Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 5

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search


I'd like to make a move to start recommending footnotes more strongly and to select one (probably not more than one?) footnote system from the candidate systems in existence. I've made a proposal at Wikipedia:Footnote3 for a fully automatically numbered footnote system. I think this is good enough.

At the same time, I actually want to put a strong support for footnotes as a form of source citing. We are not writing academic papers; our audience is more or less "the man on the street". This should include those who are not expert readers for many reasons (e.g. didn't learn till recently; don't get much chance to practice not having access to books; are non native speakers; have learning difficulties). Numbered footnotes are used in "normal" books (if anything) for the simple reason that they do not interrupt reading. If we want to allow easy checking of who said what, then later we can allow the link title to be altered with a change to mediawiki. In my footnote system (which uses names to link from reference to note) that will be possible automatically just by altering the template. Mozzerati 08:33, 2005 Feb 20 (UTC)

And more to the point, the suggestion in the article that foot/endnotes are discouraged in scientific writing is far from universally true. Nearly all Computer Science papers that I have ever seen use either numbered or symbolic ("[LMKQ89]") endnote references, and very rarely cite specific page numbers for individual quotations (perhaps because most of the work in this field is in the form of papers rather than monstergraphs). The deprecation of footnotes in some branches of academe seems, from the proffered reasons, to mainly be a hundred-year-delayed reaction to the difficulty of doing some things on a typewriter; we have long understood that, well, "that's what we have computers for". Moving reference information to footnotes or endnotes (in WP they are effectively indistinguishable) is just good common sense; we should not discourage it on the grounds that some academic style guides haven't yet escaped from the 1970s. (How recently was it that APA said it was acceptable to use italics for book titles instead of underlining?)
I should mention, by the way, that in Computer Science papers it is also standard practice to place notes in bibliographic, rather than citation, order, so the first citation in a paper might well be "[17]". 23:03, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Web Citation Template considered harmful

I wonder about whether the web citation template isn't actively harmful. Web references shouldn't be treated much differently from others and, given the dynamic nature of the web and when they are available, it's important to include: Author, Date of last modification (very important since the referenced text may have been edited after took a copy and before the retrieval for the reference). The web citatation templte misses out too much of this. Mozzerati 16:45, 2005 Feb 26 (UTC)

I am not sure I understand - the template merely implements the recommendation for citing a web page that is given further the page. Are you saying that that recommendation is wrong? If so, isn't the first step to change that rather than the template? Pcb21| Pete 17:02, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Is there a technical problem in a template having a field, such as Author, for which there may be no information and thus may be omitted? --SEWilco 19:26, 26 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Agreed that the recommendation should be fixed, but a recommendation doesn't actually stop people including extra information which the current template seems to (at least to me). SEWilco's proposal for optional parameters would be great, but, according to the m:Help:Template template help page) the only think it seems possible to do is to have parameters and set them to blank. That might not be a bad thing ("cut and paste this and fill in what you know") since it would encourage others to help later. Mozzerati 15:05, 2005 Feb 27 (UTC)
Hmm.. I just looked carefully at the recommendation and found it agrees with me. It says that specific web pages should be treated like "books" and then gives an example with author and date included. In this case, I think fixing the template is needed, but there are many pages to fix. Maybe we can do a template with defaults that ask for more to be filled in... Mozzerati 21:30, 2005 Feb 27 (UTC)
i just tried using this project page for the first time, and i'm confused by the differences between the web example given (Gates, Bill & Ballmer, Steve) and the web template. also, i have no clue what the difference is between "title" and "work" -- described as "title=Title | work=Title of Complete Work". can't help thinking that such language implies a "Title of Partial Work" somewhere. i only need one title for my ref. shouldn't there be an "author" parm for the template? what about the year in parens from the example? is that supposed to be part of the "title"? i think this is far more confusing than it needs to be. the conflict between the web example and the web template encourages me to just make up my own format. if i'm missing something, please let me know. thanks. SaltyPig 02:33, 2005 Jun 10 (UTC)

