Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 36

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ISBN oddity

An ISBN is meant to uniquely identify a book as a product, including edition and format (e.g. EPUB, Mobi, PDF, paperback etc.) This does not seem to be true. For example, ISBN 9781853260247 (ISBN 185326024X) is used by the publisher Wordsworth Editions for the 1850 Dicken's classic David Copperfield:

  • Google Books shows the publication year as 1992, 837 pages. But the cover inside the Google Books version is different from the snapshot in the Google Books description.
  • Amazon shows the same title and publisher with yet another cover, dated 5 August 1997, 768 pages.
  • Goodreads shows it with the same cover as Amazon, but 1 April 1998, 750 pages
  • BetterWorldBooks, an online retailer, is showing the same ISBNs, 768 pages, 1 April 1998, and yet another cover.

Looking inside the Google Books version, we find a different cover from the Amazon version but otherwise apparently the same content. They are both showing a 2000 publication year. The (partial) publication history, always using the same ISBNs and never identifying an edition number, seems to be:

  • 1992 original edition 837 pages
  • 1997 5 August fresh edition
  • 1998 1 April fresh edition
  • 1999 fresh edition with new introduction and notes added
  • 2000 fresh edition with illustrations added 768 pages

Google and Amazon are both showing scans from the 2000 editions, which apparently differ only in the cover, but Google is giving 1992 metadata and Amazon is giving a mix of 1997 and 2000 metadata. The 1997 and 1998 editions are only eight months apart, so this publisher could easily put out two different editions with the same ISBN and different pagination in the same year. Is there an impact on this guideline? A warning of some sort? Some other way to identify different versions? Aymatth2 (talk) 14:38, 28 September 2013 (UTC)

What should we warn about — that the world isn't perfect? If a publisher prints another batch of books, changing only the cover, then it's not really a different edition (which implies editing), but a different printing, and trivial. Changing the pagination is certainly not trivial, and if some publisher does that without troubling to use a new ISBN — well, that is a specific problem. But the impact is limited, and does not change the usefulness of ISBNs generally. That such anomalies occur is why references should include comprehensive bibliographic detail. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:37, 28 September 2013 (UTC)
I've found these oddities quite a bit, JJ, which is why I don't add ISBNs to citations. Adding name, title, publisher, year of publication should be enough to find an edition. If a hardback and paperback were published in the same year, and it's known that the page numbers changed, adding (paperback edition) after the year of publication is all that's needed. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:48, 28 September 2013 (UTC)
Sure, there seem to be some cases where an ISBN has been screwed up. But it is quite an overreaction to reject ISBNs totally, considering how useful they are generally. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:42, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
The question is far from hypothetical, assuming Wordsworth Editions is indeed reusing ISBNs for different editions. Their titles are cited in Wikipedia hundreds of times. I think it is fair to say that once a title has been published, the ISBN will not be used by another publisher or for another title. So a minimalist who is confident the book has not really changed since first publication in 1850 could use ISBN in place of publisher, title and author, giving a cite like
This avoids the pagination problem by identifying the chapter, which presumably is present in all editions, so the publication date is not needed. I am more of a maximalist, so would be inclined to give all the information I have, as
I can't see any harm in giving more information than is needed. The sort of reader who examines the citation details at the back of an article probably wants more rather than less. But I am still stuck on how best to cite the introduction to this book written by Adrienne E. Gavin. There could be two editions of the book, both published in 1999, one with the introduction and one without. How do I tell the reader which edition I am citing? Or does it matter? Aymatth2 (talk) 11:52, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
The question of citing an itroduction has recently been raised at Help talk:Citation Style 1/Archive 3#Citing book intorductions (sic).
Trappist the monk (talk) 13:17, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
The concern I have is not how to format the citation of an introduction, although I agree that is not entirely obvious and some guidance should be given somewhere. I am more puzzled about how to identify the print edition in which the introduction was found when a reader could have a copy of the book with the same year and ISBN, but with no introduction. Not a very serious issue, obviously, but maybe there is a simple answer. Aymatth2 (talk) 14:45, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
This happens occasionally with sport coaching books, or at least it does in snooker. The same coaching book gets reprinted but with a fresh introduction (read "endorsement") by the new world champion: same ISBN, same edition number etc. If you suspect this is the case, it's best to be on the safe side and clarify with something like: edition=2 (with a new introduction by Adrienne E. Gavin). Betty Logan (talk) 22:32, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:36, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
It is because no means of identification is perfect that we provide as much bibliographic detail as possible. Most of the time there is no problem. Then there are a few (very few, even rare) extreme "oddities". E.g., I have heard of publishers correcting embarassing errors in already printed and bound books by cutting out and replacing individual pages. So it is conceivable that two editors might have books that are exactly identical in ALL respects except for one word, and the only way of distinguishing them is (say) a close physical examination for a glued in ("tipped") page. Or perhaps an introduction was left out of the first hundred copies. Well, if one editor finds an introduction, and another doesn't, and careful (and collegial!) investigation shows the items to be otherwise entirely and undistinguishably identical, then you have an extreme case which cannot be idenftiied except by the difference or omission itself. In such a case I would simply add a note warning of the difference. E.g.: "Some copies of this book lack the Introduction." (And perhaps check out rare book prices?) ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:31, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
The editor making the cite is almost certainly unaware that the edition they are citing is not the only one for that year and ISBN. The incorrect Google Books metadata in this example does not help at all. I have no idea how common it is for publishers to re-use ISBNs for different editions. The example given is of a static work, but if the publisher of a dynamic work like a travel guide did this, with repagination between editions, it could cause serious confusion. I would not assume this is rare. The trend is towards electronic-only publications, often with no ISBN, so the problem is likely to get much worse.
I have no solution, beyond perhaps adding something to the guideline like "provide as much information as possible to help others who want to find the exact version of the work you are citing." This is not specific to books, but could go up front somewhere. And maybe something like "when viewing a book online using Google Books, if possible take the publication date, edition and other information from a preview of the relevant front-matter page. Use the bibliographic information provided by Google only when no preview is available." Aymatth2 (talk) 01:26, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
It's generally a good idea to include a small relevant quote in book citations (usually less than a full sentence), especially in-line citations. This not only provides verifiability that the source backs up what it claims to back up (or that the editor is lying through his teeth, sigh) but it also gives those with access to electronic copies of the book something quick to search on, even if their copy has different page numbers. Such searches may also trigger hits in "Google Books" even if only a snippet preview is available or even if no preview is available at all. In short: "|quote=" is your friend. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 02:44, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
It's a good idea to do this. As David says, it gives the reader some words to search for and that will pin down the edition if there's doubt about it. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:06, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
It seems that there is always doubt about the edition, including with books that have ISBNs. Using "|quote=" would not work for me. I often start articles that are almost entirely based on books, using information from several pages in each book. See Lake Uniamési for an example. I can't see sticking a quote or quotes into each source definition. I think quotes from copyrighted works should only be used for legitimate purposes, like critical commentary. Anyway, suppose I add a quote to a citation, as in
A reader searches their copy of the book, or searches the Google Books copy to which I have provided a convenience link, and does not find that quote. Am I lying about what I found in the book? Or did Google replace an older version with a newer one, same year and ISBN, that omitted the quote? Aymatth2 (talk) 13:39, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
In the rare cases where an ISBN covers more than one edition it is likely, as you said earlier, that the first editor is unaware of this (hypothetical) other edition. That comes out when a second editor finds a discrepancy with his edition. And (hopefully) does NOT immediately go into "liar, liar, pants on fire!" mode, but assumes good faith and collegially works with the first editor to resolve the discrepancy. Time enough to sort out such problems when they actually appear. Hopefully the first editor also specified where in the source the material is located. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:26, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
I am not convinced it is all that rare. Agencies that issue ISBNs would like publishers to buy a new one for every little change, but publishers and booksellers probably only want a new ISBN when it really is a new product. That is something the publisher will decide. I don't think we should count on ISBN too much as a unique identifier. It would be nice if it was, but people break rules and the world is changing. See "Book-keeping". The Economist. 2 March 2013.  If citations give as much information as possible it is more likely that the exact source will be found, or that someone checking will realize they may not be looking at the same version as the editor, but sometimes there will just be no way to distinguish versions. We will indeed have to assume good faith. Aymatth2 (talk) 14:15, 1 October 2013 (UTC)
Not rare? You only suspect so; you have no evidence that ISBN "oddities" are more than vanishingly rare. Yes, discrepancies happen, which is why we should never be absolutely certain of uniqueness, but that is the way to bet. (In the event of a discrepancy: AGF! and investigate.) The rare exceptions do not warrant any warning that ISBNs are not absolutely perfect. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:10, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── JJ, I don't have evidence either, because I've never thought to gather any, but ISBN mistakes are certainly not vanishingly rare. I used to encounter them regularly (when I paid attention to ISBNs), although not frequently. Apologies that I can't be any more precise.

Can you say when it is helpful to add them to citations? I often have to borrow and re-borrow books as sources, and the same edition doesn't always arrive – with inter-library loans I take whatever is offered for the sake of speed – so I sometimes end up using different editions. That's especially likely on an article I've been writing over a long period. Usually the page numbers haven't changed, so it doesn't matter. If they have, I try to guess which edition most readers will have access to, and I adjust the page numbers accordingly. But then, months or years later, another editor will add ISBNs to the citations without making sure they match the edition that was used. That isn't helpful. The only reason it isn't harmful is that readers almost certainly never pay attention to ISBNs. So I'd be interested to see examples of when ISBNs do add information that would help a reader or editor. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:31, 1 October 2013 (UTC)

  • I see no evidence that ISBN oddities are unusual. There is clearly a possibility that a high-volume publisher like Wordsworth Editions may not always use new ISBNs for minor changes like adding an introduction or repaginating. When I searched for ISBNs that did not match editions the majority of results said firmly that this cannot be. But a scattering of results, like distant laughter, gave examples:
I do not take the extreme position that ISBN has no value because it is not always precise. The ISBN is one bit of information about the source. Anything else that can be supplied is more information. I am in favor of encouraging editors to supply all the information they have. The combination may be enough to uniquely identify the source. It may not, but there is no harm trying. Aymatth2 (talk) 01:00, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
  SV: I certainly agree that ISBNs are not always useful, for the reasons you cite. But they do provide linkage to the most detailed and authoritative publication information about a book (including where it is available). Why should that be disdained? Sure, some publishers are lax. But I doubt if (e.g.) pagination would be changed without other changes to the content. Such changes or revisions might be reflected in the ISBN. If not, well, they are even less likely to be noted in any other identifier. And providing an identifier that does not perfectly resolve all variations does not do any harm, unless there is some expectation that they really are perfect.
  The problem of subsequent editors adding the ISBN of an edition different from what the original editor consulted is vexing. But I would blame the original editor for not fully specifying his or her source. Where multiple versions of a source are consulted I would cite each version, noting different pagination or such.
  BTW, in these example of books with different page counts — do these really have different pagination? Or do Amazon, etc., perhaps just differ on how many pages they count? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:41, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
Pagination is easy to change when the book is mostly pure text, as with the Wordsworth Editions oddity that started this thread. Wordsworth seems to have changed pagination from the first edition. They could argue that since it is still a paperback edition of the same classic book, same text, sold at the same low price, it is not really a different product. The consumer is unlikely to complain that they did not get what they were led to believe they were getting. With the same example, Goodreads seems to have taken page count as the last page number in the book (750), while Amazon included front matter and introduction (768). I think these are the same edition. The 1992, 837 page edition before the introduction was added seems to have really been different.
The people updating the catalogs may make mistakes. Google obviously does. I smell a rat with the Penguin/Viking Jane Austen Book Club example. Librarians make mistakes. Publishers make mistakes. Editors make mistakes. I confess to having happily used the Google Books metadata from the Wikipedia citation tool for Google Books for years, only checking the metadata inside the book when something seemed obviously wrong. I must have put in a lot of incorrect metadata, but if someone checks a citation I added, following the convenience link I supplied, they should find the information I cited, unless my eyes got crossed for a minute. Editors citing books almost always try to report what they found, and to give an accurate citation. But it might be sensible to say somewhere "give as much information as you can in a citation". That should be the subject of a separate debate. Aymatth2 (talk) 01:23, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
I am begining to think these "oddities" are (for the most part?) little more than confusion of page counts and editions. E.g., the Google Books link at the top cites the Wordsworth 1992 edition, but the preview clearly indicates it is of the "1992 and 2000" edition, including an introductory essay copyright 1999. I suspect the pagination (past the prefatory material) is identical, and the different page counts due entirely to the introductory material. Similarly, The Goodreads link says published "April 1st 1998 by Wordsworth Classics", and even provides both ISBNs. But these apply only to the source of the text (Wordsworth), not to the Goodreads version. I suspect the ePub/Kindle/PDF downloadables differ in format and pagination, but this is quite beside the point: it appears they don't have ISBNs. Which takes us back to where I think we all agree (or should!): "give as much information as you can". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:01, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────

Convenience break

For several years i worked extensively editing and moderating the ISFDB, where noting minor differences in editions and printings is a core concern. Based on this, I can assert that at least in fiction publishing, reuse of ISBNs for different printings is more or less the rule, and reuse for truly different editions is not all that rare. Each ISBN costs the publisher a fee, and unless both versions are to be on sale at the same time, the publisher has no incentive to change as often as the published standards suggest should be done. (this does mean that different bindings of simialr date generally ahve different ISBNs, since they have different prices.) Many publishers do make such changes, but many, particularly smaller publishers (but including some larger publishes intent on cost-cutting) routinely reuse ISBNs. There is, I fear, no single utterly reliable identifier for a given edition, and much less for what collectors call a "state" (two books in the same state should be essentially identical, same cover, same binding, same pagination, same contents -- a misprint of a single word may define a variant state). That said, the ISBN is probably the single most useful identifier for Wikipedia's purposes, although citing a LCCN for US-published books, or a similar national number for thsoe countries that have them is often helpful also. DES (talk) 22:41, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

