Wikipedia talk:Citing sources

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Embedded links in templates/tables[edit]

I've been looking through the archives and have found quite a bit of discussion about embedded links/embedded citations, but I haven't found anything yet about the use of embedded links in templates/tables. WP:CS#Avoid embedded links says that "embedded links should never be used to place external links in the content of the article", so embedding an external link in a sentence like "The company's website was officially launched in May 2015" is considered incorrect, right? My question is whether the same applies to external links embedded into templates/tables, particularly when it comes to game results in sports related articles.

Personally, I think a properly formatted inline citation is almost always an improvement since it provides information about the source being cited which may help fix any future link rot related issues, but embedding links seems to be pretty much the de facto practice for such articles. The embedded links I've come across are nothing more than a bare url with a generic label such as "Result", "Summary", "Report, "Statistics", etc. with nothing at all about the source added to "References". The arguments I've encountered from those in favor of embedding always seem to boil down to "that's how it's done in other similar articles", "that's the way it's always been done", "our WikiProject does it this way", "having too many citations is not good", etc. with no consideration being given at all to the possibility of link rot even though many sports websites tend to recycle their content regularly and re-use their urls for other content.

Has the community ever come to a consensus on this kind of thing? Are such links considered acceptable exceptions like the "official website" links in infoboxes? Are there any guidelines regarding such links and link rot? Do you simple re-embed an archived version of the dead link or do you need to convert it to an inline citations since |archiveurl= and |archivedate= are typically used in such cases? Is this simply a case of it being better to leave well enough alone instead of tying to tilt at windmills? -- Marchjuly (talk) 05:51, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

Bundling Considered Harmful[edit]

I'd like to point out that the idea of reference bundling, while not terrible per se, is being "blindly" applied in certain articles without regard to whether it's really necessary (not every instance of 2 refs in a row calls for bundling), and with no apparent consideration to what the ref list looks like after it's done (see the first example here—I'm not citing a specific "real" example so as not to call out a particular editor). As with anything, editors still need to think about what they're doing, and whether their changes benefit readers. - dcljr (talk) 05:06, 3 November 2015 (UTC)

Particular cases should be discussed on the Talk pages of the articles concerned. This page would be more suitable for discussing "bundling" generally. Anyone interested? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:23, 4 November 2015 (UTC)
Mildly differ with both the above. That is, we should have a specific example to see what the problem is. It is the edit not the editor, in question. On bundling in general: it is very useful. Especially when the footnote supports more than one sentence. I strongly prefer titled bundles (a descriptive name at the top like footnotes 1, 7 and 13 here) instead of naked bundles (no indication of what the cites have in common, like footnote 29 here). Titled bundles are especially needful on Wikipedia since text gets shifted, footnotes get orphaned. Without the title you can't be sure all the cites in the bundle still support a revised sentence or paragraph. Now, editors with habits leftover from print publications, books and articles, don't see the need for titles on bundled footnotes. The habitual assumption is the text over the footnote suffices. But Wikipedia is a different animal: footnotes on Wikipedia don't stay glued to their text. In sum: yes to bundling, and preferably titled bundles.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 13:42, 4 November 2015 (UTC)
OK, well, what do people think about this way of bundling? (Yes it's about the edit and not the editor, but this editor has changed multiple articles in the same way.) Compare the reflist before and after the changes (in particular, see "after" notes 9, 15, 22…). I suggested a different way (yes, I know it was a naked bundle) and pointed out it doesn't work with named references. The other editor has tried doing things differently, apparently with mixed results. If someone more familiar with bundling could weigh in on this, that would be great. - dcljr (talk) 03:13, 5 November 2015 (UTC)
Competing formats for cites? Is that the issue? Rather than bundle/not bundle? I note that with naked bundles, using quotes in the cite is wonderfully helpful as in footnote 2 in the example given above. The second cite in the footnote offers the quote: "R is also the name of a popular programming language used by a growing number of data analysts inside corporations and academia. It is becoming their lingua franca ..." That tells the reader what the footnote buttresses, in a way that a naked bundle would not.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 14:49, 5 November 2015 (UTC)
The solution you want is shortened footnotes. {{sfnm}} supports the inclusion of multiple sources in a single footnote. This style allows multiple authors and exact page numbers all rolled into one superscripted number. That same source can be reused, yet with different page numbers. The problem is that all the citations would need to be converted to the shortened footnote format, which is uncommon and would confuse most editors. So yes, there is a better solution than using {{refn | to bundle citations, however since that solution looks like {{sfnm | 1a1=Phillips-Fein | 1y=2009 | 1p=115 | 2a1=Hamowy | 2y=2008 | 2p=217 | 3a1=Perelman | 3y=2007 | 3p=64 | 4a1=Schneider | 4y=2009 | 4p=47 | 5a1=Mirowski | 5a2=Plehwe | 5y=2009 | 5p=285 | 6a1=Olson | 6y=2009 | 7a1=Lichtman | 7y=2008 | 7p=160 | quote5="… going so far as to help Mises publish his Magnum Opus Human Action …"}} , that solution also has baggage. Abel (talk) 18:27, 5 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes, EB, the issue is how bundling is done rather than whether or not to bundle (although personally, I think bundling is a solution in search of a problem, but whatever...) OTOH, the issue is not simply "competing formats"; I think the {refn} way of doing it is actually fundamentally confusing to readers, since it is unlike any other common method of footnoting in use around here. (IOW, the objection is to a footnote containing merely a list of bracketed numbers, which are references to other footnotes — that's just crazy [and these numbers are also shown in the tooltip when hovering on the note number, which is even worse]). The shortened notes approach, if bundled as above, would be confusing to more editors, but I care a little less about that (unless, of course, it leads to many bad edits). Finally, the objection to naked bundles seems to me to be merely an aesthetic one (it doesn't bother me, but I would not object if someone wants to take the time to add "titles" to such bundles). - dcljr (talk) 20:22, 5 November 2015 (UTC)
Again, the solution you want is shortened footnotes, for example: "... and individual lectures.[1]" Abel (talk) 03:38, 6 November 2015 (UTC)


