CG. SV when you last reverted my change you wrote in the edit history "The changes are not correct; pls explain on talk" yet all I have done is used an example from higher up the text (which is presumably "correct" (if not why is it in the guideline)) and then shown the same example with the citations at the end so breaking "Text-source integrity". What is incorrect with that? -- PBS (talk) 10:21, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I'm completely lost here. Philip wrote: "The section Text-source integrity makes a claim that is not supportable." Charles, the section doesn't say anything about bundling being the only way, [12] so it's unlikely that's what he meant. Philip, can you say clearly which claim is not supportable, and quote the claim you're referring to?
Whatever he meant he has removed key material, and seems to have moved up material from the bundling section, with the result that the section is practically meaningless; [13] hence my revert. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 17:51, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── All the edit I made did to the Text-source integrity section was to delete "Where you are using multiple sources for one sentence, consider bundling citations at the end of the sentence or paragraph with an explanation in the footnote regarding which source supports which point; see below (Bundling citations) for how to do that." and used the previous example from the guideline to demonstrate a failure of in Text-source integrity

Bundling citations is not the only way that can done see the top of this talk page section for an example of another way it can be done. It can also be done by moving the citations back to where they are relevant as they are in the the original example sentences "The sun is pretty big,..." -- PBS (talk) 22:25, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

That wasn't all you did, Philip. [14] You changed the section so it recommended sticking a footnote in the middle of a sentence. That's sometimes needed, but it's not something we should be recommending as standard, because it can often be avoided. And you removed the example. Also, can you please say what you meant when you wrote above: "The section Text-source integrity makes a claim that is not supportable ..."? SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:32, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
the false claim is "see below (Bundling citations) for how to do that" as it can be done in other ways and that is not the only way. -- PBS (talk) 23:01, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
The example I used is one from higher up the page, so the example I used is internally consistent. If it is wrong in this section then it is wrong higher up the page. Besides what is wrong with placing a citation after a clause in a sentence? -- PBS (talk) 22:46, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
It says "consider doing X," see below. That doesn't say or imply that it's the only way, and that's anyway not what's meant by an unsupportable claim. Philip, this isn't helpful.
As for citations inside sentence, people generally try to avoid them, but as the guideline says, they're allowed. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:13, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I think that the consider sentence coupled with the wording in next section is a false claim. But I an not going to argue further with you over whether it is claim or something else. It is that the wording is inappropriate for this section, as it is only one of several ways to solve the problem, and there is no need in this section to emphasise one solution. It can be deleted without affecting the important message conveyed in the section. As to your point "people generally try to avoid [placing citations after commas]" I suspect you mean "I (SV) generally try to avoid them". Perhaps for the sake of "text-source integrity" you should reconsider that self imposed prohibition.

As the Sun example is used in previous sections it seems to me appropriate to use it here to demonstrate text-source integrity by presenting it as it has already been presented and then again with the citations all clumped together at the end of the two sentences. -- PBS (talk) 16:38, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

There you go again, Philip. I didn't say people should avoid placing citations after commas, but that people generally try to avoid placing them inside sentences, because[5] it[6] looks[7] bad,[8] is rarely if ever found outside Wikipedia, and is never necessary. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 17:08, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
Exaggerating to make a point? I don't think it makes the point well. People can read what we both wrote above and decide who said what, and come to their own conclusion, so lets drop the argument, and concentrate on the changes I wish to make and you reverted.
The example I quoted in my edit to the section was not one I made up, but one I copied from another section higher up the page called Footnotes, so if you think it inappropriate here then presumably you think it inappropriate in the footnote section as well. If so, then get agreement to change it in the section footnotes (Personally I think it is a perfectly good example), as I am happy to use whatever is the example given in the section footnotes in this section and then show the same example with all the footnotes lumped at the end of the example to demonstrate a break in Text-source integrity. -- PBS (talk) 16:47, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

From the history of the article:

  • 15:33, 6 May 2011 Philip Baird Shearer (Explanation given on the talk page so putting back new example for Text-source integrity and bundling)
  • 01:26, 7 May 2011 SlimVirgin (was better before; not clear what some of this means)

"was better before;" matter of opinion. "not clear what some of this means" Which part? -- PBS (talk) 09:29, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

One way, or the only way

It looks like PBS's issue is the implicit claim that the only way to prevent this problem is to bundle all the citations into a single footnote. This is both obviously not true and obviously (to me, at least) not what any of us intended.

Why don't we create a brief section or sub-section on ==Describing sources== or some such? CITEBUNDLE could refer to it, but it could be linked in other situations, e.g., when separate footnotes are being used at the end of a multi-fact sentence.

Additionally, we could be clearer in CITEBUNDLE that the technique is useful when naming many sources that all support exactly the same single fact in a single-fact sentence. If the sentence is "The Earth is an oblate spheroid", and you follow it with six independent reliable sources, each of which says exactly "The Earth is an oblate spheroid," then typing "For the shape of the Earth being an oblate spheroid, see:" six times—or even once—is silly. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:31, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

It is not the only reason for the change, what I am trying to do with this edit is to use the previous example to demonstrate what "Text-source integrity" is and is not. More experienced editors already know this, but (presumably) this is being aimed at those who have little of no experiences of what the term means and I think such a construction helps clarify what we mean.
In the same edit I made some changes to the bundling section, one of which was to include an example of where a single bundled footnote combines what would otherwise be about a dozen separate footnotes (The ethnic cleansing footnote in the article "Cromwellian conquest of Ireland") -- PBS (talk) 07:25, 9 May 2011 (UTC)

The Delia Smith example

I have neither the time nor inclination to enter into a debate on this issue, but I have independently come to this talk page in order to comment on the Delia Smith example, and was surprised to discover an ongoing discussion about it. However, I can't work out whether the discussion above is particularly pertinent to the point I was hoping to make - mostly because I can't quite see what PBS is driving at, nor can I identify the locus of the dispute that SV has with PBS, or why the debate seems so hot-tempered. So please treat this not as an attempt to extend the above discussion, but the raising of a fresh point. (It's quite possible that I'm alarmed by the same thing that PBS is. In fact I am having great difficulty putting my finger on the best way to phrase my complaint, and it's entirely possible nobody is going to comprehend the point I'm trying to make. Perhaps the same fate befell PBS?)

I'm not going to repeat the "Delia Smith" text as it is visible above. But from the moment I saw it, my alarm bells started ringing. As it stands, I'm not currently sure that I understand its meaning, or the point that it is trying to make. If I do understand it, I think it's clearly wrong as written. If I don't understand, then I am "misreading" it - at least, I am reading the words in a way that is different to how the writer intended me to. Either way, the point that the text is intended to drive home, is not well-made.

I have no intention of getting bogged down arguing the toss over whether the text is technically true or false or somewhere in between, or quite why/how I'm misreading or miscomprehending it, partly because it's naturally difficult to verbalize misreadings, and partly because I may simply be blind to what is staring at my face. But I'm not normally an idiot, I'm clearly not the only one struggling with this section, and this is theoretically a guide to teach (often newish) editors how to reference properly - so the fact it's causing confusion even among experienced editors is not a healthy sign. Instead I'm going to suggest a simple amendment to the wording, by tweaking the [deliberately bad] example slightly.

"Delia Smith is the UK's best-selling cookery writer.[3][4][5][6]" --> "Delia Smith is one of the UK's most well-known cooks, and that country's best-selling cookery writer.[3][4][5][6]"

If the point this section is trying to drive at, is what I think it ought to be, then this rewording makes the point much clearer, at least to me. I suspect some other readers will find the same. Perhaps others will find that this wouldn't make it any clearer to them, but they might grasp why it makes it clearer to me. I'm sure others still will not see what the fuss is about, because their reading of the section seems so natural to them, they can't even imagine what could be throwing me: in that case I beg you to accept the change regardless, because confusion among the audience is real (treat me and perhaps PBS as "user experience" data) and it can be difficult to understand the misunderstandings of others! On the other hand, perhaps those who wrote or feel they understand the section, will consider that my proposed change to the example obfuscates - or even utterly invalidates - the "learning point" it was intended to establish. (That's quite possible, for I'm aware I may have totally misconceived the meaning of the section.) If that's the case then my suggestion is useless, but please have a go at recrafting a fresh example/wording to use instead, because it is sorely needed.

This is no criticism of the author(s) of that section! Sometimes we all write things that make total sense to us, because we know what we mean and the point we are trying to express, yet which almost inexplicably some readers cannot derive the same sense from. FWIW my interest in this page is because many years ago I created {{harvnb}} and am therefore partly responsible for the upwards trend in WP:CITESHORT. It's interesting to see how this format is now incorporated into the editorial guidelines. In fact I found the guidelines on the whole very clear, and a massive improvement on the help available when I was starting out on WP, back in the days when even FAs had no inline citations! TheGrappler (talk) 01:47, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Is this an improvement? -- PBS (talk) 09:32, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

The Nation of Gods and Earths

(Query about a specific problem moved to user's talk page and replied to there.  —SMALLJIM  12:57, 10 May 2011 (UTC))

Citation templates— anchors

I have been working on User:Gadget850/Citation templates— anchors. Should this be moved into Wikipedia space somewhere so it can be used and updated? ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:27, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

I support moving it to the mainspace. Try asking at WP:VPP for where, exactly. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 18:26, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Short footnotes

I have seen short footnotes used effectively where a book is cited at several different pages. Each page ref has a separate footnote, and then the full citation is given in the "References" or "Bibliography" section. However, I am starting to see a number of short articles now that do not have multiple footnotes to different pages in the same book, and can be easily covered by the full citation in the footnotes without a separate references section. I find this to be much easier to use because the footnotes have a ^ link symbol that allows me to return to the text, which is not present in the bibliography. Could we amend the short footnote MOS to state a preference for the long footnotes except in cases where multiple footnotes refer to different pages in the same book or other source? Thanks Racepacket (talk) 18:02, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

No: The anti-holy war rule is that editors may use any system they choose, by which we mean any system, including systems that I personally don't like. If the editors at an article choose to make zero citations clickable, or even to manually number the citations (*shudder*), then we leave them free to do that.
But you might like to read at bit more about some of the creative solutions people have used for formatting citations, because there's nothing in the system you describe that prevents a fully clickable system. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:50, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
I am all for maximum freedom, including parenthetical references in the text rather than in footnotes. However, if footnotes are used, can we maximize the reader's ability to return from the source back to where he/she was reading in the main text. The ^ link in the CITE extension is invaluable, and something similar is needed in the alternative referencing schemes. Racepacket (talk) 19:51, 15 May 2011 (UTC)
If you linked from the in-text cite to the shortened footnote, then the long footnote, the pressing backspace twice should return to the in-text cite. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 23:10, 15 May 2011 (UTC)

Work/Publisher parameters for online newspaper articles

An issue came up during the GA review for Don't Look Now in regards to the reference format. The review is at Talk:Don't_Look_Now/GA1, and the relevant parts are the reviewer's last review point and my point listed at #8.

The issue revolved around me putting the website name in the 'work' parameter:

Canby, Vincent (10 December 1973). "Don't Look Now (1973) – Film:'Don't Look Now,' a Horror Tale:Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in Leads The Cast Suspense Yarn Turns Into a Travelogue". (The New York Times). Retrieved 21 February 2011. 

The reviewer felt that the newspaper name (The New York Times) should have gone in the 'work' parameter and the "The New York Times Company" in the 'publisher' parameter.

I'm happy to do this if this is the preferred protocol, but the reason I did it is that newspaper references rarely list the publishing company, they effectively publish themselves. In all the academic references I've seen only the newspaper name is given. When it's sourced online it is usually accompanied by the full url, so the name of the website is still explicitly given in the reference, which is effectively where you got your information from. A quirk of Wikipedia is that the url is hidden beneath the title, so just to make the information sources explicit I used the work parameter to provide the website address; it just seemed a bit weird looking at list of online references and not seeing the website names.

There are a lot of policies and guidelines about referencing so my apologies if this is covered somewhere, but is there a specific guideline for using these parameters in this context? I can pull the work parameter if I've incorrectly used it, that isn't a problem, but is it common practice to add in the actual publishing company? My aim is to get the article to FA status eventually, so I'd like to get the references in order, especially if my citations are unorthodox and could derail an FA nomination. I'm interested in personal opinions as well as the policy perspective. Betty Logan (talk) 05:31, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

There is no need to put anywhere. "The New York Times" goes under "work" (or, better perhaps, "newspaper") -- either of these will ensure that the name of the paper appears in italics, as required by convention -- and the "publisher" parameter can be deleted altogether. "Publisher" is only ever optional, and is not needed for a mainstream newspaper -- it is meant to be used when an obscure local newspaper is published by a wider newspaper group. There is no need to say who publishes The New York Times. See Template:Cite news. -- Alarics (talk) 07:31, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for replying. I will pull the obsolete information in that case. Betty Logan (talk) 01:43, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
I apologize for the late reply, but:
The publisher of The New York Times is Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.. The owner is The New York Times Company. In the newspaper industry, publisher is a job, with specific tasks to be done by a human (like the executive producer of a movie). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:20, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
True in America, not generally true in the UK, where the appearance of "publisher" in that sense is very recent. Traditionally, and mostly still, "publisher" in the UK means the publishing company, and the purpose of this parameter in "cite news", as I understand it, is for where an obscure local newspaper (which does not have its own Wikipedia article, so cannot be wikilinked) is one of a chain of papers published by a larger group, in which case one can put the name of the larger group under "publisher". It is usually expressed somewhere on the title page of the publication concerned as "published by X Ltd of X". I cannot see that one would ever need to cite the publisher in the American sense of the word. (For the avoidance of confusion, I would be very happy to see this near-useless parameter abolished.) -- Alarics (talk) 19:39, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
That is not exactly true. In the UK, the job title of "publisher" for the non-editorial business manager is long and well established in the magazine & small paper sector, but causes confusion outside the industry. In the template context, "publisher" clearly relates to books, & should be left blank for newspapers, imo, at least large ones, though the owning company could be added for magazines & small papers that are in a large group. Johnbod (talk) 19:38, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Or perhaps it should be replaced by "owner". I can imagine situations in which naming the conglomerate that owns the paper would be appropriate, e.g., a Hearst publication writing about Mr Hearst. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:49, 7 May 2011 (UTC)
It would be good if a note could be left on these templates telling people that the publisher parameter isn't needed for newspapers. First, if you put the name of the paper in that parameter it's not italicized as it would be as "work." More importantly it introduces extra clutter and makes people think they have to supply it. I've seen several newbies mess around trying to find the name of the publisher, thinking it was required. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 19:46, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Indeed so, and I (being one of the relatively few people on WP who pay attention to getting references right) must have spent, or wasted, hundreds of hours putting such errors right. In the case of "cite news", can we not simply abolish the "publisher" parameter? -- Alarics (talk) 22:47, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
I've left a note on the template talk page asking if I can remove it. [15] SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS
And if we can't remove it (or rename it to "owner" or something more obvious), then perhaps we should ask for a bot to correct the use in the most commonly cited media outlets. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:37, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Citing wikiquote

I am doing some cleanup on Fantastic Mr. Fox (film) and encountered the use of a wikiquote as a references. The existence of {{Cite wikisource}} suggests it is generally accepted to cite wikisource; is it also okay to cite wikiquote, and if so, is there a template that is recommended to use? Thanks. (talk) 01:36, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

{{Cite wikisource}} isn't really a citation template— it is more of an external link template. Wikiquote only supports that the statement was made in the movie, the second source from TV Tropes makes the comparison. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 03:11, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

Linking to Google Books pages - mandatory?

I think that for high quality articles, FA at the very least, all book references should have Google Book page links (where possible). They make verification tremendously easier. Thoughts? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 18:24, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

We had an RfC on this not long ago, and it was decided they could always be added (so long as they were page links, not general links), and that editors should not remove them, but they shouldn't be mandatory. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 18:41, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
If you do include a Google book lookup url, as a best practice I'd like to suggest that it be limited to the 'id' and 'pg' name/value encoded pairs. Thus:
rather than:
Everything else just seems to add a lot of bulk to the article download. Thanks. Regards, RJH (talk) 19:10, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, agreed. There's a section in CITE explaining how to write the URLs. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 19:33, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
I am always a bit reluctant to add GBOOKS urls to cited books in an article. Doesn't linking to such a controversial web service violate WP:NPOV? --Eisfbnore talk 20:33, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't see how it violates NPOV any more than it would citing a hardcopy edition of the book. Betty Logan (talk) 20:51, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
It's quite easy: just as we don't put links to Google, Yahoo! or Bing Maps in EL sections – but rather let the readers decide themselves what map service they'd like to use through the geo-coordinates – should we not include links to Google or any other non-Wikipedia site in the book sources. Better to simply leave the book title plain and let the readers choose for themselves how to locate it with the help of the ISBN or OCLC. Eisfbnore talk 10:38, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
But people do add links to Google Books to EL sections; there's no reason not to. This approach of removing helpful material just because it's commercial is very wrong-headed. Take that approach to our source material and watch the project grind to a halt. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 11:53, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
It takes exactly three clicks from the article to the GBOOK (ISBN → Special:Booksources → "Find this book at Google Book Search online database" → voila). Additionally, they're not always accessible for everybody around the globe, just see Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Black Friday (1945)/archive1 for a discussion of this. --Eisfbnore talk 12:10, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
Why force people to click three times when they need only click once? Google Books pages are widely available. We don't argue for the deletion of material not available in China, so if editors in some countries can't see them, that's no reason to affect editors who can. Anyway, we had an RfC about this. No need to rehash it here. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 12:15, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

There isn't really much to debate here. Google links are optional but of course not mandatory. There is no requirement for sources being available online nor is there (currently) a consent for such a thing iamginable.--Kmhkmh (talk) 21:15, 13 May 2011 (UTC) Also note that if you want to use Google links nevertheless, that there is a template available: {{Google books|ID|displayed text|page=}}--Kmhkmh (talk) 21:17, 13 May 2011 (UTC)

Applies to other hosts such as Scribd. Agree with the trimmed links. If you link to a page, then you can reuse the reference only if it is to the same page, references to other pages would have to be separate. Links to bokks with no view or snippet view is not useful. Snippet view is very problematic as it looses context. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 22:25, 13 May 2011 (UTC)
Actually, I've not heard of Scribd having an agreement with anyone, so I remove those links as most likely being a contributory copyvio. Tijfo098 (talk) 20:23, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Also, one should point out that the legal controversy is about the GB books with "snippet view", which are fairly irrelevant here because you can't really link to individual page of those. Those with (limited) page view have an explicit agreement with the publisher. See WSJ; I've updated the Wikipedia article from that. Tijfo098 (talk) 20:19, 19 May 2011 (UTC)

Linking to Google Books pages

I completely missed that the guideline has now an explicit section on Google Books for a while. I'm not against that, however there are a few points that imho need to be considered:

  • It should be pointed out that is not a Google Books thing, but instead it should framed as (general) guideline for adding convenience links (online copies or print sources) for which Google Books is the most common/prominent example.
  • Alternative/additional options to Google Books need to mentioned here, such as online copies/preprints of books or papers at university sites and, copies of free books at, project Gutenberg,, various university libraries
  • Instead of giving various examples of how to link the same short link, it might be better to give a non Google example as well
  • the Google template and its usage should be mentioned, i.e. one of the example should use the template.
  • When linking to the archived discussion, it should be indicated that there were several (extensive) discussion in the past not just one.

--Kmhkmh (talk) 13:20, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

I just noticed it as well. I just figured out how to link to a page in a document hosted on Scribd. The section need to cover electronic documents in general: Kindle, Nook, Google Books, Scribd and the like. Some questions that have come up before:
  • Linking to a specific page
  • Whether the host or format needs to be in the citation
  • Snippet view issues
  • Dead links
  • URL formatting
---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:42, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
Should the Google Books section be moved up and included in the "Convenience links" section, as one example of appropriate convenience links? Other examples could also be included. COGDEN 18:38, 17 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes kinda, but giving the current structure the Google section ahould be expanded into a more detailed convenience links section (with a potential google books subsection) and content of the current convenience links section should be moved there.--Kmhkmh (talk) 10:10, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
P.S. Another option might be to keep the current convenience links section essentially as it is (maybe a bit more promently placed), but include a link to a non guideline project page, containing important and popular resources for convenience links and available templates and usage tips. This has the advantage of allowing to provide a longer list of useful sources for convenience links without blowing up the guideline. Since guideline should be kept short and focus on the essentials and there general issue here are the usage of convenience links and which sources provide generally accepted convenience links (, google books, gutenberg,, public librariers and archives, university/intstitute pages,,, ....). But a longer (growing) list of sources, details on format help and templates don't need to be part of the guideline.--Kmhkmh (talk) 10:24, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
I had the same thought— a separate page for citing electronic sources. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:59, 18 May 2011 (UTC)
But note as far as Google Books & co are concerned, we are not talking about citing electronic sources as such, but rather about providing online copies to cited print sources.--Kmhkmh (talk) 15:14, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

Official DT FAQ page that proves that story section on is truth! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Atremist (talkcontribs) 09:57, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

You should raise individual article related isuues on it's talk page. —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 11:11, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

RfC to add dead url parameter for citations

A relevant RfC is in progress at Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Dead url parameter for citations. Your comments are welcome, thanks! —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 10:59, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

Citing audio-visual materials

Hi all: I thought it might be useful to have a note in "Identifying parts of a source" about using times to refer to specific points of interest in audio-visual material. I moved the "books" example into its own bullet point and expanded it to "books and print articles", and added a new bullet point for "audio and video sources". The various {{cite media}} templates support this parameter already.

I also added "Sound recordings" and "Film, TV, or video recordings" to the "Examples" section to indicate the kind of information that usually goes into citing this type of material.

More eyes and fine-tuning certainly welcome! Cheers --Rlandmann (talk) 12:16, 21 May 2011 (UTC)

Density of citations - do we need to stress that most sentences need refs?

This is a common misconception. I've seen this reasonably enough to wonder if we shouldn't make some clear statement in this (?) policy that yes, most sentences need references. With a nod towards Wikipedia:You don't need to cite that the sky is blue, this is a wiki, and sentences may be moved, added to, and so on. Just few days ago I reviewed a DYK and asked the nom for an ref for the hook inside a para. The para's last sentence had a same ref, and you'd think the middle, where the hook was from, would have the same one, right? But it was instead another source the nom used, but forgot to add to that para (see this). This is just one of many cases which prove that it is better safe than sorry, and referencing each sentence is the right thing to do.

If you are not convinced, imagine a paragraph with only end-of-para reference. Do you assume that the last reference cover all the sentences? If so, you trust Wikipedia more than I would. Can you be certain that it wasn't an unreferenced para to which somebody added a new, referenced sentence, or if that ref at some point really was for all sentences, that nobody added unreferenced content to the middle? If somebody were to add new content to the middle of that para, with a reference - would you then assume that the beginning of that para is referenced with the new, middle-of-the para ref? Or if such a para was split into two, thus leaving the first one unreferenced? I hope it is clear why each sentence has to have its own reference. Suggestions on how to stress it (in this policy?) would be welcome.

