Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 12

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Referenced POV edits

I have noticed several users making edits which are IMHO POV but are referenced. Whenever I raise the issue of neutrality they hide behind the sources claiming that it is ok and in accordance with Wiki policy because it is referenced/cited and therefore NPOV. Is there any way round this? If that is the case it seems like madness to me since there are many sources which are not objective and clearly POV. Roydosan 09:46, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

It's OK. The way to handle referenced POV edits is to balance them with equally well-referenced statements of other important, recognized points of view. The overall balance of the section or article is important and should be discussed, of course, and the references should be such and should be made in such a way that it is easy for readers to form their own judgement of how much credibility the source has with them. Thus, for example, it is perfectly appropriate to say "J. Random Fortean, president of the Society for Promotion of the Green-Cheese-Moon Concept, says 'the moon is made of green cheese.'" The reader can decide whether they trust this person as an authority on the moon's composition.
There's no more of a problem with this than with a newspaper reporting that "Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki depicted Iraq as central to the war on terrorism." That doesn't meant Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and it doesn't mean Iraq isn't central, it means the Prime Minister of Iraq expressed an opinion. Dpbsmith (talk) 16:41, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

"In Press" material

I have specific permission to cite material that will be appearing in a book from an academic publishing company later this year. Strictly speaking, such information would not be verifiable at present (since the book is not yet available), but it would be of interest to Wikipedia readers as it provides important elaboration of work already covered in Wikipedia. What is Wikipedia's policy regarding citation to work that is "in press" (i.e. accepted for publication, but not yet published)? Dragons flight 18:32, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Don't know about Wikipedia's policy, but it was briefly discussed concerning articles in the archives: Citing stuff in press. HTH. -- Woseph 14:18, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
As the policy says "published", IMHO, you need to wait until the book is published before adding the material and citation to Wikipedia. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 02:40, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Question on Citing Sources for Lists

I just now created a list on wikipedia entitles List of people from Abilene, Texas. I used as references all the pages on the cities and counties in the relevant area, and the pages on the relevant individuals (for example, Stedman Graham's page lists him as an alumnus of Hardin-Simmons University). Should I attempt to find specific sources for each name mentioned or not, and how, if at all, should that be indicated? I know that this has probably been asked before, but I couldn't find the discussion. Badbilltucker 17:08, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

As far as I can tell, you didn't use any sources at all except Wikipedia articles, which are not acceptable sources. I say that you didn't use sources because you didn't cite them. Citing sources means including information in the article so that other people can find the same source you used, and either verify that you understood the source correctly, or find more information. --Gerry Ashton 18:40, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
If the Wikipedia article contains a source for the person's being from Abilene, that source should be copied into the list article. If it does not contain a source, or if it's difficult to tell whether it contains a source (e.g. no inline sources, and it's too difficult to check all the external links), then you should not put the person's name in the article. You might list it in the article's Talk page, pending further research.
I am sorry to say that when I have checked lists where the only "references" are links to Wikipedia articles, the results have been very disappointing. I've recently started checking List of bisexual people. This list tried to take a creative shortcut. It claims that if the Wikipedia article link has a plus sign next to it, that's supposed to mean that the article cites a source for the person's being bisexual. Of the first five I checked, none had a clearly identifiable reference to a source that used the word "bisexual." In one, Nina Hartley, the article used the word "bisexual" but cited no sources. One, Missy Higgins, said nothing whatsoever about her sexual orientation, and none of the general references in the article said anything about it. The other three were complicated, and I'd guess the plus sign was used in good faith, but unsatisfactory; for example, one had a citation... but it was to the person's saying "I am probably more heterosexual than I am homosexual, or even bisexual." In another, the sources appeared to support the notion that this was a gay man in a marriage of convenience to a woman, which IMHO is not at all the same thing as "bisexual."
So, no shortcuts, please. If the Wikipedia article cites a source, then copy that source into the list. If you cannot find a source, then do not put that person into the list. A Wikipedia article that asserts that someone is from Abilene without citing a source may be good grist for the mill and may suggest future entries, but should not be used to justify listing the person. In fact, just the opposite: it does justify putting a {{citation needed}} tag on the sentence that identifies the person as being from Abilene. Dpbsmith (talk) 20:28, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
No disagreement on any of the above points. However, as I think the majority of you know, the amount of work required to do any such list for a larger city, particularly, let's say, Los Angeles, would be such that no such listing would ever likely be made. For what little it might be worth, I am currently going through an old biographical dictionary which lists several people from the US, generally giving information on any locations. I shall be trying to ensure that only those people who I can specifically cite sources for as being from a location will be included on it. However, there are over four hundred such categories in the US. If any of you could help me once in a while by checking to see that no one is added to these lists without a source citation, I would be deeply grateful. Badbilltucker 13:05, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
Why make such a list if it's going to be that much work then? Why not leave it to the category system? --Allan McInnes (talk) 14:20, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

What is the current status of "fact" tag?

I'm confused as to the current status of the {{fact}}, especially in light of this conversation. Please advise. TewfikTalk 21:02, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Is there a tag for inline citations needed?

I'm running across a lot of articles that have a hefty references section (where they list all the works) but nary an inline citation. Is {{unreferenced}} really appropriate then? Is there tag we can put at the top that says "References need to be cleaned up and modified to WP:Citing sources" or something like that to get the idea across that they either have no inline citations (or very few) or they didn't format their references correctly or something? plange 03:32, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Maybe this can be used: {{Citecheck}} ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 03:44, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
Perfect, thanks! plange 03:50, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
I would actually prefer {{cleanup-references}}. When I tag with that for this reason, I also leave a note on the talk page, for clarity. -- Beland 02:47, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

How far does this go?

Just how far to we go with citations? Look at this: Chainmail. The article consists of literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of facts. Yet someone has picked out one of these facts (third sentence in History section) and flagged it for citation. The guy who did it gave no explanation in the edit summary as to why he thought a citation was needed. Are we saying all facts should have a citation - individually? Reading the Wiki policy I begin to wonder! I would have thought in the vast majority of articles a general citations or references are all that's needed, referring the reader to alternative, hopefully verifiable sources. Even that is not always possible. Some facts speak for themselves: Earth is the third planet out from the Sun - does that need a citation? Arcturus 22:19, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

The rule is, if an item is challenged, then it is the burden of any editor that wants to item to remain in the article to supply an appropriate citation. If a 'fact' is verifiable (published in a reliable source), then there should be no problem supplying the citation. If no editor can find a suitable reference, the item nedds to come out as unverifiable. As for the Earth being the third planet from the Sun, reliable published souces are plentiful, so what's the big problem about pointing to one? BTW, I am getting really tired of people throwing up examples like that in an effort to weaken Wikipedia policies. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 22:33, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
"BTW, I am getting really tired of people throwing up examples like that in an effort to weaken Wikipedia policies." Are you! Well go away and find something else to do then! Earth is third planet out from the Sun (ref: the monster book of facts for five year olds). Come off it! Do you really expect people to reference facts such as those. As I say, for the most part, general references to the topic are usually sufficient. If an editor thinks that a particular fact/opinion etc. requires citation then he should go and cite it rather than passing the buck. Presumably if he knows that a citation is needed, he also knows the subject matter to a certain extent. We could all go sticking that citation tag all over the place without having to answer for it. Arcturus 22:47, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
Err, no. A request for a citation is just that: a request that the editors who added the material to the article—or else someone who merely happens to be familiar with the topic—provide a source for the fact under discussion. In the particular example you bring up (the chainmail one, not the planet one), the tag is eminently reasonable. The fact in question is not at all obvious, and without a citation, the reader has no way of determining whether it is correct. Kirill Lokshin 23:00, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
Not only is Kirill Lokshin entirely correct, but a person who wanted to learn more about the discovery of 5th century BC chainmail would have to search through all the external links in the hope that one of them might have the information. However, since the article does not have proper citations for any of its material, it is quite possible that the editor put the information in based on his/her personal recollections, and hasn't the slightest idea where the 5th century BC discovery was written about. --Gerry Ashton 23:38, 30 July 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Also, you guys might be interested in a very heated debate over inline citations at Bob Dylan plange 16:22, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Convenience links

The text recently added is missing important giudelines. The text proposed opens a massive gap to allow the linking to purportedly reliable sources from blogs, personal websites, anonnymous websites, partisan websites, etc. The distinction needed is that the website in which the convenience link is hosted must be a reliable source on its own right. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 01:52, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, good. I think so to and, actually, would prefer no personal website appear anywhere as a secondary source of information. As you know, Jossi, convenience link has been a topic of discussion at WP:RS. The "how do you make a convenience link" should go here, right? But the question, "what quality is required for a convenience link" should take place at WP:RS ? Terryeo 09:03, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Citation Templates

I wanted to discuss the usage of various citation templates, particularly its incorporation in the form of a formal policy. I see that currently there is no strict policy on the use of citation templates. However, I am in strong favour of using them for reasons I believe are quite valid. First of all, use of citation templates ensure that the article gets uniformity of citation style and there is no difference if more than one editor edits the article (which is often the case). Secondly, they force the citations to be complete (not always, but mostly). Thirdly, their usage would allow SQL searching inside the article citations, just like Wikipedia:Persondata describes. Finally fourthly, they make the citing easy as you don't need to remember the format yourself. Other editors sometimes disagree with the fourth, but I feel it is a valid argument. Please let me know if there are other views. Note: I am not asking it to be made mandatory, though it should be recommended for the reasons described above. — Ambuj Saxena (talk) 16:09, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

I would strongly oppose this. Use of the citation templates is often too cumbersome to be useful—for articles which cite primarily large books, they're massive overkill—and forces a particular style of formatting references (MLA, if I'm not mistaken) over other equally valid ones. They should be an option to be adopted (or not) in each article as the editors of that article wish; but we should no more recommend using them than we would recommend CMS formatting over MLA formatting, or vice versa. Kirill Lokshin 16:15, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Citation templates absolutely do not force some particular style of formatting. They simply encode the citation details in a structured way. Those can be rendered in whatever particular style guide you wish. I suppose it might be desirable for the MediaWiki developers to let editors choose the rendering on a per-article basis... but that's just technology. We need the structured data first, and in the future, such technology additions become straightforward. LotLE×talk 16:39, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Perhaps it would be more correct to say that while the templates are theoretically metadata, the actual rendering of them in the article occurs in only one style. (And no, "Let the developers fix it" is probably not an acceptable response here; the developers have rather more important things to do than mucking around with citation formatting, I think.) Kirill Lokshin 16:57, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I also strongly oppose recommending them. Here are some of the reasons: (a) They make texts harder to read and copy edit by making the citation longer than it needs to be. (b) They aren't flexible, and can't accommodate different needs e.g. sometimes citing works on their own in a footnote, sometimes including the citation as part of an explanation of something, or including multiple citations in one note. (c) They can't accommodate not wanting to repeat the author's name over and over, where a line ______ is used instead in the References section. (d) They take longer to write than just writing the citation out manually. (e) They force people to use a particular style. (f) In edit mode, they're harder to read than a citation written without a template. (g) They seem to add no benefit and are part of the explosion-of-template culture Wikipedia is currently experiencing. (h) If someone can work out how to write out a citation template, they can work out how to write the citation without the template. (i) They make cutting and pasting citations between articles harder, if those articles don't use the template, and most don't. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:28, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Minor question: I've always seem em-dashes rather than underscores used for repeated names; is this just my not being familiar with a different formatting style? Kirill Lokshin 16:31, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I've seen both, Kirill. SlimVirgin (talk) 16:33, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Ah, ok. Kirill Lokshin 16:40, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I'll try to find the name of the style that uses underscore. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:04, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm with Ambuj.Saxena here. If articles move towards use of citation templates, it will eventually become possible to much more useful structured queries of citations in the WP database. Some additional tools will be needed, but they will be technically possible, rather than resemble trying to get blood from a stone (which the current unstructured data is akin to). I definitely do not think they should be suggested as mandatory, however, simply as "nice to do". I don't really get SlimVirgin's point about templates being hard to copy: they're just simply not any harder to cut-and-paste than is anything else. A given article need not use 100% citation templates to benefit from partial use of them.... but the more widely they become used, the easier a number of worthwhile things become (including, for example, creating a uniform style for citations across articles; or in some particular re-publication of WP content). LotLE×talk 16:36, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
The hard-to-copy point was that, if I'm moving citations from a page that uses templates to one that doesn't, and most don't, I have to undo the template; and in fact, it's faster just to rewrite them. I've had this happen a few times to articles I've written that have been related. I write one with lots of good citations. I write a second a few weeks later, and remember that I can use some of the same citations. I go back to the first to collect the cites, and find someone in the meantime has added the citation template. Why on earth would you add it after the fact? But some people do. And so then I can't cut and paste. SlimVirgin (talk) 17:08, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Why on earth can't you cut-and-paste? I mean, I guess what you're saying is that you oppose citation templates because you oppose citation templates, right? (and therefore, you don't want to cut-and-paste them to new places). Moreover, the "inconsistent citations" matter rings hollow to my ear: pretty much the only time I ever see consistent citation formats in an article is when it actually uses templates. Every other article that theoretically chose to use some format other than what the templates currently render as is actually just a random mish-mash of semi-formatted citations. I'm sure there are exceptions out there—no doubt in articles the SlimVirgin and Kirill Lokshin have worked on—but encountering "any random article", I always find sloppy citations... and often I fix them by putting in the templates. LotLE×talk 18:19, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
You might be on to something there ;-) Perhaps the argument really boils down to this: while the templates may be suitable for cleaning up malformed citations, they are not intrinsically better than properly formatted ones, and should not be given preference in such cases. There's no reason to convert perfectly good citations to templates merely to fetishize template markup (particularly when such a conversion would result in a change of citation style within the article). Kirill Lokshin 18:28, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Actually, partial use of citation templates can often be worse than no use at all, as identical references may be formatted very differently depending on whether or not the template is used. Kirill Lokshin 16:40, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I guess it's a difference in time-scale of concern. I want to enable WP to be as good as possible, but looking at what can happen eventually (not decades, but quite likely months). It's true that looking towards eventual improvements might make for very slight formatting inconsistencies in the short term. But opposing citation templates essentially amounts to opposing the whole idea of a semantic web in which WP participates. I'd rather aim for best than for right now. LotLE×talk 16:43, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Better is the enemy of good ;-) Kirill Lokshin 16:50, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, the Voltaire quote is that "The best is the enemy of the good" (not the better). But I actually had in mind more of the Zen of Python:
  • Now is better than never.
  • Although never is often better than right now.
LotLE×talk 19:20, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Lulu, you assume that these templates are "best"; in fact, they are not. They are one way of doing things, and a particularly cumbersome and inflexible way at that. Jayjg (talk) 16:52, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
No, actually the templates really are the best possible. Look beyond the surface syntax here. I don't care whether the field names happen to have upper- or lowercase, or whether squiggly brackets are used (as opposed to, say, some XML-ish angle brackets). All of this is superficial because I can write a tool that mechanically transforms the structured information in current templates into whatever hypothetical "perfect syntax" someone discovers in the future. On the other hand, neither I nor anyone else, will ever be able to reliably transform all the different styles of informal semi-random references into structured data (it happens that I quite literally "wrote the book" on this topic). For WP to really move forward in a lot of technical desiderata (e.g. structured querying of references or production of style-normalized bound versions), we have to start using templates, or at least something morally equivalent to them. LotLE×talk 18:27, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Standard referencing would be nice, but these templates aren't the right tool for it. Jayjg (talk) 19:24, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Ambuj, I strongly oppose for the reasons cogently listed by Kirill Lokshin and SlimVirgin. The first advantage you list only works if people actually use the template, and uniformity can be enforced just as easily by fixing up references, rather than pushing a template. The second advantage you list is incorrect, since the templates don't actually force any more completeness than anything else. The third advantage you list is a minor technical advantage which is of no help to article writers. The fourth advantage you list is also incorrect, since it's actually harder to remember how to use the template properly than it is to remember how to properly cite information. The template seems to be designed solely for those who like to enforce a specific style, and who like playing around with cumbersome templates; it has no advantage that I can see for actual article writers, and a number of significant disadvantages. Jayjg (talk) 16:52, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Other guideline pages that mention citation templates say they are not obligatory, but are helpful. That would seem to be a suggestion. They are helpful tools for some editors. Saying (in bold) they are not recommended is discouraging their use. Gimmetrow 17:20, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Which guideline pages are you referring to? From what I can tell the citation templates are the opposite of "helpful"; I would describe those particular templates as "fetishistic overkill". Jayjg (talk) 17:30, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
WP:FN in particular. Gimmetrow 17:44, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
This is the guideline for how to cite sources, not WP:FN. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:04, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Your point? If the templates are to be discouraged why do they exist? Gimmetrow 18:14, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Because template fetishists like templates. Jayjg (talk) 19:24, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I would clarify some doubts. I am not saying to make them mandatory. I am asking to write it in such a way the editors are encouraged to do it. Also, I am not against multiple citation styles, as long as they are consistant within an article. Citation templates are helpful as they structure the reference. I some cases, it is difficult to see who is the author and who is the publisher. Sometimes there is confusion between the author and the name of the book. Use of citation templates can completely avoid these confusions. The way it is currently put, it discourages people to use them. I myself use citation templates as often as possible and I don't see any difficulty. Its just that I am used to it because I use them. Now the issue of notes a different one, but let me clarify here itself. I find that notes are completely different from citations and I prefer (note my words again, I am not implying a policy request) that they be kept in two different sections. The way this can be done can be seen in Rabindranath Tagore article. — Ambuj Saxena (talk) 17:48, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Can you show me one example of where a reference is given without a template, where there is confusion between who is the author and who is the publisher, or between the name of the author and the name of the book? This guideline already says that there should be a References section as well as a Notes section. That has nothing to do with the use of templates. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:04, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Here's one that I was peer reviewing where I had a hard time finding a particular author (Arifi) mentioned in the article plange 18:56, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Take a look at Tattoo. This is an article I'm probably main editor on for the last number of months (or at least "maintaining editor"). There aren't all that many references in total, but those that there are a total mish-mash of reference styles, probably none of them matching any style guide. Except for the big block of medical-related citations, where I imposed citation templates (and Harvard referencing), and where the result looks very clean. On a side issue, those medical cites reflect an odd obsession by one editor who insisted on dumping in way more of that stuff than the article merits ("undue weight" and all). I suppose I ought to rationalize the rest of the references: if I do so, it will unquestionably be using citation templates to assure consistency. LotLE×talk 18:58, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Why would you need a template to clean up the references? It would be easier and quicker just to do them manually. Jayjg (talk) 19:24, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Wow, what a lot of discussion in only three hours!
I oppose templates because they tend to be inflexible and do not reflect the demands of the many varieties of documents that are cited. If they are to work, they need to handle all the options that are provided in the standard citing formats used in all the varied disciplines. The Chicago Style Manual (14th ed.) tried to cover all options in two chapters (pp. 487-635) and (pp. 637-699) and still has an online source to deal with additional contingencies.
Anyone proposing a template to cover all those options has a lot of reading to do if they hope to get it right. --SteveMcCluskey 19:28, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Might as well throw my 2¢ in here. I tried using the cite templates in a few articles, but I could never remember the details, and would waste time trying to find the right template for the kind of citation I was doing, so I quickly gave it up. I think I do a decent job of formatting references, although I don't spend a lot of time worrying about which style guide I'm adhering to. In any case, my citations look better than most of the ones I see in Wikipedia. And I do get a bit annoyed when someone comes along and puts the references I've added to an article into a citation template without really improving anything, but I'm too busy adding new content to fight over them. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 02:37, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

