Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 24

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Archive 23 Archive 24 Archive 25


Category for this page?

At the moment this page is in the "Wikipedia style guidelines" and "Wikipedia how-to" categories, should there be a Category:Wikipedia referencing or similar to aid in finding relevant pages?

Incidentally I am looking for a page that lists people who have access to magazine subscriptions or a page that emails sources to Wikipedia editors, any ideas?--Commander Keane (talk) 09:43, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

Let's get the relationship with WP:V right

OMG, now I see the structural problems. My first thought is "why is this page not merged with WP:V?" Perhaps because V is policy and this one is not. But can't the information here be cast as policy and merged into V? I certainly don't want to see the "When to cite sources" section here as guideline and over there as policy. THis is a recipe for chaos.

On second thought, why not clearly define V as the "when", and CITE as the "how". This would involve:

  1. restricting CITE to just the mechanics and style of referencing (which is better separated from a policy page);
  2. ensuring that V avoids talking about the "how", and refers to CITE for that;
  3. removing all duplicated sections from CITE, such as "When to cite sources", rely on direct links to sections in V, and tweak V sections where information in CITE is better expressed, or absent from V, and would be useful and appropriate there.

Starting with "When to cite sources" here in CITE, it seems nicely set out and easy to follow, and not so in V. Should V be recast to include this text?

On the matter of rewriting the lead here at CITE: I'd wait until we decide on this relationship. Tony (talk) 02:08, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

But the mechanics pages are WP:FN and WP:ADR. WP:V is the general policy on sourcing, while WP:CITE gives guidance on what information should be included when giving a source. Gimmetrow 02:21, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Oops it's HP:ADR, aka WP:HARV. Gimmetrow 03:54, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Gimme, but (1) WP:ADR leads to no page at all; (2) CITE seems very much a "how to" page; (3) why don't these pages at least all refer to each other as a cluster at their openings?, and (4) why can't we merge all the "how to" (styleguide) pages into one, include CITE and FN (footnote), and have V separate as a "when" policy page? Tony (talk)
I think the basic structure is, and more or less ought to be: WP:V lays out the basic policy. WP:RS and subordinate pages provide detail on acceptable sources. WP:CITE is the central page discussing the mechanics that support verifiability; it provides details on when to cite sources, offers links to and summarizes some of the most popular citation methods, and gives the basic relevant MOS principle (consistency within articles). Various other pages, subordinate to WP:CITE, cover the many different citation technologies that have been developed. These last pages would also be substantially subordinate to the manual of style and would provide most of the style-related detail. Christopher Parham (talk) 03:06, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Perfectly said. That should be in a box at the top of talk page. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:17, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Well expressed, but why isn't it emblazoned at important places. I really think we need to define this family of pages and the roles of each of the pages so that people don't have to learn about it bit by bit through osmosis. And I'm not convinced that WP:V can't be defined simply as the "where to cite" policy page: does it say anything else? And could you point to me a list of these "various other pages"? I'd be happier knowing the big picture, and I'm sure others would be, too.
The issue remains of why this page delves into "When to cite sources" when V does it too, or purports to. Tony (talk) 03:30, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Well I see WP:V as providing a top-level summary of this page and of WP:RS. It also explains the overall purpose of the policy and its relationship to the other primary content policies. I think that in general WP:V should be kept pretty brief to avoid weighing it down with more technical material which is best offloaded onto subpages. The "various other pages" I speak of include: WP:FOOT, WP:HARV, WP:ECITE, WP:FN3, and some templates that don't have an associated project page, including {{inote}}, off the top of my head. The two most active and important are of course WP:FOOT and WP:HARV. Christopher Parham (talk) 03:47, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

←Thanks very much for that list, Christopher; I'll survey now. What I'm concerned about is whether they're all properly coordinated and sing from the same songsheet (Sandy seems to be very concerned that they're not), and whether it's the most intuitively organised and accessible way of setting out the guidelines/policy, especially for newcomers. Tony (talk) 08:39, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

When to cite?

Christopher says, WP:Citing sources "is the central page discussing the mechanics that support verifiability; it provides details on when to cite sources, offers links to and summarizes some of the most popular citation methods, and gives the basic relevant MOS principle (consistency within articles)." and also that WP:Verifiability "should be kept pretty brief to avoid weighing it down with more technical material which is best offloaded onto subpages".

However, I don't feel this really clarifies. As I see it, "When to cite" isn't really part of the technical mechanics of citing sources and hence shouldn't really be covered in detail in the pages of such a "how to" guideline. When to cite is more widely contextual and would better suit being covered on the policy page WP:Verifiability.

I think the balance of the argument is in favour of moving "When to cite" to WP:Verifiability.

--SallyScot (talk) 15:04, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

That was my feeling too, and I'm nervous about the duplication. Tony (talk) 14:07, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
While it is policy that the information in an article must be verifiable, the policy page is deliberately silent on how this is to be done. Some Wikipedia editors want detailed in-line citations on every sentence. Others feel that a bibliographic section is fine for many shorter articles. There are also a lot of mathematical and technical articles that list one or more standard texts as references, any one of which could be used as the sole source for the article. Detailed in-line citations would add nothing to such articles, and asking for them has been seen by many involved editors as disruptive and valuing process over content. The present division into policy (which cannot be ignored) and guideline (which needs to be treated with common sense and the occasional exception) is sensible and helps improve Wikipedia. Robert A.West (Talk) 13:52, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
I support moving the "When to cite" section to WP:V. I'm worried that it might clutter up the WP:V page, though. The information in it is common sense. Each subheading could be removed and entire section could be summarized in 3 sentences rather than fifteen. I've been saying that it needs to be moved down on the page for a while now. Incidentally, I also think WP:V should be merged with WP:RS, but that's more controversial. The only subheading worth saving is WP:CITE#IMAGE, which offers technical advice. II | (t - c) 17:09, 7 September 2008 (UTC)
We've been down that road before. See Wikipedia:Attribution for an attempt that got worked on hard by a lot of editors, and finally ended up being discarded. Robert A.West (Talk) 17:14, 7 September 2008 (UTC)


OK. It looks like there's an objection to moving "When to cite" content to WP:Verifiability from WP:Cite on the grounds of there being a present division into policy (which cannot be ignored) and guideline (which needs to be treated with common sense and the occasional exception).

In that case bear in mind the pre-existence of the distinct page WP:When to cite and the possibility of moving content there. Its status is currently a "proposed" guideline, but any issues around its status could and should be addressed of course. If there are disputed parts they ought be identified and dealt with accordingly, but article splitting generally (WP:Splitting) is otherwise a well-established approach to resolving overall size issues such as we have here.

--SallyScot (talk) 09:50, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

My Blog Saito Network, an authority site Blazinglight (talk) 02:04, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Hi, I have a blog called Saito Network, since it's a blog I can't post on your website wikipedia. I want to though some how prove that my site is an authority site and that it can be posted on wikipedia even though it's a blog. I am web renown for my work and have spent countless hours working away at Saito Network putting forth old and new information on Mega Man game titles...I have wanted to advertise on Wikipedia for a very long time and hope that you will allow Saito Network to be apart of Wikipedia as it is just to spread more information and not spam. Please view my blog and tell me what you think : I list media, video's, music and information when I find it and when there are updates on latest Mega Man games. I appreciate you looking into this :). Blazinglight (talk) 02:04, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Hi, Blazinglight. I'm not very clear what you want to do. Do you want (1) to write an article about your blog, Saito Network; or (2) people to cite your blog when writing articles about Mega Man? I don't know anything about Mega Man or anime in general, but if your intention is (2), then I think there may be two problems. First, you have put a lot of videos and music on your website. Do you have permission from the copyright owners to do this? If not, then Wikipedia editors cannot cite your website as a reference or even link to it as Wikipedia policy does not allow articles to be linked to external websites that violate people's copyrights: see "Wikipedia:Copyrights". Secondly, you say you have spent a lot of time putting information on to your blog. Have you also stated where you got this information from – books, magazine and newspaper articles, and so on? If not, this is another reason why Wikipedia editors cannot cite your website. If the source of your information is not stated, people cannot tell whether the information is correct or not: see "Wikipedia:Verifiability". I hope this helps. — Cheers, JackLee talk 04:29, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Most of the information comes from Capcom and is freely distributable. The other sites referenced either get their information from Capcom, or from a Magazine called "CoroCoro Magazine". You have mentioned several conditions that need to be met, and I believe I can meet these conditions provided the infringments are clearly (giving a few examples) so as to show a true effort on the part of Wikipedia to help other authors comply to its standards. Since the rules seem subject to the discretion of the moderators, then perhaps the moderators can show the examples of what is considered a violation of copyrights and of verifiability, especially since they are making a legal precedence by stating there is a violation (Wikipedia acting as an internet authority). Internet copyright laws have been re-defined as of late and are a great deal more lax than at the writing of Wikipedia's policies. I would only think it fair to give an accurate appraisal so Saitonetwork can attempt to conform to the regulations, by placing realistic conditions on doubts you may have. Thank you Jacklee for your prompt reply, its greatly appreciated, our efforts are only to conform to Wikipedia's policy; providing that blogs are not discriminated against. Blazinglight. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Blazinglight (talkcontribs) 05:32, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