PS. A while ago, I reviewed a DYK and asked the nom for inline cites. He grudgingly added the single one necessary for the hook, and for the few cite needed templates I added. The article used a single source, and he "promised" me that he would remove all the inline cites as "the article is good enough with a general reference, and all those footnotes look ugly...". Ugh. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 01:00, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

You raised this here not long ago, Piotrus, and the situation hasn't changed. Most sentences don't necessarily need references after them. It depends on the context. Personally, I like to see at least one reference after each paragraph, with the citations bundled, so readers don't have to hunt too far for the sources. But there are editors who argue that a refererence after each paragraph isn't always necessary either. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 01:04, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
The last time I checked, WP:V was a policy. Did it get demoted? PS. It seems that at each stage we try to improve verifiability of our articles, there is a vocal minority who scream "murder". How long did it take us to make inline referencing a standard? At one point, the single "general reference" was more than enough. Just like this is now a piece of wiki history, so does the "one ref is good enough for a para" fallacy must be put in the history bin, for the good of this project. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 01:09, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
V doesn't require a citation after every sentence. Nor does CITE. Regarding this edit of yours, it's you that's in the wrong there, I'm afraid. There's no need to keep repeating the same reference after each sentence like that. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 01:13, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Bang head on the wall. And how soon till somebody splits the paras, or adds unref information? Case to point, are you saying I was in the wrong when I asked for a ref that resulted in this?
But you are correct we may never reach a consensus just talking, last time we talked for quite a while and with the usual little effect. I think it is time for a poll, to close this issue for at least few more months and with less ambiguity. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 01:16, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
(ec) Look at your edit in read mode. The repetition of the same footnote hasn't added anything that would help a reader:
"By mid-1944, the humanistic department had 32 lectures and 168 students..[9] The medical department, created in the 1942/1943 year, was one of the largest, with 610 students and 95 lecturers in the 1943/1944 year..[9] The theology department had only 5 lecturers and 20 students..[9] The law department was the most popular; the year 1943/1944 had over 600 listeners..[9] Overall, in the 1943/1944 year, the university had about 1,200 students..[9] Throughout its period of operations it awarded 95 master degrees, 5 doctoral and 5 habilitations..[9] Plans to create new departments were obsoleted by the Uprising.[9] An underground Lawyer Club was also created, holding active presentations and discussions..[9] This department awarded 54 master and one doctoral degree.[9] "
SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 01:18, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
So you think this would be more helpful?
"By mid-1944, the humanistic department had 32 lectures and 168 students.[citation needed] The medical department, created in the 1942/1943 year, was one of the largest, with 610 students and 95 lecturers in the 1943/1944 year.[citation needed] The theology department had only 5 lecturers and 20 students.[citation needed]The law department was the most popular; the year 1943/1944 had over 600 listeners.[citation needed] Overall, in the 1943/1944 year, the university had about 1,200 students.[citation needed] Throughout its period of operations it awarded 95 master degrees, 5 doctoral and 5 habilitations.[citation needed] Plans to create new departments were obsoleted by the Uprising.[citation needed] An underground Lawyer Club was also created, holding active presentations and discussions.[citation needed] This department awarded 54 master and one doctoral degree.[9]"
--Piotr KonieczngetmasksimBitmap_Commandy aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 01:20, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Piotrus has just arrived at an article I've been editing, and that he has never edited, to add an unreferenced tag [16] because of this exchange. This is POINTy and disruptive. Please don't do that kind of thing again. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 01:23, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Oh please. Slim has arrived at an article I've been editing, cited it here and that's fine (and it is, I am not complaining), but if I dare to look at her contribs and suggest one policy-driven improvement tentatively related to this discussion that's WP:POINT? And so you revert my constructive edit because of this discussion? Should we now start edit warring there like children? How about you restore my edit there (or add requested citation), and answer my questions above that you've been ignoring (re: my post from 01:16, 1 June 2011) instead of changing the subjects into personal attacks? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 01:28, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
You linked to your article at the very top of this section. I wouldn't otherwise have looked at it. This is my last post here, because it's clear this is going nowhere. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 01:33, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
So you refuse to answer my simple question above ("are you saying I was in the wrong when I asked for a ref that resulted in this"), or the one from 01:20, 1 June 2011, and instead end up your contribution by reverting my WP:V-supported citation request to an article I tried, in good faith, to help you out and improve, accusing my of POINTing. I hope you'll feel more collaborative in a few days, no hard feelings. I will also have no problem if you'd like to refactor this discussion, collapsing this entire discussion at this point. PS. For future reference: anybody is always welcome to edit articles I was/am editing, leave tags, comments and any other requests for further improvements. Whenever my comments on some talk page inspire anybody to review my comments and join in collaborative editing, I consider it a very good day :) --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 01:39, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Sourcing single sentences rather than paragraphs might have a slightly better text source integrity but you can't trust that either and it can easily manipulated by other editors as well. Hence the notion that single sentence sourcing is always a real improvement is imho nonsense and false focus on formalities or visual gimmicks. The only way to check whether an article is properly sourced is to actually read the sources. Generally we require only that the citation is "reasonably close" to the sourced text, which you usually means that latest at the end of the paragraph the source should show up or in the case of very short articles you simply might list them at the end. If you want to be particularly precise yourself you could use annotated bundled citations. However I don't think that is something can be required (maybe recommended though), as it significantly increases the workload for the author and as a general idea keep it simple to contribute.--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:25, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

I tentatively agree that it should be suggested at most levels, and required at higher end. Whether to require it only at FA or below I'll leave to others to hash out; personally it is something I expect from GA-class at the very least. I am fine with adding it as a suggestion to this policy, rather than a requirement. What I am not so fine with is people saying that it is quite unnecessary at all, and "one ref per para" is "generally enough". --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 01:31, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Honestly I really don't care much whether it is required for FA or not (though personally I consider strict single sentence sourcing as ugly and somewhat pointless), but this here is guideline for general articles and therefore not really the place for FA criteria, there's a separate project page for that.
Imho it is rather unproductive if we have people running around and doing with paragraph based citations, what you just did with the example above. In my eyes that serves no purpose at all and the only valid reason to add a "citation needed"-tag to a sentence there is when you have good reasons to believe that one of the sentences is not covered by the source. What we don't need really need people checking whether every sentence has an inline citation, what we do need is people actually reading the sources to check whether the content is correct or not.--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:44, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Sadly, we will not get this till there is some easy mechanism to indicate whether people have reviewed a reference. I'd love to see some "verified" mechanism for templates, maybe in the form of Facebook likes, but it is not something we have, and not something we are likely to have in the near future. In the absense of that, we have to focus on improving the articles in the current system, and I think that can be easily achieved by putting more stress on referencing all "non-blue sky" sentences. With my edit above, you no longer have to worry whether those sentences are or aren't referenced by the end-of-para ref; you can be assured they are (or at least, that somebody believes they are). This makes those sentences more trustworthy than if they didn't have those cites, and till we get the "verified by many editors" tool for reference, it is as good as we can get. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 01:52, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

(ec) I agree with Kmhkmh, and disagree very sharply with Piotrus. Wikipedia has moved much too far in the direction of citing every sentence. It's ugly, formalistic, and tends to disrupt the narrative. --Trovatore (talk) 01:55, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
The answer's still no. It is the job of any editor who splits a paragraph to make sure that any relevant citations are handled correctly. Normally, this means a quick copy-and-paste job, but it is the subsequent editor's job to do this, not the original editor's.
Wikipedia does not mandate citations on the basis of grammatical constructs. Some sections require zero inline citations. Frequently, one citation is enough for a multi-sentence, single-point paragraph. Some material requires multiple citations per sentence. "One citation per sentence" is not, and should never be, the 'rule'. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:04, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

The important thing to remember here is that citations are primarily for editors and "power readers", the vast majority of people aren't interested in finding out where the material came from.

Our policies are clear; every piece of material must be verifiable, but there is nothing that prescribes whether that is via inline citation, bibliography or simply by linking to it in an edit summary. This is good, it gives editors a degree of flexibility, which means that if you are writing an article and want to cite every single sentence then you can do so. And those of us who prefer to use citations in a more restrained way can do so.

There are some Wikipedia processes which force a particular form of reference; for example if you want an article to be promoted for FA (and to a lesser extend GA) you are going to need to have inline cites at least for each paragraph (and, conversely, you'd likely be asked to remove cites duplicated sentence after sentence).

On the specific issue of citing each sentence; I do think it is messy, and I suggest that we try to be considerate of readers when placing cites. It is the same issue of "citation stacking" where a word or sentence is queued up with 5 references to support it (perhaps because it has been contentious). This can interrupt the flow of reading.

When I read an article (for my own education/enjoyment) I usually hide the references (for which I have a neat little script) because it can become distracting.

Reading Piotrus' comments I have to question what purpose citing every sentence serves; everything has to be verifiable, whether it has an inline citation or not. I do not think that having a duplicated inline citation for every sentence helps - if those citations are all different, with specific page numbers, then yes, perhaps. But otherwise surely a paragrapgh sourced to a single source need only be cited once :)

There is a balance between editorial ease and readability, I think demanding per-sentence citation for every sentence sacrifices too much readability. For exmaple, my pet article would be a mess of [1]'s and each reference at the foot of the page would have about 20 linksabcdefghijklmnopqrstuv. I fail to see the use of this.

Essentially this is making the argument that stuffing inline citations improves the referencing of articles, a concept which completely misses the point IMO and does nothing to improve quality, verifiability or readability. Everything should be verifiable to a source, ideally that source should be noted on the article and convention suggests adequate inline citations for ease of verification. Requiring per sentence citations is a step way too far (it is something you would never get past the FA crowd, for example) and serves no useful purpose.

On a personal note; if I came across a paragraph with every sentence cited to the same sources it would actually raise a red flag to me as likely dubious content that needs to be looked at. --Errant (chat!) 10:27, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Personal opinions - If an article has sentence by sentence references, it is very difficult to read. Not strictly "unreadable" but close enough. And if editors were actually required to provide the amount of referencing advocated by Piotrus, many would give up editing. Wanderer57 (talk) 14:41, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I agree. I've never seen a scholarly paper that cites every sentence. In Wikipedia, once per paragraph is usually more than enough to confirm that an article has been at least decently researched. Scholars of the topic can then drill down and confirm (or tag) specific statements. Regards, RJH (talk) 14:46, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm with the majority here - especially as I am currently in a year-long battle with an editor who steadfastly produces sentences such as these:

With production bases located in China,[9] the Philippines,[9] and Taiwan,[9] Yulon makes license-built[citation needed] versions of many automakers' models.[9] The companies it manufactures in cooperation with include Chrysler,[9] Geely,[10] GM,[9] Mercedes Benz,[9] Mitsubishi,[9] and Nissan.[9]

(from an old revision of Yulon Motor)  ⊂| Mr.choppers |⊃  (talk) 14:54, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
A bit of an extreme example, but I can see both sides of the coin. If a sentence is cobbled from multiple refs, this is understandable, although bundling citations could be a solution. The advantage of the style you cite is that it makes it most easy to verify the particular claim; the disadvantage, of course, is clutter affecting readability. Maybe a solution would be, for those annoyed by the clutter, to be able to "turn off" footnotes visibility? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 17:34, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Rather than having the reader guess what part of the text is cited, it would be nice if the range were highlighted in some manner. A possibility would be to change the shape of the cursor over a range of cited text. Currently the page shows either the 'text' cursor or the 'hand' cursor. What if it showed, say, the 'default' (or perhaps the 'help') cursor over a range of cited text? This would provide feedback to the viewer. For example, this range of blue text has a different cursor shape.[1] Regards, RJH (talk) 16:23, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

In an ideal world we could have the current system of citation - but with a editor-focused system of referencing and highlighting that lets you make more specific markers (that don't appear in the normal page display) to help with verification, referencing and notation. Something that could be turned on to note "this conflates material in chapter 2 & 3" etc. --Errant (chat!) 16:35, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

I, for one, am not sure which universe the folks who oppose referencing each sentence have arrived from—have they not edited anything around here or what? It would, of course, be great if all editors always made sure that whatever they are editing at the moment is covered by the source which is cited at the end of the paragraph, but let's be real, shall we? It's not gonna happen. Ours, indeed, is not an ideal world. People move stuff around, insert/delete sentences, and re-arrange citations all the time, and more often than not all they care about is the material, not how well that material is represented in the source being cited. Sadly, for many people referencing is an afterthought, a mundane chore, something to get out of the way quickly. And while such attitudes continue, it's very naive to expect the ideal behavior from everyone. Ugly or not, citing every sentence is the best way to keep up with the fluidity of the content, and while not everyone wants to do it or is even capable of doing it, at least don't tell those who are to cease and desist!—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); June 1, 2011; 17:20 (UTC)

I think all/most editors here are aware of the editorial "misbehaviour" as you describe it. The question however is how and whether than can be fixed and I don't quite see how single sentence sourcing is providing any substantial improvement here. Moreover I'm getting more and more the impression that single setence sourcing is favouring another editorial "misbehaviour" or misconception on its own, in particular that people associate single sentence sourcing with correct content or "reliable sourcing". You cannot judge whether something is properly sourced by checking whether it has single sentence sourcing but you actually need to read the sources. And if you do read the sources, it makes hardly any difference whether they are sentence based paragraph, based or more generally just close enough. Even if you have single sentence sources people can (and will) simply borrow the sources from the already existing sentences for their new lines. They can introduce new stuff by modifying/rewriting sentences, adding half sentences and leaving the sourcing untouched. In other words single sentence sourcing is primarily a cosmetic operation which in addition signals a false sense of security.--Kmhkmh (talk) 20:41, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
I, for one, have no thought of telling someone of the "sentence by sentence citation" persuasion to cease and desist. My comment above was made out of concern that some editors were so convinced of the importance of the "sentence by sentence citation" approach that they want to tell other editors that it MUST be followed.
Editor Ëzhiki: I found this sentence of yours ("I, for one, am not sure which universe the folks who oppose referencing each sentence have arrived from—have they not edited anything around here or what?") insulting & uncalled for. I would think someone with as much editing experience as you seem to have would know that Wikipedia editors vary hugely in their background, experience, interests, methods, etc. and that expecting them to conform to your practices is futile at best. Wanderer57 (talk) 18:10, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Citizen Wanderer, if that sentence of mine found you offended, I, sadly, cannot help you. One picks the sentences to be offended with on one's own; I have no control over that process. For what it's worth, the sentence was intended more as a lighthearted introduction (one which is based on numerous observations of real-life editing, by the way, hence the tinge of surprise), but if you personally found it offensive, please accept my apologies. That taken care of, as far the rest of my comment goes, how in the world did it give you an impression that I "expect... [editors] to conform to [my] practices"??? All I expect other editors to do is not to mangle the sentence-by-sentence references when they are already done (unless there is a discrepancy between what the article says and what the sources say).—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); June 2, 2011; 15:30 (UTC)
You know, I asked for general opinions a while ago (a year ago?) at one of the FA talk pages, since the folks there follow the highest standards. I had expected something like "well, we never pass an article that doesn't have at least one inline citation per paragraph", so I was just a bit surprised to see that the consensus was to include every inline citation that was necessary to show where the material came from, but no more than that.
Upon reflection, I decided that it was actually a good standard. IMO it is a much better standard than "one per grammatical unit", especially if you assume that our editors are capable of using good judgment. Mindlessness is not a desirable trait for editors (or policy writers). WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:48, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

I agree with the consensus here and policy, that one need not (and indeed should not) cite every sentence unless required. A citation that covers two or three sentences, or even an entire paragraph, is preferable to filling up the page with repeated citation superscripts. Jayjg (talk) 23:25, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Ëzhiki, I think it is important have experience with a problem before proposing a solution. Citations getting mixed up is a problem - it is not one caused by citing paragraphs, and it is not one solved by citing sentences. I've worked on articles where citations get churned all over the place regardless of where they were placed. If the article is undergoing a lot of work by a number of editors you are going to lose track of sources, nothing much can change that. If you have an article with minimal activity where an editor comes in an breaks up a paragraph then it is their responsibility to make sure it is all adequately cited afterwards :) Sure, citing sentences allows them to be lazy, but it's too much of a trade off to disrupt the reader. --Errant (chat!) 10:11, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

I realize that full well. However, from my experience, when an article is undergoing a lot of work by a number of editors, it is much more difficult to lose track of the sources when the individual sentences are referenced as opposed to when a reference is supposed to cover a whole paragraph. If there were an easy way to determine which parts the supplied reference covers, then sentence-by-sentence referencing would indeed be redundant. In the absence of such an easy way, referencing each sentence is the safest bet.—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); June 2, 2011; 15:30 (UTC)
Thank you. Perhaps there is a technological approach that would make editing 'reference-heavy articles' easier and less error-prone (though the necessary software might be impractically difficult to create and make foolproof).
I think it is correct to say that, for reasons I and other editors have mentioned above, "solution" of the editing problem by requiring sentence by sentence references is not a workable solution. Wanderer57 (talk) 17:20, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. I should note, however, that while it may not be a workable solution for you, Piotrus has no problem with doing it that way and neither do I. Why should we stop doing it because others seem to be incapable of doing it the same way (or simply can't be bothered to unambiguously source everything they are writing)? Mind you, I am not pushing for sentence-by-sentence referencing to be mandatory, but I'm really rather puzzled why someone else's discomfort with this should prevent me from doing something like this and to resort to sloppy wholesale referencing instead (or see someone else mangling all those refs because they don't look pretty—pshaw!). Can we at least agree to disagree and leave editing in peace those folks who actually like being 100% sure where each individual sentence comes from?—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); June 2, 2011; 18:05 (UTC)
I don't understand why it is not "a workable solution". Too much work? Not true, as I and many others show. Looks ugly? A matter of taste. I write and read academic works and books, and sure, they look different - but you know, they are not a wiki. That Wikipedia articles have their unique style is a fact, and they will look different from most other works. Due to the wiki nature, we need a way to clearly mark facts as referenced and verified. I am not aware of a better way of doing so than with footnotes. I do agree that it would be nice to develop a tool that is a bit less intrusive, and for example, a gadget to turn off all footnotes in read mode may appeal to some. But for those who want to know if something is referenced or not, and don't want to waste time checking the revisions to see if the end-of-para ref was added by the same editor who added the rest of the content (and even that may not be enough to be sure - this per this), sentence by sentence ref is the best solution we have.
While I'd like to see sentence by sentence refs obligatory to FAs, it is for community to decide on that. If the community feels it places too much burden on editors, so be it (but I recall the same arguments and difficulties when we were introducing the very basics of inline referencing...). I do think that at the very least we should encourage and recommend sentence by sentence referencing as the right thing to do, even if it is going beyond what we require.
And certainly, removing extra references is unhelpful - good-faithed and well-meaning type of vandalism, I am afraid. One could just as well remove all footnotes, or all blue links, and so on, because they do not appear in academic journals, or irritate one sense of aesthetics... --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 18:31, 2 June 2011 (UTC)
Again, I disagree with you very sharply. Sentence-by-sentence refs are, usually, a bad thing. They seem to come from an attitude that everything is contentious and that WP articles are comparable to legal briefs. Making an article less legalistic and more narrative is, other things being equal, an improvement. --Trovatore (talk) 02:01, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
As I said above single sentence sourcing is simply not a real solution to the problem it claims to solve. And just because you are happy to do unnecessary extra work, it doesn't mean that other authors are nor that they should be required to do so.
What WP could use is system similar to flagged revisions, allowing other editors to sign off/confirm content and sources. But that's another discussion.--Kmhkmh (talk) 02:51, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
sentence-by sentence citations are a very bad idea. Here's another reason: many statements involve several consecutive sentences and one citation. Rjensen (talk) 02:57, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
Agree that sentence-by sentence citations are a bad idea and unnecessary. One of the arguments for them (above) is that if there's only one citation for a paragraph, you don't know if a previous editor has changed the text in front of the tag. The solution to that problem is to never, ever change text in front of a citation unless you read the source yourself and find that the article text is not supported by the source text. Referencing every word won't do any good if an editor ignores this rule. WCCasey (talk) 05:55, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Citations to Google Books

The day may come when Wikipedia finds itself with millions of Google Books citations that are broken.

Google Books is not a reliable long term site for linking citations on Wikipeida: Google makes no promise it will maintain the archive in current format; URL formats may change; books may switch from free to pay, since publishers re-publish old titles and Google removes them as free; Google may go out of business or be acquired; Google may determine books are no longer profitable and cancel or change the service.

Yet, Google is a huge resource, what is one to do? There are two solutions: Internet Archive and HathiTrust. Both of these non-profit academic-oriented sites mirror books from Google, plus have additional books they have scanned independently. In fact both these sites are larger than Google, in terms of Public Domain titles. Most people think of Google Books is the biggest/best, but it's really a poor quality also-ran whose future is uncertain. Probably the best site for long-term linking is HathiTrust because its run and maintained by the same University libraries where Google scanned the books originally. They have stated the links will be permanent and unchanging for 1000 years (or however long these Universities are in existence). If your serious about citations to scanned books that will last, it's the one to use. Green Cardamom (talk) 20:39, 4 June 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately though, HathiTrust requires the user to register for a Michigan University login. And even when I'd got mine, it still wouldn't let me download the book I wanted even though it is in the public domain, because I am merely a member of the public and do not belong to any of the "affiliated institutions". In other words, the whole thing is even more user-hostile than Google Books. -- Alarics (talk) 18:58, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
I can access Hathi without a login, and can freely download PD books without an affiliation. Do you have any trouble viewing or downloading this book for example? I wonder if it's a US/non-US thing, or maybe an old policy since changed. Green Cardamom (talk) 06:12, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Well free alternatives to Google Books are welcome and the issues with Google Books are known. However that doesn't change the fact that Google Books is by far the most convenient and most comprehensive thing out there for the moment (and at least the near future). Note that in most cases or HathiTrust offer no alternative, since the most common use of Google in WP is the limited preview of authoritative recent books rather than (old) PD books and the former are not available on or HathiTrust.--Kmhkmh (talk) 06:26, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Yes the limits to Internet Archive and Hathi are only Public Domain books. It would be nice to find a way to educate or encourage editors to use IA or HT over GB for PD titles. It's like the difference between linking to Project Gutenberg versus a banner add supported site. Green Cardamom (talk) 18:02, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Why not create a template called {{Book link}} or {{Cite link}} and tried to encourage people to link to book pages only through this template? For now, the template would be identical to {{Google books}}, except that it takes an ISBN rather than Google ID. Then, going forward, if Google books ceases to do it's job, we can change the template and fix all of the articles in one go. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 07:10, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Green Cardamom asks me "Do you have any trouble viewing or downloading this book for example?" I just tried it, and it will let me look at individual pages but I am not allowed to download the book. If I try to do so I get a message reading "Full PDF available only to authenticated users from HathiTrust partner institutions." -- Alarics (talk) 08:02, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Your right, I see that now. I guess that makes HT less desirable than Internet Archive, which is fine since IA has the largest collection of PD titles. Green Cardamom (talk) 18:02, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
CharlesGillingham makes an interesting suggestion, but the problem will be how to inform editors that the special template exists. For instance, I do quite a lot of WP editing but this is the first I have heard of a template for {{Google books}}. -- Alarics (talk) 08:02, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Imho it doesn't really matter which template is used or what its exact name is nor whether it uses ISBN or Google ID, what matters is that the template allows a direct jump to pages in a preview mode and it is a template at all. The latter is useful for an (easy) automated mass correction later on for the case Google stops working, but should be possible with either template.--Kmhkmh (talk) 08:47, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
I generally concur with Kmhkmh here, with the exception that I would like any book template include an ISBN number as an option. Links to any online representation to a book has the potential for breakage for the foreseeable future. --Nuujinn (talk) 10:16, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
We can't encourage or force people to use templates for citations, because they're contentious for various reasons. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 10:23, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
{{Google books}} is an external link template, not a citation template. To cite a documented hosted on Google Books, {{cite book}} is appropriate. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 10:34, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
That's imho not quite accurate, because the (real) citation is the book and google just provides a convience link. Whether you include such a convience link into a citation template or provide it via separate template like googlebooks or even not provide one at all, is up to you or in cases of dispute up to the (pre)existing citation/reference style of the article. Similarly it is up to you whether you want to use templates for your citaions at all.--Kmhkmh (talk) 12:12, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Exactly! It is the book that is cited, & whatever format is used should reflect this. Johnbod (talk) 12:42, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Ok here is something to consider. Internet Archive has copied over 1 million public domain titles from Google Books, which is AFAIK most or all of the Google Book PD collection. Internet Archive has maintained Google's metadata, so it would be possible to write a script to match up the Google Book URL with the books Internet Archive URL, and then convert citations over to Internet Archive on Wikipedia. It wouldn't be the easiest programming job, but worse things have been done. I'm not suggesting this be done now, but if things ever became desperate due to Google Fail, I think the metadata exists to switch to a new provider. As for Copyright works, different story of course. Green Cardamom (talk) 18:13, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Is it better to be concise or complete?

