Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 8

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Sources that are defunct external sites

I've just happened across a discussion at User talk:Anubis1975, concerning what to do when a citation consists of an external link that's dead. Theo (whose views I usually respect) makes the claim: "Inactive links to reference sources should never be deleted". My first thought was that that couldn't be right, and then I saw who'd said it, so I went looking for guidance, but so far I've found no mention. If there is an official policy or guideline on this, could someone point me to it? If there isn't, would this be the right place to discuss it? --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 13:45, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

As good a place to discuss it as any. My views:
  • First and foremost, this is relevant mainly for actual references, not for general external links, which are, of course, only useful if live.
  • If the citation was just a blind link, this is tough (yet one more reason for giving more explicit citations). The best recourse is to try to reproduce an equivalent link from the Internet Archive. I would always recommend trying that, although you will not always succeed.
  • If the link was merely a "convenience link" to an online copy of material that originally appeared in print, and if you are pretty certain that it is a permanently dead link, then it should be OK to drop the link but keep the citation. (On the other hand, if you are pretty certain that the same piece can be found elsewhere on line this becomes more like the next case…)
  • If it was a non-blind citation of web-only material, I'd usually try to poke around the site and see if I can find an equivalent page at a new location, or an indication that the whole site has moved, etc.
  • One other sometimes-useful tool is that you can often find recently deleted pages in Google's cache. They won't be there long, and it is no use linking to them, but this may let you find the content, which can be useful in finding the same page elsewhere on the Internet and linking to that.
In most cases, I've found, one of another of these approaches will actually leave you with a still acceptable citation. I would hope that nothing I've said above is controversial. The question is what to do if all of this fails.
  • My inclination is to keep the link (maybe in an HTML comment, and certainly explicitly marked as dead). Keep in mind that the Internet Archive deliberately lags by six months, so there is a fair chance that at any time in the next six months we might, again, be able to get an equivalent link from them.
  • If the link has been dead more than six months we get into trickier territory. I'd still be inclined to keep it as the record of a reference used, but I realize that there is a certain academic purism in my view on that.
-- Jmabel | Talk 05:29, 21 September 2005 (UTC)
I basically agree with Jmabel. If a link is dead and can't be replaced by something equivalent, note that. If possible, find a different source that can serve as a different reference for the same claim -- in many cases, this might be possible. I wouldn't remove the citation, or the claim in question, unless there's serious doubts as to the accuracy of the citation. Tuf-Kat 05:45, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for these responses. I should stress that, in the case that prompted the discussion, Theo replaced the link with one to the Internet Archive; it wasn't his action about which I was dubious, but the general policy. --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 22:20, 21 September 2005 (UTC)

IMHO; If a link is "deleted" it still exists in the article history, which can be used for searching later. If an external link is the only place through which a "fact" can be verified, then the fact becomes unverifiable. It should be removed from the article and moved to the talk page if it might be important along side it, a comment about the broken link should be added. If, however, proper reference information has been kept (author / date / title / etc.) then it can be assumed that the link could be verified by finding the original author; in that case, it shouldn't be deleted. Mozzerati 10:41, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

  • This all should probably be part of the guideline on citing sources. What do people say to moving some of this (probably a briefer version) into the project page itself? -- Jmabel | Talk 02:41, 8 October 2005 (UTC)

Unpublished footnotes

I have a problem with a source document with an annoted intext footnote, however the end footnotes remain unpublished or withheld. There is some controversy regarding the textural material, as to whether or not in can be attributed to one speaker alone.

My understanding is, in the absence of an unpublished footnote, the source document itself becomes the citation, and according to MLA style referenced here What do you do if your source doesn't list an author?, reads,

"you must first determine whether the author is anonymous, or whether the document was written by a corporation or committee."
"When making a reference to a corporate author within your own text, you are advised by the MLA Handbook to refer to the corporation in the body of your paragraphs and to avoid citing them in your parenthetical references.

Any assistance to resolving this controversy would be appreciated. nobs 19:42, 23 September 2005 (UTC)

proposed changes to cite sources - direct links == broken links / inotes

I plan to make the following changes to cite sources. Mozzerati 09:49, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

1) broken links

You can quickly insert inline references to web pages by inserting a URL surrounded by single square brackets...

should be rewritten as

It is possible to create inline references to web pages by inserting a URL surrounded by single square brackets. This is better than not referencing at all, however it is bad style and leads to broken links which are impossible to fix. Instead, at the very least name the link [ like this] (like this). It is better still to create a a more complete reference which will make it easy to search for the reference later if it moves.

Reasoning 1; I've been trying to update many documents with reasonable references. The number of broken links in wikipedia is huge and fixing them is often impossible (often it's not really clear why the link is there, especially since it's often to link to one particular POV). There is no excuse for not at least making it clear why you are putting a link in.

Reasoning 2; Direct numbered links do not give any context about what ; they are often followed by people who do not find what they hope to find. Mozzerati 09:49, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

2) inotes

However, don't over-reference, the article should in the end still be readible:...

at the end of this paragraph I intend to add the following.

in a situation where a reference might be useful for future verification, but is clearly not needed by readers of the article, an alternative method of invisible references can be considered. Since these are invisible to the normal readers of an article they don't influence readability, but wikipedia editors can access them easily. The system can be mixed with other referencing systems for more important sources. Mozzerati 09:49, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

comments?Mozzerati 09:49, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Naming links is useful when the appear in the reference list. However, if I add a link after a statement, such as: Foobary recently said "such and such" [] then it is pretty clear what is referring to, and naming it isn't going to help much. I agree that it is much better to add a full citation at the end, but the guidelines already say this. (Regarding "over-referencing" see below.) —Steven G. Johnson 22:33, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
It's a perfect example. That should read recently [ Foobary said "such and such"].
For a person reading on a screen reader this is much clearer; in editing it's less likely to get the link split from the text; it's now clear that it is a reference showing what he said, not that he changed his mind (previously he said "so and so" but only now has he started saying "such and such") etc. Even this little example shows the problems with numbered links very well. Mozzerati 07:05, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
Mozzerati, I disagree with you on this. I really don't like having linked text like this functioning as notes. And I think that a policy like this would positively invite linkspam. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:04, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Mozzerati that there's a problem, but I share Jmabel's reservations about the solution. Would it be better to encourage the use of footnoted references, so that the text remains uncluttered and the link is given full details in the references section? --Mel Etitis (Μελ Ετητης) 10:45, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Absolutely. Use footnoted references instead (using {{fn}} and {{fnb}}). That way you have the best of both worlds - no clutter in the article, and a useable reference. Better yet, using the Web reference template, you get a date where the link wasn't broken (which could be used to get a cached copy of the link). Also, the footnote is numbered along with any other footnotes, instead of separately. There is NO REASON why you can't do this instead of an inline link. ··gracefool | 22:37, 29 September 2005 (UTC)

Proposed addition 1

Proposed to add to Wikipedia:Cite sources#Numbered footnotes for external citations:

The current best practice for automatically numbered footnotes is described at Wikipedia:Footnote3 (the {{ref|...}} / #{{note|...}} system). Note however:

  • This type of footnote requires external links (URL's) in single square brackets used on the same page to be named (which is good practice too, but has to be checked for the page you're working on when introducing this footnote system)
  • Several other "numbered footnote" systems have been proposed and/or implemented, and may still be encountered on some wikipedia pages: see "see also" section on Wikipedia:Footnote3 that links to several of these.

Reason: "Don't create controversy where there is none - "controversy" would imply Harvard/APA style and "numbered" would be "at odds", which they aren't" --Francis Schonken 19:26, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

Harvard referencing and footnote referencing are at odds, because they are two different in-text citation styles that should not normally appear in the same document.
Who says? Ah yes, the guy who has decided that by definition there should be controversy. I don't see any reference for this contentious assertion.
Second, numbered footnotes for citations are still controversial
Who says? Ah yes, the guy who has decided that by definition there should be controversy. I don't see any reference for this contentious assertion.
— that's why the current version of this policy page does not recommend them, precisely for the reasons listed: i.e. conflicts with bare-URL references,
this reserve is still mentioned in what I proposed as alternative
lack of automatic numbering for repeated references, ...
What nonsense... lack of automatic numbering has no overlap with the question whether the footnote is effective or not as a reference tool...
for that matter, even the numbering for non-repeated citations is not fully automatic. You have to manually make sure that the order in the reference list is the order that they appear in the text, and this can get screwed up at any time if someone adds a new reference.
What constructed problem. No external reference, so don't bore us with this nonsense.
e.g. [2] and [1] are mis-ordered below (they are also misnumbered, but that is an artifact of this Talk page).
No they're not, using the "label" types, the footnote3 notes are correctly numbered. So that's what you want to have as an "ideal" - being allowed to put footnotes in a wrong order? Well, the manually numbered type of footnote3 footnotes allows that. It doesn't give me any reason not to have automatic numbering. The automatic numbered version of footnote3 footnotes helps having numbered footnotes in the right order. What the heck is the problem with that?
We???? I hate when wikipedians go in pluralis maiestatis, trying to give their speech more breath than that of a single person giving his opinion.
... would be more inclined to support numbered footnotes if they were not broken
broken? what's that nonsense, reference please!
(I use numbered references all the time in LaTeX),
I don't know about Latex, I'm not interested in it, FYI, this is MediaWiki
but proper support still seems to require changes in MediaWiki rather than template hacks.
Ah, so the message I get from this is that you don't want to use what's working, because you are stuck with Latex in your head. For me that's fine. But don't go bossing over other wikipedians they should follow Latex ideals.
Harvard referencing, on the other hand, requires no software support,
??? Footnotes can be made without software support. That's how I did it in the early days. Now you have templates to help making footnotes, but if you don't want to use it that's OK for me, but again, don't go bossing over other wikipedians.
is robust under edits to the reference list,
??? Who said there couldn't be a reference list any more with Harvard references??? They have separate uses: footnotes for clarifications and/or references to particular passages; A general references list applies to an article as a whole. Depends on the topic of the article. And to a certain extent, on the one who makes time to write the article. That's usually the one who is best placed to see how he can construct the clearest references. And for some articles that would be exclusively Harvard; for other articles some in-line external references would suffise, then for other arrticles a few footnotes would suffise containing, depending on case, some footnotes with APA style templates, some without. And some articles have both footnotes and a separate references list. None of this should be "commandeered" for esthetical reasons of having exclusively the same format of references on all wikipedia pages.
and does not require editors to learn any new technical syntax.
Pushing for the Harvard/APA templates, is as well asking people to learn technical stuff (for me, more technical). Anyway, you don't have to learn anything else than you want to learn. The only problem is that you're not so good in policy writing, trying to present as contentious what is not.
—Steven G. Johnson 21:54, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
--Francis Schonken 05:22, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

1 first footnote
2 second footnote

Proposed addition 2

Proposed to add to Wikipedia:Cite sources#When there is no factual dispute:

However, don't over-reference, the article should in the end still be readible: referencing the all-too-obvious can hamper the perfect article ideal. The best known type of over-referencing is overlinking, as explained in Wikipedia:Manual of Style (links)#Internal links and Wikipedia:Make only links relevant to the context.

