Wikipedia talk:Further reading

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Own page[edit]

As referenced in Wikipedia:Cite_sources#External_links.2FFurther_reading, this should be its own page; or at least referenced on WP:EL. I'll (sodoit) eventually. here 10:30, 9 November 2005 (UTC)

Discussion brought over from wp:layout[edit]

A series of Further reading proposals to discuss[edit]

I think an essay would be a good idea for preparing a guideline, but as a few of us are here right now, can we work on some principles? For the moment, are we all (or nearly all) agreed that "Further reading", if it it exists, should consist of good starter texts/foundation texts for any subject? Here are some principles, including ideas on how to deal with spamming and bias:

  1. Should clearly qualify as RS.
  2. Should be a directly focussed overview. For example, on the page for the Renaissance, it would have a general section including books like Lisa Jardine's Worldly goods: a new history of the Renaissance which should directly (and preferably exclusively) address the topic as a whole. Books on, for example, people within the renaissance would not be suitable as they are not an overview. Those books might qualify on other pages. Books on associated topics would also not be suitable.
  3. Subsections can exist in general articles (but with limits, and certainly matching the article structure), and according to the same principles. Keeping with the renaissance example, the music subsection could have a couple of titles like music: music in Western Europe, 1400-1600 - again, an overview of the topic. A book about the development of the sackbut would be too specific for further reading in this more general article.
  4. To avoid spam, any book included should have received more than one good review in RS -newspapers and scholarly journals being the norm, and the clear balance of RS reviews should be positive. This would avoid self-publish spamming, POV pushing, and attempts by publishers to get books promoted through inclusion on wikipedia. At the moment "editorial recommendations" as described in the manual smacks of OR.
  5. There should be guidelines on limiting the number of sources.
  6. Neutrality is essential. We may have to work out rules where topic disputes are irreconcilable.
  7. If no appropriate sources exist that meet these criteria - then don't have a section. It's not a necessity.

People's thoughts? VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 15:18, 28 November 2010 (UTC)

My thought is that this is a good beginning for a Further reading essay if, in fact, that is the first step in developing a new Further reading guide. Is it? Butwhatdoiknow(talk) 18:18, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes - I should have been clearer. I've amended accordingly.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 23:54, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that is a good starting point. WP:Further reading would be the right place; you'd have to replace the current redirect with content, but point out in the first line that it is a guideline in development, and leave a pointer to the current section here. --JN466 22:36, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
"Should clearly qualify as RS" probably needs elaboration. The definition of a reliable source depends on the information that it is intended to back up, but the literature listed under "Further reading" is not intended to back up particular statements. --Boson (talk) 23:24, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
I like the look of this proposal. Boson is of course right that not all aspects of the RS policy is applicable to further reading as further reading does not backup any claims. I do think that it is important that further readings are hi9gh quality sources - e.g. books published from respectable presses, that have not been disfavorably reviewed too many times, etc. I think the best way to achieve the kind of policy that we want is by stating that the prime criteria for inclusion is consensus among the editors of the article - and that any books the inclusion of which is not consensus should be left out. This would take care of the POV issue and the Reliability issue at once. ·Maunus·ƛ· 23:30, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
Maunus, you wrote, "any books the inclusion of which is not consensus should be left out." Are you sure that that should be chiseled into a Wikipedia content guideline? That would imply a Security Council permanent-member-style veto power for a small minority (it might be a minority of one) who doesn't want a source, however reliable, mentioned. Or is your intended meaning of "consensus" something like a majority of active editors on an article, even over expressed opposition? Because the majority of the articles on which I've seen your helpful editorial skills in action are articles plagued by frequent edit wars, I want to make sure you are not proposing a guideline that limits your own ability to add helpful sources to articles. --WeijiBaikeBianji (talk,how I edit) 23:45, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure how 'Neutrality is essential' is to be interpreted. For instance, I can imagine articles where it would (in my opinion) be sensible to include "The Communist Manifesto" or "The Wealth of Nations", neither of which could be described as "neutral". --Boson(talk) 23:56, 28 November 2010 (UTC)
@Boson - you raise two good points. It's correct to say that we're not talking about sourcing, and that "RS" status of a source changes according to what it is sourcing. I was referring to the general principle of respectable fact-checking imprints. I think Maunus's suggestion of academic press is helpful, although we need to work out guidelines for topics that are not typically covered by academics, such as pop culture or sport. Combined with the necessity of being centrally focussed on the topic rather than tangential, I think we can work out a usable policy. Your second point about key texts is also a good one, and I'm happy to put forward this suggestion:
8. Where appropriate, key foundation texts or primary sources should also be listed. These should only be included if there is consensus that they are part of a topic's central canon. For example, The Communist Manifesto under Communism - but perhaps not under Soviet Union.
Would that go some way to meet your concerns? I have to be honest and say I can still foresee trouble at pages like Capitalism once we get beyond books like The Wealth of Nations into the modern era. I'm not sure how we could forestall such disputes. Does anyone have any suggestions?
@WBB WP:Consensus is not the same as unanimity or even necessarily a majority (if proposals are out of line with policy). Secondly, this is not about sourcing. These proposals would not limit in any way people adding reliable sources to the main text. You've been told this several times now. VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 04:30, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
(I hope it’s not considered a problem for me to comment here. I don’t see how it could be, since this essay doesn’t have a direct connection to any particular topic or article.)
Regarding neutrality, I think that what matters most is not that each individual text be neutral, but that the overall selection of texts not be weighted in any particular direction. For example, I think it would be a problem if the “further reading” section of the Communism article contained only The Communist Manifesto and other pro-communism books. The balance of viewpoints that exists in the further reading section ought to reflect the balance of viewpoints that exists in reliable sources, just as the article’s content should. --Captain Occam (talk) 07:20, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
I'm concerned at the prospect of silliness where POV warriors demand 50:50 "balance" in numbers for minority/fringe-ish points of view. We need to find a wording that would avoid this.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 07:27, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
If the rule is that the balance of viewpoints in the “further reading” section needs to reflect the balance of viewpoints that exists in reliable sources, I think we can avoid that problem. NPOV policy doesn’t demand that we give equal validity to fringe viewpoints in article content; we only need to give them as much space as they’re given reliable sources. For truly fringe ideas, that amount of space isn’t very much. My suggestion is that the further reading section should work the same way. --Captain Occam (talk) 07:37, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
I'd worry that articles on fringe ideas would suffer further if such a balance rule were interpreted in terms of representation in non-fringe sources only. For example, it would be hard to list good reading about homeopathy if the "balance" was interpreted in terms of how homeopathy is portrayed in mainstream medical publications. Many fringe articles already suffer in being more about the antipathy to the topic than about the topic itself, due to the efforts of the debunkers in defining "reliable sources" to their liking. Let's avoid making this worse, so we can actually get some information on the fringe topics, too. Dicklyon (talk) 05:48, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

End of discussion brought over from wp:layout[edit]

Contents of essay[edit]

@VsevolodKrolikov - yes, the additional point 8 would definitely address that concern. Key foundation texts and primary sources would be one category to include. Standard textbooks would possibly be another. I'm sure there are other categories, depending on the topic. I feel that the best approach might be to have headings for typical things to include, things not to include, and things to consider, rather than a single set of rules. Perhaps we could include adapted versions of some recommendations at WP:EL:

  • To avoid:
    • Anything that does not provide a unique resource beyond what the article would contain if it became a featured article.
    • Anything that misleads the reader by use of factually inaccurate material or unverifiable research, except in articles about the viewpoints that the document is presenting.
    • Specialist works that would be better included in an existing, more specialized article.
  • To include:
    • Key foundation texts or primary sources that are part of a topic's central canon, for example:
    • Standard works by leading authorities on the topic