Citations in the text

Shouldn't we be, and when did we stop, encouraging in-text citations for the reasons listed on this project page? Hyacinth 18:50, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Well clearly it is more effort to properly cite an article inline than to not bother. That seems to be the biggest reason it doesn't happen more often. The only argument I have seen against inline citations is that Wikipedia doesn't need them. We don't need lots of things but that doesn't mean we wouldn't be better of if we had them. The other I suppose is that some people think things like (McKusick, 2004 pp 22-25) in the text is irritating and distracting. I guess I can agree with that since some people don't care about the citations. The system being worked on at Wikipedia:Footnotes looks like it works really well. The next step is to have a user preference or skin setting that would allow hiding that stuff entirely for those that would want to. As I see it that would eliminate any downside of inline citations. If you look at the last several months of articles written about Wikipedia almost all of them focus on Wikipedia's percieved lack of reliability or claim it is not reliable. There really are no other valid criticisms left. Not to be too much of a broken record, but the only way to counter that is to follow the ideas at Wikipedia:Verifiability, primary of which is inline citations. I guess the reason it stopped being encouraged as much is that enough people are negative about the whole thing (read above for examples) that those trying to promote it lost steam. - Taxman 20:24, Mar 10, 2005 (UTC)
I believe strongly in, and think we should encourage in the strongest way, extensive source citation (see Attalus I for an example). I also think that footnoted citation is better than inline citation (less distracting), but inline citation is much better than no citation at all. Taxman is correct that the charge of "unreliability" is the single most important criticism Wikipedia faces. Some like, Larry Sanger believe that the way to deal with this is for Wikipedia to become a more accommodating place for experts. I think however, extensive source citation is the best way for Wikipedia to respond to this problem. Paul August 21:45, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
Paul, no one is arguing against citation of sources. The only question is, given that one has put the complete reference info at the end of the article, when does one also need to insert an inline citation? The answer, I think, is when it is not clear which reference one would go to for more information on a particular fact, or which reference is the basis for a particular statement.
Since Wikipedia is not for original research, many articles should cite a few major secondary sources (e.g. textbooks), and thus it should be fairly clear which reference to go to. If you find yourself making arguments whose details need to be extensively referenced, my immediate concern would be that you might be performing original research by creating a "novel synthesis" of primary sources rather than summarizing well-established secondary/tertiary sources. —Steven G. Johnson 22:00, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
Inline citations or footnotes, are helpful not only to make it clear in which reference, but also where, in a given reference (which may, for example, be many hundreds of pages long), the reader should look. By the way, as Taxman says above, thinking in terms of when, or if, source citations are "needed" is a bit of a red herring. Rather we should be thinking in terms of when, or if, they make the article better. In my opinion they almost always do. Paul August 23:21, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)
Used judiciously, inline citations are often helpful, but overused they can become a distraction. As for specific page/section numbers, they are helpful even less often than inline citations, and I rarely see them even in professional scholarly works with heavy citations; most textbooks have a table of contents and index that are sufficient to quickly find a topic. —Steven G. Johnson 02:52, Mar 15, 2005 (UTC)
(Anyway, it's a bit of a moot point, since the main difficulty is in getting people to cite sources in the first place. —Steven G. Johnson)

Looking for some help here

Recently, at Bovo-Bukh, User:Doops systematically removed my precise citations with the comment "all those paragraph-ending credits were getting out of hand". I have been bending over backwards to be as precise as possible in my citations. In this case the article as it stands all comes essentially from one book, but presumably it will grow and other sources will be cited. In my experience, if sources are not cited when the material is entered, they never will be.

Right now, I'm fuming, and I know I should not engage directly with the person who did this. If someone else agrees with me, I would greatly appreciate if they would (1) revert Doops's edit at Bovo-Bukh; (2) leave a note on his talk page, or the talk page of the article, explaining why the edit is reverted. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:41, Mar 14, 2005 (UTC)

  • Looks like we reached an OK compromise there. ~~ Jmabel | Talk 01:03, Mar 15, 2005 (UTC)

Again I could use some help, this time at Tibetan people (see Talk:Tibetan people#Explanation). I'm guessing that Mr Tan is completely unfamiliar with academic citation; see also User_talk:Mr_Tan#.22Borrowed_content.22 (which came up, in part, because he removed the 1911 from the article). I'm sure his intentions are good, but I'm getting frustrated trying to educate someone about the basics of citation as he keeps editing out the citations from the article and I keep having to restore them. To be honest, I'm tired of putting in so much time defending an article from simple ignorance (not of its topic, which he may well know better than I, but of the nature of citation). I only have so much time for Wikipedia these days, and it seems a waste to spending it all preventing (probably well-intentioned) damage instead of writing articles. This is not a topic close to my heart; I'm getting to the point of saying, in effect, "fine, screw up the article". -- Jmabel | Talk 07:39, Mar 21, 2005 (UTC)