What DES says is consistent with the evidence above. Some discrepancies may be due to difference in the way of counting pages, but often there really is a different edition. In the example that started this, there is no way that the 1992, 837 page edition was the same as the 2000 768 page edition with new introduction and notes added. On a different tack, it occurs to me that my misguided faith in Google metadata, which seems quite error-prone, and the Wikipedia citation tool for Google Books has led me to insert thousands of dubious citations. I hate to say this, but in these cases the url, or perhaps url+accessdate, may be the best clue to what I was actually citing. That should not be - I should have looked at the preview of the front matter, assuming it was available, but I did not. Many editors are likely to make the same mistake. Aymatth2 (talk) 23:10, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
Thank, David, that's very interesting. When you talk about ISBNs as useful identifiers in citations, what information (or other benefit) would an ISBN add to John Rawls, A Theory of Justice, Harvard University Press, 1971? SlimVirgin (talk) 22:59, 4 October 2013 (UTC)
Well if you want to buy a used copy online, the ISBN is still often the key datum. Particularly for books a bit newer than 1971, it can also be a key to finding a library copy via OCLC. (An OCLC accession number can also be helpful if that is your metadata source.)
And in general, an ISBN will normally (not absolutely always) uniquely identify a particular work, if not a particular edition, and I have seen two different works with the same author and title. It can be a useful clue to which edition is being used, particularly if someone cites a copyright date instead of the edition publication date, as very often happens. Not definitive, but a clue, and it may often give at least an earliest possible date for the edition involved -- provided it does NOT come from amazon.
Amazon metadata, I am sorry to have to say, is often little more than a joke. Amazon routinely shows a current ISBN with an older edition, shows as the publisher of an older edition the newer publisher which the older publisher has merged into, shows a current cover for an older edition, and in general commits anachronisms freely and often. It also routinely invents page counts and publication dated for newly published or pre-announced books if the data has not yet been provided by the publisher, and sometimes these do not get over-written by valid data. If the page count is an exact power of 2 at Amazon, it is quite probably bogus. Amazon's "Look inside" views are usually accurate, but are often for editions other than the one from which they were reached. The ISFDB, after long and painful experience, uses Amazon data extensively, but never trusts it until it is confirmed by a more reliable source, such as an OCLC record, a trusted reference, or better yet, a known user who has the actual book in hand. DES (talk) 02:43, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
ISBN provides a convenience link to the "Book Sources" page, which then provides links to vendor indexes like Amazon or Google, Worldcat for library data, Goodreads for reader reports and so on. Maybe as DES says these indexes refer to different editions, but they are usually close enough in practice. The citation can also be enhanced with links to the author and publisher, and a link to an online copy, as: Rawls, John (30 June 2009) [1971]. A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press. p. iv. ISBN 978-0-674-04260-5.  None of the links are required, but they all may be useful. If Amazon metadata is poor, Google also has problems, see doi:10.1080/19386389.2012.652566. But editors will use the Google metadata anyway, and must use it when Google fails to provide a preview of the publication data. We may as well give as much information as possible in the hope that someone who cares can figure out what we were actually referring to. Like keeping possible evidence from the crime scene, even if we are not sure it is relevant. Aymatth2 (talk) 13:26, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
  Re your earlier comment: Especially look at the front matter!!! Particularly the title page and copyright page, as that's where the key publication data is. Access date doesn't seem useful here (Google's image of the book is unlikely to change, though that is a possibility), unless you are referring (as we are in this discussion) to Google's metadata itself. (E.g., what Google says the page count is, versus the actual page count.)
  But where you say an editor "must use" the Google metadata: no. The original editor — who presumably can view the material, or he wouldn't (shouldn't!) be using it — must provide a certain minimum of information. Short of some kind of documentation (or psychic abilities) no one else can provide that, and it is wrong to do so. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:58, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
An editor will often decide to research and write up an article using only sources available online. It could be a straightforward subject like a lake where no particular background knowledge is needed. They find sources that seem reasonably authoritative, extract the relevant information and provide citations to the sources they have used. One source may be a book written by a reputable author and published by a reputable publisher. The visible page on Google Books says the lake is at an elevation of 325 meters above sea level, and that roughly agrees with what they see on a topographic map. But Google Books does not show them the front matter in preview mode. It is not wrong for them to record what they found, and to record the Google metadata in the citation, even if the metadata may not be exactly accurate. It is certainly not realistic to expect that editors will not use Google books preview for research.
In this case the url seems important to me. Whether or not the metadata exactly matches the scanned page image the editor has used, at least the url lets someone check the citation - if they have access to the Google page image, which may not be true. Not perfect, but better than nothing. If we said every article has to be based on viewing printed books or journals, most contributions would grind to a halt. Aymatth2 (talk) 00:54, 6 October 2013 (UTC)
  I think you need clarify what you are arguing about. E.g., is your hypothetical editor researching the elevation of a lake? Or the page count of some book? The former is content in the book, the latter is the metadata about the book. Also: your last paragraph is entirely immaterial. Of course the url is important; I have said nothing to the contrary. Nor has anyone said anything like "every article has to be based on viewing printed books or journals".
  However, the basis of all those scanned images at Google Books is in fact printed books. Google provides a convenient on-line view of the book, but what you cite is the book itself, not Google. If the Google preview does not show the title page and other front matter it is exactly like a printed book with those pages torn out. So how do you know who wrote it and published it? From the Google metadata? That is someone else telling you what it is, not you reading it yourself. And in regard of ISBNs (the subject here, remember?) I say that if you don't see it in the book itself, or in the image of the book, then you should not use it. A prime example is where you referenced (above) the Goodreads "edition" of David Copperfield: an ISBN was mentioned in the metadata as the source of the text, but the Goodreads text has no ISBN, and therefore it is an error to assign it an ISBN. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:32, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
If Google says the book is Lacs du Sahara (1967) by Professor J. Dollaeans, the visible page heading/footing says "Lacs du Sahara - Mali page 45", and the text is about a lake in Mali, it is an image of page 45 from Lacs du Sahara. A typical editor would use the rest of the metadata supplied by Google, e.g. publication date, ISBN and author, even if they cannot see an image of the page holding this information. There could be an error in the ISBN, publication date or even the name. Maybe Dollaeans should be Dolléans. There could be a typo: maybe the lake elevation is 328 meters, not 325 meters. But I am willing to say "here is what I found, where I found it, and what Google said it was. I think it is credible, but you make your own judgement." I would include the ISBN that Google provided for those who want to follow the link to Book Sources. I should probably take the trouble to check that some other book index agrees with the title and author for the ISBN. We could recommend that. Aymatth2 (talk) 00:04, 8 October 2013 (UTC)
Again, you need to clarify what you are arguing about. You started by asserting that ISBNs seem to not uniquely identify different books ("including edition and format"), based on "oddities" of different page counts reported in the metadata. Now you assert that it is "not wrong" for editors to rely on metadata "even if the metadata may not be exactly accurate." That some metadata is incorrect, or an editor unwisely relies on it anyway, or simply misunderstands it, is not a fault with the ISBNs generally. It seems to me your concern is really about the metadata. The safest course in that regard is, as I said before: don't rely on what you don't find in the source itself. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:19, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I disagree with J. Johnson's comments above. Frequently when I research a subject online I will use google books and find a relevant citation in a google books preview. I will cite the book based on this. Insofar as possible, I will derive bibliographic info from the displayed book images itself. But where these are incomplete (particularly if the front matter is not included in the preview) I will routinely use the google metadata, or even the Google links to vendors od the book (esp if two or more vendors agree) to supply such meta data as the publisher, year of publication, and ISBN. TO simply leave these out would seem to me highly remiss. I would say it is not merely desirable but morally obligatory to supply this information from the best sources available. There is never 100% surety, even the printed book can have a misprint. By including the preview URL I make it clear exactly what I viewed to form the cite. DES (talk) 22:06, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

  We are in agreement on several aspects: that nothing is perfect (even printed books), that including the preview URL is strongly recommended, and even that as much information as possible should be included. But note carefully: it seems to me that the crux of the issue initially raised here — the "oddities" — are not so much regarding ISBNs themselves as the use of possibly unreliable metadata (which is where ISBN issue came in).
  There are several problems with doing research by Google snippets (such as not seeing enough of the source to assess its reliability or even applicability), but let's focus on the narrower domain of possibly unreliable publication data (e.g., author, date, edition, publisher, isbn, etc.). And we have a prime example at hand: Aymatth2's attribution, apparently based on the metadata, of the Goodreads edition of David Copperfield to ISBN 9781853260247. This is incorrect, as that ISBN does not apply to the Goodreads edition itself, but (apparently) only as the source of the text (formatting and pagination differing). The problem is not with the ISBN, but its relationship (which Goodreads is not very clear about). To cite this edition with this ISBN is simply incorrect.
  Now consider the Google Books image. The page with the ISBN, which is authoritative, is not shown, barring direct verification. We might presume the metadata to be correct, but that is relying on some one else. We are essentially quoting Google Books, which strictly speaking requires its own citation. There's the bind: does including as much information as possible include unverified and possibly misinformation?
  I point out a possible resolution. In bibliographic practice it is conventional that when information not found on a title page is included in a citation (such as expansion of initials, or the original date of publication) it is placed in square brackets. Perhaps this would be useful to indicate where publication data has been taken from a secondary source such as metadata. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:36, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
From the above discussion, it is indisputable that some publishers repeatedly use the same ISBN for distinctly different editions. That should not come as a big surprise. Big Sur Biorganic Books & T-Shirts may be casual about the rules, as may larger cut-price publishers. It is also indisputable that the metadata provided by Amazon.com or Google Books is often wrong. When citing a book viewed online we should give the url, ISBN and the metadata provided by the online source if we cannot see the book page that holds the metadata. Sometimes this will be incorrect, but it is the best we can do. By giving the url we are saying that this is the information provided by the website. Sticking stuff in square brackets is not going to help. Aymatth2 (talk) 00:20, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
  Your repeated statement "we should give the url" is a strawman argument, as no one has suggested otherwise.
  Your demonstration of supposed ISBN "oddities" is weak, especially where (as I have shown) you misattribute the ISBN of one publisher to the edition of a different publisher. The problem shown is not in the use of ISBNs, but in misuse of metadata.
  What you have apparently failed to grasp is that relying on someone else's metadata increases the chances of error (either in the data itself, or understanding its proper application). The use of square brackets would be a caveat that the datum came from a non-authoritative source, and could use verification. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:13, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Order of Information in Citing Newspaper Articles

I changed the listed order of information suggested for citing newspaper articles because the page previously seemed to suggest that the name of the author and title of the article not be given first. I changed this without discussion as it should not be controversial; having the author and article name first is consistent with the all the other examples given on this page for Wikipedia citations in which there is an author, and also is consistent with the Chicago Manual of Style citation guide. - Embram (talk) 15:53, 29 September 2013 (UTC)

Jardine, Cassandra (5 August 2004). "The return of the secondary modern". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
Aymatth2 (talk) 16:03, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
Except that is not the order of the new revision. It says: 1) author, 2) title, 3) name of newspaper, 4) date, 5) city of publication. Which has several defects. E.g., why should the date come between the newspaper and place of publication? And: where references are ordered by author and date, it is common to have the date immediately follow the author. It also suggests that where an author is not given the reference should be ordered by title, whereas typical practice is to use the newspaper name. I don't say that the original formulation was correct, only that the current formulation is inconsistent with {{cite news}}, and not fully satisfactory in itself. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:59, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
  • I didn't want to change it beyond what Wikipedia already says, especially since I'm not a member of the Style Manual "club" here. Personally, I like the Chicago Manual of Style method (but with Wikipedia-style embedded links), in which the date generally comes at the end, except for page number(s), if any. For example:
Daniel Mendelsohn, “But Enough about Me,” New Yorker, 25 January 2010, p. 68.
or
Daniel Mendelsohn, “But Enough about Me,” New Yorker (25 January 2010), p. 68.
Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear, "Wary Centrists Posing Challenge in Health Care Vote,” The New York Times, 27 February 2010, accessed 28 March 2013.
There was a recent RFC about where to put the date in a citation – see Help talk:Citation Style 1/Archive 3#RFC: Consistent date location. I don't think anything much came of it, but it looks like there's broad consensus for having the date as the second element (immediately after the author). DoctorKubla (talk) 07:19, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
There are two obvious problems with this "broad consensus"1 that the date should be the second element. First, it's inconsistent with the citation methods accepted by the rest of the literary world (including The Bluebook and The Chicago Manual of Style.) Second, it's inconsistent with Wikipedia's own citation templates (like {{cite news}}, for instance), which generally put the date at or near the end of the citation, consistent with the rest of the literary world. - Embram (talk) 20:16, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Unless the template has been changed recently, I was wrong about the date in {{cite news}}. It's unfortunate the date is put after the byline because it makes it seem like the date refers to the author, when actually it refers to the date the newspaper edition containing the article was published. - Embram (talk) 00:44, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
1 By a vote of 8 to 3 out of 11 amateur editors, with discussion closed when the discussion leader (who agreed with that vote) decided to close it. That's a "broad consensus"? Really?
  • Also, as an aside, I notice that the current {{cite news}} seems to use the European punctuation style of putting the period outside the quotation marks surrounding the title of the article. Is this done on purpose?
- Embram (talk) 02:18, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
Embram, your comments broadly incorrect.
  • There are indeed two general styles of where to place the date: after the author, and at the end of the reference (not counting the specific page numbers part of the reference). If you will dig into CMOS a little more you will see where it acknowledges both. Bluebook is specifically for legal use, and not appropriate here.
  • "[T]he rest of the literary world" (however you define "literary") is not the arbiter of citation style and practice on Wikipedia, nor even scholarly/scientific writing at large.
  • Your statement that {{cite news}} puts the date at the end of the citation is contradicted by example at the top of this section.
  • The change you made does not put the date at the end of the citation.
In otherwords, what you wanted to do is dubious, and what you actually did is incorrect. You should consider reverting your edit. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:16, 30 September 2013 (UTC)
J. Johnson, you should read more carefully before criticizing, so you don't make strawman arguments. For example, I never said The Bluebook method is appropriate here, and "at or near" is not equivalent to "at," especially when the issue is whether the date should be way up at front, the second element, when citing a newspaper article. - Embram (talk) 12:06, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
  Your own statement explicitly invokes Bluebook in support: "First, it's inconsistent with the citation methods accepted by the rest of the literary world (including The Bluebook and The Chicago Manual of Style.)" If you agree that Bluebook is not appropriate here perhaps you so state. Or at least not suggest otherwise.
  The second part of your run-on sentence reflects some basic confusion. You don't want the date as the second element, and as an alternative cite a general style of putting the date at the end of the bibliographic details that describe the source, including place of publication. (Or near the end, if you include page numbers, which really pertain only to the note form. Read your CMoS.) Well, your change puts the date close to the end, but it misses the style you ascribe to; it is incorrect.
  As your change does not reflect the actual ordering of elements in the citation templates and is contrary to established practice here, and having a contrary example only confuses the readers of this page, it ought to be reverted. Which I will do. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:33, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
You're just playing rhetorical games. I'm not invoking Bluebook in support of anything. I just mentioned it as yet another real-world citation system that is inconsistent with what you're proposing. For you to seize on that and try to turn it around as though I'm proposing we use the Bluebook system is disingenuous – either that, or you don't understand what a strawman argument is and why you shouldn't use it.
You also seem to be a lot more interested in slapping down what I said than you are in considering appropriate solutions. Your decision to revert the smaller change I made even though all it did was to make the description more (if not perfectly) consistent with what the {{cite news}} template already does seems rather petty: are you changing it back to what is even more inconsistent with a Wikipedia template just to indulge in a power display against me? You could have at least changed it to make it more consistent with the cite news template, which is what I've just done. (Now I see someone else has put the date back near the end - you can argue with them for a while.) - Embram (talk) 00:26, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
If you want sympathy you should avoid making contra-factual statements. And cut-out the name calling. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:08, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

The text in that section does not determine the order for any particular citation, it only suggests information that might be included. We do not have any house citation style, and in particular each individual article can establish its own order for information in a reference. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:30, 3 October 2013 (UTC)

That's interesting, and not bad if it's true, but could you cite where that's said? - Embram (talk) 00:50, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
Um, the section "Citation style" of this guideline? — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:52, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. In that case, it's perfectly fine in Wikipedia for the original contributor to the article (and those who follow) to put the date of the article publication after the name of the newspaper in which it was published, as is more logical and is in accordance with the Chicago Manual of Style and the rest of the literary world, instead of putting it immediately after the name of the author as though it were some date related to his life, or the pre-publication date the article was actually written (which it certainly is not since we don't know when he wrote it). - Embram (talk) 14:28, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the original author can choose any order she likes. But it is worth noting that in CMOS the year can go just after the author name, with only the month and day portion of the date goes later; this facilitates author-date references. Click the "author-date" tab at [1]. Example: Stolberg, Sheryl Gay, and Robert Pear. 2010. “Wary Centrists Posing Challenge in Health Care Vote.” New York Times, February 27. Many of the Wikipedia style templates were designed to be compatible with author-date referencing. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:06, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
That is indeed a relevant factor. Thank you for making that clear. I like that: year after the author, month and day of publication after the newspaper. - Embram (talk) 15:16, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
  Embram: what you have failed to notice is that in the general style you espouse the date goes after not only the name of the newspaper, but also the city (place) of publication. That is, putting the date between those two elements is not a "style" recognized by anyone.
  I point out to everyone that the original ordering of elements here, with the name of the paper first, and date second, is also very common, as newspaper news articles are often unsigned and collectively attributed to the paper. (See CMOS.) It also results in less confusion where some articles are signed, and some are not. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:13, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