--Boson (talk) 10:45, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

I like the idea of standard headings. I may be being a bit thick here, but was does the EL guideline mean when it says "unique resource"?VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 10:57, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
Good question! I think it should be re-phrased but I suppose the intended meaning is that the content needs to be of significant value (as well as being content that does not belong in the article itself).--Boson (talk) 16:38, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

I strongly disagree with "Anything that does not provide a unique resource beyond what the article would contain if it became a featured article." It's a completely utopian view (most articles never become FA), and defies the purpose of {{expand further}}, which was kept at TfD. Tijfo098 (talk) 04:44, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

About the "unique resource" in WP:ELNO#EL1:
It's generally understood to mean that reliable sources should be used to build article content, rather than being dumped in ==External links==. It's fairly often WP:Ignored for very short articles, as a well-chosen link to good information may be better for the reader than nothing in between now and when the article is properly developed. FA candidates are expected to comply fully with this item. In the remaining 99.9% of cases, editors are expected to use their best judgment.
Similar to {{expand further}}, the template {{no footnotes}} is an implicit acknowledgment that items currently listed under ==External links== might well have been used to support article content. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:06, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Proposed guideline[edit]

Could I mark this as a proposed guideline, using {{proposed}}, rather than an essay? If there are no objections, I'll go ahead, and would also add a sentence to the effect that "This guideline is under construction; see Wikipedia:Further for the current guideline on Further reading sections in Wikipedia". Please let me know your views. Thanks. --JN466 22:51, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

That would be great! Thanks. (I didnt even know there was such a tag)VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 22:54, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
I've added the tag and posted notification in a few places (WP:VPP, WP:IRS, WP:SCICITE, Template:expand further, and WP:BOOKSPAM). Tijfo098 (talk) 04:37, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

RS-ness[edit]

Interesting discussion about RS-ness. For example, would Mad in America be a suitable "further reading" at Schizophrenia? (disclosure: I've added the wiki article on the book as a "see also", but unlike a "further reading", the wiki article on the book explicitly has reviews, some quite negative). As another example, I moved The Gene Illusion, which was a further reading at heritability to an inline ref about the existence of a small minority POV that discredits the concept of heritability. I think that as a general rule, it's preferable to deal with POV sources in text (or as "see also" if an appropriate article exists on the source itself) instead of adding them to "further reading", because that can give the impression that Wikipedia is recommending a certain POV. Tijfo098 (talk) 04:13, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

I would say no to Mad in America for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's not directly about schizophrenia. Secondly, it's not just controversial, but poorly received in some important quarters. (If Richard Bentall thinks it's over the top, then it probably is). As for the Gene Illusion, I would argue it hasn't received enough attention (from what I can find), and it's POV. I agree it's better as a source for the main text rather than further reading.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 06:35, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
You may want to read this version of that book's article. Tijfo098 (talk) 06:58, 30 November 2010 (UTC)
I see. Definitely not as further reading, and as RS with caution. Why are we whispering? ;-) VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 07:05, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

Broad perspective?[edit]

Sometimes you can't find a single source that has that. For example, at Henry Fairfield Osborn the first two books (in this version) are clearly identified as complementary in their joint review [1], but either of them only elaborates only on part of the Wikipedia article's topic. Tijfo098 (talk) 04:35, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

A good idea[edit]

Having been sorely tempted to add Harpo Speaks to a 'further reading' section today (not saying where, but you may be able to guess), on the basis that it had about as much to do with the subject as other references (with a comment in the edit summary that I thought Marx of relevance), I'm inclined to think that this is necessary, if only as a guideline. I think it need not be unduly prescriptive though, as 'further reading' could be around the subject rather than just about it? Probably a case for reasonable inclusivity (but don't ask me to define that). AndyTheGrump (talk) 04:49, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

Hi Andy. If it's an autobiography of the subject, that should of course go in the further reading section. I'm not sure what you mean by "around" the subject. What would that mean outside of material that would be dealt with in a "see also" section? Could you give a few examples? I'm personally in favour of being a little more restrictive (including emphasis that such a section is not a necessity if no such appropriate reading exists), if only to stop bloat, indiscriminate additions and the opening of new battlefronts.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 05:36, 30 November 2010 (UTC)

Too early[edit]

I've read the proposal and I don't approve it. You have unnecessarily narrowed the multitude of reliable sources to some vaguely defined "acceptable further reading", in a way that can potentially cause more harm than help.

  • "Should clearly qualify as WP:RS, as indicated by reviews and citations to it." - does it mean that inclusion of each entry must be backed by citations to reviews? I don't need to do it for sources, why do I need it for "further reading"? Note that according to WP:LAYOUT "Further reading" follows references, not the other way. Do you plan to change WP:LAYOUT, or require a second references section just for "Further reading"?
  • "A directly focused overview that takes a broad perspective" - good intention, but hopelessly vaguely formulated. What is "broad"? Example: is Winston Churchill: The Flawed Genius of World War II appropriate to be included in World War Two ? Probably not. Winston Churchill ? Probably yes. But, based on your "guideline", anyone can assert that it's too narrow for the scope of the bio. Guidelines shouldn't fuel conflicts, it's already quite hot in here.
  • "Overview" - implies something superficial, tertiary. Overviews are good, in-depth studies are bad? How should I decide if the book (say, I Quattro Libri dell'Architettura) is an overview (it looks like one) or a real study (as it was in Palladio's time)?
  • "Titles should be available to a large number of readers, either directly or through libraries." How large? Available where? Princeton? Ughanda? What is "directly" - directly on my desk? Or did you mean "online" (or even "online and free, free as beer")? Again, if it's not required for RS, why is it necessary here?
  • "We may have to work out rules where topic disputes are irreconcilable." - guideline should not attempt to restate the whole dispute resolution process.
  • "There should be guidelines on limiting the number of sources." - out of scope. Contradicts WP:V, specifically: "all quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged be attributed to a reliable published source" - since there's no limit to challenging there may be no cap on sourcing. Contradicts common sense - what's the point of whining about what should be there?
  • Presentation part "smacks of OR" and, in fact, describes something else: how to present bibliography review (if it's necessary at all). This is a tangential but different subject that usually belongs to the body of the article (under "Critical review" or "Historic legacy" sections etc.). The problem, as I see it, is that a wholesome bibliography review cannot be split into "sources" and "further reading" - it must consider the whole set of knowledge on the subject.

Cheers, East of Borschov 07:28, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Hi Boris. Point by point:
  1. No, they would not need citation support in the article. The requirement for evidence that these books have been broadly welcomed as good among the relevant scholarly community is an editing guideline.
  2. What is appropriately "broad"? - let's try to hammer out something more workable here. At the moment there is basically no guideline on what should go in or out.
  3. The idea is to provide sources on where to start reading in more depth. If there is an in-depth comprehensive study, that would be good. Perhaps the wording needs to be changed.
  4. I agree that the wide availability requirement is not necessarily a good one. Perhaps it should be "is preferred".
  5. Where topics have two viewpoints which are not reconciled: I think you misunderstand the point. This guideline does not seek to interfere in dispute resolution. It's just a fact of life that in some articles there are disputes, and we have to reflect that, not impinge upon it. What we don't want is disputes spilling over.
  6. Limits on the size: Further reading, as with "see also" already recommends a "reasonable number". If we can establish principles of what reasonable actually means, that would be an improvement, not a contradiction of WP:V. This is not about direct sourcing.
  7. The reference to OR is a reference to how further reading guidelines are currently phrased. It's nothing to do with references or bibliographies for main text citations.
Your reference to it being "too early" puzzles me. We're not going to suggest this tomorrow. It's still in the development stage. You bring up a lot of good concerns, so your input would be welcome.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 07:58, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
Boris? call me Ishmael... or Natasha :)) East of Borschov 09:02, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
Perfect advertisement for infant - induced sleep deprivation. Sorry, East of Borschov. Or Natasha. VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 09:23, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Uses of Further reading section[edit]

I think the proposal as it stands now is way too restrictive. It seems like a prelude to launching a campaign of deletionism (even if that is not the intention, that is what it will be used for by those so-minded) and it would have a chilling anti-new effect on newly developed scientific topics having articles about them in Wikipedia even though the topics are clearly notable and useful.

