Wikipedia talk:External links

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Clarification requested for ELNEVER "uses the work in a way compliant with fair use"[edit]

WP:ELNEVER states "Linking to websites that display copyrighted works is acceptable as long as the website has licensed the work, or uses the work in a way compliant with fair use". That's fine, but who determines if the work is used in a way compliant with fair use? Particularly if a website states that it actually respects fair use and uses copyrighted content in a way that it believes is fair use - is this enough for us? Of course, they cannot wave a fair use disclaimer to cover blatant copyvios (so if a pirated movie, let's say, claims it's fair use, that's no excuse). But what about a gray-ish example, for example Wikipedia does not allow a fair use image in galleries, but another website may say that's fine. The rule that fair use is not allowed in galleries is our own interpretation of fair use, legally non-binding, and as such, no better than the other website's interpretation that fair use allows the use of an image in a gallery. I am using this as an example; the specific question is this: if a website states that it respects fair use, and is not blatantly violating copyright, but it's interpretation is a bit broader than ours (ex. it uses those images in a gallery), is linking to that website allowed or not? PS. If anyone is considering saying no, note Wikipedia:Fair_use#Other_Wikimedia_projects: even different Wikimedia projects can have different interpretations; if one is more liberal than en wiki should we remove it from interwiki links? Where's the line to draw? IMHO we should avoid linking to "pirate" sites blatantly violating copyrights, but trying to impose our version of fair use on the other websites is somewhat ridiculous (particularly considering that our interpretations is very restrictive, and in fact we would probably have to remove 99% of existing external links, because on virtually every site we could find something that doesn't meet one of our restrictive interpretations...). --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 05:57, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

There is no simple answer for that. Some websites blatantly infringe on copyrights and try to excuse it with a fair use disclaimer or a link to their DMCA take down request procedure. I believe our concern with linking to infringing content is that it exposes the project to contributory copyright infringement liability. I would never knowingly link to an external website that includes copied material under a fair use claim if that website also has any commercial purpose. If the content is important, skip the EL and summarize it in the article. After all, we're not a link repository. As to your specific question, it would seem that a link to an external gallery where images are not properly licensed would be a bad idea.- MrX 13:27, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
@Piotrus: I think it's going to come down to common sense: Is it likely that if that web site were sued for infringement by a well-heeled opponent with good lawyers, and that web site had good lawyers and intended to vigorously contest the infringement lawsuit, and the judge and jury were knowledgeable an rendered a just verdict based on the facts and the law, would that web site lose the infringement lawsuit? If the answer is "obviously yes" then treat it like any other obviously-infringing site. If the answer is "obviously no" then treat it like any other non-obviously-infringing site. If the answer is "it would take a lawyer to even make a responsible guess" then it should be an editorial decision as to whether to link to that site or go without a link - the best outcome will probably come from case-by-case local discussions rather than a global one. If there is an alternative site that serves the same purpose but which does not have any reason not to link to it (e.g. possible copyvio, possible not-safe-for-work site linked from a g-rated article, etc.), then the alternative site should be preferred. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 18:52, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
@MrX, Davidwr: I appreciate your thoughtful analysis. What would be your views on those examples:
1) can an article about book series link to a fan-page that among a number of clearly helpful and uncontroversial stuff such as let's say their own essays and such also compiles book covers on a gallery page (attributed, relatively low res, citing fair use in each case)? If an editor is reverting inclusion of a link to that site under an argument that "Wikipedia fair use interpretation disallows fair use galleries, hence under ELNEVER we cannot link to a site which violates our interpretation of fair use as it is contributory copyright infringement", would you say they are right, or that they are overeacting?
2) another site has used some images, again under an explicit fair use/low res rationale, to create avatars/navigational elements such as buttons as such. The argument here goes that a common interpretation of fair use does not extent to "decorative elements" (hence we don't allow fair use images in templates or such on Wikipedia). Again, an editor is using ELNEVER to prevent an article on book series to link to a fan page guilty of such practices. Fair caution or overreaction? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 11:48, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
It would be helpful to know exactly what websites you are referring to, but in general, I would not link to them because they are fansites (WP:ELNO#EL11). The second one seems to have a very relaxed view of fair use. The use of galleries does suggest that the external website is exceeding de minimis usage under the fair use doctrine.- MrX 13:17, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
@Piotrus: These are close enough to edge cases that I can't give a "global" answer to either question. However, I can give two specific answers for case #1: If the page that the Wikipedia article linked to was the page that showed the galleries and that page was, on the whole, a page full of copyright infringement, then removing the link would be correct. On the opposite extreme, if the page that the Wikipedia article linked to had neither the galleries nor a link to the galleries, then removal of the link for the reason stated above would very likely be inappropriate (there may be other valid reasons to remove the link, but those are outside the scope of this discussion). As far as the second example goes: I disagree with your implied conclusion that the use of avatars and such is never going to be anything other than "decorative elements." I've known of cases where people choose avatars to reflect their real-life persona or the persona they wish to "role play" in online forums. In such cases, the avatars fill a functional in addition to decorative role. Heck, even on Wikipedia, you see people choosing functional avitars like those in {{WikiGnome topicon}} and the like. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 14:27, 4 June 2014 (UTC)
@MrX, Davidwr: The specific case being discussed is this: Talk:Honorverse#Can_we_link_honorverse.wikia.com_from_external_links.3F. The galleries in question include a generic wiki-style category for images (automatically created by MediaWiki software), a book covers gallery that I described above, and a fan art gallery, which seems relatively problem-free (most images seem to be either freely licenced or uploaded by creators/with permission), through of course there's the problem of fanart being unauthorized derivatives. See the discussion for some other potentially problematic elements. Do you think that we should remove the link? Personally I think it's copyright paranoic to do so (fansites are almost never sued; and this one has a good working relationship with the copyright holders (book publisher, book author), and correspondingly, the chance of us ever getting in trouble by linking to it seem extremely small). That said, I think it's always good to educate people about fair use, and the site's editors are willing to consider changes if there is something that can be easily addressed (I'd expect they would probably agree to remove fair use images which are used as decorative elements). If the website is not linkable as it is now, what can be do to bringing in line with our requirements? Thoughts? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 05:02, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Properly addressing this case would require more time than I have. However, because it is a "maybe, maybe not" case, the best place to discuss it is the talk page where the discussion is already occurring, not here. Unless WP:OFFICE gets involved or there is a court case on this specific case or a clearly-closely-parallel case, we should not use this case by itself as a reason to change an existing guideline. However, if a strong and clear consensus is reached in the ongoing discussion for that specific page, that may be grounds to call for an rfc to change the relevant guidelines or policies. davidwr/(talk)/(contribs) 22:15, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
@Davidwr: Since I think we have a relatively strong consensus (with one editor dissenting), what relevant guidelines and policies would you suggest we should discuss regarding possible changing? LINKVIO, as WhataIdoing suggests below? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 09:43, 18 June 2014 (UTC)
I'll just add here that ELNEVER summarizes a requirement that is actually present in full at the policy WP:LINKVIO, which may be the better place to ask your question, and that the requirement is to comply with the law, not with Wikipedia's intentionally more restrictive voluntary limitations. WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:33, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing: Thank you for the link to LINKVIO, I've posted a note on that page's talk directing interested editors here, as I think it's best to keep the discussion centralized. I'll attempt to reformulate the discussion with regards to specific clarifications I think we need to agree on and likely reflect in one of both of the stated policies.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:29, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Specific policies as of mid-June 2014[edit]


