Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 35

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RFC: Limit citation style choices to recognized guides

Should the sentence "Citation style should be based on a recognized system, such as Citation style 1, APA style, The Chicago Manual of Style, or The MLA Style Manual and editors should provide an HTML comment in the reference section indicating which method has been selected" be added to the beginning of WP:CITE#Variation in citation methods? Jc3s5h (talk) 23:19, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Discussion of limiting citation style choices

As the originator of this disscussion, I favor the limitation because if a new editor wants to add a source of a different type from those already in the article, the new editor will not have any guidance on how to format the citation. Also, software such as Zotero is available to assist with most citation styles but not with an ad hoc style adopted for an individual article. Jc3s5h (talk) 23:19, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

  • I am concerned that this would make editing more difficult for many non-academic editors, who often find "style guides" intimidating and cryptic. If we just reassure new editors that they can add the citation however they like, and someone else will fix it, that is easier for new editors. I am also concerned about how we would decide, for the millions of existing articles, which style should be used - the discussions to achieve that seem like an enormous loss of productivity. I have hundreds of articles on my watchlist, and I don't want to have to follow hundreds of discussions about which citation style is the best one for each article. That decision is not as easy as it might sound for articles that cross multiple disciplines. — Carl (CBM · talk) 23:33, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. So far as I know, the citation templates don't use a recognized style, so this proposal would preclude their use. Editors often develop their own style by adapting one of the major ones. The principle of CITEVAR is that internal consistency is what matters. So long as readers can understand the citations, there's no need to be rigid about carefully following an outside style. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:53, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
  • We shouldn't discourage users from adding appropriate information by making reference citations hard to understand, much less fixed to a limited # of styles. Even an IP adding information with a bare link is fine. The "fixing" of citations towards a unified format within an article is part of general cleanup towards GA/FA, but should not be forced in progress, and this would be a step towards limiting that. --MASEM (t) 00:01, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. In addition to reasons already mentioned, at least one of those style manuals (Chicago) does not itself prescribe a single style, or even a limited set of them. Instead, it gives several models, and goes on to say much the same thing as SlimVirgin: internal consistency is what matters. Anyone who has worked in the publishing business will be aware that, despite allegiance pledged to this or that style manual, every publisher has got its own house style that deviates to some degree from the "standard", and the different editors working for a single publisher produce further minor variations even within that house style, while at the same time trying to remain consistent within the book or journal in question. Why should Wikipedia pretend to be able to enforce a uniformity that does not exist anywhere else?—Jerome Kohl (talk) 00:06, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Perhaps if it were rephrased that policy prefers and urges editors to use those selected styles instead of the more imperative sounding suggestion of should use them. Given that non-academic editors will be less familiar with the structures, there should be an option for "if you need help formatting references contact..." and nudge them to a project of editors who are willing to help out in formatting citations (and that each participating editor would be available for help with whichever style).--ColonelHenry (talk) 00:54, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • The templates have now been codified to form styles: Citation Style 1, Citation Style 2 are the most used, then there are LSA, Citation Style Vancouver and more. The problem is that as you get into the specialized articles, citation consistency breaks down. For example, {{cite court}} uses Bluebook style and is often used in legal-related articles with Citation Style 1 even though they are different styles. See Category:Citation templates for more. --  Gadget850 talk 01:05, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Gadget, if you could do something to make the date formatting consistent in templates, that would help a lot. Currently, the date is in brackets after the author's name if there's a byline, and at the end, and not in brackets, if there isn't. So even if someone is using the templates consistently, the end result is inconsistent. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:15, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
    • "This article uses cite_xxx templates only" is a consistent style. Consistency does not have to mean consistency of output - using the same family of templates for all citations is an acceptable form of consistency. The point of using templates, after all, is to avoid having to micromanage the way the citations are displayed. — Carl (CBM · talk) 10:18, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Endorse what SlimVirgin says. This point has been made over and over again but nobody ever does anything about it. -- Alarics (talk) 07:10, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Gadget, Chicago (16th ed., sec. 14.281–3) suggests mixing Bluebook citations with the styles Chicago normally uses when an article is not predominantly a legal article, but cites a significant number of legal or public works. So having templates that produce different formats for legal vs. other works is not unprecedented. Jc3s5h (talk) 01:43, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Internal consistency is the key. -- Avi (talk) 01:45, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Internal consistency of an ad hoc style is difficult if there are many sources, many of which may be unfamiliar to an editor new to the article. Suppose most of the sources are journal articles, but the new editor wants to cite a TV documentary. Will the new editor be able to spot the one TV documentary that has already been cited, and follow that format, or will the new editor inadvertently create a second TV documentary format? But if it is a recognized style, there are indices, tables of contents, software, and web searches all waiting to help the editor find a suitable format for the citation. Jc3s5h (talk) 10:05, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Internal consistency of an ad hoc style is impossible. Will not happen. That's why we let people add sources in whatever citation style they want, and some time later, some other editor will clean up the mess and impose a consistent citation style. Always happened this way. --bender235 (talk) 10:22, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
are both ad hoc and consistent with each other. WhatamIdoing (talk)
Yes. They are until the next editor shows up and adds more sources in a completely different style. --bender235 (talk) 16:48, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment: I am, too, not in favor of dictating a number of citation styles to use, but I disagree with the arguments above. The "unfamiliarity" of new (non-academic) editors with citation styles is not a problem at all. Because it is not their duty to create a perfectly styled article off the cuff, and never has been. There is a collaborative approach to Wikipedia. If someone creates and article and uses a shaky citation style, and somebody else contributes to the article with a complete different citation style, it's not a problem at all, because at some point a third editor will show up and copy-edit. For example the members of WikiProject Citation Clean-up. --bender235 (talk) 08:44, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Editors should be free to do whatever works best for the specific article in question, even if it means using a style that isn't officially endorsed by some academic group or reference publisher. Furthermore, this kind of instruction creep adds bureaucracy and will tend to lead to disputes about whether the style is sufficiently "based upon" the named style, or whether some minor tweak must be made to make it truly conform to one editor's interpretation of the style guide. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:42, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose WhatamIdoing's comments reflect my thoughts on this issue. Hchc2009 (talk) 19:12, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose Per SlimVirgin and WhatamIdoing. Last I checked, these style guides ran into hundreds of pages and were not freely-accessible. II | (t - c) 03:53, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Too soon - or "oppose for now, but it's a great idea." This should be no more that a recommendation for now. Once all new users are by default using an editor that makes it trivial to make a "standard-style" citation and difficult not to do so, then either we can make this a requirement or it won't be needed as a requirement because "everyone is doing it that way anyways." davidwr/(talk)/(contribs)/(e-mail) 23:16, 19 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment -- Carl CBM writes "just reassure new editors that they can add the citation however they like, and someone else will fix it". The trouble is, that someone often seems to be me, and it could easily be a full-time job. I worry that we give carte blanche to editors (not always new ones, either) to not make any effort ever to learn how to do citations properly, and/or to think that it doesn't matter whether they are done properly or not. -- Alarics (talk) 12:05, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
My thought also, though this is more relevant to the earlier discussion regarding CITEVAR. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:30, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per SV, Jerome Kohl etc. Johnbod (talk) 15:19, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Masem, SlimVirgin, Avi et al. The RFC bot invited me, and there doesn't seem much real need for my !vote at this point, but I'm here now, and I agree, so here it is anyway. Begoontalk 02:06, 29 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose There is too much variability of topics, and too many fields with their own citation styles. I expect that people will start arguing that all chemistry articles should follow style X because it's most used in the literature, then other people will demand that physics articles use citation Y, and then they will collide in topics that overlap both fields, like cold fusion. Also, what WhatamIdoing says about causing disputes. --Enric Naval (talk) 15:52, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

It's been two weeks, there has been a sufficiency of comment, and it's all running one-way. Is it time to close this discussion? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:45, 26 June 2013 (UTC)

Creating citation when sourcing a Booklet from a CD

I am wondering if there are any templates for citing information from the booklet of a CD? thanks --Mrlopez2681 (talk) 04:53, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

{{Cite album-notes}} --  Gadget850 talk 11:08, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Just Added citations honestly am not pro in doing that I don't know if I did it well am doing my best for this article to be good any help would be very very welcome and very appreciated  :) Still got this exclamation as orphan I will read the help selection about it .. a big help would be very most welcome for us thank you so much Wawapat (talk) 03:02, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

Indicators of predominant citation style - are they available for addition to article or talk page?

Hello -- I recently added some information to an article and inadvertently used a divergent citation style from the predominant one on the article. I objected to a revision to the article-style as it "destroyed information" (my words -- I reacted too strongly, yes), but that is not my focus here. Rather, I went looking for some article or talk page template which could be used to indicate to editors what style is predominant in an article. Now, this might be obvious to most of you, but it is not obvious to me generally, probably because I am more interested in either a) fixing a deadlink, b) adding a citation where one does not exist or c) adding information + citation to the article and am not paying a great deal of attention to the specific citation style in use, particularly when it is mixed (not the case in the recent case I mentioned above; it was consistent and I did not take it into account). So -- has the notion of adding some 'citation style' note to an article or an article talk page kind of like Template:British English been considered? Thanks for considering this ... or referring me to an archival discussion where it was discussed at length. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 00:38, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes, an explicit statement of the "style" would be helpful; Ed's list is a good start. Though I hope this would not lead to some bot slavishly enforcing petty details of no importance. It seems preferable to distinguish what might be required from recommended good practice. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:29, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
It is probably easy to make up a template akin to {{use dmy dates}} that is invisible to the reader but would help bots and editors know when an established cite format has been picked for an article and to work at conforming the citations for that. However, a template for that would likely have a few established cite formats as arguments (eg "cite templates" , "Harvard", etc.) and would need, perhaps, an open-ended parameter to a talk page or url link for formats that are otherwise "standard" in the respect fields, but not standardized on Wikipedia. But that would not be too hard to make up. --MASEM (t) 18:47, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
An editnotice would not be suitable because for articles it can only be placed by administrators or account creators. If a single invisible notice were created with parameter for each style, and that template were to become protected so only administrators could edit it, it would be too bureaucratic to add a new parameter for a style no one had thought of, so an editor who came across a slightly unusual style just wouldn't bother to document it. Something akin to the American English template, used on the talk page, would be more suitable for "the encyclopedia anyone can edit"; an editor could just alter an existing template to describe any new style that was encountered. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:22, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
No, with the template, there's probably a half-dozen styles that account for 95% of the articles on WP, so those would be named parameters (eg "{{use-citation-style|cite templates}} or {{use-citation-style|harvard}}) and the template can link to a page that describes how to format for that style. For the odd cases where the style is not one of those, then the editors of the page just have to provide a description and/or link to what the style is. eg "{{use-citation-style|custom style=<place description here>}}". In that way, all styles are effectively accounted for, the tag can be added by any editor, and would be on the article page like the dmy/mdy templates. --MASEM (t) 20:57, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
One template with a parameter that points to a description would work. Whether to make it an invisible article template or a visible talk page template is debatable. As an invisible talk page template, it would be more visible to tools and bots, but because of the unlimited variety of styles, the tools/bots would essentially have to differentiate between styles they recognize, and do whatever is appropriate for styles they recognize, and avoid acting for styles they don't recognize. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:50, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Right now, because of the differences, I can't see any bots operating on it nor would recommend any attempt to necessarily automate on that, but it would there potentially for that purpose. The only reason I suggest the article page is that that's where the dmy/mdy invisible template goes, sitting at the top of such articles. It's one of those things that the roll out would help determine where the best place and best use of this template would be. --MASEM (t) 21:56, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
I've seen and used WP:Edit notices for this purpose, but a template or tag that anyone could add would be preferable. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:03, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Finally found these ... I knew they existed, but it would be useful to have more, perhaps:

--User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 00:34, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

Visual Editor and reference addition - only plain text supported?

It appears from my working with Visual Editor the other evening that the addition of references via the Visual Editor strongly encourages the use of non-templated citations. There might be a way around this, but when I tried to use a template, the VE wrapped it in nowiki tags and I had to go into the code to change that.

Now, this has some implications for WP:CITEVAR in that non-templated and a wide variety of plain-text citations might become the predominant form due to the technical features of Visual Editor. According to another (lengthy) discussion on this page, it appears that consensus falls on the side of "follow the first citation style introduced in an article" ... though I doubt that would extend to, for instance, "use only bare urls". I just wanted to see what others think or know about this; I do a quite a bit of citation additions and revisions (some of which I have been criticized for). Be that as it may, the ability to only add plaintext in the reference input form for the Visual Editor might well compound the divergence of styles rather than help it, and that is what I'm concerned about. Thanks for your thoughts on this. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 00:29, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes, that would be a problem. It probably deserves a mention in the project page specifically excluding precedence for Visual Editor created styles. Vegaswikian (talk) 00:34, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Do you mean on the Visual Editor project page (@ Wikipedia:VisualEditor/Feedback most likely)? I do see in the edit history that Tag:VisualEditor is added to VE-enabled edits. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 00:57, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
No, here. If VE makes it impossible for an editor to use one of the more commonly used styles, that should not rule out someone changing to a more common style in the future. Vegaswikian (talk) 01:10, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
That would be virtually unenforceable; how can you tell if an edit was done with the hither-to default toy editor, Visual Editor toy, or by using one of the intricate tricks to call a real editor, like Emacs? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jc3s5h (talkcontribs) 01:47, 3 July 2013‎
These edits were all made using VisualEditor - you get a similar indication in your watchlist, anyone's contribs, and in the page history; but not when actually viewing the page diff. AFAIK there has never been a means for identifying edits made with "Use external editor by default (for experts only, needs special settings on your computer)" - a feature which used to be listed at Preferences → Editing → Advanced, but is no longer available (it was removed at some point after 19 March 2013). If you still have the means to edit using EMACS, you must either be using a custom script; or your edit method was to open the "normal" editor, copy the contents of the edit box to EMACS, edit there, and finally paste the EMACS-edited wikitext back into the normal editor. Neither of these will add a Tag to indicate the editing method, which means that these edits are indistinguishable from those made using the "normal" edit box directly. --Redrose64 (talk) 06:58, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
If we take a strong view of CITEVAR to the extent that additions to an article using templates must also use templates, then use of an editor that does not permit templates would be in violation of CITEVAR. Alternately, the tag could be understood as saying "this addition is incomplete and/or incorrect, someone please fix it!". Which might be a useful tag regardless of what editing method one uses. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:51, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
VE does allow template editing - it can change/udpate parameters in existing templates, and add new templates (thought the latter is quite cumbersome at the moment in comparison to the editing-toolbar buttons. That's a known issue, and is being actively discussed in the Feedback page and in bugzilla entries). See the "references" and "template" sections at Wikipedia:VisualEditor/User guide for the current setup.
Additionally, adding a bare reference (no template at all) is not a CITEVAR violation in any sense, because it's just an WP:IMPERFECT addition that can be improved by other editors. See the 2nd point at Wikipedia:Historical archive/Rules to consider, a core document from the early days. –Quiddity (talk) 19:34, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, you can use citation templates in VisualEditor. I just did here. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:41, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

OK, so I've gotten a bit more exposure to this recently. Apparently, one needs to start with adding a Reference in order for subsequent citation information to be encased in <ref></ref> tags. Then one adds a template into that reference. There are some dialog-box formatting issues with editing content of a template added in this way, but the method does have an advantage over old methods by allowing a 'real' view of the wiki-rendered citation without having to do a preview-page operation (or a temporary-insert of reflist followed by preview page followed by forgetting to remove the reflist template ... ack, left the sponge in the patient again!). I think that once all the kinks are resolved in the template editor (and all the citation templates have TemplateData added), the Visual Editor will provide a reasonable reference/citation addition option. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 23:58, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Format of References section

Recently I've been seeing a substantial number of articles where the Notes and/or References sections are formatted in multiple columns. I'm OK with this myself, but not sure what policy is on this; has there been a change in policy, or in the tools, to prompt this increase? Colonies Chris (talk) 17:16, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

