Template talk:Citation needed/Archive 4

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Archive 3 Archive 4 Archive 5


I think we need to remove the mention of it being deleted from the template. Concensus is already very clear on the deletion page, and honestly its going to make a mess out of pages. As people subst this, they will have to go back and remove this from any page they subst it on until this is removed. Not to mention on articles that may require more than a couple citations, it begins to look messy. --Crossmr 21:48, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

not to mention it makes it look on the article like you're saying the information in the article may be deleted (which it may, but the fact template shouldn't be saying that)--Crossmr 21:52, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

Overuse in a single article

In the recent deletion discussion, Dryguy made a good point:

"Template:fact also tends to be over applied. Citing sources is good and necessary, but I think the ease of insertion of the template leads to overuse and cluttering of otherwise good articles. Often, a paragraph expressing many ideas needs only one reference, but the uninformed are likely to come along and litter every sentence with [citation needed] tags. A better approach is to bring it up on the talk page - that way, cooler, wiser heads prevail. Verifiability is a must, but that doesn’t mean that citations need to be applied with religious fervor to every last little detail."

This is something I've seen myself -- a paragraph where litterally almost every sentence is tagged as needing a cite. There are better ways to approach things, the talk page being one of them. There are also other templates that deal with citations and verification that might be more appropriate. For example, Template:Unreferenced puts a textbox up that can be put before a section that is totally unsourced. Just because we have a hammer doesn't mean we have to treat everything as a nail.  :-) --DragonHawk 22:57, 1 July 2006 (UTC)

What I try to do is if I find that I'm going to tag 2 or 3 sentences in a paragraph is instead put an unreferenced and then explain on the talk, but I don't just leave it blank. I want a tag there to indicate that something may be wrong with that bit of information. --Crossmr 01:22, 2 July 2006 (UTC)


While I agree this template should not have been deleted, I think the obtrusiveness of the template is a problem that needs to be fixed. My idea is to change [citation needed] to [?]: this would let editors know that something is not cited while only minimally interfering in the article. Thoughts? zafiroblue05 | Talk 00:22, 2 July 2006 (UTC) P.S. Well, there you go - people thought of this before me, just needed to read the entire page above me. But this still needs to be discussed anew, I think. So - thoughts? zafiroblue05 | Talk 00:31, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

While experienced editors might know what that is, Joe Schmoe and new editors would not and it would lead to confusion, or them possibly ignoring that and not realizing there may be a potential problem with the information. --Crossmr 01:28, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Joe Schmoe and new editors aren't going to be looking up citations to replace the template; whoever really matters will know. If they don't know, they can click on the questionmark and find out. And a question mark automatically puts doubt into whatever it follows - enough doubt, I think. zafiroblue05 | Talk 01:57, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
"Whoever really matters?" I would think that would be the average user, not editor. Anyway, I think that the question mark is way too small. (I couldn't even tell it was a question mark until you mentioned it.) —Mira 08:49, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, I may not have been clear. The average user matters in terms of two things: they need to be able to read the article, and they need to know that a statement might not be verified. The question mark does both of those things; the "citation needed," however, intrudes hugely on the former. As to removing the template, however - which is, after all, the goal, no? - the average reader doesn't matter, because he/she isn't going to be the one to do it. zafiroblue05 | Talk 16:20, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
I like the question mark idea quite a bit but I honestly don't see it being clear enough relative to a potentially tagged passage of text. Netscott 16:26, 2 July 2006 (UTC)

A question mark formatted as a regular citation would serve just fine, and its function should be obvious to most readers (and a mouseover tool-tip or single click would inform the rest, once and for all). Perhaps it would be more clear without the unnecessary italics, in one of the formats normally used for footnote references: at normal font size,[?] or as a normal superscript.[?] Michael Z. 2006-07-02 17:00 Z

Another idea: [citations?]. Netscott 17:02, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Or: [cites?]. Netscott 17:02, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
hrm what about [authentic?]
Please don't assume that this template is only used as an accusation of inaccuracy. Michael Z. 2006-07-02 19:06 Z
I never did. don't make assumptions about what I intended. We're asking for citations because we can't verify the information. What about [verify] --Crossmr 23:54, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
I like that last. zafiroblue05 | Talk 04:10, 3 July 2006 (UTC)
Well at least we have 2 people who do. Does anyone know if it would be possible to create a mouse-over or some other way to track when the fact template was put on the page, i.e. when you hover over the word it might pop up something like "June 12, 2006" so you know how long that material has been sitting there waiting for a fact? it might help the cleanup of some pages so you don't have to spend 15 minutes going throuhg history to find out how old it is.--Crossmr 22:39, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
I inferred that [authentic?] was questioning the authenticity of a statement. [cites?] and [verify] are better than [citation needed]. How about [ref?]—is that too cryptic? Michael Z. 2006-07-06 23:12 Z

I like plain [cite?] personally :) RN 23:14, 6 July 2006 (UTC)

[cites?] makes more sense in my mind because it is frequently the case that a passage of text needs more than one citation. (Netscott) 23:22, 6 July 2006 (UTC)
Only problem with cites is that its a bit of slang. Cite is a verb, and cites is a past tense, not a plural. Cite as a noun is just a shortened form of citation, with the plural being citations not cites. I don't think we should be using slang in our template. Same with refs. While we may understand what it is, we need to make it plain to Joe User what this means.--Crossmr 21:16, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
[citations?] gets around such difficulties. (Netscott) 21:50, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
Or [citation?]. It seems to me that consensus is that we need a change. Any objections to me (boldly) changing the template now? zafiroblue05 | Talk 23:35, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
I'm good with either citation? or verify.--Crossmr 23:44, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
The word should be plural as "citations" to cover all possibilities. (Netscott) 00:16, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
Okay that makes sense.--Crossmr 00:20, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
To me, though, [citations?] sounds a little awkward, because you might only need one. [verify] gets around the plural/not plural problem, though. How's that? zafiroblue05 | Talk 01:51, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
With all of this back and forth I'm beginning to think...don't touch the text and just leave it as it is... it's been that way for some time and really it is fine. (Netscott) 01:52, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
Or just try it and see what people's reactions are. In all likelihood, no more than a shrug. zafiroblue05 | Talk 19:26, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
To reduce pure shock from a significant change then I would recommend [citations?]... it's shorter but still has the ring of what is currently in place. (Netscott) 19:27, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