  1. ^ Phillips-Fein 2009, p. 115; Hamowy 2008, p. 217; Perelman 2007, p. 64; Schneider 2009, p. 47; Mirowski & Plehwe 2009, p. 285; Olson 2009; Lichtman 2008, p. 160.


  • Phillips-Fein, Kim (2009). Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan. New York: W. W. Norton. p. ii, 27, 52, 60, 86, 101, 115, 116, 124, 149, 167, 265, 270, 285, 286. ISBN 978-0-393-05930-4. 
  • Hamowy, Ronald, ed. (2008). The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Cato Institute. pp. 62, 217, 221, 335, 416, 417. ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024. 
  • Perelman, Michael (2007). The Confiscation of American Prosperity from Right-Wing Extremism and Economic Ideology to the Next Great Depression. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-230-60046-1. 
  • Schneider, Gregory L (2009). The Conservative Century: From Reaction to Revolution. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7425-4284-6. 
  • Mirowski, Philip; Plehwe, Dieter (2009). The Road from Mont Pèlerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 15, 19, 21, 53, 156, 190, 196, 243, 281, 284, 293, 387, 397, 410. ISBN 978-0-674-03318-4. 
  • Olson, Wayne (September 28, 2009). An Inside Look at the Foundation for Economic Education FEE. Interview with Pete Eyre. Motorhome Diaires. Irvington, NY. 
  • Lichtman, Allan J (2008). White Protestant Nation: The Rise of the American Conservative Movement. New York: Grove Press. pp. 160, 171, 173, 206. ISBN 978-0-8021-4420-1. 
Okay, someone please clarify for me: what exactly do we mean by "bundle" and "bundling"? Is a string of footnote links in the text (e.g.: [1][7][13]) itself a bundle? Is "bundling" putting all of the same citations into a single note? And (EB?) what are naked and titled bundles? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:56, 5 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes: bundling lists several cites in one foonote, usually with bullet points. Instead of a separate footnote for each cite which leaves text looking something like this1234567. Examples of bundled footnotes are footnotes 1, 7 and 13 here. Each has a descriptive name at the top. That is the title. And while I am at it let me give a pat on the back for the excellent answer by Abel above.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 13:24, 6 November 2015 (UTC)
Thank you. I see several variations here:
  • the basic bundling of multiple citations,
  • bundling in a list format (versus "serial", see below),
  • a list format with or without bullets, and
  • a list format with or without titles.
There is also a very basic variation of whether what is bundled are the full citations (as seen in the example fn. 1) or the short cites (aka shortened footnotes). Here is an example of a serial (non-list) format, which also uses short cites:
So there is basic bundling, and there are a number of variations. All of which merit discussion. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:48, 6 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes, there are many ways to bundle citations. The rub comes from none of those variations being wrong. All of those methods are equally correct. All editors are free to prefer one method over the others, but there is no policy mandating one method be used beyond respecting the method already in place if that situation exists. Abel (talk) 01:36, 7 November 2015 (UTC)
I don't know about "equally correct", or even useful, but I'll allow that none is mandated or prohibited. Yet the contrast of these styles is so jarring that concurrence towards a more standard style would seem for the better. At the very least editors could be more conscious of what they are doing, and why, rather than sticking with whatever they have always done solely because they have never considered the alternatives. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:20, 7 November 2015 (UTC)
Simply wrapping existing references in a {refn} template is wrong, and should be prohibited discouraged in this guideline. - dcljr (talk) 01:57, 8 November 2015 (UTC)
We understand that you do not like how that one style looks, however, that does not change the fact that all of those styles are valid choices. I agreed with JJ that the style options are radically different and having all of Wikipedia pick one style would be a large improvement, however, that does not seem likely to happen anytime soon. You might as well accept that regardless of how much you dislike how that one style looks, there is currently nothing wrong with that or any other method.