I'd prefer to see a button for references. With the tool buttons, I can see easily what I'm meant to do as an occasional contributor. If it's not in a tool button, it takes more time to learn, so it is less likely to happen if I'm busy. Talk about "semantic webs" ignores the fact that presently and for the forseable decade, people supply most of the processing power for complex information synthesis. Please make it easier to capture what is in people's heads. --Blouis79 00:59, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Readers and the future

I do not claim that citation templates particularly make matters easier for editors. But then, editors are not my main concern here: readers are. There's not any question in my mind whatsoever that the templates wind up helping readers because of the stylistic consistency they enforce (and the fact they render as an easily discernable format: I could hardly care less whether it happens to be MLA, Chicago, Oxford, whatever); most informal references are much less clear to parse, and much more often incomplete.

My real concern is with the future of Wikipedia. There are many things I would like readers to be able to do that they simply cannot do currently. Much of this boils down to the simple word "metadata". And many of these readers I am concerned about will not necessarily be reading WP via its official web site: they might be reading via some syndication of the articles, or on a CD-ROM/DVD version, or in a paper-published version, etc. Here are some questions that I believe it would be valuable to let readers answer (just examples, but they give a sense):

  • Find every article the references Sigmund Freud's On Narcissism.
  • Peform a "semantic proximity analysis" to extract hidden similarities and connections among referenced works (using, for example, back-propogation neural nets).
  • Find out what the most widely cited book published by Oxford University Press is.
  • Create an index of links (or page numbers) of all articles discussing Otto Rank.
  • Print out a Wikipedia article with (automated) assurance that references match a publishers style guidelines.

Not everything "meta" about Wikipedia lies in its references, but those are a very reasonable initial target. All of these desirable future uses are "easy" once citation templates are used consistly, and impossible with the current hodge-podge of informal citation. Adding templates may not make an article much better, tomorrow; but if we start doing them, the bulk of articles can be a lot more useful next year. LotLE×talk 18:47, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Good things "next year" (our nifty new feature development cycle seems rather longer than this, but that's somewhat beside the point) don't really justify bad things right now.
More generally, there's a confusion between metadata and the rendering of metadata that's responsible for some of these problems. Encapsulating citation information in metadata is very good. Using a raw dump of that metadata to render citations in articles is not so good, as it doesn't render very well in a great many cases. Once this (mostly technical) issue is fixed, we can start using citation templates more widely; until then, it's unreasonable to demand that editors decrease the quality of articles they're working on by introducing citations (the output of the rendering, not the metadata itself) that don't work well in context of the article. Kirill Lokshin 18:58, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
That sounds like a false dilemma to me. Can you cite one single article where the addition of citation templates decreased the quality for readers?! I've never seen that, and have trouble imagining it. I can buy that the templates ocassionally add a very slight amount of extra work for editors, but even that seems like a very mixed bag to me... I've found they also make things easier when a lot of citations share some of their details, since I can cut-and-paste those fields. Is this just about you not liking that something is bolded versus italicized, or some surface aspect like that, in the current rendering?
The problem is that we don't see the benefits of metadata until it is relatively widely used. The main gains are in the aggregation of this metadata, not in some single isolated occurrence. There are a lot of problems that can't be solved by demanding the final payout right now, before being willing to take even the smallest steps in the direction of the payout. LotLE×talk 19:10, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I suppose some metadata is better than no metadata, but pursuading the vast majority of editors to adopt a system that only works for some citations, and requiring the editors to type regular references in situations not accomodated by the templates, may be a hard sell. One case where the existing templates don't suffice that comes to mind is giving the number and session for a US Congress document. Also, note that the templates do not say what, if any, style guide they are based on, and the description of the meaning of the various templates would probably occupy around 10 printed pages if redundancy among the templates was eliminated. In contrast, style guides devote hundreds of pages to the same topic. I suggest the existing templates are not well enough documented to pursuade many editors to use them. --Gerry Ashton 19:15, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
If there was somje kind of popup tool that will allow editors to easily use cite templates, this will be a much easier sell. As it stands, the cite formats for books and websites are more complicated than just adding a http link or an informal ref. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 19:21, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I don't know about US Congress documents, but it would be great to have an appropriate template created for them... nudge, nudge Gerry Ashton. If you know the format (or really just the fields needed), please create one.
I don't plan to create a template for US Congress documents because (1) I don't know how, (2) the citation templates don't say which style guide they are following, so I wouldn't know what to aim for, and (3) when I was done, there would still be too many cases not covered by templates for me to get on the template bandwagon. --Gerry Ashton 19:57, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
I think you misunderstand what the templates are, Gerry Ashton. They don't use any style guideline, nor does it make sense for them to. What they do is hold the structured data related to a reference. How that structured data is concretely output/represented is a whole different level of concern. Just like there is bibliographic software that lets you entere structured fields, then outputs references formatted according to whatever guidelines a particular publisher requires. Style guides are an entirely orthogonal concern to templates. LotLE×talk 21:55, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
While templates may be used to store metadata (a task I would argue they are unsuited for), they are fundamentally formatting that is replicated across multiple pages. The data (which is actually stored in the template's invocation within the article) is secondary; the template itself is concerned entirely with appearance. To suggest that templates are divorced from style guides is utterly nonsensical; the entire point of having a template is not to label metadata, but to replicate a particular output based on that metadata across multiple pages. In this case, said output is a citation that matches a particular style guide. Kirill Lokshin 22:00, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
It seems to me that templates are not discussed with the same precice terminology that might be expected in a discussion of XML or C++ programming. I note, however, that Wikipedia:Template namespace begins "Templates are used to duplicate the same content across more than one page. You can change a template in one place and it will immediately propagate to the pages that use it." So I would say that the Template:cite book is a thing which exists in the Template namespace, and when invoked, it does things such as put book titles in italics, put the year of a book in parenthesis, and so on. Various style guides call for these elements to be typeset in different ways, so the template most certainly does incorporate style decisions. The invocation of a citation template in an article, in Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters' words, "hold the structured data related to a reference."
That's a clever idea, Jossi. It should be doable to write some Javascript that editors can copy to their monobook.js, that would popup a dialog box with the citation fields, and then insert a properly formatted template. Hmmm.... I promise to do that as soon as I find time :-). LotLE×talk 19:39, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
LotLE, I seem to recall you arguing strongly against what you saw as an attempt to impose footnotes on editors. If I have that right (apologies if I don't), why would you want to impose any other rigid citation system on other editors? SlimVirgin (talk) 19:26, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Absolutely. I wouldn't want a guideline or policy to mandate that the citation templates must be used. And if someone (somehow) wrote an automated tool that obnoxiously spidered pages to stick in the templates, I would be outraged (*cough* ref converter *cough*). I just think this guideline (or some other guideline this points to) should have some friendly advice about why citation templates are generally a "good thing(tm)", and what future-looking advantages they have. LotLE×talk 19:39, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
LotLE, you weren't arguing against footnotes becoming mandatory; you were arguing against any hint that they were preferred or recommended, so this is looking like you want recommendations when you approve of something, and strongly oppose them when you don't. My position is consistent: we shouldn't recommend footnotes over Harvard referencing (even though I prefer footnotes), and we shouldn't recommend templates over writing citations manually. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:42, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
No, no, no: not at all! What I was (am) really upset about was that people were using a semi-bot to disruptively impose m:Cite.php references, contrary to explicit talk page consensus, then claiming that was justified because m:Cite.php was mandatory (or other styles were "deprecated"). In fact, I mostly use m:Cite.php myself (at least for footnotes proper), and often advocate for their use on particular pages... of course, when I do so, I go to the talk page and raise the issue; what I don't do is make a blanket change to an article I've never otherwise edited, nor intend to ever edit again. I definitely think (and always have thought) that guidelines ought to clearly state the advantages (and disadvantages) of m:Cite.php. LotLE×talk

Example of citation templates messing up editing

Look at this page in edit mode. The whole page is bad, but look particularly at the section called "Controversy about Wikipedia's origins." This is the main reason I oppose citation templates. It makes pages impossible to copy edit and almost impossible to write well. Bear in mind that this is an article with only 24 footnotes. Imagine one with 100 or more. SlimVirgin (talk) 19:41, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

It is funny.... those pages that editors have applied effort in providing inline citations, look very hard to edit, and those that do not have citations, well.... they need them. I am not so sure if there is am easy way to fix this, unless...
  1. The text on the article is first parsed
  2. Article and citations are displayed on separate HTML entities
  3. Some clever AJAX enables us to add/remove/edit citations without refreshing the page
It is definitively doable, and at some point we will need this badly. Otherwise, and regardless of the format used, if we want inline citations for easying WP:V, the hard-to-edit-but-well-sourced-articles will remain as such. ≈ jossi ≈ t@ 20:05, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
True, but I find the templates make articles even harder to edit, simply because there are more characters involved. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:09, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Part of the mess is the cite.php system requiring all the ref detail inline. It would be nice if it supported having all the refs in one place, using a refname in the text, and still handled automatic numbering. But independent of the ref system, templates are a help for some editors to format citations properly; other editors don't need them. The templates in that page were used one entry per line with blank fields, and it looks like a mess. On the other hand, a template used in one line with no blank fields doesn't seem to me any worse than any other refnote, and it puts the book citation in a decent format. WP:FN says that citation templates are not obligatory, but may be helpful to get citations formatted consistently. Gimmetrow 20:16, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Maybe a simpler way of working with this would be to have the page say that citation templates can be helpful for formatting references, but that editors who are able to do so by hand are free to avoid them. As a practical point (and perhaps the reason why this issue has come up now) is that any wording that uses "recommended" or "good idea" will cause silly objections on WP:FAC (where the articles generally have extensive citations) for articles that don't use the templates. Kirill Lokshin 20:21, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Gimmetrow, I might be wrong, but you don't have to use the cite template inline (which I also avoid since it's so clunky). I use the cite template in the References section and then for my inline citations (which appear in Notes) I just use this (if the page number is 11 and I'm citing it more than once so I want to use the name tag: <ref name="Stevens11">Stevens, ''Name of Stevens book'', 11</ref>plange 20:44, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
The ref detail in that case is 'Stevens, Name of Stevens book, 11', and yes this lessens text clutter at the cost of you creating short notes in addition to full citations. Even with one field per line, templates are much less a clutter when collected on their own in a section. However, I would really like cite.php to allow the full citation to have the tagname "Stevens", the in-text citation to just be <ref name="Stevens" page=11/>, and to do everything else automatically. Gimmetrow 22:27, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
Yep, it would be italics and that's what I meant to show but the nowiki tag I used of course made it come out with quotes, but you knew what I meant... plange
I suspect that such a system would be utterly hellish to use for more complicated footnotes (a single footnote citing two books and containing explanatory text about the differences between the two sources, for example); at the very least, therefore, we'd need to make sure the raw <ref>Text.</ref> format still worked properly. Kirill Lokshin 22:31, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
No reason the "raw" version couldn't be kept working; it would just be a variant for the code to handle. Apparently people have written code for this already. Gimmetrow 23:56, 1 August 2006 (UTC)