As someone who's just discovered this recent change, I'd say the most jarring thing is the fact that [verify] links to Wikipedia:Citing sources rather than the less surprising Wikipedia:Verifiability. Yet WP:CITE is the correct page to link to; couldn't it say [source?] or something instead? User:Angr 19:40, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

Template does not show in printable version

Is this intentional or a bug? My initial thoughts are that the printable version should match the on-screen version. Thanks, GChriss 07:56, 9 July 2006 (UTC)

This is good, you can't do much with it elsewhere. I propose to add cleanup metadata for cases like this. Frank@ 21:26, 11 July 2006 (UTC)
I have removed the {editprotected}, I don't have any idea what you are requesting. Add {editprotected} back with a clearer request.--Commander Keane 08:25, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
Would you define your request a little more? My understanding is that this template doesn't do anything more than display [citation needed], and extensions would be a good thing. I not quite sure how the language codes fit in. Thanks, GChriss 12:22, 16 July 2006 (UTC)
Is that question for me GChriss? Well if it is, the way I see it is that GChriss requested that this template be printed. disagrees (or at least I disagree), so there is no consensus for the change at the moment. So I removed the {editprotected}. I am also confused about the language codes, but perhaps that is a suggestion about introducing an option to print meta data like this template.--Commander Keane 02:19, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, the question was for, who also added the {editprotected}. But you did touch on my original question -- why do you think the template should not be printed? Thanks, GChriss <always listening><c> 07:48, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

User:Anwar saadat's creative combination of vandalism and the fact template

Anwar saadat (talk • contribs • deleted contribs • nuke contribs • logs • edit filter log • block user • block log) has, after realizing that his vandalism was futile, combined vandalism with the addition of some dozens of Fact templates. Now he claims that his vandalism cannot be reverted because he also added some dozens of these tags to the article in the same edits.

Can we please state a rule somewhere that controversial edits such as vandalism should not be combined in the same edit with the addition of the fact template? I know it is obvious, but if this is not mentioned somewhere, there might always be users like Anwar who will do it.

The last time he did this was in the Babri Mosque and Hindu Rashtra articles:

After making large blankings of sections and references on Babri Mosque [1] [2] [3] which were reverted, he then adds the fact templates and in the same edit removes the reference (!!)[4], deletes text and references, and adds strong POV to the article.
Anwar adds fact templates and in the same edit he deletes the references.
For example he deletes the reference: "(P. Carnegy: A Historical Sketch of Tehsil Fyzabad, Lucknow 1870, quoted by Harsh Narain: The Ayodhya Temple/Mosque Dispute, Penman, Delhi 1993, p.8-9, and by Peter Van der Veer: Religious Nationalism, p.153)" and adds the fact template in the same edit for the deleted reference.
Other examples, where this user adds the fact template and in the same edit deletes the reference, blanks text or references and adds strong pov are [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] and by possible sockpuppets [11].

Can we please state a rule somewhere that controversial edits such as vandalism should not be combined in the same edit with the addition of the fact template? --Msiev 08:51, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

We don't need a special rule. Avoid instruction creep. Vandalism isn't allowed, period. Now, what you're describing isn't outright vandalism, but edit-waring, POV-pushing, etc. But those aren't allowed, either. We don't need to say "They aren't allowed with a template, either". If a user is causing damage, revert the damage. If a user continues to cause damage, follow the existing producers for handling that. Using this template is just an attempt to distract others from the real issue, and given that we're having this discussion, that attempt appears to be suceeding.  :) (Note: I haven't checked into the reported controvery, but I believe my statements apply regardless of how accurate Msiev's statements are.) --DragonHawk 15:51, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

What to replace the old category with?

The old category that was used by this template to categorise articles with statements going against the official verfiability policy, ie, Articles with unsourced statements, was deleted in the main because people both think it is unuseful due to its size, and that it is inappropriate to categorise articles going against this particular policy as they distract readers from what is really important...

As such I am calling for someone to suggest a better mechanism, even though I totally disagree with the second argument, and it is just ignoring the problem and making it harder for editors to find articles which are unsourced... I would prefer that some system at all would be available to track these, other than "Whatlinkshere", which is both unordered and hard to track progress with. Ansell 04:34, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

Addition to description?

I added the following statement to the description on the template page, which was instantly reverted by William Allen Simpson.

"especially in the case of biographies of living people."[12], [13]

Not only does this addition do no harm to the description in any conceivable way, but it is also directly supported by a July 12 mailing list post made by Jimbo Wales, in which he stated.

"If you read something negative about someone, and there is no source, then either find a _legitimate_ source (and make sure that WE do not make the negative claim, but rather than we merely report neutrally on what the claim is), or just remove it... and insist that anyone who wants to put it back, do so with a legitimate source!