Here are my responses:
  • I haven't looked in detail at your blog, but to improve its verifiability, when you mention certain facts you should say where you got the facts from. If it was from Capcom's website, then you should provide links to the web pages. If they were from CoroCoro Comic, then state the authors and titles of the articles, the issues and dates of the magazine, and the page numbers. That way, if people want to check if the facts you have stated are accurate, they can look up your sources.
  • I think the copyright issue may be harder to fix. Wikipedia's policy is clear – editors must not link to websites that contain material that is being used in breach of other people's copyrights. Therefore, if you don't remove the copyrighted material from your blog this may mean it cannot be cited or linked to in Wikipedia. It doesn't matter that Wikipedia's policy is stricter than copyright laws in different countries; if we want to contribute towards Wikipedia then we have to accept its current policies. If you want to suggest that the policy be changed, you can try making a proposal at the Village Pump.
— Cheers, JackLee talk 08:27, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
About copyright: the first page of the site has many YouTube videos that seem at first glance to be copyright violations. The site would have to provide a pointer to where these videos came from and why there is no copyright violation. Wikipedia editors can seldom be certain that there is or is not a copyright violation, but they will generally go with general appearance.
About using the blog: blogs are usually unreliable. One exception is blogs run by a reliable source, such as the New York Times or Scientific American, but that exception does not apply here. Another exception would be if the blogger was known to be an authority on the subject. Has Blazinglight written articles in well-known magazines about computer games (or whatever topic he/she thinks the blog should be a reliable source for)? In what reliable publication can we find evidence of
  1. the real name of the author of
  2. that the author really is a computer game authority
--Gerry Ashton (talk) 14:11, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
The best place to discuss the reliability of individual sources is the reliable sources noticeboard.
However, I suspect that the blog owner really wants to be listed as an external link, not as a reliable source. Based on previous comments at WT:EL, the reference to "recognized authority" in WP:ELNO is interpreted as "indisputably and widely recognized authority", and is intended to permit links to blogs written by people who have won Nobel Prizes, or similar extremely rare situations. In short, while BlazingLight may have a lovely blog, and a strong following, it will never be an acceptable external link.
Additionally, the author of a blog (or any website) has no business posting a link to his/her own blog on Wikipedia ever. It is a violation of the conflict of interest rules, which is interpreted most strictly for external links. At most, the author can suggest the addition of a link on an article's talk page and hope that someone else will agree.
This discussion page is dedicated to improving the guideline, WP:Citing sources, and since this question is off-topic, I suggest that it be carried on elsewhere. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:37, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

I moved this discussion to the suggested place : —Preceding unsigned comment added by Blazinglight (talkcontribs) 23:21, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

Use of terms

Section heading added ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 22:32, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

I believe there's an issue with this guideline using the terms "citation" and "reference" quite so interchangeably (as it suggests currently in the use of terms section).

I think they only happen to be one and the same thing with the standard footnotes method. With the shortened footnotes method it becomes clearer that citations and references can be distinct (though currently the guideline advice for the shortened notes method is to name the section containing the short citations "notes", which may be not so clear).

A good example to consider is when explanatory notes are also included with the shortened notes method, because in this case there's a requirement for three distinct section headings. There doesn't seem to be any guideline advice on what to call these sections, even though such a three section approach would be good practice. - There's merit in using shortened notes and separating explanatory notes and no reason why wanting to do both should be mutually exclusive.

Take for instance the former featured article "Sophie Blanchard". - Here you can see three sections. "Notes" - for explanatory notes, "Citations" - for the short citations, and "References" for the full references.

As this approach would seem to be good practice shouldn't we consider the implications in terms of the guideline's advice?

I can see how wanting to use the terms citation and reference interchangeably may be well intended for the sake of simplicity, however I do feel that, other than for the bog standard footnotes method, it may be better to elucidate the difference for the benefit of other approaches.

--SallyScot (talk) 19:53, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

There is no requirement for three separate sections. It is permissible to put short citations and full citations in the same References section if the editors so choose. Indeed, you can add the explanatory notes and rename the single section Notes and references if you feel like it. There are good reasons to split them up (especially in an extensively referenced article), but there is no requirement. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:05, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Okay WhatamIdoing, thanks for pointing that out, but I don't think the gist of what I'm saying really pivots on such an insistent notion of requirement. The fact remains, if you use shortened notes and separate explanatory notes then you necessarily end up with three distinct parts. It makes sense to present these three parts with three distinct headings, be they section headings, subsections or simply emboldened titles (not appearing in the table of contents). I'm not insisting that they have to be called "Notes", "Citations" and "References" if that doesn't suit either, although again, as with "Sophie Blanchard", those names do seem to be quite clear. What I think should be observed is that, as it currently stands, we have advice in both "Wikipedia:Citing sources#Shortened footnotes" and "Wikipedia:Footnotes#Separating reference lists and explanatory notes" both suggesting the same "Notes" section name each for their own thing, from the looks of it by accident and not by design. --SallyScot (talk) 22:44, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't like the "use of terms" section, myself. These are ordinary words that have ordinary meanings. The word "reference" has many uses, but for our purposes can refer to either a citation ("this is a reference to a book") or a source ("my reference for this fact is the Guinness Book of World Records"). That's how the word is used. I think we should, in general, avoid the word reference if what we really mean is "footnote" or "citation" or "footnote-containing-citation". I am only suggesting on how the words should be used in this guide -- I am not discussing section titles.
My concrete suggestion is this: drop the section on "use of terms" and make a pass through the article to make sure that it's using these terms with their correct, ordinary meaning. Avoid all ambiguous uses of the word "reference." ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 22:32, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
Well, I'm sorry if the section seems aesthetically displeasing, but the section was implemented to solve a practical problem. Merely using the terms in an internally consistent manner has not proven to be sufficient. We have readers from all over the world, and from all different disciplines. Some people deeply believe certain things about the "correct" meaning of certain words, and many style guidelines have suffered from "But that's not a reference -- that's a citation!" or "That's not a reference -- that's a bibliography!" conversations. We define these terms specifically because the absence of the definitions has proven to waste time and energy. I'm perfectly satisfied with moving it to the end of the guideline, or putting it in a note at the end of the article like WP:V does with its definition of source, but I will not agree to its deletion. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:19, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Okay, yes, I guess you are right. Leave it. I guess what really bothers me is this: why do we use these terms interchangeably? "Citation" is so much more specific than "reference". Isn't this the source of at least some of the confusion? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:19, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

I'd be up for moving it. I'll put toward the bottom, just ahead of the "Tools" section if that's okay. --SallyScot (talk) 17:36, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

(Still) open issues.

In July and August, substantial changes were made to this guide and even more substantial changes are planned. I thought it would useful to list the open issues and provide links to the relevant discussions.

  • Recent changes. Many sections were rewritten (this July) with the intent of making them more useful and comprehensible to new editors and first-time readers. These edits still need to be carefully checked for accuracy, clarity and MOS issues. Most of these rewrites were in the sections "Putting together the citation" and "Adding the citation". A few things that might need to be fixed are mentioned in #Several issues.
  • Page too long, duplication and repetition. It has been pointed out that the page is far too long to be useful to new editors, and that large parts of this guide duplicate other guides, which creates synchronization problems. There are several proposals to shorten and simplify the guide. These are the proposals:
  • Quick summary has been reintroduced recently. Does this need to be discussed?
  • Access date Has this been resolved? Mentioned in #Several issues.

I hope this list helps. Please discuss these issues in their respective sections (just follow the link). As these issues get settled, I will update this list. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 19:49, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

There is still an ongoing discussion about terminology in WP:LAYOUT that spills over to other guidelines. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:49, 21 August 2008 (UTC).
Restored this from the archive. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:44, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Updated to reflect things that have been completed. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 22:14, 10 September 2008 (UTC)


This should be a readable document. I want to learn something and be about my business. This should also have a very wide audience.

I recommend splitting the article into two articles:

 Citing sources - HOWTO
 Citing sources - Why, what if, and FAQ  —Preceding unsigned comment added by Full Decent (talkcontribs) 19:06, 13 September 2008 (UTC) 
Sounds reasonable but others who know more about the structuring of these things would have to comment. There are help pages that are more focused on How To cite; they are linked to from within sections. Would it help if they were linked right from the top of this guideline? Any other suggestions for improving the readability, even if it couldn't be split up, might help. EverSince (talk) 03:53, 20 September 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Citing_sources/Example_edits_for_different_methods is a sort-of howto. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 05:19, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

Is there an "overcited" cleanup template?

On Portland Terminal Company there are way too many citations. Is there a template to tag this with? --NE2 23:41, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

None that I've seen, given that the issue is lack of citations 99% of the time. Any reason to not go ahead and just clean it up? Huntster (t@c) 01:39, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
I don't have any of the sources, so I can't know which one supports each fact. And, actually, the user is still active, so I'll ask him. --NE2 01:40, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
Many of those are to the same sources & even the same page numbers in that source. At minimum, the ref footnotes should be re-used to eliminate those that duplicate page numbers. Depending on the source, it might be relatively easy to locate information & page numbers could be omitted altogether. In the future, the general cleanup template would be adequate for this & you can detail your gripes on the article's talk page. --02:18, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Suggestion for a new lead

In line with WP:LEAD, I think this guide could use a succinct description of the elementary ideas, something like this:

Verifiability is a core content policy of Wikipedia. An article, paragraph or statement is verifiable if it is connected by a citation to a reliable source, so that reader can use the citation to find the source and verify that it supports the material. A citation is a line of text that tells the reader exactly how to find a source. For example, this is a citation:

The source may be a book, website, scientific paper, newspaper article, et cetera. Material in the body of the article is usually connected to the citation in one of three ways:

  1. Footnotes. The citation may appear in a footnote. The footnote can appear directly after the statement, allowing the reader to click on the footnote, read the citation and find the source. For example, this sentence is followed by a citation in a footnote.[1] This is the most common way to connecting statements to citations.
  2. General references. The citation may appear in a References section at the end of the article. The reader may assume that these citations can be used to verify many different aspects of the article.
  3. Author-date references. An author-date reference looks like this: (Turing 1950, p. 451). It may appear directly after the statement or (more often) in a footnote, such as the one at the end of this sentence.[2] The full citation appears in an alphabetized References section at the end of article. The reader can use the name of the author and the date of publication to find the citation.

These are the most common methods of making articles verifiable. A Wikipedia editor is free to use any of these methods or to develop new methods; no method is preferred. Each article should use the same method throughout. If an article already has some citations, an editor should study the method already in use and seek consensus before changing it. If you do not know how to format a citation, provide enough information to identify the source and others will improve the citation.