Apart from that, adding general or specific citations to an article which lacks them (whether or not you wrote that article) is an excellent way to contribute to Wikipedia. The more solidly the content of an article is anchored in reliable sources, the better. See Wikipedia:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards and Wikipedia:WikiProject Fact and Reference Check for organized efforts to do this.

Reason:"Overlinking exists, there's no shame in stating that: it is official guideline. Referencing the all-too-obvious is not good wikipedia writing." --Francis Schonken 19:26, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

efficient changed to solidly Mozzerati 20:28, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
First, over-citation is not the same thing as over-linking.
??? Wikipedia links are presented as a citation technique in Wikipedia:Cite sources, so overlinking is definitely one of the types of over-citation.
It's listed here more for completeness, I think—this page is primarily talking about references that go in the References section, which does not include wikilinks. —Steven G. Johnson
I'm extremely dubious that over-citation is a problem in Wikipedia,
??? Ever tried to read the Terri Schiavo article? - beside a lot of other problems it is terribly over-referenced, as one of the symptomatic deficiencies of such type of articles (I could name a few others...).
I don't see anything wrong with "over-referencing" in the Schiavo article (which may have other problems, of course...I haven't read it closely). They don't interfere with its readability, and they tell you where to find more information on numerous statements. Do you have a specific example of an "unnecessary" reference in the article? —Steven G. Johnson
because the overwhelming problem is under-citation.
"overwhelming"??? I don't like this over-dramatising. If it's your opinion that this is the case, that's fine with me. But don't base wikipedia guideline on it.
I just visited 10 random Wikipedia pages. 7 of them had no references at all, and 2 of the remainder had only a single web link. This confirms my experience—under any reasonable empirical test, Wikipedia is poorly referenced. —Steven G. Johnson
(Moreover, if someone is adding several citations per sentence in the article, the problem is probably not the citations; the problem (if any) might be that they are engaging in original research.)
Contentious ... no references to support your allegations ... what kind of guy are you?
Second adding a long admonition against the alleged "over-citation" problem is *not* harmless.
As if your POV spreading over the guideline page is!
Please don't go around name-calling and making pointless accusations of bias. Wikipedia policies, by nature, are not statements of fact, they are statements of opinion (ideally consensus opinion). Saying "POV, POV!" is unhelpful—everyone here is stating their point of view. —Steven G. Johnson
First, adding any unnecessary instructions to this page distracts attention from the real purpose, which is to encourage citations.
I happen to think citations don't have to be encouraged blindly. And that that is a problem with the present version of the page.
How is it encouraging citations "blindly?" It states specific reasons for which citations should be included. —Steven G. Johnson
The longer the policy is, the less likely someone is to read the whole thing.
Oh, no problem, I'll give a shorter version of the "When there is no factual dispute" paragraph.
The question is, what is wrong with the current version? —Steven G. Johnson
Second, given that the main problem in Wikipedia is arguably lack of citations, adding any discouragement is counter-productive.
No, no, IMHO you give a wrong reading of the problem. Citations are lacking often. People have to be encouraged to add them. On the other hand, encouraging people to add citations where they are redundant, is not an asset to wikipedia.
This page doesn't encourage people to add them where they are "redundant" and you still haven't given a clear example of where this is an actual problem in Wikipedia. (e.g. which references on the Schiavo page are "redundant?") —Steven G. Johnson
Therefore, I don't think your proposed changes are an improvement.
You're allowed your POV, no problem.
—Steven G. Johnson 21:42, 24 September 2005 (UTC)
--Francis Schonken 05:47, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
I've modified it to say:
"Reference anyway, whenever the supporting evidence for a statement may be unclear to a reader."
This should be enough to answer the occasional (mythical?) oddball who wants to add a reference for the sun rising in the morning or whatever. —Steven G. Johnson

revert war / inote

Realising I was coming into the middle of an edit war, I've slightly changed my previous proposed edit about inotes and gone ahead with it. Does that cover citation overuse in a way which won't discourage citations? Mozzerati 22:07, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

The case for invisible references seems awfully unclear—the main point of referencing (indeed, almost the whole point) is to help the reader, and you don't help the reader with references she can't see. If some alleged article has so many citations that it is interfering with readability, then something else is wrong; either it's engaging in original research or it's just plain badly written. (I don't understand why people are trying to solve this "problem" of "over-citation", which as far as I can tell is nonexistent in virtually all of Wikipedia.) Besides, if you just want to add a comment to other editors, there is already a common mechanism: <!-- ... > comments. —Steven G. Johnson 22:26, 24 September 2005 (UTC)

The case for invisible references is clear. Our aim is to write a factual encyclopedia. This means that it is not primarily aimed at the academic reader. There are many users, including key contributors (mav (talk · contribs) / Lord Emsworth (talk · contribs)) who used to refuse to reference because they consider that doing so made articles less readable. Inote has enabled us to persuade these editors to add references where otherwise they would add none (see archives of FAC discussions). Pushing for full academic citations in all cases will improve a few articles at the cost of losing references across the whole of Wikipedia. We need to develop a consensus which encourages citations and it needs to be a consensus which compromises between various different needs, including the need to write clean clear encyclopedia articles.

The ideal system, which would definitely have to be built in to MediaWiki, would allow citations to be configured by the end user, so that the choice between none/footnote/Harvard could be made according to the reader's needs. The short term goal should be to find all of the needed ways to preserve this information which is typically gathered when the article is written or improved. Inote is a tool which allows that. Mozzerati 07:50, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

Contributors who refuse to reference are not following the policy of Wikipedia; of course, it is better for such people to add an invisible reference than nothing, but that doesn't mean that this page should endorse that practice. The basic principle of citation policy on Wikipedia, which most editors seem to have agreed upon for some time (modulo minor details) is that it is critical for Wikipedia to provide readers, not just editors, with references to support articles and to provide sources of further information. Encouraging "invisible" references would be a major change to this policy and would therefore seem to require support from a lot more editors before being endorsed by this page. —Steven G. Johnson 23:08, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

I use a combination of both. I prefer inotes, but I use bookmarks in the following cases: 1. India – to clarify some points. 2) Nepal, where I've made some additions/claims such that the source would be needed to be easily verified. =Nichalp «Talk»= 09:52, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Style guideline?

The present form of the "cite sources" style&howto guideline has a header template, containing this text:

The consensus of many editors formed the conventions described here.

The content of the page was pretty much: we all agree on the principle of source referencing, but as far as style recommendations we have none while it's all contentious and lacking consensus.

So I restructured the page:

  • Making a distinction between the main lines of referencing style recommendations; and style recommendations for additional referencing techniques.
  • Footnotes, like in-line wikilinks, are all "additional techniques" now, so I suppose the "lacking consensus" is addressed for that.

If such adaptation of the guideline structure would appear unworkable - for whatever reason - I suppose there's two possible roads:

  • Temporarily change the {{style-guideline}} template to {{proposed}}, and sort things out before it is re-introduced as guideline;
  • Change the {{style-guideline}} template to {{guideline}}, and move style&howto info to a separate guideline: so the "Cite sources" principle remains as guideline on this page, and the style&howto goes on a new page in the wikipedia or help namespace, under a {{proposed}} template, until, again, things are sorted out.

--Francis Schonken 10:06, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

I agree that it's clear that this page is (or should be) more a guideline of the principles of citing sources (which seems to have broad support) than the specific style to do so. As the page itself points out, there has never been complete agreement on the question of citation formatting. Even simple things like whether there should be a single References section or separate References vs. External Links etc. have never been clearly agreed upon. Because of that, I've always felt that the {{style-guideline}} tag here was a bit of a misnomer, and probably {{guideline}} would be better. On the other hand, it would be unfortunate not to give users a brief "How-to" here, even if details go on a separate page. Especially since there are some stylistic principles that do seem to have general agreement: namely, that the complete reference information for all references should go at the end in a separate section(s), and that occasional in-text pointers may be added in addition when the support for a given statement may be unclear.
Can we please discuss major changes here before making them to the page, however? —Steven G. Johnson 23:28, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
PS. The question of separate "Further Reading" vs. "References" sections is periodically brought up here. Professional scholarly publications almost never separate these sections, essentially because it is not a workable distinction. For one thing, it is dishonest to point the reader to anything for further reading if you aren't familiar with what it says and are reasonably sure it is consistent with what the article says—thus, anything in "further reading" is implicitly a source used to verify the article (and conversely, many sources used to write the article might make good further reading). Note also that one of the listed policy reasons to cite sources is to provide further information. (Sometimes, a book will have a per-chapter "Further Reading" section that highlights a subset of the bibliography. This is mainly because a book's bibliography is often so long that such pointers are needed; it should be rarely needed for individual articles, but in any case it is conceptually different from a "Further Reading" section that is disjoint from the "References".) —Steven G. Johnson 23:28, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
verbose? --Francis Schonken 05:00, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Steven still appears to be working outside consensus, protecting outdated idiosycrasies, no longer supported by present consensus.

The updates I proposed to the guideline are none of them major, and all of them reflection of consensus. Maybe it's best to clarify a bit:

1) Lay-out update: this follows from Wikipedia:Words to avoid#Controversy: that paragraph explains how wikipedia articles can get out of balance by a pernicious application of "controversy" (and similarly "lack of consensus", and the like). Surely, if we don't want main namespace articles to have that flaw, I don't see why it should be acceptable in "wikipedia:" namespace. I followed the recommendations of Wikipedia:Words to avoid#Controversy, which *exactly* advises an adaptation of the article structure, for avoiding that flaw.

2) Technical comments to the current "footnotes" guideline were removed by me: Some of it is outdated (see above), and that guideline can also evolve. So WP:CITE is not the place to go in the technicalities of the technical wikipedia:footnote3 guideline. Note that on the other hand I proposed not to have any "how to choose between referencing systems" info in the footnotes guideline(s), restoring that topic to WP:CITE, as part of the efforts to harmonise both guidelines (see: wikipedia talk:footnote3#Consensus proposal, which is, as far as I know, accepted)

3) I added a paragraph about no robot-transformation of one type of references to another type, which was subject of the talk on wikipedia talk:footnote3#Footnotes_vs._inline_web_references (and several other parts of that talk page). SEWilco defended his engine for performing such transformations. All others appeared dismissive. I think SEWilco can live with the consensus not to apply robot-transformation of in-line external references to footnotes (of whatever kind) of articles for which there has been no request in that sense by the major contributors of the article content. This no-bot recommendation should be in WP:CITE as per point 2) above (in other words: that's "WP:CITE" topic and not "WP:FN3" topic).

4) I added a section about the (present) status of "external links" and "further reading" sections w.r.t. citing sources, hereby reflecting what was said about that on this talk page above. If questions about that "come up" every now and then, a summary of what wikipedia community thinks about that can be in the guideline.

