Wikipedia talk:Citation overkill

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Essays
WikiProject icon This page is within the scope of WikiProject Essays, a collaborative effort to organise and monitor the impact of Wikipedia essays. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion. For a listing of essays see the essay directory.
 High  This page has been rated as High-impact on the project's impact scale.


I would like to propose that we make this a policy since it is being overused on pages all over the project. All too often, people believe that notabilty might not be established with three citations, and they add a few more just in case. Unfortunately, this ends up loading the page up. I believe that establishing this as a policy will help to shrink article sizes as well as removing the obnoxious overuse of citations on articles. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 17:37, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

No, let's such leave it as the informal essay it is. Fences&Windows 22:52, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Policy or guideline, seems some support exists at the village pump for this.Camelbinky (talk) 01:54, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
I think it's better as an essay. It's reasonable advice, but not suitable to the bright line response that policies/guidelines tend to evoke. It's adequate to say "a million cites doesn't improve an article" along with the reasoning and let the reasoning carry its own weight.--Father Goose (talk) 05:38, 4 March 2010 (UTC)


There are at least two occasions when "overkill" is appropriate. First, if an article says something like "many reports say the building was painted white", then it's nice to see many citations. Second, when a truly extraordinary claim is being made it's worthwhile to have many sources to support it. For example, an article I brought to FA covered a claim that the Astrodome would fly. As a reader, I think that's a assertion that requires extensive and impeccable sourcing. One thing this essay doesn't mention is that multiple citations can be merged into a single footnote. Doing so make it easier on the reader.   Will Beback  talk  13:56, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

In my drastic edit, I think I addressed that type of situation <g>. Collect (talk) 14:10, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
The only reason that this exists is because there is a, "Gee, I think a few citations is enough..." attitude among some readers. Too many of something can be a bad thing, and over three citations is just taking up space on the page. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 05:06, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Oppose in its entirety[edit]

I oppose this in its entirety. All articles short of FA status are woefully under- or (not-at-all-) referenced as it is, and giving anyone ammunition to say that lack of referencing is A-OK is a really bad idea. → ROUX  17:21, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

For "fully referenced" - look at Astor House, Shanghai and tell me who will ever actually go through all its references.
For "reference overkill" see any number of political articles. MAny times there are ten or more references for a single word.
If three references are insufficient to back up a statement, chances are the statement should be reworded. Collect (talk) 18:07, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Doesn't matter whether anyone will go through them, it matters that anyone can. Political articles are nasty POV battlegrounds. More referencing is good, because it guarantees to our readers that the information is not only accurate, it is overwhelmingly so. We are an encyclopedia; flow of reading style is a secondary consideration to providing accurate information that is reliably sourced. → ROUX  18:28, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Wow, that article needs a lot of work with combining the references. I think that allowing for a crapload of citations on something as simple as the person not being able to die their shoes at the age of 13 can encourage more dumping of citations onto the fact. Adding more citations to a pretty obvious fact could potentially swamp the article in useless text that makes editing the real stuff harder because you have to sift through tons of crap to find the real point. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 05:17, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

To the point -- does seeing a word with 13 cites after it actually improve the readability fo an article? Ever? Does anyone ever actually read the references? (Empirically, many references are marginally connected to the topic of the article, at best). Collect (talk) 12:19, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