On reviewing the edit history, I notice that Simpson may have merely erred/been lazy in his attempted revert of User:Ta bu shi da yu's earlier edit, but I believe this may still be worth discussion. --tjstrf 15:14, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. And the change isn't something I see as necessary.--Crossmr 15:36, 17 July 2006 (UTC)


Could an admin please protect this article? It's becoming a yo-yo and the template is too widely used to be jerked around every day. There's a general rule about templates: the more widely used it is, the more often it is edited - which is exactly the opposite of how it should be. Protection is the solution, it's worked elsewhere. This template needs to be stable and reliable in function and appearance. -- Stbalbach 01:08, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

I oppose protection, since none of the changes made have lasted very long anyway, and were of minimal significance. Protection is for cases of vandalism, not just normal edits. --tjstrf 01:13, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
Agree with Tjstrf... there was a minor squabble... unless actual warring or vandalism commences there's not much need for protection. (Netscott) 01:26, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
All it takes is one vandalism on a popular template to cause major problems, this is not a normal page. Template:Main was protected for this reason. Also I'm not sure what the resource load issues are every time this template changes if that's a problem. Anyway, this template is popular, you can count on increasing churn from people trying to change it, hope your vigilant! (me dropping off watch list, just a suggestion from past experience and seeing it repeat here). -- Stbalbach 01:33, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
For sure, it could cause problems, but no more than vandalizing templates like Template:POV or Template:merge might. And those aren't protected. At most, semi-protection might be in order, and only then after repeated vandalism has actually occurred. --tjstrf 01:38, 18 July 2006 (UTC)

Reworded summary of deletion vote

After reviewing the discussion at Wikipedia:Templates_for_deletion/Log/2006_July_1 I tried to reword the summary at the top of the discussion page. 11:25, 18 July 2006 (UTC).

I support the change in wording based on my interpretation of the discussion. It gives it more flavour instead of implying that the only reason was a technical glitch. The flavour was hugely in favour of keep and as such the withdrawn was a natural conclusion for the ultimate good of the deletion process if nothing else. Ansell 11:33, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
Yes, this template I started certainly has been a little controversial. However, it's a great tag, because it is so easily used and so handy to point out facts that haven't got a source in a relatively unobtrusive way! At least none of our critics can say that we don't make it clear what is and isn't sourced. Not only that, but as soon as I see the tag it makes me think "I wonder if this statement is supported by the facts", which means I question what is written. That's a good thing. - Ta bu shi da yu 14:54, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
We don't tally the votes in the deletion summary and this was not a candidate for speedy keep due to the deletion votes. This discussion was had at the time of placing the tag. In the future leave them alone, there is no reason to change them. The fact of the matter was that the nom was withdrawn due to a procedural issue.--Crossmr 15:37, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
First off, there's no prohibition on tallying the vote in the deletion summary; IMHO such a statement can been seen as a minor case of gaming the system. But more to the point, the current wording is very uninformative. It borders on (most likely unintentional) deception because it implies that some unspecified procedural technicality was all that prevented the template from being deleted. The template deletion process really only provides for two decisions: Keep' or Delete, and in this case the decision was to Keep. For all of these reasons, I'm in favor replacing the curent summary with either of the following:
Articles for deletion This template was nominated for deletion on July 1 2006. After several hours of discussion featuring three votes in support of deletion and dozens of keep and speedy keep votes, the result of the discussion was nomination withdrawn on procedural technicality. (talkcontribs) 08:51, 19 July 2006 (UTC).
I think the second one ("The result of the discussion was keep") is a good choice. We don't need to interpret the result of the discussion; the discussion like is right there for people. It's more "NPOV", if you will. Another choice (for the nit-pickers (which I sometimes am)) would be just "The result of the discussion was nomination withdrawn." Per Dryguy, it was not just the technicality that caused him to withdraw the nomination ("Outcome is already clear anyway."). --DragonHawk 12:35, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
After the vote being closed in under five hours, you cannot claim that there was any result or that it indicates any consensus. Most readers of this talk page didn't even know it was taking place before it closed. You would be leaving yourself open to accusations of stacking or rushing a vote. Michael Z. 2006-07-19 14:08 Z
That's correct. The AfD did not run its course, and in 5 hours regardless of the opinions there, a proper amount of time was not had to reach a concensus. The AfD was closed as was proper. This discuss was had at the time of the closing and I see no reason to bring it up or change the template now.--Crossmr 14:35, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
You both make a good point. Indeed, now that you point it out, I think you're right -- calling it "Keep" would also be misleading. That would be closing the polls early, so to speak, and we don't want that. But, in the spirt of nit-picking (I did say I do that!), I think the current text is also potentially misleading. Like I said, in Dryguy's own words, he withdrew the nomination not just on the technicality, but also because he felt the outcome was clear. So perhaps a simple "Withdrawn" would be more accurate. Looking for guidance, WP:DELPRO doesn't even mention the possability of withdrawing a nomination, so perhaps the fact that the TfD was closed early is itself a procedural violation. Meh. I don't really care that much. Nevermind.  :) Cheers! --DragonHawk 15:43, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
I think just a simple "request withdrawn" will do. If someone wants a detailed explanation, they can read the request page and draw their own conclusions.Michael Z. 2006-07-19 19:11 Z

Growth and appearance

Please don't feel offended, but I am sorry that the nomination had to be withdrawn in less than five hours without being announced on this page, before I or most other editors even had a chance to see it. I agree with dryguy's concerns about the appearance of this template—it is not well designed, and could fulfill its function without looking like an example of ill-informed typography. I'd rather see its appearance improved or the template removed.