5) In my next version of the WP:CITE guideline I'll attempt to do away with the last instance still using "controversy" terminology, i.e. the part where the "model" of citations is discussed. I think it perfectly possible to state that in terms of: contributors to article content collaborate on finding the most suitable system for a clear presentation of references, which might work better than the "no consensus" model with a direct link to what is only "one" of the proposed models, on top of the page. This, again, is not a "major" change, only, again, converting "controversy" model in a practical guideline, that however does not "impose" a style where there's no consensus to do so: the better approach is to present the available techniques, not subjectively implying precedence not supported by the wikipedia community.

--Francis Schonken 10:34, 2 October 2005 (UTC)

Inline links discouraged in favor of more complete sources

Comments requested at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Inline links discouraged in favor of more complete sources. (SEWilco 08:04, 11 October 2005 (UTC))


Frances, please don't keep reverting my edits. People have a right to edit this page, and there are errors in the previous version. Here is the diff [1]; please don't revert again but list your objections here and we can go through them together.

For example, your version says we should cite sources so that editors can verify facts. But that's exactly what we don't want them to do, because that's original research. We don't verify facts; we verify that what we're adding to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. That is the essence of WP:V and WP:NOR and this page must be consistent with the policies.

Please let us discuss the edits one by one if necessary, but don't simply revert them all. Also, I have no idea what you mean about Harvard referencing being connected to inline links. How are they related? SlimVirgin (talk) 01:43, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Sorry, you're only trying to add confusion: things were & are discussed point by point on Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Inline links discouraged in favor of more complete sources]. You were perfectly aware of that discussion, while you took part in it. You changed the guideline text nonetheless before waiting the end of these discussions, trying to influence the outcome of that discussion by pushing POV on the guideline page.
No, no, stop Francis. Please assume good faith. I'm not pushing a POV, I'm not even sure what the POV is that you're referring to. I did a copy edit to improve the English, extended the intro because it was too short, and clarified what Harvard referencing is, which has nothing to do with the discussion about links so far as I see. And the use of inline links is policy anyway, and this page is only a guideline, so I'm wondering if you've misunderstood the status of this page or something. SlimVirgin (talk) 10:59, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
What are you talking about? --Francis Schonken 20:56, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
In the end you show your true card: all of what you change to guidelines is exclusively justified by what you do when editing wikipedia... taking yourself as norm, against wikipedia's NOR policy (while in the same time shouting abuse to other wikipedians, not nearly as much trespassing NOR policy).
What are you talking about? SlimVirgin (talk) 10:59, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
What are you talking about? --Francis Schonken 20:56, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
In-text Harvard references and in-line links are both in-line references (which is the title of the section, where they both belong as a sub-section) - you destroyed that structure of the guideline several times, and that while saying "you don't know what it is about". Well, I'll add an explicit definition of what "in-line references" are, and restore the structure of the guideline.
The discussion on the pump is about inline links. Anyway, you're not going to get rid of inline links, because editors like using them and they're helpful to readers. And you're not going to get rid of Harvard referencing, because it's a common method of referencing recognized by editors all over the world. And why would you want to try? SlimVirgin (talk) 10:59, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
What are you talking about? --Francis Schonken 20:56, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
Also, I'll restore the section pushing POV regarding "external links" and "further reading" sections. The POV is that you can't accuse fellow wikipedians of doing something wrong if something that is a reference ends up in a an "external links" or "further reading" section. The present policy is to discourage that, not saying it is "wrong". That a previous version of that text was already experienced as a bit sharp on the forbidding side, can be seen from this village pump topic: diff (as a consequence, the "forbidding" was formulated less sharp)
I'm not clear on the difference between discourage and wrong. References go in the references section. What more is there to say? SlimVirgin (talk) 10:59, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
What are you talking about? --Francis Schonken 20:56, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
Re. "facts", I keep to the definition of "fact" contained in wikipedia:neutral point of view#A simple formulation - I know wikipedia:reliable sources should sort of be updated in that sense while it uses a different definition of fact, not completely compatible with NPOV policy. But at least both agree that wikipedia does not deal with "truth". Neither do I. So what is the accusation you want to launch exactly?
--Francis Schonken 10:03, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm sorry, Francis, I'm not being deliberately obtuse, but I honestly have no idea what you're talking about. SlimVirgin (talk) 10:59, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
What are you talking about?
Sorry, I'm not obtuse either, not deliberately, nor otherwise. Somewhere we seem to be talking a different kind of English. As most wikipedians seem capable of understanding the English I'm accustomed to, I really have no clue what the problem is and what you're talking about? --Francis Schonken 20:56, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Examples of articles using Harvard notation

Can someone point out some articles which use Harvard-style referencing? (SEWilco 02:51, 16 October 2005 (UTC))

Without picking any particular examples, if you look through WP:FA you can find many that use it at least in part. Actually, FA provides a good example of the variety of styles in use and some of those articles are also what I would call mixed bags with several different styles used in a single article. Dragons flight 03:00, 16 October 2005 (UTC)
Ah, of course. Thanks. (SEWilco 03:07, 16 October 2005 (UTC))
Looking at the first article in each category, only Alchemy, Coca-Cola, and Anne of Great Britain are of interest. Anyone notice any other examples? (SEWilco 04:40, 16 October 2005 (UTC))

Dead link details

Perhaps much of the details at Wikipedia:Cite_sources#What_to_do_when_a_reference_link_.22goes_dead.22 should be in Wikipedia:Manual of Style (links), Wikipedia:External links or Wikipedia:Footnotes. The summary in this article should kindly remind DON'T DELETE DEAD LINKS and point at the details of restoration methods. (SEWilco 04:18, 17 October 2005 (UTC))

All in all I think the section should maybe better be moved to wikipedia:reliable sources, because "being available" is of course one of the many aspects of "being reliable" - for instance a web source that is unavailable 90% of the time, is IMHO not the most reliable source, if there's another website with similar content being available 95% of the time. --Francis Schonken 06:58, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

Section moved; this talk page section copied to Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources#Dead link details --Francis Schonken 07:57, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

Revert to prior "consensus" version

As a result of the "no consensus" about a new version (explained above, and in Village Pump/policy), I'm reverting to the last version that apparently had consensus, that is the version:

  • By SEWilco, 18:27, 7 October 2005 diff
  • This version confirmed by Paul August after vandalism, 03:38, 9 October 2005 diff

In addition I keep the new "dead links" section initiated by Jmabel, but have moved it to a more appropriate place.

Again: please use the discussion page to propose major changes...

--Francis Schonken 08:28, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

No one has made any major changes that I can see. What do you see as being a major change? SlimVirgin (talk) 08:37, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
Francis, could you say exactly what your specific objections are please? For example, you keep deleting the example of Harvard referencing, which is given as (Smith, 2005)? What is wrong with that example, in your view? SlimVirgin (talk) 11:00, 17 October 2005 (UTC)
Francis, considering that you made major changes to this article, over repeated objections, without achieving "consensus" here first (do you see any comments in support of your proposal above?), you seem awfully hypocritical. The last version of this page that was at all stable (lasting for a long time without major controversy), was September 22, 2005. —Steven G. Johnson 17:34, 17 October 2005 (UTC)

Sorry, I see no reason for accusing me of being hypocritical.

Above, in #Style guideline? it is explained why the 22 september version was not all that stable altogether (note that it didn't last for a day).

I've not seen SlimVirgin make any objection to the 5 changes explained in #Style guideline? above.

Further, after repeated attempts to draw SlimVirgin's attention to Wikipedia:How to create policy#Guidelines for creating policies and guidelines, notably the fact that that guideline insists on flexibility as a major quality for all guidelines and policies, SlimVirgin keeps asserting "he doesn't know what that is about".

So, I'd like to invite SlimVirgin to consider his options, on a voluntary basis: either SlimVirgin tries to acquire some understanding about how guidelines & policies work in wikipedia, either it's maybe better SlimVirgin stops messing with guideline & policy texts.

But I'm perfectly aware SlimVirgin will again not be knowing what I'm talking about: in which case it's maybe better to keep out of guideline texts, and come to talk pages first. --Francis Schonken 06:52, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

I do know how policy works on Wikipedia, Francis, which is why I'm bewildered about this. This is a guideline or style guide. I made what I see as an edit that tidied some areas, expanded the intro because it was too short (but only by getting rid of the first header, not by actually adding anything of my own), expanded a little on what Harvard referencing is, and gave an example of it. I didn't substantively change anything about the guideline, at least not that I'm aware of. So I have to ask you again: what is it that you think I made substantively different from the previous version? SlimVirgin (talk) 06:56, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
Anyway, my next update will respect the "harvard references" additions. I only removed it once, because you seemed unable to separate unbalancing effects of that edit from the good stuff, which is a little bit more detail about how to use this type of references.
Well, I'm still bewildered why you keep removing the {{style}} template? Isn't that "major change"?
--Francis Schonken 07:57, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
Things tend to go more smoothly if a few related changes are done, then wait a while (a day?) before next change. That makes it easier to complete copyedit changes, and individual contested items can be discussed individually. (SEWilco 15:50, 18 October 2005 (UTC))
I've re-added the style template, provided no one else objects to it being there (if you do, by all means remove it again). Francis, is there anything else you feel was changed substantively? SlimVirgin (talk) 16:20, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
Changes to the structure are all critical at this point: look, above I explained that there were 3 or 4 instances where the article used to say there was "controversy", "no consensus", and the like. In order to avoid using that terminology it is advised to change the structure of an article (see reference above). From that point the balance of the structure becomes critical, because it is the structure of the article that expresses what relative importance the wikipedia community attaches to individual aspects. I'm convinced SlimVirgin doesn't understand the least bit about it, despite his experience in writing policy & guideline text. Or he understands and is pushing POV. So I revert to the previous structure, and propose we take it from there. I tried to keep as many of the edits that didn't unbalance as I could (and as far as I could agree with them), but as long as we can't agree regarding the structure expressing another balance (e.g. pushing Harvard references more than it did before by changing the subtitle level), it shouldn't be changed.
Other remarks:
  • It is usual that the rationale of a guideline is explained in the first part of the body of a guideline, not in the intro.
  • Lay-out: the italicised indented text above the first sentence of the intro is bad usability: there is already the "guideline" banner and some other usual guideline attributes around, there's no use in further burdening the lay-out.
  • There is a bolded link to wikipedia:reliable sources in the intro. That guideline refers in its intro to both wikipedia:verifiability and wikipedia:no original research. I don't see any use in redundant repeats.
  • "Editors should" is a no-flexible expression, so to be avoided in guidelines.
  • Please stop removing the footnote with the definition of "in-line references"
  • etc... see other sections on this talk page
--Francis Schonken 06:40, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

References section

I removed the words "that apply to the article as a whole" from the sentence: "References that apply to the article as a whole are collected at the end of the article under a ==References== heading."

I did this because it wasn't clear what it meant, and SEWilco used it in another article to remove the References section and replace it with Notes and footnotes, on the grounds that the sources applied to specific points and not the "article as a whole." But sources always apply to specific points, so I don't know what he meant.

I'm concerned about this page in that some editors here seem to be changing the guideline to suit very particular and unusual points of view about what sources and citations are. The page has to be consistent with policy, with other publishing styles and conventions, and with common sense. The more complicated we make the issue of citation, the less we'll be able to persuade editors to provide sources.