"While citations should aim to provide the information listed above, Wikipedia does not have a single house style, though citations within any given article should follow a consistent style."

So yes, the shortened footnotes example above does everything you want and looks the way you like, but it is not okay to just go around changing other methods to that method as it is no more valid than the existing method regardless of how much you prefer how it looks.
If and only if you gain consensus for the change on the article's talk page may you then change the citation style to the method that you prefer, for that one article. So if that one style method bothers you that much, just start a new topic on the talk page and once you have consensus, convert the article to shortened footnotes. Abel (talk) 16:46, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
Hear, hear. Though I should clarify that what I favor is not picking one style, but moving towards a more standardized usage with fewer bizarre variations. At the very least we should be more aware of the advantages and disadvantages of different "styles". ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:42, 9 November 2015 (UTC)
Interesting viewpoint you express there, Abel, given that you are going around changing consecutive refs in articles to {refn} bundles with no prior seeking of consensus. In any case, you'll notice if you look through my edits that I have not been changing the referencing style in any articles, so I'm not sure who your latest remarks are actually directed towards. More importantly, though, I must push back on the idea that somehow the {refn}-bundled "style" is an equally "valid" one. Where in this guideline or, indeed, anywhere else in Wikipedia's policy or guideline pages, does it mention that simply wrapping multiple consecutive refs in a {refn} template is an acceptable "style"? - dcljr (talk) 09:05, 10 November 2015 (UTC)
The refn bundles maintain the existing style rather than changes the style, which would require consensus. Abel (talk) 16:20, 10 November 2015 (UTC)
I reject the idea that bundling (generally) is invalid, or harmful. Still, "style" tends to be applied broadly. And bundling, especially when done in a list format, is not a minor change. Where anyone objects I think it is quite inadvisable to proceed without obtaining consensus. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:31, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
Having seen people wholesale delete valid sources just because they find[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] unsightly, I have to agree. Bundling is the only thing that I have seen that makes those people happy. Is bundling still a giant mess with a whole host of its own problems? Absolutely. That does not change the fact that bundling allows people to maintain verifiability while appeasing people who demand readability. Ideal solution? No. Best we have at the moment? Yes. Seems like a "never let the perfect be the enemy of the good" kind of situation. Abel (talk) 14:02, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
I think I generally agree with you. While allowing that some editors think a long line of note-links is quaint, I think bundling in some form is beneficial. (Details obviously TBD.) But there is no advantage to riling up others with mass changes they are not ready to accept. It would be better to sort out the objections, and what a generally acceptable form would be. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:18, 11 November 2015 (UTC)
What you describe is the current policy, stick to whatever style exists until someone asks for a change on the talk page. Abel (talk) 01:00, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

Just learned that you can link directly to the References sections so for anyone placing a request on a talk page the following might be helpful: "Please chime in with your preference for the current or the proposed formatting."