I understand that some browsers support it, and others ignore the multi-column parameter. Have you changed browsers or browser version? Jc3s5h (talk) 17:39, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
IE10 now supports columns, where the older versions did not. See {{reflist}}. --  Gadget850 talk 17:49, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
I've recently changed to IE10, so I expect that's why I'm suddenly seeing multicolumns that were hidden from me before. Colonies Chris (talk) 10:07, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
It is a good question about whether the number of columns should be part of a style specification for a particular article. I don't think it is, but it is likely that there have been number-of-columns edit wars ... Were these resolved based of reference to a standing style or something else? --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 20:40, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Personally I find a specific number of columns to be a significant problem based on the screen size I'm using. It is generally high or too low and usually not right. I prefer setting the column width to 33em which works well on virtually all screen sizes. As was pointed out to me by another editor, it is both better than using 30em or 35em. Setting a column width dynamically adjusts the number of columns based on the width of the display window. So I would oppose a standard for a specific number of columns! Vegaswikian (talk) 21:20, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
There's a discussion on this very matter going on somewhere else, but I can't find it. I don't like to specify the number of columns (see post above): I use |colwidth=20em if all the refs are very short (as with NBR 224 and 420 Classes#Notes); |colwidth=30em or |colwidth=35em if they're mixed but predominantly short; but if they're predominantly long, I omit any such parameter, which gives the default of 1 column. --Redrose64 (talk) 21:58, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
And as a side note, editors generally avoid edit wars on the specific size. Vegaswikian (talk) 22:13, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
Oh, I also omit the width/count parameter if the lengths are mixed and there are fewer than 10 in total. --Redrose64 (talk) 08:56, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
I've been partial to {{reflist|2}}, but offhand don't recall exactly why. (Anyone got any clues?) If setting a width is preferable perhaps we should, for consistency sake, work out what the preferable width should be. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:18, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

All noted at H:REFCOLS. --  Gadget850 talk 22:33, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

I've started using the 33em option noted by Vegaswikian. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 23:51, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

Suppressing template content to support article citation style

I am a long time editor, but my recent encounter over citation style on a particular article has raised some questions I have not considered before. Taking citation style to heart, I made two edits to an article, described by this diff. This article uses a standard cite-template format and presents to end reader title, work and retrieval date for Internet resources, meaning that the style does not show either byline or publication date. I included the extra information in the template I added, but then suppressed exposure of "extraneous" information based on the article style; the reason I added the info at all was to support recovery from link rot. I am sure there is a wide range of opinions here as to whether this is proper or crazy or unnecessary or just plain stupid editing. I am most concerned with not letting style reduce the amount of information available to editors who need to maintain article content _and_ style. Thanks for inputs. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 22:42, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

If the cite templates are being used, there would seem to be no need to suppress any information that would otherwise go in their standard fields. Sure, with web sources, it will often be the case that some information like bylines may be unavailable but if you have that, I see no reason why it shouldn't be included as the template will take care to keep the formatting consistent with what information it is given. That is not mixing up styles are CITEVAR warns against, so I would think you wouldn't do this at all. --MASEM (t) 22:50, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
I see no indication that in the article in question, available information was deliberately suppressed as part of the style of the article. Instead, I would presume the information was either unavailable, or the editors just didn't bother to include it. Jc3s5h (talk) 23:23, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
I self-suppressed to maintain visual style; authorship for the bloomberg item and the publication date for the Wall Street journal and Bloomberg items were not captured. Now one could say that this was an omission of a rushed editor or one could say this was intended to maintain an admittedly clean style. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 23:42, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Publication date is absolutely essential for a newspaper or magazine citation, much more important than retrieval date. If you find an article containing news cites without publication dates, that's not a citation style, it's just simply wrong and needs fixing. Author (byline) is nice to have, but not at all essential. "Publisher" is entirely redundant in the case of mainstream news sources, and should be removed - e.g. nobody needs to know that The New York Times is published by The New York Times Co. The "publisher" parameter in "cite news" is there only for use with obscure or defunct sources that might not be uniquely identified by including "location" (city of publication). (Of course, "location" should also be deleted if the city of publication is part of the name of the newspaper or magazine.) -- Alarics (talk) 05:54, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
I agree that publication date is absolutely essential. (With the implication that a source lacking a publication date is seriously compromised.) But I would also claim authorship is also essential. If not an "identified actual person" author, then the entity that is responsible for the material. Where to find the source is also pretty essential, but that can play out various ways. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:02, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
When I said "author" is nice to have but not essential, I was talking specifically about news citations. The position is quite different form that of books or academic journals. In many newspapers or magazines, a lot of the (especially smaller) news items don't show any author at all. A few (e.g. The Economist) even have a policy of never naming authors. Generally, the authoritativeness of the item in question will derive from the publication in which it appears rather than from the individual author, with a few exceptions such as when a recognised expert or a celebrated commentator contributes a guest article. Despite all that, I personally still always mention the author(s) if identified. It just is not anywhere near as crucial as publication date, in my view, especially when he/she/they are clearly just ordinary workaday hacks in the employ of the publication concerned. -- Alarics (talk) 21:34, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Sure. And when (for example) The Economist doesn't identify a specific author(s) authorship is attributed to The Economist itself. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:56, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Well, no, in that case, if you are using "cite news", The Economist is the "work" or "newspaper", and "author" is left blank or the parameter deleted. -- Alarics (talk) 06:04, 6 July 2013 (UTC)
In the case where there is not a byline, I add a hidden comment in the author field for editors that indicates no author so there is no ambiguity about whether it was simply not recorded. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 01:36, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
  Sorry, no. While The Economist the publication might be considered a continuing — or more precisely, a serial — "work" of the The Economist the publisher (organization), that term is generally applied to individual articles (etc.) in a given issue of the publication. Where authorship is not identified it is usually (albeit implicitly) attributed to the publication/publisher.
  I like the idea of an "<!-- unsigned -->" comment in the author field. Ed: would this cause any problems with the metadata? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:07, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
About disrupting meta-data ... interesting question. I'll try to find an example where I did this where the content has made it into dbpedia to see how it shows up there (it will take a while to track that down). --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 23:48, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
We don't attribute unsigned news articles to the publisher. You will not find citations that put "The Economist Group" (which is the name of the organization that publishes The Economist) in the author field. You might mentally attribute the articles to the publisher, but we never do that. If the work is unsigned, then the author field should be blank. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:49, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Leaving it blank doesn't work when Shortened footnotes are in use. In such cases, I put "Anonymous", as here. --Redrose64 (talk) 21:09, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Where a publication does not state the person (or group of persons) responsible for a writing a piece the credit (or discredit) is attributed to the publication, typically with a phrase like "according to The Economist ...." However, if (say) the Economist Group released an unsigned statement (perhaps that they were selling The Economist?) the attribution would be to the Economist Group. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:20, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

On Footnote Numbering

We usually arrange our footnotes in descending order of quality—contextually speaking, relevance or usefulness. Usually this ordering cannot be discerned from looking at a series of footnote numbers. Sometimes, however, in combination with the re-use of individual footnotes, this system produces a series of footnote numbers which do not appear in ascending numerical order. Sometimes, further, this seemingly dis-ordered grouping of footnotes provokes other editors to re-arrange the references, such that re-used footnotes always appear before fresh footnotes. Do these re-arrangements reflect a community preference for ascending numerical order over descending order of quality? groupuscule (talk) 05:40, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

I've seen preference to keep numbering in ascending order, even if that puts a "weaker" source before a better one. Of course, one can also work sentence structure around to distribution references better to avoid that if that's a concern. --MASEM (t) 06:02, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Descending order of quality? When I'm writing new articles, it's the first found and then the next. How does one determine the quality of a footnote? Vegaswikian (talk) 06:03, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
"We usually arrange our footnotes in descending order of quality"?? -- I don't understand what groupuscule is talking about. Surely the footnotes are numbered in the order they appear in the text. -- Alarics (talk) 07:10, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
An example: the "Influence" section of the "Structure Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences" article, as updated 2 October 2012. In the list of citations for the first sentence of this section, you will see that Footnote 4 is listed after Footnotes 30, 31, & 32. Footnote 4 provides a source worth including, as it's not behind a paywall and provides a relatively simple statement of the concept at hand. But it's not the best source, and we would prefer that readers who investigated only one or two sources look first to Footnotes 30 & 31 because they are more scholarly and authoritative. Anyone might dispute or reconsider this particular rationale, but surely the generalization is clear. groupuscule (talk) 07:43, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Ah, I understand what you mean now. It would never have occurred to me that there was meant to be any significance in the order of several references placed together at the end of a single sentence. I really don't think it is important. -- Alarics (talk) 21:40, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
G: It appears you are talking about the ordering of the notes where more than one is provided at a given point in the text. Their numbering is set by the order in which they first appear in the article. In your example note "[4]" is a reused "name ref" that appeared earlier in the article. (And in the current version that note has been moved forward.) I would tend to agree that the more important or more significant sources should come first. But some editors prefer that any sequence of the numbered links be in numerical order (for being neater?), so there is a conflict if [32] is "better quality" than [4]. Of course, if you used short cites you could avoid this issue putting any number of short cites, as well as explanatory text, in any order in a single note. And also avoid these long sequences of bracketed numbered links. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:46, 5 July 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── "We usually arrange our footnotes in descending order of quality..." Why? If you have a number of references for one statement, just use the one that is the more reliable source and has the most relevance. I find that statements that use multiple references to back up a single point usually have other problems. --  Gadget850 talk 14:20, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Gadget850, verifying a claim is not the only consideration for a footnote. Other considerations are allowing the reader to explore the point in greater depth, or the cost and availability of the source. So there may be good reason to provide two or more sources for one claim. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:34, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. It is often the case that the best source is one that requires payment or registration or is only available in paper form. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 14:41, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

:::"explore the point in greater depth" has nothing to do with a citation; this would be further reading.

"cost and availability of the source" has nothing to do with the citation. There are many sources that are only available in hardcopy or are behind a paywall.
--  Gadget850 talk 15:12, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
I disagree with Gadget850. "Further reading" is only for sources not used as references. Also, naming the source that goes into greater depth at the relevant point in the article makes it clear what topic the source will expand on. It is generally agreed that paper and paywall sources may be used, but there is no agreement that less expensive or more available sources can't be provided as well. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:34, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
I would also disagree with Gadget here. "Further reading" is typically at the level of the article or topic as a whole. Where there is additional material — including "further reading" — pertaining to a specific point it would be best to mention that in the context of the point, instead of out of context at the end of the article. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:00, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Unfortunate that Gadget850 decided to take their ball and go home. Really. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 23:44, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

There is an alternative ordering to " descending order of quality" or the more usual earliest first, and that is in the order for which the information is summarised. For example "The sun is pretty big and quite hot (reference for big; reference for hot)." The trouble is that if references are placed in ref...tag pairs and the reference for hot appears higher up the page so that the sentence with footnotes reads " The sun is pretty big and quite hot.[5][1]" some editors (for FA reviews or other reasons) and some applications (like AWB) will reorder them into numerical sequence " The sun is pretty big and quite hot.[1][5]" even though the two references now do not support the information in the sentence in the order in which they appear. The only way to protect the sequence is to bundle them into a single ref...tag pair. -- PBS (talk) 00:20, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Yes. Which is to say, to bundle multiple references (citations) into a single note. Of course, if you want to use any of those references else where (but not the same combination) then the use of short citations become advisable. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:31, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Fixing repeat references

Is there an easy way to condense duplicated references in an article when no named reference is given? Morganfitzp (talk) 02:11, 7 July 2013 (UTC)

Could you give an example. It would be appropriate to introduce names under some citation schemes. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 13:59, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes. Save one instance of the full citation (either the first one in the article, or one put into a "References" section), then replace all other instances with a "short cite". (E.g.: Smith, 2001; Jones, et al., 2008.) If you use {{Harv}} templates for this and your full citations are in template form a link from the short cite to the full cite will be created automatically. Another advantage of short cites is that each place it is used can have its own page number(s) or explanatory text appropriate for that usage. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:58, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
To refine your suggestion even further, I like to place the full cite in the body of the article so that only short cites are used in the lead. That thinking is based on the primacy of the body over the lead (lead content always mirrors body content, and no reference should appear in the lead that doesn't already exist in the body). That way if a full ref in the lead gets deleted, we don't end up with a bunch of dead short cites in the body. It also means that if a contentious editor absolutely demands a ref included in the lead, a short cite can be provided immediately. I personally would like to see a lead without references, since we aren't required to provide them, but often it's better to include some to avoid controversy and edit wars. Having short cites in the lead also happens to make reading the lead easier when editing, because it doesn't contain a bunch of long full cites. I know there is no policy about this, it's just my personal preference and it seems to work pretty well. -- Brangifer (talk) 02:04, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Agree with BullRangifer, those were precisely my reasons for ref placement in these two edits. That this was the correct decision is borne out by edits like this. --Redrose64 (talk) 13:11, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
In print the standard practice is that the first reference to the source has the full citation. Here, not putting the full citation at the first instance means an editor might have to dive into a multiple sections to find the master named ref. As to minimizing clutter in the lede, why not minimize clutter in all of the article text? E.g., by putting the full citation in a dedicated "References" section. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:32, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Because converting the existing ref style to either Shortened footnotes or WP:LDR would have violated WP:CITEVAR. --Redrose64 (talk) 22:19, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
If having full citations in the body of the text is a "style" to be retained, why not also respect full citations in the lede? Well, this may be going off-topic. Should this be continued elsewhere? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:39, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
The way to do it is with named references. However, please keep in mind that if the page was set up to not use named references, then they should not be unilaterally introduced, per WP:CITEVAR. There has been some disagreement in the past about whether named references are a net benefit or not, so different articles will vary in using or not using them. — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:15, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Unless a page is using Harvard style referencing, how a can a page be "set up not use named references"? -- PBS (talk) 10:04, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Easy: just don't use them. For example, AWB is configured so that, if a page has duplicate footnotes but no named references, then AWB will not change the duplicates to named references, to respect CITEVAR. In general, editors should not replace duplicates with named references solely for the point of "cleanup", because named references are a purely optional style, and changing from one option style to another is not "cleanup" (in fact, it is strongly discouraged). — Carl (CBM · talk) 13:27, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Even if Harv templates are used AWB is deficient in its respect of CITEVAR: if someone slips in even a single named ref it will convert every duplicate ref it finds. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:37, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
JJ I think you misunderstood my comment "Harvard style referencing" does not mean {{harvnb}} templates inside a ref tag pair -- it is a common name for what in this guideline is now in a section called "parenthetical referencing". -- PBS (talk) 23:54, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Negative; I do distinguish between Harv templates and Harvard style referencing. But this is irrelevant to my point that AWB is deficient in its respect of CITEVAR, which (as far as I can see) checks only if there are any instances of a named ref. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:59, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Carl You are talking about AWB setup not the page setup. "then AWB will not change the duplicates to named references, to respect CITEVAR" but using named ref tags on a page already using ref tags is not a change of style. -- PBS (talk) 23:54, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
If the article has duplicate refs but no named ones, replacing the duplicates with named references is exactly the sort of change that is covered by CITEVAR. CITEVAR covers both the appearance of references and how they are achieved in the source. In particular, there are enough editors who dislike named references that anyone with experience should know better than to unilaterally add them to articles as a sort of misguided "cleanup". — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:14, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Which part of WP:CITEVAR do you think supports your argument? -- PBS (talk) 00:23, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
As you know well, CITEVAR covers all optional styles in citations: "Editors should not attempt to change an article's established citation style merely on the grounds of personal preference, to make it match other articles, or without first seeking consensus for the change." Wikipedia does not have a house style - and that includes named footnotes, which are neither required nor prohibited, they are just another optional style among many others (and they even affect the rendered output by duplicating the note numbers). — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:34, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
"As you know well, CITEVAR covers all optional styles in citations" I have already stated "using named ref tags on a page already using ref tags is not a change of style", so I do not think that CITEVAR cover this. To date you are the only person that I have seen claim that it is, do you have any examples on talk pages where others have made the same claim that using named reference tags is a matter of style (as defined in this guideline)? If it is a commonly held belief then there should be lots of examples. -- PBS (talk) 10:56, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for your replies. I'm going to ask my question again, with a little more emphasis on a particular word:

Is there an easy way to condense duplicated references in an article when no named reference is given? Morganfitzp (talk) 20:11, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Are you talking about adding more references to an existing article and you wish to avoid duplication; or are you talking about taking an existing article which already has duplicates and so eliminate the duplication? An example article would help. --Redrose64 (talk) 20:34, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Assuming that the page already uses ref tags -- use named ref tags. -- PBS (talk) 23:54, 12 July 2013 (UTC)
Here's an example: Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga has a medium sized ref list, but currently references 3, 8 and 12 are the same, as are 1, 27 and 28, as well as 14, 17, 22 and 26. This is the sort of thing that someone more savvy than I could design a bot or some other software to fix, or at least point out in the same way that DAB Solver works. Morganfitzp (talk) 02:05, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
You are talking about something different: those are different references that point to the same web page on different dates. A bot cannot fix them automatically. For example, if I cite something from a web page in 2007, and then the content changes and I cite something else in 2010, I cannot change the 2007 reference to 2010, or vice versa. A human editor might choose to remove the 2007 reference, if the content is no longer verifiable from the source. But a bot cannot make the complicated decisions necessary to handle that sort of reference cleanup. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:38, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
The three groups described by Morganfitzp (talk · contribs) have different characteristics.
Of the first group, ref 8 is scanty, consisting of nothing more than a URL and title; ref 12 has more information, although the "" is redundant, being part of the URL; ref 1 is better but not ideal. It may be possible to consolidate these, if it's certain that all three were identical on the same date (that's the date to put as the |accessdate=).
The second group cannot be consolidated since they are not the same: the page numbers differ.
Of the third group, ref 26 is completely different from the others so must not be consolidated with 14/17/22; ref 17 may be consolidated with ref 22, taking care that the information from ref 22 (which is more complete) is retained; regarding ref 14, this is already a consolidation, but page numbers should be determined before any attempt to further consolidate - it may be that a different page was used for each of the four instances, in which case this ref should be split. Of course, if one or more of those four was page 176, that may be consolidated with refs 17/22.
All in all, it has to be a manual task, since each needs to be carefully considered. --Redrose64 (talk) 07:06, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
There is a way to consolidate the second group into a single source and citing specific page numbers for each sub-citation. Morganfitzp (talk) 11:25, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for answering my question. To paraphrase your answers:

"No, there is not an easy way to condense duplicated references in an article when no named reference is given. Editors must take up the task of painstakingly consolidating duplicate references, no matter how arduous or tedious a task it may be." Morganfitzp (talk) 11:25, 13 July 2013 (UTC) Morganfitzp (talk) 02:11, 7 July 2013 (UTC)
Your question is a bit misleading. After references have been duplicated it can be tedious (not really hard, just tedious) to "condense" them. But it is really easy to avoid that problem in the first place: add your "references" (citations) in a separate section (typically "References"), then use short cites through out the article. Note that use of neither cite/citation templates nor {{harv}} templates is required (there are folks that like plain text), but use of those adds greatly to an article's usability. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:08, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

OK, I'll bite . . .