Not recommended

I disagree with the recent additions of the phrases "no recommendation" and "neither recommended nor required" in relation to citation templates. One is plased in a section by itself, and another is placed in bold. This discourages the use of templates which are useful to some editors, and elsewhere suggested. I would like these additions either removed or rephrased in a way that does not discourage their use. Gimmetrow 23:55, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

While the cite templates are fine for adding a new citation, I object to converting exisitng references to the cite templates when the only result is to complicate the source page without improving the displayed page. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 00:49, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Gimmetrow, it's a matter of fact that, as things stand, Wikipedia neither recommends nor requires the use of citation templates. That's all this guidelines says. Most Wikipedians (in my experience) don't use them, and many object to them. SlimVirgin (talk) 08:55, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Fine. But bold text saying "This is not recommended" is effectively a directive not to use them. Surely that is different than simply not saying anything? As you argue above, this page is about how to cite sources, and now the guideline basically says "don't use templates". I can imagine someone objecting to a FAC that uses templates based on this guideline if it stays as-is. Furthermore, using templates in a separate bibliography section is different than using them in an in-line citation, especially when written out one field per line. I agree the latter makes editing difficult and possibly should be discouraged. (Though ironically, that is only relevant with ref-style footnotes, and WP:FN linked from this page actually suggests using citation templates! That particular text has been stable for months, by the way.) The correct statement is, I think:
Wikipedia is indifferent to their use; some editors find them helpful, and other editors find them annoying, particularly when used inline in the text. As an arbitrary decision of style either is allowed, but editors should not change articles from one style to the other without consensus.
Would something like that be acceptable? Gimmetrow 15:15, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Sounds fair to me. I've added it here. SlimVirgin (talk) 01:00, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
I thought we actually had an understanding. Let's assume for the moment that something is indifferent, and there is no official statement of opinion one way or another. To put in bold this is not recommended is, in fact, a directive not to use them, which is entirely different. In actuality, the templates are suggested in some places in the style guides. (Well, they were last I checked.) A suggestion could be interpreted as a weak recommendation. Gimmetrow 04:25, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm fine with your wording here, but you're elsewhere removing "not recommended," and leaving only "not required." They are more than "not required," but positively loathed by many editors. :-) They make articles very, very hard to edit; they require more typing than without a template; they waste time etc etc etc. To say "neither required nor recommended" doesn't mean people can't use them. I've made clear on the latest template that they can if they want to. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:30, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Exactly, what you are putting in wikipedia's mouth is: these are not recommended, but we will tolerate you using them if you absolutely insist. That's not right. I also made a long edit to the citation template chat that somehow got lost. JonAwbrey's reversion to a "long standing version" is rather questionable. You edited this stuff in quite recently. Gimmetrow 04:42, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Almost all material from one source

In Manuel Antonio Chaves (which I wrote the majority of), everything is from a single biography of Chaves except for one or two comments. If I want to use in-line citations, how should I handle that? Having [1] after every paragraph seems a little too repetitive. What I'm currently thinking of is annotating the reference to the biography: "All information in this article is from this work unless otherwise specified," or some such. The disadvantage is that someone might add something with no in-line reference; it would then appear to be from the biography. Any thoughts? —JerryFriedman 17:26, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

If it's a printed work, there should be page numbers in every citation. You can then just create a new footnote for every page(s) cited, as here. Kirill Lokshin 17:41, 2 August 2006 (UTC)
Sooner or later, more sources will be cited. May as well get your page numbers next to all of the very specific details, potentially controversial facts, etc, now. This is what I did at Katyusha, using Harvard reference style. Michael Z. 2006-08-10 05:22 Z

Scope of references

Now that an increasing number of articles are being referenced, I am more frequently questioning exactly what claims a given reference is supposed to be documenting. If a reference footnote is at the end of a paragraph, does it support the entire paragraph, or just the last sentence, or just the last phrase? It's important to disambiguate so that people who wish to challenge or remove fishy-sounding claims will know which are at least supposedly properly referenced, and which have just been stuck in randomly. I asked about this problem on the Village Pump, and the recommendation was to put a note in the footnote part briefly describing the claims being supported. If you're referencing a whole paragraph, probably you'll want to refer to a specific version of that paragraph, since unreferenced facts may sneak in. Does that make sense? Should it be added to this style guide? -- Beland 02:52, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Citing a section

If you have an entire section with several pieces of information taken from a single source, rather than cite each individual piece (especially if its the only source for the whole section, which may include a list) what is the best way to source that entire paragraph?--Crossmr 01:59, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

It depends. If all the information comes from a single short article, or a few pages in a book, just put a footnote at the end of the section. On the other hand, if various pieces of information are from widely scattered pages in a book, I would put in a footnote with page number for each piece of information. For example, suppose I made a list of the ages of kings and queens that appear in Shakespeare, and just gave this citation:
Shakespere, W. (1975). The complete works of William Shakespeare. New York: Avenel Books.
That would not be good enough. --Gerry Ashton 02:11, 5 August 2006 (UTC)
Excellent, thank you.--Crossmr 02:13, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

Citing sections when numerous sources are involved

I am trying to figure out a more appropriate way to reference this section: Backgammon#Rules. Excluding the section lead, for the first subsection (Setup), all three sources support every claim (with one exception, regarding the numbering of points). For the next subsection (Movement), all three sources support every claim, with the exceptions of the explanatory sentences placed after the end of the footnotes. For the last subsection (Doubling cube), all three sources support the first paragraph, the second paragraph is explanation, and the remaining paragraphs are supported only by the one source. One editor complained on the talk page that the numerous footnotes are an eye sore (and, to some extent, I agree), but I would like to be clear about which source supports which statement throughout. Is there a better way to do it than it's done now?

As well, If there is a better place to ask this, please don't hesitate to let me know. Thanks! ptkfgs 03:31, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

There is nothing to stop you from citing multiple sources in a single footnote. In this case, that might be best, since the same collection of sources are being used for multiple paragraphs. - Jmabel | Talk 23:41, 27 August 2006 (UTC)
Good idea! Thanks! :-) ptkfgs 06:20, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Full name

I'd like to suggest adding something like this: "The first mention within the body of an article of a person used as a source should include the first name, the full name the person usually uses."

This will be more clear and easier to read. Maurreen 17:52, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree, and preferably some information about who they are e.g. "John Smith, Professor of History at Yale University, writes that ..."; otherwise the reader won't know why we're quoting him. SlimVirgin (talk) 20:07, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: This is not standard practice in citations, and there are several reasons why. I will get to them in a minute. Jon Awbrey 21:52, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: For concreteness of discussion, here is a sample text:

The distinction between logical sign and extralogical sign is already clear in Frege and Peano, but the vagaries of translation obscure the issue of the exact terms that they used for it. The distinction is sharper in Whitehead and Russell, and Gödel is basically just gistifying "the system obtained by superimposing on the Peano axioms the logic of PM" when he writes the following:

The basic signs of the system P are the following:

I. Constants: "~" (not), "∨" (or), "Π" (for all), "0" (nought), "f" (the successor of), "(", ")" (brackets). ... (Gödel 1931/1992, p. 42).


Gödel, K. (1931), "On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems", B. Meltzer (trans.), R.B. Braithwaite (intro.), Basic Books, New York, NY, 1962. Reprinted, Dover Publications, Mineola, NY, 1992.

JA: Reason 1. The purpose of a citation is to provide enough information that the sufficiently interested reader can check to see whether So-&-So really wrote Such-&-Such, as claimed in the article. It is neither to drop nor to praise a famous name that will impress the reader with it's authority.

JA: Reason 2. If the citation is well-formed, as illustrated in the text above, then the full name of the author will be found in the list of references. If the author is suspected of notability then there will be a redlink thereof, and if that suspicion is already confirmed then there will be an extant article that tells readers more than they ever wanted to know thereof. Jon Awbrey 22:32, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

  1. What is "JA"?
  2. Using the full name is at least common in works intended for a general audience. WP is intended for a general audience.
  3. Using the relevant information within the body of the article is more clear and easier to read. Most people are not accustomed to using footnotes and the like.
  4. What harm do you perceive?
  5. I disagree with your reversion. I suggested this twice, first on 18 July. One person voiced agreement, one person said sometimes, neither you nor anyone else objected outright. You did not comment at all. Maurreen 00:02, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
Jon, I agree of course that when cited as part of a Havard reference, only the surname is used. In academia, the surname is also used in the body of the text even on first reference by some academics (though not by all), because everyone familiar with the subject will know who the main authors are. But we are writing for a general audience, and so we have to do what journalists do, which is to give the full name on first reference, and the surname thereafter. Otherwise how can our readers know who we mean? Yes, they can whizz down to the footnote and then look that person up on Google, but I don't see why they should have to, when I can easily say: "John Smith, chair of History, X University says ..." and refer to him thereafter as Smith. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:13, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: I am not proposing any rule against an editor adding whatever extra information that he or she thinks might be useful or interesting to the intended reader. I am simply saying that there's no need and not much feasibility to imposing a rule like the one suggested. Jon Awbrey 04:16, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

Will you please answer my questions? Maurreen 10:23, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Response to questionaire:

1. What is "JA"?

JA: In this particular context "JA" = "Jon Awbrey".

2. Using the full name is at least common in works intended for a general audience. WP is intended for a general audience.

JA: Some of the things that WP is:

Imagine a world in which every person has free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.

JA: This and other mission statements of WP imply the following:

  1. WP is intended for everybody.
  2. WP is an encyclopedia, that is, a reference work.
  3. WP aims to provide free access to the of all human knowledge.
  4. WP is sourced research.

JA: Just as I could not immediately assimilate everything in our Britannicas when I first started peering into them as a child, not every person will immediately be able to assimilate everything in WP when he or she first starts peering into it. We can only seek to accommodate every person in principle by providing links to material that he or she can immediately assimilate, until he or she is prepared to assimilate more. Nothing about the manifold target audience, however, allows us to evade the prevailing responsibilities of WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, and WP:VER. Therefore, sources must be properly cited at every level of presentation throughout WP. Jon Awbrey 17:52, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Despite occasional assertions about the intended audience of WP, I do not find any WP:Policy that dictates "General Audience" (GA) or even PG. What I do find is discussion like that at WP:AXS that indicates just how far WP is from any kind of consensus about reader models. Of course, every individual editor does the best that he or she can to make subjects accessible to a wider audience that they might have had heretofore, but there are limits both personal and disciplinary as to just how far this might be possible. Jon Awbrey 18:20, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

3. Using the relevant information within the body of the article is more clear and easier to read. Most people are not accustomed to using footnotes and the like.

4. What harm do you perceive?

5. I disagree with your reversion. I suggested this twice, first on 18 July. One person voiced agreement, one person said sometimes, neither you nor anyone else objected outright. You did not comment at all. Maurreen 00:02, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: It being summer in the northern hemisphere, many of us northern hemispherists are on holiday/vacation for extended periods of time. I hope you weren't expecting some kind of qwiki-consensus on a major guideline page like this? Jon Awbrey 20:22, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I've restored the edit because this isn't an academic journal, and publications outside academia use full names on first reference. SlimVirgin (talk) 21:21, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
Jon, why do you keep reverting? I can't see what you can have against this. It's simple common sense to tell readers who we're talking about. :-) SlimVirgin (talk) 21:40, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: That was an accident that I self-reverted but you had already jumped on it. I'm in no particular hurry about this, but it should be clear that there's no consensus about this, and I think that making changes to a major guideline demands a clear and strong consensus, otherwise what it says on the front page is a lie. Nobody wants that, now do they? Jon Awbrey 21:50, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I don't know what it says on the front page. I can't imagine the regulars on this page objecting to the addition. Can you say why you feel so strongly against it? SlimVirgin (talk) 21:58, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: I am referring to the standard bolierplate that says this:

This page is a style guide for Wikipedia. The consensus of many editors formed the conventions described here. Wikipedia articles should heed these guidelines. Feel free to update this page as needed, but please use the discussion page to propose major changes.

JA: Given the number of editors in WP, 2 or 3 or 10 or 20 does not count as "many". So we need to ask the question: What is the chance that lots and lots of editors will support the proposed change in citation guidelines, and support it in the sense that they actually follow it? I can project from my expereience with the articles that I am familiar with that the chances are pretty close to nil. I can only guess that the supporters of this change are thinking of a whole different population of articles, or maybe they are just not thinking ahead. Pasting another directive on a guideline page that nobody will follow just leads to cynicism about WP:Policy in general, and I think that's a bad thing for WP. Jon Awbrey 02:20, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I am in favour of the addition. Not only is does it add clarity to the cause but it is also courteous to inform the reader fully by not assuming that degree of prior knowledge. -- Alias Flood 23:39, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: By way of gathering concrete data to assist the imagination, I tried the following experiments: (1) Drew the first 10 articles off the Random Article server, (2) looked at a dart-board sampling of Feature Articles, (3) dealt the first 10 articles off the top of my Watchlist. What I discovered to my shock and dismay is that your run-of-the-mill WP article is so poorly sourced that there weren't enough instances of "John Doe writes that …" in the whole bunch to be worth mentioning. So let me try another strategy. Go visit the article Truth, where I know from actual acquaintance that the editors there are expressly dedicated to the "Generally Unfamiliar Reader", and try to convince the folks there they should write their first mentions of each source in formulations like "René Descartes, late tutor of Queen Christina of Sweden, wrote …", and when you have exorcised your wits in doing that, report back here and maybe then we'll have some common experiences to commiserate over. Until then, e-dios, Jon Awbrey 02:40, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

I suggest a compromise, such as the following wording:
"When sources are mentioned within the body of an article, it is helpful to identify them clearly on the first mention. For example, this would mean including the first name and surname, that is, the full name the person usually uses. Even better is to include some information about the person's relevant background, such as, 'John Smith, a history professor at Yale University, writes that ...' " Maurreen 16:12, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Sure. I think it's all the difference in the world between "it is helpful to …" and "should …". Jon Awbrey 20:44, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Inline citations not preferred style?

I recently was admonished for adding inline citations to an article, as the admonishing editor believed them not to be the "preferred style" of Wikipedia. Any validity to this assertion? --Tcatts 19:57, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Wow, that editor is definitely wrong. Inline citations are now required for any FA article plange 20:00, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, plange. It's good to know I'm on the right track. If anyone else has a point of view here, I'd be glad to hear it. --Tcatts 20:11, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm a fairly new WP editor, and to me, the phrase inline citation is rather vague. Certainly WP style is to include information about citations within sentences or paragraphs, and not just put a list of references at the end of the article. However, there are several competing systems to accomplish that. It is preferred that if you edit an existing article, you follow whatever system already exists for that article, or if a change is necessary, get consensus for the change on the article's talk page before proceeding. --Gerry Ashton 20:13, 8 August 2006 (UTC)
Correct. There are several methods... you should also check with any WikiProjects that might have your article in their scope to make sure they also don't have a preferred method. But, as Gerry said, a big no-no is mixing inline citation styles in the same article.plange 20:47, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Personally, I think you need footnotes. You shouldn't, for example, just leave external links inline. But you need the forward reference - just putting a list of references at the end of the page makes a big mess. I hope everyone will eventually use the <ref> style for making footnotes, which enables the software to do the right thing. -- Beland 04:10, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Make a button to do footnotes and more people will do them. --Blouis79 01:03, 14 September 2006 (UTC)--Blouis79 01:03, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

Why do we allow so many different styles?