Question on quotation citation location

I thought at one point our polices required that if you included a quote (with or without in-prose attribution) that the citation immediately had to follow the either the quote or the sentence that used it. I'm running in a situation that an editor claims our policies aren't set up for that, so that as long as the citation for the quote is "near" (in this specific case, after the sentence that includes the quote) that's sufficient. I recognize that this is completely appropriate for two more consecutive sentences that do not include any quotes or contentious material, but I could have remembered the higher standard needed for quoting. --MASEM (t) 22:16, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

You're right – a previous version of this guideline required quotes to be immediately followed (or preceded) by an inline citation. This rule was added by SlimVirgin in May 2006, and removed by SlimVirgin in September 2010, during an extensive rewrite. I can't find any discussion about this in the talk page archives; perhaps SlimVirgin can tell us more. DoctorKubla (talk) 07:59, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
And just reading to be clear: I have sentence A that includes the quoted language from source X, and sentence B that also relies on source X but is quote-free. I had it (based on what I thought was in the language) as "Sentence A.(ref to X) Sentence B.(ref to X)" while someone else, because we no longer have the "immediate" requirement, believes this can be simplified to "Sentence A. Sentence B.(ref to X)" , which if there was no quoted material floating around, I'd completely agree. --MASEM (t) 14:32, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
Normally I would use "Sentence A (ref). Sentence B." Whether a reference is needed on the exact same sentence as a direct quote depends, though, on exactly how the paragraph is worded. If the article says something like Smith (1992, p. 5) claims the opposite. He writes that alien abductions are not hallucinations, but instead are "misperceived stimuli"., then the reference on the thesis sentence of the paragraph is sufficient for verification purposes. It is usually the case that things can be worded in a way to avoid repetitive citations, perhaps with some revision. — Carl (CBM · talk) 23:45, 10 October 2013 (UTC)
I agree that there may be rearrangement, but I do want to get to the core issue is if we have to have "Sentence A (ref)." because of the quote in sentence A. As DoctorKuble points out, the language that required that was removed in a rewrite and if that was an intentional removal or not. I certainly can work the sentences around to try to avoid dup refs, but I need to make sure that, at least as best I remember, we need the ref right after the quoted material. --MASEM (t) 02:13, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
DoctorKubla pinged me about this. It used to be the case that refs were expected directly after a quotation, but that hasn't been the case for some time. It can cause problems if the previous text was from source A, then a quote from source B, then more from A, so you're jumping back and forth adding unnecessary footnotes to the text. If the material's contentious, it might be a good idea to do this, and some editors do it anyway, but others prefer to place footnotes only after sentences or paragraphs. If there are multiple citations at the end of a sentence or paragraph unit, and you need to make clear which source the quote is from, that can be handled with citation bundling. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:16, 11 October 2013 (UTC)
Okay, that's fine, and I won't worry about it (though I personally prefer it). I just wanted to make sure if I completely misread something or if there was an actual change. --MASEM (t) 22:16, 11 October 2013 (UTC)

Guideline for how to cite "borrowed" articles?

Perhaps I have missed it, but is there a guideline for how to handle situations in which a newspaper or other news medium publishes an article that was originally developed by a different news agency or a wire service? This often happens with articles from the Associated Press, AFP, and Reuters, for example. Which of the article's identifying items should be included in the citations? A few examples:

  • an article published by The Telegraph in which the author is given as "Associated Press"[2]
  • an article published by the Los Angeles Times, which includes a named author from the Washington Post[3]
  • an artice published by the Houston Chronicle from Reuters with a named author[4]
  • an article published by the Houston Chronicle from Reuters with no named author[5]

If you are using the cite news template, which parameters should be included in each of these situations? Dezastru (talk) 01:07, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Use the "agency" parameter for Reuters and the Associated Press. In the case of newspapers selling on their stories I would try to track down the original source; if you can't, in the case of the LA Times publishing The Washington Post story I would just treat the WP as an agency since it is acting in that capacity. Alternatively, if you just cite it as an LA Times publication it is still a valid cite in terms of providing enough bibliographic details, although you lose an aspect of the original publication. Betty Logan (talk) 01:22, 14 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the speedy response, Betty. Is there a guideline somewhere that states this? I ask not in disagreement but to note that these types of references are very common for certain types of articles and the recommended citation style is not obvious. If there isn't a guideline, or a suggested example, shouldn't there be one? Dezastru (talk) 09:22, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

Also, I would like to propose a couple of tweaks for the cite-news template. Where is the most appropriate place to make the proposal? Dezastru (talk) 09:22, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

I think Help talk:Citation Style 1 (which is where Template talk:Cite news redirects) is the place to go. Thincat (talk) 11:05, 14 October 2013 (UTC)

VisualEditor's reference dialog

VisualEditor's reference dialog, especially the way it handles citation templates, is being redesigned. Suggestions and opinions are wanted at mw:VisualEditor/Design/Reference Dialog. (It's over at the sister project, Mediawiki.org, but you should be able to use your Wikipedia username/password to login there.) This is a practical, focused workshop to improve the design. Views from people who regularly edit at other Wikipedias are also needed, since some Wikipedias do not use the same citation templates (or don't use citation templates at all).

If you aren't using VisualEditor regularly, it may be helpful to turn on VisualEditor (at the bottom of Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-editing) and try to add or edit a couple of refs in your sandbox, or to read Wikipedia:VisualEditor/User guide first. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 19:01, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Proposal re clarifying text

Although the first sentence of my previous proposal engendered a long-running objection from WhatamIdoing, neither she nor anyone else has objected to the rest of that proposal. I therefore propose inclusion of this unobjected text as follows in order to clarify the relation of this topic with other policies:

Citation is the basis of verifiability, a core content policy. As stated in that policy, all material in Wikipedia articles must be verifiable; 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.


~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:04, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

As this text is not controversial I will proceed to add it. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:17, 12 August 2013 (UTC)

I object to the proposal because it is not self-contained. I object to your tactics of perennial chatter in hopes of wearing down those who disagree with you. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:34, 12 August 2013 (UTC)
  Well, I object to editors who obstruct for the sake of obstructionism, who will not (cannot?) formulate a logical argument but must misrepresent plain words, and who claim a right of unilateral veto. And what you call "wearing down" I call trying to resolve differences with someone who won't engage. But none of this applies to you.
  As to the current proposal, please explain what you mean that it is not "self-contained", perhaps even how the proposal should be corrected. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:56, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
The proposal fails to state where in the guideline it would be inserted, and does not indicate what text, if any, is to be removed. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:21, 14 August 2013 (UTC)
Thank you, and my apologies for not specifying that. I would insert this proposed text at the top of the page, as it is somewhat in the nature of a scope statement, but alternate locations could be considered. It would not replace any other text. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:06, 15 August 2013 (UTC)


I'm not sure what "Citation is the basis of verifiability" is supposed to mean. Is this all basically pretty filler for the practical purpose of building the web to the related policies and guidelines? (Speaking of which, you missed BLP.) Or does it have some other consequence that isn't so obvious, e.g., perpetuating the stubborn myth that uncited material is automatically unverifiable? WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:15, 14 August 2013 (UTC)

Oppose. This restates material already in the lead and just creates more text between the top of the page and what the editor came here to read that the editor will have to page down through. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:17, 15 August 2013 (UTC)

So let's just cut straight to the heart of the matter: do you believe this page is perfect, admitting of no possible improvement? If not, what improvements would you suggest? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:38, 16 August 2013 (UTC)
That's not relevant. Jc3s5h can oppose this change, even if he'd prefer to re-write every single sentence of the whole guideline. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:42, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
I wasn't asking you, as we already know what you want ("no change"). If Jc3s5h is of the same mind I should like to know up front, without having to chase the argument through a dozen bogus distractions and dead ends. So let him answer for himself. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:38, 17 August 2013 (UTC)
There are things I'd be happy to see changed, and many more that I wouldn't care one way or the other about. It's true that I don't want to see the definition of 'general reference' changed in ways that disconnect it from the community's use, which you had previously proposed.
You seem to be operating in a black-and-white approach here: either you will support changing the opening sentences right now, or you believe the entire page is perfect. It happens that there is a big gray area in between these two poles, which admit for the possibility of changes to other parts of the page, or even to this part of the page, but without any artificial urgency to make a proposal merely so that you can prove that you think improvement is possible. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:18, 18 August 2013 (UTC)
Part of the problem here may be that when you can see only black-and-white you tend to freely interpret, adding your own imaginative colorations. I could give you a Technicolor exposition but you would complain it's too bright, and if I toned it down you'd complain it's too gray. (You're kind of like Goldilocks.) However, I didn't ask you for your opinion, nor did I ask you for Jc3s5h's opinion; I am asking Jc3s5h for his own opinion. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:23, 19 August 2013 (UTC)
Jc3s5h: you initially objected that my proposal "is not self-contained". That was resolved, then you objected that the proposal "restates material already in the lead and just creates more text". If that is the case, then we should be able to discuss what formulation and placement of the material is best. But is that your true and sole objection? Or are you going keep pulling rabbits out of your hat? If the real problem is that you don't want any changes then please say so right out, rather than making me play Twenty Questions. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:07, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
Jc3s5h: I should like to address your objection that the proposed text "restates material already in the lead and just creates more text" that gets between an editor and what s/he "came here to read". The short answer (I can provide a longer answer if you wish) is that if the lead needs to be shortened then it could pretty much be replaced by the proposed text, which states the essentials better and more succinctly. The existing lead is not so much a definition of the topic or summary of the page as a miscellany of points some editors thought so important they had to have top billing. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 17:47, 26 September 2013 (UTC)
There's no doubt the lead could use rewriting but I think your text is moving it in the wrong direction - it's primarily useful to WP bureaucrats looking to relate this page to other policy pages, rather than its functional audience. There's no need for a list of policies NOT being discussed here. I think the key information that should be in the lead is this: (1) citations are used to identify sources; (2) inline citations are required in some situations by WP:V, but are always encouraged; (3) though WP has no preferred citation format, individual articles ideally use a consistent format; and most importantly (4) don't worry too much about #3 - when you add information, provide enough information to identify the source. Your proposed text doesn't really address any of these points, rather pointing a reader who probably has a very specific question ("my edit was reverted and I was told to cite a source! what does this mean?") to several other pages which are peripheral to the issue. Christopher Parham (talk) 15:58, 27 September 2013 (UTC)
  Your main premise — that there's "no need for a list of policies NOT being discussed here" — is backward. It is because these policies are not discussed here that they need to be listed (and linked). E.g., your hypothetical editor asking how to "cite a source" should also know about WP:RS (etc). But we do not want to discuss that here (different topic), so we merely mention it, with a link to where it is discussed. I point out that the "WP bureaucrats" already know this stuff (or think they do); our "functional audeince" is those who likely don't know enough to ask specific questions.
  The proposed text states the purpose of this guideline ("provide guidance"), what citation is and why it is important, and points out related policies discussed elsewhere. Note that the proposal is to include this text, not to replace the rest of the lead. It neither precludes nor requires inclusion of any other information (though inclusion would conflict with Jc3s5h's objection). The proposed text does not address that because that is a separate matter. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:31, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
I remind both Jc3s5h and Christopher Parham that I think I have adequately addressed your objections. If this is not so then please be so kind as to say so. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:06, 7 October 2013 (UTC)
As Jc3s5h and Christopher Parham have no further comments their objections are deemed to be adequately addressed. The only outstanding objections are those of WhatamIdoing, addressed below. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:43, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
IF I WANTED TO WITHDRAW MY OBJECTION I WOULD HAVE DONE SO. STOP BEING A PEST! Jc3s5h (talk) 22:33, 27 October 2013 (UTC)
As I have said before, I would like to address your objection. But I can't do that if you won't discuss it. And if you can't support your position, or if it is not important enough to discuss, then you should withdraw it. I am trying to improve this corner of Wikipedia. I don't see that you are. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:52, 30 October 2013 (UTC)


Regarding "no change"

Oh, is this still going on too? Another page to unwatch then; take notice that I shall ignore the outcome (if ever there is one). --Redrose64 (talk) 22:16, 25 August 2013 (UTC)
It wouldn't be so tedious if I could get some straight answers. It's a fact that adequate citation is both one of the weakest aspects of Wikipedia, and the most challenging for new editors. But certain editors seem determined that nothing is to be changed. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:05, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Given that I just made a small change last week based on someone else's suggestion, your perception that I am "determined that nothing is to be changed" is demonstrably false. I have opposed your proposals on their merits, not because I oppose any and all changes. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:24, 28 August 2013 (UTC)
Oh, I grant you small changes, inconsequential changes. But "nothing" is your word, and, as far as any substantial changes go, your stated desire. As I have demonstrated: what you have so vociferously opposed is not so much my proposals, but your distorted misinterpretations. You brood over your precious "general references", reflexively opposing any change that you think might touch them. No, you have not opposed my proposals on their merits; you have simply opposed, and not even my proposals. You have been obstructionist all the way. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:53, 29 August 2013 (UTC)
I have stated that I favor no changes only for the one definition, not for everything. I have also proposed and supported other major changes. The creation of CITEVAR, for example, was a successful proposal of mine. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:11, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
In fact you strongly opposed my attempt to broaden the definition of citation because you thought (quite mistakenly) that it excluded your definition of "general reference". But if your obstinancy is truly "only for the one definition" (and practice?), then you should have no objection to the current proposal, which has nothing to do with any definitions, and only clarifies the relation of this topic with other policies. Right? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:00, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
No, I object to this particular proposal on these grounds:
  1. The proposal as written is unclear (As stated above, I'm not sure what "Citation is the basis of verifiability" is supposed to mean. Notice that this is not an exhaustive list of all unclear or possibly unclear statements that might be identified. This is only an example of the one that seems most unclear to me at this time).
  2. The proposal as written is incomplete (BLP ought to be mentioned in that list of relevant policies. Again, notice that this is not an exhaustive list of all missing points. This is only an example of the one missing item that seems most conspicuously absent to me at this time). WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:49, 2 September 2013 (UTC)
   Do you actually not understand what it means when one thing is the basis of another? Do we need to have a long explication of the definition, meaning, and use of "basis" — just like we had for "broadly"? Is this just the first of another long (interminable?) sequence of possibly unclear points?
  In order to speed matters up (it took you four weeks to raise this initial objection), how about laying out your complete, exhaustive list of objections? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:13, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
You posted your proposal on August 8th, and I posted my concerns about that phrase on August 14th. If you check the tiestamps, I believe you will discover the difference between them is six days and eleven minutes. You have still not explained what the phrase is untended to convey. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:04, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
As I already asked, do you not understand what it means when one thing is the basis of another? And: is this just the first of another long sequence of possibly unclear points? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 03:11, 8 September 2013 (UTC)
  1. I know several ways that the phrase could be interpreted. I do not know which of these meanings are the one(s) you intended, because you have not answered my question. I am uncertain whether any of the possible interpretations could cause problems in disputes.
  2. I don't know. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:15, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
You don't know whether the current question is just the first of possibly unclear points that you will be complaining about?? Apparently you have not yet identified any other such points, but only hope to eventually find some. That is not good faith discussion, to object before you have any basis of objection. Since you have not yet found any thing else to complain about, may we assume that the current question is your sole objection?
Your main (and sole?) objection to my proposal is that you do not understand what the phrase "citation is the basis of verifiability" is supposed to mean. You say you "know of several ways that the phrase could be interpreted", and do not know which I mean. My simple answer to that is: I mean the plain and ordinary meanings of those words. If you have other meanings please illustrate with some examples. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:58, 10 September 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The word basis has multiple definitions. Two seems especially relevant, and neither seem to support inclusion of this sentence:

Basis as "starting point"
This meaning is seen in sentences like "The basis for this hypothesis is the data we gathered in a previous experiment." If this is your meaning, the unclear sentence would 'translate' as meaning "Citation is the starting point for verifiability". This seems backwards to me, since citation is often the endpoint of verifiability rather than the place where it starts.
Basis as "principal component"
If this is your meaning, the unclear sentence would 'translate' as meaning "Citation is the principal component for verifiability". I believe that would contradict WP:V, since it is the existence, rather than the citation, of the sources that is the principal component for verifiability.