If material can be found online, is it enough to give a link plus enough information to aid recovery after link rot, or should editors strive for references that are complete enough to pass muster in an academic setting?

For example I have been linking to military topographic maps accessible online through Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection [17] for the U.S. military topos or through Poehali [18] for Soviet counterparts.

In both cases, titles and affiliations of issuing agencies have changed a few times since comprehensive topographic mapping programs came into play during World War II. I assume that academically satisfactory citation would reflect these changes, whereas something more concise and casual might ignore them and perhaps even ignore the fact that the Soviet Union is no more!

Map index numbers are the single most critical piece of information, using a row/column scheme that has remained constant and was even remarkably simiilar between the British-American and Soviet mapping programs. If you know the index number of a map and it is available online, you can probably find it without concerning yourself with the institutional details.

Nevertheless there is a certain pride of craftsmanship in getting the institutional details correctly documented. Does Wikipedia encourage this as a matter of policy, or is just getting the index number right, good enough? LADave (talk) 16:47, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Citing Print-on-demand titles

(I originally raised this at Wikipedia talk:Citation templates, but was advised that this was a more appropriate location). When citing Print-on-Demand titles, or listing them in a bibliography, who should be cited as the publisher? See, for example, the bibliographies at Stefan Stenudd, Kerri Bennett Williamson, Garry Davis and many more, which list titles as published by BookSurge Publishing. BookSurge is actually the Print-on-Demand subsidiary of, and these books are in effect self-published. Should the authors be listed as publisher? RolandR (talk) 07:35, 13 June 2011 (UTC)

Why wouldn't you list Booksurge as Publisher?--Kmhkmh (talk) 07:56, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Because it isn't a publisher; it is a Print-on-Demand company. It does not commission, edit or in any other way influence the content of what it prints, and takes no responsibility for the content. As it states on its website, "BookSurge, a member of the Amazon group of companies, is a print-on-demand company offering self-publishing services for authors and on-demand book manufacturing services for both authors and publishers"[19]. By citing BookSurge as a publisher, rather than the authors themselves, we risk granting a spurious legitimacy to what are, in effect, self-published titles. It is certainly relevant, when looking at a bibliography, to note that most, if not all, of a writer's books have been self-published; citing BookSurge as the publisher obscures this fact. RolandR (talk) 08:38, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
Well I guess that boils down to what exactly you consider a "publisher". But I think the whole thing might be misleading. The question whether or when we allow self published material is a separate from the exact form of citation.
As far as the citation I goes, I'm fine with listing the authors as publisher but imho that's not necessary, since he author is listed already anyhow and there are alternative means to indicate that no editorial publisher was involved. Something like : "John Smith: My Book. Booksurge (Self-publishing) 2011" does the job as as well.
As far as the issue of allowing self published material for sourcing is concerned we have WP:SPS.--Kmhkmh (talk) 09:14, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
I concur with Kmhkmh, and would point out that there are publishing houses whose publications we do not consider reliable for other reasons, for example, those companies recycling WP articles. I would advise caution introducing the notion that because a book comes from a "print on demand" publisher it isn't reliable, as that it likely part of the future for all publishers. As Kmhkmh note, we have WP:SPS to deal with this issue, and I think that is all that is required to deal with the reliability issue. I would also suggest that listing the "publisher" as the publisher makes sense, as that helps the reader find the book if they wish to. A parallel example would be, I think, google previews, which we often include as a courtesy, but which do not contribute to the notion of reliability. --Nuujinn (talk) 10:07, 13 June 2011 (UTC)
I suggest a more nuanced policy about print on demand books that take the publishing license into consideration. I would like to cite the publishing license for print on demand publisher Lulu (I would provide a link but it is on the blacklist). Lulu will publish any document that a user uploads, which is a great service that can be used by families and businesses to get nicely formatted and printed copy. Lulu does NOT consider such content to be published by them. For Lulu to be the publisher, the book must have a Lulu ISBN. Note also that an author can get his or her own ISBN and Lulu will publish it, but in that case it is the author who is the publisher, not Lulu. Note also that when Lulu provides the ISBN and acts as the publisher, the content is reviewed and must meet their editorial guidelines. It is likely that any real self publishing enterprise will have similiar publishing agreements in place. I know that this substantially complicates the issue, but it does better reflect the reality of the issue. I also agree that no blanket policy can be adequate for this issue: a self-published work may be perfectly reliable for some purposes and must be examined case-by-case.Jarhed (talk) 19:45, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
The owner of the ISBN determines the publisher of record, which is not precisely the same thing as the publisher.
A place like Booksurge seems more like a printer than a publisher to me.
So the point of including publisher information (back in the day, when the styles were created) is that if you read my paper and I cited some intriguing sounding source, then my citation would give you everything you needed to know about how to get a copy of the source: you (or your favorite bookseller) used the "publisher" and "location" information to mail a letter to the publisher and inquire about buying the book.
In the modern world, this information is completely unnecessary if you've got an ISBN, and irrelevant if the printer isn't interested in helping you get a copy of the book. So for print on demand, I think it would be okay to simply omit the name of the vanity press/printer/service bureau. In some instances, I'd consider adding a note that it was self-published (but not when that's obvious, e.g., everybody knows that a corporate website is written and published by the business). WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:19, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
Just noting that we shouldn't be using self-published sources except in very limited circumstances, and that a lot of the print-on-demand books listed on Amazon are copies of Wikipedia articles, so caution is needed in case we're eating our own tails. Also, I definitely would include the publisher to make it easier for readers to see that it's self-published. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 23:47, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
But when you say you would "definitely... include the publisher", do you mean, in the examples above, BookSurge, or Stefan Stenudd, Kerri Bennett Williamson and Garry Davis. My inclination is to list the self-publishers themselves, not the imprint, since they take responsibility for the content. Adding just "BookSurge", without qualification, would not make it clear to most casual readers that this is a self-publishing imprint. RolandR (talk) 11:53, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

Change to recommend citation templates

In the section Wikipedia:Footnotes#Citation_templates and also in the reference Wikipedia:CITE, it says that cite templates are optional and that they make editing harder. I think this guidance should be deprecated by Help:Footnotes#List-defined_references, which overcomes this difficulty.Jarhed (talk) 19:30, 14 June 2011 (UTC)

...but list-defined references are also optional. While I myself prefer citation templates, I would not support imposing them on those that dislike them - they should remain optional. Nikkimaria (talk) 19:50, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
I concur with Nikkimaria. But the bulleted to-be-avoided-point "Adding citation templates to an article that already uses one of the other citation formats listed in this guideline" under WP:CITEVAR ought IMHO also state that one should avoid removing citation templates from articles, in the light of WP:Wikiquette alerts/archive101#user:Bzuk and the removal of citation templates. --Eisfbnore talk 20:03, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
Forgive me but I must have miscommunicated. I think they should be recommended but optional.Jarhed (talk) 21:14, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
See Holy war. It's a perennial proposal, and every time it's suggested, we hear from people who really, really, really hate them. Also, some of the most common templates are fairly inefficient, which means that articles with many citation templates are slow to load. Someone converted Pain to manually formatted citations last year, and reported that the change actually halved the page loading time. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:23, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
In addition to slowing down load times—sometimes to the point where it's difficult to get a page to load at all—some of them use citation styles that don't exist outside Wikipedia. So any new editor arriving at the article, who tries to use one of the many styles that do exist, finds herself having to add mistakes to her manual formatting to make it consistent with the templates. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:28, 14 June 2011 (UTC)
It is arguable whether list defined references are an improvement. There are several arguments against them (for example: (1) It is more difficult to finding and fixing a problem in a footnote because it's harder to find the wikitext of the footnote in the reference section. (Try fixing a random spelling error in a footnote in Artificial intelligence, for example.) (2) List defined references encourage opaque computerese footnote names, like <ref name="SPQ49rev"/> which are illegible to a new person editing the article. (Unlike {{sfn}}, or simple <ref> tages.) I personally agree they are useful when the number citations-per-paragraph gets above a certain level. (I added them to artificial intelligence myself, because, in that case, the pros outweighed the cons.)
I just want to underline that there are many disagreements about citation formats, and we have to let editors make up their own minds. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:47, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. I agree with Nikkimaria that citation templates should remain optional. Sometimes I prefer them for consistency of formatting, but I also agree with SlimVirgin that they they impose a style that's often difficult to follow when formatting manually; I greatly dislike seeing them in edit windows (unless in a shortened format); and they do add to load times. When I first started editing I was led to believe that they had to be used. I think it's important to stress somewhere they are not necessary, and that citations can be formatted manually. Truthkeeper88 (talk) 12:07, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
  • Cite templates are incomplete, inconsistent, stylistically poor, increase maintenance costs, lacking in fundamental citation automation expectations, require multiple systems to use effectively, lack stylistic automatic display options, are load time expensive, encourage poor citation research and presentation behaviour on the part of editors without a deep and thorough going understanding of the purpose and use of citations. On the other hand, I'm not going to stop editors or particular article editorial communities from using them if they feel that benefits outweigh costs. Fifelfoo (talk) 12:18, 15 June 2011 (UTC)
Actually, Wikipedia:Footnotes#Citation_templates says, "Use of such templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged; see WP:CITE." WP:CITE#Citation templates and tools says, "Citation templates are used to format citations in a consistent way. The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Templates may be used or removed at the discretion of individual editors, subject to agreement with other editors on the article. Because templates can be contentious, editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus. Where no agreement can be reached, defer to the style used by the first major contributor." Any proposed changes to that should be discussed on the talk pages associated with those project pages.(re-edited self to remove obvious and unnecessarily argumentative sentence) Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 23:10, 15 June 2011 (UTC)

At the bottom references with text next to the link, help me please?

If you scroll all the way down to just say this article.

You see :

^ "Katie Price: Celeb Profile". OK! Magazine. Retrieved 6 November 2010.

Now I know how to get the reference link with [10] but how do you put text to the link?--Jimmyson1991 (talk) 21:29, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

<ref>Write whatever you want in between these ref tags</ref> => [11]. Nikkimaria (talk) 21:42, 16 June 2011 (UTC)
  1. ^ Smith, Jane. Could this be the source?. Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 1.
  2. ^ Jones, Paul. Perhaps this is it. Oxford University Press, 2010, p. 2.
  3. ^ Doe, John. Or it could be this one. Harvard University Press, 2010, p. 3.
  4. ^ Doe, Jane. Just one more to check. Yale University Press, 2010, p. 4.
  5. ^ 1
  6. ^ 2
  7. ^ 3
  8. ^ 4
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference Ignatowicz-84-86 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ and
  11. ^ The end result (bottom of the page) shows what you wrote
See WP:REFBEGIN. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 21:58, 16 June 2011 (UTC)


I am waay new here. I was surprised to see ZERO results for my Google "smilaugh" produced ZERO results on Wikipedia.

So let's get this done - please help this is my first forte.

Urban Dictionary won with this result:

. Smilaugh 1 thumb up

Mixture between a Smile and a Laugh or Smiling and Laughing at the same time.

Thats so funny im going to Smilaugh.

Person smiling and lauging. You say: Oh your Smilaughing buy smilaugh mugs & shirts sponsor this wordsmile laugh laughing smiling funny by Coal Train28 Nov 19, 2008 share this — Preceding unsigned comment added by Chipabirdee (talkcontribs) 01:22, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

Right, it's a neologism. See WP:NEO. Regards, RJH (talk) 14:41, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

Fact sheets

I am trying to provide more references for the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year article, but I'm having trouble with a particular one I've found. Manchester United F.C. produces fact sheets for its museum, and one of these has a complete list of winners of the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award. However, I'm not sure how I would go about referencing this fact sheet in the article. Any ideas? – PeeJay 10:41, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

Any old way you want. Readers have the option of believing it or not; they just consider the source. GeorgeLouis (talk) 23:31, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
I'd try using the cite journal template, filling out as many fields as possible even if the template description doesn't seem completely natural fit wise. --LauraHale (talk) 02:37, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
Since you're using citations templates, you might consider using the generic {{Citation}} template. If you've found the list online, you could also consider {{Cite web}}. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:20, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
It's always a good idea to provide the best cites possible for sources to improve the credibility of the article. In this case, I would list it as one would any other journal or fact sheet used as a reference. Examples can be found on the web. Given said fact sheet is disseminated by the organization that presents the award, it is very reliable and seems it would be the best source possible.There is nothing civil about Civil War.Let's Talk! 06:32, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

Kindle et al.

I don't see any guidance for citing books in electronic form, such as Kindle. While I sort of own one, if a present to my spouse counts, I don't use it, although I do use the Kindle app on an iPad, I'll give some thought to what makes sense, but I hope others can weigh in on how this should be handled.--SPhilbrickT 17:47, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

{{cite ebook}} redirects to {{cite book}}, for reasons that confused me when I first noticed that. However, really there are only two major differences: format (should note it's an ebook, and probably specify the system), and (possible) replacement of page numbers with location numbers or similar. Nikkimaria (talk) 19:15, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

Permanent softcopy preferable to temporary hardcopy?

I used to think of hard copy as immutable and preferable to softcopy which often disappeared from my media links. But I copied a title from my newspaper some years back. An editor, verifying this (!) found the paper in "permanent" storage in subscription online and changed it. I have no doubt he did this correctly. Various soft copies change until the paper (or whoever) finally "freezes" it.

Having said that, subscriptions aren't available to everyone. On the other hand, libraries don't keep hard copies much anymore.

Should we state a preference for "permanent" softcopy over hard copy? I am particularly thinking of periodic media here. Student7 (talk) 14:56, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

I think it depends on how the softcopy is accessed. If it is a verbatim copy of the printed work, and is accessed by entering the same terms one would use to locate the printed work, then it is a moot issue; it is just as easy to cite it as if it were the printed edition, perhaps with extra information to obtain it online. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:37, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't think that this will happen often enough to bother with codifying a preference. Additionally, the newspaper itself normally will have records of every version, so any of them could (in theory) be verified by a trip to the newspaper's morgue. Having said that, it's not entirely unheard of for newspapers to, ah, "correct" embarrassing things later, so if we declare a preference for their latest publicly available version, we'd occasionally have a problem. The Tulsa Tribune, for example, famously deleted the editorial they wrote endorsing a lynch mob and starting the Tulsa race riot in 1921. Their microfiche "proves" that they published a large blank space in the paper that day. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:05, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
Some newspapers might keep records of every version (though others certainly don't), but libraries generally do not. In the Newspaper Library in London one can usually find only the final edition for any given date. If what you are looking for was carried only in the early editions, you're probably out of luck.
On the original question, this raises a whole can of worms about such issues as whether the web version is the same as the print version (it seems that increasingly it tends not to be), and other related problems which I think Wikipedia has not even begun to address!

-- Alarics (talk) 10:28, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Yes. Two Gannett papers I normally quote, frequently changes their titles when "preserving" it for soft copy. I suppose they look for titles that have not repeated, in order to make them unique (trying to find a reason here!  :). Sometimes they change facts in later versions as they become available for their website. I have not noticed "censorship" particularly, but sometimes the material changes sufficiently to be nearly embarrassing to the editor (me), when I have quoted from the hard copy and also enclose a url which has changed but didn't check every detail when I used it.
I gather from the above, that the general feeling is that we don't need to do anything as yet (if ever). We can raise it again if it seems to be creating general problems for a number of editors. Student7 (talk) 19:12, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Citation template comments

Hi, I made this post at Wp:citation templates, but I haven't had a response yet, and it is quite quiet there. If you have comments please post them there for ease. Thanks. Eldumpo (talk) 15:32, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

New inline template

Having been frustrated for some time about quotations that do not include any in-text indication of who is being quoted, I created (on the fly) a new inline template to alert contributors to the need for attribution. The template, which is currently used in just one article (as I said, I created it on the fly!), is Template:Whosequote. Comments -- and assistance with documentation, etc., would be appreciated. --Orlady (talk) 16:58, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

How does the purpose of this differ from {{whom?}} ? --Redrose64 (talk) 17:12, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
{{whom?}} links to Wikipedia:Neutral point of view and sticks the article in Category:All NPOV disputes. That's not the behaviour that Orlady is looking for. -- John of Reading (talk) 17:20, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, my new template inserts "who said this?" and links to WP:Citing sources#In-text attribution.
My template also differs from Template:Bywhom, which is more similar, but is focused on vague weasel wording, and Template:Cite quote, which indicates that there is no source cited for the quotation. Instead, I am concerned with situations where a direct quotation is presented, often with a footnote, but the "speaker" behind the direct quotation is not identified. --Orlady (talk) 17:30, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
In this situation, I use inline cites to both sources, e.g. <ref>Minsky (1969), quoted in Crevier (1993, p. 67)</ref>. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 01:54, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
My concern isn't related so much to citing documents so much as indicating in the text whose words are being quoted. It's the difference between 'The garden is "the most magnificent display of roses in New England"[1]' and 'The garden was described by Matthew Minsky as "the most magnificent display of roses in New England"[1]'. --Orlady (talk) 16:42, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Edit request from, 2 August 2011

Member of Abbots Cross Congregational Church. Qualified Soccer Coach. Popular speaker on Ulster-Scots History (talk) 10:39, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

I think you're on the wrong page--Jac16888 Talk 12:03, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

Citation versus explanatory footnotes

The vast majority of footnotes in articles are references identifying sources. In some cases, editors use footnotes to contain explanatory material. In general, when editors include both, they do not distinguish and use a single sequential numbering for each.

I quickly scanned this guideline and did not see any discussion of the distinction between these two types of footnotes, nor any guidance on how numbering should be done in case both are used. Is it here and I missed it, or is it covered in another page?

My question is motivated by Atlantis (newspaper). (As an aside, this is the editors first article!) Back on topic, the editor used the cref template with Roman numerals for explanatory footnotes, and the usual ref template for citation footnotes. What guidance should I give the editor?--SPhilbrickT 22:22, 2 August 2011 (UTC)

My !vote would be to use the usual ref template for all notes, since that is most common in scholarly works. When you click on the link to the note, it is pretty obvious which is which. But my opinion on this is completely uniformed in terms of usual practice on WP, it is a new issue for me. --Nuujinn (talk) 22:58, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
{{Cref}}, {{ref}} and similar templates are still in use because of the major issue with reference nesting; see WP:REFNEST and bug 20707 Arthur Rudolph uses WP:REFGROUP to separate explanatory notes and footnotes. You can also use other labels such as alpha per WP:CITELABEL. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 23:21, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
Using references with a group parameter (see WP:REFGROUP, which gadget mentioned above) is the best method, in my opinion.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 23:55, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I hadn't noticed, at first, that the explanatory notes had references, but that explains it.--SPhilbrickT 00:00, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
You can use grouped references for explanatory notes. Just understand that if you also use list-defined references, you can include only one nested reference. Since Atlantis has a cite in each note, they will have to be placed in-text if you convert them. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 02:30, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
The templates {{ref label}} and {{note label}} are useful for explanatory notes that you want to keep separate from reference citations. List of municipalities in Tennessee uses {{ref label}} for this purpose. --Orlady (talk) 17:07, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
List of municipalities in Tennessee illustrates the major issue with {{ref}}— manually created links lead to duplicate HTML ids resulting in invalid HTML; see W3C markup validation for List of municipalities in Tennessee. See User:Gadget850/Comparison of Footnote3 and Cite.php Footnote. List of municipalities in Tennessee can easily be updated to the current footnote system. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 22:31, 4 August 2011 (UTC)


WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT seems to be explicit in saying that the material that is sourced is what the editor has analysed and the in-line citation should not be given as only where the source gained information from. However, there is a different interpenetration to this at by an outreach project that are transcribing material from ARKive, and they have been transcribing material from ARKive and using the the sources within ARKive as the in-line references. Contributions to advance the discussion at welcome at Wikipedia_talk:GLAM/ARKive#WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT_when_writing_in-line_citations.Snowman (talk) 09:34, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

The situation is this: ARKive is donating whatever text we want (written by their in-house biology staff) about various threatened species. Wikipedia editors are therefore copying over the text, and it's doing good things for some articles. The licensing/copyright issues are apparently all being properly handled, so there's no worries there.
Some of the editors are copying over ARKive's inline citations, exactly as if the editors themselves had read those books and websites (which they haven't, both by their own admission and by the fact that some of them are dead links, so they couldn't have even if they wanted to). Snowman has proposed that (exactly like WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT says) these editors acknowledge that their source is ARKive, and that ARKive's source is the other website or book or whatever.
One editor has said that this is not necessary, because ARKive (the website) is basically just another Wikipedia editor. Another has said that this is not necessary, because if he WP:Transwiki'd an article from Simple Wikipedia, then he wouldn't acknowledge that Simple was his source.
I think that we need more people involved in this discussion. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:58, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
The situation is just as with Simple English Wikipedia, Citizendium, or any of the other numerous sources listed at Category:Attribution templates. We can directly copy free-content material from other projects into our articles, including the citations that are already in that material. Doing so does not make the other projects into references, and we don't ordinarily cite them. Re-using free content makes that content a direct part of our article, and it makes its authors into authors of (part of) our article. The sources that those authors used, which are the sources the text is based on, don't change just because the text is copied elsewhere. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:13, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
The situation is not the same as with other Wikipedias. For non-WMF material, we simply do not have a policy that allows you to pretend that you read source X when all you did was copy the citation to source X off of source Y. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:13, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
Of course we do, it's our fundamental mission to be a free-content project. We can copy an article in entirety from Citizendium or any other reasonable free content non-WMF project without having to double-check all the references ourselves. This does not mean we are "pretending" to read anything. We are not authoring the text, we are re-using already-written text in accordance with Wikipedia's free-content mission. The original author is the person who is responsible for checking the sources at the time the text is written. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:19, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
I'd agree with CBM above. No matter how text ends up in an article - whether originally written for that article, for another article, for another WMF project article, for an article on another wiki, or for another appropriately licensed work - we should include the citations the author of the text used to support it. The whole point of free licensing is that the conditions under which the author originally prepared the text are of no relevance.
When I commit an edit that includes another author's citations (e.g. when collaborating on any Wikipedia article) I'm not claiming to have read all those works. I'm simply respecting the citations other contributors offered. Retaining citations when re-using outside free content by introducing it to Wikipedia, is the same as retaining citations when re-using free content by creating a new version of an existing Wikipedia article. Christopher Parham (talk) 04:47, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
But WP:BURDEN implies that the person adding content should have verified it. Copying the refs verbatim from Citizendium (or whereever) does not demonstrate that such verification has occurred. The Citizendium (or whatever) page could be a complete hoax; should we allow that to be presented here as if it were true? Citizendium (and suchlike) are WP:TERTIARY sources and should be treated as such. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:26, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
Absolutely. If you haven't read it then you shouldn't pretend that you have by adding citations to God knows what. Malleus Fatuorum 00:29, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
The situation being described is not about adding citations. We are talking about re-using free-content text on Wikipedia. If there are already citations in the text we are copying, we can copy them along with the text, and we are still not adding any citations to the text. In that case, the person re-using content here is not pretending to have read the sources, as they are not the person who wrote them. The same thing applies if we copy text with citations from one Wikipedia article to another, by the way, as each article is licensed as a separate work for copyright purposes. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:48, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
I have invited folks at WT:FAC to join this discussion, because some of them are far better informed than me about complicated citation issues. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:00, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
If there were a Shoddypedia with a habit of getting things wrong, we wouldn't want to import its information and cites directly into our articles with no warning where the information comes from. So ... where do we draw the line? - Dank (push to talk) 01:48, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
If someone persisted in adding bad content, we would tell them to stop. But the thing to remember is that this is not the same as being a "reliable source" in our jargon. For example, we can't reference one Wikipedia article in another, because Wikipedia articles are not "reliable sources", but we can copy text verbatim from one article to another. The same thing holds for other free-content material. There is also a presumption of good faith: we trust editors to do the right thing, and we trust that there are enough other editors to notice mistakes. We also have to remember that Wikipedians are not required to have any actual knowledge about the topics they edit on, but things seem to go OK. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:14, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia articles are based on WP:V and WP:RS; copying text from anywhere that is not a reliable source (and that includes translating from other Wikis), instead of reading the sources yourself and writing the text yourself, amounts to using non-reliable sources and trying to pass them off as reliable. We shouldn't be importing info from anywhere. We should be reading sources and writing text based on sources. Who knows how many errors are proliferated throughout Wikis by translations from poorly sourced and poorly written articles in other Wikis: this should be forbidden. Well, by policy it is, actually, but people still do it regularly and get away with it regularly, since it's not always apparent to others that they never even read the sources. Same business here. You shouldn't be citing anything imported or translated unless you've read the sources yourself. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:58, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