Since most recently-created works are copyrighted, almost any Wikipedia article which cites its sources will link to copyrighted material. It is not necessary to obtain the permission of a copyright holder before linking to copyrighted material, just as an author of a book does not need permission to cite someone else's work in their bibliography. Likewise, Wikipedia is not restricted to linking only to CC-BY-SA or open-source content.

However, if you know or reasonably suspect that an external Web site is carrying a work in violation of the creator's copyright, do not link to that copy of the work. An example would be linking to a site hosting the lyrics of many popular songs without permission from their copyright holders. Knowingly and intentionally directing others to a site that violates copyright has been considered a form of contributory infringement in the United States (Intellectual Reserve v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry [1]). Linking to a page that illegally distributes someone else's work sheds a bad light on Wikipedia and its editors. The copyright status of Internet archives in the United States is unclear, however. It is currently acceptable to link to internet archives such as the Wayback Machine, which host unmodified archived copies of webpages taken at various points in time. In articles about a website, it is acceptable to include a link to that website even if there are possible copyright violations somewhere on the site.

Context is also important; it may be acceptable to link to a reputable website's review of a particular film, even if it presents a still from the film (such uses are generally either explicitly permitted by distributors or allowed under fair use). However, linking directly to the still of the film removes the context and the site's justification for permitted use or fair use.


For policy or technical reasons, editors are restricted from linking to the following, without exception:

Material that violates the copyrights of others per contributors' rights and obligations should not be linked. Linking to websites that display copyrighted works is acceptable as long as the website has licensed the work, or uses the work in a way compliant with fair use. Knowingly directing others to material that violates copyright may be considered contributory copyright infringement.<ref>"In December 1999, for example, a U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Utah granted a preliminary injunction against a religious organization that maintained a Web site that established links to other sites containing material that infringed on the plaintiff's copyright. The court ruled that the links constituted "contributory infringement" and ordered them removed." ([ American Library Association: Hypertext Linking and Copyright Issues]) However, this remains a developing area of case law.</ref> If there is reason to believe that a website has a copy of a work in violation of its copyright, do not link to it. Linking to a page that illegally distributes someone else's work casts a bad light on Wikipedia and its editors. This is particularly relevant when linking to sites such as Scribd or YouTube, where due care should be taken to avoid linking to material that violates copyright.

Questions about aspects of ELNEVER/LINKVIO[edit]

First, I am going to list, in bullet points, the key relevant quotes from the policies cited above:

  • "if you know or reasonably suspect that an external Web site is carrying a work in violation of the creator's copyright, do not link to that copy of the work"
    • this sentence notes that we should not link to the copy of the work, however it does not prohibit us from linking to the very site in question
  • "An example would be linking to a site hosting the lyrics of many popular songs without permission from their copyright holders."
    • Now this is a bit confusing, as the example now discusses linking to a site, not a specific, copyright violating page on it. As such, I believe that one of those two sentences needs to be clarified. In particular: if a site has some copyright-violating materials somewhere on it, are we allowed to link to it or not? Personally, I'd think that the question would be what portion of a site is composed of copyright-violating materials. An extreme reading of the policy - never link to a site that has copyvio content - would, after all, prevent us from linking to ourselves, and probably to most of the Internet. I think this sentence should be fixed to read thus: "An example would be linking to a lyrics of a songs hosted on a site that did not receive a permission to do so from their copyright holders, or to the song itself hosted without permission on a streaming website such as YouTube, or a website offering illegal mp3 downloads."
  • "In articles about a website, it is acceptable to include a link to that website even if there are possible copyright violations somewhere on the site."
    • This is why we are allowed to link to The Pirate Bay website from its article. Now, here's an extension of this to consider. In an article about a concept, if there's a consensus that a specific website is the best - most relevant, informative, etc. external link related to the subject, more so than any official site (if it exists at all), can we link to that site even if there are possible copyright violation somewhere on it? In other words, it seems to me to be unfair that articles about a websites can link to (even highly problematic) websites, but articles about different topics don't get a similar dispensation. Yes, I know that a website link in a website article is of core relevance, but if an article is about a concept, and there's a website of core relevance, is it really that different?
  • Context is also important; it may be acceptable to link to a reputable website's review of a particular film, even if it presents a still from the film (such uses are generally either explicitly permitted by distributors or allowed under fair use).
    • Here we acknowledge that we treat fair use as an acceptable, global exception.
  • "If there is reason to believe that a website has a copy of a work in violation of its copyright, do not link to it. Linking to a page that illegally distributes someone else's work casts a bad light on Wikipedia and its editors."
    • This suggests that we primarily care about preventing (or not abetting) illegal distribution (i.e. piracy).
  • "This is particularly relevant when linking to sites such as Scribd or YouTube, where due care should be taken to avoid linking to material that violates copyright."