Harvard, CMS, plain HTML links, footnotes, cite.php, templates. Why can't we just decide on the style that works best for an online encyclopedia, standard or otherwise, and mandate its use in all articles? It's sloppy, jarring, confusing, and inconvenient when citation styles change drastically from one article to the next. — Omegatron 18:38, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Because different fields of study have different styles of citation (because different styles do make sense depending on the types of material generally being cited); because we aim to include all such fields, we must necessarily make allowances for these differences. Same as US/UK spelling and other such issues, really. Kirill Lokshin 18:55, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Examples of how different fields of study require different citation styles, please. — Omegatron 18:25, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
Okay, an obvious one:
  • Harvard references are very good for the hard sciences, where most of the works being cited are scholarly papers, and hence have meaningful author/year sets.
  • Conversely, Harvard references are not so good for fields such as history, where many of the things being cited do not have meaningful author/date sets (and, in particular, where citing such sets for printing of, say, anonymous ancient works would be rather misleading), or popular culture (as Harvard style does not lend itself to citing, say, films or TV programs).
  • CMS footnotes are very good for fields such as historiography, where extensive annotation of particular citations is appropriate.
  • Conversely, CMS footnotes are not so good for fields such as physics, where having them is overkill (and they're not at all familiar to the writers of the articles).
Which is not to say that we cannot jam just about anything into a particular style; but the resulting citations are usually cumbersome at best. I see no reason why each of the principal citation styles cannot be used where appropriate, and avoided where not. Kirill Lokshin 19:01, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

There are really only three styles of citing which associate a source with a particular statement: HTML links, Harvard, and footnotes. HTML links are an easy system which works for subjects referenced entirely from the web. Harvard is good for subjects having citations mainly to print sources, and not requiring notes for text commentary. Mixed print/web citations can be done with Harvard, but it seems more straightforward with footnotes. Footnotes also allow text commentary to be mixed with citations. For each of those systems, there may also be a bibliography. If so, then Citation Machine or templates may be used in the bibliography for format, or in the citation itself with footnote style. Just my synthesis. Gimmetrow 18:45, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

I would say four styles, really:
  1. HTML links are suitable primarily for web sources, allowing no separate annotations, and with all quotations appearing in the text. Maybe useful for current events where most references are news items.
  2. Citations pointing directly to a bibliography allows multiple citations and provides a list of references, but at most there can be a single annotation per source, of course. Quotations appear in the text. The references are typically numbered and listed in the order they are cited.
  3. Harvard style references are like footnotes light: they allow multiple citations, each minimally annotated with a page number or range, and provide a single list of references in alphabetical order. Quotations appear in the text. Bibliography can be listed in alphabetical order.
  4. Full-blown footnotes allow multiple citations per reference, and each can have its own quotation and/or long annotation in the note. They are a bit more complex for the reader to follow, providing a separate list of numbered notes and alphabetized references.
Each of these has its place, depending on the way an article is written and the depth to which it is annotated. Mandating one would be unnecessarily limiting writing style, like saying every sentence must be written in subject-verb-object order, or every paragraph must have a certain number of sentences. Michael Z. 2006-08-11 01:47 Z

Footnotes are never appropriate

each can have its own quotation and/or long annotation in the note
When does a footnote or long annotation ever have its place? I would think this wholly inappropriate for an online encyclopedia. Wiki is not paper. — Omegatron 16:50, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I personally like footnotes. They act like parenthetical comments or asides, but footnotes are less disruptive to the flow of an article than a block quote or a parenthetical comment. Footnotes can be used when you want to write for several sets of readers. One set of readers can glide past the footnotes and just read the whole article without ever looking at the footnotes. The other reader can look at the footnotes for additional commentary and information. Think of it like someone following a wikilink to another article, but instead of being taken to an article, they are being taken to a short comment in the footnote, and then they can return to the text and resume reading the article.
I'll give you two example in an article I am adding footnote citations to. Look at Middle-earth. There are 12 footnotes in the Notes section of this version. Most of them are citations to the reference works listed in the references section, but three are proper footnotes that give additional comments outside the main flow of the article:
I find this style helps produce tighter article prose, but still allows interesting tidbits of information to be added to an article. Footnotes have never just been restricted to paper. And their function has never been tied to paper, though admittedly they may historically have also served to allow annotations and additions to a text after it had been written or typed on a typewriter, in the days before some genius came up with the word-processing concept and the delete key... Carcharoth 20:40, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree with the general sentiment that a general interest encyclopedia should not have articles where the footnotes end up taking up as much space as the text. However, I can think of one situation where annotated footnotes could be helpful in an online encyclopedia. Suppose I have a web site such as the U.S. Naval Observatory where information from various parts of the web site are retrieved in different ways. If I had citations from two different areas on the web site, I might want to annotate each citation with instructions on how to operate the web user interface in each of the two areas. --Gerry Ashton 20:33, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

Authors of articles may choose to provide a quotation or annotation providing more information about a reference, or how it is relevant to the point being demonstrated, or simply as an aside. Sometimes this information is relevant to the citation, but not directly to the point being made in the article text, so for editorial reasons it is provided out of the flow. This is an issue of writing and editorial, and has nothing to do with paper or web.
But where to locate the annotation? A good question, and a web format gives us choices that paper doesn't.
  1. Give it its own web page? Seems a bit much for a short note like "Ibid p 12", and Wikipedia has decided not to use sub-pages for subordinate information.
  2. Put it in-line in the text, and only show it if a reader clicks or mouses over a citation? Breaking up the text seems contrary to web accessibility principals: users of screen readers and text browsers, those who turn off javascript, and google would be inconvenienced.
  3. Put it at the end of the page, where a reader can jump to it, and back to the text using hyperlinks or the browser's back button? Seems to work: I don't see anything in m:Wiki is not paper against such a scheme.
  4. Add some javascript so that such a footnote pops up in-line, being functionally identical to no. 2 in a visual browser? Practically a better solution, and might be fun for a reader obsessed with references.
  5. Create sidenotes, which appear in the left margin adjacent to their references? Could be nice, but might push the boundaries of browsers' CSS support
Wikipedia is not paper. The web format allows us to write very long articles, with endnotes which are as convenient as footnotes in a paper book. There may be better ways, but this one works quite well. Michael Z. 2006-08-21 20:42 Z
Entirely agree. I would point out that the "not paper" bit should actually encourage footnotes; we have the freedom to add interesting—but minor—details that would ordinarily get left out of paper encyclopedias because they aren't "important" enough for a brief summary. At the same time, footnotes prevent these minor details from overwhelming the flow of an article and making it impossible to read for someone not interested in them.
I'll also add that extensive footnotes are absolutely invaluable when dealing with things like different versions of a statement appearing in different sources. Saying "around 1,000–2,000 people are believed to have participated" and having a footnote for the full list of which source gives which number is much easier for the reader than devoting a paragraph of the main text to a point that, while necessary for tracing sources, is not something the vast majority of readers would ever concern themselves with. Kirill Lokshin 21:09, 21 August 2006 (UTC)


I propose that the section How to ask for citations be modified to discourage the overuse of Template:fact. Citing sources is good and necessary, but I think the ease of insertion of the template leads to 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 {{fact}} 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. The use of Template:fact by inexperienced editors is out of control. For examples, see any of these articles: Weight loss, Duck and cover, Nation building, Walgreens, 1968 Democratic National Convention, University of Westminster, Albany High School (California), Haifa, IPod photo, State of Origin, David L. Gunn. I could go on all day, but you get the idea. The problem is getting worse each day: Template_talk:fact#Viral growth. I favor the deprecation of Template:fact, but until that day, let's at least stop actively encouraging people to plaster every inch of Wikipedia with this thing. I propose to change the section to read as follows (with thanks to User:Mzajac, from whom I have borrowed some of his great suggestions on Template_talk:fact):

How to ask for citations
If an article needs references but you are unable to find them yourself, you can tag the article with the templates {{unreferenced}} or {{Primarysources}}. {{fact}} should be used sparingly, if ever. Before applying {{fact}}, strongly consider one of the following alternatives:
  • Look it up, correct or remove unverifiable information, and add the citation for anything that remains (strongly preferred).
  • Post a note on the talk page.
  • Move doubtful text to the talk page with a comment.
  • Be kind to the environment. Don't litter articles with endless {{fact}} tags.!
In short, do a small thing to improve the article, rather than adding this template.
  • Don't add this template when you are frustrated.
  • Don't add this template as part of a dispute.
  • Don't add this template just because you doubt a statement.
  • Don't add this template to a low-traffic article and forget about it.
{{citation needed}} and {{cn}} both redirect to the {{fact}} tag and may be preferred by some editors, for the sake of clarity or brevity. All of these tags can be placed in the same place that you would place an inline reference.
All unsourced and poorly sourced negative material about living persons should be removed from articles and talk pages immediately. It should not be tagged. See Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons, which is policy.

dryguy 22:20, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

  1. Support as nominator. dryguy 22:20, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
  2. Support: editors should communicate using the discussion page, not the body of the article. Michael Z. 2006-08-10 05:30 Z
  3. Strong Support: {{fact}} is so out of hand. I would make more of a plea here if this vote stood a chance, but plainly the time is not yet ripe. It will be, however, it will be— down the road a ways, when people see that they've been taken in by obsessive nitpickers (really, I'm talking about clinically retentive people here, like those voting Oppose) who, under cover of advocacy for academic-style strong sourcing, somehow managed to impose a burden of citation far beyond all known reference works, all the way up to "the sky is blue [citation needed]". You'll see, it'll happen. JDG 22:26, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
    Your example is poorly chosen, first because the sky is not always blue and therefore this is a "fact" that is not really quite true, and secondly, because as is so often the case of things that "can't be sourced because they're just common knowledge," it is very easily sourced:
    A field guide notes that "the blue sky is so commonplace that it is taken for granted"[1].
    One can go on to add:
    The poet Robert Service says "while the blue sky bends above/You've got nearly all that matters"[2] Songwriter Irving Berlin wrote of "Blue Skies smiling at me," airmen fly into the wild blue yonder. But the sky is not always blue. In the Bible, Jesus says to the Pharisees "When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red"[3]. At twilight, salmon reds, oranges, purples, white-yellows, and many shades of blue can be seen[4]. And songwriter Oscar Hammerstein's famously wrote of "when the sky is a bright canary yellow."[5]
    It took me less than ten minutes to turn up the Schaeffer and Minnaert sources and another fifteen to find the rest. If something is really a commonly known fact, it is just not that hard to source. And the effort to do so yields dividends. Dpbsmith (talk) 23:31, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
    It is always so helpful when editors provide an example of something that is common knowledge and doesn't need to be sourced. Yesterday someone claimed that we don't need to provide a source for the statement that George Washington wore wooden flse teeth. I was quite happy to point out that in fact he did not not wear wooden false teeth (see here). -- Donald Albury(Talk) 07:25, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
    Oh, merciful heavens to goodness. What next? I suppose you'll be disputing that Thomas Crapper invented the toilet, that the University library is gradually sinking into the ground because the architect forgot to allow for the weight of the books, and that Leo Durocher said "Nice guys finish last." :-) Dpbsmith (talk) 17:21, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
  1. [Obligatory comments about the poll being premature] Umm, yeah. As a general rule, any article where the number of citation requests is sufficient to produce "cluttering" is most emphatically not an "otherwise good article"; indeed, some of the examples you linked can only be described as borderline worthless, as they give absolutely no indication of where the information is coming from. Kirill Lokshin 22:36, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
  2. Oppose this makes out that {{fact}} is being overrused. It is not. Strongly oppose! I use {{fact}} all the time - it is very useful! (obviously this doesn't apply to slander, which should just be removed). - Ta bu shi da yu 22:43, 9 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. Michael Z. 2006-08-10 15:12 Z
  3. 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. Powers 23:57, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
    That is misuse of this template: it is meant to request a citation, not to dis another editor's contribution. From the template's docs: "Do not use this tag in order to label text which appears doubtful or false" Michael Z. 2006-08-10 15:12 Z
  4. Oppose. Parts of this proposal contradict Wikipedia:Verifiability#Burden of evidence, which is policy and cannot be overturned or modified by any action in this forum. This guideline exists to implement policy, and must conform to policy. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 01:46, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
  5. Oppose. Jon Awbrey 05:02, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
  6. Oppose. If there's a way to make the template less visually obtrusive that would be nice. There is an ongoing problem in that, as of 2006 the verifiability policy is mostly honored in the breach, so using the tag produces friction since editors tend to feel that the template is being used selectively... but my experience has been that tagging unsourced content frequently results in the content's being sourced. And, really, if we want Wikipedia to approach the standards of the verifiability policy, the only options are to tag unsourced content or remove it immediately. Dpbsmith (talk) 02:02, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
    Comment In reply to Donald Albury: None of the proposed changes contradict policy, but simply advocate using {{unreferenced}} on an article or section rather than {{fact}} on every sentence. {{fact}} would still be available when justified for use on single sentences, but action to delete or add the ref is preferred. dryguy 01:54, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
    Comment The whole section How to ask for citations in your proposal is trying to deprecate any action to ask for citations. In particular, I refer you the Burden of Evidence section in WP:V:

    Any edit lacking a source may be removed, but some editors may object if you remove material without giving people a chance to provide references. If you want to request a source for an unsourced statement, a good idea is to move it to the talk page. Alternatively, you may tag the sentence by adding the {{fact}} template, or tag the article by adding {{not verified}} or {{unsourced}}. Also in that case it may be helpful for your co-editors to leave a clarifying note on the talk page, for instance indicating which sources you already checked. You can also make the unsourced sentences invisible in the article by adding <!-- before the section you want to comment out and --> after it, until reliable sources have been provided. When using this "commenting out" technique it is usually best to leave a clarifying note on the talk page.