I think Wikipedia:Do not include the full text of lengthy primary sources pretty well sums this up. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 16:37, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
Neither Simple English Wikipedia nor Citizendium would count as a primary source in any event. And we are perfectly justified in copying an article from either of those locations here, word-for-word. When we do so, we are not using their articles as sources for our own articles. Instead, we are directly using their text as our article. This is an important difference: we would never cite either of them as a source, but we can directly use their text here as if it was written by a Wikipedian. Part of our mission as a free-content project is that we can re-use free content from other sources in Wikipedia articles in this way. There is an entire category of templates to facilitate the process. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:45, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
The transwiki (and related) processes are 100% about dealing with the legality of incorporating the material. This has nothing to do with licensing. Those processes don't say one word about whether you can list citations to possibly non-existent and definitely non-reviewed sources as if you had actually read the sources yourself. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:47, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
The pages describing those processes don't mention it because it has always been obvious that if you are copy text from one place to another, you aren't going to go through and remove all the references that it contains. There is nothing special about references added by Wikipedians versus references added by non-Wikipedians: the person who adds the references originally should have read the sources, whether that person is a Wikipedian or not. But someone who later moves the text from one place to another is not obligated to re-read the references, because they aren't the person who wrote the text. Of course if I thought the references were false I wouldn't copy the text in the first place. But we assume good faith, which means that unless there is some specific reason to think otherwise we assume the references do exist and that the person who added them to the text actually read them. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:27, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
To summarize— someone can create their own wiki, create content, add references and release the content under CCA. Then I can copy it wholesale into a Wikipedia article with no other checks required. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 17:30, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
No, you can't - it has to meet our policies and guidelines. Nikkimaria (talk) 17:50, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
Let's assume for the sake of discussion that the text would be acceptable if it had been typed here first. That's what I did in my comment dated 17:51 today. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:53, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
Of course – that's the point of us having a free copyright license. Two examples: the people at Citizendium spent a long time discussing what license to use exactly because they wanted to discuss whether we could do this with their articles. And PlanetMath chagned from GFDL to CC just about a month after we did, so the licenses are still compatible.
Re-used free content is no different from content that is first published here. It's no different than if the original author had typed that text directly into Wikipedia, except that we use templates to track the copyright dependency. In particular, any editor can put a {{cn}} tag on the newly added text, and we can't use the other wiki as a source, so we would have to either find a reliable source for the disputed statement or remove the disputed statement. But if the other wiki uses sources for their text which we consider reliable, and there's no reason to think that the other wiki is more likely to be flawed than an anonymous non-expert Wikipedian, then there's no reason to double-check all the references in order to just copy text from one location to another. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:51, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
Licensing is not the only issue to consider, though: if you import text from elsewhere without consulting the sources used and it turns out that the material was copied from a copyrighted source, you're considered to have committed a copyright violation. It's disingenuous to add material with sources when in fact you have not consulted those sources. Nikkimaria (talk) 18:01, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
It's not disingenuous, any more than copying text from one Wikipedia article to another without consulting the sources in that text would be. It's disingenuous to be the original author and cite the sources without consulting them, but in the situations we are talking about the person editing Wikipedia is not the original author of the text, and that's OK. There is no difference in this regard between re-using material from one Wikipedia article in another Wikipedia article and re-using content from a different free-content project in a Wikipedia article. Would you say that anyone moving text from one Wikipedia article to another (say, in a merge) is responsible for verifying every reference in the text that is moved? Remember that all of our articles are independent works for the purpoes of copyright. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:13, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
WP:CWW. In any event, unless you explicitly say that you have not verified any of the sources used, I would argue that it is most certainly disingenuous to add text from an off-wiki source, because you're representing it as text that meets our policies. YMMV. Nikkimaria (talk) 18:20, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
Right - WP:CWW does not claim that it is necessary to double-check all the references in the text you are copying, nor does it suggest that you have to make some explicit statement about that when you make the copy. In fact it doesn't mention the issue at all. But the interpretation of SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT that has been proposed here is that it would be necessary to double-check every reference when moving text to a Wikipedia different article, or when moving an article from user space to article space. That interpretation isn't correct; only the original author is responsible for reading the sources that the original author cites. The fact that Wikipedia editors are often anonymous and are not required to have any knowledge of what they write about gives us even less reason to think that text copied from another Wikipedia article is somehow more trustworthy than text copied from sites like Citizendium or PlanetMath. — Carl (CBM · talk) 18:44, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
CWW is an explicit rule that only applies when moving content within WMF projects. It says nothing about you representing the hoax I post under CC-BY-SA-released to my blog or another wiki as if you had checked my made-up sources yourself. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:48, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
There's no more reason to think that a page on Citizendium or PlanetMath is a hoax than to think a page on Wikipedia is a hoax - in fact it seems more likely to me to find a hoax Wikipedia article than on either of those sites (or, say, a hoax in EB1911...). Any consideration about whether material is appropriate to copy into an article applies the same to Wikipedia-to-Wikipedia copies as to external-to-Wikipedia copies. In both cases we have to think about the credibility of the text, but we also have to assume good faith unless there is a particular reason not to. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:32, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

But Wikipedia pages can contain misinformation. For example, I made major revisions and expansions to Arthur Rudolph and much of that content appears to have been copied to de:Arthur Rudolph, including the source. Every source in the English article is available online or is in my personal library. Judging from discussions on the German article, I don't think the editor who translated the content read the sources. Someone added a statement to the German article that Arthur Rudolph was an SS captain that was then copied to the English article. I raised the issue for the English article and it was removed when there was no evidence to support the statement but the information is still in the German article along with discussions.
Bottom line: I will not copy content from an open source unless and until I have personally verified the references. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 12:56, 5 August 2011 (UTC)


In order to make Nintendo DSi#Reception more aesthetically pleasing and easier to read, I am nesting references that have 4 or more sources grouped together after a sentence. I've done this with the first sentence and would like input on what I'm doing right/wrong. « ₣M₣ » 19:34, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Well, that's not how I'd go about it. That puts the 'citation' in with the explanatory footnotes.
The first question I'd ask is: Why do you need five sources to support that statement? WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:28, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
Generalized information like that need to be cited from multiple critics. « ₣M₣ » 14:58, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
See WP:CITEBUNDLE, but in my opinion it does not fix anything. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 15:02, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't think CITEBUNDLE will work in this instance, since four of the five are cited multiple times in the article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:29, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, in this scenario it doesn't do much. Another topic, is there a template I can use for references like number 4? « ₣M₣ » 18:23, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
I take it you mean the ref constructed as <ref name=Conference2>[[#CITEREFConference2008|Satoru Iwata (2008)]], p. 2.</ref> - yes there is: {{harvnb}}, although it won't look quite the same: existing[1] using harvnb[2]
You also need to make sure that the |ref= in the full citation is in a format that {{harvnb}} will link to, because it won't recognise the existing |ref=CITEREFConference2008. Try |ref=harv; if that doesn't work, you'll need to manually construct it like this: |ref={{harvid|Satoru Iwata|2008}} --Redrose64 (talk) 18:46, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Deal with dates in citations here or at WP:MOSNUM?

An RfC is in progress at Proposal: date formats in reference sections. I have offered a counter-proposal that the "Manual of Style (dates and numbers)" defer to this guideline for dates that occur in citations. I have also proposed that this guideline be modified to recommend against all-numeric dates with the day or month first, such as writing yesterday's date as "8/7/2011", even if an external style guide calls for that format, or even if the article already uses that format. Please discuss at WT:MOSNUM. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:50, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Which Wikipedia guideline(s) should establish citation format?

Which Wikipedia guideline(s) should establish citation format? Currently Citing sources, Manual of Style, and Manual of Style (date and numbers) all attempt to control citation format, and contradictions currently exist concerning date format. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:51, 13 August 2011 (UTC)


As initiator of the RfC, I favor regarding "Citing sources" as the definitive guideline for citations, and any mention in other guidelines to be regarded as convenience summaries. This corresponds to the practice of printed style manuals, such as APA style or The Chicago Manual of Style, which devote one or more chapters exclusively to citation format. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:55, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Kotniski asked the following question at WT:MOS, but I will answer here in order to centralize discussion:

I still don't see any contradiction between what's said at MOSNUM and what's said at WP:CITE. Do you think there's some inconsistency? MOSNUM seems to be more detailed, that's all.--Kotniski (talk) 17:08, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

"Citing sources" allows any citation style, and specifically mentions APA style and MLA style. APA would give the publication date for today's newspaper as "2011, August 13" and MLA style would give it as "13 Aug. 2011". The MLA style would allow either "August 13, 2011," or "13 August 2011" in running text. These contradict the attempts at WP:MOS and WP:MOSNUM to require publication dates to match the format in the running text. By designating only one guideline as the definitive guide for citations, contradictions introduced into non-definitive guidelines could be reverted with relatively little fuss or controversy. Jc3s5h (talk) 17:56, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

OK, thanks for the explanation. I don't have any pargticular preference as to which guideline should be definitive on this matter, though I agree that it should be or the other. Though a more pertinent question for right now is: which of the guidelines has it right? Is it current practice (at FAC, for example) to bring articles into line with the stricter guidance currently set out at MOSNUM, or is a greater degree of inconsistency tolerated as CITE is being interpreted as permitting?--Kotniski (talk) 18:11, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Speaking as someone who frequently checks such things at FAC, we don't require that the date format used in the article text and the citations are the same so long as they are both uniform, ie. the article text can use "13 August 2011" and the citations can use "2011-08-13" so long as all dates in the article text are DMY and all dates in the citations are YYYY-MM-DD. Does that answer your question? Nikkimaria (talk) 18:17, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Whether the requirement to make the running text and the citation agree is "stricter" depends on how you look at it. Making them agree is "stricter" in the sense of internal consistency, but making them comply with the style guide chosen for the article's citations is "stricter" in terms of following the chosen style. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:24, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

A related discussion from January 2010 may be found at Wikipedia:Centralized discussion/Citation discussion. The length of that discussion is 458,843 bytes. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:05, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

WP:CITE. Always ignore the Manual of Style; this is another rule they've invented with no benefit to the encyclopedia. Since its infinite supply of claims are based on majority vote, and the majority has rarely even been in double digits, any page which is actually based on consensus has more support; certainly more net support. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:32, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

As for the functionality of the encyclopedia: the purpose of footnotes is to indicate sources. Any clear style of footnoting will accomplish this; consistency is part of clarity. For many editors, some published style will be easiest to write; some readers will find whatever style is most common in their field easiest to understand. (Although those readers will tend to be the specialists we are not writing for; they have better sources.) Therefore, permitting each widely used style is good for the encyclopedia; those editors who have nothing better to than reformat dates are not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:59, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

The question I hope to resolve with this RfC is to establish where the style rules will be set forth, rather than what they should be. My reason for favoring this page is those who tend to edit this page will have written citations and be familiar with the issues, while those who edit other style-related pages may not have given much thought to citation style. Jc3s5h (talk) 22:02, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Sounds reasonable. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:33, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Manuals of style are usually prescriptive across a media organisation for the good reason that inconsistencies are considered unprofessional. We should refer to external guidelines only where we do not yet have guidance of our own. In doing so, it ought to be a stopgap until a new style element can be formalised. Most other publications may occasionally look elsewhere on some points not already covered by their house guides, but tend to disallow multiple styles for, for example, punctuation or capitalisation although each may be conventionally 'correct'. We already more or less have a 'house style' which is expressly rules out that format, whereas WP:CITE appears to still allow the editor the choice of several divergent yet still 'valid' styles – as said, it would permit '2011, August 13'. That tolerance could give rise to even greater inconsistencies when the central premise of our MOS is to strive for less inconsistency. Not that I have anything against it and although I believe it is more easily parseable than '2011-08-13', editors usually happily follow the majority or let reflinks do the job. The '2011, August 13' format sometimes appears amidst a mix of formats, but is otherwise so rarely seen here on WP that few editors actually has few supporters. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:11, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Since this RfC is about which guideline should contain citation format guidance, not what that advice should be, I have responded, in part, to Ohconfucius, at WT:MOSNUM; use your browser to search within the page for "15:34, 17 August 2011".
On the pure location issue, the APA Publication Manual uses 56 pages to describe citation, the MLA Handbook for writers of Research Papers uses 110 pages, and other manuals I have seen have comparable lengths. So if Wikipedia does create a house style, we must expect the description to be large. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:43, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

What contradiction? No, seriously: what contradiction? CITE says you can use any citation format you want, including ones that you've completely made up out of thin air. So how could an absolute lack of requirements possibly contradict the recommendation on some other page? For that matter, what makes you think that MOSNUM's (multiple) recommended formats apply to citations rather than to the body of the article? MOS directly says "All the dates in a given article should have the same format (day-month or month-day). However, for citations, see Citing sources (style variation)." I cannot imagine how anyone could interpret that as leaving open even the possibility of a contradiction. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:30, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

The contradiction does seem to have been eliminated since today's edit to MOSNUM, which restores the wording you quote.--Kotniski (talk) 17:40, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
The words I quoted were off the Main MOS page, not MOSNUM (although I suppose that they might be duplicated there). This seems to be about an RFC at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Proposal:_date_formats_in_reference_sections, in which someone has proposed that MOSNUM override CITE in the matter of citation formatting. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:00, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment. To respond to the RfC, WP:CITE has always been the key guideline for citations, and ideally there should be nothing in the MoS that contradicts CITE on citation issues. The MoS may go into more detail on specific points, but it should try to maintain CITE-MoS integrity. :) SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 21:37, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

Guidance location RfC summary as of 27 August

Since discussion seems to have died down, I will summarize my interpretation of the discussion

  • CITE should be definitive: Jc3s5h, PMAnderson, SlimVirgin
  • One should be definitive, no preference which: Kotniski
  • Do what the citation templates do:
  • MOS or MOSNUM should be definitive: no one
  • Comments that don't address the question: Nikkimaria, Whatamidoing

Would anyone who did not take a position care to endorse my summary? Jc3s5h (talk) 13:43, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

  • I don't actually necessarily endorse what citation templates do. I don't actually like those templates. I have no particular preference for citation formats, except how the dates are displayed; but citation templates do not provide guidance to how dates are formatted in any event. I actually believe that the choice of dates should be as uniform as possible, and as simple as possible for the reader and the editor. I certainly don't support subdividing dates (publication, access, archive) and allowing a different format for each. I don't really subscribe to the insistence on geeky telephone-number style dates incomprehensible to a significant part of the readership. Having said all that, it probably means I am more opposed to the multiplicity of date formats apparent currently tolerated by WP:CITE, and more in favour of the relative simplicity in MOSNUM, which is already too complex for my liking. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 17:11, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

I have struck out SlimVirgin from my summary, because her edits to this guideline make it appear that she has a much different definition of "citation style" than I do. She would allow MOS or MOSNUM to cover date format. But at least two style manuals (APA and MLA) specify a (potentially) different date format in citations than in running text. Thus I do not understand SlimVirgin's position. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:06, 21 August 2011 (UTC)


Hi Jc, you've add this to the section asking editors to refrain from changing citation styles, but it's not really about that. It's best left for the relevant MoS page:

"All-numeric date formats other than YYYY-MM-DD, because of the ambiguity concerning which number is the month and which is the day. If used, YYYY-MM-DD format should be limited to Gregorian calendar dates where the year is after 1582."

SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 08:44, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

It is somewhat related, though, because some editors change articles like [20], with nearly every date in yyyy-mm-dd format, to [21], with nearly every date in Month dd, yyyy. Editors who object generally refer to WP:DATERET and WP:CITEVAR (redirect currently not working, apparently a section title was changed recently). Gimmetoo (talk) 08:51, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
Jc's edit said that editors must not change to a numeric date format, unless it's YYY-MM-DD. He doesn't say they mustn't change to August 21, 2011, so his edit wouldn't cover your example. But whatever the rights and wrong, the example isn't about changing citation style, which is what that section is about.
It might make more sense to start a new section about that in the MoS, and to add citation style to that, rather than adding MoS issues here. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 09:40, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
Could you clarify what you mean by "citation style", then? APA style include format specifications for dates, as do others. If a "citation style" includes not just order of author, date, title and publisher, but also punctuation and other format details of that citation, then a change to those is a change to "citation style". Gimmetoo (talk) 09:48, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
My interpretation of "citation style" is everything one expects to be consistent from one citation to another, such as date format, whether to separate fields with periods or periods, whether a number for a footnote is a superscript, in square brackets, or in parenthesis, and every other nit-picky detail you can imagine.
A recent version of MOSNUM stated "Dates in references should be uniform, and in either the prevailing date format of the article, or YYYY-MM-DD". But no article would write today's date "2011, August 21", in the body of an article, so that format would be forbidden in the citations as well. But APA style calls for that format in the citations, so MOSNUM was forbidding the use of APA style, and was in direct conflict with CITE.
CITE should be self-sufficient with respect to citation style guidance so that we can make a blanket statement in MOS and MOSNUM to refer to this guideline for citation style. The exception would be items that all published style guides that any of us have ever heard of would keep the same between article body and citations. That would include things like British vs. American spelling. Jc3s5h (talk) 10:16, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
You misunderstand: today's date in YYYY-MM-DD format wouldn't be "2011, August 21", it would be "2011-08-21". --Redrose64 (talk) 16:45, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
I was not giving today's date in YYYY-MM-DD format, I was giving today's date in the format the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) requires for publication dates. Page 185 states "For magazines, newsletters, and newspapers, give the year and the exact date of the publication (month or monthand day), separated by a comma and enclosed in parentheses (see Chapter 7, Examples 7–11)." Those examples, which appear on page 200, give the following dates: "(2008, May)", "(2008, June)", "(2006, November/December)", "(1993, September 30)", and "(2007, December 11)". Jc3s5h (talk) 17:00, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
That would imply that if we were to cite a hypothetical Chinese language source, we would be allowed to follow a hypothetical Chinese citation style that would include dates like here:

「處置失當 菲警界究責 警署署長下台 4指揮官停職」《大公報》A03,2010年8月26日

Although I wouldn't strictly have a problem with such a date format, it means gobbledegook to the vast majority of readers. Even formats such as "(2008, June)", "(2006, November/December)", "(1993, September 30)" would be at odds with MOSNUM, and be inconsistent with dates in running text. As Jc3 already notes that he expects date format such as "8/21/11" or "21/8/2011" to be overriden, thus I see MOSNUM operating as a layer of guidance supplementing it by superpositioning onto WP:CITE, overriding dates like "(2006, November/December)", "(1993, September 30)". --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 04:04, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
APA format should be an acceptable option, no? And how would APA format be "at odds with MOSNUM"? Gimmetoo (talk) 04:57, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Looking at another of SlimVirgin's comments, "Jc's edit said that editors must not change to a numeric date format", it says more than that. If any editor has created an article using a date format such as "8/21/11" or "21/8/2011" that notation is so ambiguous that the original editor's style decision should be overridden and a more appropriate date format used. I have never seen a published style manual that calls for any of these ambiguous formats, but if such a manual exists, it should not be used in the English Wikipedia. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:56, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
I think I'm coming to understand and agree with Jc's position on this (except I would prefer it if Wikipedia had its own single defined citation style or small set of alternative styles, so we could all get used to it). It's best if everything to do with citation formatting is dealt with on this page, and that the MoS simply say something like "however, for dates in references, see WP:CITE" (much as I think it currently does). And therefore this page should recommend against ambiguous numerical date formats in references, just as the MoS recommends against them in article bodies. --Kotniski (talk) 09:47, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
I perceive Kotniski's comment "I would prefer it if Wikipedia had its own single defined citation style or small set of alternative styles" as a matter separate from the location of citation style guidance, so I will create a new heading to discuss it. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:57, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

Style limitations?

In the #Numbers thread Kotniski wrote "I would prefer it if Wikipedia had its own single defined citation style or small set of alternative styles". Personally, I'm not prepared to endorse citation templates, due to their bulk and performance problems. Past attempts to establish a single house style, whether citation templates or something else, did not reach consensus. Let em outline what I see as the most we could hope to achieve consensus on in the direction of standardizing styles.

  • The several families of citation templates are options.
  • Any style manual published by a reliable publisher, such as APA, MLA, Chicago, International Astronomical Union, or American Mathematical Society are options.
  • Minor modifications to a published style manual are acceptable to take advantage of the several forms of hyperlinking.
  • A reasonable number of identifying numbers, such as DOI and ISBN, may be added even though not mentioned in a published style manual.
  • Editors are encouraged to create templates and/or categories and use them to label which style is in use in a particular article. This would allow us to gauge the popularity of various styles. Editors should strive to avoid uncoordinated duplication of templates or categories.

An area that would require further discussion is shortened footnotes. For articles that do not use citation templates, the only published style I know of that recognizes shortened footnotes is Chicago. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:57, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

I started documenting this at User:Gadget850/Article style options. Very incomplete. I had envisioned an editnotice that you could check the options.---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 17:03, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

CITEVAR interpretation

I've run into a curious issue. An article with >100 references had a total of 6 instances of cite templates. I rewrote those to match the other 98 or so refs. An editor reverted; I quoted CITEVAR, and the editor insisted that we had to have a discussion on the talk page and achieve consensus to rewrite any refs. If people are interpreting CITEVAR that way, then either CITEVAR needs to be rewritten, or this same principle needs to be applied to every style change, including date formats. Gimmetoo (talk) 17:59, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

I presume the editors who have contributed to the citation guideline have written academic papers at some point, and understand the essence of a citation style is consistency, at least within one paper, one article, or one chapter of a book. To believe otherwise indicates total unfamiliarity with citation in academic works. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:21, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
And that's the problem. An editor is using the CITEVAR phrasing to obstruct making the citations consistent. Gimmetoo (talk) 18:50, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Presumably if there are mostly manual refs, they came first? If so, the templates can be removed per CITEVAR, per the "first major contributor" rule. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 19:18, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Then could either of you make the revert and inform the editor? I also wonder what is the appropriate censure for this sort of thing. Usually I just revert style warriors, but sometimes they keep it up. When are blocks appropriate? Gimmetoo (talk) 20:19, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I left the two in the Further Reading section because they're consistent within the section. I have no view on whether or not they should change as well. I'm not going to inform the user as he's archived the discussion on his talk page and clearly doesn't want further posts there on this matter. DrKiernan (talk) 07:19, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I'd like to point out that if you wish the article to attain FA status, the citation format needs to be consistent, but doesn't need to use templates. See WP:FA Criteria item 2c. --Redrose64 (talk) 11:40, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Formatting needs to be consistent within the article. This is a dispute that needs to be resolved on the article talk page. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 11:56, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Removed "Dates" subheading

I undid this edit because it changes the meaning of the date restriction. Without the heading, it means any style, such as APA style, may be used, so long as that style does not call for dates like "8/9/2011". If the style calls for dates within citations to be inconsistent, such as one format for publication dates and a different style for access dates, that's fine, so long as none of the dates look like "8/9/2011".