Reading the above I believe that the primary purpose of those policies is to ensure we don't link to sites that engage in what is generally understood as piracy. The policy was intended to say that "in an article about a copyrighted work, don't link to it's torrent or such". Perfectly reasonable and understandable. But the question is - how far can we take it? In particular, I want to resolve the contradiction between the first two sentences of LINKVIO, "if you know or reasonably suspect that an external Web site is carrying a work in violation of the creator's copyright, do not link to that copy of the work" and the example that follows. It is clear that we should never link directly to a webpage that contains a copyvio'ed work, whatever the media. However, can we link to a relevant website, when we can be reasonably sure that at least a small portion of its contents are copyvio'ed? The thing is that virtually all websites, if we look hard enough, will have copyvio problems.

Consider the following example: even if a journalistic website uses content that can be argued is fair use, if it has a reader comments section that allows non-text media to be included, from avatars to embedded pictures, then it's almost certain that copyright will be violated - taken too far for fair use to rescue it. For example, User:Nikkimaria thought me recently that fair use does not allow for purely decorative use of works. Which means that any website that uses avatars or allows readers to post pictures is probably violating some copyrights. Examples? io9 portal, for example, allows for both ([2] random article we use which I am sure in the readers comments at least violates fair use numerous times, [3] and we link to that website hundreds of time). And it's not like io9 is an exception; CNN allows registered readers to chose an avatar too. Worse, CNN for example has a "From around the web" section (see for example [4], another link chosen from [5]). Here, CNN links to headlines and images from other websites, which I think violates fair use as well (then there's also the commercial aspect). How about sites that have advertisements on them? It's certainly possible for an advertisement to violate copyrights (ex. [6]). Are we going to ban linking to all and any websites that carries advertisements? If we don't, we know that somewhere, someone will carry an ad that's a copyvio... All right, I hope this makes my point clear: on the modern Internet it is impossible not to violate copyrights. We (Wikipedia) do it, other websites do it even more. I think the cited policies should make it clear that we are not going to 1) link directly to COPYVIO'ed content, ex, torrents, files, listings of thereof and such and 2) sites that abet piracy (unless an article is about such a website), but are not restricting linking to websites that on some subpages run afoul of copyright as if we try to avoid that, we won't have any Internet to link to. Thoughts? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 10:45, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

links to voting records[edit]

---> See No longer suggesting DMOZ (archived section) <---

Let's plan a bigger discussion[edit]

I think that it might be time to set up an RFC to find out what the community wants. Let's start here, with drafting the pro and con statements. Will a format like this work for you?

For an article about a politician, are external links to the politician's voting record relevant and appropriate?
Yes, we should include links to voting records. No, we should not include links to voting records.
External links for politicians should include more than just what the politician's campaign staff says. So include one link like [7] that lists every vote he has made in office. We don't want a bunch of spam. So limit external links for a politician to official website(s) for that politician. Our readers don't want to look at detailed voting records.

Feel free to replace my unimportant filler statements with a brief (couple of sentences?) summary of the real reasons, right here in the table above. You can sign your statement if you're the only one writing it, but if we get multiple people working on a statement, then we usually leave out signatures. Because of WP:TLDR, this table format is better suited to "highlights" rather than long, closely reasoned statements. If you need more space, then it's better to put in a summary and add details in your own response. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:59, 10 June 2014 (UTC)