    This is policy. If you want to deprecate these templates, you are going to have to make your argument on Wikipedia talk:Verifiability, because you cannot void or modify the verifiability policy from here. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 02:38, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
    Comment I don't see where it contradicts any part of WP:V, not even the part you cite above. Circumventing WP:V in any way is certainly not my intent. Maybe if you can cite the portion that you claim violates WP:V, we can discuss it. My proposed changes actually still contain many of the points you cite from WP:V.dryguy 02:49, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
    Comment I see the following:
    • Look it up, correct or remove unverifiable information, and add the citation for anything that remains (strongly preferred).
    • Post a note on the talk page.
    • Move doubtful text to the talk page with a comment.
    • Be kind to the environment. Don't litter articles with endless [citation needed] tags.!
    In short, do a small thing to improve the article, rather than adding this template.
    as an attempt to deprecate the use of the templates and discourage editors from seeking citations. Please note also that WP:V explicitly states that providing a source is the burden of the editor adding the information or the editor seeking to retain the information, and is not the burden of the editor requesting a citation. Your proposal is trying to reverse that. If an editor requests a citation for a fact, that editor is under no obligation find a citation. There are ways of being courteous about the process, but if you don't like seeing the templates, find the citations for them yourself, don't expect everyone else to stop using the templates. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 03:09, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
    How on earth does the first imply the second!? Each of those suggestions is aimed at helping find citations, in lieu of littering articles with templates as a substitute for finding citations. Michael Z. 2006-08-10 05:30 Z
    Comment You seem to be focused on my side comment that I am for deprecation of Template:fact. Please note that my proposed changes do not use the word deprecate - I'm fully aware that Template:fact is not likely to be deprecated any time soon, and that is not what I am proposing here. Also, note that the proposed change does not eliminate the option to use a {{fact}} tag. Furthermore, the primary point is to choose the use of {{unreferenced}} over the use of multiple {{fact}} over several consecutive sentences. This in no way contradicts any of WP:V. dryguy 03:20, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
    Comment My experience is that marking a section "unreferencedsect" usually has no effect, and I've even had annoyed-but-cooperative editors complain because I hadn't indicated which items needed references (in a situation where, In fact, all of them did...). Marking a section "unreferencedsect" basically just gives a not-very-helpful warning to readers, is typically perceived by inexperienced editors as a vague complaint by a malcontent... and once which can be safely ignored. Furthermore, if nothing has happened after a month or so, what do you do? Move the entire section to the Talk page? That's a drastic measure which is frequently perceived as hostile overreaction and evokes a hostile response.
    On the other hand, "fact" tags quite often lead to editors supplying references. This is especially true if the surrounding material has inline references, so the visual appearance is of superscripted numbers with an occasional stray superscripted "citations needed" tag. And if tagging the item doesn't evoke a citation, eventually moving it to the talk page does not usually provoke reversion; quite commonly the item will be sourced and reinserted days or weeks later.
    The "citation needed" tag on an individual item is a Good Thing because demands or seems to demand relatively little work on the part of an editor, and therefore is likely to evoke a constructive response rather than resistance. I know that when I see a "citation needed" tag, in an article in which I don't have a strong personal interest, my reaction is to see whether I can find a source quickly and easily. When an entire section is marked, my reaction is to think "well, I certainly don't have time to clean up this entire section."
    In short, tagging whole sections or articles as unreferenced generates more heat and less improvement than tagging individual items. Dpbsmith (talk) 10:03, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
    Agree wholeheartedly. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:01, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
  7. OpposeOmegatron 18:31, 10 August 2006 (UTC)
  8. Oppose. SlimVirgin (talk) 00:01, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
  9. Strongly Oppose All statements of fact in an article (except those that are common knowledge) must be supported by specific citations of sources. Since few articles conform to this criterion the careful editor is left with two options:
  • Delete all those sections which are not supported by specific citations (which in many, if not most, cases would mean deleting the entire article.
  • Add Fact templates wherever a statement of fact is not supported -- not just where it is a matter of dispute.

Inserting fact templates is the more moderate course and serves the additional function of indicating to the reader that this article is not supported by evidence and should be treated with caution. --SteveMcCluskey 23:46, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

  1. That is not the policy. See Wikipedia:Five pillars:
    Wikipedia has a neutral point of view, which means we strive for articles that advocate no single point of view. Sometimes this requires representing multiple points of view; presenting each point of view accurately; providing context for any given point of view, so that readers understand whose view the point represents; and presenting no one point of view as "the truth" or "the best view". It means citing verifiable, authoritative sources whenever possible, especially on controversial topics. (emphasis mine)
    It does not mean, as you say, that all uncited sections must be deleted. dryguy 00:37, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
    But Wikipedia:Verifiability does say, Any unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Adding the {{fact}} tag or its synonyms is the gradualist approach, but any editor is within his or her rights in immediately removing unsourced material. In the section Burden of Evidence, the policy also says, The burden of evidence lies with the editors who have made an edit or wish an edit to remain. The best way to keep a statement in Wikipedia and avoid having a {{fact}} tag attached to it is to provide a reference. If no reference can be found, the statement does not belong in Wikipedia. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 07:25, 12 August 2006 (UTC)
    Comment Which I have never disputed. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. dryguy 14:10, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

References in a second editing window, bibliography in a third?

Is there any way we could (at some point in the future) separate the references from the main text by having a separate editing window for references and just footnote markers in the text? This would unclutter the main window and make working on Wikipedia closer to the way editing and writing works in the word processor programs that most people are used to.

I would actually propose having a third window for the actual bibliographical details in some kind of standard formatting. Editing and adding a footnote would go something like this:

  1. Write text, add footnote marker in main window.
  2. Empty footnote magically appears in footnotes window.
  3. Add reference details in bibliography window according to standard format depending on the kind of reference (book, journal article, online database etc)
  4. Drag and drop individual reference from bibliography window to footnotes window. It is automatically reformatted in footnote style.
  5. Add page number or other specifics and any other commentary needed in footnote.
  6. Next time the same reference (book, article etc) is used in the text, one can just drag and drop it again.

Even more useful would be if the bibliography window was connected to a general bibliographic database. That way already entered items could be re-used not only in the same article but in others, and it would be possible to go there and add any additional metadata (biographical notes on author, different editions, availability of rare books etc) that aren't usually required to just reference the publication.

Theoretically I guess this system would even be able to allow people to set their favourite referencing style in Preferences and have all footnotes and bibliographies conform to that, unless this would require too much database resources.

But this is perhaps all science fiction at this point... up+land 08:42, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

This week's Wikipedia Signpost has a notice about a project to bring WYSIWYG editing to MediaWiki, although there are no details. In the meantime, the <ref> system (see Cite.php) allows you to reuse a citation within an article. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 11:42, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

m:Wikicite is an extension that could solve a lot of what you are talking about. I happen to agree separating the citation text out would help readability. But in any case Wikicite will be importan to moving verifiability forward. Please contribute ideas there if you can. - Taxman Talk 23:59, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

This could probably be made a natural part of WYSIWYG editing, and Wikicite looks interesting as well. I also glanced through the page on the Wikicat project on meta, which would help with creating a general bibliograhic database from which to to fetch references in a standardized form. up+land 08:25, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

The Incredible Shrinking Policy Of Verifiability

JA: 'Nuff said. Jon Awbrey 17:34, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Not really, no. I don't think anyone knows what you're referring to here. Kirill Lokshin 17:37, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Irony, of course. Just my gistification of a discussion where so many people are so incredibly concerned with hiding the {Sad Fact}(1) that your average WP article is so poorly sourced and the {Sad Fact}(2) that your average WP editor is so godawfully resistant to being reminded of {Sad Fact}(1). Jon Awbrey 17:46, 10 August 2006 (UTC)

Nicely put. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 11:35, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
Well said, particularly {Sad Fact}(2). --SteveMcCluskey 23:50, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

References (Target for the ref tags in my comment above) Dpbsmith (talk) 23:33, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

  1. ^ Schaefer, Vincent J.; John A. Day (1998). A Field Guide to the Atmosphere. Houghton Mifflin Field Guides. ISBN 0395976316.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help) p. 155
  2. ^ Service, Robert (1940). Collected Poems of Robert Service. G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-399-15015-3. , "Comfort," p. 67
  3. ^ The Bible, Matthew 16:2 (King James version)
  4. ^ Minnaert, M. G. J. (1993) [1974]. Light and Colour in the Outdoors. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-97935-2.  p. 295
  5. ^ Bauch, Marc. American Musical. Tectum Verlag. ISBN 382888458X.  p. 42

Redundant Sections

The section How to ask for citations and the latter portion of Text that is, or is likely to be, disputed repeat similar material. I suggest consolidating this material in the section on How to ask for citations.

Comments please. --SteveMcCluskey 17:13, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

I propose making the following two changes:

1) Omit all but the first paragraph of the section Text that is, or is likely to be, disputed, which would then read:

Text that is, or is likely to be, disputed

Think ahead. Try to imagine whether people might doubt what you wrote, or need more information about it. Supporting what is written in Wikipedia by referring to a clear and reliable source will add stability to your contribution. When in doubt about whether something might be disputed, provide a specific citation.

2) Revise the section How to ask for citations to read:

How to ask for citations

If an article needs references but you are unable to find them yourself, you can tag the article with the templates {{Unreferenced}}, {{Not verified}}, or {{Primarysources}}. It is often more useful to indicate specific statements that need references, by tagging those statements with {{fact}}. The {{citation needed}} and {{cn}} both redirect to the {{fact}} tag and may be preferred by some editors, for the sake of clarity or brevity. Do not use this tag in order to label text which appears doubtful or false. The {{verify source}} tag should be used to label text which appears doubtful or false, in order to request for source verification. All of these tags can be placed in the same place that you would place an inline reference.

To summarize the use of in line tags for unsourced or poorly sourced information:

  1. if it is not doubtful, you may use {{fact}} or {{citequote}} tag to ask for better citation in order to make the article complete.
  2. if it is doubtful but not too harmful to the whole article, you may use {{verify source}} tag to ask for source verification.
  3. If it is doubtful and (quite) highly harmful, you may move it to the talk page and ask for a source.
  4. If it is very doubtful and very harmful, you may remove it directly without the need of moving it to the talk page first.

All unsourced and poorly sourced negative material about living persons should be removed from articles and talk pages immediately. It should not be tagged. See the official policy statements: Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons and Wikipedia:Libel.

Unless there is strong objection, I'll put this up in a day or two. --SteveMcCluskey 17:29, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Foreign language source

The guideline should mention how foreign language sources should be cited. For example, if I want to cite a Russian book, should I write the title in Russian or translate in English? CG

Common practice is to transliterate (see WP:RUS), and also provide a translation. But if you can't that's okay, just type in the original, and someone will come along and add the translit & translation. Michael Z. 2006-08-12 22:15 Z
Russian was just an example. But could you add a sentence to this guideline? CG 06:44, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

The Template Wagging The Article

Text copied from earlier section:

I thought we actually had an understanding. Let's assume for the moment that something is indifferent, and there is no official statement of opinion one way or another. To put in bold this is not recommended is, in fact, a directive not to use them, which is entirely different. In actuality, the templates are suggested in some places in the style guides. (Well, they were last I checked.) A suggestion could be interpreted as a weak recommendation. Gimmetrow 04:25, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm fine with your wording here, but you're elsewhere removing "not recommended," and leaving only "not required." They are more than "not required," but positively loathed by many editors. :-) They make articles very, very hard to edit; they require more typing than without a template; they waste time etc etc etc. To say "neither required nor recommended" doesn't mean people can't use them. I've made clear on the latest template that they can if they want to. SlimVirgin (talk) 04:30, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Exactly, what you are putting in wikipedia's mouth is: these are not recommended, but we will tolerate you using them if you absolutely insist. That's not right. I also made a long edit to the citation template chat that somehow got lost. JonAwbrey's reversion to a "long standing version" is rather questionable. You edited this stuff in quite recently. Gimmetrow 04:42, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Moving this message from my talk page:

You reverted to an allegedly "long standing version" at Wikipedia:Citation templates. That is incorrect. The text in question was added recently by SlimVirgin and is disputed. Please self-revert. Gimmetrow 04:49, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: I will use this page to discuss the "Case of the Non-Existent Recommendation", insofar as it impacts both the WP:CITE and the WP:CITET pages. Jon Awbrey 05:36, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Prompted by Gimmetrow's assertions, which did not accord with my memory of how long ago I started noticing that "neither required nor recommended" phrasing, I went back and did a dart-board sampling of the article histories since January or so. I will do a more thorough review on Monday, but my initial recon indicates that, contrary to the gist of G's remarks, it's really all this template talk that's the Johnny Come Lately interloper in the WP:CITE style guide. Frankly, Johnny, I think the style guide was better without you. Therefore, I propose a full review of whether we should have a non-recommendation from a non-policy, non-guideline page even being mentioned here on the WP:CITE guideline page. But sufficient unto the day … Jon Awbrey 05:56, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Actually, I agree. Most of the involved pages were clearer before all these texts "noting this is not recommended or required" were added around July 31. It was simply mentioned that they exist, but nothing more was said, neither encouragement nor discouragement. Now by noting "the style guide doesn't recommend them", we have a positive statement that reads as discouraging. (Like "the defendent has not affirmed his innocence in this testimony" reads as incriminating.) I thought this point was clear and understood in the discussions following SlimVirgin's bold edits. Gimmetrow 06:14, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
The problem is that some new editors think they have to use templates in order to cite something, with the result that other editors frequently have to rewrite them, because the templates make editing so awkward. Therefore, it's worth adding that these are not required or recommended; they are just options. SlimVirgin (talk) 06:25, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Although I have greater fondness for the template (for various discussed reasons) than many editors, I definitely think it should be made clear that use of them is not required. However, it is pretty obvious that 90% of readers will read "neither required nor recommended" as meaning that you should not use templates; at the least it reads like a strong recommendation against them, and in some cases it reads like a mandate against using them. "Not required" by itself reads OK; or some alternate phrase that is genuinely neutral would be find too. Perhaps "neither prohibited nor mandated" would sound right? LotLE×talk 14:33, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
Note: SV's recently added new text saying "not recommended or required". I changed this to simply "not required". Gimmetrow 14:49, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
I support stating that the cite templates are neither required nor recommended. While they may be useful for someone adding a citation who does not feel confident on how to do it correctly, they are cumbersome and make edit views very ugly. They should not be used to convert existing citations. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 10:39, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
I fully agree that in some contexts the templates are a PITA. That is not the issue. The issue is that a negative modifier in front of the word "recommended" is ambiguous. Even the word "recommendation" can be ambiguous. If SV doesn't find it ambiguous, good for SV. There are numerous alternatives that avoid using the word "recommend", and there is no excuse for using an ambiguous phrase in a rule-set when less ambiguous alternatives exist, such as: "it is not required", or "it is an option and not required", or "it is an option; some editors like 'em, some don't." Put this in another context, is the meaning of this sentence really clear? "There is no recommendation or requirement from Honda to drive with the windows open." Wouldn't something like this be clearer? Honda says it is an option to drive with the windows open; some drivers like it, others dislike it." Gimmetrow 14:19, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: The most important thing here is to make sure that all editors always understand the differences that distinguish Policy Pages, Guideline Pages, and Optional Project Pages. We all understand the kind of e-thusiasm that people have for their pet e-topian projects. We've all got or had our favorites. But WP contributors, new and old alike, should not be misled into thinking that an Optional Project has somehow become de reGUIur for Obligatory Practice in Wikipedia. And enthusiasts of certain projects should grok the fact that their pet projects, as they know them, will never become Policies or Guidelines in Wikipedia, as we know it, and they ought to cease and desist trying to insinuate the idea that their Preferences are Guidelines into the heads of new recruits. Jon Awbrey 15:24, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