The guideline also has to be well written so that people understand it, but there is some confusing writing. Does anyone mind if I go through it and do a copy edit? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:00, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

It was clear to me what it meant. General references in "References" section. Notes for more specific sources in "Notes" section. I think you forgot about "Notes" mentioned in Wikipedia:Cite_sources#Numbered_footnotes_-_.22Notes.22_section, and there could be phrasing in both section which mentions the other situation. The "Numbered footnotes" section also has to be rewritten, as both "numbered footnotes" and "Harvard references" are means for doing specific references to sources, differing only in notation. (SEWilco 19:09, 18 October 2005 (UTC))
I don't know what you mean by a "general reference." Can you give an example? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:19, 18 October 2005 (UTC)
Looks like "References" and "Notes" are being used in Music of the United States and George W. Bush. Based on the previous definitions in WP:CITE, if I were writing the article "Bronze" I might use a book on bronze metallurgy and one on the Bronze Age as general references for much of the text. On the other hand, specific sources might be noted for details on welding or weathering. (SEWilco 03:12, 19 October 2005 (UTC))
I suppose SEWilco has clarified the point, so that we can go back to the version that worked fine. --Francis Schonken 05:31, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
I'd call that "the version with References being for general sources". Revert to it before other improvements. Still awkward, it is. (SEWilco 05:54, 19 October 2005 (UTC))


There are problems with the writing in this article, to the point where some of it seems to be meaningless. For example, what does this mean? "The types of references described in this section don't always fall under "cite sources", but can give additional support to finding sources that are related to the wikipedia article."

Also this:

"Footnotes are sometimes useful for relevant text that would distract from the main point if embedded in the main text, yet are helpful in explaining a point in greater detail. Such footnotes can be especially helpful for later fact-checkers, to ensure that the article text is well-supported. Thus, using footnotes to provide useful clarifying information outside the main point is fine where this is needed."

I assume it means: "Footnotes may be used to cite sources, or to link to texts that provide more information" — but then why not just say so?

The harder this is to read, the less it will be read, so if we want editors to take it seriously, I suggest we keep the sentence construction simple, and the ideas clearly expressed. I'm sorry to write in this way: I don't intend to be overly critical, but our policies and guidelines have to be well written, because if we can't get it right even here, we can't ask editors to pay attention to detail anywhere else. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:39, 18 October 2005 (UTC)

That paragraph is also trying to convey that footnotes may contain explanatory notes, not only citations of sources. A footnote might also contain a long clarification, or merely a short note such as "Uses the same ammunition as the M1." (SEWilco 04:59, 19 October 2005 (UTC))


Part of the table of contents looks like this:

5 Style and how-to

5.1 References in a "References" section
5.2 In-line references
5.2.1 Harvard style
5.2.2 External links

6 Additional referencing

6.1 In-line wiki-links
6.2 References in a "See also" section - subpages
6.3 "External links" and "Further reading" sections
6.4 Numbered footnotes - "Notes" section

I watched it grow, so understand it began as a simpler list and then each type of information accumulated related material. Some reorganization seems needed because related information has accumulated in separated locations.

  • Possibly "In-line wiki-links" should be first.
    Don't agree: section 5 is about "exclusively used for citing sources"; section 6 is about "can be used for citing sources, and can be used for other things"; "In-line wiki-links" clearly belongs in the second of those two categories. See also risk for circularity or even hidden original research when relying too heavily on "internal links" as references (well, explained that elsewere, there's still a section in Village pump/policy where I give some detail about that, the "lists and references" section). --Francis Schonken 07:02, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
    That is not a useful separation because it splits similar topics in a way which forces the more restrictive variants far from their more general relatives. The "External links" section is separated from External links. Source citations can be pointed at by both Harvard style and Numbered footnotes style references (as there is no Author for an explanatory note, can't something like "Note 1" be used for Harvard-style links to explanatory notes?). (SEWilco 14:26, 19 October 2005 (UTC))
    Please don't use absolute terms in the sense of: "That is not a useful separation..." - I happen to think it is a useful separation. Similarity can be appreciated in various ways. The way I appreciate it is similarity by function: "citation only" is similar, and can be grouped; "citation and other" is also in that sense similar, and so also can be grouped IMHO. I appreciate you'd prefer a different approach, but I don't really see the advantages of it. --Francis Schonken 05:05, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
    You're separating based upon the functionality of the referencing methods, thus forcing apart the less general Harvard style from more general linkages. Articles can require many types of explanations, which might be all gathered in endnotes. If Harvard style can only link to some endnotes, that style is a subset of the more general concept of linking text to endnotes. Should all means of linking to endnotes be grouped together? (SEWilco 07:01, 22 October 2005 (UTC))
  • The "sections" sections (References,See also, External links, Further reading) probably should be summarized in one section so their various meanings can be contrasted. Also the "Notes" section (in 6.4) does not show in the table but it also needs to be gathered with the other Sections.
    Don't agree, "type of referencing" in two sets (#1 "citation only"; #2 "citation and other things"), as described in my comment above. In that case no need to group "sections" sections. --Francis Schonken 07:02, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
    I said "summarized in one section", as an overview of the section usage. (SEWilco 14:41, 19 October 2005 (UTC))
    Wikipedia:Guide to layout#Standardized appendices does that - I don't see a need to double that here, but a link to that guideline might be useful, and I'll add it to the WP:CITE page (note that the indicated section of "Guide to layout" could benefit from some updating...). --Francis Schonken 05:05, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
  • "Numbered footnotes" needs to be changed to just "Footnotes" and summarize references-to-citations concept, with "numbered" and "Harvard" styles as methods for referring to citations.
    Confusing: "references-to-citations" is "citations only"; numbered footnotes is not "citations only". --Francis Schonken 07:02, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
    The section now called "Numbered footnotes" needs generalization to "Footnotes" and an introduction to the concept of a "reference" being a label in text which identifies an associated "endnote". Endnotes are in a section which is a mixed list of explanatory notes and citations; indeed it is common for an explanatory note to also mention a source. (SEWilco 14:41, 19 October 2005 (UTC))
    Well, I happen to think that is exactly what is *not* needed: that would only fire discussions about the precedence between the several types of footnotes directly on the guideline page again (I don't object to these discussions on talk pages, trying to reach consensus). If merging the sections about these two types of footnotes on the guideline page, it is very likely that the fundamental difference that numbered footnotes can be used for other things than citation of sources too, would again go lost in the discussion. --Francis Schonken 05:05, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
  • "External links" second from the end, as its last sentence can mention the next topic.
    IMHO the guideline should stress that in-line external links better only be used for "citations", as in WP:NOT, "wikipedia is not a collection of external links" --Francis Schonken 07:02, 19 October 2005 (UTC)
  • "... goes dead" as the last section.
    I knew there were some points on which we would agree! --Francis Schonken 07:02, 19 October 2005 (UTC)

— (SEWilco 06:23, 19 October 2005 (UTC))

Sources that are defunct external sites, redux

I brought this up on the talk page, got clear consensus, wrote it up well, and put it on the project page. One person has now removed it four times in the face of apparent consensus, even though he has not made a single specific objection to the substance of it. Right now, I have better things to do than fight about this. Apparently he does not. If someone else will restore what I wrote, that will be welcome. - Jmabel | Talk 05:12, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

I don't like lies and false accusations all that much. above two persons suggested to move the section elsewhere (and "move" is not the same as "remove" as far as I know). Then you didn't even care to comment on these suggestions. Then, the move was performed, with a clear indication of the link to where it was moved. What's your problem? --Francis Schonken 06:01, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

Combined note notations

This edit [2] combines the scattered material on notes and citations to be in closer proximity. As the style section points out, formatting is secondary to reference information, and the information can be connected to with several notations. The changes were done in several edits so they can be more easily followed in History. (SEWilco 20:48, 20 October 2005 (UTC))

Sorry for the work you put in it, but I still prefer the previous layout. As you didn't care to reply to my objections above, I see no need to repeat them here. I see several other deteriorations in your proposal. If you want to persue that proposal, might I suggest to put it, for example, here: Wikipedia:Cite Sources/Alternative proposal? If I have a spare moment I'll help you with it, maybe it grows to a viable alternative, but it certainly isn't one at present IMHO. --Francis Schonken 06:01, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
I restored the material that Francis deleted, because it looked helpful. What was your objection to it, Francis? SlimVirgin (talk) 06:30, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
In the paragraph above your comment I wrote: " objections above". What part of that was unclear to you?
Regarding the material you restored: I copied your proposal to Wikipedia:Cite Sources/Alternative proposal. The lay-out of that guideline proposal is too fuzzy to qualify for guideline text presently IMHO. I won't say it doesn't have potential as guideline text, but still needs a lot of work. Please, you didn't reply to the list of objections I mentioned in #Revert to prior "consensus" version above, nor to most other objections I made in other sections on this talk page. --Francis Schonken 07:13, 23 October 2005 (UTC)
I also restored Jmabel's section about dead links, which I think almost everyone agreed with. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:36, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
I think that section would be more appropriate in wikipedia:reliable sources, and had moved it there (with a clear link from this guideline). See also #Dead link details and #Sources that are defunct external sites, redux above, where this was discussed. --Francis Schonken 07:13, 23 October 2005 (UTC)
Francis, you keep deleting other people's edits. Just in the last few days, you've deleted work by Jmabel, Slrubenstein, SEWilco, and me. The section above that you referred me to showed that only you objected to Jmabel's additions, for example. And the text that you're reverting is not well written and is often very unclear: I can barely understand parts of it. Not only that, but it often contradicts policy. Just two examples, the first where I know what's meant, but it's odd English: "If you're involved in such operation: strive for clarity." Second example: "In most cases "Further reading" is absorbed in the references section, but when it exists as a separate section, that's usually for articles on broad topics, where the works mentioned in "further reading" offer an interesting angle to the subject, but not broad enough to be listed as a reference. They're rather primary sources than the secondary sources mentioned in the "references" section." This is practically meaningless to me.
Please allow other editors to make additions and copy edits, because the page is badly in need of them. SlimVirgin (talk) 07:26, 23 October 2005 (UTC)
?????? If you don't want your writing to be edited [...] by others, please don't submit it.; further, you deleted more of my material than I did of any material by you, Slrubenstein, Jmabel and SEWilco together.
Further you never argued or argue your case, you just delete, I've never seen you put much energy in argumentation.
Further, see Wikipedia:Cite Sources/Alternative proposal - what's wrong with that? But don't pretend that is consensus as long as it is not. Please argue your case for the alternative proposal. --Francis Schonken 07:47, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

Francis, from what I have seen SlimVirgin has not "argued" her case when her changes were straightforward improvements.

Them being all "straightforward improvements" is a subjective appreciation, which I don't share. You're talking in "absolute terms" which I think very bad style. --Francis Schonken 06:44, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I am sure that she would be happy to explain any particular edit.