But, as I said, I don't know what you're actually trying to communicate with this phrase, so I can't help you come up with a less potentially confusing way of saying it. You probably mean something completely different. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:11, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

"Starting point" works. Your feeling that "citation is often the endpoint of verifiability" probably arises from your particular context as an editor. You seem to be thinking of how editors usually proceed from finding a source to making a citation for it. But consider it from the viewpoint of a reader (or other editor) who wants to verify certain material in an article against the source: s/he can't do it without the source, and needs the citation to find the source. A citation (and citation generally) thus is the starting point from which verification starts, and by this definition it is indeed the basis of verification.
You also claim that interpreting "basis" as "principal component" would contradict WP:V because sources are "the principal component for verifiability." Well, I am going to turn this right back on to you: it depends on your definition of "verifiability". And WP:V starts with a clear definition: "In Wikipedia, verifiability means that people reading and editing the encyclopedia can check that the information comes from a reliable source."
Note: check. In fact, WP:V says nothing about sources being a principal component for anything; that is just you making up your own interpretation. What you have failed to understand is that verification is not about the source, nor even the material in the source; it is about the connection between the material in the article and the same material in the source. A citation (often taken to be synonymous with reference) refers to some thing, but should not be confused with the thing itself. That citations do seem to be the principal component of verifiability in no way contradicts WP:V.
QED: both of these definitions of "basis" support the statement that "citation is the basis of verifiability". Your confusion is entirely of your own misunderstanding, not of the proposed text. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:22, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
WP:V does not say "In Wikipedia, verifiability means that people reading and editing the encyclopedia can check that the information comes from the specific reliable source cited on the page", which is the meaning that "principal component" implies. Citations are the principal basis for showing that an editor has asserted that something has been verifiED in a particular source. WP:V requires that material be verifiABLE, which is importantly different (e.g., if you could find a source, then the material is verifiABLE).
If you do not understand how these meanings differ, then I doubt that I have the ability to explain it to you. You will simply have to accept my statement that they are different and that I oppose having this statement in the lead.
If you want to tell me what the actual goal of the sentence is, then I'm willing to attempt to help you construct a less ambiguous statement. Otherwise, you'll have to look for support from other editors for this proposed change, because you won't get it from me. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:03, 16 September 2013 (UTC)
  WP:V does not say what you try to make it say, your "principal component" secret decoder ring notwithstanding. And I fully understand the distinction between potentially "verifiABLE" and accomplished "verifiED". Your suggestion that I don't understand this is strawman argument.
  Your assertion that citations "are the principal basis for showing that an editor has asserted that something has been verifiED" is entirely unsupported by WP:V. At most a citation implies that the supposed source exists, such existence being an essential element of verifiability, but implies nothing about whether something has been actually verified. An editor asserting that something has been verified might provide a citation to aid verfication, but a citation itself does NOT make any such assertion. Nor does any definition of "basis" change this.
  Your objections derive from fanciful distortions of what is proposed, of the meaning of plain words, and even of established policy (WP:V); they are meritless. The proposed text is ambiguous only in your mind, you have yet show any actual problems. In the end your only objection is WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT, which is not a useful mode of argument. As you seem unwilling to acknowledge the meritless of your objections, is it time to address the real reasons why you don't like any of my proposals? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:24, 18 September 2013 (UTC)
A more appropriate question for you to ask is why no one supports this proposal. You don't need my support. You need somebody's support. You don't have it. I can understand why so few people are willing to publicly explain their opposition, since you don't seem to understand the objections (if you did, then you could revise your proposal to address them) and your response to objections is to attack the person, but you haven't been able to find a single person who is willing to speak up in favor of it, either. Perhaps my belief that nobody likes this proposal is true? Perhaps your comments are so toxic that even supporters don't want to have anything to do with you and your proposals? I don't know. But I do know that for your proposal to move forward, you need positive support from someone, and that you don't have it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:13, 19 September 2013 (UTC)
  There you go again, changing the topic when you can't answer a question. You objected that the proposal was unclear, then ambiguous, then needed a definition for "basis", then claimed that "basis" as "principal component" implies a change in WP:V, interjected your interpretation of citation, and then implied that I don't know the difference between verifiED and verifiaABLE. I can understand why no one else (?) is watching: no one else has the endurance to go twenty rounds with you.
  As to judging any of my proposals on their merits: we have never gotten there, because you keep jumping in with your objections.
  The toxicity here is your constant misrepresentation and distortion of what I propose and of policy, your continued disputation of the plain meanings of ordinary words, and your constant negativism. I have most patiently followed your objections through all your twists and turns, and in the end you have nothing but "just don't like it". We really should look at why you are so adamantly opposed. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:54, 20 September 2013 (UTC)

citation question

What is the proper way to cite a source? I will provide a specific example:

The Division Artillery reported that the enemy was even using children as young as ten years olds to observe and report on positions.5
51st Cavalry Division Artillery War Diary, 23 July 1950. The Divarty War Journal entry for this date records “Two North Koreans were captured (ages 10 and 11 years) and admitted that their mission was to observe and report our positions.”

What should/can I cite here? Can I cite not 5 as the source, or should I cite the primary source? Thanks. WeldNeck (talk) 18:33, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

A question for you: is there any particular reason this page has not adequately addressed your question? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:18, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I just didnt see anything addressing this ... did I miss it? WeldNeck (talk) 19:21, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
My reference was ambiguous, so I point out that by "this page" I meant not this page we are on now, which is a talk page, but its parent: WP:Citing sources. Which is meant to address your question of "the proper way to cite a source". Did you read that? If not, then why not? It supposedly has the information you want. Did you not find that information? Or not find it useful? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:01, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I am fairly new here, so if you don't want to answer my question or want to not-so-subtly berate me with snark do me a favor and don't reply at all. Cheers. WeldNeck (talk) 21:42, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Why do you feel berated? The possible problem I am interested in is why this page did not adequately answer your question. As far as I know you are exactly the typical editor this page is intended to serve. And if it doesn't then you are the person best positioned to explain why it didn't work for you. Even if you did not read it it would still be very valuable to know why. (E.g., was it too intimidating? Or what?) ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:44, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I misinterpreted the tone of your comment. I just didn't see something anything my particular question: using a source of a source. WeldNeck (talk) 20:55, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
Usually it is better to cite a source that contains the relevant information, rather than a later source that quotes the original. But sometimes it's better to cite the more recent source, perhaps because the more recent one is more important, so it is helpful to know the more important source decide the less important source was worth mentioning. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:13, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! WeldNeck (talk) 21:46, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
You are required to cite whatever source you actually got the information out of. Jc3s5h's advice only applies when you have read multiple sources. The relevant section of the guideline is WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT. So if you read a book that says the information came out of the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery War Diary, then you cite the book that you read. If you read the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery War Diary, then you cite the 1st Cavalry Division Artillery War Diary, because that's what you read. If you read both of them, then see Jc3s5h's advice, or cite both of the sources that you read. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:34, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Thats what I needed to know. Thanks! WeldNeck (talk) 21:39, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I disagree with Jc3s5h advice to a certain extent. I think it is better to cite a reliable secondary source than a primary one. This is the advise of WP:PSTS because it is too easy to get into WP:OR using primary sources. Generally it is better to allow reliable secondary source to decide on the relevance and accuracy of the primary sources, this is particularly true if the subject is any way controversial and using children in combat support roles is today controversial (although if volunteers it is not against the laws of war for children to take part in hostilities although not a direct part --see Military use of children#International humanitarian law).
Also there is an assumption that modern academic histories tend to be more accurate that older histories (as they have access to all the primary sources in the older histories and any since discovered -- just as is true in science it is also true in academic history). There is however one caveat when one secondary source cites another, so a "fact" is frequently reported in many general secondary source, but the original secondary source used a citation from a contemporary source (such as a newspaper) but not the original primary source. In which case an older specialised secondary source which does not support the popular claim, because it is base on primary sources, may be the better choice (See for example Talk:Oliver Cromwell (died 1655)#Knighthood in 1598). -- PBS (talk) 13:15, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Feedback Please

I would like feedback on an idea I have to address some of the citation/reference problems we have here. I'm not even sue if this is the proper place to post this, but if it isn't, I'm sure someone will direct me to the right one.

Some of the problems, that I at least find here are;

  • dead urls - You go to page, only to find it has been removed. (expired, 404 error, etc.)
  • paid subscription sites - you click on the link only to find you can't access the content.
  • Generic urls - simply "nytimes.com", or "theguardian.co.uk", without adding anything more specific.
  • books - all you have to go by is "p. 43, Smith, J. Title X ISBN 1234567890". You can't actually access the source.

These are just a few, I'm sure other editors might add other issues to this list as well. Anyway, what if Wikipedia or Wikimedia were to establish their own "reference repository" Similar to the way Google caches pages. When an editor wants to add a reference to an article, they can still add the url, but also provide a screen cap of the actual page with the content, to be saved on our servers. This would solve the issue of dead urls, generic urls, subscription sites, sites that are temporarily or permanently off-line as well as book refs. One could simply scan the page of the book and upload it. This would make Wikipedia more complete and self-sufficient, and completely secure Wikipedia's references, making them available and accessible, anytime, all the time, for all time. I'm sure some may say there could be some copyright issues, but if Google can do it, why not WP/WMF?

I'm not sure if this idea or something similar has been covered here before, if so please point me to any discussion that might be relevant or helpful. Any feedback would be appreciated. Thanks. - thewolfchild 05:36, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

note: Just came across this after posting, but I don't think it's quite the same thing. - thewolfchild 05:39, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

The most important principle here is that it is not necessary for a source to be online for it to be cited as a reference.
If a link to a web item has gone dead and you cannot find a new URL for it, it might well be archived at http://archive.org/web/web.php and if so you can reference that. Or you can pre-emptively archive a web page yourself at http://www.webcitation.org/ (but they say they are going to fold soon unless they raise enough money). Please read WP:DEADREF.
For newspaper etc. websites that are behind a paywall there is a "subscription required" tag you can add to the reference, but I think Wikipedia would get into copyright trouble if it uploaded the page itself, as the whole point of a paywall from the newspaper's point of view is they want to make money out of people reading their content. -- Alarics (talk) 07:29, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
Dead urls would not matter so much if other bibliographical information is given. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to accept bare urls. Similarly for a specification (e.g., the page number): the lack is considered acceptable. And the common practice of "re-using" a reference with named refs doesn't accommodate different specifications. These are problems not so much with any form of citation per se as with our notions of what constitues proper citation. And those don't seem amenable to change. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:11, 23 October 2013 (UTC)
"Might be archived" is hardly helpful. Why not "definitely archived" → right here? I would think it would be of some benefit to have WP self-contained, and not have to rely on other websites. The fact is, these problems do exist, why not explore a solution, instead of maintaining the status quo? - thewolfchild 03:20, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
"I would think it would be of some benefit to have WP self-contained..." Sorry, but that's a horrible idea. It essentially says that any author who chooses to exercise his/her copyright and not allow the publication to be copied to Wikipedia might just as well have not bothered writing anything. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:00, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Yet, that's seemingly not a concern for google.com, archive.org, www.webcitation.org, etc., etc. There are so many other entities that archive web content, I'm simply wondering why Wikipedia can't or shouldn't. It makes 'reliable sources'... more reliable. - thewolfchild 01:35, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I struggle to understand the problem with "paid subscription sites - you click on the link only to find you can't access the content...." and "books - all you have to go by is "p. 43, Smith, J. Title X ISBN 1234567890". You can't actually access the source." I'm sure you have read many books which were very well referenced - perhaps citing dozens if not hundreds of sources. And I'm equally sure you didn't possess a copy of every single one of the cited works. References - in Wikipedia - are provided so that a reader can see where the information was sourced from, make a more informed judgement viz the reliability of the information and, should they wish to, seek out the source and check it for themselves. They are not there simply or solely to provide instant-access links to the source. The promotion of 'online' references as being somehow superior to those from well-researched, peer-reviewed journals, books and other scholarly publications represents - in my opinion - a dumbing-down of what still likes to call itself an encyclopedia, and places unwarranted trust in the infallibility of the internet. If you don't have a copy of a book or newspaper cited in a wikipedia article, and really, really must check the source, you could always ask at The Wikipedia Library or, failing that, get off your bum and walk to your nearest book store or public library. Much like the original editor who added the referenced material probably had to. BlackberrySorbet 18:15, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
The fact is, quite often so-called sources are challenged and determined to be not a source at all. Either they're misunderstood, misquoted, misplaced, or simply fake. Wikipedia already has enough problems with reliability, why not look for some solutions where we can? Additionally, it's a fact that many, many (dare I say, a majority even) of references are web-based. I don't see how that "dumbs down" the project. Further, print-based sources are subject to the same problems, and unfortunately, not everyone can "get of their bum and walk to the nearest bookstore or library". I'm not sure if you are accusing me in particular of being lazy, but that rather glib and sardonic comment could be taken as an insult to people who are disabled, wheel-chair-bound, bed-ridden, poor, rural, or perhaps off serving their country in the desert or on a ship somewhere. Quite simply, that is not so easily an option for everyone. Perhaps the 'original editor' didn't have to go anywhere either. Perhaps he/she already the source handy, but it may rare, obscure or... non-existent. And, for those who can get out and about, there is still no guarantee of finding a particular resource, (even at the wiki-library). This presents a problem, especially if someone knows something is wrong within an article, but it is "supported by a ref". Anyways, it would make this encyclopedia more comprehensive, more... complete. I don't see how that's a bad thing. - thewolfchild 01:35, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
  • "quite often so-called sources are challenged and determined to be not a source at all" - How often? And what percentage of these are online sources?
  • Think of it as "Rule 34(b)": "If you google long enough you will eventually find an online reference to support your false opinion or untested claim."
  • Let's take an example: a Featured Article, Sunbeam Tiger. Lavishly referenced, using ten published books, and a couple of online references. Are you saying that this article cannot be trusted to be reliable because the sources are in print and not online? Before trusting the article, would you insist upon having all ten of those books put in front of you so that you could meticulously check each cite, page by page? As for readers who are "disabled, wheel-chair-bound, bed-ridden, poor, rural, or perhaps off serving their country in the desert or on a ship somewhere" - are they only going to trust the article when the package arrives containing the ten books so that they can also check each page for accuracy? Do they insist upon this with every book they read? "To: The History Press, Stroud. Dear Sirs, I have just received my copy of Helena P. Schrader's The Blockade Breakers. I am quite perturbed to see that it lists 80 other books in the bibliography, and interviews by the author with eye witnesses. Please forward copies of those 80 books and transcipts/audio recordings of the interviews by return so that I can verify they are accurately used. Note that if any of those sources are themselves reliant upon other works, I expect to see those too. Ad infinitum. Yours etc."
  • If someone "knows" something is wrong in an article, despite it being supported by a reference, they are able to query it at the talk page or the reference desk or the wp:library. Almost certainly, someone else will have access to the cited source and it will be checked. That's what underpins the notion of this collaborative project. The vast range of editors with differing access to different collections of references allows us to work without each individual needing their own personal Bodleian Library in the back yard. And without Wikipedia undertaking the nigh impossible task of downloading the Internet and backing it up just in case someone who is bed-ridden on a ship that has gone aground on a desert island wants to check what Justin Bieber once said on Twitter. BlackberrySorbet 10:16, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
Well said. More particularly,this idea is not well-thought out. DOA. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 18:30, 24 October 2013 (UTC)
Sorry you feel that way. I was a rough idea at best. A basic premise that I brought here for feedback, to have more thought applied to it by others. You would rather reject it out-right, so be it, that's your prerogative. Thanks anyway. - thewolfchild 01:35, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
I often wonder why Wikipedia doesn't archive the online sources rather than rely on external archives...maybe that is something that can be proposed at the village pump, especially with the imminent demise of Webcite? Betty Logan (talk) 03:03, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
Copyright. Cost, time, effort. Encyclopedia vs library. The feasibility of backing up the Internet. etc. BlackberrySorbet 10:16, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
thewolfchild writes "that's seemingly not a concern for google.com, archive.org,..." but AIUI Google has to do a deal with the copyright owners of each book publisher or newspaper, which is no doubt why many books and newspapers are not in there. As for the Internet Archive, if you are the original owner of a web domain you can ask them to take the archived page down, and they do, and quite a lot of newspapers do this, which is very annoying but within their rights. Probably they would do the same to WP. -- Alarics (talk) 11:32, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── This is not an unusual idea. It isn't feasible to do this completely, but there are some people working on it. You might want to read Wikipedia:Citing_sources/Further_considerations#Pre-emptive_archiving. If you're interested in talking to other people who are interested in this issue, then looking at the list of users who participated in the Wikipedia:Archive.is RFC might be a good place to start. WhatamIdoing (talk) 12:32, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