That and they rarely will read any reference unless the fact interests them. From what I have found, the references are usually parrots of each other, with most mimicing what the other is saying. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 18:31, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
IMHO such parroting is used to create an impression of overwhelming support for a point of little intrinsic value. Less is more - what is the point of having more than 3 citations in support of any single fact? --TraceyR (talk) 23:15, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
That's why having this become a policy would be useful because it would let editors know where the line is on citation dumping. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 13:26, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
  • I think that references are a good thing, I agree that readability is a concern but I think that we should focus on better tools for managing lists and groups of references rather than deleting them. At the end of the day, I think that Wikipedias greatest contribution is exactly the collection of references that pertain to a particular topic. Unomi (talk) 19:21, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that anyone is arguing against references - of course they are crucial. But do we need more than e.g. three sources supporting a single fact? That is the issue, surely? --TraceyR (talk) 05:59, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
I didn't mean to imply that anyone was against references, just that I am very strongly for them :). In some scenarios it protects against 'weathering', link death, slight rewordings that make some refs obsolete etc. It also offers a number of sources which might be used for later expansion or rewrites as they are unlikely to be containing the exact same verbatim information. You may have introduced a fair few underused citations when the article was a stub for example, by shedding those refs it makes it harder for later editors. It also plays a factor on contested articles, where shifting opinion may hold sway regarding what constitutes an extraordinary claim etc. Unomi (talk) 10:43, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
Personally, I created this article because you will get a basic fact like, "The sky is blue," followed by about 20 citations. People either seem to want to cite the obvious or there is a pervasive fear that it will be challenged without a ton of citations. Things really can't be done except remove them as they could theoretically take up half the page. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 23:27, 12 April 2010 (UTC)
  • FWIW I generally oppose the approach and issue identified in this essay. I'm not sure how I would approach editing it, given that I wouldn't so much want to improve it as completely change it. i agree with one element: that lots and lots of cites after a word, to help bolster the position for that word, impairs readability. But that is it. Sometimes those many cites are necessary—even desirable—to communicate to readers that the choice of word is significant; and to communicate to new editors that this word was not chosen lightly, so please don't go messing with the consensus without a serious discussion at the talk page. So multiple cites around contentious points and phrases can be useful for both readers and editors. On a separate issue, I support the use of cites attached to the relevant facts - regardless of whether that is mid-sentence or not. We should take a good long-term view about WP. Fifty years from now, we want the research of the articles to both stand up to scrutiny and be easily reproduced. I don't want to spend time borrowing a book from a library only to find it turned out not to be the cite for fact A, only for fact B, and then have to get some other book to check fact A. As far as possible, cites should be linked to facts. While multiple cites can be a minor impediment to readability, i'd be interested to see the evidence that single cites are a significant problem. But for me, those single cites in the middle of paras and even, occasionally, sentences, are important to the credibility of the underlying research. hamiltonstone (talk) 01:35, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

WP articles are not intended as "research" but statements of what is generally found in secondary sources. Therefore multiple cites (in some cases 20 or more for a single word) are disruptive to the project in esse. If one wishes to make a research paper, WP is not the best venue at all. Collect (talk) 11:25, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

You have confused "research" with "original research". WP articles do not contain original research, but they must be researched by their writers. hamiltonstone (talk) 22:19, 7 June 2010 (UTC)


Is there a maintenance template that can convey this? -- œ 15:02, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

Nevermind, found it: Template:Too many references. -- œ 15:05, 26 April 2010 (UTC)

Proposal or essay?[edit]

This is plainly not an active proposal, but my correction of the template was reverted. If anyone does want to actively propose that this be made into a guideline or policy then please do, otherwise this should be marked as an essay. Fences&Windows 15:41, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

Note the comments above where this is being discussed. And also note WP:DEADLINE Collect (talk) 16:00, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

DEADLINE is irrelevant, this isn't an article. If you want to propose it actively as a guideline or policy, do so. If it's actually an essay, then we should mark it as such instead of cluttering up Category:Wikipedia proposals. Sorry for posting a comment on your user page, I'm a muppet. Fences&Windows 22:04, 27 May 2010 (UTC)
Perhaops the fact that most of the proposals which are in similar state have been around much longer than this one should be noted? I do not see you marking all of the really old ones for removal - perhaops you should examine them by age? Collect (talk) 10:15, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

I wrote it and support but I have obvious bias since I nominated it as a proposal. What do others think? Kevin Rutherford (talk) 01:15, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