The structure change was not argued despite my asking several times to argue it. I listed several objections to the structure change proposed by SlimVirgin: SlimVirgin evades replying to any of these. So I propose to have all "improvements" based on the no-consensus guideline structure to be operated on the alternative proposal, Wikipedia:Cite Sources/Alternative proposal. When you're ready with all improvements there, I think it best to ask community approval for it. --Francis Schonken 06:44, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I would too -- I did not, yesterday, because I thought all of my edits were simple and logical. In some cases, I rearragned and I thought the logic would be obvious to all, and in other cases I added further information. I see that since then people have edited some of what I wrote (I checked the edit history only to see that several people made several edits, I did not check each edit to see who did what) and for the most part, I think the changes to what I wrote were improvements. So I don't think anyone needs to "argue" why they edited what I wrote, nor am I going to argue back. Frankly it seems to me that you are more interested in "arguing" than anything else. I do not question your good faith in making edits. And I think that for someone for whom English is not a first language, you write rather well. Nevertheless, you have on many occasions used poor word-shoice, usage, or sentence construction and should not get defensive when someone fixes it. SlimVirgin provided two very good examples of this, and frankly you should not only not be surprised, you should be grateful when someone, anyone, goes over such sentences and fixes them. You certainly should not take it personally. Yet this is what you seem to be doing. Instead of thanking SlimVirgin for fixing the awkward phrasing, and for goodness sakes, instead of defending your poor English style, you do not respond to her examples at all — you just tell her to argue her case! Well, she was arguing her case. Jmabel, a well-regarded editor, left this page because you kept reverting his work (and by the way, don't think he and I are friends; he and I have argued over each other's edits in the past; but I still respoect him as an editor). You should not try to bully SlimVirgin. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:27, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

It also seems to me that the main substantive dispute is over where to put the section on footnotes. Francis, if I am mistaken about this, please let me know, and accept my good-faith apology ... it can be difficult to reconstruct all the edits and changes that have been going on. But as far as I can tell, you want the footnotes section as 6.4, whereas SlimVirgin, I, and I think SE and Jmabel, want it in 2.2. If you believe that you have clearly and adequately explained why you prefer your placement rather than ours, all I can say is, I do not understand. I reread the eearlier part of the discussion and could not follow the argument. But I will give you my argument: harvard style and footnotes are functionally equivalent and competing systems of citation. I understand that footnotes can serve other purposes, but since this article is on our "cite sources" policy, the "citing sources" function of any system is all that concerns us here. I have read many journals and books coming out of many different disciplines, and some use footnotes (or endnotes) to cite sources, and others use Harvard style. I have never seen a publication use both, and I know that when one is submitting a dissertation, book manuscript, or article manuscript in the United States, Latin America, or Europe (the only continents in which I am published) one of the first things I or my colleagues find out is: do they use Harvard style or foot/endnotes. There is a choice that publishers, editors, and authors make: one or the other. And for this reason it makes perfect sense to me that they be presented under the same section heading (in-text citations), and should not be in different sections.

In your version, you have it as:

Footnotes are sometimes useful for relevant text that would distract from the main point if embedded in the main text, yet are helpful in explaining a point in greater detail. Such footnotes can be especially helpful for later fact-checkers, to ensure that the article text is well-supported. Thus, using footnotes to provide useful clarifying information outside the main point is fine where this is needed.
Footnotes can also be used to simply cite sources, and there are some styles which do so.

And this order is illogical. This article is on citing sources. This article is concerned first and foremost with, what systems are there for citing sources? Footnoes can be used as a way of citing sources. That function is the only function that is important to this article. So the second paragraph, that footnotes can be used to cite sources, should come first. And since footnotes can be used to cite sources (and are indeed the major alternative to Harvard style) it should go in the same section as Harvard style.

I think it is especially important that Harvard style and footnotes be in the same section because more and more newbies will come to Wikipedia who are used to footnotes as a form of citation. The original reason footnoting was not prominent in this article was because the software Wikpedia used (I mean, back in the day) was not really amenable to footnotes and the people working on the proposal were discouraging people from using footnotes. Today, however, it is much easier for people to use footnotes at Wikipedia, and thus people are using them more. It only makes sense to explain the differences between the two systems in tandem. A second issue is that this is a style-guide, and not policy. I am not sure that this was clear a few years ago when this article was first a stub; it clearly was encouraging one system (the Harvard system). Now, I am partial to the harvard system myself and if I were a Wikipedia dictator I would move the stuff on footnotes to the bottom. But this is not a policy, it is a guideline, and the way the article reads not we do not want to dictate one style over another. We acknowledge that different professions and disciplines use different styles and leave it to contributors to an article to pick which style is most appropriate to that article. For this reason also, we should provide footnotes and harvard system in the same section &mdah; since they are the two main choices, and we are not making the choice for them, and this is a guideline and not a policy, and cannot dictate to people which style to prefer, we should treat the two competing styles as equally as possible. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:12, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

By the way, the dependent clause "and there are some styles which do so" is poor English. This is another example of where you should be grateful when SlimVirgin corrects the English (maybe you did not write this clause. That doesn't matter -- it is poor English, and I am grateful to anyone who cleans it up, and any editor should be grateful too). Slrubenstein | Talk 16:54, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

You're restoring bad writing, and including points that aren't compatible with policy. The page has to be legible if we want editors to read and understand it. All the changes have improved the writing and made the page internally consistent and consistent with other policies and guidelines e.g. WP:NOR, WP:V, and Wikipedia:Reliable sources. I'm sorry to say these things, and I'm not say the writing is yours, because I haven't looked to see who wrote it. All I'm saying is that it needed to be edited, and it has been. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:42, 23 October 2005 (UTC)
Francis wants to categorize and group the linkage methods based upon the methods being able to "link only to source info" or "link to sources or other info". However, this is forcing apart the less general Harvard style from more general linkages. Articles can require many types of explanations, which might be all gathered in endnotes. If Harvard style can only link to some endnotes (those for source citations), that style is a subset of the more general concept of linking text to endnotes. Should all means of linking to endnotes be grouped together? (I had answered this before but apparently the edit didn't get saved.) (SEWilco 07:10, 22 October 2005 (UTC))
It's not about what methods are "able to do", it's about what this guideline advises people to do. This guideline advises some techniques to be used for references only, while other techniques are described as having a broader mode of operation. The fuzzy lay-out of your proposal made that completely unclear. --Francis Schonken 07:13, 23 October 2005 (UTC)
What's your opinion, SE? SlimVirgin (talk) 07:34, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
This guideline is not dictating that a specific style be used. It is quite relevant that a table column labeled "Population" may have an explanatory footnote such as "Population as of 2000 per U.S. Census Bureau." which then includes a full citation of the source. All notes might be used for citing sources in various ways, thus may be part of source citation. However, here we only need to summarize options except for citation guidelines. A notation method which is well-defined does have the advantage of being able to be documented more precisely. (SEWilco 04:44, 24 October 2005 (UTC))

SE you wrote: "If Harvard style can only link to some endnotes (those for source citations), that style is a subset of the more general concept of linking text to endnotes." Can you explain what you mean? I honestly cannot follow you. Harvard style does not (necessarily or typically) involve links, and Harvard style is an alternative to endnotes, so how can you say "Harvard style can only link to some endnotes?" I do not understand. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:27, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

The "link" word was used with the meaning "connect two things". No HTTP link need be involved. I was referring to the same connection between text and source citation which is created through a reference on a printed page. (SEWilco 21:08, 23 October 2005 (UTC))

SE, I appreciate your attempt to clarify, but I still do not understand what you mean about linking to footnotes -- Harvard citation does not link to footnotes. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:06, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Footnotes/endnotes/references/citations: Explanatory notes about articles, some styles of which are restricted to citing source material. Harvard referencing uses "(Author Year)" notation to connect ("link") text to the corresponding source citation, which is usually in an endnote. Are you confusing numerical footnote notation with the footnotes/endnotes themselves? (SEWilco 16:30, 24 October 2005 (UTC))

External links

External links at Wikipedia:Guide to layout says: Put here, in list form, any web sites that you have used or recommend for readers of the article. [...] (Some editors prefer to list external links under "References"; there is currently no consensus on the desirability of a separate section for on-line citations.) 15:46, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

Harvard summarization

This page does not seem like the place to list a dozen common situations and their suggested Harvard styling. I think a summary of Harvard referencing should be in WP:CITE with a link elsewhere for details. I observe that the Harvard referencing section is trapped here. But there is no existing page for Wikipedia style for Harvard referencing. The Harvard referencing page is not the place for a specific Wikipedia style. What seems like a good placement for Harvard details?

  1. Accumulate it all here.
  2. Create a new Wikipedia: page.
  3. Create a new WikiProject.
  4. Put details in a section in WP:FOOTNOTE.

— (SEWilco 06:18, 24 October 2005 (UTC))

SE, with all due respect, I disagree. Many other policy and guideline pages provide examples. Clearly, an editor should be able to follow links from this page in order to learn more nuanced and detailed things. But I also think that this page should be sufficient for an editor to look at to understand how to cite sources. I do agree that a longer and more detailed, separate article on Harvard style is a good idea, but I do not think that this article suffers from "too much" detail. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:09, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree. Editors should be able to come here and get a quick overview of what to write if they want to use that style. Thank you for all the edits you made, SLR, by the way: they've improved the page a lot. SlimVirgin (talk) 14:21, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks, and thank you (I know you tightened up the prose of some of my recent additions, and you made it better), Slrubenstein | Talk 14:31, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Exactly. It is where to put that "longer and more detailed" information which I'm asking about. At present there are only seven bullet points in Wikipedia:Cite sources#Harvard style but there are many other details to be clarified. I moved some provided items to Harvard referencing as examples, but the suggested styles for Wikipedia should be in a Wikipedia: page. (SEWilco 16:36, 24 October 2005 (UTC))