P.S. A useful development I have just discovered at archive.org is that you can now instantly archive pages there yourself, rather than hoping their crawler will eventually get round to it. This makes it possible to archive pages there pre-emptively, just as at (the possibly about to die) www.webcitation.org. But of course it still won't work for pages that have a robots.txt exclusion from being crawled. -- Alarics (talk) 14:50, 25 October 2013 (UTC)
*sigh* ... OK, Blackberry. Your opinion is noted. As well as your attitude. Sorry, I don't feel like going down that path today. As for "cost, time, effort"... what cost? We have arguably the largest volunteer labour force in the world. The infrastructure is already in place, all we need is some memory. The copyright complaint is weak at best, and after all that is said and done, what really needs to be considered is risk vs. reward. What is the downside here? Not much that I can see. Conversely, there is a considerable upside in making the project more reliable and self-contained. (have you read WP 1.0 ?) We really do need to think about the next evolution of this project. Anyways, thanks and have a nice day...
Alarics, you say that 'original content owners and newspapers often ask to have their content removed from archives', and "Probably they would do the same to WP." - Why would you believe that? I can easily see it the other way around. WP is non-profit database of human knowledge. Why would they not want to allow small 'snip-its' of their work to contribute? As is it, we are quoting these works all day everyday anyway. And what author or media outlet wouldn't want the exposure the 7th ranked site in the world?
User:WhatamIdoing, thank you for the info, I'll check it out.
Betty... (wolf tips hat) Always a pleasure 😊 - thewolfchild 16:51, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Citing tweets

"Tweet2Cite" is a web service that accepts the URL of an individual tweet. and returns a pre-formatted citation in various formats (MLA, APA). At my request, they have added Wiki-markup (using {{cite web}} to that list.

For example, submitting https://twitter.com/tweet2cite/status/395347292854562816 returns:

{{cite web |title= Tweet Number 395347292854562816 |url= https://twitter.com/tweet2cite/status/395347292854562816 |author= Tweet2Cite |date= 30 October 2013|accessdate= 30 October 2013 |quote= I can now produce properly formatted #Wikipedia citations for tweets. Thanks to @pigsonthewing for the great idea! #edtech #research |work= [[Twitter]] }}

-- Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 18:20, 30 October 2013 (UTC)

References format

I, for one, found this to be an interesting references format.--Epeefleche (talk) 04:25, 5 November 2013 (UTC)

Interesting use of "div". However, the references themselves need some work. One HTML link just shows up as a clickable link without a name, and several references are actually pages in the Arabic Wikipedia, which is presumably no more of a reliable source than the English Wikipedia (i.e. it's non-reliable). davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 04:57, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
I have removed this "feature" from the article because it is contrary to WP:ASL. In particular, I have verified that if the article is printed, not all of the references will be printed. Jc3s5h (talk) 13:16, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
Shucks. I was kind of hoping we could develop this "feature", so that junk references not only don't print, but wouldn't display. :)  ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:08, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

When does house style kick in?

I'm starting to think that we should start thinking about increasingly, over time, suggesting use of a house style for web, book, and journal citations. Specifically, template- (or manually-) entered Citation Style 1.

  1. Usage of the template is rising
  2. Existing citations are continuously being converted to Cs1 of necessity
  1. linkrot-driven additions of |archiveurl= and |archivedate=
  2. fixups of bare urls by WP:Reflinks and other automated tools
  3. manual fixups of title-only, publication-only, or "Article about <thing>" garbage citations

Seems inevitable to me. Might be time to start realizing that it's ok to recommend a standard, if we're going that way anyways. Most other publications have a house standard, and Wikipedia has many other standards in place. Also, there's quite a disconnect between our practice of protecting citation first-authorship, and our practice of discouraging WP:OWN. --Lexein (talk) 02:47, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

There was a large RfC about the idea of adopting a house style, and the idea was rejected. I feel that before suggesting this you should have read the prior RfC, so why don't you remind us were it is located? Jc3s5h (talk) 03:13, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Since you brought it up, where is it? --Lexein (talk) 15:12, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Establishing a house citation style is a perennial proposal and was discussed at great length at Wikipedia:Centralized discussion/Citation discussion. It took me a while to find the discussion. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:36, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. I should have remembered; I was looking at perennials recently. Facepalm3.svg Facepalm --Lexein (talk) 16:18, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

New Ref names numeric guideline???

RE: Help_talk:Footnotes#Policy_or_guideline.3F which reads: Names for footnotes and groups must follow these rules:...Names may not be purely numeric...

I asked on that talk page about someone using <ref name=3> and the like in articles and ignoring requests not to do so based on the above guideline. After asking about it on that talk page someone wrote: "you mean that they have added the ref <ref name=":0" /> - that's simply the reuse of an existing ref which happens to be named ":0" They felt it was in line with policy above.

Well, I'm confused by both status of guideline and all those ":0" in articles. If this is a new policy, I think this needs to be a community decision because it's extremely frustrating to have to figure out what is going on even for editors of 7 years, not to mention newbies. I also wonder if people will just go and try to repeat using a number, not noticing if it's gone or what. Just too high tech. User:Carolmooredc surprisedtalk 16:38, 20 November 2013 (UTC)

In that WT:Footnotes seems to be a suitable venue for the current discussion, why are you raising this point here?
The restriction regarding purely numeric refnames is (I believe) a technical matter. While (as was explained to you) ":0" slides by because it is, strictly speaking, non-numeric, it is really a very poor choice. But these matters more approriately discussed at WT:Footnotes. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:26, 20 November 2013 (UTC)
I thought Help talk:Footnotes would only be a sub-section of this guideline and perhaps there would be more "guideline" type input from more people at the original guideline page. I'm trying to find out if using numerics is a total no no or just a "poor choice" we have to put up with, no matter how confusing it may be to those of us trying to correct a number of problematic edits with those confusing numeric ref names. If there's a change of policy and using numeric is OK, that should be at Help talk:Footnotes. But if it's a higher level policy change, maybe it needs discussing here. If I'm wrong, my apologies. User:Carolmooredc surprisedtalk 16:23, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
  Usually you want the most specific venue for a question, which in this case seems to be WT:Footnotes. If you want to simply bring in more editors (possibly with other views) then the usual procedure is to put a notice in various related venues of the original discussion, but without (as you did here) initiating a parallel discussion. As to any question of policy: I don't see that any policies are involved. As I said above, the ban on purely numeric names arises from a technical issue, not any policy. Use of quasi-numeric names (such as ":0") is poor, but that does not arise to any issue of policy, let alone any change of policy.
  I gather you understand how such names are problemantic. Do you need help convincing another editor of that? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk)
Exactly. That's why I need a definitive answer since my two comments on it have been ignored. If it's policy I might get an admin to convince the editor. This editor works on a lot of the same articles so it's frustrating. User:Carolmooredc surprisedtalk 03:49, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
The ref name ":0" is acceptable because it contains a character that is not an integer. The restriction on using numerals alone is technical and not a policy or a guideline. Any ref name that uses integers or numerals alone will generate a red error message on the article and the reference so named will not format. DrKiernan (talk) 08:37, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
So we can use meaningless ref names like <ref name=xyz1> and <ref name=xyz2> that are just irrelevant and it's "technically" ok. It's frustrating because it has been used I believe to confuse editors about the source of quotes when the source is low quality and contested in BLP, from an editor already banned from one article for such sources. User:Carolmooredc surprisedtalk 17:37, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
The ref name is intended ONLY to allow duplicate refs to be reused. To avoid confusion, use of a somewhat meaningful name is helpful, but names like "bio" and "NYT" are common. If the ref tag is being used on a proper citation, there will be metadata such as author, publisher, date, page, volume, or whatever is available for the particular source. This should be enough to identify the source clearly (if it isn't there is a bigger problem than the ref name). If a given citation is not being used more than once in an article, there is no need for ref names, which are not displayed except in the Wikisource, and most articles do not use them at all in such a case. DES (talk) 18:16, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't think we have an ideal place to discuss this. "Citing sources" is a high-level guideline that doesn't even pick any particular citation system, so describing the name parameter on the <ref> tag would really be getting into the weeds. Help:Footnotes concentrates on the technicalities of making <ref> tags work, and not so much on the content of the footnotes. However, that how-to page does state "The actual name used can be most anything, but it is recommended that it have a connection to the citation or note. A major practice is to use the author-year or publisher-year for the reference name." I would say that deliberately misrepresenting a poor source as a good source is a violation of WP:V. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:22, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Ok, sorry to have gotten frustrated and brought this here. And one can always just change them to something more meaningful - as editors do from time to time - and discuss it at talk. '''[[User:Carolmooredc]] <small>[[User talk:Carolmooredc|talk]]</small> ''' (talk) 18:46, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
So your real concern is not about numeric/non-numeric name ("0" vs. ":0"), but what constitutes a "good" (e.g., meaningful) refname. I don't believe any policy touches on this. On the basis of Jc3s5h's quote I'd say that the discussion at WT:Footnotes is the better venue. Let's continue this discussion there. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:16, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

This reference naming system is part of WP:VisualEditor. At the moment, there is no way for the editor to control this, and all re-used refs in VisualEditor are using this naming scheme. The devs needed to find a scheme that was unlikely to duplicate existing refs, was compatible with the existing system on a technical level, and was possible to use in nearly all languages (so that we don't get Welsh letters in our refs, and the Cyrillic Wikipedias don't get English letters, and the Javanese Wikipedia doesn't get Cyrillic letters in theirs, and so forth). Largely as a result of that last item (which excludes the use of anything alphabetic), they settled on this colon-number scheme. See bug 50568http://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=50568 for some of the current complaints (it's mostly about the importance of editors being able to supply names manually).

I have suggested that the system simply steal some text from the contents of the citation (e.g., first three or four characters, excluding "http" or the name of any template) so that we'd get something more memorable than ":0". If it did that, then whatever letters that were being used would be letters that were already naturally in use on that Wikipedia. I believe that "Smit:0" would be a significant improvement in terms of human readability. I've posted this suggestion at bug 57459http://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=57459, but if anyone has other ideas, then please either add it yourself (you'll need a separate Bugzilla account, and remember that Bugzilla makes all e-mail addresses public) or let me know, and I'll add it for you. Collecting ideas for this is definitely a case of "the more, the merrier".

On a broader point, you are all welcome to suggest your ideas at mw:VisualEditor/Design/Reference Dialog. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 23:47, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

So these lame ":0" refnames are not from some insufficiently clueful editor, but are built into Visual Editor! That's just great. Apparently none of you VE genuises are acquainted with the concept of meaningful variable names. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:52, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Adding citations on IE11

I don't know if this is the correct place to ask this but I just discovered that the window in which you put the info to add a citation template doesn't appear on IE11 normally, you have to add Wikipedia to the compatibility view list, which might make this question a waste of time but I find odd that changing the user agent string to Firefox fixed the problem without having to add the site to said list. Mike.BRZ (talk) 19:33, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

RfC started

See Talk:Photography is Not a Crime#RfC: Should the citation style change? --Lexein (talk) 04:07, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

When a book is cited once or twice...

At User_talk:CWH#Documents there has been a discussion over a citation style I used at Water_Margin and Antoine Bazin.

An editor told me that if the book is only being used once and is not an overall reference for the subject, the book information should be entirely listed in the page number citations under "Notes" and not under "References" (General References) because those works are not appropriate General References as a whole for the subject.

So the current listing of book info at References and page numbers under notes would become a unified like this:

Is this better than the current setup? I am happy to adjust this style if it makes the article better, but I just want to clarify what the general practice is. WhisperToMe (talk) 19:54, 10 December 2013 (UTC)

  It is unclear what you mean by "not an overall reference for the subject" and "entirely[?] listed in the page number citations[?]". And you have touched on several hallowed folk myths that make citation so difficult around here. One of these is that any source that has been cited in support of something in an article, even just once, can not be included in (say) a "recommended reading" list, even if it happens to be the most authoritative work on the topic. Which I say is bull crap, but opinions vary.
  Much more could be said about this, but here's the rub: I could suggest some "better" adjustments to make, but if the other editors on the article don't agree then, per WP:CITEVAR, you are not allowed to change it. So any answer or suggestion anyone makes here is entangled with the context you're coming from. And that is complex enough to be rather daunting. Possibly what would help you most is someone else diving into that other discussion. Here it would be better to have a narrower question. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:24, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

First authorship

The courtesy guideline WP:CITEVAR goes against WP:OWN. Editors who can't own content, shouldn't be led to believe that they can "own" citation formats, just because they wrote them first. Discuss? --Lexein (talk) 02:47, 21 November 2013 (UTC)