The template's incidence has doubled in the last 67 days to over 18,000 articles, being added to about 150 articles every day. It's still growing at only a slightly lower rate than the total number of articles on English Wikipedia. Since it is coming soon to an article near you, why can't we make it look more professional? Michael Z. 2006-07-18 16:46 Z

We have an idea section up above. If you have some ideas on how it should look you could make some suggestions there.--Crossmr 17:10, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
I'm fine with how it looks now. It may be slightly ugly, but when people see enough of these in a single article, they do take notice. I would like to mention that I've seen 2 articles where they actually made a section entitled "unsourced statements" out of the tagged sentences, which is imo ridiculous. I deleted or relocated both of them, but it was still a rather surreal experience. Especially since it wasn't newbie editors doing it either. Our concern should be education about use more than appearence. --tjstrf 18:12, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
In my opinion, it should stand out, rather than being a "good" professional thing. I think the banner tags that are placed at the top of articles look more ugly than these tags. Ansell 00:45, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree they often do, but they stand outside the article text and don't make it harder to read by distracting the eye. "Professional" doesn't mean "hidden", and drawing an appropriate amount of of attention isn't synonymous with "ugly". I think this label can still do the intended job of pointing out required citation references, without being an eyesore.
Many of the proponents seem to also assume that being an eyesore somehow makes editors find references and replace this template when they otherwise wouldn't, but this seems to be empty talk unsupported by evidence. The addition of this template to ±150 more articles every day seems to argue the opposite. Michael Z. 2006-07-19 01:41 Z
The 150+ extra page uses per day also says to me that people are not extremely worried by it being too ugly to use. Although I am not very good with aesthetics myself, at least on my skin, the tag looks okay and is noticeable, which is what I want, especially as the categorisation was removed recently. and I am left with no automatic way of seeing which of my favourite pages the tags are being used on. Ansell 01:55, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
Or maybe it's being used so fast because it's just a lot easier to write {{fact}} than it is to actually fix it. zafiroblue05 | Talk 03:41, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

Reference to a note

Hmm I'm getting a strange idea -- how about <ref name="citation_needed"><nowiki>[citation needed]</ref></nowiki> so that the "ugly, unprofessional, ... text" goes in the references&footnotes section instead of the main article text?
Do people see MediaWiki footnotes as synonymous with references, in which case footnotes shouldn't be used for the lack of references? -- Paddu 03:54, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
I think that would be misleading. SOme people would see the footnote number and possibly just assume its cited.--Crossmr 03:56, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
Very much agree with crossmr. If I see the number, I assume the statement has a source, I only read the references afterwards. Others doubtless do the same. So, you would have to read the full article to realize that a statement was baseless. --tjstrf 04:18, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
It's an interesting idea. The reference could be simply a question mark, like this example.[?] It would look like any citation reference to someone who's only interested in reading, but will look odd to anyone who is paying attention to references. And the note in the references or notes section could be made to stand out quite a bit, say with a full explanation in a bold font (example below). This would grab the eye of anyone who clicks on the link, reads any other citation, or simply scrolls to the end of the article. The note could also have standard cite.php-style backlinks, clearly indicating the number of needed citations and linking to them all. Michael Z. 2006-07-19 05:34 Z

Actually, that might not be a bad form for it. Why not make it into the template Fact2? Also, added the superscript tag to it, hope you don't mind. --tjstrf 06:03, 19 July 2006 (UTC)

Superscript or not should match the other references in the article. The note would probably be best at the end of the list. Automatically constructing back-links for multiple instances would probably require this to be integrated into cite.php—is there a reasonably simple and reliable way to do it manually? I suppose we could use standardized anchor names, like #needcite-1, #needcite-2, etc, and #needcite-note. Michael Z. 2006-07-19 07:02 Z
I like the idea of using [?] instead of numbers. We could do just what we were doing with {{ref}}/{{note}} until cite added support within MediaWiki, and then start using cite to do the job (may be something like <no_ref/> on the lines of <ref/> that adds a [?], and modify <references/> to list all <no_ref/>s after listing all <ref/>s).
Back to the present, for manually constructing multiple backlinks, wasn't there some technique used with ref/note for this purpose, that we could use here too? -- Paddu 14:00, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

I think there are many statements marked with this template that will turn out to be slightly or completely wrong when an authoritative source is located. As such, I think it's important to make it clear to readers that certain factual claims is in reference limbo, even if they are not considered obviously wrong or dubious enough to move to the talk page. -- Beland 14:44, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

Is ?[1] or ?[1] or [1]? or ?[1]? or some other variation acceptable? One issue with this is references and absence of references will be interspersed -- Paddu 14:30, 22 July 2006 (UTC)

People are trying to make this template small and inconspicuous. This template needs to be big and in your face - ideally in <blink></blink> tags to show that you should place absolutely no value whatsoever on the statement - that the statement doesn't belong in an encyclopaedia at all and needs to be fixed QUICK. I would prefer to see all unverifiable statements removed rather than make this template smaller. You wouldn't consider using a small [npov] tag would you? Verifiability is an equally important policy. -- zzuuzz (talk) 14:50, 22 July 2006 (UTC)
I don't know if it needs to be giant, but I also don't think it needs to be tiny either. I think something that is obvious without being an eyesore is what is needed. I personally find the current one to be a tad long, but I also don't think it should be so small as that you mistake it for a footnote. Either of the suggestions made above that I liked are good or something of a similar length.--Crossmr 05:57, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Zzuuzz, you're missing the point. If a statement is considered doubtful, it should be removed from the article—this template is not intended to mark such statements, as is clear from the instructions on the template page. This template is for indicating statements which ought to be supported by a cited reference. It is meant as an editorial annotation, not a warning to readers. Michael Z. 2006-07-31 19:11 Z


  1. ^ a b c d [?] Passages marked with a question mark should be supported with the citation of a verifiable reference.

See here, kids

I'm with those who say the current phentoype (if you will) of this tag is just really ugly and eye-fatiguing. Some say it should be "in your face" so that the editors hurry-up and give a proper reference, but that's really just snidely, isn't it?-- especially with people now peppering articles with it, in many cases without full justification. Many, many editors and admins here need to learn the distinction between Original Research and Original Prose. We are still allowed to do the latter, and it, mind you, has been a core reason for our project's stellar success. The dry, hollow, androidy prose that will result if the hyper-citation-freaks get their way will flat-out drive our readers away.