I don't know if any published style manual recommends dates like "8/9/2011" in citations, but if so, that style manual should not be used on Wikipedia.

By adding the "Dates" heading, the paragraph prohibits different date formats within citations, for which there is no consensus. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:12, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Why would YYYY-MM-DD be less ambiguous than other numerical styles (e.g. DD-MM-YYYY) regarding which is the month and which the day, for the average reader? SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 14:48, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Because in some countries DD/MM/YYYY is more common, while in others it is MM/DD/YYYY. Nikkimaria (talk) 15:09, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Right, so I'm wondering why we think everyone will understand YY-MM-DD. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 15:11, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
The YYYY-MM-DD format has survived several long RfCs. Drop the stick and back away from the dead horse. The only way for SlimVirgin to get rid of it is to go start her own encyclopedia. (I am just stating the situation as I perceive it, not as I wish it to be.) Jc3s5h (talk) 15:17, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I can see this is a sore point. I'm not trying to get rid of it. Consider the stick dropped, and the horse backed away from. :) SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 15:18, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
For the record, the yyyy-mm-dd format is specified by ISO 8601 and is the offical format in South Africa and in Sweden. Martinvl (talk) 08:34, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Linking to publisher and work entity articles

Hello, there is a bot approval request at WP:BRFA/H3llBot 9 for adding wikilinks to work/publisher fields where the entity can be unambiguously identified from a pre-selected list. Comments welcome, thanks. —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 16:17, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

House style at CENT

J. Johnson has once again proposed that we adopt a house style for handling authors' names (vs. initials). Please see Wikipedia:Centralized_discussion/Citation_discussion#Full_name.2C_or_initials.3F. I believe this is the third time he's asked tried to gather support for his preferences at some page other than WT:CITE. I'm hoping that eventually he'll discover this page, and that perhaps eventually he will understand the meaning of "no house style" and "any style the editors want", but in the meantime, people familiar with this guideline will probably want to comment there. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:17, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Request guidance: how to deal with other-editor changes to cited material

Let's say I rewrite a non-cited section of an article, adding sources for the assertions my edit includes. Another editor then contributes to my edit by changing what I wrote to reflect what he knows of the topic; he includes information that is arguably true, but not academically certain. However, that editors change alters enough of the substance of what I wrote that the source I cited no longer supports the assertion made in the synthesis of the two edits. Should I revert? Do I pull the cite and ask for a different, separate citation? And what if the other editor persists by reverting my removal of the cite (which, due to the timing of the edits, I can say with reasonable certainty is a book the other editor has neither read nor owns)? -- Foofighter20x (talk) 06:30, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Make sure your <ref> follow the statements which can be directly supported. Put a {{citation needed}} on those statements which are unsupported. Note that this may mean having the <ref>...</ref> within the paragraph, or even within the sentence, which some people don't like (preferring to place the lot at the end of the paragraph). --Redrose64 (talk) 13:02, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
That's the thing. I set up the <ref>...</ref> and the citation within it to reference a particular part of a specific book. I then <ref>...</ref> tagged each sentence that made an assertion that is directly supported by the book. The second editor then made his edits; his edits reflected popular, conventional wisdom on the historical topic, but was not supported by the cited source. I then pulled the cite, inserted {{citation needed}} after his text, and left this in the comments block of the edit:

Since the edit does not reflect the source material, I'm pulling the source [on that sentence] and asking for a separate citation.

to which he reverted and responded

A source need not be quoted in order to appropriate.

And that's what prompted my coming here to seek guidance. -- Foofighter20x (talk) 19:38, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
The burden of proof is on whomever changes the content. Since you cited your changes, they should cite theirs. If they can't, then per WP:V their changes should be reverted. One cannot change material that's supported by a reliable source and not update the reference(s). Not without a discussion anyway. That's the basic points. —  HELLKNOWZ  ▎TALK 19:51, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Is there a tool...

that makes it easy to replace complicated template citations with standard "ref" ones? The plague of undiscussed drive-by "improvements" and "upgradings" to complicated templates, totally contrary to policy, continues, & if they aren't spotted straight away & reverted, they are a real nuisance to remove manually. Johnbod (talk) 13:25, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

I had thought about that myself. The primitive approach would be to examine what the templates do, and find a way to create nearly plain text that has the same contents as the template. It can't be completely plain text, because links to web sites and wikilinks should be preserved.
An obvious problem is there is no such thing as a "standard" ref. There's APA style, The Chicago Manual of Style, styles invented for the particular article, and the list goes on. So if a tool existed, it would have to be told which style to convert to. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:35, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Just basic ref ..../ref; the formatting of the source list can relatively easily be done manually if necessary. Johnbod (talk) 02:24, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Exporting metadata from Google Books


Google Books has a facility to export bibliographic data in BibTeX, Endnote an RefMan formats (see for example, ). Is there a way to convert one of these to wikimarkup? Or get it as cut-n-paste citation template code? If not could we persuade Google to add a facility? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 14:16, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

I've discovered that Zotero 3.0 beta works with chrome, and can do this; as can our own citation dialogue. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 20:51, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I had thought that someone had written a script to do this, but I'm not sure where it is. The auto-fill aspect of the citation dialogue has never worked for me. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:40, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
See Wikipedia citation tool for Google Books. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 21:58, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Why so many duplicate pages?

As if this page wasn't bad enough, we also have WP:Manual of Style/Footnotes and Help:Footnotes, which all basically hover around the same subject area. Could we not bring all this together into one page? (I see the other two were proposed to be merged a while back, though it never actually happened.)--Kotniski (talk) 15:02, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Well, I've "reopened" the merge proposal on those pages, and included this one in. Please share thoughts at WT:Manual of Style/Footnotes#Merge.--Kotniski (talk) 08:16, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Cite web - field names discussion

See further postings at [22]. Please post there if you have comments. Eldumpo (talk) 07:58, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Citing historical Google Earth images

An article discusses when a building was torn down. We don't have a source for the exact date of its removal. However there is an image in Google Earth which shows the building, and then a later image which shows it gone and some new buildings in its place. (There are also regular photos from various years published on myriad websites which show the changes, but some of those are undated.) We know the building is gone, but how do we cite its removal? We can't link to Google Earth, though we can provide coordinates, and we can't upload a KMZ file. Based on the two Google Earth images, we now say that "Between 1994 and 2005, the building was removed." Would this work as a citation? Footnote: Google Earth historical images for this site shows the building in 1994 and absent in 2005.   Will Beback  talk  04:06, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

I think there is a measure of context dependency. If I noticed that in a history article, I would complain very very strongly about original research. Outside of my fields I wouldn't be able to comment about the specifics of this. Fifelfoo (talk) 04:53, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback. This for an article on a buildings. It is not original research at all. Sources say the building was demolished - that's not an issue. There no dispute about that fact, or the approximate time it happened. It's just a question of how to use the best available primary source (Google Earth) to put boundaries on possible dates of the removal.   Will Beback  talk  05:50, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Is anarchy really the best solution here?

Do we really mean that whatever citation style someone introduces to an article, all future editors are bound by that decision? For example, if someone starts off a largely unreferenced article but adds one parenthetical reference (against the de facto standard of using footnotes), is everyone else constrained to follow that for ever and ever? If someone decides they want their references to be in pink type or something similarly absurd-looking, are we all obliged to go along with it just because they happened to get to an article first? I can accept that we might not want to force just one single citation style on the whole of Wikipedia, but surely we can express a preference on certain points?--Kotniski (talk) 11:14, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

First, we do not have a "de facto standard of using footnotes." Per WP:CITEVAR: "If you think the existing citation system is inappropriate for the needs of the article, seek consensus for a change on the talk page." If someone invents an off the wall system, then consensus should be easy. We have had all sorts of oddball systems over the years and many have been deprecated and replaced. I cleared out the vestiges of Wikipedia:Footnote1 only a year a so ago, as well as deleting and replacing about 30 in-text citation templates. The intent of CITEVAR is to keep editors from edit warring over citations. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 12:15, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
So in that case, can we at least specify which systems we like and which systems we don't like? (And my experience is that footnotes are very much a de facto standard as opposed to parentheticals - we could pretty much specify that as a preference too, I'd have thought.)--Kotniski (talk) 12:36, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Kotniski, you have to look back at the history of this, there were some very long and nasty edit wars over some editors trying to change from one citation style to another. If one style is mandated/preferred then bots tend to be used and then some editors get upset. It is probably better that it is left alone so that if there is a dispute the status quo is kept. The catch here is that if there are systems "we like" then there is no need to specify them because they will usually be used, or gain consensus on the talk page to be used, if they are not already in use in an article. -- PBS (talk) 14:03, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
But if one style is preferred then there won't be edit wars because everyone knows which style we should be using, right? That some editors may "get upset" is not a huge problem - that will happen whatever we do. In any case, I'm not saying just one style; perhaps a few "best practice" styles that editors are encouraged to converge on, and hints on why we might choose one over the other in each case. At the moment this whole guideline is an unhelpful mess because we're trying to accommodate everyone's personal whims and fancies.--Kotniski (talk) 15:29, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Until you all agree to use fully turned out Turabian footnote and bibliography, anarchy is the best solution. Fifelfoo (talk) 04:35, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
To put it more accurately, it is the only possible solution under these circumstances.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 04:45, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
The solution to wars of religion is generally to agree to live in a multi-religious society :). Be right back, burning the BibTeX "abbrv" heathens in the next village. Fifelfoo (talk) 05:03, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

The main point that authors should be able to write in a style they are comfortable with. And as long as that style in is precise, easily understandable and common practice outside WP, I see no good reason to regulate that. (Enforced) Standardization should be kept to areas/topics where it is essential for the functioning of WP and not be used to enforce mere taste decision on authors.--Kmhkmh (talk) 05:05, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Well, two points - "common practice outside WP" is for each journal to have its house style for citations and to require authors to pretty much stick to it, regardless of their personal feelings about the matter; but more importantly - a Wikipedia article does not belong to a single author, so if the various authors' tastes differ, then like it or not, someone's tastes are going to be imposed on others - and it would be better to resolve such conflicts in a way that will benefit users of the encyclopedia, than to make a random determination based on which author happened to get to a particular article first. Wikipedia is not an experiment in democracy, or something. --Kotniski (talk) 08:53, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
It is not owning articles but in our interest of having happy and productive authors. It's about content over form(at). We need authors providing quality content rather than being bogged down over format wars. As far as your journal example is concerned an individual single journal with editorial board is exactly the opposite of an open diverse system as WP. If you want to make a journal analogy at all than you rather have to compare it to a big binder with plenty of different journals in it with WP and within that binder you will not find a standardized citation style.--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:21, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
In my opinion, this is an area where we greatly lack professionalism. The entire system of references is one kludge on top of another. A universal system has been proposed a myriad times with no results and a lot of acrimony— the only way this will happen is if it is imposed from above. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 13:10, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
But the point is that in an open system as WP you should not and to some degree even cannot impose from above in particularly not regarding marginally matters as far as the project gals are concerned.--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:24, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Kotniski, I see you do a lot of work in geography- and history-related articles. Are you volunteering to tell every subject-matter expert that Wikipedia has decided that the citation styles widely accepted in those academic fields have been banned, and that they absolutely must use the Vancouver style preferred by many biologists? Alternatively, are you prepared to tell our thousands of scientists that they absolutely must use the citation style preferred by the fine arts, because the citations styles commonly used in science journals have all been banned?
I'm not: I don't want to be the target of a flame war, and I'd like to keep these editors at Wikipedia. As Jerome says, tolerance for diversity is the only possible approach for the foreseeable future. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:32, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Moreover we don't want to risk alienating and potentially losing productive expert authors over such format issues.--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:27, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Did I ever say we should have just one standard for the whole of Wikipedia? My suggestion was to recommend several styles. And then we could say which one is more appropriate where, for example: this one is commonly used in history articles, this one in scientific articles, etc. The way we do it at the moment, we are telling scientists they have to accept a historian's style, if someone who likes that style happens to have got to an article first and won't agree to change it. We seem to be legitimizing the kind of holy war that we should be denigrating. --Kotniski (talk) 06:56, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
And when someone writes an article on the history of science..? ;-) Ultimately, we should be working towards a simple format for the entry of citation metadata, with a default output style, and a user-option to override that and use some other output format. But that's a long way off. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 14:53, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
We do have a basic resolution for those conflicts - the initial standard is determining unless there is consensus otherwise. If I were convinced that an alternative form of resolution would significantly benefit users (either readers or editors) I'd support it. But I don't think standardization, as a resolution mechanism, plausibly benefits any group of users in a meaningful way. Christopher Parham (talk) 23:53, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Exactly--Kmhkmh (talk) 01:28, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Well the most obvious benefit is that readers (and editors, for that matter) would get used to a fairly uniform system and thus find it easier to learn their way around Wikipedia's citation system.--Kotniski (talk) 06:59, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
What Kotniski said. Also, the more we standardise, the easier it is for routine tasks to be delegated to bots, laving human editors to concentrate on adding or improving content. And the easier it is for others to data-mine the 'pedia. So there's two additional benefits. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 14:46, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm not exactly sure where the real benefit is. Editors picking a style have apparently found around their way to use that one and from the readers perspective there isn't really anything to learn (you don't need to learn (common) citation styles for reading document and in Wikipedia all you have to do is clicking on a link anyhow). The only thing that might really simply thing for editors to reduce the template jungle.--Kmhkmh (talk) 20:22, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Acceptable styles

Hi WhatamIdoing, you reverted that people can choose to use any style consistent with the advice in CITE, saying I had "lost that debate." Can you say what you mean? SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 00:04, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Hi, I'd appreciate a response, rather than the aggressive reverting. You're removing material that is already in the guideline elsewhere, and has been there for a long time. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 00:52, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Guideline creep towards discouraging use of citation templates

WP:CITECONSENSUS says, in part, "The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged." That has been a part of this guideline for a long time. It's been here since sometime prior to this February 2007 edit which tweaked its wording.

I see that there has apparently been some creep lately towards discouraging use of citation templates.

  • In this February 19, 2011 edit, Slimvirgin added "Adding citation templates to an article that already uses one of the citation formats listed in this guideline" as "To be avoided unless there is consensus", saying "some tweaks".
  • In this August 21, 2011 edit, Slimvirgin added "Do not add citation templates to an article that already uses an accepted citation format.", saying, "tweaks, subheads, emphasis".
  • In this August 31, 2011 edit, Whatamidoing removed "Do not add citation templates to an article that already uses an accepted citation format.", saying, "Rm redundant (second item under 'To be avoided')".
  • In this August 31, 2011 edit, Slimvirgin restored "Do not add citation templates to an article that already uses an accepted citation format.", saying "tweak, plus restoring what was lost in last edit".
  • In this September 4, 2011 edit, Whatamidoing removed "Do not add citation templates to an article that already uses an accepted citation format.", saying, "No, you (unfortunately) lost that debate. The agreement was not to put any firm restrictions on this."
  • In this 31 September 4, 2011 edit, Slimvirgin re-added "Do not add citation templates to an article that already uses an accepted citation format.", saying, "this got lost again".

I may have missed some relevant edits, I'm guessing that there might have been some confusion between editors from unrecognized editing collisions. Also, I haven't been following whatever discussion might have taken place re these edits and I've missed whatever has transpired there. However, I do see that the longstanding statement saying, "The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged." is still a part of this guideline. I urge that this longstanding part of the guideline be followed in this guideline -- that the use of citation templates actually be neither encouraged nor discouraged here.

Also, I think describing or referring to the use of citation templates as a "citation style" introduces confusion. I suggest that the term "citation style" be taken in this guideline and in this associated discussion page as having to do with how citations are presented in rendered wikitext, and as not having anything at all to do with the composition of raw, unrendered wikitext. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 01:31, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

As far as I can see SV is just clarifying the existing policy, which appears to be badly needed, as numbers of editors, some admins, continue to ignore it, and do drive-by undiscussed conversions to the templates of their choice - and in my experience are utterly unapologetic when this is complained about. But I think there is a growing recognition that templates are offputting to new editors, who are rightly a major concern at the moment. Johnbod (talk) 02:31, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
It has been in the guideline for years as far as I recall that citation templates shouldn't be added to articles that already use a recognized citation style (e.g. Jan 2008). Despite this it happens a lot that editors arrive at an article, and decide without discussion that it must have citation templates, and start converting. I even had someone try to do this to a featured article I'd written. So I wouldn't want to see any edits to the guideline that water this down; if anything it needs strenghtening.
Johnbod is right about newbies finding them confusing. They think they have to use them, and must fill out all the parameters. I saw a newbie explain not long ago that he had spent ages trying to find the name of the New York Times publisher, because he thought that template parameter had to be filled in. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 02:45, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
This would be most easily remedied by adding words such as "most parameters are optional" to the citation dialogue box. Where is this edited? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 15:55, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I wish I knew how to add this to the templates, Andy, but I don't. I regularly see templates filled in with author, title of artcle, name of newspaper, publisher, location, date of publication, access date, URL of an archived version, date of access to archived version—everything but a DNA sample. Absurd for people to have to write out or read, huge amounts of clutter in edit mode. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 02:03, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, frightened newbies, and many of us oldies, never actually get to see inside the beast - I've got over 90k edits, several FAs etc & I've never seen a "citation dialogue box" that I'm aware of. Johnbod (talk) 02:08, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
How it will appear to you will depend on the skin you're using and possible any user-scripts you've added, but in File:EditBox.jpg the top row has a "Cite" toggle. As you can see, it's been activated, so the line below includes a "templates" drop-down. If you select that, you get a list of templates, and selecting one of those gives you a dialogue box to complete. I'm suggesting adding the above words to that dialogue box. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 09:44, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm now told this is WP:RefToolbar; I shall shortly raise the matter on its talk page. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 11:10, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Fascinating, but I never do any of these things, and have no wish to. This is exactly the sort of thing that puts non-technical ediitors off. Johnbod (talk) 16:33, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

I apologize for not seeing this earlier. The discussion I have in mind can be found at Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive_30#ENGVAR_to_CITEVAR. We proposed including a ban on adding citation templates to articles not using them, and it was directly opposed by more than one editor.

More pointfully, the "Do not do this" rule you added here is actually wrong. Editors may convert simple, elegant manually formatted citations to clunky, confusing citation templates, so long as they have established that there is a consensus to do so at that article. The actual rule is already stated in the section: Avoid this (see bullet #2), but "If you think the existing citation system is inappropriate for the needs of the article, seek consensus for a change on the talk page", and if such a consensus actually exists, then you may actually add citation templates to an article currently using manually formatted citations. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:39, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for pointing to that archived discussion; it's appreciated. The apology was not needed -- if anyone is guilty of not bringing in relevant past discussions, it's me. In that archived discussion, I noticed that "citation formatting techniques, e.g., citation templates and manually formatted citations" was distinguished from "citation styles". IMHO, it is important to make that distinction. As I alluded above, this guideline seems to miss making that distinction.
Also, If this guideline is going to explicitly discourage the use of citation templates at some points, as in the Style variation and consistency subsection where it says "Do not add citation templates to an article that already uses an accepted citation format", should it not also say something like, "Do not add hand-crafted cites (in whatever hand-crafted citation format) to an article that already uses citation templates"? (and should not "an accepted citation format" there be "a consistent citation format", or "a consistent citation style"?)
Actually, it probably ought to say something like "... uses hand-crafted citations" instead of "already uses a consistent [whatever]". In the articles I see day in and day out, it seems to me that I very rarely encounter an article which uses hand-crafted cites and which also has a consistent citation style. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 08:04, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
You could just add in "or vice versa" for brevity's sake. Aaron Bowen (talk) 06:28, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Don't get it - as SlimVirgin herself says, this sentence is already in the guideline just a few lines down, so I don't see the point of repeating it. This page is long and confusing enough as it is.--Kotniski (talk) 11:01, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

I'm with WhatamIdoing on this. There is no good reason not to add citation templates on a page whatever style is in use, just as there is no reason why a person has to use them to add a citation to a page where all of the other citations are in templates. If a person makes a bold edit and places some non templated citation to templates which they have not added to the page (or vice versa) then the usual bold cycle should be followed. Someone reverts and a discussion takes place on the talk page to see if there is a consensus for the change. There is no reason to place this outside the bold edit cycle, just wording to side with the status quo if there is a dispute in an article, with the provision that changing a new addition to match what is already in use is acceptable. -- PBS (talk) 14:24, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think that is what WhatamIdoing is saying at all! Would you also encourage the "bold" "improvement" of the national variety of English used, or the BC/BCE date format? Perhaps you would. But all these are clearly against policy, so outside the much-abused BRD cycle. Johnbod (talk) 16:03, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, if someone makes such "bold" changes, someone will (presumably) revert them, so the BRD cycle will still be followed. With, I suppose, the additional rider that if someone knew that these are not considered improvements, then their edits may be considered disruptive and they may face wikipunishment. We really ought to write all this explicitly somewhere. (Of course we're not going to punish someone who had no idea what our policy is on these matters.)--Kotniski (talk) 17:05, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Johnbod there is a difference in purpose between the prohibition on changing National Varieties of English exists and those of such things as BC/BCE date format. The National verities of English is primarily there for the benefit of the reader. For those from the smaller English speaking nations it grates to read American spellings and phraseology when reading about a local topic. That was the primary reason for the rule. In the case of an article about Yulara, Northern Territory if an American had started it, then it was argued that such articles will over time tend to be primarily written by Australians for Australians so it makes sense to use the local dialect. Notice that in the guideline we include "not a stub" -- that was added to discourage people creating stubs to pre-empt the language issue. For those articles were there are no strong national ties we needed a simple way to stop edit wars, and that idea has spread to other areas. However if there is no strong national tie to national verity of English there is no reason not to use the bold edit cycle to test consensus, and I for one would not consider that disruptive. It becomes disruptive if the person who made the first edit in the BRD cycle ignores the explanation made by the person who reverts the edit that the revert was made because of National varieties of English and chooses to revert the revert.
In all other cases such as BC/BCE there is no reason why a bold cycle should not take place during the normal editing of a page -- this is different from making just that change to many pages in quick succession because it is easily foreseen that people will object and many editors will object causing a lot of chatter which will be seen as disruptive.
In the case of template or no template, we are presumably not talking about the adding of new citations. If we are then I would be dead against that. If someone wants to add a citation with or without templates, then they should be free to do so no matter what is currently in use on a page. Some other editor who cares about such things can always reformat them to the style that is predominate on the page. As this is totally transparent to the reader it is much less on an issue than BC/BCE.
In the case of changing all of the citations to use or not use templates, the BRD cycle is a fine way of testing consensus (which can change), and like other editing prohibitions, it is not the first edit in the BRD cycle that is the problem it is reverting the revert that causes edit wars against the guidelines (not policy) such as this. The words "editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus" covers the BRD cycle and supports the editor who reverts. However I would add to the last sentence in he paragraph "Where no agreement ..." words about the "last stable version" for the same reasons as discussed in the other places were we have these sorts of rules in place, we do not want someone to come along to an article that has had a sable format and change it to another format justifying it on "Well that was the format used by the first person to add a citation" as that is not the intention of the last sentence. -- PBS (talk) 21:35, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
No, the "fine way of testing consensus" is to ask on the talk page. But your long career at ANI, Arbcom, etc shows you have never learnt this. Breaking policy & hoping no-one notices is not fine at all. Johnbod (talk) 00:31, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
It is not breaking policy to make bold edits. As to "long career at ANI, Arbcom, etc" prove it so on my talk page or retract it. -- PBS (talk) 09:08, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Look at your own talk page history. Johnbod (talk) 13:15, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