I understand your frustration above, though I have not experience such persistent removal of sources. As another user who is likely to be criticized for "getting out of hand" with citations, I would assist efforts to support citation. Hyacinth 22:16, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Looks like this particular one got worked through. Very annoying, though... -- Jmabel | Talk 22:47, Mar 23, 2005 (UTC)

Articles in books

How should articles found in books be cited and listed? Hyacinth 22:13, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I don't think we have a clear standard yet, but I would use something like:
  • Drummond, Henry, "The People and Forests of Eastern Africa", in Morris, Charles and Leigh, Oliver H.G. (eds.), With the World's Greatest Travellers, Union Book Company, Chicago (1901), VIII:92-102.
That last is volume and page numbers. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:05, Mar 23, 2005 (UTC)

Thanks. I had been doing:

  • Morris, Charles and Leigh, Oliver H.G. (eds.), With the World's Greatest Travellers, Union Book Company, Chicago (1901), VIII:92-102.
    • Drummond, Henry, "The People and Forests of Eastern Africa"

But this is not clear, and has also been my format for books cited in books. Hyacinth 23:45, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)

The guidelines currently suggest using the APA "Last, First" style for author names. I'd like to suggest that this is a very bad idea, for the following reasons:

  1. "We have computers to do that": using one of the standard footnote templates, someone looking for a reference will be taken directly to it, so there is no need to reorder names just to make it faster to search the list.
  2. As well-documented elsewhere, this is only useful for European names, and the appropriate way to write an author's name in this style is not necessarily obvious from the way it is written on the book or in the article, unless one has another citation of the same author for comparison.
    • The rule, of course, is family name first, not last name first. We wouldn't write "Zedong, Mao" in such a list, we'd write "Mao Zedong". And one of the ways it can be useful is that we write (for example) "García Marquez, Gabriel", which makes it clear that this is (after the Spanish style) a double-barrelled surname. -- Jmabel | Talk 04:41, May 3, 2005 (UTC)
  3. Most importantly, WP policy for article titles is natural order, not "Last, First", so putting author names in natural order simplifies linking those authors who have WP articles. 23:15, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Deleted material

Stevenj deleted the following, and does not seem to have added any equivalent. Since (unlike some people who will remain nameless) I don't want to edit an important policy page without consensus, I thought I would bring this here and make sure that others agree with me that this should be restored:

When citing the publisher, omit "company," "books," "press," and similar words, except when referring to university presses. For example: "Penguin" instead of "Penguin Company," "McGraw-Hill" instead of "McGraw-Hill Book Company" (but: "University of Chicago Press," not "University of Chicago."

By the way, our example with "Wol Press" violates this rule. On the whole, I like the slightly cute examples given, but I think this one is awfully obscure for people who really need an example. It may not be obvious that "Hundred Acre Wood: Wol Press" is supposed to be place of publication and publisher. I suggest something less obscure.

This too:

Italicize the title of the book. If there is a subtitle, write it after the title of the book and a colon.

Italicizing titles is normal practice in English. No, not every standard calls for it, but it almost always makes it clearer what portion is the book title. Similarly, everyone in the English-speaking world recognizes a colon as separating a title from a subtitle. German practice, for example, is different (they use a period) but is seems to me that we should encourage consistency on this point in the English Wikipedia.

(Rewording very slightly in this next one, because it was not completely in line with current section-naming practice...)

Alphabetize the sources in a "References" or "Further reading" section by last name. For entries without an author or with an anonymous or unnamed author, alphabetize by the title of the work (omitting conjunctions and propositions).