I don't know what you have in mind here, but Wikipedia has always (until now) provided links to the major sources relating to a person's work aka the reason for notability (some people being notable for multiple reasons). For example, authors have WorldCat Identities, actors have IMDb and the Broadway and off-Broadway databases, and so forth. US politicians were no different until almost six months ago. Are you suggesting we revisit EL to remove all such links for all people? Or are you suggesting that US politicians are different for some reason, and there could be reasons why we should redact all information relating to their actual work? Or, are you using a straw man to illustrate the absurdity of this argument? (talk) 13:31, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
I do think it may be time to revisit the IMDb, Broadway, etc links as well, yes. Thargor Orlando (talk) 13:56, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
Hardly a surprise, based on your posts at Template talk:CongLinks and all four political template deletion discussions, but you've never stated why you found all external links "not relevant". Whatamidoing is asking for your reasoning. (talk) 14:56, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
Well, we'd have to talk individual links. Thargor Orlando (talk) 16:30, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
I have in mind a month-long, official WP:Request for comment to allow any parts of the entire community to have their say, to be followed by any necessary changes to the guideline. They'll be best able to do that if they're given a quick summary of the main arguments for and against the to positions. I strongly prefer keeping this focused on one question at a time; the more complicated it gets, the less likely people are to share their views. If we need to talk about other things, then we can do that later. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:52, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
So let me get this straight. You're proposing a month-long comment period for voting records. Followed by a one-month comment period for, say, campaign contributions. Followed by a one-month comment period for, say, statements on the floor of Congress. And so forth and so on, until the election is over? Is that your plan? Similar plans have been proposed every two years, although I don't remember if you were involved in those. "Kicking it into the long grass" or "kicking the can down the road" is how that's usually described. Still, E for Effort. Now let's return to the discussion above, shall we? (talk) 16:39, 12 June 2014 (UTC)
Thank you, WhatamIdoing. That voting-records RFC sounds reasonable to me.
I assume by "later" you mean as soon as the voting-records RFC goes live, rather than a month after that.
What else needs to happen before that RFC goes live? Add a new section to Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Wikipedia policies and guidelines ? --DavidCary (talk) 17:01, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
So I can include Whatamidoing, ThargorOrlando and DavidCary in the list of people hijacking the discussion from DMOZ and suitable External links for US politicians in general, to one specific type of link, that of voting records? Also, that there is no differentiation being made being complete voting records and "key votes" as determined by whatever source might be used, despite that being a major point in previous discussions? I just want to make sure there will be no later denials of this, claiming I misrepresented your positions. I would also like Whatamidoing to clarify if he is posting here under any official capacity with WMF. Thank you. (talk) 19:21, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
My (part-time, temporary) job with the WMF is collecting feedback about VisualEditor. Neither I nor any other WMF staff normally has anything official to do with content guidelines, and exceptions come with a formal notice about WP:OFFICE actions and/or words like "The lawyers absolutely insist that..."
As for the "until the election is over", I confess that my response is mostly "Um, what election?" The American ones in five months? WP:There is no deadline for deciding what to say in this guideline.
I picked this particular question because I think that it's answerable. An outcome of "no consensus" isn't going to be very helpful, whereas either "yes" or "no" could resolve this one way or the other. In terms of getting an answer think it would also be useful, if any of you are interested, to have a couple of supporting reasons for each position, and I really think that an example of a link that someone might want to add would be helpful for people who haven't been involved in these discussions before. The argument in favor of voting records could be framed in terms of WP:ELDUE and WP:ELYES #3 (for a comprehensive voting record, as opposed to a specialized collection created by a special interest group). I'm not sure how to frame the con statement. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:27, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Support linking to their complete voting records. If the reader wants to know about a politician enough to check out the Wikipedia article about them, then they'll want to know their voting record. Dream Focus 22:18, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Question: Noob question here, but I don't understand how this proposal conflicts in any way with the existing guidelines, if you're linking to a neutral, factual, independent site that contains a politician's voting record. "What can normally be linked" already explicitly lists sites that are "relevant to an encyclopedic understanding of the subject and cannot be integrated into the Wikipedia article due to ... amount of detail (such as professional athlete statistics...", which seems to fit this perfectly. If the site isn't neutral (e.g., the work of a competitor or a politician's opponents), factual (e.g., a typical wiki or amateur/volunteer effort), or independent (e.g., the work of the politician or supporters), those would cast doubt on its appropriateness. I can see gray areas, like a US senator's voting record from their college "student government" days, or 20 different links for a 20-term congressperson, but links can always considered on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps an actual example, rather than the link above, would clarify the issue? If some specific change to the guidelines is being proposed, like adding "politician voting records" next to the "professional athlete statistics" example, where would the change go and what would it say? Agyle (talk) 02:19, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
  • Answer. You may well ask. As I said, this is a hijacking of the original discussion. In January, three External links templates, which included similar information to complete voting records, were deleted. You can read the "reasons" at their deletion discussions: Template NGOLinks, Template JudgeLinks, Template GovLinks. Then read the discussion at the deletion discussion for Template CongLinks - note Admin Arthur Rubin's "not relevant" list - which led to keeping the four least useful links (the FEC link at the time being far different), followed by a rather bullying discussion at Template talk:CongLinks involving a perplexed JesseAlanGordon who sounds a bit like Alice in Wonderland trying to reason with the Red Queen. Finally, read the earlier section on this Talk page. (Sorry it's so much, but this has been going on for close to six months.) The point is, all these useful links were removed on specious grounds. A defendable argument would have been "too many, link to a directory" aka WP:ELMAYBE. This was the original in 2007, replacing individual links for ease of use and consistency of presentation. There was full discussion and consensus, led by the GoldRingChip and CoolHandLuke, the generally acknowledged leaders at the time of the US Congress project. Since then, other resources were created and added to the Template, other resources (such as StateSurge) were abandoned and therefore removed. Perhaps the number of useful resources had grown to the point a link to a directory was appropriate, perhaps not. However, that wasn't the goal of this small group of people, which is why they moved on to delete the links to DMOZ which were used to replace those templates. Now we have Whatamidoing claiming he had absolutely no idea that templates about US governors, US Supreme Court justices, US political NGOs, US members of Congress, and US members of state legislatures - including previous holders as well as current candidates - could possibly be related to US elections. He has unilaterally decided that each link must be discussed separately, for a month each, "complete voting records" being the first. It's a straw man argument, based on the ignorance of Arthur Rubin when he deleted so much of the template code: one parameter was used for two resources. Of course no one can rationally disagree, so after more than a month it will be added to CongLinks, and that will be used as an excuse to continue deleting the links to DMOZ, which provides a lot more information, all relevant. All this to avoid linking to the sort of information found at a DMOZ category such as this. Yes, you may well ask what's going on here. I certainly have been. Shell game, 3-card monte - the excuses keep changing, but their goal remains the same. I believe an encyclopedia should inform readers as much as possible. I don't trust people who believe citizens should have as little information as possible. (talk) 14:24, 14 June 2014 (UTC)