. . . Why do we care when an item was "retrieved"? GeorgeLouis (talk) 02:04, 11 July 2013 (UTC)

I added this to Special:Mypage/vector.css
.reference-accessdate {display:none}
which makes it vanish. I recommend! –Quiddity (talk) 02:31, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
We care about accessdates for online sources (but not for hardcopy sources) because the actual text at a given URL can vary over time. Plenty more on this in the archives of this talk page, also those for {{cite web}} and several others. --Redrose64 (talk) 06:17, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes, but what diff does it make to know when a citation was accessed? How does that info benefit the reader? And what term do I use to search in the archives? Thanx. GeorgeLouis (talk) 07:35, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
If an online source changes (or disappears completely, as they so often do) we go to an archiving service. These can often provide more than one different version of a given page; so it helps to use the one that is closest to the version that was used in preparing the article. Hence the accessdate.
Here's a search query: [1] - and that's just for this page. --Redrose64 (talk) 08:07, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Help needed: Too long a citation list

Somebody please look at List of districts and neighborhoods of Los Angeles and try to figure out how we can reduce the size of the citation list running along the bottom of the page. GeorgeLouis (talk) 07:39, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Each reference need only be cited once. When the state of California gets redistricted, a new citation can be added to the updated list. Morganfitzp (talk) 14:14, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
Well, never mind. I think I solved the problem. GeorgeLouis (talk) 15:16, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
That was one way to handle it—Nice work! Morganfitzp (talk) 16:12, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

Seeking editor to close RFC regarding Citation Style 1

The RFC at Help:Citation Style 1#RFC: Consistent date location has expired, and appears to have concluded. Would an editor please close the discussion? Jc3s5h (talk) 12:50, 13 July 2013 (UTC)

I need assistance

A citation I added to the Cully Hamner article resulted in this citation error. It says the cite was not described, but I double-checked it, can't find anything wrong with it. Can someone help? Thanks. Nightscream (talk) 22:57, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

  What error?   :-)
  It looks like it was automatically fixed (check the page history). You had a <ref> inside a template; this does not work. That was moved; you might want to check if that is where you want it. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:02, 26 July 2013 (UTC)
This version shows the error. The AnomieBOT edit didn't fix it, it just hid the error message. If you look at either that version of the page, or the one showing the error message, you'll see that in the infobox, the "Born" row just shows the place of birth, not the date. There is nothing inherently wrong with putting <ref>...</ref> inside a template; the problem was that the |birth_date= parameter was given twice inside {{Infobox comics creator}}, and the second one was empty. It is a feature of the MediaWiki template parser that if any named parameter occurs more than once, only the last instance is actually processed, even if that is blank. Therefore, the intended date of birth (and its ref) was not being shown because a blank was shown instead. That blank parameter merely needed to be removed, like this. --Redrose64 (talk) 09:33, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

That's odd. I put citations in Infoboxes all the time. Why is it that when I place one in the Peter David article, as seen in this Sandbox test edit, no such error shows up? Nightscream (talk) 13:09, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

Because neither of those have a spurious empty |birth_date= --Redrose64 (talk) 13:34, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

"In-text attribution"?

I wonder if we might consider whether it is useful to to distinguish "in-text" citation (defined at WP:Citing sources#In-text attribution as an attribution within a sentence, "in addition to an inline citation after the sentence") from "inline citation". Quite aside from the curious suggestion of "in addition to", this distinction between "in-text" and "inline" seems to be made only here. The earliest use of this term (at WT:Citing sources/Archive 1#Proposed in-text citation guidelines in 2004) did not make this distinction, nor have I found any other discussion of the distinction. Note that I am not suggesting revisiting whether "mid-sentence footnotes" should be deprecated (as discussed here); I ask if we really need a special term (and an inapt one at that) just to deprecate it. I am wondering if that section could be merged with the "inline citation" section. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:26, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

In-text attribution is "Smith argues that ..." It's not the same as inline citation – the distinction disappears when you're using Harvard refs, but most editors don't. Using in-text attribution is important to avoid allegations of plagiarism, so I wouldn't want to see it changed here. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:45, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
Huh? Well, "Smith" is incomplete, but presuming there is a year or something to make that an adequate short cite: it is a (short) citation, and it is "located near the material...", so how is it not an inline citation? How does this alleged distinction disappear with "Harvard refs"? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:10, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
The most popular style I know of that uses notes for inline citations is the Chicago Manual of Style. The 16th edition in section 4.98 states "Credit lines. Whether or not the use of others' material requires permission, an author should give the exact source of such material: in a note or internal reference in the text, in a source note to a table, or in a credit line under an illustration." I take this to mean a note number next to a quotation and a corresponding note which is a short or full citation is sufficient. Naming the author within the running text is not required by Chicago, as I understand it. If so, this guideline contains a Wikipedia house preference, and not a requirement that is widespread in the English-speaking world. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:50, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Smith is not incomplete. Smith may not be the source; he may be someone interviewed in the source. In-text attribution is not an inline citation. The two can blur in the case of Harvard refs because where Smith is the source, you might write Smith (2013), in which case you have in-text attribution via a Harvard ref (via an inline citation). SlimVirgin (talk) 00:14, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
I believe the key here is "someone interviewed in the source". That is: "according to Jones (2004) Smith said ...", which is indirect attribution. Smith is the original source, but "source" in the sense of "work consulted" is "Jones 2004". Compare this to direct attribution: "Smith (2002) said ...."
That both the named section and the definition (in "Types of citation") completely miss this distinction, and the former makes the totally misleading distinction that in-text attribution is "inside a sentence" while inline citation is "after the sentence", is a prime demonstration of just how FUBAR-ed (any one need that spelled out?) things have gotten here. This stuff needs a total rewrite. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:38, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

I believe the case where in-text attribution is important is to emphasize that a certain view belongs to the person it is attributed to, and not necessarily the view of the community of Wikipedia editors. If the statement merely has quotation marks and a footnote, it might interpreted as a statement of the mainstream view, quoted because the person who wrote it came up with a particularly apt statement of the mainstream view. On the other hand, it was wise for whoever wrote our article on Richard Nixon to use in-text attribution for the sentence "I'm not a crook." [Kilpatrick, Carroll (November 18, 1973). "Nixon tells editors, 'I'm not a crook'". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 17, 2011. ]

I've never understood the distinction between in-text (used by Chicago and others) and inline (used only on Wikipedia). But I ignore it and things work just fine. --  Gadget850 talk 02:32, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Your lack of understanding is because the claimed distinction exists (if it exists at all) in minds of certain editors, not in any plain text the rest of us can share. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:41, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
It's not complicated:

Richard Nixon said, "I'm not a crook."[1]

  1. ^ Kilpatrick, Carroll (November 18, 1973). "Nixon tells editors, 'I'm not a crook'". The Washington Post. 
The bit that runs "Richard Nixon said" is WP:INTEXT. The little blue number (and the bibliography entry that it leads to) is WP:INLINE. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:05, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
And it's not a phrase used only on Wikipedia. See here, for example (bold added):
All ideas, facts, figures and quotations taken from external sources must be properly cited. ... In addition, all direct quotations require an in-text attribution. ... For example, you cannot simply insert the quote “All is flux” into the body of your text. You must include a phrase such as 'According to Heraclitus or “As Heraclitus stated” or “In the words of Heraclitus,” “All is flux.”
SlimVirgin (talk) 23:15, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
SV Just as well talk pages do not have to meet the standards laid out in the guideline otherwise you ought to have included MCTC Philosophy Department :-O
The requirement in the content policy has been for may years that a POV must have inline/in text attribution, the requirement for all quotes to have in-text attribution has never been agreed. I think that there are lots of example where in-text attribution is not needed for example with well known phrases such as "second to none". One might summarise several sources and write a sentence They were "second to none".[1 (bundled)] or as an alternative They were second to none.[1 (bundled)] Whether one puts "second to none" in quotations is largely a matter of style (there is no copyright requirement). What one does not have to do is alter the sentence with quotation marks to They were, in the words of the well known traditional phrase, "second to none".[1 (bundled)] to meet any Wikipedia content policy. Like so much else it is convenient to for editors to use separate terms for these concepts and a I for one am comfortable with using "in-text" and "in-line" (with or without hyphens) to describe the difference. The only place were this becomes somewhat confusing is when "Parenthetical referencing (Harvard style)" in-line citations are used, but I think that the examples in the guideline make the distinction clear. -- PBS (talk) 08:16, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
  • There is consensus that quotes need in-text attribution so far as I know. For example, see WP:MOSQUOTE: "The author of a quote of a full sentence or more should be named; this is done in the main text and not in a footnote." If you don't attribute a quote in-text, it may look like a scare quote. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:13, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
Sure, not complicated at all. "In-text attribution" is defined in the section "Types of citation", which certainly implies it is a type of citation. And this is reinforced by the statement of when it should be done (quotations, etc.), which parallel the cases that require citation. What, then is the difference between this and "inline citation"? We link to the corresponding section, and the gist of the first sentence is that "in-text attribution" is inside a sentence, while "inline citation" comes after the sentence. So the example WhatamIdoing provided just above is inline citation, while the following example is in-text attribution (which is just a form of citation) because it is inside the sentence:

Richard Nixon said,[1] "I'm not a crook."

  1. ^ Kilpatrick, Carroll (November 18, 1973). "Nixon tells editors, 'I'm not a crook'". The Washington Post. 
Yes, quite clear. In fact, I think some of you have a different distinction in mind (and possiby a valid one at that), but you have failed to reduce it to plain text. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:40, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
In the INTEXT attribution points to a publication, then it is also, simultaneously, an INLINE citation. The example of Richard Nixon is not an example of both (Nixon is not a publication), but "According to Alice Expert in her 2010 book, The Sun is Really Big..." is both INTEXT and INLINE. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:01, 8 June 2013 (UTC) Likely you mean "If ..."? -JJ
Sorry, but that is not the plain reading of the text. And your added distinction of pointing to a publication just makes things more complicated without really resolving the fundamental problem, which is confounding attribution with citation. One is the means by how the other is done. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:25, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
P.S. Regarding the examples, you may have confused to whom (Nixon/Expert) a statement is attributed with the citation of where (the publication) the statement is documented. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:34, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Suggestion to remove confusing ambiguity

The confusion of attribution with citation, and the ambiguous use of "source", makes the treatment of attribution incomprehensible, and is distinctly unhelpful. I suggest that "source" be clarified, so that attribution is the identification of the who (person or group) that uttered or wrote or is otherwise responsible for some statement or material, and citation is the identification of where such material is documented or reported. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:03, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

  1. I'm not seeing any evidence that we have a problem in practice, which makes the proposal WP:CREEPy.
  2. Sometimes we have to attribute a statement to an unsigned text, which makes "who" impossible, and frequently it makes more sense to attribute a statement to something other than the author. One would not want to replace all of the in-text attributions to religious scriptures, which currently name the documents, with "According to God..." WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:29, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
1. Sure, no problem at all. The text is quite clear: in-text attribution is a kind of citation that appears inside a sentence. And as Gadget850 said earlier: "ignore it and things work just fine."
2. WP:INTEXT doesn't deal with unsigned text. If you want to clarify that (creepy!), fine. But don't blame clarification of terms (akin to clearing away kudzu?) for a problem it only reveals. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:31, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
You are mistaken about #2. "According to the anonymous pamphlet" and "According to the unsigned editorial in The Times" are both in-text attribution. The definition is "In-text attribution is the attribution inside a sentence of material to its source", not "to a human". WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:15, 16 June 2013 (UTC)
  But I am not mistaken about #1, right? That the text is clear, and things work fine if we ignore it? In which case why bother having that text at all? It's just a trap for newbies that don't know enough to ignore it.
  As to #2: you are misreading again. I said nothing about attribution being "to a human", that is your mis-interpolation. Which, anticipating, is why I expanded "who" to "person or group". What you don't understand is that identified authorship is the basis of authority for any kind of statement. An editorial in the NY Times unsigned by any individual still has the cachet of the Times; anonymous statements, by their nature, cannot be attributed to anyone. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:28, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
You said "WP:INTEXT doesn't deal with unsigned text." This is wrong. "According to the anonymous pamphlet" and "According to the unsigned editorial in The Times" are both INTEXT attributions to unsigned text. WhatamIdoing (talk) 07:32, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
  You have quoted both of those phrases twice now, but neither occurs in WP:INTEXT. A similar phrase does occur, but only as an example of a misleading attribution. As WP:INTEXT does not even mention unsigned text it seems fair to say that it does not deal with it. If you want to claim that it implicitly or obliquely deals with unsigned text, fine, and I am willing to qualify my statement with adequately.
  And having not objected do you then agree with my point #1, that the text is clear, and things work fine if we ignore it? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:32, 26 June 2013 (UTC)
INTEXT begins: "In-text attribution is the attribution inside a sentence of material to its source..." If "the source" is an anonymous pamphlet, and you say "according to the anonymous pamphlet" inside the sentence, then you have attributed the material "to its source" inside the sentence.
I do not understand why you apparently believe that "the source" should be read as meaning "the source, but not if the source is an unsigned source". All sources, signed and unsigned, count for this purpose.
I believe that the text is clear, and that it works best if you don't ignore it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:53, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Your confusion is due to the ambiguity of "source". E.g., in your two quoted sentences you introduce the terms "anonymous pamphlet" and "unsigned editorial"; INTEXT simply does not mention any of these terms. (Failure to mention something being a strong indication it is not addressed.) More importantly, you have interpreted "source" as being some kind of work (such as a pamphlet or editorial). Which is fine in regards of citation, which is primarily about documenting who said what, etc. But I ask you: are Richard Nixon (referring to the example above), John Rawls, Richard Dawkins, or the New York Times works? I say that there is a difference between works as products of authorship, and the authors. As you said your self (above): “Richard Nixon said "I am not a crook!"”. Carroll Kilpatrick and the Washington Post (among others) are the source cited for this, but the statement is attributed to Nixon. Nixon is the utterer, author, or (generally) person who made the statement; Kilpatrick only reported it, as documented at the Post. Is that clearer? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:48, 27 June 2013 (UTC)
Both the quoted person ("Richard Nixon") and the cited source ("unsigned editorial") count as sources here. Naming either of them, or both of them (e.g., According to Rawls, Richard Nixon said, "I am not a crook!") counts as INTEXT attribution. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:56, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
So when you say that "[n]aming either of them ... counts" as attribution, does that mean that either is sufficient? Or is it necessary cite both? And if both are required (i.e., they are not redundant), does this not imply a difference in the the meaning of "sources" not explained in the text? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:18, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
Either is normally sufficient. However, the community has preferences about which 'source' to cite. When you are attributing material to a source, which source is best to name depends on the situation. You are expected to use your best judgment to decide whether it makes more sense to attribute material intext to "Nobel-prize-winning biochemist Kary Mullis" or to "a notorious HIV denialist" or to the author of a book that mentions him. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:35, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
  If either is sufficient, then what is the difference? (Not a rhetorical question. I can answer this question; can you?)
  As to which might be best to use, you say "use your best judgment". Ah, but isn't the purpose of this instruction to give the reader some basis for a judgment? Like, some new editor is reading all of this trying to figure out how to do citations, and here she is told she also has to do something called "attribution", which is something like a citation but "inside a sentence", and (according to you) either is sufficient. If that is the case, then why confuse a struggling new editor with unnecessary and confusing detail? If mere "citation" is sufficient, why is attribution ever needed? (Hint: what is the difference?) ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:13, 8 July 2013 (UTC)
We use INTEXT attribution for purposes that go beyond simply documenting where we found the information for verifiability purposes. We use it to help differentiate between facts and opinion, to contrast opinions (e.g., Alice said... but Bob said...), to provide appropriate information (e.g., who actually uttered the words), to identify minority or self-interested positions (e.g., "According to the Weasel Natural Medicines Company..."), to WP:Build the web to articles about sources (e.g., "The preamble to the United States Constitution says..."), and so forth.
In terms of "Richard Nixon said" versus "According to The Big Book", both are equally INTEXT attributions. There is no "difference" there. This is not a situation in which everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others. Both types are equally INTEXT attributions. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:34, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
If there is truly no difference (and aside from "inside a sentence" the text does not show any difference) then why bother? They are equal! But it seems you are not fully convinced in that you want some usages to be "more equal", which implies a difference. So which is it? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:18, 10 July 2013 (UTC)
Why bother with what? Why bother telling editors how to handle INTEXT attribution? WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:38, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
Yes: why bother confusing new editors (hell, even experienced editors) with INTEXT attribution if it is no different from citation? Mind, I say they are different, but for the moment we are exploring your pov. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:01, 11 July 2013 (UTC)
I have never said that INTEXT and INCITE are identical. INTEXT is a subset of INCITE. What I have said is that both "Named Speaker said" and "Cited Source said" are both equally INTEXT citations, and both are properly used on occasion. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:31, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── In your example of 1 July you said that naming either the quoted person or the cited source "counts as INTEXT attribution." When you said (4 July) "[e]ither is normally sufficient", I then asked "what is the difference?" In your example of 9 July you said there is no difference (though "some are more equal than others"), and reiterated: "[b]oth types are equally INTEXT attributions." The question is not whether they are identical (please be more careful in your reading) but whether one suffices for the other. If (as you have just said) "INTEXT is a subset of INCITE" then INTEXT is not necessary, as it can always be covered by citing the source. So why confuse a new editor about something that is unnecessary?