I see further reading as a flexible section to put things that didn't fit into other sections for a variety of reasons, but which are a benefit to the article. I think that the sort of things that are useful is entirely dependent on the subject matter and there should not be a monolithic guideline for further reading putting a strait-jacket on all subjects.

Further reading can contain items that will be of use to readers, taking into account the fact that there are different types of reader: casual browsing, student, expert, someone who read something in the news, and probably other reasons for reading that aren't in this list.

Further reading can contain sources which have information that could be in the article but editors haven't gotten round to putting it in the article yet, but still readers might like to know that there is this other stuff.

  1. Should clearly qualify as WP:RS, as indicated by reviews and citations to it.
    RS - yes but remembering that RS is context-sensitive, reviews and citations - No. Further reading can include items which are themselves reviews/overviews of the subject matter, or be items which establish notability of the subject
  2. Should be a directly focused overview that takes a broad perspective. Books and articles on less closely related topics would not be suitable.
    I don't understand this point at all. "less closely related topics" is not the opposite of "focused overview that takes a broad perspective.". Something could have a very narrow perspective but be very closely related.
  3. There should be guidelines on limiting the number of sources.
    I don't like the idea of limiting the number of sources with some arbitrary limit. This should depend on the article.
  4. To avoid spam, any book included should have received more than one good review in RS
    No. To avoid spam, we remove items that we think are spam. We don't remove useful items just because they haven't been reviewed, sometimes a new book on a specialist subject is the first book on the subject gathering all previous information together in one book where all previous publications were either in individual papers or mentions in books with more general subject matter.
  5. If no appropriate sources exist that meet these criteria - then don't have a section. It's not a necessity.
    It isn't mandatory to have a FR section but if sources help build the encyclopedia in a useful way then the criteria are irrelevant.

Qurq (talk) 20:33, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

I think the proposal isn't restrictive enough. We are more likely to get hit with WP:BOOKSPAM than we are to find books that are essential to have that haven't been reviewed yet. I would go so far as to say that I cannot imagine a case of the latter. Also, a useful book that has not been cited even once in the article? If you know it is useful, you almost by definition know how the article could be improved by citing it. For this reason, I am wary of "Further Reading" sections. We certainly should not phrase the guideline in a manner that weakens our spam protections. Leaving it up to editorial judgment whether a thing is spam or not is unworkable: we assume good faith as editors, not as people debating guidelines. There, we recognize that WP:SOUP is more descriptive of the "conversations" had over whether something is a spam link/book or not than WP:CONSENSUS. RJC TalkContribs 21:28, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't see what the word "essential" has got to do with anything. The word "essential" is a deletionist word that says let's remove this because it's not "essential". Since when was anything in Wikipedia essential ? Wikipedia is not essential. We put stuff in articles because we are building a useful encyclopedia, not a bare-bones one.
And where do you get the idea that all books are reviewed ? I think only a tiny fraction of books are reviewed. Qurq (talk) 23:22, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
My own book is unreviewed. And it would be spam for me to slip it in to an article as "further reading" without showing how it is relevant, which would best be done by citing it (oh, how I resent WP:COI and wish some other editor would realize the brilliance that could be added to the encyclopedia by relying upon my book). And there is nothing about this by way of deletionism, since we are not talking about article survival. Even those who want to roll back WP:N don't want articles to become unwieldy or to be used for advertising purposes. RJC TalkContribs 23:45, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
I get the impression that this proposal is aimed at very notable or popular articles that already have many sources and don't really need any more. But the effect it would have on more specialist articles is to allow someone to come along and delete all the FR sources that add notability to the subject and then delete the article itself for not having enough sources. In other cases it wouldn;t lead to deletion of the whole article but it would decimate the usefulness. Qurq (talk) 00:00, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
But I don't think we can make "Further Reading" sections a substitute for "References" sections, which we would have to do in order to address your concern. That is, your concern, while valid, could apply only if the article were inadequately sourced in the first place, such that ransacking the FR section could diminish its apparent notability. Even this, however, would not lead to deletion, since the first "keep" !vote would note that the subject is covered in these books which were deleted from the article and that inadequate sourcing when sourcing is to be found is not a reason for deletion. I'm a bit unsure about your other case: how would an article's usefulness be gutted by an inadequate FR section, unless the article served no purpose other than as a bibliography? RJC TalkContribs 00:09, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
Take as an example the article retrograde motion. All very useful items that add to the article and FR adds more types of situation in which retrograde motion can be considered. That info could have been added to the article but hasn't. I wouldn't want to see those sources deleted though. Qurq (talk) 00:39, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

FR is not RS[edit]

I have removed:

Should clearly qualify as WP:RS, as indicated by reviews and citations to it.

because it t'ain't so. The Further reading section is, like WP:External links, one of the places that editors are permitted to include publications that are not reliable sources. It is often the best possible place to put, say, a citation for a historically important, but now thoroughly discredited publication.

In short, this essay must leave room for something like WP:ELMAYBE #4's "Sites that fail to meet criteria for reliable sources..." when these are appropriate. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:53, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Book reviews[edit]

Entry #3 of Wikipedia:Further reading#Appropriate entries is problematic: "To avoid spam, any book included should have received more than one good review in RS - newspapers and scholarly journals being the norm, and the clear balance of RS reviews should be positive. This would avoid self-publish spamming, POV pushing, and attempts by publishers to get books promoted through inclusion on wikipedia. At the moment "editorial recommendations" as described in the manual smacks of OR."

While I fully understand the rationale behind this entry, many books will have never been reviewed in this way. Even some self-published books would not be a problem in a further reading section, and it can sometimes still be acceptable to include the details and ISBN for such a book even if it cannot be used for an inline citation.

Books are also not the only items commonly listed in further reading sections. It is common to place links to online articles which cover a subject, especially for computing and technical subjects. Often these articles are written by well known (and sometimes wiki-notable) individuals. Other times the articles are not written by well known individuals but still contain very good information.