Does anyone have a problem with restoring these to the project page? -- Jmabel | Talk 06:34, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

Completely agreed on the first two. I'm not sure there was a consensus decision taken on alphabetizing reference lists -- if I recall there was some contention that other orders, like importance of source or order of recommended reading, could be useful. I don't mind alphabetization myself, but let's be wary of instruction creep. (Also, I have to say that I think the addition of MLA style examples is completely reasonable, and their deletion, while it doesn't bother me hugely, strikes me as a bit hasty. If we offer one "example" style without consensus to use it, others surely can make the same claim.) -- Rbellin|Talk 06:56, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)
As for the multiple styles of citation: they each deserve an article in the main space, we can link here. And yes, alphabetization is the least important of these three, I don't really care about it either, just pointing out that it was longstanding content removed without consensus or even a clear comment. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:04, Mar 25, 2005 (UTC)

I have no specific objection to adding back the bits about the publisher and the italicization; I would leave out the bit about alphabetizing references because there is no consensus on it. However, I generally am concerned about adding in zillions of picky instructions — they make the page as a whole less readable and more off-putting. Keep in mind that our main priority is to get people to cite sources in the first place — I could care less whether someone puts "Press" in the publisher name or italicizes the title (the latter should be clear from the examples anyway). Trying to turn this into something resembling a comprehensive citation style guide, or worse, a guide to several styles (APA, MLA, IEEE, APS, etc. etc.) works against that goal. The only purpose of the examples — remember, there is no consensus on a precise style anyway — is to give people who aren't used to citation a template to follow to make sure they include all the information. —Steven G. Johnson 01:32, Mar 26, 2005 (UTC)

Not everyone shares your feelings on this specific topic, or your worldview. I valued every detail given on this project page when I first started citing sources because that knowledge gave me the confidence to do it. Rather than seeing all the little stylistic details as horrible rules that I didn't want to bother with I was glad to have something explain it to me and help me understand the bigger picture through the details. Hyacinth 20:52, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)
I agree completely with Hyacinth here. It's not the Wiki Way to require that somebody buy a dead-tree book in order to edit in accordance with policies—we should include all the information people need to get started citing.
By the way, what happened to the rule about not wikilinking anything but author and title when appropriate? I'd really rather not start seeing citations again like
Cornelia Christenson, Kinsey: A Biography, Indiana University Press, 1971
like I can recall seeing a couple years ago. TreyHarris 18:03, 22 May 2005 (UTC)


Wikipedia:References has not been updated for almost a year and is mostly forgotten - it should be merged here and made into a redirect, would you agree? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus Talk 19:23, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)

it's completely obsolete having been superceeded by Wikipedia:Footnotes Wikipedia:Footnote2 and Wikipedia:Footnote3. Although none of these has become policy, it's clear to me that direct external links are a bad idea since it's impossible to tell what they are supposed to refer to if the content at the other end of the link gets changed. I think that little of the material should be moved elsewhere. Probably it should just be marked as obsolete. Mozzerati 20:17, 2005 Mar 30 (UTC)

Wikipedia:References makes sense to me. Having read through the first and skimmed the second two, I still have no idea what those three things are, and why there are three. Hyacinth 20:59, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Good point. The Footnote* articles are based around new technologies and are intended to replace some References material. The Footnote* tools have not been completed, and the discussion has been focused on techniques and usage, so the pages are describing trees without giving an overview of forest for casual readers. (SEWilco 03:50, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC))


From Wikipedia:Importance#Sources.

What are the standards of importance for sources? (prompted by recent dispute on Talk:Myth) Sure, we have to Wikipedia:Cite sources, but who and what kind? Does the source need to be a professor of the article's topic? Do they have to be an "expert"? A professional? A friend or relative? Should creationist sources be allowed? Hyacinth 03:19, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

For example: mythology.
May no discipline other than mythology comment on myths, or just not on Wikipedia? Why? What about when other fields studies include myths, such as music with texts or tone painting depicting myths. Would a source simple need to be respected in both fields? Actually all three: mythology, poetry, and musicology? (four including history?) Freud may not be an expert in the history of myth, but that does not mean he may not have insight. Also, he was an example, and possibly a poor one, so don't waste your words tearing him apart. Hyacinth 06:13, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I don't know if there is an easily defined standard, but if the purpose is quoting someone on the definition of the term, that individual ought to be highly respected and sourced by other scholarly published references in the field. To use your example, Freud, although he may be entertaining, certainly would not count as notable for defining a field other than psychoanalysis and its offshoots (say, dream analysis or something along those lines). DreamGuy 03:32, Mar 1, 2005 (UTC) (from Talk:Myth#substance)

Shouldn't this be part of Wikipedia:Cite sources or a related policy? It's really a different issue to the importance of different subjects. ··gracefool | 01:39, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

There's some discussion of this above: see especially #"Reputable" vs. "Appropriate" sources and #Types of sources. If someone wants to summarize some of this and add a short section to the project page (or discuss it at more length in a separate page and link to it from the project page) I think that would be good. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:48, Apr 5, 2005 (UTC)