Anyway, my humble suggestion is this: replace "[citation needed]" with "[cn]". Those who click the link will be informed that "cn" means "citation needed". Voila-- eye strain reduced about 80%, yet the budding ultra-correct-expository-writing-militants in our midst will remain appeased. JDG 03:41, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

It needs to be more eye-catching than [cn], because the point of it is to draw people's attention to a problem. I don't agree that supplying good references is incompatible with good prose. Can you give an example of where you feel the former has hampered the latter? SlimVirgin (talk) 03:44, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
It's not that supplying good refs hampers good prose, it's that original prose is often mistaken for original research and then tagged with this eyesore. JDG 03:54, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Can you give an example? SlimVirgin (talk) 04:01, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, this isn't an example of particularly good prose, but hopefully it makes the point. In the Bob Dylan article you'll find: "Although his contributions as performer and recording artist have been central to his career, his songwriting is generally held as his highest accomplishment." Now, this is a statement of fact and obviously a candidate for sourcing. But after I wrote it a small voice said to me "No, dammit.. how many articles and books have I read on Dylan that contain this exact statement. It's obviously a well-known critical (even a historical) consensus and we are going way overboard with all these ref tags. So I'm gonna leave it alone." The sentence lived in peace for a few months, but now the ref police are onto it and it carries [citation needed], to the distraction of the eye and the mind. How established must a statement be to be safe from these police? One admin in a related debate recently said she/he would plaster the fact tag onto every statement she/he encounters that's not on the level of "the sky is blue". That's just crazy and way beyond the standards of any reference book ever. JDG 07:40, 6 August 2006 (UTC)
Hear, hear! Any statement which is less concrete than a statistical figure risks having this label plastered onto it, and sometimes it seems like it inevitably will. A good example of another way in which template:fact can be considered harmful. Michael Z. 2006-08-06 08:03 Z

In my experience, this template is most visibly, if not most often, used by a frustrated editor to crap on other people's edits in lieu of or after losing a revert war. It is also commonly used simply to point out a statement someone disagrees with, but doesn't have the knowledge or inclination to check facts and edit an article.[14][15] It's also similarly used to criticize without bothering to participate in a discussion.[16] Finally, it is used legitimately to mark a statement which simply requires a citation—in these cases it usually just languishes in an article without a lot of active editors, and its "eye-catchiness" doesn't help it go away.

The high visibility of this template does not help it get replaced. In fact, an opposite effect takes place: it's such an eyesore that it is misused all over the place as a secondary weapon in disputes. This is so common, that most editors seem think this template means "your contribution sucks" rather than "please add a citation", to such a degree that we constantly have to correct people as to its intent on this discussion page (the 1% who actually bother coming here—the other 99% go on blithely adding instances of this template to articles).

I agree with JDG: please let's make it less obtrusive. Active editors will still see it and respond to it. Rabble-rousers will stop using it as a tactic.


  • Don't add this template when you are frustrated.
  • Don't add this template as part of a dispute.
  • Don't add this template if you doubt a statement.
  • Don't add this template to a low-traffic article and forget about it.

And think twice about how to deal with a missing reference:

  • Look it up and add the citation (even if it's not the ideal citation—a caring editor will replace it with a better one someday).
  • Fill out, correct, or remove doubtful facts, even if it's just from memory.
  • Just post a note on the talk page.
  • Remove doubtful text to the talk page with a comment.
  • Be kind to the environment. Don't litter articles you respect with this ugly tag template!

In short, do a small thing to improve the article, rather than adding this template.

We recently used these methods in a campaign to add many citations to the article T-34, in order to successfully bring it to Featured Article status. The effort proceeded quickly, and I'm proud that at no time was this quality article uglified by the addition of template:fact. Michael Z. 2006-08-01 04:39 Z