I see: either "Named Speaker said" or "Cited Source said" is normally sufficient. It is not true that either INTEXT or INCITE alone is always sufficient.
I have already given you a list of reasons why INCITE may not be sufficient and INTEXT would be additionally required. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:55, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
  A list of reasons why they are different? I'm sorry, I seem to have missed that. Perhaps you would reiterate?
  Quite regardless of everything you have said, the text at WP:INTEXT does not explain why or when INCITE may not be sufficient. I point out (again) that in my conception there is a fundamental distinction between these concepts, but the only distinction made in the text is "inside of a sentence". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:03, 14 July 2013 (UTC)
Still waiting to hear how either INCITE or INTEXT "is normally sufficient", but not always. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:28, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
Let us go back and see whether we can make you stop misquoting me. Here is the original bit of conversation:
W: Both the quoted person ("Richard Nixon") and the cited source ("unsigned editorial") count as sources here. Naming either of them, or both of them (e.g., According to Rawls, Richard Nixon said, "I am not a crook!") counts as INTEXT attribution.
JJ: So when you say that "[n]aming either of them ... counts" as attribution, does that mean that either is sufficient?
Note: "Them" in the phrase "either of them" refers to two types of sources being cited INTEXT: the first is a quoted person, and the second is a quoted source. "Them" does not refer to the two types of citation, INTEXT and INCITE.
You will find your list of reasons why we use INTEXT attribution in addition to INCITE attribution in the paragraph beginning "We use INTEXT attribution for purposes that go beyond simply documenting where we found the information for verifiability purposes". INTEXT is normally[1] not sufficient for WP:V purposes. However, using either-of-the-two-styles-of-INTEXT-attribution (perhaps the inappropriate hyphenation will keep you from misrepresenting this as referring to a proper bibliographic citation) is sufficient for INTEXT purposes.
  1. ^ INTEXT can be sufficient for WP:V purposes, if the INTEXT attribution is substantial enough to clearly identify the publication, e.g., "According to the "About us" page of the corporate website at on 01 July 2013...", but we don't normally choose to use that style.
WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:03, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
  Yet again you are being ridiculous. You accuse me of misquoting you, but by your own demonstration the five words of my quote come directly from (and almost in vertical alignment with) your statement (I have highlighted the corresponding parts); you have failed to show any false inclusion, material omission, or mis-statment of what you said. There is no misquotation. And the misstatement and misinterpretation are, as always, yours.
  Your description of a couple ways of how to use INTEXT attribution does not explain how it is different from inline-citation. Nor have you explained various other points you invoke, but never mind all that. For the sake of discussion let us assume that somewhere you (or I, or anyone) have a clear, completely adequate explanation of "in-text attribution". So what? That is not what WP:INTEXT says. It says: "In-text attribution is the attribution inside a sentence of material to its source, in addition to an inline citation after the sentence." Period. Do you find that a fully sufficient explanation of INTEXT? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:45, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

User:WhatamIdoing: as you appear to be abandoning this discussion I will summarize the position reached as follows:

  1. Your accusations of misquotation and misrepresentation are baseless, and thereby uncivil.
  2. For all that you may think you have clearly explained what attribution is and how it differs from citation, none of this is in the text at WP:INTEXT. That some such explanation is needed, but absent, demonstrates that the existing text is deficient.
~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:36, 29 July 2013 (UTC)
The quoted, and now highlighted, sentences do not show me saying that " either INCITE or INTEXT "is normally sufficient", but not always". They show me saying that either INTEXT attribution to a publication or INTEXT attribution to a human is normally sufficient to qualify as INTEXT attribution.
Note these facts:
  • I have never said that INTEXT attribution alone is normally sufficient for WP:Verifiability.
  • I have never said that INCITE is sufficient for avoiding plagiarism, or attributing opinion, or any of the other reasons that we require INTEXT attribution.
Note, too, the example I gave you: "Naming either of them, or both of them (e.g., According to Rawls, Richard Nixon said, "I am not a crook!") counts as INTEXT attribution."
This example, which may help you figure out the antecedent for the pronoun them, is INTEXT attribution to a publication and INTEXT attribution to a human. And neither of them are sufficient for INCITE identification of the publication. For the purpose of WP:V and identifying the reliable source that the material comes from, we want a bibliographic citation. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:21, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
  Your accusation of misquotation is still baseless. I asked whether "does that mean either is sufficient?" And your response was (exact quotation!): "Either is normally sufficient." (18:35, 4 July)
  That the "quoted, and now highlighted, sentences" do not show you saying that (i.e., "Either is normally sufficient") is because, hey, you quoted the wrong sentences. You are correct that the highlighted sentences do not show you saying “either INCITE or INTEXT "is normally sufficient" ...” because in this case you are quoting me where I quoted three words from you. And, as just shown, I quoted you precisely.
  (If there was any confusion about what was being referred to you could have simply said so. That you instead accused me of misquotation is incorrect, unhelpful, and uncivil.)
  As to distinguishing between publications (i.e., documentation) and humans (i.e., authors): that is the very point I made at the top of this subsection. You are still confused on other points, including my main point: that the existing text of WP:INTEXT explains none of this. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:55, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

Reconsideration of WP:CITEVAR and consistency in sources

In this section a discussion is made which considers whether a single Wikipedia article should contain references using multiple citation formats. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:20, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Past discussions

This discussion started at WikiProject Medicine. See Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Medicine#Consistent_referencing_style. (Update this link and delete this sentence when that content moves to the archive).

WP:CITEVAR is a section within Wikipedia:Citing sources. It suggests that users should not arbitrarily change citation formats, and it also suggests that any citation style would be appropriate for any article. It further suggests that the article should have the citation format decided by majority contributions. None of this is in strong language. Here is a history of WP:CITEVAR discussions.

If anyone has any more then please list them here. If anyone has comments on the precedent then share. Thanks. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:20, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

What should be in CITEVAR?

I propose that WP:CITEVAR only contain the advice about varying formats - CITE VARiations. The other information should be moved to another section because there is no reason to combine the concepts.

In May 2012 in this series of edits user:SlimVirgin removed from WP:CITEVAR the assertion that any given article should have a consistent citation format. This user put that concept elsewhere in WP:Citing sources. I, and some other Wikipedians, formerly knew CITEVAR as a shortcut which gave advice on having varying citation formats within a single Wikipedia article. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:20, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Also - Template:Cite pmid, Template:Cite doi have notices in their documentation saying that people should look to WP:CITEVAR for the information about consistent citation format. This is further support that site guidelines depend on CITEVAR containing this information. Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:41, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

"Citations within a given article should follow a consistent style"

The current guideline is that "Citations within a given article should follow a consistent style". I propose that this be changed to "Citations within a given section of an article should follow a consistent style and usually should match the style of other sections. The exception is when different sections of an article draw from different disciplines which use different citation formats."

I propose that when a Wikipedia article has multiple sections in it, and each of those sections draw from unrelated academic disciplines, then that Wikipedia article should be considered good and worthy of passing peer review processes such as WP:GA and WP:FA if the citation format within any given section is consistent. If an article's subsections each draw from the sciences, humanities, pop culture, and other fields which each have their own citation style, then there is no reason to force a single citation style on all the content. Medical articles are an example of this as it is not uncommon for the article on a disease to draw from science, medicine, anthropology, humanities, arts, and other traditions.

WP:Citing sources, and sometimes WP:CITEVAR within it, says that "citations within a given article should follow a consistent style." This typically is checked when an article goes through Good article review. I feel that this should not be the case for the following reasons:

  1. It is not good for the encyclopedia. There is no reason to force a citation format intended for one discipline of study onto work done in another discipline and which uses another citation format. Wikipedia articles are unusual and bizarre in the history of publishing because in a single Wikipedia article - such as one on health - the article may cite papers in medicine for some parts, hard science for other parts, humanities for cultural aspects of the medicine, and pop culture or news for other parts. This has never happened before on this scale. Wikipedia cannot look to a precedent.
  2. It is not good for contributors. Very few people in the entire world, and almost all of them from elite academic communities in the Western world, have fluency in recognizing citation styles. Even among those who know one style, the number of people who know multiple styles is even less. There are few people who are served by enforcing minor variations in citation formats. Thus, there is no great legacy of tradition to change here, and new users can be expected to do what gives them a good user experience anyway. Forcing contributors in one discipline to use the citation format of another disciple is not useful to anyone.
  3. Many citation formats, even if in different styles, serve the readers equally well. Read about various styles at Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Citation_style
  4. The best way matters more than historical rules. If any source is unusual and someone feels the need to add extra information to make a citation better, then they should be able to do it. Ignore all rules.
  5. Wikipedia as an Internet publication can do useful things that traditional citation formats do not consider useful. Many citation formats are outdated and do not utilize the Internet's strengths. For example, Wikipedia is able to generate book citations from an ISBN and there are bots which can automatically populate research paper citations from Digital object identifiers and PubMed IDs (see template:cite doi and template:cite pmid). However, there is no traditional citation format which acknowledges that people do research on the Internet and gives any of these numbers. Instead, many book citation formats suggest including obsolete things like the geographic location of the publisher and many research paper citation formats do not recommend sharing a the unique identifying numbers or a paper or even a URL. It is natural that Wikipedia users would want these things and unnatural that Wikipedia users would avoid such things.

Thoughts? Blue Rasberry (talk) 14:20, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

We don't currently match the citation format to the discipline the article text draws from, so why start doing this on a per-section basis? Per-section citation format styles would still produce a fairly random mix of styles in the references section, leaving the reader very confused. Or are we going to have a references section per discipline? This is just going to create battles over how to classify our sources by discipline, and then what the dominant citation format in the discipline is. And no discipline uses wikipedia template citation format, which are widely used here, so where does that fit?
I don't think this has been thought through, nor do I think it productive of our time to spend 10,000 words debating the point. This will just cause more arguments than it helps. Colin°Talk 15:18, 30 July 2013 (UTC)
I have to address this problem continuously so it is personally relevant to me and has been for a long time. Feel free to visit WP:WikiProject Open Access for a kind of introduction to the new problems which digital access is bringing along with its benefits. I present publicly at least twice a month a month on the topic of using scholarly publications on Wikipedia and citation format is something which always comes up. You are free to dismiss my arguments or the importance of this but please do not dismiss my personal concern. I could very well be completely wrong about the utility of my proposals but you should not fault me for complaining about the existence of a problem, and it does no good to hinder discussion of a problem just because there is no ready solution. I am saying this now - let's think about it for a few years. Thanks.
In response to your questions and comments -
  • One reference section is fine. Right now practically all reference sections have a mix of citation formats.
  • You are incorrect that there is no system for matching a citation format to the discipline of the article. The current practice is "first major contributor" sets the citation format. This should be at least be changed to "discipline from which most article content comes" because that is the intent. Beyond that, if large parts of an article come from different disciplines, then it is not a big deal to use multiple formats. Practically no reader would ever notice and this makes it easier for contributors.
  • I am not suggesting a random mix of styles.
  • There will not be battles. A given paper's discipline is almost always obvious.

Blue Rasberry (talk) 16:37, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

  • Oppose Citations within an article should be in a consistent style. I would even go as far to say that citations in a certain topic area should be in a consistent style. But this should not be weakened "Citations within a given article should follow a consistent style" and if anything should be strengthened. Consistency across Wikipedia makes it easier for our readers and fellow editors. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 21:39, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose. There's a lot of text there, but the essence seems to be whether consistency of citation format should be required only with sections. Sorry, I cannot accept that, even if it means (in adding a new section) I have to use a format I don't like. Articles are sufficiently independent that some inconsistency can be tolerated; sections with an article are not so independent. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:43, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

Edit request on 31 July 2013

the player is now without a club.sources sky sports who report than he has not been offered deal by morecambe Mandarj123 (talk) 15:16, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

What? -- JHunterJ (talk) 15:23, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Not done: this is the talk page for discussing improvements to the page Wikipedia:Citing sources/Archive 35. Please make your request at the talk page for the article concerned. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:08, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

Citing a source without pages

How do I properly cite different sections of a book whose pages are not numbered? For instance, this book. In Doug Stone, I want to cite the chapters on both him and Doug Johnson. Would I just put something like "Miller, Zell (1996). 'Doug Stone'"? Ten Pound Hammer(What did I screw up now?) 21:43, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

That book does have page numbers, at least on most of the pages. To find the page number of a page that is not numbered, just look a the page before or after the page in question. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:55, 31 July 2013 (UTC)
Or look at the handy "Page" counter Google supplies at the top of the preview. Note that this could be out of sync with the actual printed page numbers so it is prudent to check on a page that does have a printed page number. But in this case it matches. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:03, 31 July 2013 (UTC)

Proposal: citation as a means of connecting material to a source

In a continuing effort to clarify this guideline by removing confusing and meaningless verbiage, I propose replacing the first two paragraphs with the following:

Citation (broadly) is the means of connecting material in an article to a source. Citation is the basis of verifiability, a core content policy. As stated in that policy, all material in Wikipedia articles must be verifiable, and certain kinds of material must be explicitly cited to a source. Other policies set requirements regarding appropriate sources and their use (see no original research, reliable sources, neutral point of view, and copyright policy); these will not be discussed here. This guideline is intended to provide guidance in the practice of citation on Wikipedia.