I've cut a lot of corners here, but I don't think anything I'm saying is false and it manages to introduce most of the critical material in this guide. Any objections? Comments? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 07:32, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

I don't think we need more prose meta-explanation. We just need to give people the technical details, quick and dirty. I think the quick summary should be added, and all the information on "When to cite" should be moved down. II | (t - c) 17:10, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure I know what you mean. Do you think my suggestion above is the "prose meta-explanation" or is it the "quick summary" that "should be added"? ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 17:30, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
Sorry. Yours is meta-explanation. Notice that there are no technical details in your text. Instead, you have a lot of "duh" statements -- no offense, but I hardly think many people need to be told what a citation is, or what it means for a statement to be "verifiable", or what a source is, or what a footnote is. I can't support adding more duh statements to this article, and certainly not near the top. A link to a definition, whether at Wiktionary or some other page, suffices. This is the "Quick summary" that I liked. It was quickly removed by Philip because it didn't mention Harvard (parenthetical) referencing. Personally, I don't mind if the quick summary doesn't mention Harvard referencing. Harvard referencing it a tricky method for academics who want to use it. For people looking to just put information down, the basic Cite.php method of footnotes should get them started. There seemed to be positive thoughts on that quick summary, and I'd like to add it again. If it is unsatisfactory because it excludes something, then the proper approach is to add that thing, not take it out. II | (t - c) 23:30, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
My main concern is that this guide does not seem to have a lead, in the sense of WP:LEAD. A lead should define the topic of the article and summarize the contents. Anything else is confusing an amateurish. The current version reads like a random digression.---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 00:45, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
ImpIn, you've clearly not been involved in the same Wikipedia talk page discussions that I have. Editors have dreamed up all sorts of things based on their personal distinctions between "reference" and "citation" and "source". I was quoting "Use of terms" just this week. I really think that we need to have definitions (although not in a "Quick summary" section). WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:18, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes. "Reference" is used ambiguously in Wikipedia guides, but "citation", "source" and "footnote" should not be. It's logical to define "citation" in the lead of this guide, "source" in the lead of WP:RS and "footnote" in the lead of WP:FOOT. (WP:RS' lead says "Reliable sources are credible published materials ..." and WP:FOOT begins "A footnote is a note placed at the bottom of an article that ...", There is nothing wrong with this kind of elementary (or "duh" as ImpIn calls it) definitions in the first few lines of an article, in fact, I feel strongly that this is what most readers are (consciously or unconsciously) expecting to see. When they don't see it, the article reads poorly. Wikipedia articles, even guidelines, should clearly describe their topic. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 21:13, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Reference and source are essentially the same thing, whether we're talking about this guideline or not. Citation sort of refers specifically to the reference, when it is being cited. A footnote is just a small superscript note connected to a source or a comment at the bottom of a page. I'm intrigued by how these obvious definitions could be interpreted otherwise; could you show me a link, WhatamIdoing? Describing context is OK, such as noting the distinction between footnote, parenthetical, and hybrid systems would be great in the lead, but taking three or four sentence to define obvious terms is not good in my opinion. I guess we'll just have to disagree. If you do update the lead, you should try to do so in prose rather than bullets. II | (t - c) 22:32, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Here, for one example (referencing the "Use of Terms" section that was recently deleted (by you?) from this guideline, and which I'd like to see restored promptly [buried at the end of the page is perfectly adequate for my purposes]). Here, for an example at RSN. Here, for another very long discussion involving the use of these terms. I'm sure there are more, but these are representative. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:05, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Nope, I didn't delete that section that I know of. I have no problem with it up at the top. I also don't see the relevance of it to that discussion, although I agree with you that References, as a standard term, is preferable to Bibliography. :p II | (t - c) 01:49, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Must have been an accident: [1]. It needs to be rewritten anyway. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:40, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Second Draft

After thinking about this over night, I feel very strongly that this page needs a lead along the lines I am suggesting. I would like to know if there are other editors who think that this lead would be useful, or at least, harmless.

Here is a better draft.

A citation is used to connect material in Wikipedia with a reliable source. It makes the material verifiable, since a reader may use the citation to find the source and verify that it supports the material. Verifiability is among the core content policies of WIkipedia. Citations are required for quotes, most images, material about living persons and anything that is likely to be challenged.

A citation is a line of text that identifies a source uniquely. For example, this is a citation:

An article, paragraph or sentence is usually connected to the citation in one of four ways:

  1. General reference: By placing the citation in a References section at the end of an article.
  2. Footnote: By placing it in a footnote following the sentence or paragraph it verifies (such as the following footnote).[3]
  3. Shortened note: By placing the citation in a References section and naming just author and year in a footnote.[4]
  4. Parenthetical referencing: By placing the citation in a References section and naming author and year in parenthesis. (Turing 1950, p. 451)

These are the most common methods of making articles verifiable. A Wikipedia editor is free to use any of these methods or to develop new methods; no method is preferred. Each article should use the same method throughout. If an article already has some citations, an editor should study the method already in use and seek consensus before changing it. If you do not know how to format a citation, provide enough information to identify the source and others will improve the citation.

This draft defines "citation", summarizes in three paragraphs the three main sections of the article and briefly explains (what I think are) the most important policies for a new editor to see. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 22:57, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Where some ambiguity still exists is in the terms: References, Notes, List of sources (Bibliography) and still requires some discourse. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 01:17, 18 August 2008 (UTC).
Yes, as I said above, "reference" is ambiguous, but "citation" is not. I think it's important that the reader have a fresh definition in the back of their mind as they read the article. The article should probably avoid the word "reference" whenever the words "source", "citation" or "footnote" would do. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:40, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
That looks better. You should note that general references are discouraged. I would move them to the bottom. I think it should be listed Footnote, Parenthetical, Shortened footnotes, and then general reference. 01:49, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Re: general refs discouraged. Agreed. They can go on the bottom.---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:40, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
General references are not discouraged so I'm not sure where this is coming from. Christopher Parham (talk) 23:46, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Re: General refs not discouraged. They can stay in the order they are. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:08, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
The problem still remains what to call the entire section since almost all of the references are related. My suggestion is to start with "References" (which generally indicates sources of information) as a main heading (L2) followed by the "Notes" sub-section (which can be further refined if editors choose as Endnotes or Footnotes or even Parenthetical Notes,Shortened footnotes or Citations) and follow that up with "Bibliography" which is a comprehensive bibliographical notation giving full source information for print material, with "External links" if needed as a further sub-section of the bibliography, given that it represents non-print (electronic) resources. Only if required, should a "Further reading" section be provided as this terminology actually implies that the information sources were in addition to those provided as source material. FWiW, to allay fears of a widespread departure from the forms presently in use, this system/guide uses current terms and structures with minor changes; it was actually devised by a Swedish editor and has been in place for over a year in approximately 16,000 articles, which have withstood scrutiny by FA, GA reviewers and experts in cataloging and reference sources (i.e. librarians). Bzuk (talk) 15:10, 18 August 2008 (UTC).
Okay, but this is a different issue. I'm just trying talk folks into letting me define "citation" in the lead. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 22:09, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Still needs tweaking, somewhat unnecessary additional prose and also misleading (by the way, I corrected the MoS breach in the citation; when adding text to guideline pages, we should be careful to respect WP:MOS). I agree that we don't need more meta-prose, and there's also no need to appear to favor one citation method over another. This example uses {{citation}}, which will lead many readers to believe that's the preferred citation method on Wiki. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:30, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

A few more corrections to the example given. By linking to a Wiki article in the title, you invalidate the URL, for which no accessdate was given. It might be helpful to see wider participation here from some of the people who do extensive citation work at FAC and FAR, so we don't end up with incorrect examples and deviations from best practice. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:36, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
And another; the URL in the example given doesn't link to the journal, so it's not a good example. If examples are to be given, please use a standard and more straightforward example, so readers aren't encouraged to link to external sites for possible copyvios of articles. That citation isn't technically correct, since it lists a journal as the publisher, but gives a courtesy link to another website. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:41, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

I hope the page won't mention things like "general refs are discouraged"; that's often the only way novice editors know how to add references, and something is better than nothing. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:38, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

I absolutely agree that no citation method is preferred. This draft, I hope, is very clear about this. (You'll note that the final paragraph devotes two sentences to this, and the middle part is structured as a menu of choices, inviting the reader to pick one. It even encourages editors to develop new methods, as you did in Tourette syndrome).
As far as the example goes, it was more or less randomly chosen. (It's a bit complicated for an introductory example anyway). Thank you for fixing its MOS issues.
A more serious issue is whether or not the draft is misleading. What, exactly, is misleading? Let's fix that.
You also mention that it's verbose. It's pretty tight, but I can see two sentence to that could be axed. That's about all, though, in my view. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 22:09, 18 August 2008 (UTC)
Take a look at the "shortened note" which corresponds to a "Harvard" citation style, nominally given as "author (last name only) date, and page." FWiW, that's the way the tempalate will format the example. Bzuk (talk) 23:07, 18 August 2008 (UTC).
Maybe it should mention this, too. I left it out because I'm trying to avoid any details whatsoever. The main thing the reader should gather is that there are four common citation methods and what the essential differences between them are. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 00:11, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Third Draft

A citation is a line of text that uniquely identifies a source. For example, this is a citation:

  • Ritter, R. (2002). The Oxford Style Manual. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860564-1. 

It allows a reader to find the source and verify that it supports material in Wikipedia. Citations are required for quotes, most images, information about living persons and anything that is likely to be challenged.

An article, paragraph or sentence is usually connected to the citation in one of four ways:

  1. General reference: By placing the citation in a "References" section at the end of an article.
  2. Footnote: By placing it in a footnote following the sentence or paragraph it verifies (such as the following footnote).[5]
  3. Shortened footnote: By placing the citation in a "References" section and naming only the author, year and page number in a footnote.[6]
  4. Parenthetical reference: By placing the citation in a "References" section and naming the author, year and page number in parenthesis (Ritter 2002, p. 45).

These are the most common methods of making articles verifiable. A Wikipedia editor is free to use any of these methods or to develop new methods; no method is preferred. Each article should use the same method throughout—if an article already has some citations, an editor should adopt the method already in use or seek consensus before changing it.

If you do not know how to format a citation, provide enough information to identify the source and others will improve the citation.