I agree with what you're saying in theory, but in practise I've only ever seen this misused once, by a disruptive editor, now banned, engaged in WP:POINT. In the examples you gave above, I couldn't see much wrong with its use. If something is contentious in any way, a reliable source should be cited, and it's usually faster to find a source that to argue about whether the template is being used correctly. That's my experience anyway. Having said that, I also agree with you that editors should first of all look for a source themselves if they can, rather than immediately resorting to the template. SlimVirgin (talk) 05:44, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
If someone uses {{fact}} incorrectly, it can always be removed with the appropriate edit comment. But, just for example, in the first case noted above, the image page has the source information needed for a citation. One could say that the person adding the template should have added the citation themselves, but they did what they did, and it's a start. I add this template to articles that new editors write when they don't go overboard enough to merit {{sources}}, but need some guidance on sourcing their articles. I review dozens of new articles, so I don't have time to go hunting for sources for all of them, nor engaging the user in a lengthy discussion. I add a note to their talk page when I can, but I also add this template so that they can quickly see where they need to improve the article.
My main concern with the proposal for an abbreviated footnote would be the risk that casual readers would mistake it for a citation and assume that the statement has been verified, thus rendering such use of the template more damaging than not having it in the first place. -Harmil 12:32, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
I think I agree with this too, about sums up my take on the matter. There's a "verification needed" tag that should be used for the contentious stuff, as the template page points out, and not the "citation needed" one that people seem to like to slop around everywhere. Yes, uncited statements need to be pointed out, but let's be honest here, a very large chunk of the encyclopedia as a whole is unreferenced. Throwing cite tags around like candy does nothing to solve the problem. The issue isn't in what the tag looks like, it's in how it's being used, and I think it's being overuse and used in the wrong ways. It's become a tool to subvert other editor's submissions without outright removing it, justified or not. Errick 01:28, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Actually it does. It gives an editor who wants the material kept an opportunity to find that citation. Failure to find it often results in the material being properly removed. If you just remove it, you often end up with an edit war. The citation needed tag is a compromise. It alerts a reader or editor to the fact that this information hasn't been verified. True or not, we can't guarentee that, but it lets the information stand in good faith that maybe there is a citation out there. The alternative is just to say "I don't belive what you wrote, so I'm removing it". Concenus I've read is after a week, if no citation is forth-coming it can be removed in good faith, assuming the tag was placed as such. Perhaps you should read WP:V again and pay particular attention to the introduction and the burden of evidence section. As a non-negotiable policy its very clear on the threshold for inclusion. Whether or not current material on wikipedia is, in your opinion, largely unreferenced, does not mean we can use that as precedent to continue on adding unreferenced material. --Crossmr 02:19, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't mean to imply that it's ok to add unreferenced material, which is itself a major issue on wikipedia. But I think that if you stick a fact tag after every unreferenced sentence in the wikipedia, half the text would be "citation needed". I'd rather see more of the "unreferenced" boxes being put on sections than every single sentence in a section having a "citation needed" thrown after it. I think this tag is an important tool, yes, for those who don't know enough about a particular field to fix it themselves, to be able to point out statements that still need a reference. My issue is in its usage, that it's being rather selectively applied only to weed out things a particular editor dislikes, and not unbiasedly marking out everything that still needs a reference.
Or I might look at it another way, that it's a clash between the intent of policy on Verifiability, and the practical application of the policy. We want to encourage people to add useful information on fields they're familiar with, but we don't want them to just add anything they think they know about at random.. so I can see how this tag is a compromise. I definitely don't think it should be deleted or even significantly changed. But maybe some more discussion needs to be made on just how it, in practice, should be applied, as it seems impractical and sometimes counterproductive to slap it down willy-nilly over the entire encyclopedia. Errick 02:38, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
That again goes back to burden of evidence. Some editors may have the time to look for cites, some may not. Whatever they choose to do if they find a piece of information that needs a cite, they shouldn't be slagged because they chose to slap a tag on it rather than go fix the information someone else added. The practical application is pretty clear. If users stopped adding non-obvious facts and conjecture to articles we wouldn't see this article. Your mileage will vary of course. For me I happen to frequent a lot of articles that deal with online stuff, so that is ripe for PoV issues. People think they can grind any axe they want in the wikipedia article or add a piece of information they heard from some guy some place, some time. It has major application in those articles for solving edit wars (a lot gets all out reverted, but if it gets sticky, slap a fact on it and make em prove it). I'm sure on other types of articles it may not have such a wide application.--Crossmr 04:03, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

Template: Fact vs Citequote

  1. What's the point of having 2 identical templates apart from technical problems?
  2. If they are identical, should we appreciate one while depreciate another, or just a redirect?
  3. If former, which one should be depreciated?
    • It is known template:fact is rather an old/original template. The confusing naming of template:fact makes it worse than template:citequote. We'd better depreciate template:fact in this regard.
    • On the other hand, the word fact is shorter than citequote. But should we sacrifice clarity for convenience? Or should we create a third template, say, [this quote needs a citation] for convenience while keeping good clarity.

--Wai Wai (talk) 09:51, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

The truth of the matter is: it doesn't matter. Typing in {{fact}} is easy, and it's easy to remember. That's why I chose the name for the template. I do think that having two templates is somewhat silly, however. We should probably redirect one of them. The other thing is that {{fact}} is used on lots of templates. - Ta bu shi da yu 09:56, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
But you miss the point that they are identical. What's the point of having 2 identical templates? Another point is clarity. This name is unclear and confusing. A newbie may suppose it is to do with, say, marking a fact; but it is actually a "cite quote" request. What's your opinions on these issues? --Wai Wai (talk) 10:06, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Fact is easier to type, so that's the one that people tend to use. SlimVirgin (talk) 10:30, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
The fastest is {{cn}}, not {{fact}}. --Wai Wai (talk) 03:11, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
Wouldn't the text "Citation needed" clue the newbie in to the fact that the template is for facts that needs citations? - Ta bu shi da yu 15:58, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
It may, but this does not stop some users from getting confused since they do not get this clue. See Template_talk:Fact#Template_name_.7B.7Bfact.7D.7D_misleading. After all, should we simply redirect {{citequote}} since it's just the same as {{fact}}? Or should we make make something different between this two templates?--Wai Wai (talk) 03:09, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: How about {{fact?}} ? Jon Awbrey 05:56, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

How about {{cite?}}, {{source?}} ? This is much more clear and specific since what we ask is cite/source. What the information lacks is proper citation.--Wai Wai (talk) 07:04, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
The one thing that's really starting to annoy is a lot of users is that people keep changing templates. It's hard enough to remember them as it is, but impossible when they're not stable. People now know to use "fact," and there's nothing wrong with it, so please just leave it alone. :-) SlimVirgin (talk) 07:35, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree that citequote needs to be redirected to fact, or fact needs to be redirected to the other... duplication of templates is just silly. Do we take this to TfD, or what? -- nae'blis 15:48, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Well, as long as we're sticking with four-letter words, one that I could really use is {{page}}, as people just get so bent outa shape when I stick a [citation needed] on their citation just to request a page number in the edit line. Jon Awbrey 07:42, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

Not sure what you're trying to say here, Jon. Why not mention it on the talk page, if you need a more specific citation? A page that already has some cites is probably well-watched enough for that to work... -- nae'blis 15:48, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Have you tried requesting the page number on the talk page? If you really must use the article space to communicate with editors, then why not just put a comment in the wikitext: <-- please cite the page number -->. Michael Z. 2006-08-09 16:42 Z