Please chime in with your preference for the [[Special:Diff/690200494#References|current]] or the [[Special:Diff/690200296#Notes|proposed]] formatting.

Abel (talk) 01:13, 12 November 2015 (UTC)


Am I crazy or has no one actually directly addressed the objections I have raised about merely wrapping multiple refs in a {refn} template? (Note that I am not talking about naked vs. titled bundles, shortened refs, changing "citation styles", or whether bundling should be banned in all its forms. Other commenters have raised these issues, not me.)
The objections are:
  1. it results in odd, potentially confusing footnotes (see footnote 9 in the References section here),
  2. it defeats the usefulness of "mouseover" checks of the citations (e.g., mouseover the [9] in the article text here), and
  3. it does not follow any example of bundling given here or on any other guideline or policy page that I know of.
It's fine to discuss better ways of doing things, but I keep objecting to a specific thing and Abel keeps replying in a way that seems to avoid addressing the specific thing I am objecting to. So, Abel, do you still think that the way you changed the refs in the first link in this comment is a valid, acceptable way of bundling refs, and if so how do you respond to my objections listed above? (And if anyone else has responses to these specific objections, of course, I am interested in hearing them.) - dcljr (talk) 06:26, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
We all understand that you do not like how some bundled citations look. The part that you leave out of the example was how, to humor you, I went to the trouble of changing the bundled citations to the bulleted format that you prefer, yet could not be bothered to do yourself. That does not change how everyone agrees that there is no one correct method for bundling citations aside from maintaining the current citation style until editors agree to a new style on a talk page. Abel (talk) 21:46, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
I "could not be bothered to do [it myself]" because (1) I literally did not have time to spend on it, and (2) it would be undoing changes you had just made. If an editor makes problematic edits to an article, they really should take the responsibility to fix the problems they have introduced. And might I point out that you still have not addressed any of my objections in any substantive way. - dcljr (talk) 06:22, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Bulleting the bundled citations did not undo anything, which is the point. All it did was change the appearance of the citations. Abel (talk) 17:42, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
Both of you, cool it. If you two want to sort out some "problematical edits to an article", please do so at the appropriate Talk page. Or if you have some interaction issues, try each others' Talk page. (Though I would suggest finding a moderator, lest you just wind each other up.) Abel, I gather dcljr objects to your bulleting the bundled citation. If that was done just to illustrate some point, would you object to undoing that, at least for the duration? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:58, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
The opposite is true. The bulleting was to appease dcljr, yet was not enough. dcljr does not like how [4][5] looks when inside [3]. The solution to this is {sfn} and {sfnm} which bundles citations as a part of how the template works, so the unwanted appearance cannot happen. Abel (talk) 01:44, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
A solution for what? So far all I see as any kind of problem is the suboptimal interaction between two editors. So I'll put to you the same question I put to dcljr: what is your issue here? Can you two come up with a mutual statement of what problem(s?) or issue we should be addressing here? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:27, 20 November 2015 (UTC)
I do not have an issue. I have never claimed to have an issue. The sfnm template is one solution to how dcljr does not like what you called "a ref within a ref" and I called "how [4][5] looks when inside [3]". Your "a ref within a ref" label makes more sense as it is more clear. I think dcljr called that a "naked citation" or something. Abel (talk) 02:10, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
Okay, I am glad to hear that. It seems to me that the two of you were more into "who did what" than the general merits and applicability of bundling. It might be useful to have an article in hand as an example, and even your specific edits as specific instances. But hopefully that is past, and we can discuss bundling without fighting about it.
You mentioned a solution. Should we look at whatever problem or issue you think it solved? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:31, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
Happy to supply one. So, due to the nature of how the sfnm template works you cannot get a ref within a ref.[3] Abel (talk) 06:53, 22 November 2015 (UTC)
  1. ^ Lopez, Mary Stachyra (2014-06-16). Centreville and Chantilly. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4671-2023-4. 
  2. ^ Brent, Chester Horton (1946). Descendants of Col. Giles Brent, Capt George Brent and Robert Brent, Gentlemen. Priv. print. by the Tuttle Pub. Co. 
  3. ^ [1][2]"
The exact same citations in sfnm format look like this.[1] Abel (talk) 06:53, 22 November 2015 (UTC)



  1. Lopez, Mary Stachyra (2014-06-16). Centreville and Chantilly. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4671-2023-4. 
  2. Brent, Chester Horton (1946). Descendants of Col. Giles Brent, Capt George Brent and Robert Brent, Gentlemen. Priv. print. by the Tuttle Pub. Co. 