Well, I cut the the only sentences that I could sensibly cut and I used a less complicated example. Any remaining objections? As I said above, I feel strongly that this guide should have a real WP:LEAD. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:03, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm going with this. Let me know if there are problems. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:48, 10 September 2008 (UTC)
I haven't been following this discussion as it has developed, but I perceive a problem with the one of four ways list. Recasting the four numbered links to show both the wikilinks and the piped replacement text, I see 1. #Adding the citation|General reference, 2. #Footnote system|Footnote, 3. #Shortened footnotes|Shortened footnote, 4. #Parenthetical referencing|Parenthetical reference. Number 1 above points to the Adding the citation section of the project page. Numbers 2-4 point to subsections of that section. "Way" number one has no illustrative example,and it seems to include "way" numbers 2-4. That project page section also has another subsection, #Embedded links, which is not mentioned in this list. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 01:43, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
Yes, this isn't ideal. "General references" are described in the section pointed to, but only in one paragraph and has no section header of its own. I'd like to add a section header for it and possibly an example as well, just for symmetry. I left out "Embbeded links" because it isn't, as near as I can tell, one of the "usual ways"—it's unusual, at least in featured articles. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:09, 11 September 2008 (UTC)
I went ahead and added a header and an example for general references. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:12, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

In the lead, the term "footnote" is used to refer to the inline citation text or the numbered superscript link it creates. In the Quick summary, it is used to refer to where the citation text actually appears at the end of the article. I think the latter is technically correct?

More generally, I'm not sure it's really coming across (anywhere in the article) that there exists on Wikipedia this "automated" listing system, which is activated in some articles but not others. Yet this seems to be the main way in which Wikipedia differs from regular citation practices that newcomers might be more used to. EverSince (talk) 05:34, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

What do you think about, now that there is also the Quick summary section, moving the citation method bullet points to the top of that section? That would presumably allay the concern regarding that section appearing to only promote one method, while the additional basic how-to for the footnotes method would still be there.

And would it be OK to expand those bullet points slightly to clarify that the two footnotes methods are sort of "automated" so that where you insert the citation (or shortened citation) isn't where it actually appears in the article? (I'd like to try to clarify that within the main footnotes sections too...).

Also would it be OK to add to the lead some additional indications as to the scope of the article e.g. that it outlines when to source, how to fix sourcing problems, using citation tools etc? EverSince (talk) 03:01, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I think it would be better to mention "automated" in the section below, not in the lead. I'm opposed to adding any complicating detail to the lead section at all. The idea is to make "citing sources" appear simple and elementary, by eliminating all unnecessary detail and just stating flatly the very most important points. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 07:12, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Yep that's what I'm saying...moving the numbered list of citation methods down from the lead to the section below. And then clarifying in that list that with foonotes methods you don't place the citation in the footnotes section but that's where it will appear (doesn't necessarily need mention "automated"). And then adding some simple prose back in to the lead that outlines each section of the guideline. EverSince (talk) 07:27, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Citing informal sources

My father was a city commissioner for Pontiac and my mother is currently going through his stuff for a Historic project she is working on. There are several letters from other politicians, dinner programs, memos and so forth that she is finding. How do I cite that? I can provide copies of the letter or what-not to prove it's authenticity, but I have no idea how to cite it.

Also, she is finding several newspaper articles. Unfortunately they are just the article, the upper corner is missing so I can't establish the paper or date. How do I deal with this? Can I site the stand-alone article? What's a guy to do? padillaH (review me)(help me) 19:59, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

Unpublished works, such as private letters and memos, are not acceptable sources and cannot be used on Wikipedia.
You may be able to to determine the source of at least some newspaper articles by considering artifacts such as the typeface used or comments on the back of the page. Many newspapers are willing to let people look through back issues for more information.
Overall, though, it sounds like you're primarily working on an original research project. Perhaps if your mother publishes a book on her work, then we could cite that instead. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:40, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
I tend to agree with WhatamIdoing, that you are most likely working on original research about a certain political episode/politicians. Original Research is very important, as mankinds knowledge only increases with original research, so your project (if it is indeed original research) is a worthwhile and useful effort. However, Wikipedia is not the platform for original research, Wikipedia aims to present common knowledge. That does not mean your project is less worthy, only that Wikipedia is not the place to present it (there are others places). Arnoutf (talk) 21:29, 17 September 2008 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing, How is that any different? And by that I mean how do I cite it when she publishes them with the historic project? They will still be a loose collection of memos and letters, they'll just be in the public domain. Are you saying that, reality aside, if it ain't in book form we can't cite it? That's rather limited isn't it?
@Arnoutf, I understand the concept of Wikipedia, that's why I'm asking questions about citations and not just writing the article out of whole cloth. None of the things being presented are unknown to me (Iam his son after all), I am looking for ways to present them within the context of Wikipedia.
Both, I'm not working on the reseearch project, my mother is. After she has done the research and published the results, how do I cite that research here? There must be ways of citing unpublished public works. Not everything needs to be in book form to be information, does it? padillaH (review me)(help me) 13:12, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
Publishers provide two important services from Wikipedia's point of view: making sure that material is worthy of publication, and making the information accessible. Putting material in an archive that is open to the public, which might be what the Pontiac Hispanic History Preservation Project does, only satisfies the access part of the problem. Some of the material might be acceptable if the author is a well-known expert in a field and has published books or articles in the field. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 16:13, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
"Acceptable" how? Are you saying the physical evidence of a signed letter from Jimmy Carter is unaccptable unless someone else tells you it's a signed letter? Are you thinking about secondary sources and Notability? I've established, and can continue to establish, notability for my father (as much crap as he kicked up, he's been in a paper or two). What I'm looking for is how to cite other information that is being supplied. I don't need a point of view to list an accomplishment. No one needs to "evaluate" whether he was secretary of LUPA in the 1960's, he was. It's not a value judgment, it's a statement of fact. There is no need to give a point of view (or it's corresponding counterpoint) in order to acknowledge that Mayor Coleman Young of Detroit once declined an informal softball tournament on the auspices that city officials cars didn't run past 8 Mile Rd. I have the letter signed by the mayors assistant. It has happened. It is a fact. No point of view needed. In point of fact I thought we were supposed to keep articles non POV. Publishers provide the sole service of providing access to material. How do I cite this source material when it's not in book form? Do I have to go to OTRS? Is there no standard for citing this kind of thing? padillaH (review me)(help me) 18:31, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
What is OTRS? --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:48, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
It's basically the e-mail/trouble ticket system for Wikipedia. If, for example, someones bio is being misrepresented they can send WikiMedia Foundation an e-mail proving they are whom they claim and straitening the situation out. It has happened with, for example, James Randi regarding his views on Christianity and some other stuff. It's not any kind of threat to "go over your head", it means there's a hiccup in the system and we need professional guidance to figure this thing out. Since my father is not alive this is not a BLP issue. But there's gotta be some way of noting reality short of publishing a book for the sole purpose of correcting Wikipeida. padillaH (review me)(help me) 19:00, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

There is the issue you asked about, and the issue of where you might be headed.

You asked if something can be cited if it isn't in a book. Items that are available in an archive that is open to the public can be cited. Items that are not available to the public cannot be cited. The 14th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style in paragraph 15.284 gives this example of a manuscript citation:

1. George Creel to Colonel House, 25 September 1918, Edward M House Papers, Yale University Library.

As for where you might be headed, if you weave together a bunch of details from primary sources to support a new idea that has not been published before, that is original research. Wikipedia is not the place to publish original research. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 19:15, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Awesome! Thanks so much for that. That's a big help. And thanks for the admonition regarding OR. I also have to be very careful of WP:SYNTH so I don't start making things up out of two different pieces of information. And I very much appreciate the help. padillaH (review me)(help me) 19:26, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

How should foreign sources be translated?

I'm having some second thoughts about the Croatian national football team article. Because of specific regulations and availability issues, a few Croatian sources have been used in the article. To increase the readers research ability I have translated the most relevant parts of the foreign articles to sufficiently back up the statements, as you will see on the page. However, I think the current style is a little diminishing and out-of-place. I remember somebody saying that it could be an alternative to move all the translations on the talk page, and simply leave a note in the 'References' section which leads the readers to the translations. Would this be a better idea? Or, what other alternatives do I have? I would really appreciate opinions on such. Thanks! Domiy (talk) 08:20, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I'm not in favour of parking the translations on the talk page, as that's not really the purpose of such pages. I think you've made the right choice in putting the translations into the footnotes. What you've done seems all right to me. Alternatively, you could do something like this (click on "edit this page" to see the wikitext):
"Šimunić: Zašto nam nisu pustilu Thompsona? [Šimunić: Why didn't they allow us Thompson?]" (in Croatian). Sport Index HR. 14 October 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-12. Šimić – the terrain was unpleasant. Šimunić's biggest bother was the exclusion of Thompson at Maksimir. 'Some strange things are happening. I don't understand why they didn't allow Thompson's music before the game or even at half time when they know it lifts our spirits. I'm speechless.' [Translated into English by Domiy.] 
— Cheers, JackLee talk 11:36, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Cited news story is removed; now what???

In the article Zazacatla, there is a quote (correctly) attributed to an Associated Press news story about discoveries at the site. But the article has been taken off line. Now what?