And your point? I am not advocating templates. I actually don't like them. However, it is simply wrong for editors who don't like them to write policy which enshrines their Preferences as Guidelines. Gimmetrow 15:46, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: The point is not to mislead. The plain fact is that many enthusiasts of citation templates, and footnotes, and you name it, are commonly heard to be suggesting that their pet systems are somehow THE WIKIPEDIA WAY, and this practice has now made it necessary to include clear statements to the contrary in Policy, Guideline, and Project pages. Jon Awbrey 15:56, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

"This is optional; it is not required; some editors like them for reasons X; others dislike them for reasons Y and Z" That seems pretty clear (though could be improved). On the other hand, saying this is not recommended is the misleading statement, unless there has been prior discussion resolving on a consensus to discourage them. Do you, or do you not, see the problem with the word "recommended" ? Gimmetrow 16:00, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Please point out instances of the clause "this is not recommended" that remain on either page. I thought that I had modified them all. Jon Awbrey 16:04, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

The point is the word recommended; "There is no recommendation" is still a problem. There are alternatives that avoid using variants of the word. Why not pick one? Gimmetrow 16:09, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: The problem is that many WP editors have been observed about town suggesting that Citation Templates are recommended by WP Guidelines. The word recommendation accurately describes their behavior. Moreover, the phrase recommending as if it were a WP Guideline even more accurately describes their behavior. It is this behavior that has now made an explicit statement to the contrary necessary. Jon Awbrey 16:32, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

And the problem is this wording could easily be understood to discourage their use. Given this ambiguity I am extremely puzzled why you steadfastly refuse to consider any other form, consistently failing to even comment on any of the alternate forms I have suggested. Here is yet another: "They are neither encouraged nor discouraged; use is entirely optional." Could anyone use that phrase as a basis for saying they are "recommended as if a guideline"? Gimmetrow 17:08, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree. "Not recommended" is not the same as "recommends against" or "to be avoided". Michael Z. 2006-08-13 17:05 Z
Of course "not recommended" reads almost the same as "to be avoided". It's pure sophistry to pretend English phrases are read in some sort of sterile first-order logic. LotLE×talk 00:40, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
I guess you're right, it usually would be read that way. I wasn't trying to be pedantically literal on purpose; just read the words out of context. Anyway, it would be good to keep the note about using templates short, or better yet, let it disappear altogether. Regards. Michael Z. 2006-08-14 06:56 Z

What Templates Are Not — They Are Not a Backdoor Tool for Creating Policy

JA: Just so we're all talking about the current versions, here they are:


There is no recommendation and no requirement in Wikipedia:Citation guidelines to use Citation templates. They may be used at the discretion of individual editors, subject to agreement with the other editors on the article. Some editors find them helpful, and other editors find them annoying, particularly when used inline in the text. Because they are optional, editors should not change articles from one style to the other without consensus.


There is no recommendation and no requirement in Wikipedia:Citation guidelines or WP:CITE to use Citation templates. They may be used at the discretion of individual editors, subject to agreement with the other editors working on the article. Some editors find them helpful, but other editors find them objectionable, especially when used inline in the text. Because they are optional, editors should not change articles from one style to the other without consensus.

JA: Policies and guidelines are instituted to deal with actually occurring events. City councils do not make up ordinances against smoking in restaurants on the abstract speculative possibility that someone might someday take a notion to light up in a restaurant. The real and present empirical fact is that various contingents of WP editors have seized on the device of template invention as a weasel way of trying to create de facto policies and guidelines. A firm No-Go is therefore warranted in order to deal with this real and present misapprehension and the ensuing potential for misinformation of all WP participants. Jon Awbrey 21:10, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

And how, exactly, precisely, specifically, does saying Templates are not required fail to do this? Or Templates are entirely optional; they are neither encouraged nor discouraged? Or any of the other alternate texts I have suggested? (Yes, I am getting frustrated by your consistent refusal to address my concerns.) Gimmetrow 21:18, 13 August 2006 (UTC)
"Templates are entirely optional; they are neither encouraged nor discouraged" seems perfectly adequate to me. If the complaint is that individual editors (rather than the formal guidelines) have been recommending these templates, I can only say that editors have always been perfectly free to recommend whatever they find to be most convenient to their colleagues. Kirill Lokshin 21:21, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: You are missing the whole point of what a policy is for. Policies are normative statements. They are not descriptive statements, like "the sky is blue", and they are especially not tautologies, like "you can do X or not do X, as you please". Policies are written to say what members of a group are required to do. If they have no force either way, then they simply clutter up the books. I have personally and repeatedly tried to address your problems with the semantics, and that has been done. Jon Awbrey 21:34, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Actually, most policy on Wikipedia is, indeed, descriptive rather than prescriptive. Policy—particularly if it's a style guide rather than one of the basic content policies—is meant to be a guide for editors, and should therefore describe the current consensus as to the best practices in the field. Kirill Lokshin 21:40, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: I would vastly prefer continuing this interesting theoretical discussion on the relation between Is and Ought, and no doubt there's a discussion list somewhere dedicated to that very subject, but I'm trying to write articles instead — only template tyrants with nothing better to do with their time keep pasting (non-existent)-policy sticky-notes on them instead of going off and trying to do something useful. So I have to waste a portion of my day here in mere self-defense. One day — soon — I'll just quite bothering altogether. A consummation devoutly to be wished. Jon Awbrey 22:00, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

What's the practical problem here, though? We've already determined that these templates are not required, and that you can ignore anyone who claims otherwise (and remove any silly tags they may be inclined to paste everywhere); is there actually anything more serious going on than the dispute over the exact wording of this page? Kirill Lokshin 22:03, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: I really need to do something productive today, so this is the last till Monday, Monday. The problem has been stated several times above by several reporters. Templates are being invented everyday, and many of the new ones are being abused to create the false impression of policies and guidelines and recommendations and requirements that do not really exist. Many people who vastly prefer being productive of articles do not have any more time for admin BS like "Templates For Deletion", so the only stopgap is to put firm stops in the target gaps of all of these viral templates, for instance, at WP:CITE and other Real Policy Pages. Bye, Jon Awbrey 22:15, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

If you could be rather more specific—what templates are being abused, and how?—it would be a lot easier to come to a workable agreement. The citation templates themselves are merely tools; I can't see how they are being used to create the false impression of anything, so I assume that you're referring to some other templates? Or, if you're not, how is "entirely optional" not sufficient to limit the unwanted insertion of them into articles? Kirill Lokshin 22:19, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Speak o' th' devil — a concrete case has just arisen as I was speaking, and since it puts a hold on my WP productivity for the foreseeable future, we might as well try to put it to some good use as an object example for discussion. A couple of days ago, User:Banno placed a {citation styles} tag on an article that I occasionaly work on:

JA: Back in a sec. Jon Awbrey 22:40, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Being a respector of custodial tags when they do admonish us to be cognizant of real WP:Policies & Guidelines, I carefully read the banner posted by Banno by means of the template tag, to wit:

The references in this article would be clearer with a different and/or consistent style of citation, footnoting or external linking. Please see the relevant discussion on the talk page for further details.

Okay, so said editor misused a cleanup tag (his concern was apparently a question of under-citation, rather than of citation style); you removed said tag. Slightly annoying, perhaps, but I don't see how trying to rewrite the citation guidelines will be helpful here; anyone can still slap senseless tags on an article—and you can still remove them with equal alacrity—regardless of what wording we use here. Kirill Lokshin 22:57, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: I have had this same discussion so many times before that I can save us all some time by telling how it will go. You have have asked me to provide you with a concrete example of what I claim to be a Big Problem X with the sustainability of WP, for example, "template abuse" (TA). I provide you with example x1 of Problem X. You then proceed to tell me how x1 is not really such a Big Problem, in fact it's only the little problem x1. And so it goes. "Yet another Wikipedia-related waste of human life" (YAWWOHL).

JA: No, I'm an idiot, the tag says "Please see the relevant discussion on the talk page for further details", so being an idiot I wait around for the tagger to explain, and what he says is this:

See Wikipedia:Citation templates. I started to mark places that needed citations, bu they are too numerous. At the least, the citations should be consistent. Banno 23:03, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Now, I when I cite things I cite them in a perfectly standard scholarly style, and the tagger knows that perfectly well, from prior acquaintaince. And he knows that if he will just stick a {fact} tag on any statement he has suspicions about that I will either find the source, modify the statement, or delete it. So what's the problem? The problem is that the tagger is, among other things, a true believer in footnotes and citation templates and is determined to harrass any infidels who have dared to use other systems of citation. Jon Awbrey 02:46, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm back from a relaxing walk. I can't believe this has gone on so long. The word "recommend" in all its forms is a problem. I grant it may be possible to phrase it with "recommend" and be clear that you are only affirming the absence of a statement, but the current phrasing falls short. I've suggested numerous alternatives which completely avoid the problem by simply not using the word. All you had to do, JA, was pick one and the issue would be resolved. Why make it so complicated? Gimmetrow 23:11, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

Jon has decided to include a very long list of books in his "references" which are not cited in the main text. When I went to school,(admittedly a while ago now) the reference section was were one listed the books cited in the text. "...A perfectly standard scholarly style"? No. I placed the tag in the hope of drawing attention to problems with referencing on Theory of truth. Jon removed the tag. The references remain unscholarly. The issue there is not the format used for references, but the fact that so many are listed, but not used in the text. Take a look for yourself. Banno 20:42, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

A point of extreme pedantry: the appropriate template would be {{citecheck}} ;-) Kirill Lokshin 20:44, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks, Kirill; I've placed that template on the page. Banno 20:50, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

Datapoints. Occurrences of the phrase "citation template" in WP:CITE

JA: Datapoints. Occurrences of the phrase "citation template" in WP:CITE.

  • Above sentence plus:
  • "Some editors prefer to use templates to format references; see the summary of citation templates; for users familiar with the citation process, seeking a reference, a quick reference exists.
  • 01 Jul 2006
  • Above 2 sentences plus:
  • "There is no requirement to use citation templates, and no recommendation that they be used.
  • "Note that citation templates are neither recommended nor required."
  • 01 Aug 2006

JA: I am game for backtracking to any of these points. Jon Awbrey 04:32, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Moved from user talk page:

Pugilistic edit comments

While your latest edit about citation templates is OK... not as good as either version I tried, but bearable... I find your edit comments about an alleged "consensus" really, really obnoxious. This consensus consists of you, and only you, while everyone else in the discussion recognizes the bias in the (briefly present) older phrasing that you repeatedly reverted to (and perhaps wrote; perhaps in violation of 3RR). Of course these templates are not mandates (nor should they be), but tilting at windmills about their horrid evils is POV nonsense. LotLE×talk 03:40, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: NB. Anybody who checks the edit history can see that [ad hom deleted]:

  • (cur) (last) 03:08, 14 August 2006 Jon Awbrey (Talk | contribs) (→Templates - restore consensus language "not required")
(... to describe adding "not recommended"), says LOTLE.
  • (cur) (last) 00:36, 14 August 2006 Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters (Talk | contribs) (please do not push POV agenda in guideline)
  • (cur) (last) 21:22, 13 August 2006 Jon Awbrey (Talk | contribs) m (revert deletion of consensus phrasing about "no requirement")
(... to describe adding "not recommended"), says LOTLE.

JA: I let myself get pulled into this whole mess at 04:52, 13 August 2006 because I tried to fix what looked like a purely semantic problem — some kind of anomalous interaction between the word "not" and the word "recommend" — that seemed about to set off a revert war on both of the linked pages WP:CITE and WP:CITET. I fixed the semantic problem. But then SV remarked on a larger problem, and I happen to know that the problem described there is very real, too, so I have tried to address that in what ensued. I think that my description of the situation is accurate. There did not seem to be any dissent about the phrase "not required", so I called that a consensus. In the current frame and timescale of discussion, any thing that stands for a couple of weeks in WP is what I would call "longstanding". Jon Awbrey 11:38, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

FWIW, I really thought this belonged only on Jon Awbrey's personal talk page, where I made the comment (not secret, but not meant as general discussion either. But if we must, the worse case is at WP:CITET:
  • (cur) (last) 23:12, 2006 August 13 Jon Awbrey (Talk | contribs) (restore consensus language "not required")
  • (cur) (last) 20:35, 2006 August 13 Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters (Talk | contribs) (Please don't disruptively revert language that almost all editors recognize as biased: let's try a variant)
  • (cur) (last) 17:15, 2006 August 13 Jon Awbrey (Talk | contribs) m (revert pending ongoing discussion)
  • (cur) (last) 17:08, 2006 August 13 Lulu of the Lotus-Eaters (Talk | contribs) (neutral non-recommendation)
  • (cur) (last) 01:58, 2006 August 13 Jon Awbrey (Talk | contribs) (there is no need to state all the things that aren't in the guidelines)
  • (cur) (last) 01:31, 2006 August 13 Gimmetrow (Talk | contribs) (fine, let's be precise)
  • (cur) (last) 01:24, 2006 August 13 SlimVirgin (Talk | contribs) (bold and added WP:CITE)
  • (cur) (last) 01:04, 2006 August 13 Jon Awbrey (Talk | contribs) (more accurate description)
  • (cur) (last) 00:30, 2006 August 13 Jon Awbrey (Talk | contribs) (restore longstanding version of non-recommendation)
  • (cur) (last) 00:26, 2006 August 13 Gimmetrow (Talk | contribs) m (rv. Again, you are introducing a directive in bold not to use them)
It's not a quite a 3RR since the 23:12 reversion is an acceptalbe modification of the "NOT RECOMMENDED" phrase Jon Awbrey inserted with the first three reversions. But pushing a POV phrasing that a clear majority of editors recognize as a problem ain't exactly "good behavior" either. LotLE×talk 14:42, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Again, my first edit on WP:CITET was to restore a version that I knew I had been reading for quite a while (a fortnight or so). After trying to figure out what the fuss was about for a half hour or so, I amended that phrasing with a "more accurate description" that avoided the xs connotations of "not recommended", and since that time I have not recommended the "not recommended", though other people kept arguing about it long after it was moot. Jon Awbrey 15:10, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure who first composed the NOT RECOMMENDED clause to advocate against use of citation templates. But you were by far the most aggressive advocate of it based on your edit history. However, your latest modification is usable enough, so let's just let kiss and forget about the question. LotLE×talk 15:22, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
Those "other people" kept arguing that "no recommendation" was not a "more accurate description", nor was it a "longstanding version." Let's just forget about this. We don't need a list of diffs; this isn't an arbcom case. Gimmetrow 15:28, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
One little comment, this currently states that the unmentionable things are not "encouraged or discouraged by any other Wikipedia citation guidelines." Some topic-specific guidelines do, though I'm not going to name them to avoid undue attention from certain editors. As long as this phrasing does not exclude certain wikiprojects having their own preferences (within the options allowed by WP in general), it's fine. Gimmetrow 15:35, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
The existing language might be slightly inaccurate at the boundaries. But I think that is harmless enough to leave be. If the "Wikiproject on Phonecian History" (no idea if such actually exists) recommends that project members use citation templates in project articles, I think it is well enough understood that that project-specific guideline might override more general guidelines (but not outright contradict the broader ones, just more narrowly specify). LotLE×talk 16:08, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

What is the proper way to cite a film as a source?