I really feel we need to be mindful of instruction creep here while expanding on the material that was split from Wikipedia:Layout#Further reading. --Tothwolf (talk) 00:22, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

I'm also concerned about this. I can see some good in this: If you're selecting from among the dozens (hundreds?) of biographies on Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill, then this is probably a good rule of thumb. However, in most other situations, it's probably not.
  • This item seems to preclude listing a lot of textbooks, which aren't reviewed very often in newspapers or scholarly journals (except for the most popular ones).
  • What if you wanted to list a sacred text for some small religion? Do we need to have a "clear balance of reviews" in favor of the religious text? What if most of the reviews say that the sacred text is a hoax or a modern-day version of the Kinderhook plates? Does the text become unimportant and uninteresting to our readers because the reviews aren't "positive"?
  • What if the book was remarkably ill-received, and was WP:Notable as a result of that negative reception? For example, The Man Who Would Be Queen would probably be a reasonable choice for a Wikipedia article on "feminine" behavior in males, but it was the center of a vitriolic campaign by transwomen, who believe that the current scientific notions of male-to-female transsexuals are hateful. I don't think that you'll find a "clear balance" of reviews that are unambiguously positive, but it still might be one of several books worth reading.
Part of this, I think, is related to the problem I address in the section above, which is the incorrect belief that Further reading is a repository for reliable sources. We may need to remove it, or to significantly rephrase it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:43, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
I think these are all good points for elaborating the general principle of what goes in. It's clear that the good reviews criteria is only good for some kinds of texts. So we should have provisions for other kinds of texts.
  • In the suggestions above, any canonical texts (the example given was the communist manifesto) should of course be included, so that central religious texts would, as a matter of course, be included. Central Scientology texts would be fine, even though many outside the movement consider the whole thing a hoax. (What might be interesting then is which translation is recommended for books not originally in English). I don't think this is problematic.
  • Textbooks are an important issue, as I think in many cases they would be ideal for a further reading section (my general view being that further reading sections should be a starter guide for wikipedia users wanting to go beyond what an encyclopedia says on the topic). To be honest I'm not sure what would be a good criterion. One further issue is that textbooks can go out of date. Hmmm. Anyone got any ideas?
  • As for books which have attracted a minority of vociferous criticism, such opposition can be noted in the book's listing.
I agree wholeheartedly that FR sections should not be repositories for yet-to-be-added RS.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 10:01, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

My use of this section[edit]

(Not really sure where to add my input, but here it is.)

When I add titles & articles to this section, my intent is to point to material which can be used to improve the Wikipedia article, not necessarily to benefit the reader. My reasons for doing this are along the lines of "I happened on this, read it, & found that it looks useful, but I don't have the time or interest to make use of it." I do this as a note to myself so I when I come back to the Wikipedia article I -- or anyone else -- can make use of this discovery (my memory sucks when it comes to recalling something I read months or years ago). So am I violating the intent of this essay? I would find it disappointing if that were the case. -- llywrch (talk) 21:12, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Some Wikipedians believe that such notes should be listed on the article's talk page, rather than in ==Further reading== or ==External links==. I don't believe that there has ever been a written "rule" against it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:45, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
I would also prefer to add such notes to the talk page, though I have no fundamental objection to adding them to ==Further reading== if they are not just intended for editors. One rule for External links seems specifically designed to disallow this: Anything that does not provide a unique resource beyond what the article would contain if it became a featured article, and I do think similar rules should apply to ==External links== and ==Further reading==, so perhaps we should re-visit that rule at WT:EL"). I do think we need to be fairly flexible, which is why I prefer wording like "consider", "normally avoid", etc. --Boson (talk) 07:41, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
And some believe the opposite, see {{expand further}}. Tijfo098 (talk) 14:58, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

What do we really want to restrict?[edit]

I am not sure about some things, but I would suggest the following for discussion:

  • Spam by authors and publishers
  • Books and articles deliberately added to further the editor's POV (often anti-something) rather than inform the reader
  • Editors adding any old book or article they happen to have read on the subject
  • Long lists in the nature of a directory or catalogue
  • Lists of magazine coverage (?). For instance, I am in two minds about Morgenthau Plan#Time Magazine articles

--Boson (talk) 07:41, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

Yes to all these things, and I'm sure there are more. When you factor in WP:AGF and WP:DR, this is exactly why strict guidelines are required to restrict entries. If a new editor adds three "further reading" items to ten articles (whether different items, or the same three), another editor who disagreed with the additions may face several hours (or even days) work to remove them, if the new editor defends their items. Without strict guidelines, the "further reading" section of many articles would grow out of control, and unhelpful edit wars would occur when editor A "cleans up" the items (deleting 90% of them), while editor B "reverts unexplained changes". Johnuniq (talk) 07:52, 3 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that strict guidelines are necessary; as a general rule, we can trust editors to do a good job. Additionally, my experience with doing the same type of de-spamming work with external links is that in 90% of cases, nobody objects, or even notices the removals, and I don't see any reason why lists of further reading will necessarily be any different.
I'll try to start a section based on these ideas. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:28, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

What do we want to encourage?[edit]

Parallel to the above, do we want to encourage:

  • High-quality reliable sources that weren't used in writing the article? For example, say that we used these six biographies on Abraham Lincoln, but readers might benefit equally from reading these other three, equally good sources.
  • Historically important publications? For example, a seminal scientific paper like Watson and Crick's 1953 paper on the structure of DNA.
  • Primary sources discussed extensively in the article, but not cited because editors supported the discussion with secondary sources? For example, if the article describes something from the Talmud, and properly cites modern secondary sources to support the description, should we consider listing the primary source under ==Further reading==
  • Naming reliable sources for expansion, per {{Expand further}}? (I assume here that these must be sources that we would actually recommend to readers, not any possible source.)

Are there other good uses? WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:24, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

I think that primary sources should be kept separate from the secondary/tertiary sources in the Further reading section. Generally, though, I don't think we should be using primary sources in FR, unless they are (as you said) very historically important. -- Mesoderm (talk) 09:08, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Allowing duplication of works under Further reading and References"[edit]

If we are having a serious discussion of Further reading then the old rule "2 Relation to reference sections. Works that are already named as an inline citation or general reference may not be included in this section, per Wikipedia:Manual of Style (layout)." should be on the table too. In my opinion it was never a good rule and should be dropped because it seriously compromises the value of the Further Reading section, while gaining no advantage whatever to the user. Rjensen (talk) 04:51, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