Explaining my revert

Over the past several days SlimVirgin and I have put a lot of work into the article. Yesterday I provided a detailed explanation of some of my main changes. Francis Schonken did not reply to any of my arguments/reasons; he simply reverted, undoing all of my work. This is unfair, and shows an utter lack of good faith. Francis Schonken disingenuously implies that his version — with grammatical errors and structural problems and poor English usage — is the "consensus" version, and that it cannot be changed. He disingenuously tries to dictate to anyone who disagrees with him that they work on an alternate policy they can then propose to the community. Not only does this show a loack of good faith, it is absurd on its face. We make formal proposals to the community when we are proposing substantive changes to policy. Slim Virgin, Jmabel, and I (and I am sure others) have not in any way been changing the substance of the policy. We have been improving its style and structure, which is precisely the job of an editor. I will keep restoring the version SlimVirgin and I agree on as long as Francis Schonken is the only one who objects to it (I know SE has objections to a few of our additions, but as far as I can tell — and SE, please correct me if I am wrong — his main objection is to the inclusion of examples of Harvard style, and not to the other changes) and as long as Francis Schonken is unable or unwilling to respond to any of my justifications for change, that I spelled out above, and is unwilling to justify his changes. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:21, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Slrubenstein asked me to check back in on this page, so here I am. At the moment, my text appears to be on the project page, but I take it form what is written above that Francis Schonken still objects to it and considers it outside of consensus. I really don't understand that claim. I first raised my suggestions on the talk page, gave considerable time for discussion (all of which turned out to be concurrence with my suggestions), theb moved it to the project page. Even at this point, Francis seems to be the only person with an objection to it, and his objection seems to be (I say seems, because I may be misunderstanding) that this is not the page where he would discuss the matter, not that anything is wrong with these suggestions. Frankly, I don't see on what basis he believes he has a consensus for that.
?????? Please read again what I wrote above, I never said any of these. I suggested to move your contribution to wikipedia:reliable sources, and performed that move (as SEWilco also proposed to move it elsewhere). I kept a link to that section on that page in WP:CITE. Then your text (together with some general notes about availability of sources I had also added to wikipedia:reliable sources) was deleted by SlimVirgin. So, in my next versions of WP:CITE the text on dead links was back in this guideline *exactly as I had found it*. What is your problem? --Francis Schonken 07:09, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't think that's quite right, Francis. You deleted Jmabel's edits from here and added them to WP:V. I reverted your changes, so the text ended up back in Cite sources. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:14, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, I don't have to take lies and false accusations, that is very un-WP:CIVIL. I moved Jmabel's edits to wikipedia:reliable sources, and not to WP:V (diff). At wikipedia:reliable sources, Jmabel's "dead link" section was deleted by SlimVirgin (diff). In the same sweep SlimVirgin deleted some notes I had added to wikipedia:reliable sources, giving a broader picture on the issue. As far as deleting my edits from wikipedia:reliable sources, no convincing reason was given by SlimVirgin: the edit summary just read "rv"; on the talk page SlimVirgin noted that "the text was included in WP:CITE", which might have been true for Jmabels text at that time, but which was not true for the things I had added to wikipedia:reliable sources apart from the copy of Jmabel's text. All in all, SlimVirgin's methods in this issue can be considered to be very close to disturbing wikipedia to prove a point. --Francis Schonken 07:30, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
Again, I added this material precisely because it is an issue that keeps coming up. I spend a lot of time restoring references that other people remove from articles because a link went dead. I feel that if we explain in a prominent place how to do this, a lot more people can help in this effort and I might occasionally get some time to write an article, which has barely happened in the last month or two. -- 16:48, 24 October 2005 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jmabel (talkcontribs) 16:48, 24 October 2005
I do not object to Harvard style, I object to its footnoting style being separated from other footnoting styles. (SEWilco 17:00, 24 October 2005 (UTC))
Could you clarify what you mean by this, SE? When you use Harvard style, you don't use footnotes. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:09, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Are you confusing numerical footnote notation with the footnotes/endnotes themselves? And can't an article using Harvard style notation also use numerical footnote notation for notes such as "In Wisconsin known as a "bubbler"."? (SEWilco 18:31, 24 October 2005 (UTC))

SE, Harvard style has no footnotes. Note: This does not mean that "an article that uses Harvard style has no footnotes." You need to comprehend the difference between these two sentences: "Harvard style has footnotes" which is false, and "An article that uses Harvard style may also have footnotes," which is true. But these two sentences mean different things. The phrase "I object to its footnoting style being separated ..." does not make any sense, because Harvard style does not "have" a footnoting style, period. There is no "its" footnoting style. You are correct that an article that uses Harvard citation style may also use footnotes but that does not mean that these footnotes "belong" to the Harvard style. The "In Wisconsin known as a "bubbler"" as a footnote can appear in any book or journal regardless of the citation system — this kind of footnote has nothing to do with the citation system being used. You are talking about using footnotes for non-citational purposes. BUT THIS ARTICLE IS ON CITATIONS. Footnotes that are not used for citations just are not relevant to this article. Talk about it in the footnote article!Slrubenstein | Talk 18:41, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Ok, now I see: SE, you meant footnotes not used as citations for sources, but which add an extra bit of information? If that's what you mean, I'd say these are probably never appropriate for a Wikipedia article, because we should be able to include everything relevant in the body of the text. But as SLR says, that's not a citation issue. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:55, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
There are some terminology issues here. Particularly that a footnote is not a little number2, it is a note with information or a source citation.
  1. Harvard style dictates the appearance of references in text to citation information (ie, in endnotes).
  2. Numerical footnotes are a style of references in text to explanations or citation information.
  3. Footnotes or endnotes are explanations or citation information, in Wikipedia these are gathered together in sections with names such as "References" or "Notes".
    • Because citations are in footnotes/endnotes, using Harvard notation does use footnotes.
    • Not all footnotes/endnotes contain citations.
  4. Citations may be in a variety of styles, no matter whether there are Harvard style or numerical references to them.

— (SEWilco 19:53, 24 October 2005 (UTC))

Yes, there is a teminology issue here. Yes, a footnote can be used for citations (in which case, you are not using the Harvard system), and it can also be used to convey information — which has nothing to do with Harvard system. Yes, it is a terminology issue. But SE, you are wrong! Harvard style does not use endnotes or footnotes. Period. But a book or journal article may use Harvard style for citations, and use footnotes or endnotes for other purposes (e.g. tangential comments). These are two separate things. Two. Period. Please stop mixing them up. Slrubenstein | Talk 22:05, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

The footnote is a "note placed at the bottom". That note can be a citation. It might be pointed at by a footnote reference symbol or a Harvard style reference. Calling a superscripted number in an article a "footnote" is like pointing at the front of the boat and referring to the "anchor" when the anchor is resting on the bottom of the sea. Neither the anchor chain nor where the anchor chain fastens to the boat is the anchor. (SEWilco 22:18, 24 October 2005 (UTC))

I have never seen such dedication to being wrong. A footnote is indeed a note placed at the bottom, and that note can be a citation. But if is NEVER pointed to by a Harvard style reference. Period. You are just flat out wrong. Or you do not understand English. The only thing that Harvard style "links to" is the bibliography, or works cited, or reference section at the end, which provides an alphebatized list of all sources. And this alphabetized list of all sources is NEVER called "notes," "footnotes," or "endnotes." You can keep being wrong if you want to and I will keep correcting you, but this seems pointless. You simply do not know what you are talking about, and have no desire to learn from others. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:20, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

SE, perhaps you could find a source showing that Harvard references sometimes point to footnotes. But if all you mean is that (Smith 2005) refers to the entry in References that says "Smith, A. (2005) How to cite sources, then we agree with you. But that's not called a footnote. And if that's what you mean, then I'm a bit lost regarding the drift of this discussion. SlimVirgin (talk) 23:37, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
That's what I am referring to.
  • But I also claim the citation "Smith, A. (2005) How to cite sources" fits the definition of a footnote and can be called that. It is a certain type of note.
No. That is not called a footnote when used as part of Harvard style. It's collected under the Reeferences section, and listed alphabetically. They are not called notes or footnotes. If you think they sometimes are, please produce a source showing this. SlimVirgin (talk) 03:44, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm not saying Harvard style calls its citations footnotes. I'm saying that such citations fit the conceptual definition of footnotes. Harvard style is one way of pointing at citations, and the same information can be converted without loss between the styles. Also, for many Harvard style formats, conversion also requires separation of non-citation material from the list which contains of citations. (SEWilco 04:07, 25 October 2005 (UTC))
  • Citations in a References section can be referenced in text with either numbered footnote notation or Harvard referencing but customarily only one style is used in an article.

— (SEWilco 02:14, 25 October 2005 (UTC))

Yes, only one style is used for citations, although a text with Harvard referencing for citations may still use footnotes for other information. But not for sources. So we agree on that. That's good. ;-) SlimVirgin (talk) 03:44, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Slower changes

I am finding this a bit difficult to follow since I can't put in enough time right now and it seems changes are being made very fast. However I have objections to both versions and I do consider that you are making "substantial" changes. I feel that suggestions which encourage the use of multiple systems are specifically against consensus. I think that the general consensus is that we should use one system but that we don't know which one it is yet (so we let people experiment and change about until we can agree which one is right). Probably that, the "reference system which is to come" should be built into mediawiki. Encyclopedias follow house style rather than the style of particular subject areas for the good reason that they are aimed at a "general" audience rather than at specialists in particular areas. In the long term, inconsistency is bad even if it can be justified in the short term.

Please slow this down and open some kind of broader debate if you can't find agreement.Mozzerati 20:30, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

We're not adding complexity, the consensus has been that there are multiple systems which can be used. (SEWilco 20:46, 24 October 2005 (UTC))

Mozzerati, what are the substantial changes that you think have been made? Are you refering only to the fact that the guideline allows different systems? If so, you are, with all due respect, wrong. This has always been a style quideline, never a policy. If you want to make one particular system of citation a strict policy, by all means make the proposal, allow for discussion, and if enough people support you, we can have a policy. But here at Wikipedia, when there is no rule, there is no rule. Up to now, there has been no rule. This article does not encourage one system over another, it just explains how to do either system correctly. It does encourage consistency within an article. Do you think that this should be made more strongly? Slrubenstein | Talk 22:09, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

What is the correct way to cite non-English languages?

I am aware of the new rule of Wikipedia:verifiability with regards to non-English languages, but don't know how to cite non-English languages. See for an attempt by me Charismatic_authority#References. Andries 21:02, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

You do not mean "cite non-English languages," you mean cite books or articles that are published in languages other than English, right? (honestly, correct me if I am wrong). As I understand it, the policy is (1) cite sources (2) if a source is available in English, provide the correct citation for the source in English (3) if the source is unavailable in English, provide the citation for the source in its original language. I am not sure where the confusion is.
I can cite "Roland Barthes The Pleasure of the Text trans. by Richard Miller 1975 Hill and Wang, New York" But if the book has not been translated into English, I provide the original citation: "Roland Barthes Le Plaisir du texte 1973 Éditiones de Seuil, Paris." So what is the confusion? Slrubenstein | Talk 22:17, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Andries seems to have inserted a quote in the references section at Charismatic_authority#References. Andries, if it's a quote that you inserted into the article and translated yourself, the original-language quote should go underneath the English translation so that readers can see what the original said. If it's a published translation, there's no need to do that. It's not really a new rule; just an elaboration. But it should be in the text, not in the references section. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:20, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Slim, thanks for your answer. Are you really saying that the original Dutch should go into the main text instead of the references? This sounds odd to me: I really don't want to burden the readers with a long and somewhat complicated quote in the main text in a language that the vast majority of the readers cannot understand. I would get irritated by it if I could only understand English. Andries 22:35, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
If you'd rather put it in the references section, or perhaps at the end of the text as a footnote, I see no harm in that. The problem with self-translation is that it slightly goes against the no-original-research rule, and so editors at WP:V thought it would be a good idea to supply the original of any quote translated by a Wikipedian. But if you feel it's too long, by all means tuck it away somewhere. SlimVirgin (talk) 22:44, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I think the rule is pretty clear: if the text exists in English, provide an English citation. But if the text does not exist in English, provide the complete citation for the original source, even if it is in another language. Slrubenstein | Talk 23:15, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Recent edits

Because of inconclusive talks about what the new version of WP:CITE should look like, I moved yesterday's changes to Wikipedia:Cite Sources/Alternative proposal (again). As long as Slrubenstein, SEWilco, SlimVirgin, Jmabel and Mozzerati have no agreement on what the new proposal should look like, I see no reason to have such version on the guideline page. Please, try to reach consensus first regarding Wikipedia:Cite Sources/Alternative proposal.