But {{sfnm}} is not intended to put a ref within a ref. (Nor, for that matter, does talkquote.) It creates a footnote (implicitly within ref tags) containing short cites, which link to full citations provided elsewhere. With {{refn}} you are putting the full citation into the footnote (ref in a ref). Same citations, but totally different approaches. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:33, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Sure, let's address your objections. But appears you are not concerned about bundling as such, but this particular form of bundling "multiple refs in a {refn} template", where the footnote contains links to other footnotes. That seems excessively clunky. Does anyone have any points in support of such an arrangement? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:47, 16 November 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I thought I had made it abundantly clear that my objections concerned this particular way of bundling. (In fact, I have said it five times.) Does anyone else have any useful commentary in favor of or against this particular method of bundling, especially in light of the 3 objections about it raised above? - dcljr (talk) 06:29, 19 November 2015 (UTC) [Thank you, JJ, for your specific comment about it. - dcljr (talk) 06:31, 19 November 2015 (UTC)]
I am not really interested in how many times you have previously discussed something, and certainly not in debating it. And, no, your objections are not "abundantly clear" when you mix them up with complaints about others' edits, and are not adequately specific. E.g., from Abel's comments I would think the issue is about bulleting. So tell me (I'm new here): Is that your issue? Or is your issue just "refs in a ref"? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:59, 19 November 2015 (UTC)
@Dcljr: I am interested in hearing from you. Can you identify the issue that concerns you? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:29, 25 November 2015 (UTC)

Discussion about generalizing |editor= to support other roles[edit]

See Help talk:Citation Style 1#Contribution rather than Others (I can't make the section link work properly here!)

The idea is to deprecate the |editor= set of parameters and deprecate using |others= for other types of contributor, such as prefacers, translators, illustrators etc. The |author= family of parameters plus a new |role= parameter would be used instead. All input welcome. Aymatth2 (talk) 17:14, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

See Help talk:Citation Style 1#contribution= rather than others=. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:39, 7 November 2015 (UTC)

Typos in web titles[edit]

Are we meant to correct typos in the titles of web-based sources, or leave them exactly as they are? (besides changing ` to '). I've always thought it's the latter, for absolute accuracy; likewise not changing hyphens to dashes and vice versa. Mac Dreamstate (talk) 16:07, 12 November 2015 (UTC)

It is normal to adjust titles to follow the conventions followed by the publication (Wikipedia) that is mentioning some other publication. So if a book-length source writes its title as ONE FOR ALL AND ALL FOR ONE we would write it One for All and All for One in the body of an article. If we were putting it in a citation, we would follow whatever citation style was being used in the article. For example, if the article used APA style we would write One for all and all for one. The citation templates don't have any rule about how to write titles, so do whatever the previous editors of the article have done. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:42, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
How about this ref, which has a typo in the title: "W.A.S.P. Announces 'The Crimson Idol' 15th-Anniverary Tour". I've been under the impression that such mistakes are to be left as is, since they are not being used in prose. Granted, it's a glaring typo, but that is how the article authors decided to leave it—for the sake of accuracy, surely we should reproduce it as such? Mac Dreamstate (talk) 16:51, 12 November 2015 (UTC)
The idea underlying the metadata included in citations is to make it possible for readers to verify the information in them. It becomes especially important that the data be exactly as given in the source in the event that the link goes dead due to the source page being moved or deleted, since otherwise Google searches may not find the correct result. So yes, when it comes to article titles (chapter titles, other short work titles, etc.) leave non-punctuation errors as found in the source. If there's an error in a source's title that really bothers you, you can always add a [sic]. —GrammarFascist contribstalk 21:15, 17 November 2015 (UTC)