  • Support making into a style guideline. As in those examples given it adversely affects readbility and just looks silly/amateurish. This is something all editors should strive to follow project-wide. -- œ 10:51, 11 July 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose moving this beyond essay status. As an essay, it provides a useful perspective -- I would say an exaggerated/overreaching perspective, but that's fine in an essay. As a guideline, many of its specific points are either contradictory or inappropriate (or at least have not established consensus of their appropriateness per previous discussion). I will lay out further reasoning below. Such a proposed guideline presents problems of POV pushing via wikilawyering which have been brought up on this talk page but not resolved.
More broadly, this essay needs a broader set of eyeballs for vetting and demonstration of consensus before anyone should consider promoting it. Removal of reliable sources is a sensitive subject and if carried out too incautiously, it's liable to face serious backlash. If the provisions on removing reliable sources are to become binding, that needs to be reflected at WP:V -- so that is the place to establish consensus, not here. Style and content guidelines can be adjusted afterwards. Baileypalblue (talk) 07:03, 7 August 2010 (UTC)
I would not support the removal of existing sources. I am in support of a style guideline that directs editors to, in the future, not add absurd amounts of citations after a sentence just to prove a point. Furthermore, there are different ways of displaying/organizing inline citations, like in groups, that offer alternatives to a distracting string of numbers after a sentence. Any existing examples of citation overkill don't have to have their reliable sources removed per se, just restyled. -- œ 03:31, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

Provisions of this essay that should be reconsidered[edit]

  • The nutshell: "Less is more when it comes to footnotes" -- fundamentally wrong attitude towards sourcing and a serious overreach. Good expression of the underlying perspective behind the essay, but potentially contradictory with some of the body (thinking specifically of How to trim excessive citations which touches on situations in which less is not more). The most one can validly say is that there will eventually come a point at which more cites to a statement become counterproductive. As it stands, the nutshell will be misused not only by vandals and POV pushers, but by mistaken good faith editors.
  • "Where material can be supported clearly by a single footnote, best practice is to stop there." Wrong. Multiple cites demonstrate consensus that a claim is correct and put those claims into context the article cannot provide on its own -- who is making this claim? How widespread is this claim? What did they actually say? Others (e.g. User:Will Beback, User:Unomi, User:Hamiltonstone) have given reasons for using multiple cites which I won't recapitulate.
Multiple cites protect against linkrot and the relative inaccessibility of some sources. What happens when one source is published in a highly reliable but obscure journal, another is published in a source that is easily accessible online but relatively less reliable, and another is widely published but buried in hundreds of pages of technical jargon? Note that How to trim excessive citations touches on this problem by implicitly endorsing the use of multiple sources, which contradicts the assertion here that any time a claim can be supported "clearly" by one source "best practice is to stop there".
  • "The next ten footnotes for the same point do not help anyone." The essay attacks extreme cases ("fifteen or more footnotes after a single word", Sixteen citations!, 17 citations for one sentence) in order to build consensus for opposition of more moderate cases. This is poor argumentation. What exactly is the intended scope of this proposed policy? Based on How to trim excessive citations it appears the objective is to establish a limit of three cites per point of information. If so, then references to "one footnote is enough" should be removed from the essay, and it should be written to convince us that four or five cites is overkill, instead of convincing us that fifteen cites is overkill. Of course it would be much easier to build consensus against fifteen cites than against five, so perhaps the proposed guideline should be scaled back to deal only with these extreme cases. If the ultimate answer is that we can't make the proposed guideline much more specific than it already is, that's a good sign it is too vague to be a guideline.
  • "A rule of thumb is that one footnote after a sentence is enough, two begins to look untidy, and more than three is definitely clutter." Disagree. Fifteen sources = clutter, but four? Two are "untidy"?
  • How to trim excessive citations: The details of this section are likely to engender controversy in application, even create an avenue for POV warring by selective deletion of sources one side in a debate dislikes.
  • "The purpose of any article is first and foremost to be readable." This is an overreach. Readability is important, but verifiability is more important.