Should I remove the quote? That seems extreme. Do I try to find another URL for the story? What if I can't?? This is an issue I run across on a regular basis?? Any insight appreciated, Madman (talk) 03:43, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I added an alternate way to get the document, by using Gale General OneFile. This is a service that many public libraries and universities make available to patrons and students. In my case, I can search from home for free using a password supplied by my local public library. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 04:04, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
I replaced the dead-link cite with an alternative source which still lives. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 04:25, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
For future reference, you might see if the website has been archived by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine at — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:42, 22 September 2008 (UTC)
This is why you don't just provide a URL. That story doubtless has a title, an author, and a publication date, and that's the information that needs to be in the citation. The URL is there for convenience, nothing more. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:46, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
FWIW, I did check They say here that they archived a copy on Sep 29, 2007 (providing that link), but but following that link produced a message saying that they were unable to serve up the archived copy. Also, the alternative supporting citation which I provided specified url, title, publisher, and accessdate. The referenced web page was undated, so I specified no date. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 01:07, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

I have raised this kind of problem at the Village pump and suggested some solutions. Ty 01:22, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Ty, thanks for raising that issue. Although this posting was about the Zazacatla article, my bigger worry was the eventually rotting of many links. I generally use more permanent references for most of my work (articles on Mesoamerica archaeology), but I still nonetheless fret when using a web-page, since I've seen so many links go head within a year's time. I'll respond there. Madman (talk) 04:12, 26 September 2008 (UTC)


Advise needs to be given on this page about not using Ibid as it is a common practice in other publications, but often leads to errors in Wikipedia pages. It is in Wikipedia:Footnotes#Style recommendations but it is true for all citation styles so it should be mentioned here. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 22:03, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Yes. This google search produces scary results. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 23:58, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Including passages in the citations

I've been experimenting with including the relevant passage (i.e. relevant sentence/s from the sources) in which I am citing my sources to try to improve verifiability on Game Boy, using either the {{citation}} template or, for my multiple references from a video game history book, including it direct from the reference. I find it easier to have the quote from the relevant passage (if applicable and provided it doesn't cause WP:SIZE problems) included in the reference; it seems easier to verify right there in the article as compared to placing it on the article's talk page. I also think this makes an article more sustainable and maintainable. Is this a good idea to do? MuZemike (talk) 00:13, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

I'd do this sparingly and only if the quotation really adds value to the article, for example, if it is a critical statement in a source that's not easily accessible, or if it's an English translation of a foreign-language source. I wouldn't suggest that editors do this routinely for every single source, otherwise this will prove to be a burden for editors, and will generally make the "Notes" sections of articles very long and possibly quite difficult to read. — Cheers, JackLee talk 04:04, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
It's also a useful approach when documenting frequently challenged statements. It's not necessary in most instances. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:38, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

Citing editorial material from a book

How do I cite something that was was written by the editor of a book by someone else? For instance, Robert Southey's whole biography of William Cowper was part of his edition of Cowper's poems; Cowper is listed as the author on the title page, and Southey as the editor. You can see how I cited that at Striking and Picturesque Delineations..., ref 10. I tried a different method for Brian Boyd's footnotes in his edition of novels by Vladimir Nabokov (using the "author" field in the "cite book" template for the editor and the "editor" field for the author)—see Pale Fire, note 36. Or some years ago, I used yet another method at Carmen (novella) (which doesn't have in-line references). Does any of these work? Do I need to abandon citation templates and use something like MLA, which would mean changing all the references in the first two of those articles?

And if this isn't the right place for me to ask, where should I ask? —JerryFriedman (Talk) 05:53, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

I would treat the biography as a chapter of the book, like this:
Wikitext: {{citation|author=[[Robert Southey]]|chapter=Life of Cowper|editor=[[William Cowper]]; Robert Southey, ed.|title=The Works of William Cowper. Comprising His Poems, Correspondence, and Translations. With a Life of the Author by the Editor, Robert Southey, LL.D., Poet Laureate, Etc.|location=London|publisher=H.G. Bohn|year=1853|volume=II|pages=110, 141}}
Output: Robert Southey (1853), "Life of Cowper", in William Cowper; Robert Southey, ed., The Works of William Cowper. Comprising His Poems, Correspondence, and Translations. With a Life of the Author by the Editor, Robert Southey, LL.D., Poet Laureate, Etc., II, London: H.G. Bohn, pp. 110, 141 
You should be able to achieve a similar effect with the {{cite book}} template, as it also has a "chapter" parameter. — Cheers, JackLee talk 09:33, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, that's very helpful. It's a lot like what I did with the Boyd reference, reversing author and editor, but yours is better. (Except I don't like the boldface volume numbers the citation templates give for books—I think that's just for journals—so I put volume numbers in titles.) I guess for the other books, I'll use "Preface" or "Notes" or Notes sur «Carmen» as the "chapter" title.
This should come up often, as an apparatus criticus is a great place to find information and commentary on classic books. Should your example be at WP:CITET? —JerryFriedman (Talk) 17:32, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
Feel free to propose that it be included there. :-) By the way, if you're using {{Citation}} and feel that the parameter name "chapter" is inapt, you can also use "contribution" which has the same effect. P.S. What's an "apparatus criticus"? — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:20, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
Thanks again. Apparently I don't know what an apparatus criticus is. The WP article, which unpretentiously calls it a "critical apparatus", says it's just the list of variants of a particular passage in a text, possibly with comments on why the editor picked the one he or she did. I knew it in the wider sense of all the material in a scholarly edition that the original author isn't responsible for: introduction, notes, critical essay(s), glossary, author biography, etc. The narrator of Pale Fire uses it in this sense, referring to his Foreword, Commentary, and Index. The dictionaries I looked at agree with our article or are ambiguous. —JerryFriedman (Talk) 00:19, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Well, I learned something new today. — Cheers, JackLee talk 02:59, 6 October 2008 (UTC)


Where do you put the punctuation in a reference?

  1. Example 1[7].
  2. Example 2.[8]
  1. ^ Turing, Alan (October 1950), "Computing Machinery and Intelligence", Mind, LIX (236): 433–460, doi:10.1093/mind/LIX.236.433, ISSN 0026-4423 
  2. ^ Turing 1950, p. 451
  3. ^ Turing, Alan (October 1950), "Computing Machinery and Intelligence", Mind, LIX (236): 433–460, doi:10.1093/mind/LIX.236.433, ISSN 0026-4423 
  4. ^ Turing 1950, p. 451
  5. ^ Ritter, R. (2002). The Oxford Style Manual. Oxford University Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-19-860564-1. 
  6. ^ Ritter 2002, p. 45
  7. ^ Example: ref goes before punctuation
  8. ^ Example: ref goes after punctuation

C Teng [talk] 16:57, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Either is acceptable so long as the article is consistent. If you are editing an existing article, conform to the established method on that article if there is one. Christopher Parham (talk) 18:40, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
I'd also add a full stop at the end of each footnote. — Cheers, JackLee talk 04:01, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
The relevant guideline is WP:REFPUNC ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 06:16, 29 September 2008 (UTC)
Okay, so it goes after. Thanks. C Teng [talk] 12:30, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Archive The Sun sources?

The Sun shut down, should source links to The Sun be pre-emptively archived? Google finds about a couple of hundred links. -- SEWilco (talk) 02:28, 1 October 2008 (UTC)

Try WebCite (, and see if the New York Sun permits archiving and caching of its content. — Cheers, JackLee talk 03:21, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
Could someone please answer my question, asked here a month ago? Thanks.--Goodmorningworld (talk) 02:03, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

How do you re-use references?

If I were to give a reference a "reference name", how would I use it again? (talk) 07:16, 14 October 2008 (UTC)

I am awesome.<ref name=awesome>[[Image:718smiley.svg|20px]]</ref> So are you.<ref name=awesome/> --NE2 07:24, 14 October 2008 (UTC)
The reply by NE2 here is whimsical, but it does answer the question. The name is apparently case-sensitive, so you might be happier using quotation marks: <ref name="awesome">. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:19, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Also, the name can contain spaces, but then you must use quotation marks.--Srleffler (talk) 03:28, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
Quotation marks are unnecessary if the reference name consists of a single word (e.g., "<ref name=Awesome>"), and I normally omit them to reduce the length of articles. But, as Srleffler has noted, quotation marks must be used if the reference name contains spaces (e.g., "<ref name="I am awesome"/>"). — Cheers, JackLee talk 03:52, 15 October 2008 (UTC)


emo does not stand for emotional hardcore. it stands for EMOTIVE hardcore. just thought that i should state that clearly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:06, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

The right place for this discussion is on the "Emo" talk page, not here. — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:22, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Citing Whole Books Published Electronically

I am using to provide me with some books electronically. Questia is a commercial service, and it publishes the book via html but with the original pagination (from its edition). This does not seem to me the same as a true 'indirect cite', where you say that book X says something because web page Y says Book X said something. Neither does it seem like a true 'web cite'.

I am leaning towards citing these books as books. I can't even give a URL, as of course, the service is commercial. So. What do you think? GPa Hill (talk) 03:47, 30 September 2008 (UTC)

Such sources seem, for all intents and purposes, books. Although you can access them online because you've paid for the service, other readers can't (you mentioned you can't provide URLs for such works). I agree that you should just treat such works as print books. In fact, even if a book has been digitized and made available online (for instance, through Google Books), it is in essence a book and I would treat it as such rather than as a website. — Cheers, JackLee talk 04:05, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
It is a book, but I would include information about how it was accessed. I don't know if you pay for each book, or you subscribe to all of them, but if customers of that service can get it at no extra cost, why not let them know it is there? Also, if it is html and the original is a printed book, there is always a potential for differences between the paper and electronic version, so the one you read should be cited. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 04:49, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
What formatting would you use to include it? I often draw information from Google Books digitized works and don't say so. —Preceding unsigned comment added by ImperfectlyInformed (talkcontribs) 07:53, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
Good point, although from a cursory glance at Questia I noticed that some works are available in PDF in which case the concern about the HTML not matching the printed text disappears. Perhaps works in HTML can be cited as follows: Joseph Smith, ed. (1987), The American Constitution: The First Two Hundred Years, 1787–1987, Exeter: University of Exeter Press (reproduced on Questia)  . — Cheers, JackLee talk 06:35, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
If a book is available online as a PDF, I simply treat it as a book but add the URL of the website where it can be accessed. — Cheers, JackLee talk 07:37, 30 September 2008 (UTC)
I agree with some of the above: if you see an actual image (or pdf) of the printed pages, cite it as a book. If you can provide a URL other readers can use, do so. Otherwise there is no need to provide details on how you accessed the information, anymore than there would be a need to say in what library you read a book, or from which bookstore you bought it. The text of the book is presumed to be the same regardless of where it is obtained. If you do not see an actual image of the printed version, for example if the text is presented in html, you should provide details on how the work was accessed. I would first try to do a Google books search on the text, though, to see if you can find the page number of the citation in the actual book. --Srleffler (talk) 03:37, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

I disagree with some of the above. You must state that it's republished documents. That what you are dealing with. There is an actual format to follow according to MLA and other formats, but I do a mix of them. If you take a look at User:CyclePat/Currently Working On/template/reference/Telecommunications Act you'll find an example reference where I've used the term "republished". See also Steam tricycle#Bibliography where I accesed a printed book via History e-book project ACLS Humanities E-book. --CyclePat (talk) 23:30, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

Marking the document as republished makes sense in the example you give, since the CanLII version is not an exact reproduction of the original. The headings and layout are different. Pages in HTML are pretty much never going to be a faithful reproduction of a book or other print document, because of the way HTML works. A PDF or image file, however, may be an exact reproduction of a book (or portion thereof). In such a case, there is little need to identify it distinctly from the printed work. By way of analogy, one doesn't need to identify reprintings of a book either, as long as the text and layout (incl. pagination) is the same. You don't need to identify in which library you read a printed book, or in which store you bought it. One presumes that all copies of a given edition of a book are identical. In the same way, one may treat a pdf or image file that exactly captures the content and layout of a book as just another copy of the book.--Srleffler (talk) 17:11, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Is citing page numbers of a book a policy?