I point out that this is only a start to the guideline, and neither does nor should cover every possible point, exception, or misinterpretation in the first paragraph. Likewise regarding detailed definitions and uses of "citation as a thing", general references, etc.: no stand on these is taken here, I am just trying to create some basis on which we can stand. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:00, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

late interjected comment At first blush, I think that the proposed paragraph is allaround better in that it deals with the generalities and scope rather than directly diving into the specifics of implementation. (I'm starting a review of this conversation, so I thought I'd provide a first impression of the initial post). --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 00:02, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
The proposal essentially says a general reference is not a citation, but it is, so the proposal fails. Jc3s5h (talk) 22:31, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
I also oppose this proposal, and invite the proposer to drop the stick and stop beating this dead horse. The act of citing sources is meant to show your work, which may or may not involve connecting specific material to specific sources. Citation may be an action, but a citation (what we're defining in the first sentence) is a thing, not an action. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:23, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Jc: the proposal does not "essentially say" anything about general references. It is as I just said regarding "general references, etc.: no stand on these is taken here." (Emphasis in the original.) Nor does it say anything about what a citation is, or is not. Your objection is effectively pulled out of thin air, as it has no basis in the text of the proposal.
W: you always oppose any change to improve Wikipedia, so what's new? Perhaps you wouldn't mind getting out of the road? It also does not help that you don't pay attention. (How many times do I have to ask you?) E.g., you say that "what we're defining in the first sentence..." — ah, is that in the first sentence of the guideline, or first sentence of the proposal? What you seem to have missed is where I said the proposal is to replace that "first sentence". And the proposed replacement explicitly states it is referring to citation broadly, not "a" citation. We can define your "line of text" kind of citation at a lower level. There is room for that, and "general reference", within the broad scope I am trying to sketch, but it is probably a waste of time showing you how, as you are such a blind obstructionist. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:50, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
A citation in the terms of WP:V can be read to mean inline citation. There may be less objection if the first sentence was "A reference is the means of connecting material in an article to a source". -- PBS (talk) 08:38, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
interjected late out of time sequence I think I'll stop reviewing there as it just went ad hominem. However, on the matter of general references, I think the proposed paragraph is neutral on those, by no means saying "a general reference is not a citation". With respect to the semantics of citing/citation/citations ... connection of a wikipedia article or material therein to a specific source is an implicit requirement of verifiability; if you can't point at a specific source, then how is it verifiable? It is not. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 00:09, 24 July 2013 (UTC)
Can be read, yes, but that's there, and why should that merely possible and non-authoritative interpretation be controlling on an explicit definition here? And again yes, undoubtedly there would be less opposition if in the very first sentence of this guideline we confirm various articles of faith regarding "a citation" and "general references". But that is part of the problem with this guideline — it starts by confirming various bones that certain people don't want to let go of, and then it tries to stitch these disparate parts together. Hell and damnation, WE CAN'T EVEN SENSIBLY DISCUSS various points, because when I say "citation (broadly)" someone else insists it must be "a citation", and so on. In this proposal I am not taking a stand on any of these pet concerns, I am, as I said at the outset, trying to give us a basis on which to stand. Which leaves plenty of room to argue all those points further on. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:41, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
PBS, it would be far more accurate to say "A reference or a citation is the stuff you type to tell the reader what sources you used to write the article". It doesn't matter which word you're using: the community (for better or worse) has defined reference and citation as being synonyms. The community also defines both references and citations as having two subtypes: the inline subtype (highly desirable) and the non-inline subtype (permitted). Both of these subtypes are still these things, but J Johnson's definition excludes one of the subtypes.
J Johnson, if you define a citation as "connecting material in an article to a source", and general references are correctly defined as "not 'connecting material in an article to a source'" then, yes, you are defining general references as not being citations. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:51, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Agreed. The proposed sentence, "Citation (broadly) is the means of connecting material in an article to a source" describes just one use of a citation. A citation, or reference, is simply text that uniquely identifies a piece of work. See, for example, here.
I think the current first sentence is fine as it is; personally, I prefer it with "a line of text," but without is okay too. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:01, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
W: So you restrict all references/citations narrowly, assert a "community definition" that there two subtypes, then boldly leap across a logical lacuna to declare that my definition excludes one of the subtypes. Please, can you tell me which of those fourteen words mentions, or even suggests, anything in the nature of a subtype? Or even hints at any kind exclusion?
You also blame me for making "general reference" not a citation, because I define citation as "connecting material to a source", and you define "general reference" as not connecting such material. No, that is not consequence of my definition, that is your restriction. I suspect you are thinking that genrefs don't connect from the text (i.e., "inline"), but (ha ha, fooled you) my definition does not specify that. My definition explicitly says broadly; it says nothing at this level as to the nature of the connection, or the means. I do not exclude genrefs, you do. I point out that the definition at Citation also excludes genrefs, whereas my approach is permissive.
I point out to all that the narrow usage of "citation" as a descriptive line of text — i.e., the bibliographic reference, or, as I call it, the full citation — is subsumed as part of the means by which "citation broadly" is done. Citation narrowly gets described at a lower level of detail. My proposal starts by describing the whole puzzle, not just one of the pieces. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:08, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
We're telling you what your proposed text actually says, and it's no good telling us that you meant something else. We've got enough problems in our policies and guidelines with text that doesn't actually mean exactly what a plain reading of it indicates, and I'm convinced that nobody else here is interested in adding any more examples of this problem. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:40, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
I submit that plain reading of text means without adding your own definitions and interpretations. You are the one that is trying to make fourteen plain words mean something else. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:03, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

As there has been no comment on the rest of the proposed change I presume it is acceptable. It is in the nature of a scope statement that delineates what is, and is not covered, and the benefit of referencing other relevant policies without trying to redefine them here seems obvious.

As to the initial definition of "citation (broadly)" I reiterate that it is a broad, general statement, which makes no statements nor implications regarding any details of form or usage. (It's like a large block of rock, which has yet to be carved.) As to "general references": while I feel this notion has gotten very entangled, that is largely for lack of proper definition. The proposed definition of "citation (broadly)" provides a basis for properly defining "general reference" and possibly resolving some of those issues, and is actually more permissive of that concept than other definitions. I emphatically state: it does NOT exclude "general reference", nor am I trying to take away anyone's favorite bone. If that is understood, I would like to get on with some needed improvements. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:19, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

There being no further discussion of the proposal, I have made the change. Two points: 1) There are some places in the rest of the text slightly discordant with this, but we can work those out. 2) It occurred to me that the sentence starting "Other policies set requirements ..." perhaps should be strengthened by prefacing it with "Editors should be aware of ...". Comments? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:55, 3 June 2013 (UTC)
I restored the first paragraph, which seems clearer. It's important to say that a citation is the same thing as a reference, and to give an example. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:56, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
Your after the act remark ("seems clearer") does not arise to the level of discussion, so I have reverted your "restoration". I agree that examples are important, but that comes in at a lower level. If you have any other objections, concerns, or confusion, please raise them here. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk)
Your proposals have been opposed by several editors, because they're less clear than the current version, and arguably introduce an unusual understanding of "citation". Therefore, please either let this go or continue the discussion, but don't try to force in your changes. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:14, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

Okay, let's continue. You claim that I 'introduce an unusual understanding of "citation".' I presume you refer to this concept of "connecting" material to a source. In fact that was part of CharlesGillingham's suggestion for a new lead back in 2008. (And excised only because someone complained of verbosity, not for any complaint re the concept.) Possibly other terms could be used ("attribution"?), but "connection" seems to plainly and aptly describe the relationship between "material" and "sources". You have not shown there is anything "unusual" in either the relationship or the term; your complaint is deficient.

Earlier (29 May) you complained that the proposed definition "describes just one use of a citation." Overlooking a tiny error that I did not describe "a" citation, but citation broadly, I ask: what is wrong with that? (Especially as your following definition equally "describes just one use" of the term.)

Please pay attention (W, too): I defined citation broadly, you defined it narrowly (as a citation). Note: these are non-conflicting definitions. This definition of citation-BROADLY does not alter your definition of "a" citation. (Which as I have said before, should be defined at a lower level.) What part of this do you not understand? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:46, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

No, you said that you were defining the concept broadly, but you then actually presented a very narrow definition. Mere assertion that the definition is broad does not make it so. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:57, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
What???! What kind of unstated (secret?) interpretations are you applying to make my plain words "very narrow"? To go back to a previous question (which you have yet to answer) which of the proposed fourteen words in any way narrow, exclude, restrict, straiten, or qualify this definition? Or (if analysis is too difficult) just give me a couple of examples of citation that are excluded by the proposed definition. I throw your own words back at you: Mere assertion that the definition is narrow does not make it so. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:10, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
W: Still waiting for any examples of "citation" that are excluded by the proposed definition. Put up or shut up. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:45, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
We've already answered you: your definition—the one that says "the means of connecting material in an article to a source"—is invalid for any citation that does not "connect material" to the source, but instead merely provides information about a source without "connecting material" to that source. For example, go look at the very first example at the top of this guideline. That's "a citation" for Wikipedia's purposes. However, it is (1) not in an article and (2) does not connect any material to the source. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:16, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  And I have already rebutted you (above, on 29 May). But since you weren't paying attention, let's go over it again. You apply your own interpretation and qualifications, such as assuming that the proposed definition applies only to material in articles (DOES NOT SAY THAT!), or that "connecting material" limits it to inline citations (DOES NOT SAY THAT!). Then (omighosh!) you find that you (I repeat: you) have excluded your golden calf of general reference. Which you then blame on me. Well, I call bullshit on that.
  Your argument that the "Ritter" example would be excluded because it is not in an article is wholly discreditable. In the first place, the proposed definition does not say only in an article; use in other contexts is not excluded. Second, I think it is generally understood that examples used here and elsewhere are to be taken as they would be used in an article. Third, if you want to argue like that, then the Ritter example is not a citation by the existing definition, which says that citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which an article is based, because no article is based on this example. Similarly, all of the "Alice Expert" examples — such as you have used yourself on this page — are not citations, because "Alice Expert" is not a reliable source. (And if you really want to have a pissing contest, then I claim that her book has multiple editions, and in failing to uniquely identify which one your example again fails the current definition, and therefore is not a citation.)
  In summary: your conclusion that the proposed definition is "very narrow" is due entirely to your misinterpretation, and your twisted argumentation. Your objection is invalid. And I tell you again: the proposed definition does not exclude your "general references". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 01:11, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
Your definition begins "Citation (broadly) is the means of connecting material in an article to a source.".
Please consider the Ritter example at the top of the guideline, and tell me what "material in an article" that source is connected to. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:27, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
The Ritter example connects whatever example it is associated with. Presumably the example is presented to show what a "line of text" kind of full citation looks like, without bothering with other details. In fact it does contain a specification (the "p. 1"), which implies that the connection (identification) is to specific material. And it is not only reasonable but quite likely that a citation of precisely this form could be used in the text (with or without parentheses), or in a footnote in the text, in exactly the same way we might expect to see a short cite used. That this example does not show us what material it is associated with is because it was taken out of context. That this or any other example does not actually connect, or "uniquely identify", a source (let alone a reliable source) is immaterial; the point is to show how the citation would be done. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:23, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
That this example does not show us what material it is associated with is because there is no such material, nor any article containing the material. It is not any less of a citation as a result. Your definition says that citations are not the text describing the source, but a means of connecting material and sources. In other words, your citation says that if there is no material to be connected (e.g., in a ==Further reading== section) then the text describing the source does not meet the fundamental requirements of a citation. This is why your proposed text is inappropriate for our guideline. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:23, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
Why do you keep misrepresenting the proposed text? The proposed definition does not say (as you just stated) "citations are not the text describing the source". Nor does it say anything about "if there is no material to be connected...". You keep just making up stuff that has absolutely nothing to with the proposed text. Your examples are applicable only to your definition, which is not the one proposed. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:32, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
I'm not misrepresenting anything.
The proposed text is: Citation (broadly) is the means of connecting material in an article to a source.
The proposed text therefore defines something that does not involve "connecting material in an article to a source" as not being a citation.
The example at the top of this guideline does not involve "connecting material in an article to a source". Therefore, according to your proposed definition, the Ritter example is not "a citation" as you define it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:12, 16 June 2013 (UTC)
  Your conclusion ("therefore ...") is invalid because it depends on your assumption that the definition is limited to only "connected material". Where does the definition say "only" or "limited to"? It does not, so please stop stating that it does.
  The situation is exactly as if I had said "1, 2, and 3 are digits", and then you misinterpret that as "only 1, 2, and 3 are digits", to conclude that I said "4 and 5 are not digits". Which is patently false. The proposal says (essentially) that citation is "something" that "connects material ...". Then you insert "only", to conclude that something not explicitly included in the definition (material not connected) is therefore excluded. That conclusion is both invalid and false.
  You are indeed misrepresenting what the proposed definition says. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:17, 17 June 2013 (UTC)
If you say "X is 1", then, yes, people will quite reasonably interpret this as meaning "X is not 2, 3, 4, or any number except 1". If, on the other hand, you say "X is 1, among other things", then people would assume that X is multiple things.
Here, you define X (citations) as being one thing ("the means of connecting material in an article to a source"). You did not define it as multiple things (e.g., "Citations are the means of connecting material in an article to a source, among other things"). You might not have intended to write so restrictive a definition, but that's what you actually did in that sentence. You should probably chalk this up to "reasons why I shouldn't proofread my own work" and then either give up or change your proposal so that it doesn't have this restrictive definition. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:30, 17 June 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────   The issue is not with proof-reading, but fool-proofing. It doesn't matter how carefully I "word-craft" if you insist on kicking everything to flinders.

  In the present iteration you confuse identity with inclusion. The former is akin to the assignment of a value in arithmetic or programming. It would even hold in set theory if one says "set X is exactly the elements 1, 2, and 3, and no others". However, in my example I did not say that. I said that "1, 2, and 3 are digits". Which is not saying that "1 = digits". (Totally nonsensical.) It is saying that the named items are included in a class (or have the characteristic of being) "digits". It says nothing at all about other members of that class. My example says nothing about "4"; your faulty conclusion derives solely from your inclusion of "only" (or its equivalent, "and no others") into the definition. Is that clear enough for you?

  But your confusion runs even deeper, so let's try another analogy. Suppose we were trying to define "nails". I might say: "Nails (broadly) are a means of connecting two or more pieces of wood together." Whereupon you argue that by this definition the bits of metal in the bins at the hardware store are not nails because they are not actually connecting any wood. Sorry, this definition does not say "actually connecting", it says a means of connecting. That a nail in a bin has not yet been used for its intended purpose makes it no less a nail. Same for citations.

  You still have not shown that the proposed definition is in any way restrictive or narrow other than in your misinterpretations. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:15, 19 June 2013 (UTC)

Got nails?
In your analogy to nails, the bits of metal at the hardware store might still be nails, but the ones that have been permanently turned into wood-free artwork would cease to be nails under your definition.
I don't think there's any point in continuing this conversation. Writing policies and guidelines is hard precisely because we need to fool-proof definitions as much as possible. If you don't want to work within that constraint, then go write essays. WhatamIdoing (talk) 11:40, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
  Whether metal artwork used to nail together wood would be a "nail" under any definition is a question I leave to the Wikilawyers. In the present case, I say that the metal objects in a bin in a hardware store are still "a means of connecting two or more pieces of wood together", and therefore are nails by the definition. (No "might" about it: are.) Similarly for the proposed definition of "citation (broadly)": a means of connecting, regardless of whether any individual instance actually connects, or not.
  To the particular point you have been trying to argue: although the Ritter example above does not in this case connect any material in an article to a source, it still is a means of doing so, and so is not excluded by the proposed definition. And you have yet to show an example of a citation not included in this definition.
  If you won't work within the constraints of not misinterpreting what has been proposed or said, nor making absurd objections, then I extend the same suggestion to you: please go. If you can point out any real problems, or have any sincere concerns regarding the actual proposal, or suggestions for improvement, or even complete alternatives, I am willing to continue. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:49, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Round three

While WhatamIdoing has not yielded the point, yet it appears she has nothing further to say about it, and indeed has failed to make her point. I therefore reiterate my claim: no instances of "citation" have been shown which are excluded by the proposed definition, and every argument to the contrary adduced so far has depended on arbitrary misinterpretations and restrictions not found in a plain reading of the actual definition. The definition references a particular type of use ("connecting material in an article to a source") which on Wikipedia is the overwhelmingly predominant use, but it does not exclude other uses, and in defining citation as a means it is not limited to instances of actual implementation.