I just redirected citequote to fact. This won't affect users of these templates in the least. Michael Z. 2006-08-09 16:40 Z

I was reverted. Please discuss differentiating or merging these two nearly identical templates at template talk:citequote. Michael Z. 2006-08-10 14:48 Z

Not overrused

It has come to my attention that some people think this is being overrused. Not at all. The problem is different: fact is being used quite a bit because people are putting in lots of unsourced material. We should be dealing with unsourced material, not trying to deprecate this template! I'm sorry, incidently, if people think that the addition of the template looks ugly in an article, but this is an entirely actionable issue: either source the material or remove it! - Ta bu shi da yu 22:48, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Why is this still being discussed? The overwhelming majority of people voiced KEEP for this template. (Netscott) 22:58, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Agree with Tabu and Netscott. SlimVirgin (talk) 02:10, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
Ta bu shi da yu, are you sure that is reasonable? Unsourced material is not banned from Wikipedia, is it? However, I believe that communication between editors, such as requests for citations, should take place on the talk pages, not with notes or templates inserted into the body of any article. Michael Z. 2006-08-10 06:12 Z
Actually, unsourced material is banned on Wikipedia. If you make a statement, be prepared to back it up with a source. I also don't find it unreasonable to use the template, but then, I created it. - Ta bu shi da yu 14:42, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

By my count, this template is now in 21,634 articles, over 1.5% of all articles in English Wikipedia. During the last 23 days it has been added to 150 new articles per day. This template doesn't encourage the addition of sources, merely the addition of this template.

Indeed. I just added a citation that literally took 30 seconds to do. The cited article was the second hit on Google, I simply copied and pasted (and added brackets, oh! the carpal tunnel). Maybe it just gets people's edit count up. If the original author didn't attribute something you think needs attribution, take a moment to search for it. It's like saying, "You're lazy, now bring me that blanket so I can take a nap." Intelligence3 08:16, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

Furthermore, it is widely misused to label dubious information, or as a weapon in disputes. Just look at the comments on this page and in the current vote for deletion, where an editor writes "Oppose. Dubious information needs to be called out as such, for the benefit of readers, but I'm not usually comfortable removing information unless I'm reasonably sure it's wrong." Michael Z. 2006-08-10 15:16 Z

A few articles may have misused the template, but this does not mean that it is overused. If there is unsourced material, then this is very handy to note that we want a citation. It works especially well with WP:FAC: if I see the template in use on the article, I oppose the FAC. - Ta bu shi da yu 16:01, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
The NPOV policy is misused all the time, but that doesn't mean we get rid of it. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:04, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
But NPOV policy is quite explicit, has a high profile, and its misuse usually constitutes a clear POV, so it's usually easy to identify and combat that by consensus.
This label is routinely labels statements which are obscure, or unverifiable, or dubious, and it remains there. Most of the time, no one can be bothered or is able to do anything about these needed citations—the very act of adding this label is an admission of that by an editor. This template fails to achieve its aim in 150 more articles every day. It is counterproductive, which is compounded by its appearance, with awful, unprofessional-looking typography and eye-catching distraction of every reader's eye, the vast majority of whom are not editors interested or qualified to respond to this template.
Improving its appearance and stressing the alternative actions would help. Michael Z. 2006-08-10 17:17 Z
You're kidding, right? I don't know what articles you edit, but at the ones I inhabit violation of NPOV doesn't "constitute ... a clear POV," isn't "easy to identify," or "combat ... by consensus." The template is meant to be distracting; it's supposed to encourage editors to track down a source. How do you know, as a matter of interest, that they don't work? Numbers alone won't tell you that. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:08, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
"This template fails to achieve its aim in 150 more articles every day." - IMHO this template is to say which statements need a citation or a better one - and in that vain is accomplishing its aim. From what I see, people replace it with sources about 30% of the time fairly soon, and for the rest it simply points out that a statement may be dubious. Usually a statement is "mostly accurate" that one or two other editors will be hell-bent on keeping, depite the fact that they will not soon provide a source for the statement - and this is the case that this template is also perfect for (the alternative is to have a possibly dubious statement in the article and possibly get into an ugly, pointless dispute resolution process). To me, this template is a monumental step forward for sourcing on wikipedia. RN 20:57, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

WP is not now and never will be considered "professional"

JA: The rules of its operation were explicitly designed to prevent that. So get used to it. Jon Awbrey 17:38, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

So you're saying that professional-quality writing and a professional appearance are undesirable? That it's preferable for Wikipedia to look home-made, to avoid conveying a look of quality and dependability? I obviously didn't mean that this template should be designed by someone who is hired for the job. Michael Z. 2006-08-10 17:46 Z

JA: I am saying that there seems to be a heckuva lot more concern here with the appearance than with the reality. If you mean pretty, then say pretty, 'cause the good ship Professional was scuttled in the christening. If you mean it ain't pretty to have so many unsourced statements, then I heartily agree. But it ain't made any prettier by any brand of overpaint. Jon Awbrey 17:56, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

You must be a determined user of the Classic skin, or maybe you edit Wikipedia in Netscape 4 or Lynx, because it's faster.
The arguments have been repeated here many times. This template distracts the eye, and is bad for the readability of the page. Readability is a measurable effect, studied by cognitive scientists, typographers and graphic designers—for practical reasons. If you can't get past "pretty" or "not pretty", then I'm afraid that my point will probably be lost on you. Whether you like it or not, typography has many conventions followed for practical and aesthetic reasons. This template breaks several of them in a very bush-league fashion. Finally, the talk page is for editors' discussions. Although there are many editorial templates placed at the tops of articles and sections, peppering the text with requests for references which don't concern most readers is bad form, especially when it interferes with readability (and this template is explicitly not intended to inform readers of dubious information which should be removed from articles). Michael Z. 2006-08-11 02:12 Z