Complete and utter nonsense, as usual. I have no objection to DMOZ links in general, and if a reasonably unbiased source of the voting record with a reputation for accuracy could be located, it would be an appropriate link for a current or former politician. The one from CongLinks did not qualify. If you can point out where DMOZ links have been removed without comment, I'll consider restoring them if the DMOZ category is reasonably accurate. As an aside, the claim that "DMOZ categories are curated by individual volunteers" is bullshit. There are approximately 300 DMOZ editors (those with status including "editall") who can edit any category (outside of the "Kids and Teens" category tree), and no editor is personally responsible for "curating" any (public) category. If the DMOZ article says otherwise, we need to fix it. (Speaking as one of those 300 editors, and as a WIkipedia Admin, there would be something wrong there. In the past, much of the DMOZ article was sourced to the personal hate-blog of a former DMOZ editor.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 07:15, 15 June 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, I think I get the gist of it now: pretty much everyone agrees a good (ideal-world: neutral, independent, comprehensive, reliable) link to a voting record is okay if there aren't a lot of ELs, if there are a lot of ELs then people disagree about which if any otherwise-good ELs should be trimmed, and linking to certain specific voting record sites or DMOZ directories is controversial. Is that about it? Agyle (talk) 10:50, 15 June 2014 (UTC)
Agyle: Sadly, no. I was waiting to give any Wikipedians (those knowledgeable and interested in this topic) a chance to share their opinions, but it seems they've all left the building. (talk) 15:54, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
ArthurRubin: Sad but not surprised you find facts to be "Complete and utter nonsense, as usual." Example of the complete voting record for Travis Childers as previously included in CongLinks here. The default is Current key votes, and if one scrolls down there are options of View more key votes and View all votes. Please explain why you don't believe it qualifies (inaccurate? biased? I'm totally perplexed.) and what, if any, source is better. While you're at it, please explain your "not relevant" comments regarding the other previous links. I'm especially interested in FollowTheMoney (aka National Institute on Money in State Politics) which is the authoritative source for campaign contributions for state offices, as the FEC and OpenSecrets only deal with federal offices. As a former candidate yourself, I expect you know that. You removed the CongLinks coding. You made no suggestion at the time as to what might replace it, such as DMOZ. You have ignored the activities of Ronz, Binksternet and ThargorOrlando in deleting DMOZ links subsequent to this. Care to share why that might be? While you're at it, care to share why Binksternet felt comfortable enough with you to reply on your Talk page, less than an hour after I posted a comment directed specifically at your actions, and no one else's? I wouldn't tolerate such a thing on my own Talk page, but you two appear remarkable close. (talk) 15:54, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
ArthurRubin: Almost forgot. Here's one, of many, examples: a deletion of the DMOZ link for Nan Hayworth by your great friend Ronz, one of my several Wikistalkers who detest factual links, a mere 18 hours after I added it. Are you really suggesting I should have to review the thousands of politician articles on a regular basis, just so you can "consider restoring them"? (talk) 16:55, 12 July 2014 (UTC)
ArthurRubin: And here's another one by your friend Ronz - done only a few minutes after I posted the above - deleting not just the DMOZ link (no edit comment), but all the other official links but one ("quick cleanup per WP:EL & WP:NOTLINK"). I (and Whatamidoing) look forward to your explanation of that, and your revert. (talk) 22:02, 13 July 2014 (UTC)
@ Your goal here seems to be to include external links, including dmoz wherever you can. You give a strong impression that you do that, solely, because WP:EL suggests that a dmoz is a good link and because the dmoz exists and fits with the topic. I however, and I presume that Ronz thinks the same, believe that the target should be to write an encyclopedia. The behaviour to include dmoz wherever one can seems somewhat pointy to me.
Regarding the above discussion - no, I oppose a blanket 'permission' to link to voting records. There may be places, and even many of them, where the links are appropriate, but I believe that there are many cases as well where those records are 'notable' in itself, and that they therefore fail WP:EL. An effort therefore to linking them from external links sections regardless of better use would not be in the interest of building an encyclopedia. --Dirk Beetstra T C 03:24, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
(Since Beetstra decided to scramble together my replies to his original two (2) separate complaints, I now have to clarify which is which.) In answer to Beetstra's first claim, that I was adding DMOZ links based solely on WP:EL: Absolutely not, as would be obvious to you if you had followed any of those links. I was much happier with the actual links, which ArthurRubin decided were "not relevant", which then became the consensus "reason" for the rest of that small group. My view if the "target"? Wikipedia's goal is to write an encyclopedia, not the book-length, definitive biography of each politician. Hence the section name "'Further reading"' for our readers looking for more in-depth information, such as complete voting records, complete campaign contributions, and so forth and so on. As you're well-aware from the Guidelines, we generally merge Further reading into External links unless each section is very large. As for your protege Ronz, he has again reverted one of the DMOZ additions, followed by threatening me with being blocked, blacklisting DMOZ and causing it to "potentially being penalized by search engines". (That was followed by deletions 1, [8], and 3, making the rather...unusual claim that the campaign itself, including candidates, are irrelevant to an election article. Wow. More at Talk:United States Senate election in Maine, 2014#RfC:, July 8-14, and Wikipedia talk:Notability (people)#Politicians, prematurely closed on July 5 by Binksternet, less than an hour after the last comment. Note the conflicts on what should be included where.) Back to Ronz's threat. Considering Bing, Google, DuckDuckGo and Yahoo (among others) all use DMOZ in various ways, that's as likely as them blacklisting Wikipedia. More to the point...why is this little group so angry and desperate? It's as if they/you (or Bell Pottinger et al) were scared to death of providing our readers with actual facts. Six months of this, involving an incredible number of hours, seems quite excessive, with one excuse given after another, all equally risible and all equally intended to block readers from learning anything other than spin. What I find particularly interesting is the near-demonic focus on U,S. politicians, a topic which several of the small group hadn't shown any earlier or later interest in. Diving in to quickly delete a DMOZ link, doing nothing else, when the article is obviously and seriously out of date? No one truly interested in building an encyclopedia for readers would do that. No, that would take someone with a very different "target", I think. (talk)
In answer to Beekstra's second claim, which appears to be the object of typos, cut-and-paste errors, or similar: I have no idea what "I believe that there are many cases as well where those records are 'notable' in itself, and that they therefore fail WP:EL." means. (talk) 19:14, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
(I've unbroken the thread, interjecting it makes it unclear who made the previous remarks and makes people miss the answers).
So, you see several people objecting against the external links you add. The rest of it is probably in the answer below, but to be clear - an article does not get better just because it is linking to the information, our target is not to include external links. --Dirk Beetstra T C 03:22, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
I expected so much. Maybe a good read about when not to include external links would be helpful here. --Dirk Beetstra T C 03:14, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
And mind you, I am not saying that we should not be linking to the voting records or the dmoz either, but I oppose adding them without consideration of other solutions. --Dirk Beetstra T C 03:26, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Please address the issues I raised, including those about Further reading, External links, and the goal of Wikipedia. Your passive-aggressive whining isn't helpful, nor is your continued refusal to explain your second claim: "better use" and "other solutions" are nothing but weasel glitter. (talk) 13:32, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
If continues on like this, I'll be reqesting a block at WP:ANI for disruption and spamming. Are others actually seeing useful discussion amidst all this? --Ronz (talk) 16:49, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
I don't see anything significantly disruptive here. I am, however, seriously considering a deletion discussion on the DMOZ template. Thargor Orlando (talk) 17:29, 15 July 2014 (UTC)
Well, Thargor, "Your passive-aggressive whining" is not really bringing the discussion forward, And no, there are no "typos, cut-and-paste errors and similar". I really mean that if the voting records are notable in itself, that linking to them fails WP:EL.