I also reiterate for you "general reference" afficionados that general references are not excluded by this definition. Consider that if a general reference has no connection with any material in an article there is no point for it; it is irrelevant. That a genref is general, and does not explicitly connect with specific material, might make it fail some other definition that required connection of specific material. But that is not the proposed definition, which does not exclude 'general references'.

But there may be some lingering confusion, so let's address that. E.g.: Jc3s5h, you said: "The proposal essentially says a general reference is not a citation....", but you did not explain or support that comment. Are you still of that opinion? And if so, could you explain how you arrive at it? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:07, 25 June 2013 (UTC)

Lacking any response, it seems fair to assume that Jc3s5h's unsupported comment can be dismissed.

Slim Virgin: previously you endorsed WhatamIdoing's views, but those have been shown to not apply to the proposed definition. Do you have any objections to this proposal? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:49, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Lacking any response, I think it's fair for you to assume that your proposal fails for lack of consensus to adopt it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:54, 1 July 2013 (UTC)
  I think everyone else fell off the merry-go-round. The fact remains that your manifold objections are without relevance, having been based on misinterpretations of what is proposed. And no other objections have been sustained.
  If my proposal fails this time, it is because of your continued obstructionism. You are already on record for wanting no change (at least regarding the definition of "general reference"). Evidently you want no change to any part of this page. It would save much time and effort if you would be explicit about that. Perhaps you could also clarify whether your objection to any change is simply a matter of "just don't like it", or if you really think the existing language is not confusing or ambiguous, and that no change could ever improve on it. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:37, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
I believe that this page can be improved. I do not believe that this proposal would be an improvement.
You need support to make this change. You have none. I recommend giving up on this one. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:29, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
So you think this page can be improved. But do you think it should be improved? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:47, 5 July 2013 (UTC)
Again: do you think this guideline should be improved? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:04, 13 July 2013 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing agrees that "this page can be improved", but has no suggestions for improvement, and has obstructed every suggestion I have made. I think that is what might be called a "dead horse in the road". W: if you have suggestions better than mine, please offer them. Otherwise, please get out of the way. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:30, 20 July 2013 (UTC)
There is no deadline for improving this guideline, and I don't intend to supply suggestions for improvements according to some arbitrary deadline imposed by you.
You are mistaken when you assert that I'm in your way. I've barely looked at this page once a week for the last month. You need positive, active support from at least one other editor for your changes. You haven't got it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:56, 21 July 2013 (UTC)
Who said anything about a deadline? That is just more of your bullshit. The truth is that you "don't intend to supply suggestions for improvement" at all. You want no change, all your comments have been obstructive, you are the main obstruction to making any changes. I have followed your objections all the way through, and aside from your persistent misinterpretation (and snide remarks) your arguments are vacuous; your objections are no more than WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT. Since you will not help, how about getting out of the road? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:27, 23 July 2013 (UTC)

WhatamIdoing has always had time enough to object to any proposed changes, but never time enough to make any positive suggestions. After nearly two weeks, it is a fair inference that she is not going to make any suggestions for improvement. As this discussion (which has been nearly entirely about W's objections) is stale, it's time to close it and start over. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:53, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

Infobox citation query

Hi, a question about infoboxes. The relevant bit of the policy is If an infobox or table contains text that needs citing, but the box or table cannot incorporate an inline citation, the citation should appear in a caption or other text that discusses the material. If both an infobox and the main article text contain identical content (eg a date of birth), do we need duplicate citations in both the infobox and text? Most articles seem to only have them in the text. Is this explicity stated anywhere? It is possible to have an inline citation in the infobox, but it does spoil the appearance a bit. SmilingFace (talk) 22:08, 5 August 2013 (UTC)

I think it can be treated as part of the lead; i.e, you don't need to give a citation for information that is properly cited elsewhere in the article. Zerotalk 00:01, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
I disagree; the cite is buried way down in the main body of the article, and the fact that it wasn't cited was enough for me to challenge and remove it. What harm is there in citing it directly? GiantSnowman 08:09, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

Citations are not used on disambiguation pages (sourcing for the information given there should be done in the target articles). Citations are also often discouraged in the lead section of an article, insofar as it summarizes information for which sources are given later in the article, although such things as quotations and particularly controversial statements should be supported by citations even in the lead.

In my view, it should be easy to figure out what part of an article discusses a statement in the lead, and an article (which GiantSnoman neglected to name) which fails to make that clear needs to have the lead revised. At the same time, I think it is reasonable to expect readers to make some reasonable effort to make the connection; such efforts should include reading the entire article, and searching for key words or dates found in the lead by using the browser's feature for searching within a page. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:58, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
A few things:
  1. An infobox is not the same as a lede.
  2. I didn't neglect to mention the name of the article, SmilingFace did in their OP - it relates to Tony Anthony (evangelist).
  3. Given the controversy/issues relating to this individual's name/background, explicitly citing information is simply common sense, especially from a BLP perspective.
Surely we should be encouraging more references and cites on Wikipedia, especially about living people! GiantSnowman 16:06, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
I see no reason to distinguish between a lead and an infobox in this situation. I have never seen any scholarly publication that made a practice of repeating citations for the same fact everywhere the fact appears. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:25, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Some basis for that view in policy would be appreciated. GiantSnowman 16:27, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Wikipedia has an essay, but not a policy about this: Wikipedia:Citation overkill. Also, Wikipedia is edited as a scholarly publication. At least one scholarly style manual, the United Nations Editorial Manual, supports the idea that repeated citation of the same information is not normally required:

Once an item has been referenced, whether in a footnote or text note, the reference is repeated only when necessary for the sake of clarity or to change a specific element in the reference, such as a section or paragraph number.

Jc3s5h (talk) 17:25, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

I have two degrees, I know how to cite in an academic context - which this is not. Academic manuals say you cite first and then any subsequent mentions do not need citing - whereas you are saying cite the last item? GiantSnowman 17:53, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
In an academic context, you do cite the first instance - in the main text. If the same fact is mentioned in the introduction (or in the abstract), that doesn't count as the first instance. The introduction of a paper corresponds to the lead of a Wikipedia article, so, by extension, the first mention in the main text of the Wikipedia article is where the ref should go. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:10, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
But the infobox is neither. Plus something to ponder over - today's featured article has lots of cites in the infobox. 19:20, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
Once per article is accepted as being enough. Whether that "once" should be the first one as determined by vertical height on a particular user's computer screen, or first according to what you see if reading the prose, or first according to the prose but counting only after the first section heading, or even not first, but at the most important mention (e.g., an entire section devoted to it), is really not worth writing an official rule over.
There is and has never been a rule that the same fact must be cited twice on the same page. If a fact appears twice, and you don't notice the citation is at the other, then you may challenge it (after all, you honestly thought it was uncited), but when your error in overlooking the citation is pointed out, your challenge has failed and the material can be de-tagged (if you fact-tagged it) or restored (if you removed it). WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:00, 6 August 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Again, I will repeat - what is the harm in directly citing something in the infobox? It's used in FAs for goodnesss sake, and avoids information getting removed or queried in good faith. GiantSnowman 10:02, 7 August 2013 (UTC)

  • There is another growing issue with infobox citations. Some editors are simply dropping several citations, using the cite templates) at the end of an infobox. These show up on a new line containing bracked numbers, at the end and there is no indication what elements in the box these are for. So if, lets say, three citations are added, then for any element either 0, 1, 2 or 3 of these could apply to each element. That for me is less then useful. We probably should address this also in this discussion. Vegaswikian (talk) 19:18, 6 August 2013 (UTC)
  • You should directly cite the information in the infovox, just as you would directly citein the main body. GiantSnowman 10:02, 7 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes. This seems analogous to the issue of where to cite multiple facts in a single sentence. It seems some editors prefer having all of the links at the end of the sentence (for being neater?), but this loses the connection of which citation goes to which fact. I say have each citation immediately adjacent to the material it supports. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:44, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

How to cite a book without page numbers

This came up in Talk:Otaku/GA1 and I don't really know what to do - can we allow book without page range? (Please ping me with @[[User:Piotrus]] when you reply - I'd appreciate it. Thanks! --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 08:25, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

WP:V does not require page numbers; lack of page numbering must not debar an otherwise reliable source. --Redrose64 (talk) 09:26, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Agreed, WP:V does not require it ... but there are ways to make the finding of content easier. Using the _chapter_ parameter is one; using the _at_ parameter another; and including a quotation via the _quote_ parameter is a third. --User:Ceyockey (talk to me) 11:16, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
I do not know how to use the chapter parameter for the templates, but I should learn it. It concerns two sources. @User:Piotrus (as requested above) ChrisGualtieri (talk) 12:59, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
Sounds like a good idea, thanks for the help. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 13:07, 13 August 2013 (UTC)
You might put |chapter=Chapter 6 or if there is a longer title, |chapter=Chapter Six, in which Eeyore has a birthday and gets two presents --Redrose64 (talk) 14:16, 13 August 2013 (UTC)

Discussion notification

There's a discussion at Help talk:Citation Style 1, about whether it's necessary to note the medium through which a source was accessed (eg. Google Books), which could benefit from some input by people more familiar with the guidelines. It's really more of a series of discussions – start at this section and scroll down. DoctorKubla (talk) 06:42, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

This appears to be the perennial claim that "SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT" requires people to say that they "got it" from their library, from Google Books, etc. We should probably put an explicit denial of that idea back into the guideline. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:21, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Typography in reference titles

Hi. I didn't find anything in the archives or the FAQ so maybe some one can clarify this for me: Even if the Wikipedia:Manual of Style request the use of endashes in some cases or says that a straight apostrophe should be used instead of a curly apostrophe, should I change the title of a reference in order to adapt it to the typographic conventions? Even if this means that spaces or quotation marks are removed? --Jaellee (talk) 13:03, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

Apostrophes are always straight, that is just an appearance item, similar to different ways the ampersand might appear. But the variety of dash involves shades of meaning; if the person who created the title of a work decided that an en dash or a hyphen best reflected the meaning, I would leave it alone. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:48, 15 August 2013 (UTC)



...the dead URL is not necessary. Simply remove it.


...the dead URL is not necessary. Simply remove the dead URL leaving the remainder of the reference intact.

after recently finding several people deleting the whole reference. -- (talk) 19:18, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

Done, thanks for the suggestion. Megahmad (talk) 19:33, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

New templates created, possibly redundant

Please see discussion at Wikipedia talk:Citation templates#New templates created, possibly redundant. --Redrose64 (talk) 12:54, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Is it possible to cite non-accessible sources?

I'd like to source, as an example, an information board at a castle near where I live in order to expand its article. Is this possible considering the text doesn't appear in a book or on the internet, and if so how would I go about presenting it? Thanks. Samwalton9 (talk) 17:24, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

The first question is: does it satisfy WP:V? Assuming that it does, you could use {{cite sign}}. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:03, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
I'd also factor in who wrote the sign, and whether it was a reliable source etc. If you don't mind me asking, which castle is it, btw? If its British or French, I might be able to help find something in the literature. Hchc2009 (talk) 16:07, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
I'll have to check who actually wrote the boards Redrose, not actually certain at the moment, haven't been there for a year or so! It's Dolwyddelan Castle, and though I have a few sources I'm planning to look up that my local library has in stock currently I'm sure the boards would contain a lot of good information. I'll head over and take a look at them soon. Samwalton9 (talk) 16:13, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
For Dolwyddelan, Richard Avent's work is the best - but it's only available in hardcopy that I'm aware of. There also are some good online sources available tough. Try the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales 1956 work, here (NB: the text and images are covered by Crown Copyright, which I believe recently expired on this volume). Prestwich's account on Google Books here would give you the end-history. You might also find this an interesting read. Hchc2009 (talk) 20:51, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

Parenthetical references

I just came to take a look at WP:CITEVAR because of discussion at another page. I noted that it mentions converting between paranthetical and reference templates. Is this just an outdated relic? I can't think of any article that uses paranthetical references, and, if one did, I would convert them on sight without even thinking about it. Hand writing a references section is obviously incorrect because it would mean that every new reference added would require a similar change to a references section (renumbering everything, or whatever). While WP:CITEVAR says that we shouldn't argue about, say, switching from citation templates to harvard references, I can't believe that anyone would actually support retaining paranthetical citations. Qwyrxian (talk) 23:02, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Parenthetical references are used in some articles. They are also known as Harvard citations. They don't use numbers, so there would be no need to renumber citations when a new citation is inserted. Jc3s5h (talk) 01:23, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Actuary. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:04, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
Be careful to distinguish parenthetical referencing, also known as author-date or Harvard style, from the {{Harv}} templates used for that and other styles. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:12, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
I would definitely oppose you if you tried to change an article that has used parenthetical citations to citations in footnotes. Don't do it. That would be bad. Unless you can get consensus on the article's talk page. --Trovatore (talk) 20:26, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
There are a lot of people who believe that using 'little blue numbers' is required, so in my experience it's very easy to get a "consensus" to convert the style, even over the objections of the people who actually write the article.
In my opinion, PAREN is best suited to articles that cite a dozen different pages each from a small number of books (or long articles). Most of our articles cite a dozen different short sources exactly one time each. PAREN is not so well suited for that, especially for sources that have no author. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:19, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
To me the most important benefit of parenthetical cites is that they allow explanatory notes to be very visually distinct from citations. It's true, you can distinguish them even with footnotes, [1] versus [nb 1], but it's not as clear a distinction as saying parentheses are citations, superscripts are notes. Explanatory notes are especially useful in technical articles, which are my cheif area of concern. --Trovatore (talk) 01:41, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
It's my impression that Harvard referencing is most suitable for scholarly articles where there are a limited number of authors involved and most readers will already be familiar with the author names and publications. --Robert.Allen (talk) 04:10, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Yes, you may need to be familiar with author/date pairs if you use plain text parenthetical referencing. But if you use the {{harv}} template, as Actuary does, you have a blue link that takes you to the appropriate full citation. If you use Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Safari, an additional benefit is that the target citation gains a pale blue background so that you can pick it out easily (this doesn't work in IE because Microsoft haven't coded for the :target pseudo-class).
You could say the same things about Shortened footnotes. --Redrose64 (talk) 14:40, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Even where there are a large number of authors "Harvard referencing" (i.e., author-date) is very handy for short citations (multiple references to a full citation), avoiding the limitations of named refs. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:17, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
I'd never use it myself, but it is still around, and protected from drive-by "ooh, i don't like that" changes by CITEVAR like any other system. Some people seem to have difficulty grasping that the policy means what it says. Johnbod (talk) 21:10, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

Placement of ref

Question. This guideline, and professional writing to my knowledge, both indicate that the proper placement of a reference is after the sentence (or, sometimes, at the end of the paragraph) of the material the ref supports.

I have been chatting with an editor who believes, for stylistic reasons, that it is better to -- where there are two paragraphs, and a footnote supports both -- only place a ref after the second para. Leaving the first para unreferenced. Even though, in this instance, it has been challenged under the policy wp:v.

He maintains that the ref after the second para is sufficient to confer referenced status on the first para.

(I've pointed out among other things that, this being wp, someone can easily at some point insert a para between the two, that is unreferenced, and we won't have any clue which paras that ref is meant to cover).