The stylistic concerns addressed by this essay are fairly trivial: a bunch of tiny blue numbers at the end of a sentence does little to impair readability for users, and any readability concerns for editors are secondary in an encyclopedia like this one which is intended to be optimized for readers. There should be a strong presumption in favor of preservation of information over issues of style, and this essay fails to find the proper balance. Baileypalblue (talk) 07:45, 7 August 2010 (UTC)

Those are some good points, and I will fix this up tomorrow if I can remember. If I don't do it in a few days, feel free to bug me as I won't mind a bit of a reminder. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 02:54, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Okay, all done. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 00:22, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

How many, how few? A good question[edit]

The fact there is much discussion here and unclarity, flags it up as a good question. It seems like a tricky balance to strike - enough, solid citations on the one hand and cites not being used to bolster polemic or paranoia on the other. As quality of content is the main issue facing the public perception of WP it'll not be surprising if articles veer towards wanting a cite for everything posited as a fact, especially in BLPs. It seems articles were conceived to be written with the underpinning assumption of the good faith of the author. I wonder if this still holds, as WP moves towards emphasising demonstrable quality over good faith. I'm sure all this has been argued over countless times elsewhere, but the quandary become clear in essays like this. You'd have to find an answer to it before adding anything to MOS, I suggest. Spanglej (talk) 20:19, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

I should hope it still holds! Quality means brilliant prose, not verifiability. As we stop trusting our content editors to write good articles extreme deletionism starts growing out of control and we'll have idiots wanting a cite for the sky being blue. Only "material challenged or likely to be challenged" (WP:V) should have a cite and that's they way it should always be. -- œ 08:57, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Just another tool...[edit]

I fully understand the reasoning behind this proposal. And I fully concur that an overly cited passage can be aesthetically unpleasing. Yet, what concerns me is that if a finite number of cites becomes policy, it's just another tool for agenda driven editors to work their magic.

Let's say an article on your favorite topic contains a fact that you dislike. And this inconvenient fact is quite well cited. What you then do is use the "over citation" rule to prune some of the citations. But instead of pruning the least reliable on dodgy sources, you remove the most credible sources. Then some time later, you or another like-minded editor, comes along and goes "Whoa all these sources are garbage... let me go ahead and delete that for you." To me it seems like a policy that would be ripe for abuse. -- (talk) 01:25, 16 November 2010 (UTC)

That's good point, but I believe it's being proposed as a guideline, rather than a set-in-stone policy.. and as for any policy or guideline, WP:IAR still holds. In fact, many of our other policies can also be abused by agenda-driven editors wanting to push their POV. We just need to be diligent in spotting these pointy and tendentious edits. -- œ 02:08, 16 November 2010 (UTC)
This scenario assumes that no editors are going to notice that the better sources are being systematically deleted. I suspect that's not a reasonable assumption for most articles. The scenario requires (1) a POV pusher, (2) an excessive number of citations, (3) a significant variability in quality of citations, (4) nobody noticing the removal of the best sources [say, like the editors who added them in the first place], (5) nobody adding better sources, and (6) multiple edits spaced out over time [not something your average POV pusher does]. I'm not going to say that it can't happen or that it hasn't happened, but it probably affects far less than 1% of articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:50, 16 November 2010 (UTC)

Template:Citation overkill[edit]