I agree. This has been one of the problems with further reading sections - the addition of material of marginal relevance, or with a minority or tangential focus. "Further reading" should not be "stuff we couldn't include" or worse, "stuff we haven't integrated yet, and might not get round to integrating". It makes sense for external links and for see also, but not here.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 05:01, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Do you two have the same issue here? It doesn't sound like it to me.
Rjensen, if you want to cite X source in ==References== and then list it again in ==Further reading==, then you need to go over to WP:LAYOUT and get that long-standing rule changed. My primary goal with that section is to have this page not directly conflict with an existing MOS page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:15, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
that rule was never really discussed over at the Layout section -- the serious Wikipedia discussion of further reading is right here, right now. So I think we should form a consensus and then try to get it approved in the layout section. Rjensen (talk) 05:25, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
doing some research, it appears that the policy was added one user back in 9 July 2006 by user:Circeus who added this: External links used as references should accordingly be listed in the "References" section. Other links may also be under "Further reading"--the rule was added without any discussion, and in my opinion weakens Wikipedia's usefulness. Rjensen (talk) 05:35, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
You must have forgotten that you tried to do this back in May at LAYOUT, and were promptly opposed by multiple editors. I think that indicates a reasonably current level of consensus for non-duplication—even if we pretended that 'prior permission' had been required for Circeus's original description of the apparent consensus on this point. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:11, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
yes it's true there are people who say that old rules must be kept regardless of their hindrance to editors and users. But the question here is how to make the Further Reading section useful, and I suggest that leaving out the best titles that readers will need is a negative that should be removed. Rjensen (talk) 20:20, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
It depends on what the intention of the further reading and external links sections are. One possibility is that they are mere supplements to the reference section, and are not intended to stand on their own to provide a useful bibliography. The other is the converse of that. Either is workable, but if it's the former, the lede of this proposed guideline needs to be rewritten in accordance with that. --Bsherr (talk) 20:25, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Well, I don't think there's a major problem with the old policy. On some subjects, there are a multitude of books on a topic. If, for example, there was a large, omnibus article on a major topic, like Organic chemistry, there may only be a half dozen or a dozen book references used directly in the article, but there also may be a half dozen or dozen more really good, reliable sources which could have been used, but were not. That is exactly what further reading should be; reliable works which, while not directly cited, still represent quality scholarship on a topic. If people are adding things which don't belong in Further Reading, for whatever reason, those should be culled, just like from External Links, but there's no need to throw out the baby with the bathwater here! --Jayron32 21:17, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
How does that apply to repetition of sources between references and further reading? --Bsherr (talk) 21:34, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Try reading just the sentence with the bold-faced word in it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:28, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
I can envision a (history) article with 100 titles in the footnotes, of which maybe 5 will be repeated in the Further Reading. (The other 95 will not be repeated because they are not generally useful, but are there to confirm specific statements or quotes.) Rjensen (talk) 21:54, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Agree with Jayron. I noticed from a recent study of the way US students actually use WP (er, link anyone?) that one of the main things they are looking for is information on good books on the topic. Since all too often the sources actually used are not the best available, further reading sections are very useful. At the same time, I don't like the way German WP often gives huge bibliographies, often I suspect well out of date, and I don't think books in "refs" should be repeated. Johnbod (talk) 21:30, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
I can imagine an article that lists the standard works and primary sources under ==Further reading==, without any of these being used as references. If someone now adds a fairly minor point that cites Volume 4, Page 736 of one of these works, the current guideline would, as I understand it, require removal of this one work from ==Further reading==. One could, of course, move this one work to References (after the footnotes) but that would be misleading and less informative. So I think there should be modifications to the current guideline. --Boson (talk) 23:01, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree this can be an issue. In such a case I might start FR with a note like: "The standard works are Smith and Jones (see references) and: " Johnbod (talk) 09:37, 8 December 2010 (UTC)
This line of thought seems to be predicated on the unfounded assumption that the students look for books to read under ==Further reading== and largely ignore sources under ==References==. I think that's highly implausible. In the same situation, I think I'd do exactly the opposite, i.e., decide that sources named under ==References== are the sources the editors thought were good enough to use themselves, and that ==FR== were their second-tier choices. I really can't imagine myself interpreting a useful citation to a single page as a dis-recommendation for the entire book. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:22, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
I think there is a benefit in highlighting what the standard books are. All too often the reason they aren't referenced is because editors didn't have access rather than that they decided not use them. Johnbod (talk) 09:37, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

Would it be sensible to change the heading of this section to something more neutral, like "Duplication of works under Further reading and References"? I suppose that would be the prerogative of the original creator of the section--Boson (talk) 23:01, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

ok, done. Rjensen (talk) 23:09, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Section headings belong to everyone, not merely original authors. This applies to section headings on talk pages (see WP:TPO) as well as other pages. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:28, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Conflicts of interest[edit]

About this:

I do not want to include the "if you have a COI" language, because it results in disputes about whether someone has a COI. We've got plenty of POV pushers who try to say things like "You once met the world-famous professor who wrote this book, and whom I hate, so I say that you have a 'conflict of interest' and are therefore not allowed to list the book that made him famous" or "You are a doctor, so I say that you have a 'conflict of interest' with respect to all medical books."

Yes, it's stupid. But it does happen, and we can reduce the problem by not introducing vague and subjective ideas here. Let's try to keep this to a much more concrete level, like "you are the author" rather than "you could be construed as having some connection to the subject", okay? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:15, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

yes I agree. this is unlikely to be a major issue-- not many people write books! Rjensen (talk) 05:27, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Are you proposing that Wikipedia:Conflict of interest does not apply to further reading sections, or are you trying to hide the guideline?
The conflict of interest guideline is clear about the definition of a conflict of interest, and should put to rest all false claims. If it does not, it should be amended.
--Bsherr (talk) 05:43, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
The COI policy always applies to all parts of every article; in my opinion there is no need to stress it here, since it only applies to authors of books that might be in the Further Reading section, and there are not many of those folks writing for Wiki. Rjensen (talk) 05:49, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
I agree there's no need to stress it. But failing to merely reference it is a significant and problematic omission in a section titled "Conflicts of interest" that deals with conflicts of interest. --Bsherr (talk) 05:51, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
I think that the "Suggested guidance" is a sufficient link; it's not necessary to link
As for it being clear about the definition—you've not spent any time at WP:COI/N, so you presumably aren't aware of the harassment and POV pushing that occasionally appears there. Not all conflicts of interest are black-and-white issues, and some people have taken extreme views (e.g., Jews should not edit articles about Judaism, surgeons have a COI with articles about surgery, university professors should not edit articles about their specialty).
Importantly, both WP:NOR#Citing_oneself and WP:COI#Citing_oneself expressly permit people to cite publications they have written themselves; listing your own book is not actually an activity prohibited to authors by these pages. I think we best serve the project with a direct, black-and-white rule that says "no authors and publishers", as well as a link to practical advice like WP:SPAMMER, rather than a link to something that has, and always will, create opportunities for disputes like "If you're gay, then you shouldn't list books about being gay, because you might be WP:COI#Campaigning for gay rights". WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:11, 6 December 2010 (UTC)
Citing oneself is rather different than putting one's own publication in a further reading section. The former is for WP:Verifiability, the latter is adding one's own publication as article content, at least more so than a reference. It's fine to say "no authors and publishers", but to leave it at that implies expressio unius est exclusio alterius—it incorrectly suggests that no other conflicts of interest are applicable; WP:COI contradicts that, so it is necessary to link. I understand WP:COI is sometimes abused, just like I often see WP:ADVERT abused to make arguments that saying anything potentially complimentary about anything is promotional; however, the solution is not to hide the relevant policies and guidelines, but to improve them. If you're worried about WP:COI being abused as you describe, I suggest we rewrite COI so it cannot be abused. Would you consider that as a resolution? --Bsherr (talk) 18:04, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
It is not possible to re-write the COI guideline so that it cannot be abused. Editors will always need to use their best judgment—and the fact of requiring judgment is exactly the fact that makes abuse (in either direction) possible.
I don't mind linking to the COI guideline; I object to saying "Don't add if you (could be construed by a POV pusher to) have a COI" rather than "Don't add if you wrote it or published it (because of COI, naturally)". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:01, 9 December 2010 (UTC)
That misrepresents the COI guideline, for the reason I gave above, so that won't work. Do you have another suggestion? --Bsherr (talk) 07:00, 11 December 2010 (UTC)
As my suggested statement makes no representations at all about the contents of the COI guideline, I don't understand why you think it misrepresents it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:10, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Limited in proportion to the size of the article?[edit]

Limited in proportion to the size of the article? Bad idea. Many stubs want a long list. A list that could enable someone to write the article. Likewise if an otherwise one line stub contains a future reading list that would be appropriate if the article was fully written then in such a case this proposal would require the list to be reduced/removed. Regards, SunCreator (talk) 23:45, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

That is an issue. Is there language you'd propose to resolve it? --Bsherr (talk) 17:50, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
How about just "However, the section should be limited in size in proportion to the size of the article"?
The length of a Further reading section should determined on a basis similar to the identically "limited" length of an ==External links== section. Nobody's willing to officially put a firm number on it (because WP:SPAMMER-like editors understand such numbers as "floors" rather than "ceilings"), but in practice, if you've got 10 or more entries, then you've probably got a problem. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:27, 7 December 2010 (UTC)
Right you are about no firm numbers, but a very long article about a very broad subject might deserve a larger further reading section. Likewise, a very short article about a very narrow topic probably should have a smaller further reading section. There should be a way to say that. --Bsherr (talk) 17:19, 8 December 2010 (UTC)