Any thoughts?--Epeefleche (talk) 23:54, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

My tendency is to cite after every paragraph (even if the citations are identical) for the reason you mention. Even so, the problem still occurs within a paragraph where more than one sentence describes the material cited, or even within a single sentence where there are multiple points to cite. I suspect there is no good answer, short of some kind of scoping template. (E.g.: "{{cited|The sun is big....|<ref> ...</ref>}}.") ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:39, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
The other editor is following a convention that is widely accepted in the academic world and noticeably unpopular here. See WP:MINREF and the sections that follow. There are no truly good solutions to this problem at the moment. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:55, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
I should mention that the other editor feels so strongly about his position, that when I -- at a third editor's suggestion -- added footnotes to the unreferenced paragraph myself, the other editor deleted them.--Epeefleche (talk) 23:58, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
You should try to explain that in a crowd-sourced website, 2 paras is just too long to leave (often one is) - no one will be confident the reference covers that far back. NB the DYK/GA/FAR criteria, which all demand a minimum of 1 ref per para - I'm surprised to see MINREF says "Wikipedia does not have a "one inline citation per sentence" or "one citation per paragraph" rule, even for featured articles" which I don't actually think is true in those cases. Johnbod (talk) 21:13, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
GA requires nothing of the sort; GACN explicitly disclaims it. When I've asked at WT:FAC, the reply was that the goal was the fewest number of citations possible. DYK's supplementary rules page has a "rule of thumb" (not a requirement or a demand) for one ref per paragraph, but with a sizable list of exemptions. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:12, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

How to cite source code and man pages

Is there some sort of standard for how to cite source code in Wikipedia? Such as to cite a new feature when no changelog exists. Does source code even count as a valid source for citations? →Kyosuke Aokitalkcontribs 23:42, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Source code could be a valid source, if it was published by a reliable source. However, it would be very easy for the editor adding it to interpret it, or use it out of context, in a way that is not supported by the original source, so it should be used with great caution.
Wikipedia does not have a standard about how to cite anything; follow the style already established in the article. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:38, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

Using list-defined references

The template {{reflist|refs= }} is part of the reflist documentation. It uses exactly the same format as {{reflist }} itself, but it places the citation and footnote info in the section where {{reflist }} appears. That means that when editing text, only the footnote designation <name/> appears, removing the distraction of having footnotes mixed in with the text being edited. An example of an article using this approach is Epistemological pluralism, and if the edit window is opened one can see how it works. The unfamiliarity of some editors with this approach leads to invocation of WP:CITEVAR to resist this change.

So here it the question: Can WP:CITEVAR be used to block the introduction of this simple variant of {{reflist }}, or is it meant to apply to radically different citation methods, like the Harvard approach? Brews ohare (talk) 16:45, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

  • Possibly what this question amounts to is a discussion of whether {{reflist|refs= }} has advantages over {{reflist }}. I'd say that {{reflist|refs= }} removal of distractions in editing text is a significant advantage. It may be that the labor of setting up this approach is too great for some editors, but if another editor is willing to invest the labor, why object? I don't think that WP:CITEVAR is a policy designed to revert such a change. If a later editor wishes to use the other system, {{reflist|refs= }} is compatible with an inline <ref>Blah...blah...blah</ref>, so no editor is forced into anything. Brews ohare (talk) 17:30, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
  • I believe CITEVAR does cover changing a system of citation in this way; even if you consider it is a better system, you should raise on the talk page page first. Hchc2009 (talk) 17:58, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
  • I agree. This is a matter of personal preference: you may find it a distraction but other editors find it far easier to place references inline. It means for example when section editing, far easier in a long article, both the text and reference can be added at the same time. Easier to do and it means there's no intermediate unreferenced version. It also makes it easier to copy and paste content, when e.g. splitting a long article or otherwise rearranging between articles. And such a personal preference is not grounds for changing the article. WP:STABILITY also applies; although that does not mention citation style one of the arbitration decisions it is based on, Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Sortan#Preferred styles, does.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 19:02, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Blackburne: The change of existing references to the format {{reflist|refs= }} intrudes in no way upon editors inserting new footnotes using an inline <ref>Blah...blah...blah</ref>. Their freedom is not impaired. So a revert back to {{reflist }} accomplishes only a negative result: it reintroduces extraneous citation information and (sometimes lengthy) commentary back into the text being edited. Brews ohare (talk) 19:11, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Again it is simply your preference. Many other editors, including myself, prefer inline references. If you feel so strongly about this, and have good reasons (not just bald assertions like they are a "distraction" or "negative") then you could seek to change policy to recommend your preferred approach. But before doing so I would remember how your many other attempts to change policy have fared.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 20:00, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
Again, you miss the point. There is no interference with editors that wish to use the plain {{reflist }} instead of {{reflist|refs= }}. It is a zero disturbance to such folk. Brews ohare (talk) 23:35, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
No, you are missing the point. This is covered by WP:CITEVAR, as other editors here and at Talk:Pluralism_(philosophy) agree. So you should not be changing it simply to your preference as that's all it is. I prefer references that appear inline in the text, as I think do most editors given that they seem the predominant way of adding references to articles.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 00:01, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Actually it can disturb editors used to inline references that edit by section. LDR require editors to edit the entire page at once to maintain the relationship between sources and where they are used, which, for an article undergoing "rapid" changes, can be a hassle. It should be considered just like switching reference formats and thus covered under CITEVAR. --MASEM (t) 00:09, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Masem: I have taken the liberty to reformat your comment with an asterisk because I think you have put your finger on what is the only reason for any editor to oppose conversion of references to a list-defined format: it can slow down 'hit-and-run' editing reversions for inexperienced rapid-fire reverters who don't understand their roll-back tools. Brews ohare (talk) 12:07, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
No, that's not what I said. It hurts the normal editing process for experienced editors used to in-line references, and can avoid edit conflicts since one only needs to edit by section, not the entire article. Typically, for myself, when I have a longer, more established article (50k of text, maybe 8+ sections), and some new references come up, it is very easily and very clear to edit the specific section the material that will be sourced with those references right there. With LDR one either has to edit the entire article at once (Which can easily lead to edit conflicts), or make two edits in a row, remembering how the references were named between edits. It is a drastically different editing workflow. LDR has their place and are certainly a fair alternative and one I deal with if I come into an article that uses them, but it is a function of editor preference and thus one that comes under CITEVAR. Thus, wholesale switches between LDR and normal inline cites (either way) should not be done without gaining consensus first. --MASEM (t) 13:12, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
(ec)Or to put it another way Brews, editors engaged in active changes to an article which they know will be contested can use it to make life difficult for editors who disagree with them. The obvious solution for any reasonable editor is to use inline until the changes are agreed and stable and then make the change. ----Snowded TALK 13:13, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Masem: Thanks for the extended explanation of the advantages of avoiding list-defined references. Of course, the implementation of list-defined references does not interfere with adding in-line references, if that is your preference. One thing is very clear: unless list-defined references are introduced by the editor originating an article, application of CITEVAR means they will rarely be introduced because proponents of the in-line system will block any change, in my opinion, as much out of unfamiliarity as because of real problems. Brews ohare (talk) 13:34, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Oh, don't get me wrong. If an editor wishes to start an article with LDR, CITEVAR applies to and that sticks. But yes, that always works in reverse - if editors are happy with inline cites, yes, you probably won't get them to switch. Both systems have benefits and problems, so it is silly to try to promote one over the other, and thus why CITEVAR is completely the right rule to apply. --MASEM (t) 14:33, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Almost unrelated comment "It may be that the labor of setting up this approach is too great for some editors, but if another editor is willing to invest the labor..." Much of the process of converting to LDR can be done with User:PleaseStand/References segregator. It can convert to and from LDR. More great tools can be found at WP:CITETOOL. Cheers. (talk) 07:43, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
  • "List-defined references" are little more than a clever way of using named refs so that the master "ref" (the "<ref name= ... />" entry), where the full citation with ALL the bibliographic details is often placed, can be extracted from the text. And that is the key issue: some editors prefer to keep their citation together with the text, others see that as obscuring the text and prefer to collect them in a separate area. LDRs are one way of doing the latter, but hardly the best. The radical aspect of just about any other method of doing this is the idea that full citations do not have to be in <ref> tags. Once you break out of that constraint you don't need to make reflist do grotesque things.
Masem: neither LDR nor any other system that segregates citations needs to be edited "entire page at once" to avoid broken ref links, etc. Just add the full citation to your References section first, and then the target is already there when links are added in the text. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:06, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
Or use a browser which supports multiple tabs. In the case of Firefox and most other Windows browsers, you can right-click the [edit] link to open the edit window in a new tab. Do that in the refs section, and then you can edit the relevant section in the body in the same way. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:12, 1 September 2013 (UTC)
It still requires two separate edits - even if you do the tabbed implementation to prep the reference in one table. This can still be problematic on fast moving articles, and for at least my experience in doing major expansion of an otherwise stable article, slows down the expansion process. --MASEM (t) 15:52, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
So? How is a single complex edit better than multiple simple edits? Especially as whole-article editing is more likely to encounter an edit conflict, and then you have to extract all your changes and do them again. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:25, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
If I'm just adding a text with a new reference to a single section, inline cites only require one edit with a low likelihood of edit conflicts (since the media wiki software is smart enough to handle simultaneous edits in different sections without conflict). --MASEM (t) 20:45, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
  • The use of WP:CITEVAR. This discussion has changed my focus as to what the issue is here. It seems that using WP:CITEVAR to block implementation of list-defined references prevents its use, while allowing list-defined references has no effect upon those that don't like it, who can continue to use in-line footnoting unimpeded even after list-defined footnoting is implemented. Doesn't use of WP:CITEVAR this way stack the deck in favor of in-line footnotes for what is basically of no advantage to the in-line footnoter, a kind of dog-in-the-manger approach? Brews ohare (talk) 14:56, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
    • You are completely ignoring the valid complaints about LDR (eg the advantages of inlines over LDR). Again, both systems have benefits and both have problems, so there is no reason to try to force one over the other as the preferred method across WP as you are trying to do. --MASEM (t) 15:53, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Masem: I think you misread me. I accept that there are preferences both ways; my point is that disallowing list-defined footnotes eliminates that particular option and its advantages, while doing the opposite and allowing list-defined references has no effect upon those that don't want to use this feature. So it's a dog-in-the-manger situation: I won't let you do what you want, even though it doesn't affect me." Brews ohare (talk) 16:10, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Mixing different systems of marking up citations in the same article, for example, both list-defined references and references where the citation is contained between the <ref> tags, is inherently confusing and a bad idea. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:33, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
Brews, CITEVAR does not disallow LDRs, nor favor in-line cites; it says only that you should not switch (in or out) without obtaining consensus. There is no "stacking the deck" here, except that you think LDRs have no downside, and therefore should be favored. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:28, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
The way you are talking, you are saying that you see the fact that CITEVAR prevents switching from inline to LDR that it is making it impossible to propagate LDR as a possible referencing mechanism, which is not true. The way that you are ignoring the benefits of inline references suggests you want to push LDR as the only right way to reference articles and that CITEVAR is a barrier to that, but the problem is assuming the project has agreed to move to CITEVAR, which is far from the case. Both systems presently co-exist, and like with the difference between reference formatting (eg harvard verse cite templates), shouldn't be moved without consensus in a specific article. --MASEM (t) 20:45, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

Perhaps this summary of the problem will help. (If it matters to you, I personally like list-defined references, but I recognize that this is not a universally held preference.)

  • List-defined references are preferred by some editors because they reduce the amount of markup present in the editing window. This: <ref>{{cite journal | author=Westphal CF | title=Über einen merkwürdigen Fall von periodischer Lähmung aller vier Extremitäten mit gleichzeitigem Erlöschen der elektrischen Erregbarkeit während der Lähmung | year=1885 | journal=Berl. Klin. Wochenschr. | language=German | volume=22 | pages=489–91 and 509–11}}</ref> can be reduced down to the very brief <ref name=Westphal />.
  • List-defined references are disliked by other editors because section-based changes require two edits instead of one. For example, if you remove a sentence and its citation, you must edit the content section and the reference section. Not all users realize that both must be removed, which results in ugly error messages on our pages.

If this change in formatting is controversial, or likely to become controversial, then it must be discussed on the article's talk page and the consensus respected. If, on the other hand, you're (truly) the only active editor at the article (e.g., you wrote all or nearly all of it), then I don't think you need to begin with a discussion. However, if someone objects to the conversion, then you should definitely not revert them until after you have established a consensus on the talk page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:00, 2 September 2013 (UTC)

Seems sensible. Anyway the answer to the original question " Can WP:CITEVAR be used to block the introduction ..." is clearly yes, as it will be for almost any change to a consistent and valid citation system. Johnbod (talk) 21:06, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
And CITEVAR can also be used to block the removal of LDRs.
WhatamIdoing's example can also be reduced to the nearly equally brief <ref>{{Harv|Westphal|1885}}</ref>. Which has the added benefit of not resulting in an ugly error message if it should be removed. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:00, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
I believe that to have the Harv template work, you'd have to change the citation to use |last=Westphal and |first=CF rather than the current |author=Westphal CF. Beyond that, though, wouldn't that change actually produce shortened footnotes rather than a single full citation? Or do I have it confused with {{sfn}}? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:21, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
{{Harv|Westphal CF|1885}} would work, but is incorrect in regards of the metadata; it should be first/last, Beyond that, I suspect you are thinking of {{sfn}}. The point I was making is that if the full citation is taken out of the text — which is the main point of doing LDRs — it can replaced with a Harv template (as I showed) as readily as a named ref (as you showed). ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 03:03, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
To be clear, J Johnson is absolutely correct if the article is standardized on LDR, then it is improper to switch back to inlines without prior discussion, same as with from inlines to LDR. --MASEM (t) 05:26, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────This discussion has taken the turn that WP:CITEVAR requires consensus for a switch to use of {{reflist|refs= }} if {{reflist}} already is in use, and vice versa. Of course, consensus is a wonderful thing, but the likely outcome of this interpretation is that the original choice will be preserved because consensus for a change will very rarely occur. So this interpretation is in practice a decision that no change is possible.

I call that the 'dog-in-the-manger' approach, because introduction of {{reflist|refs= }} doesn't stop anyone from using in-line footnotes if they want to, and permits the use of lost-defined references if that is wanted, on an editor-by-editor choice. On the other hand, use of {{reflist}} makes the use of in-line footnotes impossible.

So the more open and flexible approach is to use {{reflist|refs= }}, and I see no reason to use WP:CITEVAR as a means to insist upon the more restrictive choice of {{reflist}}. Brews ohare (talk) 16:35, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

While technically is is possible to mix inline and LDR systems, our MOS says to standardize on one or the other. The same could apply to any other CITEVAR issue (mixing Harvard vs cite templates, for example - there's nothing technically stopping us, but for avoiding editing wars, we standardize on one or the other). You're trying to push for a solution that is fixing something that is not broken in older articles. Going forward, I agree that LDR should be promoted, but for established articles, there's no need to force the LDR and if you can't get consensus to do so on talk pages, then just let it be. --MASEM (t) 16:40, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
An article generally evolves over time. In my experience, articles using list-defined references usually contain in-line references too, because some later addition was made by an editor who didn't want to bother with {{reflist|refs= }}. Possibly some later editor will convert this in-line version to a list-defined version and add the missing information that usually is missing in a hurried in-line footnote.
A mix-up is even more common with the Harvard referencing approach, because many editors have never learned how this method works either, and so they just put in in-line footnotes.
In summary, a mixture of footnoting is common, and it affords no difficulties for the in-line footnoter. And if a later editor wants to switch the in-line footnotes to list-defined footnotes, I have no problem with that, and see no reason to prevent changes by invoking WP:CITEVAR other than quarrelsomeness. Brews ohare (talk) 16:55, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
We're not talking about short term ref formatting inconsistency (it makes no sense to slap a new editor's hand if they add a bare url citation to an article that is otherwise consistently in one style, for example), we're talking at the end of day quality/formatting one would expect at an FA/GA assessment. To that extent, adding an inline citation to an article that is already LDR can easily be fixed into an LDR, but the reverse, introducing LDR to an article with inline takes excess work and can be seen as submarine-introduction of LDR. End of the day, there is no need to push LDR over inline (or inline over LDR), and we let CITEVAR deal with avoiding edit wars. --MASEM (t) 17:02, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
Well, let's look at it this way. Editor A wants to put in the effort to change all the in-line references to list-defined references; Editor A just finds all the digressions in the edit window makes it difficult to follow the exposition. Now, Editor B says they object to change. Editor A asks "Why do you object". Editor B says "Because WP:CITEVAR says I can object, and don't need any reasons."
Does this exchange make any sense? Is invoking WP:CITEVAR aiding the formation of consensus? Is policy used like this improving WP? Brews ohare (talk) 17:10, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
If editor B is a primary or original editor of the page, yes. In any other case, if B objects, then A should propose on the talk page to make the switch. --MASEM (t) 17:18, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
Three questions were asked. While 'yes' possibly can be applied to Q1 depending upon your taste, the answer to Q2 and Q3 is clearly 'no': Use of WP:CITEVAR does not promote discussion of pros and cons, and consequently does not allow a sensible choice between alternatives. In this regard, application of a policy without any attempt at explanation is just frustrating discussion, and unfortunately is a common use of WP policy. In this particular case, in fact the question could be settled once and for all because use of {{reflist|refs= }} denies no-one use of in-line references if that is what they want to do, and so using WP:CITEVAR to prevent use of {{reflist|refs= }} is counterproductive in restricting editing flexibility. Brews ohare (talk) 18:42, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
WP works by the mantra, "if its not broke, don't fix it". There is no need for established articles to switch from inline to LDR. In new and recent articles, yes there may be benefits for starting with LDR or suggesting it and that's where if one wants to make the effort to get more editors using LDR, to use it there. But just as it makes no sense to try to get editors to switch from harvard to cite templates or vice versa on an article long-established on one, it doesn't make sense to do the same with inline vs LDR, unless you can argue there is a real benefit to switching over specific to that article (eg, we all know that LDR is more newer-editor friendly, but that's not a specific benefit to the article in question). And again, we should not be knowingly mixing inline and LDR - it's different for a new editor to come in, unaware of the situation, and use the wrong citation approach, and for an established editor to ignore the established approach and insert the wrong style in an article. --MASEM (t) 18:51, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
Do we actually strongly discourage mixed use? I could imagine editors deciding to use LDR for any ref that gets re-used, but leaving the rest inline.
As for "the effort to change to list-defined references", the "effort" is something like clicking three buttons if you've got the script installed (which I recommend), so it's not really much effort. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:13, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Edit request on 11 September 2013

From 3.1.1 How to create the list of citations: "This section, if needed, is usually titled "Notes" or "References", and is placed at or near the bottom of the article ." Can we delete the extra space before the dot? (talk) 20:30, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Yes, we can! And done. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:04, 11 September 2013 (UTC)

Say where you read it, how?