Yes, Wikipedia should try to contain reasonably a complete biographies. We do not have External links sections, Further reading sections so that they can be filled with external links, our goal is to write an encyclopedia that includes information. External links should be kept to a minimum. Are those voting records necessary, well, sometimes (if not quite often) that contains information that is notable enough for inclusion, and certainly not all the information there is notable enough, or necessary for the understanding. So no, it does not have to be linked on any occasion. Similar for the dmoz. They are not necessary always. Sometimes they lead to more info that is necessary for a complete understanding of the subject, but very often they are just there without any need. So no, no dmoz blanket either. And if someone is challenging your continued additions of such external links, then it is on you, IP, to show evidence on every single occasion that they are necessary. If people don't agree with the case, the link does not get added. --Dirk Beetstra T C 03:48, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Beetstra: First, I have no idea why you addressed Thargor Orlando. Second, if you insist on claiming "if the voting records are notable in itself, that linking to them fails WP:EL" that brings up the obvious question: are you therefore recommending we only include non-notable links - which is absurd. Third, you continue to avoid discussing the purpose of a "Further reading" section, presumably because that refutes your personal and idiosyncratic definitions of "minimum", "reasonably a complete biographies", "notable enough", and "necessary for the understanding". Fourth, your Catch-22 reasoning of why External links shouldn't be included is also absurd. In this particular case, we're talking about elected officials, elected specifically to deal with legislation which means voting on such legislation. And you claim, along with the rest of your small group, that voting records are therefore not relevant because it's either too much or too little, according to your personal view, and somehow these same differences wouldn't happen if only all these hundreds if not thousands of votes were included in an encyclopedia-length article. Rubbish. We're already seen the results of such an approach: a section devoted to the politician's votes on "guns, gays and God." Not what most people would call useful unless they shared that particular agenda - or wanted others to sign up to it. Short read: You're claiming, "We must destroy Wikipedia in order to save it." I of course disagree, as would anyone who agrees with Jimmy Wales, "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing." I'd say the burden is on YOU to prove how your "cure" isn't far worse than the supposed disease you claim exists. You want cherry-picked facts and carefully spun propaganda. I want to give our readers access to all the facts they want and need, not just those you think they "should" have. You are not some god, and your little group is not going to subvert Wikipedia's reason for existence. (talk) 16:00, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
I see the anon has absolutely no idea what I said, whether or not it reflects what I meant. The same probably applies to his/her opinions on the other editors' comments. I said that voting records may be relevant, but (1) the source you suggested in your template is sufficiently biased to be rarely usable, and (2) it is unsuitable for a bulk EL template. I didn't say that an external link to a voting record is necessarily inappropriate, although it should be unnecessary if the link would be acceptable as a reliable source.
If there are a large number of potentially relevant links, and a directory of reasonable validity, such as DMOZ, has a number of entries, and many of those links are potentially relevant, then a link to the directory should replace the many links. Any attempt to delete the DMOZ template should be preceded by IMDB, IBDB, find-a-grave (well, that would should probably be marked as having insufficient accuracy to be include), etc. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 02:43, 17 July 2014 (UTC)
I addressed Thargor because I partially disagreed with him. I do think that you are starting to be disruptive with your comment "Your passive aggressive whining".
Per Arthur Rubin, I also do agree that you clearly do not have any idea what I said, nor what I meant. I mean that voting records can be used as a reference, and some of the info in the voting records are notable enough information to be included in the article (even 'blanketed': 'John Doe generally voted for green tea with mint.[ref to votingrecords]'). If that is happening, then it is not suitable as an external link. If the information in the voting records is not notable for inclusion, then it likely is also not notable enough for an external link - if no-one cares that John Doe is voting for green tea with mint (or even voting at all), then the external link to their voting records are also not necessary. I do not think that knowing the voting records is, in general, helping towards a better understanding of the subject (it is often already mentioned in the article). Then there may be some cases where that is true for neither, but certainly not a blanket 'yes, this link should always be in the external links section' .. any form of consistently adding them to any article is therefore inappropriate, it should probably be considered (discussed!) on a case-by-case basis.
The same goes for dmoz. If there is a linkfarm on the Wikipage, one can first consider whether those can be pruned to a minimum. If that does not really work, one can consider a dmoz. If there is no linkfarm, one can consider to add a link to a dmoz if the links in the dmoz actually help. No blanket 'there is a dmoz, we add it', the same still applies: are the external links in the dmoz directory really adding to a better understanding of the subject. Dmoz (or whichever directory service) is not to be used to circumvent the scrutiny of the external links guideline - if there are 50 references on an article, and 5 relevant external links (generally the official page of the subject 'linkfarms' to other relevant information as twitters, facebooks, LinkedIns and similar outlets already), then even a dmoz with 50 'other links' is not going to help the understanding further. If a dmoz does not have those properties, it can be removed as any other external link.
Again, the goal should be to write an encyclopedia, not to just include external links to 'related information'. And we're not here to 'replace' Google, we are writing an encyclopedia. That is written in our pillars, it is not the opinion of me, or of this 'little group', it is the consensus of the community. Editors adding only/mainly external links to a selected number of external sites should really have a solid consensus behind them when doing that, and before they even start doing that (WP:ELBURDEN). You don't seem to have that consensus.
Just to note, this is also not a blanket to now add to every article a sentence along the lines of 'John Doe generally voted for green tea with mint[ref to votingrecords]' - there will be enough cases where also that is not necessary information, or it is already there, properly referenced.
The above is from Beetstra (03:53, 17 July 2014). When the original comment was added, it was inside an unclosed ref, and the signature was just four tildes. When I fixed the references, MediaWiki substituted my signature for the four tildes—I have replaced that with this comment. Johnuniq (talk) 04:17, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
ArthurRubin: You claim the WashPo link is "not relevant", then "doesn't qualify" and now "sufficiently biased to be rarely usable". Since when is a complete voting record biased? You're going to have to explain how this link is any of those things. You have yet to do so, although I have requested such explanation many, many times from you over the last six months. (talk) 00:28, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Beetstra: You continue to avoid explaining Wikipedia:Further reading. Perhaps you, an Admin, never read it? I find it perfectly clear. There's also its successor, WP:FURTHER. Note: "The Further reading section should not duplicate the content of the External links section, and should normally not duplicate the content of the References section, unless the References section is too long for a reader to use as part of a general reading list." (For those who weren't at Wikipedia in the early days, in-line citations were NOT used, and the References section looked much like External links does today. Most articles only had a few sources. The intent was to clarify which links had already been used to write the article, and which either had not been used or only a small section had been used.) I think it's time for you to stop tap-dancing around the issue and explain why you, of all people, should be able to strike down a standard Wikipedia section on your personal whim. How can you be so against Wikipedia's basic structure and goals? You've been here long enough to know how everything evolved. (talk) 00:28, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
Beetstra: I've now found that this Talk page used to have a link to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Layout#Change to further reading guideline. Since you posted there, I assume you're read the Guideline, even if you now want to ignore it. (talk) 00:56, 22 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support linking to politicians voting records, from the best, least spam-like source available. How, per WP:5P, has suppressing such information even turned up as an issue of debate? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kendrick7 (talkcontribs) 02:51, 20 July 2014‎
    User:Kendrick7, I think that one of the objections is the idea that the encyclopedia article itself should contain information about the politician's voting record (maybe a ==Voting record== section? Or ==Positions==?). The challenge with that view (which is good, as far as it goes) is that the voting record will be exactly the sort of thing that ELYES describes as "neutral and accurate material that...cannot be integrated into the Wikipedia article due to...amount of detail (such as professional athlete statistics...". The US Senate held almost 300 roll-call votes in 2013. There's no way that you could put even 10% of those into an encyclopedia article—and that's just for one year! There are some US Senators who have more than 10,000 votes over their careers. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:17, 20 July 2014 (UTC)
    I'm pretty sure that's the problem WP:ELs exist to solve. To quote myself on, of all places, Talk:Alley Cats Strike: WP:EL explicitly says one purpose where external links are allowed is that they provide "information that could not be added to the article for reasons such as... amount of detail...." -- Kendrick7talk 23:42, 20 July 2014 (UTC) (PS I hope you don't mind, but I moved my comment and yours to where i thought it was going last night; there was some confusion due to the open ref tag[9])