I agree -- it's very beneficial to have a long Further Reading section (assuming you're using quality sources, of course) in stubs and unsourced articles. It puts the sources that people need to expand the article right there, and removes the "I don't feel like looking for sources, and writing out the citations." excuses, making it more likely that people will actually improve the article. -- Mesoderm (talk) 09:06, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Some practical concerns[edit]

When I see a "Further reading" list I want to know why I should consult the books it mentions, before spending my time and effort (or that of other people) accessing them. I think it is possible to state, in the body of an article (perhaps in a parenthetic comment at the end of the opening sentence, using catch-words and catch-phrases, or in a short section at the end on "Further reading") the relevance of items of the kind that are bulleted under this heading now, with citation numbers to the main list of references. If this would make that list too long, there could be separate NUMBERED lists distinguished by prefixes, to allow concise referencing in writings that cite the WP article. I think a present criterion for assignment to "References" versus "Further reading" is provision of "verifiability" of individual statements in an article. This would be unsustainable in articles I plan to write, that are my motivation for learning to contribute to WP. Can WP tolerate this? Also, I do not use a pseudonym. When I expand an article by mentioning work that I did, citing publication in a peer reviewed journal or in a book by major publisher, do I have to mention this (1) when my name is in the authorship, (2) when it is not? Likewise when I write an article on a topic on which I have published (and I take care to mention work of other people.) Michael P. Barnett (talk) 03:22, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Hi Michael,
Here are my initial thoughts:
  • What makes something a "References" rather than a "Further reading" item is whether or not the source was used to create article content. So if you read a book about the geography of the Nile River, and then you go to Nile River and add what you learned, then that book definitely belongs under ==References==, not under ==Further reading==. Visibly associating the book with a specific individual statement is not what makes the book your source of information.
  • Individual statements absolutely must be verifiable. However, WP:Inline citations are not necessarily required (except, notably, for direct quotations and contentious statements about living people; additional categories of inline citation are required for WP:GA and WP:FA status). You can use WP:General references if you think that is more appropriate.
  • "Why I should consult the books it mentions" is the point behind permitting brief descriptions.
  • You should read WP:SELFCITING and WP:COI#Citing_oneself
Hope this helps, WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:13, 15 December 2010 (UTC)

Time to turn this into a real guideline?[edit]

So...it's been a couple weeks with no comments now, almost a month since the proposed guideline was edited- who thinks it's time to turn this into a real guideline?-SightWatcher (talk) 02:31, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

Is there any particular need for it to be a formal style guideline? Also, do you envision it as part of the Manual of Style, or as a non-MOS style guide? WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:33, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I personally see it as more of a WP:RS-related guideline. I think the purpose of the guideline should be to determine which sources can/can't be included in a Further reading section, and the way we should do that is through some relatively objective quality criteria. Basically, I'd say that if a source is an RS of the same quality or higher as those used in the article, then it's fine to include in FR. Mesoderm (talk) 08:54, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

I think it needs more feedback. I've invited a couple of editors that have some interest in this type of issues to comment. Tijfo098 (talk) 19:45, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

Duplicating sources[edit]

We say that "Works that are already named as an inline citation or general reference may not be included in the Further reading section, per Wikipedia:Manual of Style (layout)." I would rather weaken that, to say "should not normally be included", to enable editors to compile a Further reading list (or Bibliography) that will be of maximum help to the reader, irrespective of whether a particular work has or has not been cited once or twice, rather than a Further reading list that only contains minor works that were not considered essential to source article content. It can be unhelpful to the reader if all the good stuff is buried in a forest of footnotes. Thoughts? --JN466 06:43, 6 January 2011 (UTC)

I agree. The old rule was added without discussion and was designed for short articles with a handful of footnotes, but does not help anyone in a long article with dozens of notes.Rjensen (talk) 07:31, 6 January 2011 (UTC)
That's rather misleading. The "old rule" has been in place for years (WP:SILENCE and WP:Consensus#Process, and has been discussed several times, including at least twice with Rjensen failing to gain consensus for a change to his preferred version.
Wikipedia needs to avoid conflicting advice. If you want to loosen this statement here (i.e., IAR isn't enough for this unusual instance), then we need a consensus at WT:LAYOUT to change the Manual of Style. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:16, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
actually the "rule" has been ignored in thousands of articles. Rules when challenged need to be defended and so far I have not seen any defense at all. Why do we have it? Rjensen (talk) 05:19, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
  • "Ignored in [thirty] thousand articles" means "followed in 99.9% of articles".
  • If you want to change a long-standing rule, especially in the face of opposition, then you need to show an actual consensus for changing it. There are many methods by which you could show such a consensus (if it existed, which apparently it doesn't), but saying "Yes, yes" on this page while a widely supported guideline has clearly said "No, no" for years is simply not an acceptable way to get what you want. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:01, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Comment: I've started a thread at the MOS talk page, Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(layout)#Further_reading:_duplicating_cited_works. --JN466 14:46, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Two things i see that are not clear in this policy[edit]

Came across this after seeing an edit were 20 or so books listed on an article were removed with edit summary = I agree with Wikipedia:Further reading cutting back books listed. I also think we should limit the number of books listed on articles. My concern is that the current wording of "a reasonable number of works" and "the section should be limited in size" are not clear. Should we not give a number range related to article size (so we limit things happening like at History of Germany and Franklin D. Roosevelt that has so much listed). Also how do we all feel about the fact that some of this list are so big that they get moved to there own name space like with Bibliography of Canadian history are this ok? - despite our policy of Wikipedia:NOTDIR and if so what should be said about them (Bibliographies). Should we also mention a process in cutting back books in huge list so we dont have editors mass blanking referring to this page. Moxy (talk) 20:24, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