And as I said above, if I have some time I'll join you to collaborate on the new proposed version. However, I'll do that only if all those collaborating to that effort show they know how to behave in a discussion. --Francis Schonken 06:38, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Schonken, speak flr yourself. I am not making any new proposed policy or guideline. I am editing an article. I have explained my edits. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:22, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
As I have explained mine. So whatever way you turn it there are at least two versions of this guideline. --Francis Schonken 08:07, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
PS: WP:CITE is not an article as in "article namespace", WP:CITE is a guideline, or in wikipedia terminology also a project, or a "wikipedia:" namespace page. --Francis Schonken 08:07, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree. There is no new proposed policy. On the contrary, I see a lot of material was recently removed by Francis. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:28, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Trying again to confuse "removing text" with "moving text to another page", are you? There is a new version of the text of WP:CITE, every time you do an edit. Some of these edits I can't agree with, and that are particularily the edits for which you haven't given a convincing argumentation up till now. Saying they are "no major edits" is not an argument, it is just imposing your POV.
Anyway, I continue to move these edits of a now thoroughly unstable version of WP:CITE to Wikipedia:Cite Sources/Alternative proposal. Please try to stabilise that version there first, before disturbing again something that can be considered the best of the stable versions up till now (while ultimately supported by a consensus of many people, most of which don't even take part in the present turmoil). Apart from SlimVirgin deleting without viable explanation yesterday again much of the text I provided to the WP:CITE guideline on previous occasions, there were 27 more edits yesterday to WP:CITE, by SlimVirgin, SEWilco, and Slrubenstein. To me this rather looks like a brewing edit war between at least two opposing views about what way this guideline should be heading (that is: SEWilco's view on the one side and the SlimVirgin/Slrubenstein view on the other). Enough for me to conclude that WP:CITE has been thoroughly destabilised, by all of your initiatives that don't strive for consensus, but rather have an aspect of three persons applying disturbance to wikipedia in order to prove a point on a massive scale.
Further, yesterday's 27th version of WP:CITE was not even near to avoiding "verbose", which is considered very bad taste for guidelines by many wikipedians (see above on this page, people commenting on this). IMHO this flurry of verbose is in itself also enough to move that version to a temporary page. --Francis Schonken 08:07, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
We're not adding anything that makes substantive changes. We're editing so that the page makes sense and is readable; so that it has a logical structure; so that it includes a description of the two citation systems, as well as embedded links; so that it's consistent with our content policies; and to restore the material you deleted a few weeks ago without consensus. SLR, SEWilco, and I are in broad agreement, and although we've had minor disagreements, we're compromising, and the result is a much improved page. There's no alternative proposal here at all, just a better written version, and you haven't yet said what you feel is new. Please don't revert again or delete material against consensus — argue your case here on talk instead so that you're part of the editing group too. We genuinely haven't understood what your objections are, or at least I haven't. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:55, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, your reasoning is circular: if changing the structure (or: lay-out) of the guideline is not a "major" or "substantive" change, then going back to a more reasonable structure can not be a "major" or "substantive" change either, can it? I think what you call "logical structure" is less logical than the previous structure. Your erratic methods have not been able to convince me contrariwise.
" haven't yet said what you feel is new..." - I beg your pardon, from the outset I have said that the structure of the guideline is new, and you know that very well. Sorry, I don't have to put up with these lies.
Fine, if SLR, SEW and SV are in broad agreement. But that the "result is a much improved page" is at this point apparently still only the opinion of no more than three people. So I think the best I can do, is again move the updates to the "alternative proposal" page, hoping that it can be proposed to the wikipedia community soon (for example at "Village pump/policy" and/or "Current surveys/discussions") once it more or less stabilises, and I know what you do with my other remarks, apart from those regarding the structure.
And I'm really disgusted by your attempts to get "sanctuary" protection for your version of the structure of the article. When I say consensus about the previous article structure, I mean a lot more people than three. But apparently you don't care to read previous discussion on talk pages (and then I mean, also from before I got involved in this, and for example also on wikipedia talk: footnotes, from the time these two guidelines were still more overlapping than was workable).
Further, I also think readability has much deteriorated in this more verbose version, so your boasting on this version that it would make more sense and is more readable than the previous version somehow to be a bit arrogant. I say that without loosing the assumption of good faith: I see you want to make it better. But your assumption it "is" better, while ignoring remarks by others, is you loosing good faith on these other people. --Francis Schonken 08:15, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
The writing has not deteriorated, Francis, far from it. A lot of it was practically illegible before. I'm sorry to say that, but there's no point in pretending otherwise. I did look through the archives today and it seems your changes were made without consensus: all we've done is to restore the material you deleted, and tidy the English and the flow. You've argued against Steven G. Johnson, SEWilco, Jmabel, Slrubenstein, and me, saying more or less the same thing to us all, namely that your edits represent consensus, while ours are something new and unapproved. Anyway, that's my last response to this issue, because I'm just repeating myself. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:39, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
"The writing has not deteriorated": that is no more than an opinion, yet you keep stating it as if it were a "fact".
"A lot of it was practically illegible before (...) there's no point in pretending otherwise" ???? Again pushing your POV, taking your opinion for unquestioned reality. Further, I never objected improvements to readability.
"I did look through the archives today and it seems your changes were made without consensus" ???? Since you refuse mediation, I'm considering an RfC on you for such blatant false accusations, directed at my person, and in no way in the best interest of wikipedia.
"all we've done is to restore the material you deleted, and tidy the English and the flow": please give an example of material I would have deleted? As I have already said above, you deleted more of the material I proposed than I did delete material of Steven G. Johnson, SEWilco, Jmabel, Slrubenstein, and you taken together. Could you tell me which of such non-existing deletions were "restored"? And could you tell me where your claim of "restoring deletions" differs from "reverting without distinction whatever I want to improve"? Your false accusations are really disgusting. About the "tidy the English and the flow": This is a really disgusting argument too: first you pretend "not to understand what I mean": How could you "tidy the English" of something you don't understand? I've had several collaborations with people who tidied English of pages to which I collaborated, but I still think the first prerequisite of such tidying is that one understands what one is tidying. You are only one of two persons who apparently almost never understand what I mean. There are enough native English speakers in this wikipedia community that can help tidying and improve flow of text they understand. So I suppose you have practically made yourself about the last person that could be helpful in this tidying operation.
Sorry, I never said that all my edits "represent consensus". That's what you do. The only thing I claimed "consensus" about is that the structure of the guideline I proposed over a month ago was a faithful representation of the consensus that no citation technique should be promoted over another one, the only "precedence" information regarding these techniques resulting from mentioning the obvious pro's and con's of some of these techniques.
"Anyway, that's my last response to this issue, because I'm just repeating myself" At last, I think that was about time. I suppose you see yourself how big your lack of arguments is, and that you're only trying to bully me. I'm not so easily influenced by bullying. --Francis Schonken 10:21, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

Schonken has created his own little 1984 world, where his version of the article is the "consensus" version and the one that everyone else agrees to is the alternate. Moreover, Francis, I have said it twice before and you still refuse to reply, but I have provided reasons for all my changes. If you have no opposing arguments to my reasons, then you are stimply opposing the facxt that another editor is working on this article. This is an unacceptable position at Wikipedia. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:22, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

Slrubenstein, the change of the guideline structure was not your change, although you defended it, but without taking note of my several defenses why not to change the structure. So, sorry, what do you want me to reply to that? My replies were all given long before you started reiterating objections that had been answered before. What else can I say than to read previous discussion?
Regarding other changes for which you provided reasons: some of them I agree with, some of them I don't agree with. True, maybe I haven't detailed too much which are the ones I agree with, and which are the ones I don't agree with:
Is that a reasonable proposition? --Francis Schonken 08:15, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
If Schonken's version is required by consensus, he won't be the only one reverting to it. So far those looking over our shoulders have mostly chosen to watch where the edits are going. (SEWilco 13:18, 27 October 2005 (UTC))
???? Please, you didn't even answer my question whether my proposition above was reasonable. --Francis Schonken 10:21, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
Francis, going over the history of this Talk: page and the edits to the page itself, it appears that you have "taken ownership" of this page, over the objections of a number of editors, including —Steven G. Johnson, Jmabel, SEWilco, Slrubenstein, and SlimVirgin. In fact, you appear to have driven the first two away from the page entirely. In my view this hardly makes your version of the page the "consensus" version; rather, it appears to be the exact opposite. With that in mind, I suggest it would be better if you discussed the changes you wish to make here first. Jayjg (talk) 17:37, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
???? No intention to take ownership whatsoever. In fact I'd really like a new consensus (that is: different from what appeared to be the consensus about a month ago) grows out of Wikipedia:Cite Sources/Alternative proposal --Francis Schonken 10:21, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, I don't know what your intent was, but that was certainly the outcome. It appears there already is a new consensus, right here on this page - of what value would an Alternative proposal page be, unless you wished to make a proposal of your own there? Jayjg (talk) 10:03, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

Schonken, for you to have veto power over any change made to this article, for you to be dictator of this page, is most definitely not a reasonable proposition. Slrubenstein | Talk 21:10, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

???? SLR, how was my proposal to get out of this uneasy situation in any way implying "veto" and/or "dictatorship"? It was only a proposal, but I see you're not prepared to assume good faith on whatever of my actions. --Francis Schonken 10:21, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

My edits

I've just made a few changes. I'm writing up the explanation now. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:05, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

I went back into the history and found a lot of material discussing the technical problems with footnotes had been deleted just last month, as had other material about Harvard referencing, and the pros and cons of using embedded HTML links. I believe it was deleted by Francis, and it's not clear how much consensus there was.

I've therefore restored this material, and have laid it out in its own subsections within the Inline citations section:

The footnote-notation subsection now has further subsections called:

SEWilco, the only edit of yours I changed was when you changed SLR's sentence: "Some publications use footnotes for both the full citation of a source, and for tangential comments or information of interest only to a small number of specialists," to "some articles use footnotes ...," presumably meaning WP articles. However, we don't in fact use footnotes for tangential comments in WP. Maybe we could, but I've never seen it, and it doesn't make much sense to do it, because comments tangential to one section can usually go in another, or even in their own. So I changed this back to "publications," but otherwise didn't change your edits (at least, not knowingly). Same with yours, Steve: if I deleted anything you've added, it was inadvertent.