Citing other Encyclopedias

What's about citing other encyclopedias? (Britannica, Columbia, Encarta, etc.) I find other encyclopedias to be great for checking content and style (after all the ultimate goal is to make the article as good as what they have or better). Should they be listed as sources? - Pioneer-12 01:42, 16 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I would say that if you've significantly used them, yes. But I'd also say to be cautious about making significant use of any currently copyrighted encyclopedia: the potential for problematic plagiarism is probably larger there than anywhere else. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:55, Apr 16, 2005 (UTC)

Speaking of this, I recently started a List of encyclopedias in Google Print with over 20 preformatted references. --Alterego 15:18, Apr 16, 2005 (UTC)

Also there are issues of accuracy, verifiability and distance from original source. Encyclopedias are, like Wikipedia tertiary sources, written as a summary of other sources. Furthermore, most encylopedias fail to follow our cite sources policy most of the time. This means that when something is wrong, there's no way to know why or where it came from. There are a number of examples of this, for example, since encyclopedias state David Irving's made up numbers for casualties in the Bombing of Dresden without attribution, many people end up with the same error, but it's difficult to trace why. Better to always find a secondary source and back it up by checking some of the primary sources. Once you've done that the encyclopedia will probably only qualify for external links. Mozzerati 06:51, 2005 Apr 20 (UTC)

There may be issues of verifiability and distance from the original source, but there aren't any issues of accuracy. An up to date version of a major encyclopedia is one of the most accurate sources on the planet. Far more accurate then your average secondary source (which may be written by a poor researcher or someone with a political agenda). Of course you can find a number of examples of errors (in a work of over thirty thousand pages, there are bound to be some), but that doesn't change the fact that they are accurate well over 99% of the time. This doesn't mean that you should blindly follow what's in the Britannica or Columbia; it means that, if you say something contrary, you better have a very good reason.
Of course I don't think we should be copying other encyclopedias wholesale. In fact, it seems kind of silly for an encyclopedia to be listing other encyclopedias as references at all. (Seems rather derivative, don't you think?) However, I do think that they should be checked and compared often. It's amazing how many articles here can be improved in style and organization just by comparing what other encyclopedias have to say on the subject.
I like the idea of putting them as external links. That helps out both the readers and writers of wikipedia. Hmmm, maybe that should be mentioned in the style guide, or even supported in the software... - Pioneer-12 09:05, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Pioneer-12 writes, "In fact, it seems kind of silly for an encyclopedia to be listing other encyclopedias as references at all." I agree 100%. Of course it makes sense that we compare our articles to those in other encyclopedias, because it maight give us ideas. But I think it is absurd for one encyclopedia to use another one as a source. We might as well just tell people not to look at us but to look at another encyclopedia. I guarantee that the authors of articles in other well-established encyclopedias do not use encyclopedias as sources, they go out and do real research, looking at primary and secondary sources. We should do the same. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:24, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)'

It's not absurd, it's a great idea. Most encyclopedias are specialized and strive to go to great detail in their subject matter. They are not your atypical Encarta or Britannica which aim to give a general overview. If we were citing those, I agree it would be absurd. But citing a specialized encyclopedia for an important yet arcane factoid is an awesome use of resources. For example, there was recently an unsolved debate as to what Alferd Packer was charged for. I did a little bit of Google Printing and came across the Encyclopedia of Western Lawmen & Outlaws, which mentioned he was tried for murder and convicted for manslaughter. Since the information was at best ambiguous on internet sources, this was the best way out. If, in the future, overwhelming evidence contradicts the statement in that encyclopedia, we know exactly what statement to replace, where it came from, and what the reasoning was at the time --Alterego 21:05, Apr 20, 2005 (UTC)

Right. Citing specialized encyclopedias is good. Citing general-purpose encyclopedias is silly. Checking and comparing general-purpose encyclopedias is a very good heuristic. - Pioneer-12

Automating citations and references

Suggestion: It would be nice if we could partially automate citations and references for books and other materials with an ISBN by providing a template something like {cite:<isbn number>} and {ref:<isbn number>}, that would be expanded at page-request time. Ignoring for the moment how the data would be stored, such a citation or reference would fetch the data and insert it into the HTML whenever a page containing it is requested.