I'm proposing this citation overkill template. It probably shouldn't be used too often, but I'm lazy. :) Kayau Voting IS evil 13:08, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Wouldn't adding another long inline string of characters next to the string of numbers just be adding to the problem? Maybe it would be better as a standard message box template instead? -- œ 07:01, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm going to convert it to the standard message box so it makes more sense. Besides, if you have to question this, you probably aren't counting the number of citations to the left of it anyways. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 16:48, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
Does no one see what a terrible idea this template is? Solve barely any problem, provides much potential for abuse. / edg 22:40, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
Um -- Wikipedia is well known for having single sords with dozens of superscripted cites following each one. I assure you that it does not make articles easier to read. Really. Collect (talk) 00:15, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
"Um", Wikipedia is "well known" for {{Citation needed}}. "Citation overkill" hardly merits a maintenance template. If you personally have trouble reading text with superscripted characters, you can add .Inline-Template {display:none} to your personal CSS styling file. / edg 11:14, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
What percentage of all WP users have a monobook file with that in it? Really? I would wager it is well under 1/1000000. And I would even give odds on that. And of non-editors, the ratio is likely even lower. So much for a useless suggestion for them. Collect (talk) 11:56, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
That few? Then maybe it's not as much of a problem as you think. / edg 14:52, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
All it does is annoy the hell out of many users. I guess that is unimportant compared with the value of 25 cites for the word "the" in an article. <g>. Collect (talk) 14:55, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

poorly constructed sentence[edit]

A well meaning editor may attempt to make a subject which does not meet Wikipedia's notability guidelines through quantity of sources ....needs fixing Penyulap talk 21:56, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Overlink crisis[edit]

Wikipedia:Overlink crisis can probably be merged here. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 10:29, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

William Evans (Medal of Honor recipient)[edit]

Is it really appropriate to include articles created by IPs though AFC? Afterall, articles without "in-line citations" are routinely declined on AFC because of this issue. It seems kind of unfair to force someone unfamiliar with wiki-formatting to go through the effort of converting their references into "wiki citations" and then mock their efforts. I realise this isn't the intent of the essay but I've rarely seen an anonymous user recieve help on AFC with regards to this issue aside from pointing to WP:INCITE. (talk) 21:32, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

The problem doesn't cease to exist because of the source. This essay doesn't mock anyone, it outlines a problem and gives specific examples. New editors should not simply be excused for shortcomings in their efforts. Those issues should identified and guidance provided for making it better. --RadioFan (talk) 21:55, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Nutshell wording[edit]

How about in the nutshell part of the lead we put the following:

"When verifying information it is better to have a couple of great sources than a stack of decent or sub-par sources."

Seems to be less like something that would give people a bad impression.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:54, 26 November 2011 (UTC)

One thing I don't get[edit]

For those who are opposed to the argument of this essay, can't you just have one cite with multiple sources in it? E.g. "X then went to the Y to find Z."[1] followed in the reference list by "[1] Syett, 107. Garvus, 447. Meckler, 66. Munroe, 30. Alistus, 178." Then, of course, those sources are added in the Bibliography or References section of the article. Having [1][2][3][4][5][etc.] not only harms readability but also looks unprofessional, like the article is screaming, "Look at me! I'm well-referenced!" and trying without success to win the reader's confidence. --Mrdie (talk) 03:41, 16 December 2011 (UTC)

Same citation, different sentence[edit]

With respect to medicine[edit]

In technical matters it is useful if every sentence has a reference. Often sentences get moved around and the ref to that sentence than gets lost. I propose a better method than simply removing duplicate refs is to simply use <!-- --> such that when someone comes to add a [citation needed] tag they will see the ref that supports the text in question.--Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 08:32, 11 March 2012 (UTC)

Yes, articles do get edited, and when that happens, editors are responsible for making sure that the right citations are properly moved with the correctly corresponding passages. This is what I do. Besides, this applies only to when an entire passage is supported by one single source. If any portion of a paragraph or passage is not supported by that source, then that portion can indeed by addressed with a fact tag (if not outright removal). Nightscream (talk) 20:32, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree that sentence-by-sentence duplication of citations is useful—for sloppy future editors. But we're providing citations for our current readers, not for the small proportion of sloppy editors in our midst who might, someday in the future, make a change to the article. The example at Wikipedia:Inline citation#Citation_density is a good example of when we don't want to repeat citations. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:58, 11 March 2012 (UTC)
Using the no wiki tag makes it much easier for me to maintain articles and reduces confusion somewhat among our readers who are adding [citation needed] tags. I have had a number of sentences tagged in which the ref was only a single sentence away. Thus many of our readers it appears expect / wish citations on every line. Using the no wiki tag is a fair compromise IMO, simply removing refs is not. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 04:39, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
I support what Doc James is trying to say, but to clarify, WP:NOWIKI is different from what he is describing, which is actually a WP:COMMENT or "invisible comment". I do think that the standard on Wikipedia should be that after every period or point everywhere except in the lead there should be a way to verify the source of the statement. It is extremely difficult to sort the source of references when only the last sentence of a paragraph has a citation which is supposed to cover the paragraph, but then the entire paragraph is somehow restructured. Wikis frequently change and a citation for every sentence is a preferable practice to alternatives of expecting continually vigilance or stifling new editors who have not yet learned all citation customs. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:34, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Same citation, different sentence (continued)[edit]