WtMitchell wrote "...should [the guideline] not also say something like, "Do not add hand-crafted cites (in whatever hand-crafted citation format) to an article that already uses citation templates"? Absolutely not. This would forbid the use of any source for which a citation template does not exist, or which has unusual characteristics that prevent the use of a citation template. If an article used citation templates, and it were necessary to cite a source for which no template exists, it would be necessary to hand-craft a citation that follows the general pattern of citation templates. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:35, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

I think this goes both ways. We should be clear first and foremost about the absolute prevailing rule of the guideline, which is that new valuable citations in any format are welcome and encouraged. In my view, all the other rules about formatting (e.g. the "CITEVAR" provisions) only apply to reformatting of existing citations. Within that limited context, I would say that if an article uses a consistent style or there's a clearly predominant style, in regard to any aspect of citation (parenthetical vs. footnotes, templates vs. no templates, etc.) nothing should be converted away from that style without prior discussion or attempts at discussion on the talk page. Christopher Parham (talk) 05:23, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
But if an article uses templates, we've nothing against people adding citations which look the same as the templated versions but which don't use the templates, right? --Kotniski (talk) 08:57, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think there would be any complaints if, in an article that generally uses templates, one were to convert a hand-crafted citation that has the same appearance to a reader to a template, provided the template was suitable for the source and retained all the information needed to find the source, and the passage of interest within the source. Jc3s5h (talk) 09:23, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
To respond to Kotniski, yes, people do fuss if the internal system for formatting citations isn't consistent. In my opinion this is remarkably silly, but it's reality. If memory serves, there's a clear example of this strange belief proving to be generally held in an archived conversation at WT:Citing sources/example style from several years ago.
On the general point, the rule, in short, is that whatever's being done generally ought to keep being done, and that if someone adds a new citation in the "wrong" format, then you assume that it was an innocent mistake and quietly fix it for them. This rule applies whether the innocent mistake involves a misplaced comma, the use or non-use of a template, the use or non-use of ref tags or parenthetical citations, the provision of a bare URL, or anything else.
To change everything, rather than to correct an apparent "mistake", you should follow normal consensus-oriented editing, which might sometimes include BRD (say, on a low-traffic article) but never includes edit warring or demanding to have your way over other people's objections. And, like Hoyle's law about card games, the rules are the same for both sides. Those of us who favor manually formatted citations may not impose our preference over the objections of those of us who favor citation templates, exactly like those of us who favor citation templates may not impose our preference over the objections of those of us who favor manually formatted citations. WP:CITE refuses to take sides in that holy war: Any style the editors want, and all disputes are resolved by WP:Consensus (with the usual default towards "no consensus" resulting in "no change"). WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:17, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
I'd go a bit stronger - I'd have nothing against people adding citations in ANY format they want, whether it looked like the others or not, so long as it contains enough information to identify the source. e.g. just a bare hyperlink is pretty good. Obviously, anyone who wanted to do so could come by later and reformat that citation to match the established article standard. People who are doing that sort of cleanup editing should do their best to use the established standard as completely as possible, in my opinion; so if templates are the established standard, they should use them; if they regard templates as completely objectionable, they should find another article in which to reformat citations. Christopher Parham (talk) 23:45, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but I would say it doesn't matter a crock of do whether templates are used, as long as the visible result is consistency. If there's an article with inconsistent-looking citations, and someone comes along and makes them consistent-looking, then they're doing a service and deserve our praise, whatever method they choose to do it - we shouldn't be snarky at them because they've broken some protocol about the use/non-use of templates. --Kotniski (talk) 07:06, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Christopher, I tend to agree with you about the biggest point being only that the citation allow you to figure out what the source is. This is the rule up through WP:GA (see the end of this section, but WP:FA wants beautiful, matching citations, and the statement in favor of a consistent style. It is justifiable as a "best practice recommendation", even though what's most important is giving us any useful information at all. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:36, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

Citation Style 1

Help:Citation Style 1 now documents templates based on {{citation/core}}. It needs expansion. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 12:32, 11 September 2011 (UTC)


Assuming the style is consistent throughout the article, is wiki-linking necessary for author, location, publisher, or work parameters in a reference? « ₣M₣ » 17:54, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Neither encouraged nor discouraged by this guideline. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 19:08, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

General references

There were two competing definitions for general references:

A general reference identifies a work which has been used as a source for an article, but without page numbers etc. to say where specific information can be found. For example: Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press, 1971. General references, if used, are listed separately in a section at the end of the article.

and lower down in its own section:

A general reference is a citation to a reliable source that supports content, but is not displayed as an inline citation. General references are usually listed at the end of the article in a References section. They may be found in underdeveloped articles, especially when all article content is supported by a single source.

I have edited the page so that there is only one (and chosen the second one). -- PBS (talk) 21:17, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

I don't see them really as competing but rather as complementing.--Kmhkmh (talk) 21:27, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

The reason why I have chosen the second one is that the first one does not make sense. We have about 10,000 {{1911}} templates in reference sections in articles it contains the following:

As it appears in a reference section at the bottom of the article it is a general reference. Adding {{1911|first=Robert Nisbet |last=Bain |wikisource=Aagensen, Andrew|volume=1|page=2}} to the template in the Andrew Aagesen article to produce:
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBain, Robert Nisbet (1911). Chisholm, Hugh, ed. Encyclopædia Britannica 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 2. 

does not alter the fact that it is a general reference. To do that, some or all of the the information contained in the general reference will have to be added as an inline citation into the body of the article. -- PBS (talk) 21:29, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

I think that there has been confusion for two reasons. Often as with {{1911}} general references have in the past been placed in articles with inadequate information (During the first few years of the project there was no guidance on this page for adding page numbers to book citations). The second reason is that in well developed articles that use short citations, the page numbers are placed inline within the short citation, rather than in the information contained within the general reference in the general reference section. However the lack of page numbers within an entry in a list within the general references section is not what makes them general references. If we follow that logic then if half of the list has page numbers and half do not, does that mean only those without page numbers are general references? I think not. Instead what it means is that half the list contains inadequate information, which means that if there is no corresponding inline citation or the additional information is no contained within the inline citation then the entry should be described as an inadequate reference to a source, not as a general reference. -- PBS (talk) 22:03, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
You can't look at a particular reference (or rather line) without context, but you need to look at the source situation as a whole. The first version simply said if a reference was used without page numbers then it was a general reference, which is essentially correct. The scenario you are talking about is clearly not a usage without page numbers and hence no general reference.--Kmhkmh (talk) 05:02, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
I think I get Philip's point - general references that are textbooks generally wouldn't include page numbers, but those which are articles within a larger work might well do. I agree with the changes made.--Kotniski (talk) 07:29, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
From what you have written Kotniski, I am not sure that I have explained very clearly! So here is another attempt. Let us suppose we have an reference to a source enclosed in <ref>...</ref> pair to make it an in-line citation. Eg: <ref>Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press, 1971. </ref> that is not a "general reference" it is an inadequate reference to a source. It is not the information contained in a reference to a source that makes it a general reference, it is the positioning of a reference to a source in the appendix section of an article rather than positioned as as an inline citation in an article that make it a general reference (because without a specific inline citation one has no easy way of identifying what information contained within an article is supported by the reference to a source, hence the use of general reference to a source rather than specific reference to a source -- it is general to all of the article and not specific to a sentence or paragraph within the article). This is independent of the content of the reference to a source that may or may not contain adequate information "to enable other editors and readers to verify that the information given is supported by reliable sources". -- PBS (talk) 11:33, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
OK, as long as we're consistent in the way we use these terms, I don't mind particularly what point of view we adopt. I guess ideally we would have terms for all of these things - citations can be long or short (in terms of whether they include full info about the publication), inline or non-inline (in terms of where they are placed), and specific or non-specific (in terms of whether they identify a particular point in the source - this distinction often becomes moot in cases like web pages). Oh, and inline breaks down into footnoted and parenthetical. Then we would say that non-inline citations should be long and non-specific, inline citations should not be non-specific, and if long should not be parenthetical, and if short should have a corresponding non-inline citation. But I guess it's easier if we just describe each of the various options we have for organizing citations, and define as many terms as we need in order to do that. If you want to define "general references" to mean non-inline rather than non-specific, that's fine (though slightly less intuitive) by me.--Kotniski (talk) 13:04, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree with PBS's interpretation. Anything associated with a particular passage or statement in the article is an inline citation. Any source that's just floating, not tied to a particular passage or statement, is a "general reference." The purpose of general references is to provide broad sources that will support many of the facts in the article, particularly the facts that don't require inline citations per the rules laid out on the page. Since these will be facts that are uncontroversial to people that are educated in the field, most general references will be basic texts like textbooks, broad biographies or histories, etc. Christopher Parham (talk) 17:26, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree with most of what is expressed above, with the exception of one concept in the current version of the guideline, exemplified by this passage:

A short citation is an inline citation that identifies the place in a source where specific information can be found, but without giving full details of the source – these will have been provided in a general reference.

A bibliography entry may
  • be a general reference
  • provide publication details for parenthetical citations or shortened footnotes, or
  • both.
The sentence I quoted confounds these concepts by referring to a bibliography that provides details for a short footnote as a general reference; it is not a general reference unless it also supports statements with no inline citations. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:22, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I sort of see what you mean - this means we now have three attempts to define what "general reference" means:
  1. based on CONTENT: a citation which omits place-specifying information such as page numbers;
  2. based on POSITION: a citation which is not inline;
  3. based on PURPOSE: a citation which serves to support statements which lack inline citations.
We were kind of settled on number 2, but I can see the attractions of number 3 - what do people think?--Kotniski (talk) 14:51, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't really agree with "based on POSITION: a citation which is not inline" because I view a short or parenthetical citation as one citation with two parts, the part placed inline and the part placed in the bibliography (part 2 may be shared with other inline parts). So it would be more precise to say a bibliography entry with no associated inline text is a general reference, but a bibliography entry with associated inline text is part of an inline citation, and might also be a general reference. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:59, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
We also have a third combination where there are full citations in-line and there is also an alphabetical list a general reference section, because an alphabetical list is still useful even when there is a non alphabetical list generated by {{reflist}}).
The purpose was addressed in my last edit to the guideline. What it is saying is that a full citation is a combination of a short citation and (based on position) a general reference. I tried to phrase it in such a way that a several different full citations may be created from several different short citations and one general reference -- as well as several different short citations and several different general reference. The reason that general reference is still a useful explanation is without the short citation it remains a general reference it is only in combination with a short citation that it becomes a full citation. If we have a list of general references and then someone adds short citations to the article based on those general references (I frequently do this for old {{1911}} and {{DNB}} entries eg ), I do not think that the general reference has had changed of status, and to use a different name to describe it now it is in a combination with short citations, seems to me a complication we do not need. Jc3s5h if call the first part of a full citation a short citation I think we can call the second part the general reference part. If not then what do we call the second part? -- PBS (talk) 21:18, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Observation: it seems Jc is using "bibliography entry" as a synonym for PBS's "general reference". --Kotniski (talk) 06:45, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree with PBS (and am glad that he noticed and fixed that source of confusion): A general reference is the opposite of an inline citation. The number of pages in the source are irrelevant. You can have a general reference to a website, to a specific chapter in a book, or to a one-page magazine article. "General reference" means "not WP:INLINE". WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:00, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Quick question

Consider a footnote like:<ref>See [[glial cell]] for a detailed description of this process.</ref> Note that this is not a citation, but is an inline "see also". Are there any policies are in place to either discourage or allow footnotes like this? (Sorry to post this here, but I thought you all might know). ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 18:21, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Footnotes are not required to be citations, so I don't see a problem with this.--Kmhkmh (talk) 18:25, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but is there some place in the guidelines that discusses this? Or a previous talk page discussion? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 19:09, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
(ec) I often add "see also" material to footnotes, Charles. I can't see a problem with pointing to another Wikipedia article, so long as nothing in the article is depending on it. But another option is to use the {{seealso|}} template at the top of the section. And no, I'm not aware of anywhere that discusses it specifically. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 19:12, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
The page for this sort of thing would presumably be WP:Manual of Style/Footnotes - but it doesn't seem to address this issue, nor (hardly) any other style issue relating specifically to footnotes (except the one point about punctuation), which is why we're proposing eliminating that page (see its talk page for merger discussion).--Kotniski (talk) 19:28, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
It isn't a citation, it is an explanatory note. Some mix explanatory notes with the footnotes, but a more common practice is to separate them per WP:REFGROUP. See Arthur Rudolph for an example. For this instance, I would try to work it into the content. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 19:41, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I agree, best to work it into the content, particularly because of the way Wikipedia generally works (links to other related WP articles are not normally given in footnotes, so seasoned readers will tend not to look there for them).--Kotniski (talk) 19:49, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Well the whole point of an explanatory footnote is exactly, that it is used for material you do not want to have in the main text. And anybody who is interested in the footnote rather than just the mian text will obviously see where it links. I see no problem here at all (and definitely no reason to regulate yet another tidbit). Whether such a footnote is used or not should be up the discretion of the concerned author(s).--Kmhkmh (talk) 21:45, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think we were proposing regulation, just giving advice... The potential problem is that people expect Wikipedia's footnotes to contain just supporting references, not pointers to additional information within Wikipedia. So a reader who might in fact be interested in the "see also" might not feel moved to look at the footnote. Less of an issue if it's a short article where the text and footnotes are all visible on one screen.--Kotniski (talk) 14:59, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
The notion what readers might expect or not is rather fuzzy to me. And the claim than footnotes hardly contain links is simply not true. A not that uncommon case of links within footnotes is linking the authors of the cited work to their WP articles. But more importantly it is an editorial decision of the author to organize his content ad he uses the footnote for does he doesn't want in the main text (no matter whether it includes links or not). And the function isn't really impaired here. If the reader is interested in more detailed information he clicks on the note an then he sees the link. If the reader is not interested in further information, he won't notice link, but in that case he is not interested in a link with detailed information in the first place. So essentially a reader might miss a link, he's not interested in anyway. I see no problem with that scenario.--Kmhkmh (talk) 00:07, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
The point is that an experienced Wikipedia reader might well not click the link, since he knows that 99 times out of 100 a footnote will not contain a link to more detailed encyclopedic information on the topic, merely a reliable source that will tell him the same thing he's just read. I agree it's an editorial decision, but in making that decision, assuming we want to help our readers, we have to be realistic about their likely behaviour. It's part of the general problem that readers won't make best use of hyperlinks unless they are given reasonable hints as to what information those links lead to. --Kotniski (talk) 06:42, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Any experienced WP reader should know that a footnote can be an explanatory footnote, so again in doubt he clicks. Moreover even in the case of a pure citation footnote, the cited source is like to contain more detailed information that he just read and that there is good chance that the footnote contains a link to an external online copy of the cited source. So in other words in either case of footnote usage it is natural for readers to check the footnote be it for the general usage of footnotes outside of WP for unexperienced readers or for the fact that footnotes often contain links for the experienced readers. The only thing the experienced WP reader might not expect that often is that the link is internal rather than external, but that different is of little meaning for somebody being primarily interested in more details.
So again your assumption about reading behaviour doesn't strike me particularly realistic nor does it really help readers to make best use of hyperlinks. The only "plus" of your suggestion over the footnote version is, that readers not being interested in more detailed information learn about an internal link providing them with the exact same thing they are not interested in. In my eyes that is more a distraction than a best use of hyperlinks.--Kmhkmh (talk) 11:51, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm confused by the turn this discussion has taken. I use these often and I can't imagine why anyone would be confused when it does not display in the text like a footnote, but displays as[note 1] thus providing right in the text that it is not a citation but an explanatory note. Did you click on the link to the article Gadget850 provided where they are used in this manner?--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 12:43, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Ah, well if you do it like that, it makes a bit more sense (but I was addressing the original question, where there doesn't seem to be any group="note" in the syntax).--Kotniski (talk) 13:29, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Maybe, then, it should be clarified in all instructional pages (and mind you, I have not looked at them to see that it is not already said with sufficient clarity) that when you use an explanatory note it should take this form that makes it clear it is not just another citation. By the way, doing this is not limited to the ref group markup which I have some familiarity with but have not used in any articles I've written. One can use {{Cref2}} combined with {{Cnote2}}, and the former template's documentation page lists multiple alternatives as well.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 22:08, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
You may separate explanatory notes from citations but you don't have to. In any case citations usually provide a more detailed information as well.--Kmhkmh (talk) 22:20, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Refgroups are a good way to handle this, but as Kmhkmh says, they're not required anywhere. {{Seealso}} can be useful and is usually my first choice, but it is less useful if the explanatory note is about one thought in a large section, rather than the main point of the section. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:02, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

New format?

I was editing an article recently and saw it had a new style of referencing. instead of REF tags, it used a very short {{ format. Does anyone know what I'm talking about? It doesn't seem to be mentioned here. Maury Markowitz (talk) 17:10, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Could you be talking about {{sfn}}? It would help to know which article and which template. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 17:15, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
QF 3.7 inch AA gun uses shortened footnotes. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 20:03, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

It's sfn, thanks! Maury Markowitz (talk) 13:52, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

It's not really a "new" style of referencing. It's just not very common. Like WP:Parenthetical citations, it is often an excellent choice when the article relies primarily on a couple of high-quality book-length sources rather than on a long list of websites. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:05, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Hidden reflist

Are reflists permitted to be enclosed by show/hide boxes? Example here, which uses {{Collapsible list}}. The closest I can find is WP:ASL and Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 18#Scrolling Reference Lists: Formal Policy Discussion. --Redrose64 (talk) 14:23, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

MOS:SCROLL. Scrolling and collapsible reference lists can be enabled per use by referring to Help:Reference display customization. And three columns should not be used for long footnotes. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 20:45, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that placing references in collapsible boxes is discouraged because they may not print properly.[23]   Will Beback  talk  22:26, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Also, scrolling boxes are inaccessible to some people with repetitive stress injuries, for whom scrolling may be painful.
I've changed the ref formatting so that the number of columns will respond to the width of the individual user's screen and font size, which is the best option for people with very narrow screens and/or who need to use very large fonts to be able to read the text. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:08, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks Will, I didn't know about that feature. Thanks Gadget and What, you'll have noticed that I already removed the {{Collapsible list}} as a direct result of Gadget's cmt. --Redrose64 (talk) 15:32, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

page numbers in rfn format?

I'm moving to the rfn format for referencing. Then I came across the references in Skylab, which seem to be a dramatic improvement in format - they greatly reduce the size of the "notes" section while at the same time eliminating considerable page flipping. Is there a way to do this using the rfn template (without the rp)? Maury Markowitz (talk) 12:14, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

What is this "rfn format" of which you speak? There is no template called {{rfn}} --Redrose64 (talk) 12:48, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Skylab uses standard Footnotes with a mix of Citation Style 1 and handcrafted citations. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:23, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Right, so is there a way to do the same thing using sfn without hand-crafting? It seems there should be? Maury Markowitz (talk) 16:59, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

I think you may be referring to WP:CITESHORT which can use {{sfn}}. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 17:27, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
NBR 224 and 420 Classes is an example of an article which uses {{sfn}} exclusively in the main text. It made it to GA status in that form, so it's something that is considered "good". --Redrose64 (talk) 17:43, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

To get back to the original question: {{sfn}} is for Shortened footnotes. You may want to consider list-defined footnotes; the in-text cite can be created with {{r}}. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 20:15, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Basically I would greatly prefer to have a short inline format within the edit text. SFN does this. However, SFN also results in a list of references at the end that differ only in page number (in my typical usage). It would be greatly preferable to have the reference be entirely inline, with the page number, thereby removing the majority of the "references" section while at the same time eliminating the need for the user to jump around the article text to find page numbers in a reference they likely opened in a second window.
Looking over the R documentation it doesn't seem to help in this regard. However, I don't really understand the documentation, so I can't say. Maury Markowitz (talk) 13:50, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
See User:Gadget850/FAQ/Page numbers in references for examples of different methods, including {{r}} and {{rp}}. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:29, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

What information to include

I think that the previous bullet point layout in the section "What information to include" is/was clearer/superior to the new layout (textual paragraphs) in the same section (see WP:CITEHOW). -- PBS (talk) 02:01, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

I don't feel strongly about it, but I changed it to decrease the amount of scrolling you have to do when you read that section. Also the bullet point layout seems to imply some sort of checklist of things you must include, which might put people off creating citations at all. In any case, what would be most useful in that section would be an example or two for each category of citation.--Kotniski (talk) 08:13, 23 September 2011 (UTC)


It's being suggested in recent edit summaries that "Bibliography" is not an appropriate title for the general references section. If this is the case, what do we propose calling the three sections in a case where we have explanatory footnotes separate from citations and inline citations separate from general references?--Kotniski (talk) 10:24, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

More commonly, I see general references simply added after the reference list with no separate header. Another common practice is to divide the 'References' section into 'In-text citations' (or inline, although every style guide I have uses in-text) and 'General citations'. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 11:58, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
This should already be covered in the MOS at WP:FNNR. --Redrose64 (talk) 14:31, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

The point is not what is appropriate, that is beyond the scope of this guideline. The point is that there are a number of different ways these things can be named and using just the most common one saves having to repeat what is in [WP:FNNR]]. For example Bibliography can be used, but it has several problems. The OED has four definitions for Bibliography (one is archaic) the closes fit to this usage is "4. A list of the books of a particular author, printer, or country, or of those dealing with any particular theme; the literature of a subject." but a general reference section is likely to include bullets points for journals, websites and newspapers all of which are not books so titling a section thus is confusing for readers, and, if the list does not to date include anything but books, may be seen by new editors as restricting. In biography articles, if the subject of the biography wrote books, it is not uncommon to call the section that list them a biography (which does fit the fourth definition in the OED) so naming the general reference section bibliography in biography articles is confusing. Therefore it is better to avoid its usage in examples given on this page. The same goes for section names like "Sources" (cooking) and "Citations" (military) when presenting general guidance on this page. -- PBS (talk) 01:29, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Making citations

This section needs to be pared down to an overview of the methods of creating in-text cites and general cites and formatting the reference list. There is a lot of duplication of instruction, but with variations. The separate Help pages do a better job on this. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:37, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Date section proposal

The discussion under #Gregorian calendar suggest the following paragraph in the guideline does not give sufficient guidance.

Although nearly any consistent style may be used, avoid all-numeric date formats other than YYYY-MM-DD, because of the ambiguity concerning which number is the month and which the day. For example, 2002-06-11 may be used, but not 11/06/2002. The YYYY-MM-DD format should in any case be limited to Gregorian calendar dates where the year is after 1582.