Official sites that primarily sell products[edit]

I'd propose tightening WP:ELOFFICIAL to exclude official site that merely sell products e.g. memorabilia. This would be counter to WP:ELNO No. 5 that discourages "Individual web pages that primarily exist to sell products or services, or to web pages with objectionable amounts of advertising." Such links also don't "give the reader the opportunity to see what the subject says about itself", as is the spirit of allowing official links. An example would be the attempt to include to Marques Johnson.—Bagumba (talk) 21:51, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

I agree with Bagumba's proposal. Wikipedia shouldn't be linking to websites whose only purpose is to sell something....William 22:02, 24 June 2014 (UTC)
Is that actually his official website? If so, then it certainly does tell you something about himself, namely that he'd like to make some money.
More problematically, what do you do with the official website for It, too, "primarily exists to sell products". WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:45, 25 June 2014 (UTC)
Point No. 2 of ELOFFICIAL currently reads: "The linked content primarily covers the area for which the subject of the article is notable." That would make appropriate for Amazon's article, but render a pure product merchandise website inappropriate for a person who is not primarily notable due to the website.—Bagumba (talk) 01:03, 26 June 2014 (UTC)
"Marques Johnson’s official website" (also called "Marques Johnson’s official PastPros website") is a good case of an "official" website I would argue against including, but I don't think WP:ELOFFICIAL needs tightening for this particular case. EL:OFFICIAL's #1 requirement that the subject is in direct control is met only in the technical sense that Johnson presumably authorized PastPros to call this his official website, its #2 requirement is dubiously met (the content has items for sale related to the subject's reason for notability, but I wouldn't call this "covering" the subject, and it offers virtually no other useful coverage), and most importantly it doesn't meet the stated intent of EL:OFFICIAL: "Official links (if any) are provided to give the reader the opportunity to see what the subject says about itself," which this "official site" doesn't do. Johnson's Twitter page would seem to be a much stronger candidate for being included under EL:OFFICIAL than the PastPros website.
If this is a common type of controversy, or one where a local consensus of editors actually favored that type of official link based on EL:OFFICIAL, then I'd look at tightening the wording. But in Johnson's case and about a dozen other PastPros links added by the same user who added it, there's apparently been no discussion on the Talk pages about their subsequent removal, and no attempt to re-add the links. Agyle (talk) 01:43, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