students come to Wikipedia for help in their learning process, and one important role is helping students write termpapers for class projects at the undergraduate level and projects like "History Day" exhibits at the high school level. For that they need bibliographies that tell them about the most useful RS. They especially need help when they are at small schools with limited library resources. Limiting the information available to them in order to save space seems to contradict the spirit of Wikipedia. Rjensen (talk) 20:38, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I think we all agree with what your saying and is exactly y we have them. Are you saying there is no limit to the amount of books that can be listed on one page, because thats not what this proposed policy and Wikipedia:NOTDIR is saying. Like i said above i am new to this talk - am i misinterpreting the page and Wikipedia:NOTDIR on the limited numbers fact? What is "a reasonable number of works" 5 to 10 or 30 to 50? Moxy (talk) 20:46, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
I think that 1 to 3 books will be fine for 90% of the history articles. (How many are appropriate for a chemistry article I have no idea.) But long articles on major topics --like the history of an important nation over 1000 years-- needs more. There are two kinds, general surveys (of which 3 to 6 should be enough in most cases), and specialized studies of particular topics. How many of the latter depends on how detailed the Wiki article is--that is, how many specialized topics it covers. The criteria should be selecting the 1-3 most useful books on the topic, not 5% or some fraction of the available titles. Rjensen (talk) 22:22, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
IMO once a list of books gets moved onto a separate page, it quits being "Further reading" and starts being a "Stand-alone list". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:57, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Sounds a bit nonconstructive to just list book after book and not use them in any content capacity - i take it all agree that History of Germany is way over the top and list like this should be moved to there own page because of readability concerns for our readers - and a question should we be revert the removal of 20 books that i see an editor now doing in many articles?Moxy (talk) 23:09, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
readability is not a factor--the further readings are at the end and don't obscure anything. There IS indeed a content factor: the list tells the readers where the scholarship is located. That is real information that is hard to get anywhere else on the internet. Rjensen (talk) 01:12, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
Sorry i should have linked to Wikipedia:Article size when talking about readability as this is what i meant. - I think i will just restore the deleted books from the pages i have seen and if need be make a separate page for them if the "kilobytes long" messages appears after doing so or if currently there. Will do this over the next few days and after reading WP:list. Thanks all Moxy (talk) 06:22, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
As for readability and [Wikipedia:Article size], the policy stated there is "Readable prose" is the main body of the text, excluding material such as: Footnotes and reference sections ("see also", "external links", bibliography, etc.)" so I'm not sure what Moxy is proposing to do. Rjensen (talk) 06:57, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
IMO monster lists of bibliography/externals are not useful or usable. I suggest limiting structured lists to ten.
This might mean that I have for "Centerville" under bibliography: Climate: (ten books), Geography (ten books), History (ten books). So at least a reader has a tool to make sense out of an otherwise humongous list. Student7 (talk) 23:14, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
Rjensen's further reading section at History of Germany appears to contain 101 books. There is no good reason for such a long list to be present at the end of any article Wikipedia, and in particular there is no good reason for History of Germany to contain (long) lists of books that apply only to subsets of German history. The books about early modern German history, for example, would be better placed at Early Modern history of Germany.
(The refs also have links with affiliate referral codes to Amazon.com, which is a different type of problem.)
I agree with Student7: monster lists like this are not either useful or usable. A limit of about ten is generally suggested, even though no one has enshrined it in any guideline (because of the "floor/ceiling problem" with bookspammers). A list that dramatically exceeds this rule of thumb should be firmly rejected. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:11, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
"monster" is the sort of POV word that reveal the bias of the author against books. One goal: the lists are for students looking for term paper topics--when there are 50 kids in a class then 2 books per student is not a monster at all, from the students perspective. Who gains by reducing the info available in the articles--that is the unanswered question. Rjensen (talk) 01:18, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
I don't see a problem with the further reading list in "History of Germany". It is well organised, and has a significant number of online links in it. The article covers a huge topic, and as a reader wanting to do further research I would be extremely glad to have such a list. Even as someone who isn't about to start a major research project on Germany, I can still appreciate the diligent effort someone put into compiling such a list, and its presence certainly does not inconvenience me. --JN466 14:53, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

Bibliography for ... articles[edit]

Remember that we have some of those around here So, the WP:PRESERVE solution for genuinely informative (non-spammy) but too long reading lists in articles would be to split them in such list-like sub-articles per WP:SUMMARY, e.g. Bibliography for Ayn Rand and Objectivism. There is however the issue of WP:NOTDIRECTORY to consider. Tijfo098 (talk) 19:27, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

Is Further reading supposed to be paper-only?[edit]

The External links guidance talks solely of web pages, although it does not go so far as saying it is exclusively to be used by web sources, although I believe that is how it is univerally applied. The Further reading guidance does not go so far as stating that it is for paper sources, or at least for all non-web sources of relevance to the article, although again I believe it is generally applied this way by editors. There is a section at the start of the FR guidance stating that EL and FR can be merged. What are people's views on the differences between EL and FR and should this guidance be more specific as to what counts as FR? Eldumpo (talk) 12:27, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

"Further reading" is a term that has been used for many decades by paper encyclopedias to refer to books and articles and in my experience in Wikipedia articles the Further Readings are usually published paper sources. Rjensen (talk) 12:47, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but do you think it should be made more specific so as the guidance for each indicates that EL is for web and that FR is for non-web? Eldumpo (talk) 14:44, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
No. One, the distinction may be artificial (where do you put a publication that was once published on paper, but now everyone reads online?). Two, if there's very little in either section, then some editors combine both types of sources into a single section (usually titled Further reading). WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:56, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
If it's not regarded that EL = web and FR = non-web then why do we have two separate sections at all. Why not have one sub-section called 'Further reading' which could then be sub-divided into web sources, books, journals etc as necessary? Eldumpo (talk) 11:38, 18 January 2011 (UTC)
As I said, sometimes we do combine them into one section, which is then (usually) titled FR. Most commonly, the article contains only web sources, and then EL is the preferred heading. When both types of resources are listed (affecting, at a guess, far less than 10% of articles), sometimes editors combine them and more often they divide them, either because of the size or because they want to use different styles for presenting the information (a full bibliographic citation for FR books and simple links for, say, a corporate website). WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:40, 26 January 2011 (UTC)
I think that Further Reading should be reserved for high-quality print sources, while External Links should be for websites. Of course, as WhatamIdoing suggested, there are some cases where combining both links and books into one section is appropriate. What I think we should do is say that WP:Further reading is criteria for inclusion of print sources not cited in the article, while WP:ELNO determines which links we can include. -- Mesoderm (talk) 08:51, 30 January 2011 (UTC)

Proposed rule of thumb for this issue[edit]

I think the keyword here is "reading". On an article like Microsoft the link to the corporate website's main page should be an EL because it's an ever-changing document and not really a reading, but a web portal. (Also, it's hard to imagine for what purpose you could cite the main page in the article.) However in an article about Project Foo at Microsoft, you could conceivably include a link to a page on their site that has, say, the history of the project or some detailed technical specifications; I'm thinking of something like MSDN Library or Microsoft Knowledge Base pages here.

As a rule of thumb for deciding in such ambiguous cases, I propose two criteria:

  • the page is mostly static, e.g. it conceivably could have a digital object identifier (or equivalent), even if it doesn't, and
  • it's mostly reading material (rather than mainly images or audio/video).

"Mostly" is supposed to cover non-essential presentation-related changes like CSS and similar. What do you guys think? Tijfo098 (talk) 19:40, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

General references and references[edit]

The purpose of a further reading section is to suggest further reading, and I do not see whether or not the material has been used otherwise in the article is necessarily relevant.

The sections should overlap, not be exclusive. A reference supports a point--it need not necessarily be a useful place to go for further or deeper or more detailed information otherwise. But often it will be. Normally, for a general article on a subject, on does try to pick references from the best general sources. General references are used in two ways: one, is where they have not yet been incorporated into the body of an article, but could be--then the above sentence applies: they might or might not be suitable choices for the next level. The other is when the provide the best available support for the material in the article in general--for many articles, a comprehensive general reference will support everything there. If so, it probably will be appropriate for further reading. (I should mention that to deal with the people who insist on inline references I normally move such references to be inline references to the lede paragraph. This is consonant with the WP:LEDE guideline).

For example, take an article about the history of a city. There are normally a few standard works on this, and they can and should be used for referencing most of the points in the article. , with various sources used for particular points as needed. They are also the best place to go if you want to read further.

We can afford some duplication. WP is NOT PAPER DGG ( talk ) 20:20, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

"The sections should overlap, not be exclusive. " You should also raise that at WT:MOS because that part is already included in the main MOS, at WP:FURTHER. I don't feel strongly either way, but User:WhatamIdoning surely does oppose that (and she edits these pages a lot). Tijfo098 (talk) 21:00, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
Discussion at WT:MOS. Tijfo098 (talk) 21:13, 18 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Having only just read the above, I'm going to say that I agree absolutely with what DGG is saying. To quote what I said elsewhere:

    "Sometimes an external link can be a gateway to a large website with lots of material. If you only cite a small portion of that website, you don't inform the reader which (of all the sources you use) are worth reading up on in more detail. Some sources are used in passing, others are used in depth, some lend themselves more to further reading. I feel very strongly that although external links/further reading shouldn't devolve into a directory or guide to "websites or other books out there", there should be some effort to provide the reader with an onwards path to explore the topic further. Rather than trying to package the whole article as a self-sufficient endpoint, it should be a comprehensive starting point where readers learn more about a topic, and then are inspired to go on and read more about the topic. Sometimes that will be by clicking through to other Wikipedia articles, sometimes by clicking on an external link, sometimes by picking one of the major sources to read in full, sometimes by reading a book provided in a further reading section."