I think the reason for following the existing citation format in an article is for consistency within the article. I see nothing wrong with doing a wholesale replacement of all references from one citation style to another, but adding a new citation with a different citation style than the existing ones can be a bit awkward and difficult to maintain. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 03:14, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Wrong. The guideline does provide that the first non-stub version with a consistent citation style establishes the style for the article, unless consensus is reached on the talk page to change the style. Jc3s5h (talk) 03:15, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
This comes from an effort to change an article from Bluebook citation style to a mix of templated (citation style 1), Harvard, and incorrectly formatted Bluebook. He doesn't like Bluebook, so he arbitrarily changed it without consensus. When I pointed out WP:CITEVAR and WP:REFB he indicated that he wanted to change the standard. Regards, GregJackP Boomer! 06:51, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Wow. What an invention. I did not change "to a mix". I added urls to every single citation (they were all missing one), removed all the precious {{smallcaps}}, all the deprecated uses of ibid, correctly used named refs and correctly used Harvard multi-cites, and used Citation Style 1 in some places to format volume, issue, page and paragraph information so as to be understandable by the hundreds of millions of non-lawyer readers. True, I don't like GregJackP's version of Bluebook, or its overuse, just as I don't like any occupation-specific (legal profession, in this case) citation style applied to non-occupation-related citations. As I opened up discussion on his talk page, if this had been a law-related only article, with legal citations only, I wouldn't have changed any cite format at all. I don't scoff at a behavior and content guideline WP:OWN, just to hide behind a courtesy guideline WP:CITEVAR. It's strange that you'd try to defend your actions behind WP:REFB since you're not a beginner. Any guideline written in a way to encourage behavior which is discouraged by another needs to be reviewed. And given that you've reverted all my changes, removed book publisher and ISBN information (reducing verifiability), broken harvard multi-cite linking (by obscuring the author's last name and removing the usual wikilinking tying them together), and removed publication date information (by which periodicals publicly identify their issues), that's WP:OWN. Funny, you said it didn't matter to you. --Lexein (talk) 07:18, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't understand WP:CITEVAR as a courtesy guideline. I understand it as an instance of "don't change the precedent unless there is clear reason to do so", a very common human heuristic, especially in matters of group decision-making. It doesn't conflict with WP:OWN because the person who set the precedent for the reference style in a particular article has no more right to change it without consensus than anyone else. The deeper principle of both WP:CITEVAR and WP:OWN is to seek consensus. Wikipedia is collaborative. Act unilaterally until you run into conflict, and when you run into conflict, talk it over with the aim of making the article better than either of you would have done alone. I hope you can find a way to do that in your conflict with GregJackP. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 07:38, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
If what GregJackP is using is really "Bluebook", it's utterly hostile to general readers who aren't lawyers - it omits too much verification information like publisher, dates, ISBN, etc., obscures and complicates simple things like volume, issue and page number, and makes repetitive citation of single sources clumsy and not easily scannable by last name. I don't see any resolution with GregJackP aside from letting him have his way with his precious {{smallcaps}}, and minority, last-listed, much-disliked style (and not just by me, read about it at) Bluebook. Especially since he banned me from his Talk page - see for his accusatory yelling and assumption of bad faith "collaboration". --Lexein (talk) 08:16, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I am really using Bluebook, and have the 19th edition in front of me. You were banned from my talk page for the same snide, rude, and insulting comments that you are making here (like "precious" above, and comments on my page like "babyducking" and "fanboyism"). The style doesn't complicate "simple things", the placement of volume and page information is actually much simpler. I did not ask for him to tell me what citation style to use, nor to be condescending towards me, and I certainly don't have to put up with it on my own talk page. BTW, I'm not the only editor who has had issues with his communication style. See here, here, here, here and so on. These are experienced editors who have problems with his style of communication.
I get that you don't like Bluebook. Fine. Don't use it in articles that you create. That doesn't mean that other editors have to use the style that you like. I really dislike Citation-style 1 and Chicago, and I really, really dislike Harvard. I use them if it's appropriate, i.e., if that is the style in use at an article I am editing. I really do know what I'm doing, and it is very presumptuous of you to be telling an editor with multiple FAs and GAs how to edit, especially given your limited work in article creation, mostly at the start-class level. Regards, GregJackP Boomer! 12:23, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
You're both excellent and experienced editors, so you already know all this, but I'll say it anyway as a quick reminder. The place to talk over a dispute about Photography is Not a Crime is Talk: Photography is Not a Crime, not here or User talk:GregJackP, and there you should talk about edits to make to the page, not each other. If you and other editors at Talk: Photography is Not a Crime can't work it out, some other options are WP:3O and WP:DRN. When I get frustrated, sometimes I get reminded of the basics at WP:COOL or WP:WB. Good luck. —Ben Kovitz (talk) 14:30, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I've abandoned the article as I said I would, if you check the user talk page discussion). I'd like to get the discussion, here, back to the original topic. It's serious, and I've had this concern about the two guidelines for years. --Lexein (talk) 16:18, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
Comment: Since there are several differing opinions above about the meaning and wording of WP:CITEVAR, my questions continue:
  1. It doesn't currently say or imply that the original author shouldn't suddenly change citation formats without consensus; until it does, IMHO it can still be reasonably read as conflicting with WP:OWN.
  2. It says clearly "Improving existing citations by adding missing information, such as ...". But (according to GregJackP at talk & this edit), Bluebook excludes:
    • publisher, ISBN number, or series from book citations (Olorunda),
    • date from periodical citations, even if the publication publicizes its date along with v/i.
    • wikilinking between full and following abbreviated citations.
    • agency or nonoriginal publisher {like HighBeam, Lyncmigration or COMTEX)
    • original publisher (Daily Business Review, Social Science Research Network)
    • subscription required (for HighBeam, Playboy)
    • no clear identification of page number or issue (159 U. Pa. L. Rev. 335) - What's 335? could be page, could be issue. General readers won't know. Hidden rules suck. IMHO, of course.
    • abbreviated date format, against WP:MOSDATE--22:54, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
How do we therefore harmonize WP:CITEVAR#Generally considered helpful with the designed exclusion of helpful citation information by some citation styles? Which has precedence, the guideline or the style? And therefore, WP:OWN or WP:CITEVAR? (Assume for the sake of argument that all the convenience links I added have rotted.)
--Lexein (talk) 16:18, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
There are not several different positions on WP:CITEVAR. It is clear, and it does not conflict with WP:OWN. It is generally understood that the first creator past stub establishes the citation style for the article. Bluebook is an accepted style. The fact that you prefer the extra information is OK, but it is required nowhere in WP policy or guidelines.
Again, if you prefer not to use Bluebook, don't use it. Or you can get accepted to Harvard, Yale, Columbia, or Penn Law, do well enough to get on their Law Review, and then change it yourself.
This is an issue that is bigger than this talkpage, and you would need to bring it up at the Village Pump to change the policy. GregJackP Boomer! 19:08, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
See several other opinions way above here. Other editors should feel completely free to continue to comment. Sorry, questions about, and discussion of, improving this guideline page belong here. --Lexein (talk) 19:31, 21 November 2013 (UTC)
I haven't seen a proposal of any sort. GregJackP Boomer! 00:53, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── WP:CITEVAR actually says: "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." I take "Editors" to include the creator or first major editor, in short this is a stability guideline, (not a "courtesy" guideline) it is saying that reference styles should not be changed lightly, nor warred over. But it seems also to say that on any given article, local consensus could be established for any given style, perhaps though a local RfC. When and if such a local consensus becomes established, then references should be converted to and remain in that style if it is different from the previously existing style. GregJackP says above that "Bluebook is an accepted style". I don't know that Wikipedia has any official list of "accepted citation styles". Several styles are in more or less common use, including CS1 and Harvard. I don't know how common Bluebook is on Wikipedia. WP:CITEVAR doesn't say anything about sticking with an "accepted" style. If Lexein, or any other editor, thinks Bluebook is not the best style for a particular page, I would recommend starting an RfC on the relevant talk page, and attempting to build a local consensus on the matter by giving the reasons for changing, and attempting to persuade other editors to agree. Perhaps some general discussion should precede a formal RfC. This should be a page-specific mattere, an that is what I take WP:CITEVAR to say. DES (talk) 19:17, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

DESiegel, I think that you and I are in complete agreement. I noted WP:CITEVAR because of arbitrary changes to the article's established citation style, where there had been no discussion, much less consensus for the change. What the article was left with were some cites that had originally been Bluebook (but the formatting was arbitrarily changed and screwed up), some templated with cite style 1 templates (which is based on the Chicago style), and some Harvard style. The reference section was completely messed up. It was not all changed over to another style.
Had there been any attempt at collegial collaboration, to discuss it and perhaps do a local RfC or 3O for a change, it would have gone much better. I've edited articles with other citation styles, and I use the existing style that is on the page. In a couple of cases, I have switched from a Chicago/CS1 style to Bluebook on a legal article. This has always been in connection with a major expansion of the article and to take to GA status, and has always been open to the WP:BRD process. I don't, however, respond well to a diktat on how I need to cite articles in the future, nor to change a citation style's elements haphazardly to meet the desires of another editor.
By accepted style, I merely mean that Bluebook is an acceptable method of citing sources, see WP:Citing sources#Citation style where it is listed (among others) which have been used in Wikipedia articles. It is no more (or less) preferred than any other style. It is probably not as common as Chicago, but is used frequently in law-related articles, particularly at the higher end of the evaluation scale.
I also don't see the point of this discussion, unless someone is proposing a change of some sort or another. GregJackP Boomer! 21:01, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
  • DESiegel I sought consensus either way on the question of OWN vs CITEVAR, and now it seems reasonably reached. Bluebook's overall lack of uptake at Wikipedia is stark. 17K articles incorporating {{smallcaps}}, uncounted how many of them are in Bluebook-style citations Citation Style 1 template citations are in 2.7 million+ articles of 4.3M: 62%. (cite web 1.5M, book 0.5M, news 0.4M, journal 0.3M). Less unsourced:0.2M, it's 66%, not counting an unknown number of manual (non-templated) cites in Cs1 style. The concurred-with Bluebook style-excluded information laid out above make it unsuitable for general Wikipedia articles. Having voluntarily quit the article, if invited, I'll contribute to an RFC there. --Lexein (talk) 22:50, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
  • What concurrence? The one in your imagination? There has been no agreement that Bluebook is unacceptable for Wikipedia articles except by you. GregJackP Boomer! 00:54, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • You do realize that your "list" has no value, since there is no policy or guideline that requires that information, don't you? If I stated that I needed to know if the source was print or electronic, hardback or paperback, it would have the same validity on the information needed for a proper citation. Yes, I concur that you created a list. You are sadly mistaken if you believe that I concurred that your list had any value, nor would any reasonable person ever have believed otherwise. GregJackP Boomer! 17:16, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Simply put, you concur that the list is correct (as far as it goes), which is what I meant. Ok, the list has no value to you. It does have value beyond you, though. At Wikipedia, the general trend is that Wikipedia is ideally helpful to readers; citations are used to verify claims made in Wikipedia articles. It is reasonable to say that the omission of, truncation of, or inappropriately obscure styling of, information in those citations all make it harder and less pleasant both to verify claims and to recover dead links when they rot. Unhelpful = lesser. Helpful = greater. --Lexein (talk) 19:56, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • There is no consensus or concurrence that your list has any value except to you. I find Harvard style to be an "inappropriately obscure styling" that forces me to go multiple places to get the information, but it is one of the styles that you like. A true Harvard style also does not provide ISBN or series, nor does it require pinpoint refs, subscription required, etc. Chicago is similar, also not requiring ISBN and other information. It also has strict formatting requirement which you believe OK, since you are familiar with it (such as the name of a book in italics and quotation marks), yet you object to Bluebook because you are not familiar with it. I could go through all of the citation styles and show some of the same exclusions that you complain of. GregJackP Boomer! 20:27, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Told you quite plainly, days ago, that I dislike all citation styles. Some less than others. For example, I dislike that presence of |author= causes the date to flip positions in Citation Style 1. Complain all you want about "no consensus", but that style suits purpose for the stunning majority (66%) of English-language Wikipedia articles with citations, so there's something not wrong with it. There's certainly a kind of consensus for you. As for Harvard, you complain that it makes you look multiple places? Ibid and Op. Cit. don't? My mention of Harvard was only for its use in multiple citations of a single source with varying locations, where last|first and wikilinking directly ease your stated concern. Honestly. Personal preference is less important to me than actual usability and explicit clarity, which is more objective than you're willing to concede. I see you've not commented on the withering criticism of Bluebook detailed in the article about Bluebook. I'm satisfied that your argument isn't with me, it's with the 2.7 million articles using Cs1, and the (tens of?) thousands of editors who use it. --Lexein (talk) 21:23, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Obviously you have a problem in reading comprehension. My problem is not with the other citation styles, it is with you telling me, or, to be more accurate, attempting to tell me what I could and could not use in articles. I've said that all along. I don't care that you dislike Bluebook, or that Judge Posner dislikes it. I do care that I provide references for the good and featured articles that I write. I care that I use a referencing system that I am comfortable with. I really don't care if you like it, if the tens of thousands of other editors like it, or the readers like it. I don't have to care about any of that, nor do I have to change the way that I write it because you don't think it conveys "enough" information. GregJackP Boomer! 05:41, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Ah, good old ad hominem attacks combined with continued bragging. That'll persuade ... nobody, come to think of it. I was merely, and quite sensibly, replying to your "I could go through all of" other citation styles comment, and your earlier false accusation that I think Cs1 is "gold-plated"[6] (I do not). It's just greater than Bluebook, and obviously so, because it's more helpful. Sorry you can't see it that way, and that you don't see real life usage, deficiencies for general use, clarity for readers, and the opinions of respected jurists(plural) and law journalists(plural) as persuasive for the purpose of improving articles which you've oddly and repeatedly claimed you don't care about. --Lexein (talk) 12:02, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Lexein, as I see it (of course I'm only one editor) the question of OWN vs CITEVAR was a blind ally, never on the table, because the two do not conflict. The question is "should Article X continue to use Bluebook, or change to some other style, such as CS-1". So far as I can see, that is exactly the question you never sought consensus for, or if you did, I failed to find the discussion, which i would expect to find on the article talk page. You could start that discussion this minute if you choose to. If you don't, so be it. That would mean up to 17k discussions to change all the Bluebook-styled articles, if that is your goal. I suppose you could hold some central RfC to try to gain site-wide consensus to banish Bluebook or restrict it to particular types of articles, but frankly I wouldn't expect that to pass. DES (talk) 23:13, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
    I agree that OWN and CITEVAR are not in conflict. And in case it comes up, ENGVAR is also not in violation of OWN, and neither is WP:TITLECHANGES, both of which also follow this same stability-oriented standard. This is essentially an anti-edit-warring measure, not an effort to be nice to the first person. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:53, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
    DESiegel - am I really being chided for going along with consensus, offering evidence if anyone wants to start an RFC, and offering to participate if explicitly invited, given that I left the article as I stated I would? --Lexein (talk) 23:58, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
    Lexein I did not intend to chide you. You are free to handle the matter as you see fit. It is my personal view that if the specific article and its citation method were your prime concern, a local discussion would be the best way to address that. If you were more interested in the question of how the policy applied or should apply, then this discussion was a good way to raise that issue. What issues you want to raise and how much energy you want to put into them is entirely up to you. If there were an RfC to change the citation style on the PINAC article, I might well support doing so. DES (talk) 00:29, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • What consensus? I'll chide him for imagining consensus where there is none. He can't just make up stuff and claim consensus. There's been no discussion, no RfC, no conversation at all! Well, except for the perennial attempts (and failures) at the Village Pump to create a house citation style, usually based on citation style 1. I think that the reason that he's claiming consensus is that he's afraid to go to an RfC for all of the project, because it would fail. I don't have a problem with him changing the style at the PINAC article, if he does it in the proper way, discusses it, gains (real, not imaginary) consensus, and doesn't screw up the reference section like the last time. GregJackP Boomer! 06:27, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • "What consensus?": The consensus is that CITEVAR doesn't go against OWN. Consensus is consensus, even if it goes against what I proposed in the original comment with the word "should". I can go along with consensus if I am so inclined, by changing my mind in the process, having been persuaded. I don't know why you don't see it, but I see that there was quite reasonable discussion (UFC deathmatch rhetoric notwithstanding). --Lexein (talk) 12:27, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

To get back to the original comment: CITEVAR does not go against OWN. If the original author later decides they prefer some other style, they have no more say than anyone else about changing the established style. The underlying point of CITEVAR is that there is no "correct" citation style; they are all essentially equivalent. That makes discussion difficult, because there typically is no objective reason to prefer one style over another. In such cases, the MOS has a default "tie breaker" rule, which is to keep the established style. This applies to English variations in WP:ENGVAR and to citation style variations in WP:CITEVAR. It is simply a way to avoid what we know are time-wasting discussions about which of several equivalent styles each person prefers. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:44, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