Any thoughts? SlimVirgin (talk) 16:27, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

See articles Attalus I, First Macedonian War, and Jew. (SEWilco 17:06, 25 October 2005 (UTC))


I think that the Harvard system and the footnote system sections should be next to one another. My question: does it make more sense to move the html link section after footnotes, or before Harvard-style? Slrubenstein | Talk 16:18, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

I have no strong preference. If I had to choose, I'd have embedded HTML links first, only because they're most often used by Wikipedians in my experience. But I'm happy to defer to what you think is best. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:31, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
SEWilco, I've left your re-organization, but I reverted your last edit deleting pros and cons of HTML links. Just because something is in the MoS doesn't mean it can't be here too. This page has to be a one-stop shop for editors wanting to know how to cite sources and what the benefits and disadvantages of each system are. We can't expect people to keep visiting other pages for an overview of each point. It's hard enough to get people to read guideline and policy pages: the least we can do when they arrive is not immediately send them somewhere else. ;-) SlimVirgin (talk) 16:57, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I thought here it was sufficient to provide guidance on usage, rather than burying the instruction under discussion which those interested can find in the main article on the topic. (SEWilco 17:11, 25 October 2005 (UTC))
Yes, up to a point I agree with you, but I feel it's important not to take it too far. There has to be some discussion on this page just to make it readable; otherwise it becomes a series of links and instructions, with no clear way for editors to evaluate one method over another. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:40, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, your reasoning for putting HTML first makes sense to me. But I assume SEWilco put it last. I have no objection to that either, but SE, can you give your reasoning? I am just curious, Slrubenstein | Talk 17:07, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

More complete citations are preferred over URL-only citation. More information is better. (SEWilco 17:09, 25 October 2005 (UTC))
But the embedded-links system isn't about using only those: there should always be a full citation in the References section, just as with author-date.
Just to clarify: the other reason I put embedded links ahead of footnotes is that the footnote section talks about the clash with embedded links because both use superscripted numbers, so it made sense to discuss embedded links first. But, as I said, I'll go along with the re-organization. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:14, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Usage of numbered embedded links are deprecated in several style pages, so there should not be a clash. Clashes should be temporary, as with other edit problems. (SEWilco 17:31, 25 October 2005 (UTC))
They shouldn't be, because they're widely used and preferred by Wikipedians. Which style pages say that? SlimVirgin (talk) 17:49, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

SE, URL citations are not a "system" like Harvard style or footnotes, they are citations to material that is on the internet, where as Harvard style and footnotes are used to refer to things that are not on the internet. Thus, URL citation does not compete with either Harvard or footnote systems. It can cooccur with either. You are mixing apples (different systems or methods of citation) and oranges (what it is that is being cited). Slrubenstein | Talk 17:23, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Your statement is correct only when "used to refer to things that are not on the Internet". Citations can be made to things which are on the Internet. (SEWilco 17:31, 25 October 2005 (UTC))

First, can you give me some examples of Wikipedia articles that do that? Secondly, can you tell me why someone would use Harvard style or a footnote for something that is on the internet? Slrubenstein | Talk 17:41, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

For examples of citations of Internet sources, try the first three entries in Special:Whatlinkshere/Template:Web reference: Autism, Anguilla, and Arsenal F.C..

I do not see how this responds to my point. The article on Autism uses footnotes to provide URL links. In this case, URL links and footnotes are not "competing" as two different systems, they are being used together. URL links are not a "system" of citation comparable to footnotes or Harvard system. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:35, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

And as Wikipedia:Cite sources shows in several ways, citations for all sources should be provided. (SEWilco 03:01, 26 October 2005 (UTC))

I do not wee how this responds to my point. Why do you say this? What do you mean? Why is this relevant to my point, that HTML links are not a "system" of citation like footnotes or Harvard style? In what way does this justify your putting the HTML links section after the Harvard and footnote systems sections, rather than before, as SlimVirgin suggested? Slrubenstein | Talk 14:35, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

I think URL-only links contain too little information. I was challenging that "Harvard style and footnotes are used to refer to things that are not on the internet." Citations can refer to things which are on the Internet. I provided examples of Internet citations in response to "Wikipedia articles that do that", where apparently "that" has multiple interpretations. (SEWilco 20:23, 26 October 2005 (UTC))
As more complete citations are preferred over URL-only links, it seems the latter should have less prominence. Thus present more complete citation methods first. (SEWilco 20:27, 26 October 2005 (UTC))

Also, shouldn't "inline wikilinks" come before "external links/further reading?" Slrubenstein | Talk 22:49, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Done. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:40, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

URL-only citations

"[] — which appears like this. [3] A full citation must then be given in the References section like this:'

The above does not make apparent any connection between "[1]" and "Google's website".

— (SEWilco 14:06, 27 October 2005 (UTC))

Yes, in the References, External links, and Further reading sections. Not when you're using an embedded link to link to a source. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:27, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
Yes, when you're using an external link to a source. "Always add a title". A URL-only link provides little information about the link. (SEWilco 06:14, 29 October 2005 (UTC))
No, not in the text. Haven't you read the page? SlimVirgin (talk) 06:35, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
I have read the page. As I've pointed out, the section on external links begins with the syntax definition including placing a bare URL within text, flows into general external link usage, starting with the "Link titles" section and then "embedded (numbered) links" section. More isolated usage is then covered in "Position in article", "Foreign-language sites", "File type", and "File size" sections. If you look at the embedded links section from which you draw the "References" format, you find it discusses both citation and inline usage. The "Link titles" and "embedded" sections both discuss general link usage and "Link titles" is not referring only to "References" usage. (SEWilco 16:46, 31 October 2005 (UTC))

Scattered citations

Perhaps the sample citations can be in a single place rather than repeating them. Repetition of the reminder to provide full citations should be sufficient (if not excessive in itself). (SEWilco 14:10, 27 October 2005 (UTC))

Which ones do you mean? SlimVirgin (talk) 15:28, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

Problems with the other version

Francis continues to revert, so I'm writing out some examples here of the problems with his version, as I see them. Apart from the odd structure he wants to impose, [4] with footnotes discussed in a separate section from Harvard referencing, here are a few of the problems with the writing. With some of the examples below, it's hard to guess what's meant, and yet Francis is engaged in a slow revert war to keep them on the page.

  • "The usual templates for generic references can be used in footnotes, and there is a recommendation to do so."
  • "In most cases "Further reading" is absorbed in the references section, but when it exists as a separate section, that's usually for articles on broad topics, where the works mentioned in "further reading" offer an interesting angle to the subject, but not broad enough to be listed as a reference. They're rather primary sources than the secondary sources mentioned in the "references" section."
  • "If the sub-topic wikipedia article is duly referenced to specific literature, these references need not be repeated in the general article: instead, try to provide general references for the general article."
  • "The advantage of the techniques described in this section is that they can be used for other or additional text clarifications apart from the citation of the sources on which the article is based. In some cases disadvantages of these techniques can be that one or more steps are added before the original source of the article text can be reached, or in some cases even make it less clear whether the article is based on an external source."
  • "Of course, a Harvard style reference can be the displayed text for an external link, if the referenced work is available on-line."
  • "The system of presenting references in a wikipedia article can change over time. If you're involved in such operation: strive for clarity."
  • "Make readers of the encyclopedia find reliable sources, which can be helped by a clear lay-out (in other words: messy layout usually doesn't help)." [Make readers find their own sources?]
  • "Choosing one ore more of these styles for application in a wikipedia article, is foremost dependent from clarity: choose the formatting that helps the reader best to trace back the sources on which the article is based, without hampering the overall readability of the article."
  • "When it is thus important to cite sources, this guideline helps you determine ... [w]hen to add citations (which pretty much resumes to: "always") ..."

Apart from these, there are minor points such as Wikipedia being sometimes written with an upper-case W, sometimes as wikipedia; and incorrect punctuation (e.g. "references (or: citations)".

But the worst of it is that this version shows no understanding of what references are, or primary and secondary sources. For example, what are "articles on broad topics ... but not broad enough to be listed as a reference"? And what does it mean to say of items listed in the further reading section that "[t]hey're rather primary sources than the secondary sources mentioned in the "references" section"?

There's also no discussion of embedded links, no examples of how to write them, no discussion about the importance, when using embedded links, of including complete citations in the References section.

Then there are less clear-cut objections, but still important. For example, imagine a new editor who knows nothing about policy and who comes to this page for the first time. Which opening sentence is stronger and more informative?

  • Francis version: "This guideline concentrates on providing style recommendations for the insertion, in wikipedia articles, of references pointing to reliable sources."

In the Francis version, the first sentence imparts no information, spells Wikipedia with a lower-case W, and his next sentence (below) mentions NOR and NPOV, but doesn't say they are policy, doesn't say what their relevance is to WP:CITE, and contains a minor grammatical/punctuation error ("in more detail," or "explained, with more detail, ..."). It's not a good introduction to the page, overall.

"The importance of providing citations is explained with more detail on several other guideline and policy pages, most notably Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:No original research."

And then there's the structure, with footnotes (barely discussed) in a different section entirely from Harvard referencing, on the grounds, it appears, that Harvard referencing is used exclusively for citing sources, whereas footnotes may be used to impart additional information. But so what? This is a page about how to cite sources, and that's the only aspect of footnotes that matters here. Their other uses can be mentioned but they shouldn't determine the position of the section on the page. Both citation systems belong together.

I know that there's the issue of English not being the first language, and I have a lot of respect for people who edit in languages other than their own, but all the more reason not to keep reverting people who try to tidy or rewrite it. And not all of the above can be attributed to language problems. I'm sorry for listing all this, but we've been going round and round for days now, so I'm hoping specific examples may be helpful. SlimVirgin (talk) 15:23, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

Slim, I can't disparage the work you pout into setting all of this out. But, no offence: "food luck." Schonken is apparently a POV warrior who only wants to impose his own views against all others. Above I expressed the reasons for many of my changes, including my problems with the earlier version [5] and Schonken did not respond to any of my criticisms or explanations, he just reverted. We just need to be careful about this POV warrior. Slrubenstein | Talk 19:49, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

Structure, question

Should sections 3 and 4 be included under section 2 (as matters of style)? If not, should they stay independent sections — or can they be collected under a more inclusive section-heading? Slrubenstein | Talk 19:46, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

Section 3 (Inline wikilinks) arguably has no place on this page, because we're not allowed to use other Wikipedia articles as sources, though if others want it here, I'll go along with it. Section 4 (External links/Further reading) could arguably go underneath the section discussing the references section (perhaps as a subsection), or incorporated into that section, because, again, the external links section has nothing to do with citing sources — anything that was used as a source should be in the references section — though it's worth including a mention of it just to make that point.
What did you have in mind, Steve? SlimVirgin (talk) 20:18, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

I don't have any specific proposal. It just seemed to me that although the "references" and "further reading" sections clearly need to be complete and independent sections, 3-6 are all sort of dangling. I am not opposed to the current situation, but with all the work we have put into the article (turning it, in my opinion, into a model policy or guideline article), we have the sections that convey useful information, but remain undiscussed. My question is, where do they belong, in the larger structure of the article? It is an open question for which I have no answer myself.

Based on what you wrote, I am for deleting "in-line wiki-links." Or maybe we should create an article, link it, and just explain that wikilinks are not sources?. As for the other sections, I was just thinking, "are they 'style?" If not, what are they?" Slrubenstein | Talk 20:27, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

Good changes. Just one point: the section called "What to do when a reference link "goes dead"" is now a subsection of External links, but it talks about what to do when a reference link (link to a source) goes dead, and no reference links should be in External links. So that might be better as a stand-alone section, or it could become a subsection of "How to cite sources" i.e. 2.2.4. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:44, 28 October 2005 (UTC)