The reason I suggest this partly for ease of providing good citations, but also so that corrections to a book's bibliographic info could be made in a centralized place, and we could start getting away from the incorrect/incomplete references scattered all over Wikipedia that are very labor-intensive to track down and fix. (We want good citations for our articles, right?)

Some thought needs to go into the mechanism, but here are some conversation-starter thoughts. Clearly the links can't be autogenerated if no one has entered the data, so presumably the data would reside on a special class of page containing the bib info for that ISBN. Ideally the citations and references would contain not only the text extracted from that page, but also link to it as an article about the book, so that interested parties could find out more about the source as a book, if there is anything to say about it beyond its publication data.

However, that simple scheme is complicated by the fact that some books have multiple editions with different ISBNs. That should be addressable in a straightforward manner if we had the ISBN citation repository, because then an article about a book could just {ref:<isbn number>} in a "Known editions" section. What we would need for going in the other direction is an article name somewhere in the ISBN citation repository, so that you can find the article about the book (if one exists) from the ISBN.

Of course, the automagically generated reference could still include the ISBN as an anchor for a link to the book-search stuff we have now; presumably it would be the title of the book within the reference that would link to the article (if any) about the book. Also, it would be nice if the {cite:blah} and {ref:blah} in an article simply didn't show up if the necessary data hadn't been entered; that might encourage people to cite sources that they wouldn't bother with if they had to do more than flip the book over and look at the ISBN.

At any rate, don't let the implementation issues distract from the basic desirability of having the publication data about a book stored only in a single place so that it is easy to maintain, plus an automated system for fetching that data into other articles as formal citations and references. — B.Bryant 01:06, 20 Apr 2005 (UTC)

  • Just a remark: ISBN only works for books, and only for those published in about the last 40 years. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:32, Apr 20, 2005 (UTC)

Content moved

I moved the discussion on the appropriateness and quality of sources to Wikipedia talk:Cite sources/Appropriate sources (well, I hope I moved all of it). David.Monniaux 06:29, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Neat. It seems you are planning on distilling from that talk page a Cite sources/Appropriate sources page. That would be nice to have.
- Pioneer-12 06:45, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Question added

Please see my comment/question above in 10 Article titles in quotes. — Emerman 15:45, 23 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Alternate citation style?

I know that the APA and MLA styles are the most famous and preferred in most academic circles, but I'm not too fond of them. I've always found the ordering of infomation to be awkward. I prefer listing the title first. Is there an official, notable style that uses this format? I don't want to cite sources with the title first only for my style to be considered "irregular" and changed to APA style later. I would rather just use a notable "regular" (if perhaps uncommon) citation style to begin with. If there is no viable alternative, then I will use AMA--but surely there must be an alternative.... - Pioneer-12 13:12, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I think everyone has a preferred citation style of their own; it's likely to be difficult to come to any sort of global WP consensus because disciplines vary as to preferred styles, and many parts of WP aren't really the subject of formal study. There looks to be talk about providing a BibTeX-like citation system, where this could be made a matter of user preference. (I generally prefer "plain.btx" style myself.) Being flexible in this regard also makes contributing much less daunting to non-mavens; there are far too many policies and unofficial conventions as it is. So long as all the necessary information is there, people should not complain about citation style (and should only change the citation style if it is inconsistent or incomplete, not because it doesn't conform to the style guide they used in school). 23:27, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

Organization of pages without sources

Is there a template we could put on pages without reference information and/or a Category for such pages? I think this is one of the biggest problems on Wikipedia and unfortunately one that isn't treated with sufficient vigiliance. Also, if it is decided to approach the problem like this, there should also be a way to make sure only "important" topics, i.e. ones that have a decent amount of literature, receive this sort of attention otherwise it will be a pointless endeavour. 20:51, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

Template:Unreferenced and Category:Articles which lack sources (which replaced the earlier Template:Cite sources and Category:Missing citations). —Steven G. Johnson 04:42, May 5, 2005 (UTC)
This page isn't the place for extensive discussion of this (which has occurred several times, elsewhere), but the real issue isn't simply whether an article "has sources" but whether particular statements are sourced. If someone just goes and slaps a few references onto an existing article, it still doesn't really let us know what facts in the article actually are sourced. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:40, May 5, 2005 (UTC)
Not that slapping ugly templates on a article will make the fundamental problem any better. Pcb21| Pete 08:52, 5 May 2005 (UTC)