Wikipedia:Webcomics are no good as sources

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"Shelley then picked up the phone; it was a salesman on the other side of the line.[1]"

Wikipedia is grounded in reliable, third-party sources.[2] Webcomics are not such sources. Webcomic characters aren't "noted experts" of the fiction they live in.[3] The author is a poor judge of what is important when it comes to their own work.[citation needed] Webcomics themselves – the website and its pages – are no good as sources.

The image descriptions show what not to do.

Why you shouldn't use webcomic pages as a source[edit]

"Eating a banana delivers twice the dose of radiation as sleeping next to someone.[4]"

One may cite a webcomic when something has not been written about by reliable sources. This makes sure that something is verifiable, but it does not make the topic more notable. Citing a work itself to list minor characters and plot points is disruptive, as it wastes the time of the general reader. Wikipedia editors shouldn't be the ones deciding which plot points are and aren't notable.

Webcomics is not a well-documented medium. It is tempting to pad out an article with an abundance of "sources" to make sure it won't end up at WP:AFD. Don't. It is not expected for articles on webcomics to have a large amount of sources; three or four good sources are plenty for a short C-class article. Adding "bad" sources doesn't make the topic more notable.

Information on other topics[edit]

If a webcomic visualizes data or information suitable for encyclopedic description, the cartoonist usually obtained the information from a reliable source themselves, such as is the case with the xkcd panel on the right. Find out the sources of such comics and use those instead. Webcomics are almost always self-published, meaning that they are not subject to editorial scrutiny and could even contain blatant lies.

A webcomic page may contain the cartoonist's opinion. The opinion of a content creator on the Internet is rarely notable, unless said opinion is documented by reliable sources. Notability is not inherited, so Penny Arcade's opinions on certain video games are not inherently notable.

A character in a webcomic may "represent" the webcomic's creator or people the creator personally knows. Statements made by webcomic characters should never be attributed to any real-life people, as such statements may be edited for comedic effect or an increased emotional impact. A webcomic's creator may also use their "own" character to roleplay as a different person than they usually are. Opinions presented in webcomic form less reliable than opinions expressed in a blog post.

Webcomic artists may use Wikipedia as a source[5] and Wikipedia is not a reliable source for itself.

Still want to do it?[edit]

"On page 19 of Lackadaisy, Rocky stepped into a truck that was on fire.[6]"

Webcomics is not a well-documented medium. It is difficult to find sources on less well-known webcomics. Sometimes, a cartoonist has been the focus of multiple reliable sources and their comic has won various awards, but the comic itself has rarely been discussed by reliable sources. This is all right: an article or section on a webcomic does not need to describe the content of the webcomic in any detail. However, it can be tempting to refer to the comic itself to pad out the plot section some more.

Try to describe the plot and setting through secondary sources first. If something is important, a reliable website has probably taken note of it.

But if you cite the webcomic itself anyway: Think about the information the reference adds to the article. Does it tell the reader something very important about the fictional world? Twists or reveals are useful for this purpose, as are descriptions of in-universe concepts or people. The purpose of a "Plot" or "Setting" section is to create context for the reader so they have a global understanding what the work is about and what is under discussion by the reliable sources. Refrain from describing plot points that happened later in the webcomic if no reliable sources are talking about it. A "characters" page is a useful reference for general knowledge of the work, while the 20th story arc of the comic is probably completely irrelevant.

There may be situations where a bit of background information can prevent misunderstandings.[7]

Separate your sources![edit]

In Gunnerkrigg Court#References and Concerned#References, the references to reliable sources and primary sources have been split. This has various advantages:

  • It is less cluttered, giving readers a better overview of the sources.
  • It makes quality of the article (or lack thereof) more apparent; a well-sourced article could be of higher quality.
  • A reader can see in the prose whether a statement is sourced through a primary or secondary source by looking at the citation symbol ([1] or [a])
  • References to webcomic pages tend to be identical to one another save for the page's title. Putting these mostly identical sources in a row makes them easier to navigate.

Megatokyo#References and Kevin and Kell#References do not separate their sources in this manner, making it more difficult to find the sources you're looking for.

To create such separate footnote groups, see WP:REFGROUP and Template:Reflist#Grouped references.

See also[edit]