I disagree with this modification. Adding one citation for each sentence allows readers and editors to understand what is supported by a source and what isn't. It would be easy to slip in an unsupported sentence and put the citation at the end to force readers to assume that all of the information is supported. Alternatively, a reader may assume that none of the information is supported due to the lack of a citation. Ryan Vesey 02:37, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

The modification goes against the intent of this essay which was to keep things like "statement[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]" from happening. Ryan Vesey 02:39, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
I don't think it "goes against the intent of this essay". There is a similar example given at WP:MINREF#Citation density, and sentence-by-sentence citations have never been required by any policy.
There are silly instances of supplying citations sentence by sentence, and there's nothing magical about sentence-by-sentence citations that prevent someone from slipping an unverifiable sentence in. Sometimes (especially with inexperienced editors) they even "steal" one of your superfluous citations for their new sentence, which makes it look like your sentence is unsupported and theirs is fully supported. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:44, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
I never said they have been required by policy, but there's no reason to outlaw them in this essay. Ryan Vesey 20:52, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

It makes sense to put the same citation behind many sentences. Normally it wouldn't, but Wikipedia is constantly changing, and there are numerous editors who come and go. Information is constantly added to a paragraph, and when articles get rearranged and rewritten, its harder to keep intact. A citation behind a paragraph doesn't represent new additions to that paragraph. There is the problem of having not enough inline sources for large articles, and this is because initially a citation wasn't put behind every sentence to start with.

Think of making a fully referenced article into a good, higher class or featured article. Then there's the complaint, "not enough inline citations", when initially the article was well written and done without "overkill". The original author is gone. You have to go back and put citations back in, when there are over 100 redundant references with no inlines. It'd be easier to start that from scratch.

And if someone "steals" a citation to reword it. Wouldn't the citation back you up, or discredit the other user? A clear note of citations will help who has it right. The only way to prevent bad insertions is to have many watchers, and have every sentence cited. Leaving out citations discourages article improvement. Sidelight12 Talk 09:40, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

While a citation behind every sentence may not be needed, I do not see anything wrong with it and it is often a good idea. Thus I would disagree strongly with this essay. The issue we have know is that if a citation is NOT present behind every sentence someone comes and tags it with cn if a citation is behind every sentence some come and remove a bunch of them quoting this. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 03:29, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Several unrelated ideas here and this page should be split[edit]

There are several ideas in this essay and they ought to be split because they do not relate to each other. Here are some of the ideas:

  • Some information on Wikipedia, like assertions that the elephant is large, are simple and accepted statements which, while debatable by argumentative people, can be generally understood and accepted without a citation.
  • There should be a limit to the number of citations listed after a sentence, because a long string of citation numbers is distracting.
  • When an entire paragraph is sourced with a single citation, it is acceptable to place a citation only at the end of the paragraph and preferable to leave each individual sentence without a citation.