I therefore suggest replacing it with a "Dates" section similar to this:

Although nearly any consistent style may be used, certain practices should be followed to avoid misinterpretation of dates.
  • Avoid all-numeric date formats other than YYYY-MM-DD, because of the ambiguity concerning which number is the month and which the day. For example, 2002-06-11 may be used, but not 11/06/2002.
  • Because readers might mistakenly think ISO 8601 applies to dates in the YYYY-MM-DD format, do not use these dates in ways that would violate that standard, in particular,
  • Dates in the YYYY-MM-DD format must be in the Gregorian calendar.
  • Dates in the YYYY-MM-DD format must not have a year less than 1583.
  • When the year and month are given, but not the day, the month should be spelled out; the format YYYY-MM should not be used lest it be confused with a range of years.
  • Because the encyclopedia is addressed to a general English-speaking readership, dates should be given in, or a conversion provided to, either the Julian or Gregorian calendar.
  • If the source states the publication date in the Julian or Gregorian calendar, use the date stated in the publication. Otherwise, convert to one of these calendars, as appropriate for the time period and location covered by the article. Be sure the article or reference section has text to clarify which calendars were used.

Jc3s5h (talk) 16:19, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

I don't disagree with any of that, but it seems a lot of text to address a problem that virtually never arises. It occurs to me that it would be more useful (first) to address some questions we don't even mention at the moment - when to quote the source's exact words in the citation, and what to do about foreign-language sources (these questions are obviously related). The question of foreign dates may arise naturally in connection with that.--Kotniski (talk) 17:55, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
NO this is far too much detail and will cause all sorts of problems. The wording for all of this is laid out in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers. The only interest that this guideline has in dates is for those within citations. I am not as all sure why we have had to start another section to discuss this when the conversation in the previous section #Gregorian calendar. -- PBS (talk) 00:59, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
The problem is we allow almost any citation style. One allowable citation style, APA, forces different date formats between running text (I forget what APA wants there) and citations (YYYY, Month DD). MLA requires DD Month YYYY in citations, but allows either that format or Month DD, YYYY, in running text. So if we remove date coverage from this guideline, then MOSNUM must be expanded to accommodate it. I consider it preferable to confine citation-related date complications to this guideline. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:06, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Gregorian calendar

I've wikilinked Gregorian calendar, I believe this to be a non-controversial edit. However, I have a problem with the phrase immediately following: "dates where the year is after 1582". The thing is, the GC didn't begin in 1582 in all countries - for example, it began in 1752 in Great Britain and the American Colonies. Examples of this may be seen by examining 18th-century copies of the London Gazette, most issues of which are online; at the time, it was published twice weekly. First, see The London Gazette: no. 9198. p. 1. 1 September 1752. which is headed "From Tuesday September 1, O. S. to Saturday September 16, N. S. 1752" - this spans the change of calendar: "O.S." and "N.S." are "Old Style" and "New Style" respectively, and eleven days within this period didn't exist (Sept 2 was followed by Sept 14). There is another reason to suggest 1752: although the calendar changed from 1751 to 1752 at the start of January, it had changed from 1750 to 1751 in late March, as it had in previous years, see these examples:

Perhaps the easiest thing to do is to remove the words "dates where the year is after 1582". --Redrose64 (talk) 13:14, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Whenever the YYYY-MM-DD format has been discussed on Wikipedia (at excruciating length) many editors insisted that it is the ISO 8601 format, despite the fact that a voluntary standard does not apply unless it is adopted, and Wikipedia has never adopted that standard. So for the benefit of those who mistakenly think the standard applies, we avoid violating it. The standard requires agreement to use the format before 1583, and no such agreement is in force between Wikipedia editors and readers, so we don't use that format before 1583. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:04, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
I would personally have thought that using such a space-age format for anything before about 1990 would look highly anachronistic (go on, someone's about to tell me that Keats used it or something). (Or when the space age began.)--Kotniski (talk) 14:24, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
I worked with many documents, mostly internal to my company, that mixed modern references to computer systems with Early modern period documents. This was in preparation for Y2K, and there were so many computer operating systems and programming language documents with contradictory claims about whether 2000 was a leap year, that it was necessary to go back to primary sources to decide. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:45, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't see a problem with this. The guide says "The YYYY-MM-DD format should in any case be limited to Gregorian calendar dates where the year is after 1582. So if the date isn't Gregorian don't use it. Since the Gregorian calendar didn't exist before 1582, whether or not you remove the words "dates where the year is after 1582" makes no difference.
You can verify whether the historical year (beginning 1 January) is used from the day of the week (if given). Thus Old Style 2 September 1752 was Wednesday, New Style 14 September 1752 was Thursday. For those in the know, this indicates that the Sunday Letter for 1752 (Old Style) was ED, which means that the Sunday letter for 1750 (historical) was G, and under G March 25 is Sunday. Therefore, 24 March was Saturday in 1749/50 (the year began on Lady Day, March 25). Your headings should be:
(1) 20 March 1749 (headed from Tuesday March 20, to Saturday March 24, 1749)
(2) 24 March 1749 (headed from Saturday March 24, to Tuesday March 27, 1750)
(3) 19 March 1750 (headed from Tuesday March 19, to Saturday March 23, 1750)
(4) 23 March 1750 (headed from Saturday March 23, to Tuesday March 26, 1751).
Jc3s5h has conflated the existence of a standard format and agreement to use it. People don't use it for dates before 1583 simply because it's ugly. Even when the day of the week agrees, a date which appears to be a Gregorian date may not be. See [24]. You can guarantee that whenever a new century approaches there will be two debates:
(1) is the boundary year a leap year or is it not and
(2) is it the last year of the old century or the first year of the new. (talk) 18:33, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
The Gregorian calendar is sometimes extended before it was created; see Proleptic Gregorian calendar. As for conflating the existence of a standard with adopting it, I understand the distinction, so go convince all those who misunderstand or deny the distinction at Wikipedia:Mosnum/proposal on YYYY-MM-DD numerical dates and Wikipedia:Date formatting and linking poll/Autoformatting responses. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:07, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

I don't really want to get into all these past discussions (I was part of one of them). All I wanted was to remove the implication that all dates after 1582 are Gregorian. To show this I provided examples of an English newspaper still using dates in the Julian calendar well after 1582. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:21, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

I really can't believe this has ever arisen in a citation - would people ever use XXXX-XX-XX dates for anything other than retrieval dates and recent publication dates? --Kotniski (talk) 06:19, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Tools to generate citations come and go; at one time I believe at least one of them used YYYY-MM-DD for everything. I don't keep track because those tools never seem to meet my needs; they always seem to screw up some aspect of the citation. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:35, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

To return to the original question: Best I can suggest is something like "The YYYY-MM-DD format should be limited to Gregorian calendar dates; note that national adoption varies from 1582 to 1926 and that Orthodox Churches use Revised Julian." I would like to see the whole YYYY-MM-DD format go away, but discussions go down the rathole, so I'm not going there. See User:Gadget850/YYYY-MM-DD dates for background. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 13:09, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

As a matter of fact, the XXXX-XX-XX form has been used for pre-Gregorian dates, and here are some examples which I fixed up last week - there were twelve 18th-century dates in that format, and four of them were prior to September 1752. Moreover, six of them had a figure greater than 12 for the middle component, which therefore cannot have been a month. I therefore went to the linked online source to verify all of these dates. Note that in one case I amended 1755-07-02 to 7 February 1746: this was not an error, because the linked source gives the latter date and not either 2 July 1755 or 7 February 1755. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:13, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree: YYYY-MM-DD is easily confused with YYYY-DD-MM. This is an awful lot of trouble for a style that only applies to certain fields in templates, where the templates and the fields are not universally accepted. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 16:40, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Gadget850's formulation still leaves open the possibility of expressing pre-1583 dates in the (proleptic) Gregorian calendar and using the YYYY-MM-DD format. One would think editors would use the Julian calendar if the publication has a date given in that calendar, but non-European sources might have a calendar unfamiliar to English-speaking readers, and the editor might decide to convert it to a more familiar calendar. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:25, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Please tweak it as you see fit. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 16:40, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Just remove the 1582 date, as it is not needed and is to all intense and purposes an arbitrary date as far as British dating is concerned.

Also remove from the guideline the use of "Retrieved 2008-07-15" because since we stopped linking dates (so that one could set date views in the preferences and see them change format) I have stopped using that format on access dating, and AFAICT so have most others. In fact in recent months I have stopped using day and only put "month year" eg "September year" because I realised the field/information is only useful for finding the page in an historical internet archive like wayback machine and their granularity is only to the nearest month. Removing the day from the date field has the advantage that one does not have to decide which format the article would use "day month" or "day month" and so cuts down on maintenance. -- PBS (talk) 02:01, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Unfortunately, the community has refused to get rid of the YYYY-MM-DD dates in citations. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:14, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Link 1 concerns the references section in High Sheriff of Surrey and is irrelevant here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but surely the calendar used for non-religious purposes in the UK is the same as that used for non-religious purposes in France, Germany, the USA, etc. etc. Surely if the UK uses the Gregorian calendar, then all those other countries do too? --Redrose64 (talk) 13:16, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
It is not clear to me but is anyone in favour of keeping 1582 in this guideline? To answer your question Redrose64 it is not what is done today but what was done in the past see Old Style and New Style dates -- October Revolution and all that. Jc3s5h it is not what is or is not allowed that is being debated but what is or is not used in examples. Just because it is allowed does not mean it has to be encouraged through the use of examples in this guideline. -- PBS (talk) 02:28, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I favor keeping 1582 in the guideline because it is in ISO 8601; ISO 8601 demands that parties exchanging information agree to use dates in 1582 and earlier; in the absence of such agreement such dates are non-compliant. Of course, Wikipedia has not adopted ISO 8601, but many editors insist that we have, even though those editors are full of ... shredded calendars.
As for examples, the example "For example, 2002-06-11 may be used, but not 11/06/2002" is ok, because it is explaining an all-numeric format that is forbidden. I would be happy to see any other YYYY-MM-DD format dates in examples changed to a format with a spelled-out month. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:46, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
If we're saying 1582, and evidence has been presented that people are making the "mistake" with dates post-1582, then it certainly looks like we need to rephrase. E.g. "for Gregorian calendar dates only (e.g. not for contemporary publication dates in Britain prior to [whatever-date-ot-was] 1752)." Or just write it in one place (at MOSNUM) and refer people from here to there.--Kotniski (talk) 10:21, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I believe it is better to devote this page, and some of the pages it refers to, for citation style, and confine MOS and MOSNUM to the text and tables of the article. This is in keeping with printed style manuals, which typically have separate chapters for citations, and the citation style does not always agree with the running text style. Since we allow almost any citation style, it is not feasible to cover citation style in MOS or MOSNUM.

My first impression is that would be unwieldy to address Kotinski's concerns in the current short paragraph. Therefore I will shortly propose a dates section. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:01, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Short and simple: YYYY-MM-DD format should only be used for valid dates in the Gregorian calendar or Proleptic Gregorian calendar. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 00:01, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Why would you honor one provision of ISO 8601 (use of Gregorian calendar), but defy another provision (use on years before 1583 requires agreement between parties exchanging information)? Also, if we partially defy ISO 8601, then we are sort of saying it does not apply. If it does not apply, we do not know whether to format the date of Bede's death as 735-05-30 or 0735-05-30. By limiting the range to the range allowed in ISO 8601, we avoid the question of how to format years before 1000. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:26, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Because 1583 is an arbitrary date in regards to British dating and Gadget850's wording covers it more elegantly as it encapsulates that date with explicit mention by including the Proleptic Gregorian calendar. -- PBS (talk) 00:49, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
Also note that under Gadget850 and PBS's version, one could write 7-08-09, meaning August 9, 7, but might be interpreted otherwise. Jc3s5h (talk) 01:55, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
7-08-09 is not a YYYY-MM-DD; 7-08-09 is a format already discouraged and not under discussion. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 15:35, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
And whatever we do here need to synch with WP:DATESNO. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 15:37, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
No, 7-08-09 is only discouraged when the last two digits represent the year. If the entire proleptic Gregorian calendar were allowed, there would be nothing to discourage this format so long as 7 is the year, 08 is the month, and 09 is the day. Also, WP:DATESNO must not be allowed to change in a way that would forbid any acceptable citation system (since previous RfCs have demonstrated there is no hope of adopting a single, or a small number of, citation systems for Wikipedia). Jc3s5h (talk) 15:49, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

Citing television

Hello. For the page on Katharine Hepburn, I am using some comments she gave on television as sources, and also comments made at the Academy Awards after she died. I'd like to check the correct way to source them please? Currently I've just got them written as:

  • The Dick Cavett Show: Katharine Hepburn Part 2. Original airdate: October 3, 1973.
  • Healy, David (director), Katharine Hepburn: All About Me (1993).
  • 46th Academy Awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. April 2, 1974.
  • 76th Academy Awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (producer: Joe Roth). Broadcast date: February 29, 2004.

As you can see, they're inconsistent and I've completely guessed as to the best way to source them. If anyone can give me a concrete formula that would be great. Thanks! --Lobo512 (talk) 10:15, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

You could use {{cite episode}}, but be very careful that you don't drift into WP:OR since TV episodes can be considered to be primary sources. --Redrose64 (talk) 13:11, 1 October 2011 (UTC)
Ah that is exactly the sort of thing I wanted, thanks. I'm literally just quoting from the shows, that's okay isn't it? --Lobo512 (talk) 13:32, 1 October 2011 (UTC)
If they're short, relevant and not used for synthesis - then generally speaking, they're OK; see also Wikipedia:Quotations. --Redrose64 (talk) 13:41, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

Citing a conversation

This may be an odd question. How does one cite a comment that a person made behind closed doors if it wasn't published in any media? I'm trying to add a section to an article and part of it entails meetings that were held about an issue with a major player expressing their point of view about the topic. There were only about eight of us in the room to have heard the statement. I can't prove it happened though it did. Do I just put it up and defend it if it is criticized? Ayzmo (talk) 01:48, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

First publish the information in a reliable publication that is in the business of publishing original information. Then cite the publication. Wikipedia is not the first publisher of information; that's not what we do. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:05, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Citation style in articles about US court cases?

A dispute arose last month over the proper interpretation of WP:CITEVAR in an article about a US Supreme Court case. The article included inline cites to court cases, as well as cites to journals, books, newspapers, and other sources. The question, in a nutshell, was whether the statement in WP:CITEVAR that "citations within a given article should follow a consistent style" does (or does not) expect or require court case citations to be formatted the same way as the "Citation Style 1" method used in journal / book / newspaper citations.

See Template talk:Cite court#Update to citation/core; Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/United States v. Wong Kim Ark/archive1; and WP:CS1.

An effort to fix bugs in {{Cite court}} ran aground over this issue, and an editor who had been trying to fix the template (but who was not prepared to produce an end result that failed to conform to Citation Style 1) eventually abandoned his efforts — leaving the {{Cite court}} template still broken and not usable for US court case citations in its current form.

I believe a key issue that needs to be clarified here is whether this particular sort of uniformity is really what WP:CITEVAR is or ought to be seeking. My own impression is that legal writers simply will not accept US court case citations that are not formatted in the US legal profession's standard style (basically the Bluebook style or one of its accepted minor variations) — but no one is really pushing for requiring the Bluebook citation style for non-case cites in legal articles, and a mixed environment in which a legal article includes cases cited in Bluebook fashion, and citations to other kinds of material formatted per WP:CS1, is perfectly appropriate. Others may or may not agree, of course. Should WP:CITEVAR be tweaked to clarify this point? Richwales (talk) 19:58, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

In my opinion, the worst problem of the cite xxx family is there is no manual of style. If we compare the situation to, for example the Chicago Manual of Style, which has separate sections for each kind of work, but generally follows a consistent scheme, each template in the cite xxx family is maintained and argued about by its own group of followers. There is no requirement or mechanism that they produce consistent results. There is no forum to discuss cases that are not covered by a particular member of the family.
So I would say that until the supporters of the cite xxx family of templates write a manual of style that explains how to use the group together, and how to deal with cases for which no individual template has been written yet, they don't deserve an answer to this question. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:13, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Help:Citation Style 1. Needs expansion. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 20:32, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
I really wasn't trying to start a fight over the pros and cons of CS1. I'm just trying to get clarification on exactly what the "consistent style" recommendation in WP:CITEVAR ought to mean — specifically with regard to articles containing both "regular" citations and also US court case citations, where a long-standing and firmly entrenched style exists that differs significantly from CS1. Richwales (talk) 20:42, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. Let's focus on your question and not rathole the discussion. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 20:45, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

This issue was already conclusively resolved at Template_talk:Cite_court#Issues, so I'm really surprised to see it brought up here again. I'll recap some of my comments from there.
First, it is completely improper to treat a court opinion as if it were a book/journal/periodical, and there is no real citation format that would do so. The standard is to state a short-form name of the case, cite to the volume and page number of at least one case reporter, give an abbreviation identifying the court if it is not the only court covered by that reporter, and the year of the decision: Smith v. Doe, 176 F. 3d 10 (5th Cir. 2009). Bluebook is only one form of that standard, in that there are minor variations in terms of what order the information goes in (i.e., New York courts would list the year in brackets before the reporter volume and page instead of in parentheses after), but it is the most observed format (as in all federal courts) and there is not any variation as far as what information goes in the cite even if Bluebook isn't used. The publisher is never listed (which would be the institution that issued the case reporter, not the court in any event), and the court is not treated as an author. To treat case law that way makes no more sense than if we were to treat statutes as if they were books: It's 17 U.S.C. § 101, not Congress, United States (2011) "Section 101" in United States Code, Vol. 17. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. We would just be making up our own citation format if we tried to shoehorn case law and other primary legal sources into some other kind of category of printed material. Cites to legal materials (case law, statutes, regulations, etc.) are far more analogous to Bible citations, for which you'd cite book, chapter, and verse, and probably the particular translation.
Second, it's simply a false claim that it would be inconsistent to use Bluebook for case law but not for books, because many (if not most, or even all) non-legal style guides expressly import Bluebook citation format for case law citations (see linked comment above for examples). The only consistency we should be concerned with is citing all cases within an article the same way, and all books in that article the same way. It would be a foolish consistency to insist that cases should be cited in the same format as books, because, again, it would involve a made up format. postdlf (talk) 21:25, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

I would not say it was "conclusively resolved." I dropped out of it due to rather hostile remarks that weren't worth agonizing over, but as I figured, the core issue is not going to go away. The issue here has nothing to to with {{cite court}} in particular, and I am not going there. And yes, we have made up our own style: CS1 has been around for quite a while and is well used, as are other styles.
The question is whether CITEVAR means that every citation within an article should be formatted in the same manner. FAC discussions have set some precedent by not mixing CS1 and CS2. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 23:14, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that is the goal. For example, if an article uses APA style then citations to court cases should also use whatever the APA style for court cases is (which is apparently not identical with the Bluebook style [25]). Of course someone might add a new citation in a different format, but the goal is for new citations to eventually be fixed to match the established style of the article. There is no expectation that every article has to establish a Bluebook-like system for citing court cases, although it seems reasonable that articles on legal topics will probably gain consensus to do so. Articles on non-legal topics with passing references to legal cases have little reason to be concerned with Bluebook-style citations. — Carl (CBM · talk) 23:35, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Gadget850 stated "FAC discussions have set some precedent by not mixing CS1 and CS2." If it isn't stated where a person trying to bring an article up to featured article standards, it shouldn't count. The idea of a crowd of FAC reviewers springing secret rules upon FAC editors is distasteful. It's possible that an attempt to place this criteria in a more public place would fail.

As to the question at hand, I take the guideline to mean that the established style of the article should be followed for each and every citation. A very few articles actually state, perhaps in a comment, which style guide they follow. Often they follow a published guide well enough that people familiar with the guide will realize which one to follow. When there is no style guide, as in the case of the Citation and Cite xxx templates, and the work to be cited is unlike the sources already cited, I see two plausible choices. Citation uses commas as the element separator, and so most closely resembles Chicago style, so do what Chicago would do; Cite xxx uses periods as separators and puts the date in parenthesis after the author, like APA, so do what APA would do. The other choice is to hand-edit a citation so it resembles the other citations in the article.

The Citation and Cite xxx templates are a bit of a special case, in that they work as intended for some types of sources, have bugs or limited function for other sources, and don't provide at all for still other sources. So if the current version of an article only cites books with {{Cite book}}, and one wishes to cite a journal, one would use {{tl:Cite journal}} rather than APA. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:03, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

The issue came up last month specifically because I was attempting to have United States v. Wong Kim Ark promoted to Featured Article. It didn't make it last month (mostly because of content issues, BTW, not because of citation formatting questions) — but I'm hoping to try again soon. It would be nice if a working {{Cite court}} template were available, but if not, I can manage. As for what court case cites should look like in the footnotes, I believe Postdlf and I are in complete agreement. My primary motivation in coming here to WT:CITE was to try and get the guideline clarified. And secondarily, since I'm hoping to get Wong Kim Ark to FA quality, I invite anyone who is interested to look at and discuss the formatting of the citations (especially the court case cites) as they currently appear in that article. Richwales (talk) 00:31, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
If one insists that Cite xxx is a style after all, I suppose each template in the family would be equivalent to a section in a conventional style manual. Since APA and Chicago have sections on court cases that adopt variants of Bluebook, it would not be a violation of CITEVAR for {{Cite court}} to imitate Bluebook, because it is the nearest available equivalent to a section in a style manual. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:36, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that is what I would expect that template to do. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:07, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Lets look at the differences here:

They contain exactly the same information, but Cite court does not use the same same style as CS1. I interpret CITEVAR that you can use any style you desire, as long as it it consistent throughout the article; i.e. all citations use the same style. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 01:11, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

"Every citation uses a Cite XXX template" qualifies as using the same style. In fact that is the style that many articles use. The actual contents of the Cite XXX templates are not relevant for that determination, just the fact that the same series of templates is used. If the contents of Cite Court don't match some other Cite XXX, that is not a problem of the article, it is something that would need to be fixed at the Cite Court template. The article can just use the templates as a black box to satisfy CITEVAR. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:33, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Following up on what Carl wrote, clearly CITEVAR is binding on authors of articles. Clearly it is not binding on authors of printed style manuals. If the authors of the Chicago Manual of Style decide a suitable cite for a legal case is [from 14th ed. p. 616]
124. Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252 (1941).
rather than treating it like a journal
124. Harlan F. Stone et al., "Bridges v. California," United States Supreme Court Reports 314 (1941) 252.
then it would be wrong to try to apply CITEVAR and second-guess the authors of Chicago. So the question is whether Cite xxx forms a collection that should be treated as if it were a style manual, and if so, is CITEVAR binding upon it. I would say the deciding factor is whether the editors who create the templates are acting in concert to create a unified whole, or whether the adherents of each template are acting independently with scant regard for the contents of the other templates. If we regard Cite xxx as forming a style manual, then CITEVAR does not apply. If we regard each as an independent template, then it is up to the article editor to choose templates that look alike and not use templates that look different from the rest. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:04, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Since all CS1 templates are based on {{citation/core}}, they share the same styles. Help:Citation Style 1 outlines the 16 templates that meet this style. Cite xxx is an older term, but it rather implies that any template with the prefix cite is equal in style, which is not true. There are hundreds of cite templates, and many were developed without consideration for a consistent style. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 02:38, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I would say that every template with the prefix cite is equal in style, by definition. There are different types on "consistency", but as far as CITEVAR is concerned, "This article uses Cite XXX templates for all citations" is a consistent style. Moreover, if that is the style that was established, it would violate CITEVAR to start changing citations to make the formatting look more similar, since that was not the established style. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:32, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