JA: Given the age of these sore eyes, I have all sorts of pragmatic concerns with ease of reading. Right now the most jarring thing about the [citation needed] tag is the fact that it's superscripted, which causes the line spacing on my browser to go all uneven. And one of my secondary objections to the ref tag footnote system is precisely the massive migraine mess it makes of a text. But I gather that it's futile to get anybody to change either of these "features", apparently because some people labor under the superstition that the superscription is prettier or less obtrusive or whatever. Yes, the tag expands to an overlong phrase — I personally think that [verify!] might be a better choice. Jon Awbrey 04:34, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

The inconsistent line spacing caused by superscripts is a web browser feature/bug. See user:Mzajac/monobook.css/Superscript fix.
Even without that problem, typographers never superscript whole words or phrases, because they leave distracting white gaps in the typographic colour of the text on the page. The shorter label [verify!], without the italics, would definitely be an improvement, or perhaps in small caps on the baseline. [CITATION NEEDED] Michael Z. 2006-08-11 06:27 Z
The [verify!] label is not good since it conflicts with "verify source". "citation needed" and "verify source" are different things (read the instructions in {{fact}}). As far as style is concerned, I am loose to that. I accept multiple styles as long as they are clear and not too annoying.--Wai Wai (talk) 20:38, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Well, there we agree about something. But I for one am utterly burned out by the procedural labyrinth, not to mention the administrative minotaurs, and all the other WikiPyrrhic vicissitudes, so I'll have to leave you to fight the good fight for orthographical orthopediatricks on your own. Cheers, anyway. Jon Awbrey 05:00, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Why does this template have many redirects?

Here's what I found from the discussion page:

(Note: I'm not sure if it's all of the redirects)


  1. There are too many redundant redirects. Should we free up some of the template names for other uses?
  2. If so, which should be deleted, which should not?
  3. How can we spot all the redirects?

--Wai Wai (talk) 20:31, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Looks like these will need pruning—I think I already did this once months ago. Editors can just learn the name of the template rather than have the untrackable redirects proliferate—there's no need for more than, say, {{fact}}, {{citeneeded}}, and {{uncited}}. template:Cite-needed and template:Needs citation are little-used, and can definitely have the redirect bypassed and template deleted. Michael Z. 2006-08-12 22:44 Z
I would suggest deleting the redundant redirects. —Wai Wai () 21:53, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
What is the harm of keeping them? With the single exception of Template:Needs citation, all of these are used in many articles. If an editor finds it easier to remember or use any of these redirects, why shouldn't they be kept? See also Wikipedia:Redirect#When should we delete a redirect?Centrxtalk • 22:07, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. These redirects can't be deleted without first changing the hundreds of pages that link to them: [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] ptkfgs 04:46, 16 August 2006 (UTC)
Personally, I prefer to use {{citation needed}}, since the name is clearer: it's exactly what's printed. I should probably give up and save a dozen letters or so like everyone else. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 03:57, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
{{fact}} is SO much less of a pain to type out! also, what is printed might change in future. Zunaid 10:33, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
I do not think it is a major issue. Keep them all as they are well used in different areas of wikipedia. Ansell 10:41, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

I have a cunning plan....

Here's an idea for redesigning this template:

  • Use it as before, or optionally thus: {{fact | uncited statement }}
  • It produces something like: <span class="uncited"> uncited statement[?] </span>
  • The average reader just sees a subtle question-mark citation reference, hinting that there is no citation—if they care, they will perceive that there is a citation lacking. If they're puzzled, they can click once and forever after remained clued-in.
  • Citation cops can add something like the following to their user style sheet, which will make it a bit easier for their overworked eyes to spot:
.uncited {
  color: pink;
  font-size: gigantic;
  text-decoration: convulsion-inducing-blink;
  • Semantic web goodness: imagine a search engine which builds a list of uncited statements from a set of Wikipedia articles (doable today using AWB, I think)

Articles will remain uncluttered by typographic planters warts, but editors in the know [taps side of nose with a conspiratorial look] will be able to spot the varmints from a mile away.

This would also be compatible with existing usage, sans parameter. The reference mark will still be highlighted in whatever way an editor pleases, for visibility's sake.[?]

[Reminder: this template's explicit intent is to encourage editors to supply a reference and not to flag a statement for readers as dubious] Michael Z. 2006-08-20 05:36 Z

An excellent idea. It's frequently ambiguous what exactly is considered in need of reference. Of course, you'd need to maintain reverse-compatibility. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 03:55, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree. An excellent idea. This would have the added bonus of forcing the editor adding the template to clearly mark what they are asking to be cited. Sometimes sentences are tagged and it is not clear what exactly a citation is being requested for. Carcharoth 00:10, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, I'll be too busy in the near future to build a test version of this template. It might be a good idea to try it out under another name, then call for consensus to replace this one. I'm certain it can be made backwards-compatible. Michael Z. 2006-08-22 01:30 Z

citation requested?

The more I think about it, the more this seems a bit harsh. What about [citation requested]? RN 01:59, 4 September 2006 (UTC)

According to Wikipedia:Verifiability, it should be "needed". TimBentley (talk) 13:02, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

What about articles contradicting themselves?

…Like right now when the article on Pablo Neruda says in one place that he died of heart failure and in another that he died of cancer? Do we have a more appropriate tag to put on such statements? If not, a new template is probably in order.

If someone comes up with something, may I ask the favor of letting me know on my user talk page? Thanks. - Jmabel | Talk 03:31, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Template:Contradict? --tjstrf 03:58, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

Thanks! - Jmabel | Talk 04:04, 27 September 2006 (UTC)