I frequently use information from the Paleobiology Database (PBDB) regarding the locations where a particular fossil was found, see this example for Lonchodomas carinatus. I think it has value to cite the original source of the information, but I do not think I need to read the article itself because the information is in PBDB. It would be very helpful if the citation template would have an option to include |cited in= |, that would generate that text the reference list. I'm only interested in the solution of my problem, not in the programming, so I hope my issue is considered valid, worth solving and that someone will create what I think I need. Dwergenpaartje (talk) 09:42, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Well, you are essentially providing two citations. The simplest solution is simply to use two citation templates and put them between ref tags i.e. <ref>{{cite book [details1]}} Cited in {{cite book [details2]}}</ref>. Betty Logan (talk) 11:25, 15 September 2013 (UTC)
Thanks, I'll give it a try! Dwergenpaartje (talk) 19:05, 15 September 2013 (UTC)

Trimming cruft from Google Books URLs

There is plan to use a bot to trim cruft from Google Books URLs in citations. We need someone familiar with their format, to advise on which parameters can safely be trimmed, and which, if any, should be left. Can anyone advise, please? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:37, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

I link them a lot, and the only parameters I have found that need to be retained are the "pg=", the "v=" and "q=" parameters. Stripping out everything else after the book id number seems to have no effect. I have added hundreds of links to pages/word searches on Google Books and these are the only parameters I have ever used to my recollection. If you want a sample set with a high concentration of such links then I have added dozens at List of highest-grossing films. Betty Logan (talk) 13:02, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Where there is no specific "pg=" then the link can access by text parameter "q=" for matching text on various pages, as two very different forms of link. -Wikid77 (talk) 12:33, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
I think that there are four basic types of google book cites:
  1. a cite of a particular page where the book may be previewed
  2. a cite of a particular passage where the book is limited to snippet view
  3. a cite that links to the book's cover (preview mode)
  4. a cite that links to the book's summary page
When I've encountered type 1 with a lot of cruft, reducing the link to use only the page parameter works well.
For type 2 cites, very often the snippet view will show some of the search terms but not enough to support the statement in the article text. I tend to remove snippet-view links unless they clearly support the article's text. That happens rarely enough that I can't remember ever trimming the url.
For type 3, I simply remove everything but the page parameter.
For type 4, if the book has preview mode I'll add the appropriate page parameter; if no preview mode, I remove the url from the citation.
I test all of these new cite / link configurations before actually making the change.
Trappist the monk (talk) 13:13, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Er, why are we linking to google books for this? The problem with GBooks' previews is that the function is inconsistent around the world and even sometimes within the same region. A cite to the book with page number is more than sufficient and while this can provide the URL field for books, seems far too haphazard to consider reliable. And if one needs book information, just including the ISBN is sufficient to get to the list of pages that provide details on the book. (Note that I'm not saying one can't use GBooks to find information and then cite it appropriate with a cite book template, but you don't have to "show your work" to include the URL To the pages). --MASEM (t) 13:24, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I view google books links as merely a convenience for the reader. This is, in my mind, no different from citing The New York Times or any other news source and providing a link to the online copy of the article. Articles can disappear behind paywalls, be deleted, etc. just as google can make a book's page available or not. If it's available, why not provide a convenience link?
Trappist the monk (talk) 13:39, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Because it doesn't work for 100% of the readership - contents of books may be blocked by region, or depending on which way the google algorithm spins, certain pages may not be available to some. It would be different if the full contents of the book were available for all through google, at which point I'd be perfectly okay with that, but we're talking that while a useful resource is not one all of our readership can use or access. --MASEM (t) 14:18, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I am with Masem here, why link to Google books. We have ISBN for a reason, and that does not favour anything (including the search ranking of books by telling google which books are regularly read by Wikipedia users). I know, it is a convenience to have a link directly to the page, but it does favour one 'host' over others while there are methods to avoid that. One could even consider to disable the url parameter when there is an ISBN or other general search available in the template (at that point, the url can always be copied/pasted from the editor when an editor needs it, readers can make their own choice through the ISBN) ...
(after ec) Trappist the monk, the problem is that it favours one source over the other. For the New York Times it is published by them, for Google Books .. hardly any books are published by them, they are not even the copyright owner on most of them (they show pieces under fair use or with permission ..). Similar services are given by many bookshops, amazon, etc. etc. And I think that that is an important difference. --Dirk Beetstra T C 13:44, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
The problem though is that if you have sourced the information from a Google Books preview then the citation should ideally state that. It may well be identical to a hardback version with an ISBN and all that, but the bottom line is if you obtained the claim from the preview version you should cite the preview version. Betty Logan (talk) 14:16, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
There's no requirement for that, working on the assumption the Google book scan is an exact copy of the reported printed version (include print edition #). Unless you can prove that Google is altering books they have for preview on a regular basis, the source remains the book itself, not Google Books, and anyone can verify the claim by getting the book. (Of course, if it comes down to editors disputing a claim, you can toss the Google Books link up on the talk page to show that, but that process should be invisible to the reader). --MASEM (t) 14:21, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Google Books Preview is essentially no different to an online newspaper article, which may be behind a paywall or inaccessible in certain countries. WP:SOURCEACCESS doesn't say that online sources have to be universally accessible, but WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT does state we should say exactly where we got the content from. I see this as no different to online newspaper articles really: there may well be a hardcopy version, but if you got your information from the online version that is the version you cite. Betty Logan (talk) 14:25, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
It is very different, in that Google Books in of itself has no affliation with the book, compared with newspapers or academic papers. Further, I point again to the fact that what is available in a Google Books previous is inconsistent across the readership. This is a difference from PAYWALL/SOURCEACCESS is that anyone that had the proper credentials or purchases access will always get the same, full content from the source. We simply can't assure that for Google Book Previews, and thus doesn't make sense to use them for citations. --MASEM (t) 14:36, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Betty Logan (talk · contribs). Say where you got it. You got it from the book. You find it nevessary to say that the specific copy you used was on Google books ... I have no-one seen writing 'from my bookshelf' as where the specific copy of the book was.. You got it from the book, attributing it to google as a source is untrue, google did not publish it. An Google preview is not the same as doi, jstor, isbn, as those are really pointing through to the original publisher. Those are proper links, google/amazon and wayback are pure convenience links which often have nothing to do with the original publisher. And that is the importance of saywhereyougotit, to acknowledge the original publisher. --Dirk Beetstra T C 04:50, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

It seems to me there is no reason to spurn a free look at a page in a book just because it isn't available to all Wikipedia readers, any more than one should spurn a paper book because some local libraries have it on the shelf and others don't. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:35, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Agree with User:Jc3s5h. If the GBooks URL works for the person adding the reference I see no reason why it can't be included. Compare the 'jstor=' and 'mr=' options in the {{cite}} template, which provide ways of reaching article text or abstracts that are only available by subscription but are still useful. EdJohnston (talk) 23:29, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
No, it's different. JSTOR/MR links are assuredly going to give me the full source regardless when and where I access it - as long as I have access credentials there, or in most cases, can purchase those. Google book previews are random and inconsistent even if free. Further, why should we favor Google over any other service (like how we handle ISBNs using a landing page that points to dozens or ways to get book details) such as Amazon's preview feature? It may be a convenience at times, but at other times will be misleading the reader. --MASEM (t) 23:49, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
Agree with Jc3s5h. I find Masem's objections unpersuasive. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:47, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
jc3s5h, noone is spurning the citation, isbn will still lead you through to google books, as well as other online sources who may offer previews. --Dirk Beetstra T C 04:50, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
I would tend to agree with jc3s5h... As a reader I find it hard to a imagine a situation where I would encounter such a link and wish it weren't there. Seems the worst that happens is, it doesn't work/I can't access the content - which will be true of many other links, e.g. most all subscription based sites. Christopher Parham (talk) 05:34, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
We have a problem with readers who go to a link, find that it doesn't work for them, and thus remove the entire citation to a book (rather than the just a dead URL). So it is a risk, albeit IMO a small one. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:20, 23 September 2013 (UTC)
I think that would be very unusual - could happen though. I would expect someone to be watching the page, spot removal of a cite and reverse it. I would prefer to leave the url if it does go dead, just in case some way is found to recover it later. A different argument in favor of urls, which a couple of students have mentioned to me when discussing the accuracy of Wikipedia, goes something like: "I find Wikipedia is a good starting point, anyway, and the list of sources at the back is useful. I can click on those links and find out more about the subject." Aymatth2 (talk) 16:21, 23 September 2013 (UTC)

My take on this: (1) Editors can adequately verify a source by reading enough of it however they can. (2) Providing a link to an online page view, Google or otherwise, is a courtesy that will hopefully be useful to other readers. The important thing is that the book is the actual source, not the online view of it. The argument that the online view is inconsistent in its availability is not convincing, since the online view is not the source but just a potential way of looking at the source. Note that Google snippets are very dangerous as vital content can be invisible; often they will fail step (1). Zerotalk 01:05, 18 September 2013 (UTC)

  • Disagree with Masem. Whilst not everyone can see them, google previews seem mostly stable of a period of years, and often allow a whole chapter or paper to be read by anyone in the right area. Including them as a supplement to the usual bibliographic details is highly useful. I don't see any point to linking to non-preview views, & snippets are rarely worth linking to (or using as refs). Johnbod (talk) 11:57, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • This discussion seems to have strayed from the original topic. Views:
Why link? When citing a book, article or paper I describe the source and say where and when I found it, naming authors, title etc., url and accessdate. This applies to JSTOR, Google Books or any other website. The url helps another editor or reader to check what I have added. They might find a paper version in the library, but if the source is available online and they have access to it, that is easier. Aymatth2 (talk) 12:55, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
How to link. Like most websites, Google Books is far from perfect. I have found dead links in the search results list and pages that were visible but now are not. Occasionally the description of one book is combined with scanned pages from another. The database changes. For this reason, I provide both url and accessdate, as with any website link. Maybe, some day, Google will provide a service to access their archived database as of that date. I use the Wikipedia citation tool for Google Books to build book descriptions, place them at the foot of the article and link to them via the {{sfn|author|1913|p=123}} template. The idea is to provide all information that may possibly be relevant to someone checking, but to place it where it does not distract casual readers. Aymatth2 (talk) 12:55, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Trimming cruft. For a book page visible online, anything after the page number can be dropped. E.g. If the full page is not visible (in rare cases, snippet view does clearly support the information), or if no particular page is being referenced, as in a bibliography of books written by the subject of the article, I would just give the url up to the first ampersand, as The other parameters are just too inconsistent and unreliable. I can see no risk in a bot that trims all parameters other than &pg=. Aymatth2 (talk) 12:55, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
If you drop the "q=" you can lose snippet information. For instance, is used to support the fact that The Godfather earned $142 million. It is not a particularly contentious fact, and while the snippet does not allow for much context it is adequate to convey the fact. However, you need the "q" parameter to access this factoid, so dropping it would have repercussions for many sources that use this facility. The only parameters that should be dropped should be those that have no bearing on the accessing of the information. Betty Logan (talk) 13:03, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
I don't feel strongly on this - the example is a good one. If I give just the url as (but cite the page number), an editor checking can enter "$142 million" in "From inside the book - Search" and find the factoid. Think I am talking myself into saying that we should also keep the q parameter. The minimalist format for the bot would be "ei=" is not needed. With an accessdate, of course, in case Google starts to give different results later. Aymatth2 (talk) 13:21, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Remember that you are citing a book with a publication date. Because of the not-always-available-to-all characteristic noted above, a google books link is merely a courtesy for readers and not the cited work. As such, |accessdate= isn't required and contributes little if anything to the citation.
Often, the &q= parameter contains search terms that don't reflect the tidbit of information being cited. This I think can be confusing to readers who follow the link. For snippet views, it is important to keep the &q= parameter if the snippet view clearly shows the cited information in the appropriate context (and isn't a simple case of text matching the search terms). When preview is available, the highlighted search terms can be and, in my experience, often are distracting.
Can a bot tell the difference between a snippet view and page view simply from the url? If it can't, then I think that there is nothing much for the bot to do. I don't know the answer to this question.
Trappist the monk (talk) 13:56, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
The book definition gives two different types of information: 1) the work that contains the information (author, title, edition, page, ISBN etc.) and 2) the website where a copy of the work was found, with the date when it was found. The website could be Google, JSTOR, Project Gutenberg, whatever. A url is a fragile identifier because the website may be shut down or the website owner may change what the url points to, so it should always be accompanied by the accessdate. Some sort of archive service may be able to recreate what that url pointed to on that date. I believe this will become increasingly relevant as we move away from paper versions of books, papers etc. Aymatth2 (talk) 14:44, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
Editors can and probably will mess around with the url. In the example above, they might change into in an attempt to go to the page they see in snippet view. It won't work, but the bot can't tell that. Still, if the bot drops all parameters except id=, pg= and q= it is probably safe enough. Just needs some experimentation to confirm. The search terms could well be different from the factoid extracted from the snippet. I don't see that as a real problem. Only certain types of people would bother to check links. It seems better to let them see what showed up, even if the search term is a bit distracting, than to not show them anything. Aymatth2 (talk) 14:44, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
  • What about retaining the parameter "v=" along with the others? -Wikid77 (talk) 12:33, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Good question. Yes, v=onepage does seem useful. In a sense, there is not much point having a bot change the url. It does point to what the original editor saw, and to the regular reader it is hidden behind the book or chapter title. Three reasons I can see for stripping down the url.
  1. If the url in a book definition is inline to the text, as opposed to in a source definition at the end of the article, editing is a bit more awkward. A shorter url would be easier to work with
  2. Parameters like &hl= may affect the display in unwanted ways, overriding the viewer's default
  3. There may be some compromise of privacy, some information an editor does not realize they are giving out.
We need someone who really understands all these parameters. Not me... Aymatth2 (talk) 14:45, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
It is entirely conceivable that an editor may stipulate a two page view, but if "v=" is dropped it just defaults to the one page view, so the content is still accessible. Now, if the editor has specified the page numbers in the citation that clearly isn't a problem, but if they haven't and have just treated it like a web link you could fundamentally alter the reference so that the exact location of the information is no longer stipulated. Personally I would retain it for this reason; you cannot assume that every editor who uses Google Books has provided complete citation details. We have to account for human error, sloppy editing etc. If you want to err on the side of caution, the "pg", "q" and "v" links all need to be retained, or at least not removed by an automatic process. Betty Logan (talk) 15:01, 20 September 2013 (UTC)
An editor may provide a stripped-down bare url like giving snippets from three pages in the book. Not good practice, but the information is there for someone who wants to check the article. I am o.k. with saying we keep "id", "pg", "q" and "v", and drop all other parameters. Aymatth2 (talk) 16:47, 20 September 2013 (UTC)