The bottom line is a court opinion is not a book and should not be cited to as if it were, no more than a statute or Bible verse are cited to as if they were books. That is not inconsistency; that is treating materials in accordance with what they are and in accordance with how the real word treats them. To do otherwise is to push a made-up citation format. The court is not the publisher of the opinion. In the DC Circuit example above, Westlaw happens to be the publisher of the Federal Reporter (abbreviated in the citation as F. 3d), but no proper citation to any case will note that any more than a citation to the United States Reports will credit the Government Printing Office. And the citation works regardless of whether you referenced a print copy or online text, because online texts insert the same pagination; it is edition-independent in the same way that citing to Matthew 23:24 (KJV) does not require a "publisher" or "author".
So let's drop this nonsense that we can or should treat everything as if it were a book, because that's what's keeping this confused. You treat case law like case law, not like a book or a journal.
And I can cite to the Bluebook itself, or to other non-legal style guides that import Bluebook (or its general form) for case citations, statutes, and other primary legal materials, and treat such materials as different than books or periodicals: APA Style ("The APA style of citing legal materials is based on The Bluebook...[However] The Bluebook style is not used to cite legal periodical articles or books. Use the regular APA style."); AMA Style, Chicago Style...
Can anyone who still disagrees that this is how it should be done point to a real-world usage or style guide to the contrary, to prove that this disagreement is more than just a WP:Randy in Boise moment? Rather than just pushing tortured interpretations of WP:CITEVAR, as if that could trump real world standards and justify making shit up, please prove it or drop it. postdlf (talk) 02:41, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Ad hominem. I'm out of it, but the core question won't go away. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 02:50, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm criticizing your opinions and arguments, not you; I'm sure you're a lovely person. There simply is no "core question" remaining. No one has rebutted the points made above regarding the different nature of case law (and other legal) citations, or demonstrated by reference to anything outside of Wikipedia that there's a valid alternative citation format for case law. postdlf (talk) 04:58, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
I would like to hope we can avoid giving or taking personal offence here, but FWIW, I agree with Postdlf's interpretation of CITEVAR, and if the overall consensus agrees, I would welcome either an amendment to CITEVAR covering this point, or else a well-documented statement that following the accepted style for US court case citations falls under the "best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply" disclaimer at the top of this guideline. (By bringing this up, BTW, I am not trying to suggest that editors with different opinions are not using "common sense".) Richwales (talk) 03:26, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't think the "Citing sources" guideline is the right place to document a point that only applies to US legal cases when using certain templates. That's like sticking a page on how to adjust the ignition timing on a 1970 VW Beetle i a high school driver education textbook. Jc3s5h (talk) 04:08, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Except that someone was citing the "consistent style" part of this guideline to support his claim that US legal case cites must be formatted the same way as other kinds of citations. Richwales (talk) 04:28, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
I think the very idea that it's relevant to CITEVAR in the first place results from confusion. The question raised wasn't actually regarding competing citation styles, for example do we use Bluebook and write Addington v. Texas, 441 U.S. 418 (1979), or that of New York state courts and write Addington v Texas, 441 US 418, 427 [1979]. The differences in style are minor. The difference between case law and book citations is instead a difference in what kind of source that you're citing to, which any real citation standard respects by treating different materials differently within that single citation style. So it's more appropriate for WP:CITEHOW, because you would include different information for legal materials than for lay media, just as you would include different information for a book rather than a newspaper (such as ISBN and publisher in the former, but not the latter), or a television broadcast instead of a journal. Maybe a short paragraph added to CITEHOW summarizing Legal citation, or just a link? postdlf (talk) 04:58, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Of course it's relevant to CITEVAR. For example, if the style of an article is that only {{citation}} is used, then court cases have to be cited with that template. If the style is to use the Cite XXX templates, then one could use Cite Court. If the style is to manually format citations so that an author is included for each one, then an author has to be included for legal decisions as well. It depends on what the style of the article is. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:32, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
A principle that one can find in any printed style manual, and that is generally understood by the community even if it isn't explicitly stated anywhere in WP: space, is that style considerations should not prevent the citation of any source that is otherwise suitable for the article. If a particular style, such as Citation, does not cover a particular source, it is up to the editor to compose a citation that presents the necessary information, and is arguably similar to either the style in use in the article, or general scholarly practice.
An editor citing a legal source in an article using the alleged Citation style could put the necessary information into a Citation template in a way that produces a visual result that looks as nearly appropriate as possible, although that would probably mean some of the parameters contain information that is not accurately described by the parameter name, and argue he is being as consistent as possible. Another editor could hand-compose a Bluebook citation, and argue it is inaccurate to use a parameter name for something that does not actually correspond to that parameter, and that it is general scholarly practice to use Bluebook style for US court cases. Still another editor could argue that the Citation style emphasizes accurate metadata over appearance, fill in the applicable parameters in the template, and add any information that doesn't fit into a template after the template. These are all plausible approaches, and since the alleged Citation style has no associated manual, there is no place in WP: space to document which approach to follow, and the issue would have to be settled on the article talk page. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:17, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
Right. Any of those approaches, once established by local consensus for an article, would be a "consistent" style. There is more than one kind of consistency, and CITEVAR has never been intended to require consistency of appearance. We have always allowed articles to be consistent in the sense of just using one family of templates, or really in any other way that the original author could make a reasonable case for. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:46, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
No, a template is not the same as a citation style, it merely uses one. And the problem is not the style that Template:Citation uses, it's that it is not comprehensive enough in the kinds of sources it covers: it is not capable, at present, of citing to case law or other legal materials. It lacks the proper parameters because such legal citations, in whatever legitimate citation style you want to use, have different components than book or journal cites. If we were to remove from Template:Citation the volume and issue parameters, for example, that would render us unable to use Template:Citation for journal cites, it would not mean then that we cite them as if they were books any more than we should treat legal materials as if they were journals or something else. I'd say then that you should add the parameters of Template:Cite court to Template:Citation if that would make you feel better, but that template just works for case law, and it only works for American case law. Within a single legitimate citation style, the format of different countries' cites differs (e.g., Template:Cite Canadian Court) and the format of other kinds of legal materials differs (e.g., statutes, such as Template:UnitedStatesCode). See Category:Law citation templates to get a sense of the scope involved. postdlf (talk) 17:05, 9 October 2011 (UTC)
For better or worse, "every citation uses {{citation}}" is a consistent citation style for Wikipedia purposes (for CITEVAR). Indeed one thing that cannot be dune under CITEVAR is to make a unilateral change (e.g. from {{cite journal}} to {{citation}}) even if special care is taken to make sure that the output remains identical. With CITEVAR, the "style" of the article is not just the appearance of the rendered text, it is also the manner in which that appearance is achieved (e.g. the non-use of templates or the choice of a template family). It seems like a poor choice for an article on legal matters to always use {{citation}}, but if someone adds a passing legal reference to an article that otherwise always uses {{citation}}, the new cite should be put into {{citation}} as well. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:51, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't know which of the above editors are right about the status of citation templates, but I'm quite sure a few editors making declarations about the status will not settle it. Jc3s5h (talk)

Dealing with discrepancies between web and print publication dates

Sometimes a source will say something like "Published: July 2, 2000", while the url is like Presumably, that is because the article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Truth on July 2, 2000, but was already put on the web around July 1, 2000, 11:59 pm. Here is an example. And sometimes, for whatever reason, it is the other way around: the "url date" is later than the publication date given in the text, as seen, for example, here. Has there been some discussion or guidance on which one to use for the date field in such cases?  --Lambiam 20:48, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

Use the date of the version which you actually consulted. --Redrose64 (talk) 22:13, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
Not sure it is always quite that straightforward. What about The Guardian (incl. The Observer), whose website ( publishes a lot of articles that don't get printed, but also many that do, and there is a clickable "Article history" which tells you whether it also appeared in the printed edition and if so on which page. Some US papers' websites have a similar thing. Otherwise, maybe we should find a way of making a more explicit distinction in citations between a printed paper and its website. Some newspapers' websites are identical to their printed versions, but some (an increasing number, I suspect) bear no resemblance at all and probably ought really to be treated as an entirely different source. It's all a bit of a nightmare and I have commented here before that nobody yet seems to have thought this through. Also I find that in some cases I have consulted both versions, either because I happen to have picked up the physical newspaper or because my local library subscribes to "Library Press Display", which (for many newspapers) enables me to use my library card number to access from home an on-screen image of the printed paper (but it only stays up a few weeks). In such a case my inclination is to cite the printed version (real or virtual), with page number, but also give the URL so that people can easily verify it, but then what if the two versions are substantially different? Is this qualitatively different from the old problem of stories being rewritten between early and late editions? Alarics (talk) 13:45, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
It is also worth noting that the titles of the print and web versions of the articles may differ. I've noticed this happens with The New York Times/International Herald Tribune. — Cheers, JackLee talk 16:16, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
If the online and print versions are different, then they are separate sources and need to be cited separately. If there is a reason to cite both versions, then you can use |type= to indicate online or print versions. If a particular template ({{cite news}} for example) does not support |type=, then it is very easy to add. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 16:46, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
The problem usually arises when I see an article in the print version of, say, the IHT that I wish to cite. I then go to the Internet to see if there is an online version I can link to. However, it is frequently the case that the online version has a different title and was published on a different date. Bother. I wonder if I should state both versions? — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:50, 6 October 2011 (UTC)
"Use the date of the version which you actually consulted." How does that advice work out in the following cases, assuming they were consulted online?
In both cases these online versions have two different dates, in the url and in the text.  --Lambiam 07:07, 7 October 2011 (UTC)
Use the published date in the byline. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 10:38, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
Hmmm... {{Citation/core}} supports {{{PublicationDate}}} (date of publication) and {{{Date}}} (date of the authorship, if different from date of publication) -- presently rendering something like: "Title", Periodical (Publisher), Date, PublicationDate. {{cite news}} passes {{{date}}} alone to core as {{{Date}}}, if present (the actual details are slightly more complicated). Perhaps {{cite news}} could pass both dates down if they are specified -- but what percentage of template users would read and understand the docs about that? Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 10:10, 7 October 2011 (UTC)

I think you should probably state both versions if they are different, which implies becoming much more sytematic about distinguishing between e.g. The Guardian (in print) and (for the website). But with some papers there is not a different name for the online version. The real problem is, whatever those few of us who obsess about these matters might decide is the ideal solution, how are we ever going to get the majority of editors to even understand that there is a problem, let alone follow our solution? Alarics (talk) 07:45, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

This really depends on which one is correct. In some cases the first version is published on line. If an error is observed or reported, then it is updated online and may also make it into the print version. So the simple answer is to use the corrected version. The problem is that is easier to say then to sift out the correct one from the various versions which may not make a comment about the differences in the versions. Vegaswikian (talk) 19:10, 8 October 2011 (UTC)
That may well be true in some cases, but in many other instances the online version differs in various ways from the print version, and it is not a question of one being correct and the other not; they are simply different. One may be longer than the other, or have the paragraphs in a different order, or some paragraphs that are in one version are missing from the other, or the body text is the same but the headline is different, and so on. -- Alarics (talk) 07:49, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

ODNB citation style

I recently noticed a potential problems with some ODNB (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography citation styles, namely that they seem to be being cited with the wrong template. Look at the example at Template:Cite doi/10.1093.2Fref:odnb.2F58125. That was filled in by a citation bot with {{cite journal}}, but I think {{cite encyclopedia}} is more appropriate for the ODNB, as it is a single collection of discrete articles with different authors. It was issued in 2004, with updates since then, and in some areas built on the earlier work of the DNB (Dictionary of National Biography) and in other areas effectively rewrote the biographies or wrote new ones that hadn't been covered before. The point being that 'cite journal' is the wrong template to use. There are also problems with Template:ODNBweb as that really needs updating but I'm not sure how to do that. For an example of a correctly filled out ODNB citation, see Template:Cite doi/10.1093.2Fref:odnb.2F34601, but even there it needed human tweaking to get it right. There are around 45 templates that need checking, see here. Is there an easy way to get a citation bot to deal with all this? {{ODNBweb}} is even more problematic, as it is transcluded on 447 pages at the moment. Is there an easy way to convert those into a citation format that: (a) names the actual article cited (and names the ODNB as the encyclopedia, rather than the title); and (b) names the actual authors of the article? Carcharoth (talk) 23:41, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

{{cite doi}} uses {{cite journal}} as a meta-template. Start a discussion on the talk page an I will take a look at it later. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 02:27, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
Now in sandbox. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 09:40, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Cite bundling: bullets vs "list several sources in one paragraph".

Regarding WP:CITEBUNDLE's guidance on how to display multiple sources within a single footnote: It suggests placing each source in a separate bullet. That works fine. But as I look at scholarly books, their footnotes are arranged differently: each footnote is a "paragraph" that lists the distinct sources as separate sentences. Like this:

67.^ Smith, The Moon, p 67 (size of moon); Jones, The Earth, p 295 (size of the earth); Robinson, p 52 (moon and earth).

I have no problem with the bulletized approach ... my question is whether the scholaraly "list multiple sources in one paragraph" approach was considered for WP in the past and rejected? (I could not find such a discussion in this Talk page archives). Or is the scholarly approach an acceptable alternative? If it is acceptable for WP, should it be mentioned in WP:CITEBUNDLE as an option? --Noleander (talk) 17:26, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

When putting them all in the same paragraph it's not easy to spot quickly where one ref ends and the next begins. Separating them onto distinct lines aids this. --Redrose64 (talk) 17:41, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Sure, I understand that. I'm just wondering if there was a discussion in WP in the past about whether to follow the approach that scholarly books use. Was the scholarly approach explicitly rejected by consensus at some point in the past? --Noleander (talk) 17:48, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
BTW: this is not an academic question. It came up in a GA review Talk:Margaret Sanger/GA1, and the reviewer asked why bullet points were used in the footnotes. --Noleander (talk) 18:07, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Any approach along the lines you suggest would be fine. As far as I can tell, this page doesn't recommend any particular way of organizing a bundled citation. The example is just that, an example, not prescriptive advice. Christopher Parham (talk) 18:22, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Okay. I noticed that guideline hints at that when it said "While citations should aim to provide the information listed above, there is no one single style for doing this, …. On all of these points, Wikipedia does not have a single house style. Editors may choose any option they want; it need not match what is done in other articles. However, citations within a given article should follow a consistent style." Would anyone object if the "scholarly approach" to bundling citations was added into the WP:CITEBUNDLE section, as an example of an alternative to the bullet approach? --Noleander (talk) 18:47, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
Also, I see a third method being used in WP for presenting multiple sources in one footnote: use break <br/> ... which is much like the bullets, but without the dots, as in:
67.^ Smith, The Moon, p 67 (size of moon)
Jones, The Earth, p 295 (size of the earth)
Robinson, p 52 (moon and earth)
This avoids the "run on" problems of the scholarly approach, and avoids the ugliness of the bullets. --Noleander (talk) 19:30, 17 October 2011 (UTC)
I went ahead and added examples of the alternative approaches to formatting a bundled footnote. See WP:CITEBUNDLE. I need some help with the footnote numbering in the example, though. --Noleander (talk) 20:11, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

See Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 31#Text-source integrity. I think that there is a problem with both the bundling section and with the section immediately before it (Text-source integrity) that introduces the bundling section. -- PBS (talk) 21:29, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

PBS: Thanks for referencing that archived Talk page discussion. It does mention the BUNDLING guideline, however it seems to be addressing an independent issue, namely whether the Text-Source guideline can be improved, etc. In this Talk page section, here, I'm simply asking the very narrow question: When multiple sources are bundled into one footnote, how should they be formatted? With bullets? Line breaks? --Noleander (talk) 22:51, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Redundant identifiers

Consider the following citation:

Clicking on either the doi or the jstor link will take the user to the same location (the doi goes to the jstor page). In these situations, I typically leave out the doi link because it's redundant, but citation bot eventually comes along and puts it in. I curse softly and sometimes revert, depending on my mood. Would like to see what the general opinion is about redundant identifier links like this, and if I should just shift my paradigm and accept them? (In this particular instance, clicking the title will take the reader directly to the article hosted at Cyberliber, but I understand that this site is not 100% reliable and has downtimes, so having at least one of the identifiers is useful). Sasata (talk) 07:02, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

How does Citationbot respond if you remove the JSTOR link and leave the DOI in. Is there an order of precedence/preference? Roger (talk) 08:43, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Nationality in biographies

I posted a query at BLP regarding nationalities, which has some bearing on citing sources. If you have any comments please post there.Eldumpo (talk) 08:24, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Proposal to add examples illustrating possible section layouts

There is a discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Layout#Add_example_into_WP:FNNR.3F about a proposal to add examples showing various section layouts for Notes/Footnotes/Citations/References section. There is some overlap with this Citations topic area, so editors interested in citations may want to weigh in. --Noleander (talk) 13:16, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

Space after a comma

Should we always place a space after the comma when we separate different page numbers in a citation? Eg. "G. Woodfall. pp. 111,112." Is there a rule? What do you think? I have been harshly criticized for adding a space in "111,112" and I have to find out the rule about it. Thanks in advance. -- Basilicofresco (msg) 09:05, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

If one were using Chicago Manual of Style for citations, the page number(s) is(are) just placed at the end of the citation, with no "p", "pp", "page", or any similar indication. In that case it would be essential to use a space, otherwise there would be no way to tell whether "1,122" meant pages 1 and 122, or just the single page 1,122. I can't find any statement of this rule in Chicago, probably because there is no reason to think the proper writing of numbers changes just because it's in a citation. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:24, 23 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes, there should always be a space after the comma. No doubt about it. -- Alarics (talk) 18:32, 23 October 2011 (UTC)

User:Δ (automation) edits proposal

There is a set of proposals on WP:VPR to allow him to perform mass changes of a certain sort, particularly with respect to citation formatting. You'll have to go through the proposal as there are some 20 of them right now. Searching for "CITEVAR" on that page might help. Have mörser, will travel (talk) 16:44, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

Use of inconsistent date formats within an article's refs

The discussion here may interest some of you. The question is whether it is appropriate to revert an editor who used a consistent date format in refs in an article. So that instead, inconsistent date formats exist (even within the same refs).

Some guidelines at issue are WP:DATESNO, WP:STRONGNAT, and Wikipedia:Citing sources.--Epeefleche (talk) 06:44, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

Text-source integrity: suggestion to make it clearer

I just read the Text-Source integrity section for the first time, and the second portion of the section strikes me as very confusing:

The following arrangement, for example, is not helpful, because the reader does not know whether each source supports the material, each source supports part of it, or just one source supports it with the others added as further reading:

N Smith is the UK's best-selling cookery writer and one of the country's highest-earning women.[4][5][6][7]

Where you are using multiple sources for one sentence, consider bundling citations at the end of the sentence or paragraph with an explanation in the footnote regarding which source supports which point; see below for how to do that.

It seems to me that it would be clearer if it explicitly stated the following points of guidance, independently:

  1. When there are multiple sources for a given sentence, and each source pertains to a particular portion of the sentence, the footnotes[4] can[5] be interspersed[6] like this.[7] Or, all the sources can be placed at the end of the sentence, like this.[4][5][6][7] Another option is to bundle them all into one footnote at the end of the sentence, like this.[4] Generally, the latter option (bundling) is preferred, and the first option (interspersed) is discouraged.
  2. When there are multiple sources for a given sentence, and each source applies to the entire the sentence, the sources can be placed at the end of the sentence, like this,[4][5][6][7] or they can be bundled into one footnote at the end of the sentence, like this.[4] Generally, the latter option (bundling) is preferred. See WP:CITEBUNDLE.
  3. If there are multiple sources for a single sentence, and the individual sources each apply only to a particular porton of the sentence, and the footnotes are not interspersed in the sentence, then it is recommended that the footnote(s) include comments (whether bundled or not) explaining which sources relate to which parts of the sentence.

Does this look like clearer statement of what the Text-Source Integrity section (second half) is trying to say? (PS: This may have been discussed in this Talk page archive discussion). --Noleander (talk) 23:08, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Certainly there are several issues involved here. I'm not sure about your statement 1 though (hard to say that bundling is "preferred" when it is quite rarely used). In statement 2, I'd certainly hope the bundling option in that case would be preferred (though as it happens, CITEBUNDLE doesn't address that kind of case). In statement 3, again, I'm not sure this really is a community preference (most people just list the sources, without extra comment, in the "interspersed" case, and this would seem to be sufficient).--Kotniski (talk) 06:02, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback. You are correct about the "generally it is preferred .." statements in items #1 and #2: those were just my personsal impressions of WP consensus, but since that has not been explicitly discussed before, I've struck-out that text from the proposal above. For item #3, I understand that some people may think it unnecessary, because "interspersing" obviates the needs for comments within the footnotes, but #3 captures the essence of what the Text-Source integrity section (2nd half) already says .... I'm simply trying to retain the current guidance, and make it clearer. Eliminating #3 would be a significant change to the meaning of the Text-Source section, and I'm not suggesting any changes: just improved clarity. --Noleander (talk) 12:12, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Also, there may be some small clarifications that can be made to the Cite Bundling section. At the moment, WP:CITEBUNDLE is written as if the only situation it would be used is when the multiple sources each apply to a specific portion of the sentence they follow. It doesn't acknowledge the (probably more common) situation where the sources each apply to the entire sentence (e.g. several historians all commenting on a single event, with different viewpoints). --Noleander (talk) 12:22, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
Okay, I'm not seeing any objections to this proposed clarification, so I went ahead an implemented it. For future reference: there is a lot of overlap between the Text-Source Integrity section, and the Bundling section. I think it may be best if they are combined. Also, the "Text-Source Integrity" section title could be clearer .. that seems like a very odd phrase. I think something in plainer English would be better, like "Put citations near the text they support" or similar. --Noleander (talk) 06:18, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

This might be a separate issue, but I think it's part of the same topic. Sometimes a sentence has multiple assertions, each with a separate citation. It seems like it's logical to place the citations in the same order as the assertions. However if the citations are being reused they would already have footnote numbers, leading to a seemingly random sequence of numbers. At FAC, reviewers want the footnotes to be in numerical order. Is that really the best way to arrange footnotes?   Will Beback  talk  06:14, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Why do they want them in order? -- PBS (talk) 10:43, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

I Undid revision 457735684 by SlimVirgin it depends it is not always poor practice, and not every case needs a bundle. -- PBS (talk) 10:32, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

If it were so then we would be condemning the version used higher up the guideline page:

The Sun is pretty big,[1] but the Moon is not so big.[2] The Sun is also quite hot.[3]


  1. ^ Miller 2005, p. 23.
  2. ^ Brown 2006, p. 46.
  3. ^ Miller 2005, p. 34.


  • Brown, Rebecca (2006). "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51(78).
  • Miller, Edward (2005). The Sun. Academic Press.

-- PBS (talk) 10:36, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

Footnotes within a sentence are somewhat rare, but there are times that they are useful. I generally avoid them, but sometimes use them in a compound sentence when there is a very interesting fact in the middle of the sentence. Here is a sentence I composed last week that had a footnote in the middle: "After Sanger discovered that physicians were exempt from the law that prohibited the distribution of contraceptive information to women — provided it was prescribed for medical reasons[11] — she established the Clinical Research Bureau (CRB) in 1923 to exploit this loophole.[12]" I think it would be reasonable to see one or two such mid-sentence footnotes in a large article. --Noleander (talk) 17:53, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

Also there is a problem with "The footnote should explain which source supports which point; see WP:CITEBUNDLE." It is also true that multiple footnotes are the end of a sentence can explain which source supports which point, they do not have to be bundled to do that (as Noleande mentioned in his/her point three above). -- PBS (talk) 10:38, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

Concur. In fact, looking at the top of this section in this Talk page, the whole point of this section's proposal was to clarify the guidance by breaking it down into independent pieces. The suggestion to include a comment within the footnote applies whether or not the editor chose to bundle the footnotes. That is item (3) at the top of this section. --Noleander (talk) 17:56, 28 October 2011 (UTC)