That third point about recommending that some sentences preferentially remain without citations is the one that bothers me and I do not like it connected to the other ideas. This idea makes statements in Wikipedia more difficult to verify as content is changed by other users and causes maintenance problems in other ways. I would favor a best practice recommendation of having a citation for every sentence or contained statement. If anyone ever feels strongly about this also then ping me and perhaps I would collaborate with others in drafting a proposal to make a recommendation - though not a hard guideline - that a citation for every sentence is best, and anything less than that is just acceptable and not preferred. Blue Rasberry (talk) 15:56, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

True. What would focus this essay is to consider the following example paragraph & the issues raised in properly providing adequate sources for the statements made in it:
These are the facts to be discussed in this paragraph, drawn from several sources, both primary and secondary. (1) The consensus view is this. [Alternatively, "Jones expresses the consensus view".] (2) However, Smith has proposed this interpretation (3) which is a notable minority viewpoint. (4)
(1) Whether to combine multiple sources into one footnote, or split them out so each source has its own footnote. This also leads to the issue whether comments on primary & secondary sources in the footnotes should be combined in one place, if multiple sources have been combined that way, or they could be split out to show the parts they relate to.
(2) If sources cited in (1) are repeated here, whether to separate them into their own footnotes to be repeated here & elsewhere in the article, or to combine them. And there is the issue whether we should consider it sufficient to provide one source to confirm the existence of a consensus amongst experts, or require more.
(3) Sometimes it is good practice to put footnotes only at the end of the relevant sentence, & sometimes footnotes need to appear in the middle of a sentence after the relevant clause for emphasis.
(4) Sometimes accepted practice is only to combine all citations into one footnote & list all sources there. This has the drawback that it can be difficult to match facts to the relevant source.
How & where to attach links to sources is often more of an art than an engineering problem -- something not always appreciated by those wishing to handle these problems. -- llywrch (talk) 18:22, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

36 citations[edit]

How about adding this article to the list? It has 36 footnotes at one place. (tJosve05a (c) 23:04, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Josve05a Go for it. Kevin Rutherford (talk) 04:47, 4 March 2014 (UTC)


NukeofEarl, hours ago, I saw this edit by you removing mention of WP:PAIC, and I didn't know whether or not your removal should stay intact or be reverted. Hours later, I've obviously decided to bring the matter here to the talk page. The reason that I'm confused by the aforementioned removal is because the sentence that was referring to WP:PAIC is about placing citations "at the end of the passage that they support." And WP:PAIC corresponds with that, stating, "The ref tags should immediately follow the text to which the footnote applies, with no intervening space." Flyer22 (talk) 19:28, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

Reverted, since I was ignored. Flyer22 (talk) 00:23, 29 June 2014 (UTC)


Isn't there a tag to put on top of an article with citation overkill? For example, the HDMI article regularly has three or four references for a stated fact and a total of 209 references, which seems like overkill to me. Especially since it's not at all controversial. I cleaned up a little, but i'd like to leave behind a tag to invite other editors to continue cleaning up.PizzaMan (♨♨) 23:46, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Note: PizzaMan took this matter elsewhere; see Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 117#Tag for too many citations. Flyer22 (talk) 10:31, 15 December 2014 (UTC)

In my opinion this is not something to complain about. There used to be tags saying "This article needs general cleanup" but those are now not allowed, because tags should be used to ask for help fixing a particular problem. When citations are overused, people might be tempted to remove them so that the tag can be removed, but I do not want anyone to be too quick to remove citations. Removing citations should be a thoughtful process that goes along with deeply editing the article, and not just one part of it. This is because it is a large investment to add citations, but much easier to remove them, and I would rather over-citation than undercitation.
Right now, I would like to not make a work queue which encourages people to quickly remove citations, and would rather than interested people just fix the problem when they deeply review whole articles or sections. Blue Rasberry (talk) 17:09, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Changing kill reference[edit]

In the big scheme of things this is very low priority, but I was updating the Nice shooting article and realized after the fact that using citekill was potentially insensitive and inappropriate. What do you think about getting rid of citekill and citeoverkill as references and just using overcite and the less violent variations? I know it will be a hard thing to unlearn for some people, but in the long run perhaps it will be more sensitive. As far as I can tell all that has to happen is the two variations have to be removed from this article. Thoughts? ----