Links to fundraising sites[edit]

The EL guideline doesn't seem very definitive about fundraising links, although the guidelines seem to allow one to make a case against one. But in the case of a link that goes to a pure fundraising campaign (that is, the page is only about raising funds, like an IndieGogo page), shouldn't we disallow that in plain, direct language in the guideline? Stevie is the man! TalkWork 18:53, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

At least for crowdfunding sites where the goal is to try to provide information (details of the goal, etc.) I see no problem in these as ELs as primary information. In particularly after such funding campaigns are over, this provides details about the crowdfunding campaign that may or may not be reflected in third-party sources. --MASEM (t) 19:01, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
I agree this makes sense after the funding campaign is complete, given it provides detail to article content. But while the campaign is proceeding is where I see advertising to generate funds. Stevie is the man! TalkWork 19:43, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
If the project is one identified by other sources as to give it sufficient notability and to get away from any possible COI issues, I would say it is not a problem to link to the active fundraiser, since the inclusion is more for completeness and not for advertizing the funding effort. On the other hand, linking to a fundraising page for a non-notable project does smack of possible promotional goals. Arguably, the suggestion that we don't link to fundraising pages, the same logic would say we can't link to charity pages because they are always asking for money. I think it's just a matter of making sure the inclusion of the link isn't there for promotion but completeness. --MASEM (t) 20:35, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
OK, I see your first point -- given reliable secondary coverage of the campaign, linking to it makes sense to say effectively "this is what other independent reliable sources are talking about". As for a charity, if they are notable enough to have an article, then it makes sense under the guidelines to link to their site, where ostensibly they are raising money. In my mind, this is different from a little-known band linking to an IndieGogo campaign to "raise money for a full US tour with a new album to be released sometime in 2015", with no references (which is another problem). Stevie is the man! TalkWork 20:56, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Then I suggest that what is in WP:ADV already covers this distinction: Wikipedia uses the same standards for evaluating links to websites owned by for-profit and (real or purported) non-profit organizations. Links to potentially revenue-generating web pages are not prohibited, even though the website owner might earn money through advertisements, sales, or (in the case of non-profit organizations) donations. Choose which pages to link based on the immediate benefit to Wikipedia readers that click on the link, not based on the organization's tax status or your guess at whether the website's owner might earn money from the link. I dunno if we need to add language to this, but I think this covers the distinction well for ELs to such pages. --MASEM (t) 21:37, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Medicine-related articles#External links has a prohibition on fundraising sites. I don't know if it's enough of a problem in other areas to warrant explicit language. WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:57, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
I think the same sort of common sense applies - is the inclusion of the link a COI issue? Dropping a link to a Red Cross research report appropriate to the article topic, from their website - which is a perpetual charity/fund-raising site - isn't going to be a problem. Dropping a link to a random charity that just happens to deal with, say, breast cancer on the article about Breast cancer, on the other hand, is a problem. --MASEM (t) 15:13, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support linking to politicians voting records, from the best, least spam-like source available. How, per WP:5P, has suppressing such information even turned up as an issue of debate? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kendrick7 (talkcontribs) 02:51, 20 July 2014‎
    User:Kendrick7, I think that one of the objections is the idea that the encyclopedia article itself should contain information about the politician's voting record (maybe a ==Voting record== section? Or ==Positions==?). The challenge with that view (which is good, as far as it goes) is that the voting record will be exactly the sort of thing that ELYES describes as "neutral and accurate material that...cannot be integrated into the Wikipedia article due to...amount of detail (such as professional athlete statistics...". The US Senate held almost 300 roll-call votes in 2013. There's no way that you could put even 10% of those into an encyclopedia article—and that's just for one year! There are some US Senators who have more than 10,000 votes over their careers. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:17, 20 July 2014 (UTC)