Is this ok? I believe page numbers should be provided, or tags left until this is done...? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 01:27, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

"Wikipedia:Citing sources#Including page numbers" says: "If you are quoting from, paraphrasing, or referring to a specific passage of a book or article, you should if possible also cite the page number(s) of that passage." Note that the guideline says that editors should cite page numbers "if possible", which means this is desirable but not mandatory. The guideline also doesn't mandate that references with missing page numbers be tagged with {{Page number}} (the template potentially makes an article quite cumbersome to read, in my view). This means the template can be used at the discretion of editors. If there is a disagreement about whether the template should be used or not, this is a matter that needs to be discussed by editors on the talk page. — Cheers, JackLee talk 03:08, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Yes, but the lack of specific page numbers in a cited book source calls into question (for me, anyhow) whether the points alleged to be supported by the cite are actually supported on some unspecified page of that cited book source. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 10:18, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
I agree. Editors should strive to include page numbers wherever possible. — Cheers, JackLee talk 10:34, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
There are times when page numbers are not appropriate. For example, you might be supporting a very general concept (e.g., "A diet of primarily raw vegetables may have beneficial health effects") instead of a specific fact (e.g., "Persons that followed a diet of 60% raw vegetables by weight for three months lost an average of twelve pounds"). The first example could easily be supported by a entire book about whether or not this is a healthy diet. The second could not. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:47, 6 October 2008 (UTC)
Nonetheless, it is likely that a fact that is mentioned in a Wikipedia article is supported by a particular sentence or paragraph that summarizes the book, in which case the page number of that sentence or paragraph should be mentioned. We should be as helpful as possible to readers, and not say to them, "It's somewhere in this book – go read the whole thing." — Cheers, JackLee talk 04:25, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I like seeing page numbers wherever it's appropriate. Or even chapter numbers, or whatever chunk of a long work seems helpful. But I don't think that we can issue a blanket demand for page numbers in every single instance. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:12, 8 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure how widespread this is, but I know of cases where material from reliable printed sources has been posted verbatim on websites, but with the page numbers omitted. For example, Dennis King has placed the full text of his book online. In that case he still has it arranged in chapters, so some location information can be given. But because of cases like that we shouldn't make supllying page numbers mandatory. Of course if someone asks where an assertion can be found then the editor who added it should give all available information, at least if they're still around. If another editor sees something sourced without page numbers and makes a good faith effort to find the material but can't succeed, then {{refimprove}}, {{citequote}}, or similar tags might be used. Ultimately, if it isn't verifiable I suppose the assertion might be removed, even if cited. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 22:52, 10 October 2008 (UTC)
Don't think that this is good advice. If there is no page number, WP:AGF. One can always go to a library and verify the page number. If the book is not widely available, you can contact a librarian and ask for that information. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 00:02, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
What I meant is that if one has the book in hand and can't find the assertion, and no one can offer a page number, then the assertion is unverifiable. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 00:08, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
No, the assertion is unverified. If the citation is supporting a dubious claim and there is consensus that the source doesn't support the text in the article, the text could be removed. Otherwise, editors should assume good faith. The mere fact that you couldn't find the assertion in the source doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't there. If a reliable source is given, the text is in principal verifiable. I'm not arguing for keeping doubtful assertions here. My concern is that I have seen cases where editors enforce WP:V rigidly, removing non-controversial statements merely because a source doesn't have page numbers. This is harmful to the encyclopedia, and should be discouraged.--Srleffler (talk) 03:26, 15 October 2008 (UTC)
I disagree. A citation isn't worth much unless it can be verified, and how can you verify a specific statement unless you can find exactly where it is? Certainly in any sort of scholarly work, including in my experience college term papers, you can't get away with just vaguely citing a whole book, or even a whole article, to substantiate a specific claim. Exact page numbers are especially important for controversial topics. My own view is that specific claims and their citations ought indeed to be removed unless the citations refer to specific pages so they can be verified, and I'd like to see the policy language changed to reflect this. Strawberryjampot (talk) 15:28, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
The policy doesn't require that every editor be able to verify a statement at any moment, only that someone could verify it if they invested sufficient effort. The requirement is verifiability, not verification. If you genuinely doubt that a statement is supported by the reference, and you invest enough effort to convince yourself that the support is not there, you should bring up the issue on the talk page and get consensus to delete the statement. If the statement is controversial, you could probably delete the statement first, and then bring the matter up on the talk page. Arbitrarily deleting material that is not doubtful merely because the citation doesn't have a page number and you can't find the statement is disruptive, however.
I do agree that editors should always include page numbers in citations. They sometimes fail to do so, however. If the material in question is not doubtful or controversial, deleting the material is too extreme a remedy for this failing. Note also that the policy requiring page numbers is relatively new, so there are lots of citations on WP that were put in articles before page numbers were required.--Srleffler (talk) 17:33, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
It's also very hard to understand why a contributor creating the citation wouldn't put in page numbers. If the contributor is making a legitmate citation, then he or she must have the book or article open in front of them -- or at least they certainly ought to; citations shouldn't be made on the basis of, "Uh, this is something I read in that book by this guy once..." Why not take the few extra seconds needed to add the page numbers? As for being harmful to the encyclopedia, I think what's harmful is having it riddled with documentation that doesn't follow the universal practice in the academic and scholarly worlds of backing up specific statements with references to specific page numbers. Strawberryjampot (talk) 22:10, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
I also disagree that the policy statement "If you are quoting from, paraphrasing, or referring to a specific passage of a book or article, you should if possible also cite the page number(s) of that passage" means this is desirable but not mandatory. I think it just means that there are cases when it doesn't make sense to give page number, for instance, if you really want to refer to a whole book (e.g., "Some more recent scholars have argued that Tennyson's poetry is overrated, see for instance the book "Tennyson Is A Big Bore" by John Doe, Acme University Press, 1979") or if you're referring to an unnumbered picture plate. I really think the policy should be reworded to make it clear that page numbers are required except in cases where they don't make sense. Strawberryjampot (talk) 22:21, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
I don't think you quite understood Srleffler's response. The fact that you couldn't find support for a specific fact in looking through a thousand-page tome doesn't mean that the fact isn't in the book; it just means that you didn't happen to find it. A fact may be verifiable even though you failed to verify it.
I don't think that anyone here opposes the inclusion of page numbers. But you may have noticed that Wikipedia is written by volunteers. In actual practice, we can't force them to do anything. We can't even force them to know that we made such a rule. (Most editors know nothing about Wikipedia's policies or guidelines.) The worst possible situation is to remove a reliable source simply because the editor forgot to include the page numbers. If we write a rule that says "valid sources must include page numbers", then we will have editors deleting perfectly accurate sources on the straightforward grounds that there's no page number -- even if the fact is accurate, and even if fifteen seconds' search in the book's index would have pointed you directly to the relevant page. "I found this fact in this specific textbook" is much better than "I think this is true."
I'm not saying that people should delete incomplete references if we wrote a rule that said page numbers were required; I'm just saying that in actual practice they would. Similar problems happen all the time with other guidelines. For example, WP:External links declares that reliable sources used as references in an article do not have to comply with its rules -- repeatedly -- and people still remove links to scientific journal articles on the specious grounds that "EL says we can't link to websites that require payment or registration".
The bottom line is that I'm sympathetic to your concerns, but it's not a directly solvable problem, and I think that a plain requirement would end up doing more harm than good. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:03, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
Even with the current wording, there have been cases of editors deleting non-controversial, sourced statements because the source did not include a page number. Some editors take the requirement that featured articles comply with all policies and guidelines very seriously, and take an excessively narrow interpretation of what this means.--Srleffler (talk) 17:33, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Citing letters

I dissagree with the idea that we can't cite letters that are not published, previously discussed here: There was also another discussion regarding this matter and how the editor had a letter from a renown politician or government official. I think, if you can access the letter through access to information (ie.: Archives Canada, or Access to information) then it should be okay. Hence, if anyone gets a letter that they want to cite... simple ensure it`s from a politician... and if you`re from Canada, send it to Archives Canada. --CyclePat (talk) 00:49, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

WP:V specifically and absolutely requires that cited materials be published. See Material challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source and All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged should be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation and Articles should rely on reliable, third-party published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy and so forth. See also WP:NOR: Wikipedia does not publish original research or original thought. This includes unpublished facts, arguments, speculation...
You might be able to justify anything that is publicly available as having been (sufficiently) "published", but the policies are clear on the point. (And if you click the link you provided to a previous discussion, you'll see that after providing information about how to cite a letter, the editor points out that unpublished letters cannot be used.)
If you don't like the policy, then let me suggest that you take it up on the correct page, which is WT:V. A discussion at this "how to write a proper reference" page is never going to change the fundamental tenets of a major policy. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:44, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
Where have you been? I'd expect you to be more familiar with our policies, especially if you're going to take an authoritative tone. See WP:SPS. Also, a letter which is published online is still published. We've moved past the paper age at this point. So if a government agency publishes a letter, the letter is published. II | (t - c) 03:22, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
I think we agree, ImpIn: there's a decent chance that the specific letters are (or could arguably be considered) published.
But the original question specified "letters that are not published", and I have answered the question that was asked. WP:V and WP:NOR both prohibit the use of unpublished materials. WP:CITE can't override these policies. If an actual change in policy is wanted, then that discussion needs to happen at the actual policy page(s). WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:45, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry about the somewhat angry tone, but you apparently did not follow the link and read WP:V, or else we're talking past each other somehow. The longstanding policy on self-published (synonymous with "unpublished", I think) sources is that if they are self-published by an expert, they are allowed. Plus, they are also allowed in other circumstances when they are discussing themselves. II | (t - c) 04:32, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
No, self-published is not the same as unpublished. The letter I wrote to my grandmother recently is not self-published: it is unpublished. My grocery list is not self-published: it is unpublished. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:56, 16 October 2008 (UTC)
Sometimes an image is worth a thousands words. Take for example this Image:Supreme court opinion Amsitad.gif which is a letter from the US Supreme Court regarding La Amistad. This was published, and then about 100 years or more later now republished (online) by the US National archives. All I'm saying is that if you access to a letter from, for example, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau that you found in grandpa's trunk, then I see no problem in using that letter. However, it would be nice to ensure it's veracity or verifiability... so I think we need to ensure that there is some sort of accessibility. I believe anything and everythin can be accessed throught the National Archives. I also believe you can get some of your stuff published there... If it's not already. ie.: An official letter from the prime minister may already be there. The hint here: (or maybe the question) ensure the letter gets republihed.? But what is reliable? I think the Nat. arch. is reliable.--CyclePat (talk) 02:59, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
If the letter is in the National Archives, and those archives are available to the public, the letter is published. If it is not in some way available to the general public, it is unpublished. This is what "published" means. Whether the letter is in your grandpa's trunk is unimportant. The letter is either published or it is not. You can only use it if it has been published (made available to the general public).--Srleffler (talk) 17:41, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