Thanks in advance for any help. - ChaChaFut 02:56, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

The APA style gives these examples of a motion picture citation on page 266:
Scorsese, M. (Producer), & Lonergan, K. (Writer/Director), (2000). You can count on me [Motion picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.
Harrison, J. (Producer), & Schmeichen, R. (Director). (1992). Changing our minds: The story of Evelyn Hooker [Motion picture]. (Available from Changing Our Minds, Inc., 170 West End Avenue, Suite 25R, New York, NY 10023)
Note that the first picture is from a major studio while the second is in limited distribution, hence the ordering address is given. Also, the director, the producer, or both should be given as the first item, as shown above. --Gerry Ashton 14:16, 15 August 2006 (UTC)

End Matters

JA: When it comes to End Matters — like the distinctions among various sections of References, Bibliography, Further Reading, and External Links — I think that it is probably best not to try and write overly OCD rules, but rely on the common sense of the editors working on a particular style of article as it relates a particular area of interest. I'll give some reasons and examples in a minute. Jon Awbrey 03:06, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Time for a straw poll?

JA: If folks here have any doubts about the lack of consensus on the use of citation templates, and if they have any doubts about just how strongly a significant population of editors strongly object, and will forevermore continue to object to the major WP:PITA that they produce, then I will suggest that we have a straw poll over the next month or so. Any takers? Jon Awbrey 20:40, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

A straw poll is rather pointless. We already know the breakdown:
  • A significant minority of WP editors think citation templates are a PITA, and dislike using them.
    • A significant portion of this minority thinks the PITA-ness mostly applies to inline use, and not so much to endmatter use.
  • A different significant minority of WP editors think that citation templates are quite helpful, and prefer to use them in most citation contexts (often in combination with overall Harvard referencing, and full citations in endmatter).
    • A geekish sliver of this minority thinks that the real gain in citation templates is what they enable for the future when WP evolves more semantic web and rich annotation capabilities that will be able to build on the existing use of templates.
  • A significant minority of WP editors has little preference between articles that do and do not use citation templates, but will happily adapt to the predominant style of a given article or WikiProject.
  • A signficant minority of WP editors hasn't the foggiest idea what any of this is about; they may even use citation templates by cut-and-paste and example without particularly understanding that they are doing something distinct.
The fact there is lack of consensus is stunningly obvious. Exactly which of those position have 25% support, and which 35% support hardly makes any difference... and no one of them comes close to a simple majority. LotLE×talk 02:38, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
Since WP:PITA leads nowhere, WTF is a PITA? TNX. - Jmabel | Talk 20:54, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
Pain In The Arse. -- Beland 03:35, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Thanks to all for that able summary of the non-consensus. Jon Awbrey 16:54, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Just the {Fact}s

A significant minority also thinks this template is an ugly-as-excrement typographic travesty which brings down Wikipedia's image of professional quality. This minority could be liquidated overnight by improving the template's design.

Another, perhaps not numerous but occasionally exasperating minority, sees this template as a weapon to resort to after losing a revert war.

The semantic web angle is new to me. Now there's an idea! Wouldn't that make more sense if the template was used like this: {{fact|[statement lacking a citation]}}? The template could add a simple [?] to the end of statements for most readers, but apply a class which the citation police could use in their user style sheet to make the entire uncited statement appear in flashing hot pink letters? Michael Z. 2006-08-20 04:40 Z

Huh? Are you talking about the {fact} template rather than the topic of this thread, citation templates? FWIW, I think the {fact} template should render as something less obnoxious, like perhaps "[?]", but that's completely unrelated to citation templates. LotLE×talk 04:49, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Aw, man! I have opinions about that too, but maybe I should get some sleep first. Cheers. Michael Z. 2006-08-20 04:55 Z
I think it's a clever idea anyway. Elucidated at template talk:Fact#I have a cunning plan..... Michael Z. 2006-08-20 05:44 Z

Examples of template cruft

JA: Let me try to explain my last revert, as it occurs to me that some people of good will may not have heard the reasons why other people of good will dislike the imposition of citation templates so much.

  • Reason 1. Information Erosion. Despite all good intentions in principle, human nature is such that the use of these Procrustean cookie cutters in practice just naturally leads to the eventual loss of accurate bibliographic information.
Example 1. Here's a typical example that arose just this morning. I supplied the following accurate reference for a classic work in logic:
  • Boole, George (1854), An Investigation of the Laws of Thought on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities, Macmillan, 1854. Reprinted with corrections, Dover Publications, New York, NY, 1958.

JA: Another editor, who I know from prior acquaintance to be a very nice person, but who has of late evidently fallen prey to the perils of template enthusiasm, promptly proceeded to cut and dice my citation and pour it into the following mould:

JA: This is a bad thing for many reasons. But it's time for dinner, so I will count the ways later. Jon Awbrey 21:54, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

The underlying reference here has been changed (to what appears to be a different edition of the book); the change would therefore have been a bad one regardless of whether a template was introduced. (Which is not to say that introducing the template was a good idea. The double-date in the new citation is quite unpleasant, at least—but that's why I prefer CMS-style citations!) Kirill Lokshin 22:08, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Grammatical cleanup does not require consensus

Greetings, Jon Awbrey. It looks as though you and several other editors are embroiled in a phraseology tussle over templates, and I suspect that is why you immediately leapt to revert my cleanup. I understand that, and I have no desire to enter the fray; you all may decide amongst yourselves whether to strongly censure or firmly reprimand or sharply condemn or tacitly permit or neither encourage nor discourage or cautiously recommend the use of templates. Please do respect the letter and intent of the advisory at the top of Wikipedia:Citing sources. It states, inter alia, Feel free to update this page as needed, but please use the discussion page to propose major changes. (emphasis added). Grammatical cleanup and clarification is not a major change, so there was no need for discussion or consensus. I certainly do not wish to get in a legalistic debate, but immediate reversion of a legitimate cleanup edit made in good faith is not very nice. Remember, it's easy to get overly wrapped up in a battle. It is not necessary, productive, coöperative or helpful to jerk your knee when someone not involved in the template fight comes along to vacuum, dust, remove superfluous spaces and make minor grammatical improvements. Friendly greetings, Scheinwerfermann 23:34, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Dear Scheinwerfermann, the description of that edit as a "grammatical cleanup" is a misnomer on several counts. Please take some time to think about the full meaning of such a modification of the page's directive, as it is likely to be interpreted by editors hereafter. As I will not have time to discuss it with you right away, here is what I hope you will find to be some helpful advice, to wit, the so-called pragmatic maxim. Jon Awbrey 23:56, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

JA: Dear Scheinwerfermann, your most recent edit produced the following result

The use of Citation templates is permitted but not required by WP:CITE, and is neither encouraged nor discouraged by any other Wikipedia citation guideline. Templates may be used at the discretion of individual editors, subject to agreement with the other editors on the article. Some editors find them helpful, while other editors find them annoying, particularly when used inline in the text. Because they are optional, editors should not change articles from one style to the other without consensus.

JA: The introduction of the word permitted goes well beyond what might be considered a "grammatical cleanup", and if you ever make a change like that on any article and mark it "minor", you will have ample confirmation of my opinion on that score.

JA: By way of comprehending the problematic aspects of the change, consider the following syllogism from childhood:

  • Premess 1. Daddy, can I?
  • Premess 2. I don't care if your Mother doesn't care.
  • Conflusion. Mommy! Daddy said I could!

JA: Since I know how things work around here, I can already foresee the day of a template addict Being So Bold as to tell all the other editors working on an article that he or she has "permission" to work it over with templates to his or her heart's content. And who's to say he or she doesn't? Well, I for one. Forthwith. Jon Awbrey 03:00, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

As I've already said, I have no interest in participating in this particular pissing contest. Have it how you will. --Scheinwerfermann 13:51, 18 August 2006 (UTC)
And when you combine two premesses, you get a postmess. - Jmabel | Talk 20:56, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Inconsistent referencing location

Paraphrased from Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability#Inconsistent_referencing_location.

Partly related to stuff elsewhere about referencing things in the lead section, should we be worried if an article is inconsistent about where it references something? I am talking here about cases where something is mentioned both in the lead section and later in the article. There seem to be three different "styles":

  1. Referenced in the main body of the article, but not in the lead section
  2. Referenced in the lead section but not in the main body of the article
  3. Referenced in both lead section and the main body of the article

Style 2 seems to arise when a "citation needed" tag gets slapped on a sentence in a lead section where the particular fact either is not referenced in the main article, or has been added to the lead section but not the main body of the article (a synchronisation problem). It is also consistent with referencing at the first appearance of something, rather than waiting until it appears in the main body of the article. Referencing in both locations (style 3) is consistent with enabling the lead section to be a stand-alone section.

I find this situation confusing. Which style should be used? Carcharoth 11:31, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Three is best, but as has been pointed out elsewhere, one size doesn't fit all. SlimVirgin (talk) 13:11, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. Can you give examples of where styles 1 and 2 are acceptable? Carcharoth 14:37, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Style no. 1 in T-34. Michael Z. 2006-08-20 14:57 Z

Is style no. 1 not contradicted by Wikipedia:Lead_section which says "The lead should be capable of standing alone as a concise overview of the article, should be written in a clear and accessible style, should be carefully sourced like the rest of the text, and should encourage the reader to read more." - how can a lead section (a) stand-alone without references and (b) be considered sourced if it has no references? Should the reader be expected to find the references later in the article? This latter view was my view a few months ago, but it seems that a variety of styles exist across Wikipedia. My question now is how does an editor or reader know whether an article is following one style or not. Is the lack of references in a lead section for a random article because (a) the editors have not provided references for that information; or (b) because the references are to be found further down in the article. Having tried to find references "further down" in articles, I can say that it is not that easy. Taking your example: T-34, can you point to something verifying the date of introduction of the T-34-85, the assertion that the T-34 accounted for nearly all Soviet tank production in 1945, and the assertion that it "was still in service with twenty-seven countries as late as 1996". Three random facts from the lead section. Difficult to verify under style 1, easy to verify under styles 2 and 3. Carcharoth 16:43, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

Minor pedantry: the requirement is for the lead section to be "sourced" rather than "cited to sources"; hence, there's no actual requirement to exhaustively footnote every sentence in the lead.
In general, though, a good lead section—being a summary of the article rather than presenting points in its own right—should be written so as to make it very easy to identify what portion of the article each statement corresponds to. (Obviously this is easier for narrative articles and harder for thematic ones.) If this is done, there shouldn't be a problem examining the (presumably more exhaustive) citations in the body of the article for any point in the lead. It has never been my impression that clustering repeated footnotes from the body into the lead is particularly necessary or desirable. Kirill Lokshin 16:52, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
I agree that clustering footnotes into the lead is bad, but the alternative of leaving the reader to find the information in a long article seems just as bad, especially considering that the reference might just not be there anyway (beleive me, I've tried - see Wikipedia_talk:Lead_section#How_to_reference_summary_style_sections_such_as_the_lead_section. I would love a way of making clear to editors and readers that a particular lead section has been sourced from the rest of the text on the page (ditto for the information contained in infoboxes). Then, instead of people slapping "citation needed" tags on sentences in lead sections (without reading the rest of the article), it would be possible to put a sort of sui generis "not sourced from the main body of the article" tag on bits of a lead section. That would alert people to the need to add the information (properly referenced) to a section of the article, rather than directly to the lead section, and then consider rewriting the lead section to include the new material (not always needed). Carcharoth 17:52, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
As far as avoiding the insertion of "citation needed" tag into the lead, one option (aside from the obvious insertion of footnotes, which isn't a particularl clean solution) would be to put an HTML comment after the statement indicating the point in the article where full citations are given.
Having said that, I suspect most readers won't bat an eye at there being no footnotes in the lead; it's only when there's actually something unsourced that we have any practical concern. Thus, I don't think further attempts at rulemaking about this point will be particulaly beneficial. Kirill Lokshin 18:34, 20 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, I'm a bit happier about things than I was before, so that is good for me. I hope I haven't upset too many people by throwing my toys out of the pram. :-) I now know a lot more about referencing a work and citing a source than I did before, so I'm happy about that as well. I might even find myself drawn to FAC to carefully critique stuff there one day, as opposed to doing so after the event. But hey, as long as things incrementally improve and don't get too messy along the way! Carcharoth 23:30, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

When "Citation needed" means "I shouldn't be editing this article"

What's the policy for when people claim something needs to be cited, when it's common knowledge, or the fact proves itself?

I ask this because on the System Shock 2 article, someone had the nerve to add a "cite this" bit to the fact that System Shock 2 was eclipsed by another game, Half-Life. It's hard for me to find a reason to cite this: either you're a gamer long enough to know how SS2 was eclipsed by HL, or you're seeking out the article on System Shock 2 because you didn't know about another game that came out at the same time HL did.

Frankly, I think the whole citation thing is getting out of hand. Hell, in the System Shock 2 article I was mentioning, I removed a "cite this" from a line, because some fool didn't understand that, in a sci-fi game, a ship by the name of 'Von Braun' is fairly obviously this guy... Scumbag 06:17, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but how old are you? 15? Or are you really so dense that instead of at least being courtoeus on the issue you have to resort to namecalling to make a point? Why is it obvious? Because a fictional ship has to be named after a ship-builder? I suppose Citadel station, Nostromo, Narcissus, and a bunch of other fictional ships would have to be named after ship-builders following that logic, yes? If you have trouble being courteous and following wikipedia's basic policies about sourcing facts why are you even bothering editing? Tani unit 04:07, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Uh, let me try to rephrase this in a less contentious way. Scumbag, the reason for providing sources is to help educate people who are by definition ignorant. This indeed is the whole point of the encyclopedia. So, whenever you edit an article, we are supposed to assume we are writing for people who somehow lack "common knowledge" or can´t recognize what is "obvious." We are most definitely not writing for people who already understand everything, that would be pointless. Slrubenstein | Talk 17:00, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I think [citation needed] he means when [citation needed] someone tags [citation needed] almost every statement [citation needed] in an article. [citation needed] Pacific Coast Highway (blahSnakes on a Plane) 19:09, 21 August 2006 (UTC) [citation needed]
I must agree, having 2 (two) "citation needed" tags in an article is certainly an overkill, let's just get rid of all of them. Tani unit 19:32, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
I think our colleague with the name Scumbag (is that really within our policy for acceptable account names?) is basically right here, at least on the von Braun thing. If you are editing an article on the French Revolution and you come across a reference to "Mirabeau", you don't need a separate citation to tell you it means Honoré Mirabeau, not his father (who died on the eve of the Revolution); if you are reading an article about Ted Kennedy and it refers to him going to "Boston", you don't need them to say "Boston, Massachusetts" to know he wasn't headed to, say Boston, Texas. There is such a thing as carrying the demand for citation too far. - Jmabel | Talk 19:35, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately the example he gave was information put forth as fact which may not be obvious. This falls under WP:OR (there is a handy list there that indicates what constitutes original research) and making that statement requires a citation for backing up the claim. You can say without citation that Bill Clinton is married to Hillary Clinton, you can't say without a citation that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have a happy marriage. Claiming one product has eclipsed another product without providing a basis doesn't fly. If someone else puts a cite tag on it, there is a good chance its not as obvious as you think. --Crossmr 19:45, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) I think the first citation request is valid (who said HL eclipsed it? It's not common knowledge to non-gamers and can sound like WP:OR otherwise); on the Von Braun thing, I think the request is not to prove who Van Braun is, but rather asking to cite that it was named after him. Two different things. plange 19:47, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
At that point, why not just skip the [citation needed]s, and put a {{verify}} on top of the article? Armedblowfish (talk|mail|contribs) 23:11, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

The "eclipsed" statement needs a citation to say who said this. At the moment, it is just the editor who added that sentence that is saying this. The editor may be right, but just putting your own opinion into an article is indeed Original Research. You need to quote someone else's opinion.