  • Exactly. GregJackP Boomer! 00:56, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Except "That makes discussion difficult, because there typically is no objective reason to prefer one style over another." In this case, the forced exclusions by (allegedly) Bluebook and GregJackP (and let's be honest, he's the one doing the excluding) can be objectively evaluated and discussed. See below. --Lexein (talk) 04:06, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

Proposal for improvement to CITVAR

Based on the understandings above: Change "if there is disagreement about which style is best, defer to the style used by the first major contributor." to "until a new consensus is reached about which style is best, defer to the style used by the first major contributor." That seems to better capture the understanding: someone's mere "disagreement" alone does not usually stand in the way of establishing consensus. Alanscottwalker (talk) 19:37, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

  • Support for the purpose of emphasizing consensus-seeking when changes are felt to be needed. --Lexein (talk) 20:01, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • While I think the present language is fine, I have no objection to the change. GregJackP Boomer! 20:07, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Support I think this will make no change in the actual meaning of CITEVAR, but it may help to make the meaning clearer, which is always good. DES (talk) 22:54, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment. I understand the point about disagreement, but I think the emphasis should be different. How about:
As with spelling differences, if there is disagreement about which style is best, defer to the style used by the first major contributor. defer to the style used by the first major contributor, unless there is consensus to change.
~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:28, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Emphasizing the proactive suggestion to seek consensus first, as first proposed[Lexein,14:24, 6 December 2013 (UTC)] is better, because that's how we do things: consensus. Per our very licensing as mentioned every single time an editor saves a change, right next to the Save button, no author owns their work here, and this includes citation style. It should be made very clear on that point, that the first major contributor has no hold or right beyond the license or beyond consensus. --Lexein (talk) 04:06, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
No one has indicated any such thing. The only problem I've had is where you came in and arbitrarily changed some, but not all, of the citations in an article, without consensus for a change. Of course, this ended up with a screwed up reference section, here, where you can see some of the refs listed first name last name, some listed last name, first name (examples are fn7, fn15); where the formatting of the original ref style has been arbitrarily changed, in some cases screwing up the actual citation (example fn26, where volume 30, page 385 was changed to volume 30, note 385) (example fn19, where page 160, note 28 was changed to page 160 28); where differing styles of indicating volume was used (example, compare fn21 using 56(126) to fn18 using v. 33 n. 2, p. 34.); and generally changing from one coherent style to several ad hoc or bastardized styles. It was fixed, but it would have been much simpler if you had followed policy in the first place. It should be made very clear on that point, that a subsequent editor should not change the citation style used in an article without consensus. GregJackP Boomer! 05:35, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
That's quite the disproportionate, and falsehood littered, response for someone who doesn't care about the issue. "Arbitrary" is a falsehoood: my reasons have been very clearly spelled out, and any misreformatting was due solely to the lack of clarity built into BB. And my work was in progress; how kind of you to attack it in progress. Aside from that, just keep your remarks entirely truthful, and on topic for this discussion, please. You seem to be vehemently opposed to emphasizing seeking consensus before changing a predominant style. Is that what you meant? --Lexein (talk) 06:05, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
If we are going to talk about falsehoods, all they have to do is look at the diff provided. I cannot help that your changes were screwed up, I don't have control over your edits. I am amused by the lack of clarity that you claim is "built into BB". Your lack of competence in using the Bluebook style does not mean that the style is not clear. For example, you have claimed that certain formatting guidelines in Bluebook are merely decorative. That is a false statement. It would be best if you did not comment on something that you do not understand and are not competent in. I'm not opposed to seeking consensus, I'm opposed to those who do not like something merely because they don't understand it. GregJackP Boomer! 08:11, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose, because the notion that there is any problem to fix arises from Lexein's mistaken notion that "WP:CITEVAR goes against WP:OWN." Also, I am not convinced that the proposed change is an improvement. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:42, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Indirect quotations

I have changed the style of the indirect citation example in WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT to follow Chicago Manual of Style. I think it is better to encourage editors to follow some recognized style rather than making up their own. I chose this one because it is the only one I know of that uses numerals in the text linked to footnotes, which is popular in Wikipedia due to the availability of the <ref> tags.

I also described it as a quotation rather than a citation, because I think it would be a more common situation. If the author of the book I read merely discussed the writings of another author whose work I don't have access to, I would just describe the situation in the text, something like "Jones commended Smith's work on ancient dating.8" Jc3s5h (talk) 16:01, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

I concur. Using an established style is much better than making one up, and then leaving it for others to fix. GregJackP Boomer! 18:10, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Also concur re using CMS, but would point out that the requirement for citation (i.e., verifiability) is not relaxed just because you don't directly quote. In your example you would cite Jones where he commends Smith's work. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:11, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
This doesn't work. Our big problem is not direct quotations. Our big problem is somebody reading a book review on a blog and pretending that they've read the actual book, or reading a newspaper article or press release about a scientific study and pretending that they've read the journal article. This is about citing your source rather than your source's source, not about quoting your source. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:59, 15 December 2013 (UTC)

Using full names of authors

Now that it is possible to pass a parameter to the various {{cite…}} templates to control how the author names are displayed, is it not time to use this and record the full names wherever possible? This would make it simpler to disambiguate similarly-named authors, and improve the quality of our metadata. HTH HAND —Phil | Talk 11:33, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

There is a basic question of whether to use full names of authors, or to initialise all but the surname. (I don't know what passing a parameter has to do with this. Explain?) I am somewhat in favor of full names myself, but in some fields it is standard to use initials. This is a matter of style. If you want to steer all of Wikipedia into using full names (an ambitious project!) you will need to make a strong argument. And you might start by searching through the archives for all times this has been brought up before, and summarize the previous arguments pro and con. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:00, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
"Fields" means academic fields? I think we can do better than copy across academic referencing styles. Many of them are "legacy" to a fault, and remind me of flicking through drawers of index cards. I'm certainly against styles that make it harder to locate author names that should be linked to pages about the author. Charles Matthews (talk)}
An "academic field" is where a school plays football, right?
No, I mean "field" as in a field of study, a scientific or scholarly discipline, usually with a literature documenting its development, which often develops standard conventions for referring to that literature — what we call citations.
But your bottom line is what: you prefer full names, or initials? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:35, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
What do we mean here by full names? I would be inclined to put whatever the source being cited uses. -- Alarics (talk) 21:40, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
"Full names" (in regards of authors) means "John Smith" and "Tom Brown" rather than "J. Smith" and "T. Brown". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:21, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
My bottom line is I use whatever the citation style requires. GregJackP Boomer! 21:50, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
How would you deal with our citation style when the source does not meet the requirements or our style? We have to use what is available. Vegaswikian (talk) 22:38, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
What is our style? Wikipedia doesn't have a house style. You cite the source according to the style, whether it be CS1, Chicago, APA, MLA, Bluebook, whatever. GregJackP Boomer! 02:02, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
"[Citing] the source according to the style" leaves open a number of alternatives. E.g., CMS recognizes two broad kinds of style ("A" and "B") it considers acceptable, and also that the characteristics of each — such as full names or initials — are not absolute. Indeed, I don't know that any style (possibly excepting Bluebook) is fully defined. So it is not fully sufficient to say that an article uses (e.g.) "CMS", you also have to specify several other variables. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:53, 16 December 2013 (UTC)


Phil, I don't remember the last time I saw someone complain about someone else expanding the authors' names in all citations, with no effort required of other editors. If you want to WP:VOLUNTEER to do this tedious work yourself, then you'll have no trouble finding articles where your work is welcome. Leave a note on the talk page, wait a day or two, and then get to work.
However, if your idea is more like "let's make a rule that everyone else should do it my way", then you should expect strong and fervent opposition, especially from anyone who uses a script that autofills citation templates from databases that don't include first names. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:06, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't think Phil's idea was "everyone do it my way". I was hoping there might be some discussion as to the merits of full names or initials. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:58, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
Indeed not. What I meant was, I usually try to copy the full names of authors of articles and journal papers for {{cite journal}} etc, so as to make it possible to link them up if they have an article on here. Conversely, it should be possible to scan all instances of {{cite journal}} to find authors who are prolifically cited, but not linked, and correct that, even creating articles where suitable. {{cite journal}} now has the {{{author-format}}} parameter (see Module:Citation/CS1 for more detail than you ever want) which can display names which have been entered in full differently: current values are "vanc" (referring to the vancouver system) which is "Lastname, FNM" or "scap" (small caps) which is "Lastname, First Name Middle". So I am attempting to copy the style from the original source being cited without conflicting too much with existing styles in the article I am editing. However, some editors and the occasional bot will nuke the full names which I have carefully copied, thus losing information and making me grumpy.
One horrible side-effect of this is that it is now much harder to decipher whether "Abraham, W." (to make up an example on the spot) might refer to "Walter" of that ilk, "William" or "William", "Winston", "Wolfgang" or "Wilfred" who is rather less famous and indeed possibly does not even exist!
In addition, nobody has yet explained to my satisfaction why it should be necessary for Wikipedia to even attempt to slavishly copy any particular "house style" rather than create our own, particularly when—as mentioned above—there are so many different and conflicting "house styles" that trying to keep anything consistent becomes a waste of time.
One suggestion I want to put forward is that {{cite doi}} be amended to pass {{{author-format}}} through so that articles can be kept consistent by that method: I am aware that there are quite a few articles which use that template so it's not a minor change… HTH HAND —Phil | Talk 16:16, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
You're getting a little scattered across a range of issues. And the last one (re cite doi) would really be a mistake, as it would enforce (not a good idea in itself) a citation style at a level other than the article (contrary to settled principle). And opening the discussion to the broad question of style isn't likely to get anywhere. You might want to focus on building a specific consensus that full names are preferable to initials. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:03, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Phil, if you can find more than a couple of articles that actually follow any outside style guide, then you've searched far harder than I have. Almost no Wikipedia articles, and especially none that use citation templates, truly follow outside style guides. Outside style guides, for example, are unlikely to recommend, or even mention, linking the authors' names to biographies about them.
The general rule here is that you don't change the style of the Wikipedia article. You may ignore the style that might be preferred by the source. So if a Wikipedia article uses initials, then you use initials; if it uses full names, then you use full names... and if, as is unfortunately common, there's a mixed-up mess, then you have a nice discussion on the talk page in which you volunteer to fix the mess for them. As I said, in my experience, it is very rare for editors to refuse an offer that results in consistently formatted citations, so long as they personally don't have to lift a finger to make it happen. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:18, 18 December 2013 (UTC)

Citing court cases?

Which Cite x template should be used for judicial rulings (things like [7] or [8])? E.g. if you want to use the judge's summing-up remarks as a source for a fact about the crime. Thanks, It Is Me Here t / c 11:25, 16 December 2013 (UTC)

{{Cite court}} GregJackP Boomer! 11:47, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
Face-smile.svg Thank you! It Is Me Here t / c 20:16, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
(OT obligatory lame humor) {{cite court|for=contempt}} :) davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 07:27, 21 December 2013 (UTC)

How to cite quotations for verifiability

Articles like Messianic Judaism (to pick a random example on my Watchlist that beeps regularly though I haven't taken any interest for a couple of years, but is a good example of exhaustive footnoting) frequently have - and need transparent quotation of book content to ensure article copy matches with sources, linking to websites doesn't work as different countries have different access and the stock of Google Books (for example) is in flux. The only way to present the info is to hardwire it into the article as the editors at Messianic Judaism have done.

Question what are the approved options, for example does this footnote meet with WP:CITE?

7 Cohn-Sherbok, Dan (2010). "Modern Jewish Movements". Judaism Today. London; New York: Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 100. ISBN 9780826422316. LCCN 2009045430. "In the 1970s a number of American Jewish converts to Christianity, known as Hebrew Christians, were committed to a church-based conception of Hebrew Christianity. Yet, at the same time, there emerged a growing segment of the Hebrew Christian community that sought a more Jewish lifestyle. Eventually, a division emerged between those who wished to identify as Jews and those who sought to pursue Hebrew Christian goals.…In time, the name of the movement was changed to Messianic Judaism."

Again this is a random example, I'm only asking about the formatting, nothing else. In ictu oculi (talk) 03:53, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

I notice your example as presented on this talk page does not use the cite book template, but the article does. There seems to be a mixture of citations that use citation templates, and citations that don't, in the article. Ideally the use of templates would be consistent; all do, or all don't. (Unless of course there is a source for which there is no adequate cite template, which is rare.) Jc3s5h (talk) 16:27, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
In what regard do you think there is a problem with that example?
There is one particular problem in the example as presented: the page specification. The page number that locates the quote within the source was put into the template's |page= parameter. This parameter is intended to locate the source within a larger work (such as articles with in a journal). The usage here implies that the source referenced is only one page long. And while this source was used only once, in notes 12 and 15, where a similar source is used twice, the bibliographic details have to be repeated. In general it is better to 1) have the details (such as page or section numbers) of where material is located within a source to follow the details about the source, and 2) not repeat the bibliographic details. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:29, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
  • @User:Jc3s5h, thanks. re "Ideally the use of templates would be consistent; all do, or all don't." - does this mean that en.wp article stock is effectively divided into 2 kinds of articles, those with all cite templates and those with all no template cites? But as regards my question "does this footnote meet with WP:CITE?" you're saying yes it does?
  • @User:J. Johnson, likewise thanks. re "In what regard do you think there is a problem with that example?" - is this a question for me or for User:Jc3s5h? I don't think there's any problem with the example, I asked "does this footnote meet with WP:CITE?" Is the answer "yes" or "no"? I think there's a problem with the guideline page Wikipedia:Citing sources in that it doesn't give guidance on how to show quotation from sources like the (in my view okay) example above. In ictu oculi (talk) 00:21, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
WP:CITE, in particular, the WP:CITEVAR section, explains that any citation style in an article is acceptable, so long as it is consistent. So there can be articles that use the citation templates that start with the word "cite" plus another word, like "cite book". The collection is explained at help:Citation Style 1. Or, they can use the {{citation}} template. There are a few less-popular families of templates too. There are also articles that don't use templates; they might use a style invented for the particular article, or they might follow a printed style guide such as APA style or Chicago Manual of Style.
Since the article under discussion is inconsistent, the article as a whole does not follow WP:CITE. The first step to resolving this is to figure out, on the article talk page, which style to use, and then change the non-conforming citations to the agreed-upon style. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:54, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

Many articles that have been accepted at FA do not use templates, except that they use the Book citation template just for the lists of books under the headings "References" and "Further reading" near the bottom. As for your example at the top, the name of the journal should be italicized, and the inclusion of the long quote is not necessary (if any quote is necessary, make it the most concise quote that is necessary to illuminate the text being referenced). Also, you do not need both the ISBN number and the LCCN number. I also think that commas work better than periods. I would write the cite as follows: Cohn-Sherbok, Dan. "Modern Jewish Movements", Judaism Today, London; New York: Continuum International Publishing Group (2010), p. 100. ISBN 9780826422316 -- Ssilvers (talk) 05:14, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

