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Wikipedia:Citation needed

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Innovative application for the template in xkcd 285 (Wikipedian Protester)
The {{Citation needed}} template aims to promote accountable discourse.

To ensure that all Wikipedia content is verifiable, anyone may question an uncited claim by inserting a simple {{Citation needed}} tag, or by using a more comprehensive {{citation needed|reason=Your explanation here|date=August 2016}} clause.

Example: 65% of people believe in ghosts.[citation needed]

Citation needed statements are part of Wikipedia's backlog of outstanding problems. Currently there are 307,240 articles with "Citation needed" statements. You can help reduce the backlog!

When and how to use this tag responsibly

A "citation needed" tag is never, in itself, an "improvement" to an article: it is nothing more or less than a request for another editor to verify a statement: a form of communication between members of a collaborative editing team. For the user of the encyclopedia however it is at best a somewhat cryptic distraction; although it may alert an experienced user to a problem with the veracity of a particular statement. Tags that remain in place for months or years form an ever growing Wikipedia backlog - this is a problem in itself.

  • Do tag thoughtfully. Avoid frivolous or "hit-and-run" tagging. Consider the hypothetical fellow-editor who will, hopefully, notice your tag and try to find the citation you have requested. Is it clear just what information you want cited? Is the information probably factual? (If it isn't, then it needs deletion or correction rather than citation!) Is it so self-evident that it really doesn't need to be cited at all? (Some things don't).
  • Some tags are inserted by people well placed to find a suitable citation themselves. If this is the case, taking responsibility for your tags is very constructive. At the very least, any articles you have tagged should be on your watchlist. Re-visiting such articles occasionally, and trying to fix verifiability problems yourself when you have the opportunity, is also highly commendable.

When not to use this tag

Before adding a tag, at least consider the following alternatives, one of which may prove much more constructive:

  • NEVER use this tag because you don't understand a statement, or feel that "non-expert" readers are likely to be confused. Use {{Clarify}}, {{Elucidate}}, {{Confusing}}, {{Examples}} or {{Non sequitur}}, as appropriate, instead.
  • Do NOT tag nonsense. Delete it.
  • Do NOT tag controversial, poorly sourced claims in biographies of living people. Remove them immediately!
  • If you are sure the statement you want to tag is not factual, even if it does not come under either of the preceding headings, it may still be appropriate to simply remove the text (delete it!). Be sure to add a suitable edit summary such as "Very doubtful - please do not revert without giving a citation". If the original statement was accurate after all, this gives someone the chance to put it back, hopefully with a proper citation this time.
  • If a statement sounds plausible, and is consistent with other statements in the article, but you doubt that it is totally accurate, then consider making a reasonable effort to find a reference yourself. In the process, you may end up confirming that the statement needs to be edited or deleted, or you may find an excellent citation yourself. Either of these outcomes is better than a tag that goes nowhere.
  • If you feel an article, or a section within an article, needs more than one or two tags, then consider adding a {{Unreferenced}}, {{Refimprove}}, or {{Unreferenced section}} tag to the article or section concerned -- it reduces the clutter on the page.
  • A reference at the end of a paragraph typically refers to the whole paragraph, and similarly a reference at the end of a sentence may almost always be taken as referring to the whole sentence. If a particular part of a sentence or paragraph seems to require a separate citation, try to check the original reference rather than adding tags to text that may already be well referenced.
  • NEVER insert a "citation needed" tag to make a point, to "pay back" another editor, or because you "don't like" a subject, a particular article, or another editor.

If your work has been tagged

  • If you can provide a reliable source for the claim, then please just add it! If you are not sure how this is to be done, then be bold and replace the "Citation needed" template with enough information to locate the source. You may leave the copyediting to someone else, or learn more about citing sources on Wikipedia. This beginners referencing guide for Wikipedia provides a brief introduction on how to reference Wikipedia articles.
  • If someone tagged your contributions with a "Citation needed" tag or tags, and you disagree, discuss the matter on the article's discussion page. The most constructive thing to do in most cases is probably to supply the reference(s) requested, even if you feel the tags are "overdone" or unnecessary.

How to help reduce the backlog

At the moment, there are over 307,240 articles with "Citation needed" statements. You can browse the whole list of these articles at Category:All articles with unsourced statements.

Frequently the authors of statements do not return to Wikipedia to support the statement with citations, so other Wikipedia editors have to do work checking those statements. With 307,240 statements that need WP:Verification, sometimes it's hard to choose which article to work on. The tool Citation Hunt makes that easier by suggesting random articles, which you can sort by topical category membership.

I can help! Give me a random citation to find!

See also

External links