As for the "Von Braun" example, the citation needs to show that the ship is indeed named Von Braun, not who von Braun is. Though sometimes who something is named after is not so obvious. See the list at the end of Ptolemy (name) for examples of later projects/people that can sometimes be said to have been named after one of the two most famous Ptolemies (Ptolemy Soter and Claudius Ptolemaeus), but also some that cannot be said with any certainty to have been named after one or other of the Ptolemies. Oh. I guess someone is going to ask for citations for that list now... :-) Carcharoth 21:53, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

After a lengthy (and fruitless) discussion with the editor in question on his talk page he seems to maintain that requests for citation are a form of vandalizm. Anyone else is welcome to try. Tani unit 22:00, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
He has a bad case of overweening confidence. I find his assertion that experts know what they are talking about laughable. One day he will make a mistake and get egg all over his face. Things change, "facts" change. That is one of the reasons why things need to be sourced. He'll learn that in time. Carcharoth 22:57, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Well, fact tags can be used as a form of vandalism. I've seen editors tag every sentence in an article, including sentences which contained references. Surely they weren't asking for an independent reference X stating that reference Y said Z. Gimmetrow 22:50, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Often a sentence will contain two or more facts, all of which might need separate verification. Though this can be avoided by introducing such thing separately earlier, citing references then, and then writing the summary sentence that brings it all together. If this can't be done, or someone wants references for an information-dense sentence in a lead section, a single footnote at the end of the sentence can be used, and then that footnote can be split up into sections supporting the statements in the sentence. Carcharoth 23:04, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
"X was on the cover of Magazine A in Month, Year[citation needed] and was listed as one of group B in Magazine C in Othermonth, Otheryear.[citation needed]"
Editor correctly identified the two facts in the one sentence, but wouldn't you agree they are somewhat self-referencing facts? It is somewhat worrying that people are saying "assume good faith" without any knowledge of the situation, or how the fact tags were resolved. Gimmetrow 23:54, 21 August 2006 (UTC)
Unless people provide examples, I always assume good faith. In this case, the sentence seems to be self-verifiable and self-citing. It contains enough information for someone to go and find the magazines and verify it for themselves. If the magazines are hard to find, then a footnote should note this and give a secondary source that independently verifies the statements. I find it helpful to think: "how would I verify this information, and what is the easiest way for most people to verify this information". Further, although we can and should assume good faith, there is a corollary which is that I think we should assume that no-one will believe us until we provide a supporting reference and even to consider yourself in 5 or 10 years time, wanting to remember where you found this bit of information: don't believe what you wrote five years ago unless you gave a reference that can be used to verify the information (or say you lose your memory for some reason, and no loger trust what you wrote). Carcharoth 00:30, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Commenting on the "citation needed = vandalism" comments in this thread, I agree that these tags can be overused, or misused, but it is worrying that it seems some people are now tending towards a knee-jerk "oh, it's vandalism" reaction, without assuming good faith and trying to provide a reference. If you think a "citation needed" tag has been inappropriately applied, please provide reason for removing it. Carcharoth 23:08, 21 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree {{fact}} is becoming quite stunningly overused, and the problem is getting steadily worse. If the {{fact}} tag did its job, each instance would be replaced with a reference sometime later, or the statement and the tag would both be removed sometime later. This ought to result in some initial growth rate, after which the number of instances should level off, as the number added each day would then be balanced out by the number replaced with actual references each day. What we are seeing instead, by Michael Z’s count, is an increase of approximately 150 additional tags/day. Twelve days ago, I cited 11 articles demonstrating the abuse of the tag. The situation has only gotten worse since I posted those here. I have begun doing what I can to fix articles that have been {{fact}} bombed since then, but that only has me more convinced that if {{fact}} isn’t brought under control, Wikipedia[1] will[citation needed] soon[2],[3] look[citation needed][verification needed] like[4],[5],[6]{{betterfact}} this[7],[8],[9]{{betterfact}},[10],[11].
If anyone requires additional evidence, see these articles: New Democrats, Amerimanga, Arable land, David Garrick, Literary fiction, National Firearms Act, Brunch, John Motson, Jeff Kennet, The West Australian, Dahomey mythology, Sleepwalking, Russian Mafia, AppleSearch, Compass Group, New York Post, State of Palestine, Copyright infringement of audio-visual works, EXE, Lazy Susan. I could quite literally go on all day. I think it is a mistake to continue to have WP:Citing Sources actually endorsing the use of this typographical abomination. {{fact}} and other inline tags are essentially being used as a form of sanctioned vandalism. A far better policy would be to encourage the removal of really problematic statements, and to otherwise make requests for citations on the talk page.dryguy 00:05, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
{{betterfact}}; this exists? Good grief, my eyes. Pacific Coast Highway (blahSnakes on a Plane) 00:49, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Just because you could go out and find 11 articles where there is an issue in no way indicates that its being overused. Given the amount of articles here that only representes a tiny percent. A better test would be to take 100 random articles and check to see if the problem exists and on how many articles.--Crossmr 00:16, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Vaccine controversy appears 46 pages deep into this Google search, result 452. Google reports 996,000 matches to the search. What number will it take to convince you this is a problem? And by the way, I have now cited 32, not 11. dryguy 00:26, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Please don't misunderstand me. I think some people are too quick to use "citation needed" tags, but equally I am appalled at the number of editors who are happy to leave finding references to someone else, or who genuinely fail to see the need to provide references for some things. There are far too many editors who are not critical or sceptical enough. We should be encouraging editors to question any unsourced information. But equally there is a skill to doing this. I am going to look at one of the articles you point out and see what I think of the use of the "citation needed" tags. Carcharoth 00:40, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Dryguy, from your earlier list, I picked Walgreens at random (actually quite an interesting little article). My conclusion is that all the "citation needed" tags are justified. I even considered adding more. The point is that there will be citations out there somewhere that will allow the reader to verify the information presented in the article. I think the "citation needed" tag provides a very important role, but I agree that its viral growth is a bad thing. But rather than trying to get it deleted, I suggest that the culture be changed to encourage people to add references as quickly at the same rate as they request them.

Can anyone think of a way to give people a "quota" of "citation needed" tags they can use to tag articles? You would then regain this quota by cleaning up a certain number of "citation needed" tags. With appropriate time limits and modifications, this would be a great system. Sort of like Slashdot's karma system, but focused tightly on verifying the information in the encyclopedia. It sounds very difficult to design and implement, but could it be at all possible? Carcharoth 00:57, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

It's a lot easier to recognize that an article need citations than it is to find the citations. It is far easier for the original editor to document the source than for a later editor to guess where the information might have come from. --Gerry Ashton 01:06, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
And if someone is really upset about the {{fact}} tags, they always have the option of removing the unsourced statements from the article. Oh, wait, that's what we're trying to avoid in the first place by using the {{fact}} tags. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 03:00, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Not really. When I look something up on Wikipedia and find that the article has been {{fact}}bombed, I'm usually in the middle of something, and can't stop to fix the article, if I even have the expertise. Also, I have noticed that none of the articles I have cited have been fixed in what is now almost two weeks. That's hundreds of [citation needed] tags that are likely to just sit indefinitely. It is true a lot of the statements need sources. It is equally true that many of the tagged statements have no other defect. In other words, the {{fact}} tags are destroying the appearance of well written, factual, notable, verifiable (but unsourced) material, without achieving the stated objective of getting someone to include the sources. dryguy 11:46, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
I think part of the problem is that some people can tell when an article is well-written and contains relevant, correct and verifiable information that could be cited to sources (but they don't have time to find and cite those sources), and some people can't tell (mainly because it is not in their area of expertise). Another part of the problem is that some people use the tag when they are not sure whether something is even correct or verifiable. In those cases, they should be removing the information altogether, or moving it to the talk page. It should be strongly emphasised that the "citation needed" tag should only be used when you know that the information is correct and a citation is possible. It should be seen as a request for an editor to find the time to provide a citation, and it should also be strongly emphasised as a voluntary code of ethics that people should go back and check what they have tagged when they have the time, and then either provide the citation themselves if they can do so, or take the matter a step futher (talk page, removing the information). People should also voluntarily limit themselves to cleaning up as many "citation needed" tags as they add.
Maybe even, if a tag has been left on an article for a long amount of time, and the editor who added the tag has abandoned it, then the tag should be removed by a bot. In other words, incorporate a date into the "citation needed" tag (something like: "citation requested on 2006-08-22" or even "citation requested x days ago") and then after y number of days, the tag is removed. This should be made clear to editors: their work on tagging unsourced material will go to waste unless they provide a source, remove the information, or get someone else to add the citation.
I'm even tempted to create a personal template that will look like the citation needed tag, but will allow me to use "what links here" to track what I have tagged. There must be a way to do this with the current template, surely? Carcharoth 14:01, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
This is all good and sound in theory until you encounter an editor such as the one who initiated this discussion, who is stupendously certain of what he wrote in the article, refuses to cite sources beacause he thinks it "self-evident", and considers tagging with "citation needed" vandalizm. God forbid I tried simply removing the questionable bits, it would turn into an edit-war. Situations like this need to be dealt on a case by case basis, there is no all-encompasing solution. Tani unit 17:12, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Fact template

Looking at Template:Fact, I see that there are a lot more specific tags than I realised. Still, in all cases, I think it should be strongly emphasised that people who use this tag should come back later and check what has happened. In other words, do not litter Wikipedia with such templates, and instead take some responsibility for cleaning things up. In a nutshell: clean up as many tags as you add. Carcharoth 14:13, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

No. You have it backwards. Please read Wikipedia:Verifiability#Burden of evidence, which explicitly states, The burden of evidence lies with the editors who have made an edit or wish an edit to remain, and Any edit lacking a source may be removed, but some editors may object if you remove material without giving people a chance to provide references. If you want to request a source for an unsourced statement, a good idea is to move it to the talk page. Alternatively, you may tag the sentence by adding the {{fact}} template, or tag the article by adding {{not verified}} or {{unsourced}}. Adding the {{fact}} template is a courtesy in lieu of simply removing the material. If no one is concerned enough to supply a source for the material, then why should it remain in Wikipedia? If something is 'obvious' to someone, then it should be trivial for them to supply sources. I supply sources for the articles I start and/or add to. I line up sources before I write. But, why should I be expected to hunt down sources for subjects I'm not familiar with, when the editors who added the material couldn't be bothered themselves? If I see something without a source that I think I can quickly find a source for, I do so (or, at least, try). When I see something where I'm not sure where to find a source, I insert a template. -- Donald Albury(Talk) 23:20, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
I think both views above are complimentary. When you leave a {{fact}} tag beside someone else's statement because you are (for whatever reason) unable to find a reference, you should return to remove the statement (and the tag) if no reference has been provided. -- zzuuzz (talk) 23:29, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
Thank you for understanding what I was saying about returning to tidy up. Let me give examples to illustrate this further:
(1) Statement has a source provided from the moment it is added - WONDERFUL
(2) Statement has no source, "citation needed" tag added, source provided and tag removed - GOOD
(3) Statement has no source, "citation needed" tag added, no source provided, some time later the statement and the tag are removed - OK, DEPENDING ON CIRCUMSTANCES
(4) Statement has no source, "citation needed" tag added, no source provided, a long time later it still has the tag - NOT IDEAL
(5) Statement has no source and no "citation needed" tag - BAD
Examples (1) and (2) are fine and in an ideal world this would happen with every statement taggeed. Example (5) is bad and one of the prime goals of Wikipedia is to avoid unsourced statements. Examples (4) is the current situation (what some call the "viral growth" of the fact tag, as its addition quickly outstrips its removal). Example (3), where people tidy up after themselves, is what I am proposing, and is one way to avoid a situtation 5 years down the line where "citation needed" tags are everywhere. In a nutshell: if you come back to an article in 5 years time and find a "citation needed" tag still there, would you be embarassed to find that you added it and it is still there because you did not come back and tidy up the article by removing the tag and unsourced statement? Carcharoth 00:08, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
How is it a courtesy to add a disfigurement that will likely remain for months, if not forever? Also, you keep quoting that section of WP:V as justification, but all it says is unsourced material "may be removed". It does not say, unsourced material "must be removed or tagged." You ask why unsourced material should be allowed to remain. I would answer, that in many instances it should be removed, but if the only problem with material is the lack of a source, that is not justification to remove it. Tagging such material might be OK if that actually produced results, but it doesn't. If it did, the number of tagged articles would not be increasing at a rate of 150/day. dryguy 23:55, 22 August 2006 (UTC)
WP:V is non-negotiable. I have noticed that the template can have a positive effect in producing references (and deleting unsourced material). Before any weight is attached to the increase of 150 templates a day, it is necessary to know how many are removed (satisfied), and how many unsourced statement there are that should be sourced or removed. -- zzuuzz (talk) 00:04, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
If anyone has ideas how to collect such data, I think it would be highly valuable, but that won't change the fact that the failure rate exceeds the success rate by 150 articles/day. Are you claiming that WP:V applies to the debate over {{fact}}? If so, I'm curious to know what parts you are referring to. (P.S., everything on Wikipedia is negotiable.:) ) dryguy 00:15, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
It seems to me that if people routinely followed Zzuuzz and Cacharoth's idea and after a few weeks went back to the "citation needed" tags they'd placed and removed the offending statement, it would encourage people who post unsourced material to take the tags as seriously as they should. Tags that have no consequences tend to be ignored, just like no parking signs where no-one ever gets towed or clamped. --SteveMcCluskey 01:13, 23 August 2006 (UTC)
For the lazy efficient people, how about "citation timebombs"? ;-) Have a display on the citation tag counting down to the moment where the unsourced statement will disappear in a puff of smoke! (And the remaining text magically rewrites itself to make sense). Carcharoth 02:43, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Page numbers

The page numbers section is a little vague. I'm in a dispute with someone who says he doesn't have to provide a page number. Specifically, he claims that an author claims that anarcho-capitalism is not a form of anarchism. He gives the name of the book by that author as a reference but that's it. No page number or quote. So there is no way to verify it without reading the whole book hoping to find the sentence where the author makes the claim. Can't page number section in this article be a little more specific about the necessity for a page number? It says they are necessary for quotes and paraphrases but nothing about claiming an author makes a specific claim. DTC 06:58, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

It is certainly good practice to give page numbers for book citations. I suspect that someone refusing to give page numbers actually doesn't have the book, in which case referring them to the "Say where you got it" section would be a good idea. --Zerotalk 10:40, 24 August 2006 (UTC)
It is also possible that the editor had the book at the time the article was written but no longer has the book, as in the case of a book being returned to a library. ``Gerry Ashton 15:36, 24 August 2006 (UTC)