A broadcast is a little different, Nevertheless, during our elections campaign here in Ottawa, I actually got a phone call from Stephen Harper. It was a voice recording (automatic system), but similarly... the conservative party in fact published this message to my answering machine. (and most likely many other peoples). He was campaigning for my vote. I would like to include this information. I think it's worthy of inclusion. With this example though, I'm even more confused as to whether our current rules make sense or concure with this philosophy? --CyclePat (talk) 02:59, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Depends on if it makes sense. If it is a page about Harper's policies and personal feelings, sure. If it is a page about science, probably not. Please try to learn things on your own by reading independently. II | (t - c) 04:48, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
Your last sentence there might be considered uncivil. Please consider redacting it.--Srleffler (talk) 17:51, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
CyclePat, you personally may see no problem with using an unpublished letter that you found in an old trunk to support something in an article. However, Wikipedia's policies do not allow this. Once something is actually published (such as through the National Archives), then it may be acceptable (depending, as always, on how it's used). WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:46, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
A robo-call like that is a complex case. While it's published in the sense that it was [presumably] distributed to a broad segment of the population, it might still fail to be verifiable because there may not be any publicly-available recordings of the call. It has to be at least in principle possible for somebody to verify what the source says.--Srleffler (talk) 17:51, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
We have the same issues with television and radio broadcasts. Unless they're archived somewhere, we can't use them, because there's no way to determine whether or not the show actually said what it's claimed to have said. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:22, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
Probably nearly all TV broadcasting is archived somewhere, and they all have been exposed to the public. Whether the archives are open to the public is the main question. But are archives of general newspaper stories open to the public? Not as a general rule. Sometimes they have to be purchased, sometimes they just plain aren't available unless you happen to be at a good library. Try getting AP stories from the '50s, a relatively easy task. That doesn't mean such stories can't be used as sources if you happen to have the sources available. If your library, for example, carries old magazines or TV recordings which most other people won't have available, those can be used as sources. II | (t - c) 21:00, 17 October 2008 (UTC)
Actually, most American newspapers maintain archives of their own work, and these are normally available to the public without charge. Usually, all you have to do is show up and ask. I've flipped through 100-year-old newspapers this way. Some places don't even require an appointment. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:01, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
Always assuming the newspaper still exists. I've got an issue with citing articles published in newspapers that have been defunct for over 40 years. I have the article, it exists, I can hold it, but others are going to have a rough time finding this because there is no reference point. The paper's gone. If my mother hadn't saved them and published them in an archive there'd be no way to find them again. Padillah (talk) 14:20, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Citing a flash website

At Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo mozzarrella) there are several points that are claimed to be substantiated by the website but since the entire website is in flash, there doesn't seem to be a way to point to a particular part of the website. Is there a way to cite this source?  —Chris Capoccia TC 07:42, 18 October 2008 (UTC)

I think you'll just have to use the main URL of the website, like this: "{{citation|title=History|url=|publisher=Mozzarella di Bufala Campagna DOP, Consorzio di Tutela|year=2008|accessdate=2008-10-18}}". — Cheers, JackLee talk 10:27, 18 October 2008 (UTC)
You can often use "View Source" to get a direct URL. I think that will work on that page. —JerryFriedman (Talk) 18:26, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
I tried that, but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking out for. The HTML source of the page in my example above is reproduced below. — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:41, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1">
<title>Mozzarella di bufala campana D.O.P. - Consorzio Tutela</title>

<body background="images/bgr.jpg" leftmargin="0" topmargin="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0">
<table width="900"  border="0" align="center">
    <td><object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" codebase="
         flash/,0,29,0" width="900" height="550">
      <param name="movie" value="index.swf">
      <param name=quality value=high>

      <embed src="index.swf" quality=high pluginspage="
       ShockwaveFlash" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="900" height="550"></embed>

Sorry, they were more clever than I thought. There are files with names like (as I found by guessing), but you can't see them. I should have checked before I made the suggestion. —JerryFriedman (Talk) 18:54, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Citation jumping

Say I have a book that, on page 126, says "The sky is blue." I add the text and cite it in my article: "The sky is blue.<ref>Jones, 1956, p. 126.</ref>" Then someone comes along later and changes it to "The sky is red.<ref>Jones, 1956, p. 126.</ref>"

Do we have a name for this practice or a particular policy on it? Cheers. HausTalk 13:54, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

It's called vandalism, and should be reverted on sight. Unfortunately, this sort of insidious editing (changing dates of birth, place names, etc), which is difficult to spot, is not uncommon. Usually only editors who have worked on the article closely will notice that false information has been introduced into the article. — Cheers, JackLee talk 15:08, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
Not to parse words, but it's only vandalism if the edit is clearly made in bad faith. I've noticed several cases where editors will, assuming they're improving content, slide unsupported content into a cited sentence. Perhaps a better example would have been "Mozart's favorite cheese was gorgonzola.<ref>Jones, 1956, p. 126.</ref>" being changed to "Mozart's favorite cheese was brie.<ref>Jones, 1956, p. 126.</ref>" where the editor truly believes the latter to be true, but the reference supports the former. Make sense? HausTalk 15:31, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
Could you provide any diffs as working examples? ⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 15:47, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
Sure - the first line of this diff is an example of what I'm talking about. The source supports the claim on the left, but not that on the right. HausTalk 16:02, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
It certainly isn't vandalism...
Do you contest that the added clause is factual? It may not be included in what you cited originally but it may not matter unless you believe it to be false. Your cited content is still included, it has just been prepended with a clause. It looks like the editor was simply working with what was there in the content...I don't see that its nature was too terribly altered.⋙–Berean–Hunter—► ((⊕)) 16:26, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
The new claim is iffy enough that I'd like to see a source. Newly-built tankers in 1953 were about double the size of newly-built tankers in 1945, therefore the size was arguably not "more or less the same for 25 years after World War II." However, the big picture concerns me more than this particular instance. There doesn't even seem to be any phraseology for this kind of edit. HausTalk 16:55, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
I'm not any kind of expert, but it seems to me that the editor has added uncited content to the article, and you can add a citeneeded tag. In general, though, I don't know the phrase you're looking for, if it exists. In general also, there's a problem with determining the "scope" of citations, which I don't know a phrase for either, but in this example I think a citeneeded tag solves the problem till the factual question can be worked out.
By the way, I read the new material as saying the size of tankers didn't change from 1920 to 1945 (roughly), not applying to the period after WW II. —JerryFriedman (Talk) 17:11, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
Your point about a citation's scope is very good — it's more fundamental than mine, and it's easily solvable in xml/html-like environments like wikimarkup. A construct like "<xref name="jones-126" src="Jones, 1956, p. 126.">Mozart's favorite cheese was gorgonzola.</xref>" could address the scoping issue. HausTalk 18:39, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
I think your original examples (blue/red; gorgonzola/brie) were not very clear. If a source clearly says one thing and an editor comes along and changes it to something else which is patently contradicted by the source, then, as has been pointed out by others, at the very least this should be reverted as unreferenced information. I'm not sure I would even tag it with {{fact}} if the new information flat-out contradicts an existing source and the editor has not bothered to add a reference or explain the discrepancy. What I've often done is to put in the edit summary something along the lines of: "Reverted good faith edit: info is unreferenced - please reinsert if a reference can be found". On the other hand, tagging may be in order if the new information is not contradicted by the existing reference. — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:35, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
Reverting on sight is appropriate, plus a talk page explanation (or edit summary, if it's obvious enough). You might alternatively want the {{Failed verification}} tag, which adds [not in citation given] to the text. —Preceding unsigned comment added by WhatamIdoing (talkcontribs) 20:19, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Help from a historian please.

This article covers two separate topics. First, how to format individual citations. Second, how to present citations in articles. (Currently the second topic is covered in the middle of the article - surrounded by discussions of the first topic.) Is there some reason why the two separate topics are not in two separate articles? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 02:48, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Anyone have an answer for this question? Anyone? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 22:27, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
Why should it be a historian that answers your question? :-) Seriously, though, I think the answer needs to come from the editors who are primarily involved with maintaining this guideline. — Cheers, JackLee talk 06:51, 23 October 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I believe there are three main topics: when to cite, formatting a citation, adding the citation to an article. The article is complicated mostly because there are several cases of "when", several ways to "format" and several methods to "add", so each of these sections contains a lot of detail, enough for a good sized guideline by itself. The whole guide also covers various other less important topics related to citations: "Citation problems" and a few other things. I think that, at the moment, most of us think this is all the same topic, really: "how to use citations", in general. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:51, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I think you should change the first line or change the "nutshell". The language is repetitive. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:51, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

How do I re-use a numbered citation?