In ictu oculi: The question was for you. Regarding the example you presented as an isolated instance, the main evident problem is, as I explained above, the misuse of the template's |page= parameter for the page specification. But regarding your question ("does this footnote meet with WP:CITE?"), there is a problem: on this point WP:CITE provides no guidance, sets no standard to meet. So the example gets a free pass. And in this respect you are quite right: there is a problem with WP:Citing sources. (Several problems, in fact. But there is deep-seated resistance to making any changes.)
However, your example is not an isolated instance; it comes from a certain context. Where there is a major problem, as Jc3s5h has said: inconsistency. In that context the article does not meet the requirements of WP:CITE, particularly of WP:CITEVAR, because the citations are inconsistent. It is not that any citation is "wrong" in itself, but that all of the citations (references) taken together are not consistent. The first step to fixing this is (as Jc3s5h said) to decide which style is to be "right". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:32, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
Just remember, if there is no consensus on which style to use, we defer to the style used by the first major contributor. GregJackP Boomer! 23:26, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
@J. Johnson. Thanks. Is it possible to template articles as we template "British English" "American English" with "Cite Style X"?
@GregJPack. Thanks. How many possible distinct styles are there? CITESTYLE#1 to #3, or #8, or #20? In ictu oculi (talk) 23:45, 5 December 2013 (UTC)
LOL, there are more styles than I can count. Manual as well as templated styles. Personally, I use Bluebook (manually) in articles I create, which causes me no end of grief at GAN and FAC. Most people use CS1, which is a modified Chicago style. GregJackP Boomer! 02:58, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Eek! Well what about the most basic style: Dickens, Charles or Charles Dickens, are both permissible? In ictu oculi (talk) 05:15, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes. For example, a citation could read: Charles Dickens, "A Tale of Two Cities", p. 158 (Dover Pub. 1998, orig. 1859). You just have to clearly identify the source, although if you are not that familiar with citing sources, I would recommend using the templates. They are designed to help Wikipedia editors who are not really familiar with any (or all) of the citation styles in use today. It makes it easy for those getting started, and remember, you don't have to fill in every blank, just what is needed to identify the work you are citing. GregJackP Boomer! 07:56, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
As bibliographic lists (i.e., lists of references) are usually alphabetized by last name, it is standard practice to put the "last name" (surname) of the lead author first. (Practice varies as to similarly inverting the names of co-authors.) I recommend citation templates in all cases (let the software handle the formatting!). An additional significant advantage to using templates (at least if one uses the |first1= and |last1= parameters) is having the metadata to identify what portion of a name is "last".
I think it would be nice if we had some kind of template to specify the citation "style". Like: "WP {{Citation}}", "WP {{Cite xxx}}", "strict APA", etc., along with other aspects, such as "references in References section" and "use initials"/"use full names". But, alas, we have nothing of the sort. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:49, 6 December 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. Interesting, it does mean that certain articles are "owned" by certain citation styles and editors who aren't accustomed to that style may not be welcome. In ictu oculi (talk) 04:46, 13 December 2013 (UTC)
No, it does not mean that, not at all. It means that we have a rule (WP:CITEVAR) for resolving issues of citation style when there is no consensus. If editors who aren't accustomed to that rule don't feel welcome — well, that would seem to be in the nature of being WP:NOTANARCHY. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:11, 14 December 2013 (UTC)


On the supposed need for quotation

I don't quite understand this supposed "need". There is nothing wrong with adding a literal quote to a citation and having that option in a template, but this hardly improves the verification process as such significantly. It just moves the problem of trusting another editor to write an appropriate summary, to trusting another editor to select an appropriate quote (in context, representative, correct scope, etc.) and copy it correctly. In short in both cases you simply trust another editor and you do not perform a verification. For any sort of actual verification you need to be able access the source itself, there is no way around that.--Kmhkmh (talk) 10:01, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

It can explain what piece of information is being used to support the quote/information (sometimes things can be phrased differently, documents can be long, or documents can be in a foreign language) WhisperToMe (talk) 19:59, 10 December 2013 (UTC)
It can as in may or may not. However imho that is only a marginally improvement, usually not worth the effort. If I have reason to distrust an editor, in most cases I wouldn't necessarily trust him to produce appropriate and sufficient quotation either. Note the primary reason for problems here aside from malign intent is editors not fully understanding the source, they are using. The key for a correct understanding is aside from potentially required domain knowledge the context of the quotation and exactly this context is something the the quotation cannot deliver, unless you have quotation comprising several paragraphs, pages or whole documents (who wants to type that? Not to mention potential copyright issues). As I said above I have no issue with people using quotations, I have an issue with people portraying such quotations as an important tool for verification, because they are not.--Kmhkmh (talk) 11:44, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
If an editor feels a point needs explanation, perhaps a quotation or two in support, even images, then the place to do that is in the note — that is, between a pair of <ref>...</ref> tags from which the note is automagically produced). NOT in a citation! A citation (reference) contains the bibliographic details for identifying and locating a source. Including a quotation within a citation confounds the purpose of both, and having that as an option in a template just further confuses matters. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:00, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
That's not entirely correct. It depends on the citation style used. For example, Bluebook supports the use of explanatory material in the citation itself. Wikipedia recognizes this. See "If an article contains both footnoted citations and other (explanatory) footnotes, then it is possible (but not necessary) to divide them into two separate lists...." (WP:Citing Sources#Separating citations from explanatory footnotes, emphasis added). You are presuming that there will be a separate entry for the bibliographic details, when in fact there may not be, and all the bibliographic information is also contained in the footnote. Regards, GregJackP Boomer! 21:27, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
In addition to the acceptance by some citation styles of placing explanation of the information from the source, there is also a potential need to explain how to obtain the information from the source, especially online sources or software. Sometimes navigation within software or a website is less than obvious. Jc3s5h (talk) 23:38, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
True. Bluebook (my preferred style), gives an example, showing step by step instructions on how to obtain the material in the footnote. "Follow 'Get Directions' hyperlink, then search 'A' for 'New York, NY' and search 'B' for 'New Haven, CT' ...." (from p. 154, Rule 18.1). The main thing is to be flexible, and if you don't understand the citation style being used, ask. Someone will be able to help out. At least they've always been there to help me, when I needed it. GregJackP Boomer! 03:17, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

I wish you guys would pay closer attention. Please re-read what I said: "A citation (reference) contains the bibliographic details for identifying and locating a source." My bone of contention here is whether a quotation is ever a bibliographic detail. I say it is not.

What I am talking about has nothing to do with citation style, nor "having a separate entry for the bibliographic details". Nor do I object to the inclusion of any kind of explanatory material or annotations. What I am talking about is how it is included.

Note the following two examples. Each has a citation with a quotation. And each might be found between <ref>...</ref> tags. Which is to say: in a note (variously endnote, or even footnote).

[Smith, Bob (2001), Big Book, "The end is near." ]

[ Smith, Bob (2001), Big Book ]. "The end is near."

That (aside from the brackets, and a small matter of a period) there is no difference in the resulting appearance shows that whatever can be put into a |quote= parameter can equally well be appended to the citation. Yet there is a big difference in concept here, which is the span of the citation, as shown by the brackets. In the first example the quotation is in the citation, which implies it is a bibliographic detail. Which I say is wrong.

Both of you are also confusing material which the a source supports (including quotations) with material about a source (such as "step by step instructions on how to obtain the material").

Again, all this has nothing to do with citation style, nor where the citations are located. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:55, 13 December 2013 (UTC)

A quote may serve as a means of finding the appropriate location in a text, especially in an electronic text that is not conveniently divided into pages or sections; the quote can simply be searched for. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:13, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
I grant you that a string of text can help find a location within a text, but that usage is as specification, which, like the use of page numbers or section numbers as specification, should follow the citation proper. (Or preferably: follow the short citation.) I will also grant that (thanks to Google) text can be useful for finding sources. But not alway. E.g., can you find (even with Google) the book "starting with 'was sitting he had a good view' on page 245"? This appears to be a unique identifier, but it is hardly useful. Text-as-bibliographic-identifier also fails if the passage selected is widely found elsewhere, or has an error. It has no recognition as a bibliographic detail (except for rare instances where two revisions of a book differ only in some specific text). ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:53, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
The distinction you are making between the "citation proper" and other information is not used in most published citation formats. Most of those include page numbers, for example, in the midst of the citation. Many also include details such as chapter tittles in some circumstances. In particular the Chicago Manual of Style does not make this distinction, and that is what the CS1 templates are roughly based on. Only Harvard and other formats that use short citations along with a separate list of references make anything like your distinction. As to the point of using a quote in the citation, this allows the reader to see exactly what part of the sources is being appealed to to support the article. Yes, it is still possible to quote misleadingly or even inaccurately, and we still must either trust the editor or verify the citation. But with the exact quote verification is easier, and for those who do not themselves verify, the quote makes it much easier to see how the source supports the article, assuming (as I hope would normally be the case) that the quote is not misleading or altered. (In those cases where it is not it will probably be challenged and removed or corrected by editors who do verify.) Wikipedia citations are employed to serve the needs or readers and editors here, not to satisfy an abstract notion of academic correctness. They should allow readers who wish to find and verify the citation do do so, and indicate to others something of the quality and nature of the support an article has from sources. I think they are often useful, and should remain. How exactly they are formatted is a detail that I find of limited significance, as long as there is consistency within an article, and as long as readers can find and understand the information provided. DES (talk) 01:24, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
While I agree that in individual cases a quotation might help to clear up misunderstandings, I disagree that it really helps in the important cases. If distrust another editor (be it for suspecting malign intent or for suspecting him not to understand the material/context), I'll distrust his quotation as well. If however I trust another editor, I'll usually trust him to summarize a source correctly as well and consequently don't really care much for any quotations he might offer.--Kmhkmh (talk) 11:53, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
  DES: You need to distinguish between the Harvard style of referencing, a form of author-date or so-called Parenthetical referencing, from the {{Harv}} templates, which implement a form of short citations (or short cites). The distinction I make between full citations (or full references), short cites, and any other quotes, comments, etc., that might be placed in a note ("footnote") is recognized by other (I think most) style guides, though not necessarily by these names, and (most unfortunately) generally not clearly set out. It is because of these lacks, and the confusion of concept that follows, that I try to use these terms very precisely.
  As to the utility of quotes (comments, etc.) in a note (whether to comment on the material from the source, or the source itself), see my following comments. Note that I am not concerned about specific formatting; the point of the examples above is not their difference, but their nearly exact similarity.
  As to "abstract" notions of correctness (whether "academic", scholarly, scientific, legal, or whatever): it is not all abstract when editors think that use of |quote= is required, but can't figure out how to "make it work". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:28, 14 December 2013 (UTC)


True, a quote for finding the relevant part of a source is serving the same function as a page number. And Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed., p. 670) agrees with you, it suggests that if a quote or commentary is to be included, the citation be terminated with a period and the commentary or quote follow the period. Of course, this guideline does not endorse any particular citation style, so if there is a style out there that puts quotes or commentary somewhere else, people are free to use it. Jc3s5h (talk) 01:28, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
  Two points. First (@Jc3s5h): a quote for finding part of a source is not "serving the same function as a page number." A page number (section header, paragraph number, etc.) tells you right where the material comes from. A quote (as a search string) does not tell us where to find the material referenced, it only says "when you do find this string you are in the right place". I will note that finding (which is what we do to find possible sources in the first place) is not same as identifying or locating a source.
  Second: note that I have said nothing against the use of quotes for the purposes that have been mentioned (even as a search string). My contention is solely that quotes are not "bibliographic details", and should not be in citations — narrowly defined. E.g., in the pair of examples above the quotation is within the first citation, but appended to the second. (Jc3s5h's point about the period exactly reflects this: the citation terminates with a period, commentary or quotation should follow.) ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:32, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't believe that this distinction is pointful or relevant to the question at hand. The question at hand is much closer to "if I'm including a quotation to prove to someone that this source really does support this sentence, then what should it look like?" than to "what exactly, technically, should be considered part of a bibliographic citation, and what, exactly, technically, should not be?" WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:54, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
The distinction of what is a bibliographic detail (or datum) goes to the heart of what is a citation. It is necessary in order have a clear concept of what we are trying explain, and to avoid absurdities such as "[a] citation is a line of text." And as I said above, it is not all abstract (nor pointless) when editors think |quote= is required, but can't figure it out. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:43, 16 December 2013 (UTC)


What I do in practice

I do a lot of reviews at articles for creation. If there is a citation from an hard-to-access offline source that gives me pause and makes me thing "oh really?" I'll ask the author to embed a short quote using the "quote=" parameter of the CS1 templates. I also favor the use of "quote=" for non-English-language sources, so the English reader will know exactly what words or sentences in the non-English source back the editors-own-words text in the article itself. The other time |quote= is useful is if the source is online but it is likely to go offline or behind a paywall soon without being accessible in a place line archive.org. Having a short quote can be very helpful in finding the a widely-printed but no-longer-online-for-free news article if someone has paywall-access to one copy but not to the copy that was cited. In any case, such quotations must comply with copyright law (in practice, this means they must qualify as fair-use) and, unless they are in the public domain or are otherwise "free" content, they must comply with WP:NFCC. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 18:21, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

And what you do and suggest absolutely does not require use of "quote=". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:38, 14 December 2013 (UTC)
no using quote= is not required for the purpose outlined above, it is far and away easiest, most consistyant, and best way to achieve the purpose, and it is surely what I would suggest to an editor for such a purpose. It is also very widely used on Wikipedia. No one forces you to use it, however. DES (talk) 01:36, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
Quotations are not normally added. They are also often not possible for copyvio reasons, because you're trying to summarize a whole chapter rather than a sentence of two. When they are common, it usually means that the subject is very contentious. I'd say that if you need to be doing this, then getting the formatting perfect is the least of your concerns. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:54, 15 December 2013 (UTC)
DES: How can it be easier to stuff a quotation into "quote=", and then have work out how to get the punctuation come out right, rather than simply (and straight-forwardly) appending the quotation after the citation? On what basis is using quote= "far and away" the easiest, etc., method?
WhatamIdoing: Formatting is not the issue here. Although I would consider it both diagnostic of a problem (per Jc3sh5, above) and a point against the use of "quote=". I am not at all against an editor clarifying a point, or why source was used, etc., but the proper place for this is in the note, not the citation. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:46, 16 December 2013 (UTC)
Your question may be about whether this is a note or a citation, but the OP said, "I'm only asking about the formatting, nothing else". Therefore, formatting is the issue here.
(As for your apparently preferred method, which is to put the citation in one place and the quotation in another (along with another inline citation, because all direct quotations must be followed by an inline citation), I'd be more interested in this if the wikitext parser were capable of handling nested ref tags. It's not, so <ref>Smith 2010, p. 1<ref group="Notes">"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet"</ref></ref> is not actually possible.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:51, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
WhatamIdoing: You have taken the OP's quotation out of context, and you misunderstand the current focus of the discussion. Please allow me to bring you up to speed.
True, User:In ictu oculi initially qualified his/her question — "does this footnote meet with WP:CITE" — with "I am only asking about the formatting, nothing else." But later s/he reiterated that the question is indeed "does this footnote meet with WP:CITE?" In the course of discussion other questions came up, and eventually we reached this sub-topic, "On the supposed need for quotation", where we are exploring relationship of citation and quotes, including whether quotes should be stuffed into the 'quote=' parameter. Is that clear enough for you? Or do you need a more detailed exegesis?
Regarding your last paragraph: you are attributing to me a method that is crude and ridiculous, based on your misinterpretation. It is certainly not what I recommend; it is a travesty. I remind you yet again that misrepresenting other editors is a violation of the WP:Talk page guidelines. Please retract your misrepresentation. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:36, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing: I ask you a second time, nicely: please strike your comment that mis-represents the "method" I have been urging. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:11, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

Cite web; new fields

Hi everyone, I've been trying to cite Medscape reference page which often have page editors as well as author and since it's a webpage I feel it necessary to cite it using the "cite web" template. Thanks, in advance, people. Fuse809 (talk) 09:32, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

Among its other offerings Medscape "features peer-reviewed original medical journal articles". If you cite these articles you should note that though they are found on a web page, they are not web pages as such; you should cite them as any other journal article, including authors, editors, date of publication, doi (if available), etc. That an article can be found on a web page is convenient, and you can add a link with the |url= parameter.
Note that Medscape has a lot of other material (e.g., a data base) which would be cited as a web page, and which does not have the same authority (reliability) as the peer-reviewed articles. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:16, 28 December 2013 (UTC)