    Also, can I plead (as a reader) that when articles reach the featured article level, it can be very difficult to pick through the tens of different major sources used, sometimes mixed up with minor sources, and know where to go next if you want to read more on a topic. Carcharoth (talk) 23:30, 17 July 2011 (UTC)
though Carcaroth refers to external links in his quote,--and I agree with him in that respect also--I certainly agree that what he says there is relevant to Further reading sections also. Wikipedia articles tend to be divided into two groups--those with inadequate references, ELs, and further reading, and those with too many. For the general reader, a selected list of further reading is the most useful;--the most commonly-used easily-accessible English language books. For the reader who wishes to become more involved, then there is a reason for a much fuller bibliography. Contrary to a view sometimes expressed here that such selection must necessarily be OR and a personal opinion, there are objective criteria. The usual one is the extent to which the work is referred to elsewhere in RSs, This in the past has been rather difficult to determine, but nowadays for many topics Google Scholar gives a useful approximation. An indirect way of determining it is to search under the subject heading in WorldCat, and see what books are held in most libraries. An easy way of distinguishing level is to see whether the books are mainly held in public or in academic libraries--and it can be useful to specify this in the list. (Such a check will give a anglophone-centric list, but, unlike article content and references, it's appropriate for a section of selected further reading.) This is so much a routine part of what librarians do, that I'm personally very willing to sort through any existing over-extensive list of this sort on request. Preparing a list from scratch is somewhat more difficult, but I'm willing to do this also in most topic areas. It does not require deep subject knowledge. DGG ( talk ) 00:29, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Sometimes, though, article editors will know more than librarians, and will rightly insist that the list be changed or cut down. There should also, I feel, be room for editorial judgment of a different sort, like that displayed at Guy Fawkes Night#Further reading. Carcharoth (talk) 00:35, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Idea. What if a count were made in English Wikipedia articles of references inserted by different registered editors? And what if that list (count) were used to sort references/further reading, highest count to lowest, say, once a month? The ones at the bottom (lowest count) might be candidates for deletion. Right few of know enough about the topic to rm references. Some of us that do know enough, have an axe to grind. Just a thought. Student7 (talk) 13:25, 21 July 2011 (UTC)

Topical[edit]

It seems to me that materials that provide context for the topic are as important as works whose contents are entirely about the subject of the article. Similarly, I think that preference should be given to quality (in the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance sense) rather than to monotopicism. --Bejnar (talk) 20:15, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Can you give a good example of that? Usually, when I've encountered that, the book recommended really ought to be listed in a related article (e.g., the 'History of Mystate' article, rather than the 'History of Mytown' article). WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:50, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, for example, Salunkhe, D.K.; Chavan, J.K.; Adsule, R.N. and Kadam, S.S. (1992) World Oilseeds – Chemistry, Technology, and Utilization Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, ISBN 0-442-00112-6 would be a good item under "Further reading" for an oil seeds article, but we don't have one. But it does have both a good overall summary description of the oil seed industry with the place of rape seed within that industry as well as dealing with the specifics of rape seed (canola) oil production. It is the standard text on oil seed technology. I would think that it would be appropriate in both an oil seed article further reading list and in the further reading list for the Canola article. I do not see a problem with occasionally listing useful books in more than one article. On the down side, like with all other kinds of spam, listing books can be the result of ulterior motives. Perhaps a more typical example is a book like Richard W. Etulain, ed. (2002). New Mexican Lives. University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0826324339.  which has an excellent chapter on Antonio José Martínez, even though I covers some nine other New Mexicans. --Bejnar (talk) 16:37, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Encouraging using sources as references instead[edit]

In the section Wikipedia:Further_reading#Relation_to_reference_sections, it currently states: "Some editors list sources that they hope to use in the future to build the article in Further reading. This is neither encouraged nor prohibited.".

Still, I think we can agree to the addition of "Still, directly building the article with the source as a reference is strongly encouraged over listing the study in ''Further reading".

I would also like to add "The chance is minimal that another editor would use that entry in ''Further reading'' to build the article", because I've hardly seen any occurrence of someone having built an article from a Further reading-entry made by someone else. Mikael Häggström (talk) 19:06, 13 June 2012 (UTC)

I've added the former sentence to the article now. Also, I moved the following statement to here: "The {{Expand further}} template encourages editors to use good sources, including those currently listed in the Further reading section.", because when appearing in this context it appears to encourage adding a source in "Further reading" and simply adding the "Expand further"-template instead of actually contributing to the article with it, which thereby makes editors pass the task to other people, resulting in that nothing gets done. Mikael Häggström (talk) 13:31, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Languages[edit]

Should the sources listed under "Further reading" be in English? I mean on en.Wikipedia. Or does it matter? Cynwolfe (talk) 14:56, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

I think it depends on the topic. For a general topic that may be published about in many languages, yes, I would prefer English for the English Wikipedia. But if the topic is say a biography of a Spaniard and they have a biography published in Spanish -- then of course we'd list that work, even though it's in another language. Or if writing about an academic topic where the seminal work was done in another language -- I would list the original paper/works (and then a translation, if one's available). -- phoebe / (talk to me) 23:39, 15 August 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Phoebe. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:02, 16 August 2013 (UTC)

Sub-sections[edit]

The page currently reads: "In the rare cases when it is useful to sub-divide these sections (for example, to separate a list of articles by an author from books about an author), use either definition list headings (;Books) or bold-faced text ('''Books''') rather than level 3 headings (===Books===)." What is the basis of this suggestion? I would have made precisely the opposite suggestion, favoring proper level-3 sub-sections that would be listed in the ToC. What is the advantage of purely decorative indications without semantic content? DES (talk) 20:55, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

It comes here from the long-standing advice in MOS:APPENDIX, which has specified using only ==Level 2== headers (normally) for years and years. This page's current version seems a little stronger than the current version in the main guideline.
As to why, whenever I've seen an explanation, it's been focused on the table of contents. People are in pretty solid agreement that it'd be silly to have the appendix to take up three-quarters of a table of contents. The apparently less important reasons are that people either object to categorizing by format or think you shouldn't have enough items that subdivision should be pointful. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:24, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I'd say it is a lot stronger: "use" in this context is an imperative, prescribing the "one true way" to do this, while "most editors prefer" indicates that one method is favored, but some disagree. Well, I disagree. I think subdividing at all should be rare, but when it is done it should be done by proper sub-sections. I don't find any of the reasons you quote persuasive. DES (talk) 21:31, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
I have edited to insert the "most editors prefer" language, pending further discussion. DES (talk) 21:34, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

No links to bookseller? Bad idea.[edit]

The proposal in the Presentation section includes the sentence "Do not include URLs to booksellers unless they provide free access to major parts of the book." Why? I can maybe see saying not to merely link to the bookseller's website but linking to the book's entry at the bookseller's site is better than no URL. Sure, a link to a site that provides free (legal) access to the book's material is better still. Many books do not have any non-bookseller site providing free access to the material. The purpose of a reference is to provide information to help an interested reader find the reference. Purchasing a copy is one way to locate a reference. In the absence of a better link, providing a link to the book's listing at a publisher's website is far more convenient and useful than providing no link and requiring the user to track down the book on the Internet (which can take from few to many minutes). This line should be removed or perhaps with a statement link "A URL, if provided, should be the most directly relevant to locate the material and provide ease of access." Jason Quinn (talk) 17:12, 11 March 2014 (UTC)