In MS Word (or any decent program), it is possible to make a link for endnotes. This allows me to use the minimal intrusive citation format (numbered endnotes), while still re-using them when the same source at the beginning of an article needs to be cited later for a different fact. How do I do this in Wiki?TCO (talk) 11:01, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

See WP:FOOT#Naming a ref tag so it can be used more than once. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 11:29, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
ok. looks complicated. guess I need to play with it.TCO (talk) 11:46, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
See also the section "How do you re-use references?" above. — Cheers, JackLee talk 14:39, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

what about the overuse of "citation needed"

Most times, "Citation Needed" is a good thing. (citation needed) However lots of Wiki editors (Wikipolice) OVERUSE "citation needed" (citation needed) particularly when observation is fact(citation needed), such as when salt is used as a preservative "citation needed" (citation (who?) and Mayans and Incas and every tribe of man that ever encountered salt knew it. (citation needed) They didnt need a citation. (citation needed) They used it and it worked. (citation needed) Salt dries out bacteria and viruses, killing them, by the way. (citation needed) I havent been to Salt in a while, i trust annoying counterproductive overuses of "citation needed" can be avoided in the future. (Citation needed) I hope my overuse of "citation needed" drives home a point. It can ruin a great read of a good article. (Citation needed) and usually the citations never get cited. (citation needed) I recommend that wikipolice that want to "citation needed" take it upon themselves to research and properly cite the article in question rather than leave it to someone else who really isnt that interested. (citation needed) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:49, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for your observations. References are desirable for uncontroversial statements of fact (e.g., "salt is used as a preservative") as they help to increase Wikipedia's credibility (see "Wikipedia:Citing sources#When to cite sources"), but are probably not mandatory. Nonetheless, an article that is inadequately referenced is unlikely to achieve Good Article status. More specific facts, I think, do need referencing, especially if they are challengeable (see "Wikipedia:Citing sources#When adding material that is challenged or likely to be challenged"). For instance, if an article states "Mayans and Incas used salt" and "salt dries out bacteria and viruses, killing them", I would expect to see references backing up these assertions. A reader might ask, for example, whether Mayans and Incas had the technology to produce salt in a crystalline form, and whether it is the drying effect of salt that kills bacteria and viruses or whether salt is somehow toxic to such pathogens. If you feel that some {{Fact}} tags are unnecessary, start a discussion on the talk page. Also, while it would be great if editors who added such tags to articles took the time to provide the missing references, at the end of the day "[t]he burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material" (see "Wikipedia:Verifiability#Burden of evidence"). If the person who has added a fact does not back it up with a reference, another editor is justified in removing it. — Cheers, JackLee talk 14:34, 28 October 2008 (UTC)
With Google so easy to use and so powerful, it is much more thoughtful to add a reference, than to be a ballbuster with negative tags. Some people here seem like that's what they mostly do.TCO (talk) 17:56, 28 October 2008 (UTC)

--While it is understandable that Wikipedia is working extremely hard to demonstrate its rigor-du-jour with regards to citations, the overuse/abuse of citations, particularly in the social sciences is a discredit to academic discourse. Sadly it has been fueled in the last half-century by contemporary systems of peer-review and promotion that encourage name-dropping, as it were, for the sake of multiple listings in the citation indexes. One would indeed think that professionals, especially those educated within a discipline, would share some core of knowledge to which too-oft repeated references were not necessary. How much longer will we have to read the same basic literature reviews, for example, in every similarly themed article written within a five year period (at least). Is this contribution to knowledge, or contribution to self-promotion, faulty academic systems, and wasted paper or cyber space? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:15, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree that this "citation needed" can be used too often. Someone actually requested a citation for "A week is a period of time longer that a day and shorter than a month." Will adding citations to this improve credibility? I think it would have the opposite effect. It is interesting to note that you won't find such citations in most encyclopedias. Since no one is checking these citations, they are of limited use anyway. They only make you feel good. There is an additional issue that many of the cited sources are not 'neutral point of view.' This then makes writing a balanced and fair article even more difficult. DrG (talk) 09:05, 5 November 2008 (UTC)
I keep this useful link handy, for removing excessive tags: Subject-specific common knowledge

Johnbod (talk) 15:01, 5 November 2008 (UTC)

YouTube as a reference

I don't know how common, or acceptable, YouTube is as a reference, but apparently it now features the capability of jumping to a specific point in a video, by adding a timestamp to the URL. For example: Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 09:43, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the useful information. Linking to a YouTube video is all right provided that the video has not been uploaded to YouTube in breach of copyright. However, if the information can be referenced to a print or online source, I think that would still be preferable. — Cheers, JackLee talk 15:06, 26 October 2008 (UTC)
Sure. But it can be highly useful to show a particular kind of behavior or action. E.g. as source for a bird's song. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 01:50, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Absolutely! — Cheers, JackLee talk 08:38, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Avoiding abbreviations

I remember reading somewhere in the guidelines that it's preferable not to abbreviate author names and journal titles in citations, but I can't pinpoint where exactly I read it. Any idea where it is, or was it removed? Thanks. Phenylalanine (talk) 02:53, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

I can say from experience that with some names, like Hungarian and particularly East Asian ones, it is dead frickin important not to abbreviate. Journal titles... you may find this section on my userpage useful. Sure, I abreviate them whenever possible - the abbreviations were made to be unique after all. Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 01:36, 6 November 2008 (UTC)
Thanks Dysmorodrepanis, you have built quite a list. I feel that unless the journal title is very long and well know by its abbreviated name (PNAS is an example), the average reader (not necessarily an expert in the relevant field) might not recognize the abbreviated journal name—indeed, it is not always easy to guess what exactly the abbreviations stand for (especially when there is no wikilink). --Phenylalanine (talk) 22:29, 6 November 2008 (UTC)

Proper Citation of Emails

How would one properly site information recieved from an official source via an email correspondence? --Criticalthinker (talk) 03:42, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

E-mails aren't an ideal source as they aren't publicly accessible and thus difficult to independently verify, but I'd just put something along the following lines: "Personal e-mail communication dated 11 November 2008 between Jacklee and Mr C. Thinker, Director of the Wikipedia Editors' Circle." — Cheers, JackLee talk 05:06, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
If the email is published then you cite the publication (or web page or whatever) in which it appears. If it isn't then citing it probably violates wp:NOR. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 13:53, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
The problem would be WP:verifiability, not original research. A reader would have no way of knowing what the email says or that it was actually sent by said official source. --NE2 14:25, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
I wonder if it would be possible to make use of the Open-source Ticket Resource System (OTRS) in the same way that it is used at the Wikimedia Commons. At the Commons, when an editor has obtained e-mail confirmation from an external party for an image to be licensed freely, he or she forwards the e-mail correspondence to The correspondence is verified by a volunteer working the OTRS e-mail queue, who then places an OTRS ticket on the image description page (see, for example, "commons:Image:RichardHakluyt-BristolCathedral-stainedglasswindow-whole.jpg"). Perhaps a similar procedure could be developed for an editor to forward e-mail correspondence with an external party to OTRS, and for the OTRS volunteer to add an OTRS ticket in the footnote containing the reference to the e-mail, like this:
Personal e-mail communication dated 11 November 2008 between Jacklee and Mr C. Thinker, Director of the Wikipedia Editors' Circle. (OTRS Wikimedia.svg The correspondence has been archived in the Wikimedia OTRS system; it is available here for users with an OTRS account. To confirm the permission, please contact someone with an OTRS account.)
The issue will need to be raised at "meta:Talk:OTRS". — Cheers, JackLee talk 15:09, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
As an unpublished source, it's not usable per WP:V. But the OTRS idea is creative. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:10, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
I've posted a query at "meta:Talk:OTRS#Use of OTRS system to verify e-mail correspondence between editors and other parties". Let's see if anything comes of it. — Cheers, JackLee talk 15:14, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Citing a Database

How would you contsruct a reference to a database? --neon white talk 14:12, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Can you give an example? — Cheers, JackLee talk 15:06, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
That's what i was hoping for in posting. --neon white talk 17:34, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
It's a bit difficult to comment without knowing what form the database is in. Is it a website (in which case what's the URL)? A Microsoft Access database? A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet? A printed book? A box of punched cards? — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:12, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
It really would apply to any reliable and verifiable database online or otherwise. The database that came up in discussion is the RIAA online database of record certification [[2]]. This is commonly used to verifiy Music recording sales certification and is considered the best source for this. As i understand it you cannot link directly to a results page so it's necessary to construct some kind of reference in order for it to be verifiable but i'm not sure where to start. --neon white talk 17:56, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
My suggestion is that if you can't link to the search results page, you will have to link either to the website's home page or the database search page (see the previous discussion at "Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 24#Citing a flash website"), like this:
Wikitext: {{citation|title=Gold and platinum: Search results: Coldplay|url=|publisher=[[Recording Industry Association of America]]|accessdate=2008-11-18}}
Result: Gold and platinum: Search results: Coldplay, Recording Industry Association of America, retrieved 2008-11-18 
If you want to be more precise, you can add a phrase like "using the keyword 'Coldplay' in the 'Artist' field" after the citation template. — Cheers, JackLee talk 20:43, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Minor revision for italics & Rp example

20-Nov-2008: In case you were wondering, "Who is the fool that will fix/italicize all those book and magazine titles in the examples?" ...that would be me. I also revised the guideline example for using Template:Rp appending page numbers:

  • italicized 18 book/magazine titles, needing use of "<nowiki>";
  • reworded example for Template:Rp, to put small page number after footnote "[x]":
The page number (here "[number]") is placed after the footnote
ref-tag, like so: <ref>[ref information]</ref>{{rp|[number]}}.

All examples are now precisely punctuated, so users can copy/paste them for use in articles. -Wikid77 (talk) 11:48, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Reference library category

In order to help facilitate easier location of potential sources of offline information to help verify the notability of article subjects and contents, I have created Category:WikiProject reference libraries and placed into it all of the reference library pages of which I am aware. Please add more project reference libraries to this category if you know of more. Additionally, feel free to create new reference library pages for any particular project as well. They can be very useful. ···日本穣? · Talk to Nihonjoe 20:08, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Call for participation in discussion

Please review the discussion here


and comment on whether the page should be moved back to article space. Thanks. - Ac44ck (talk) 21:54, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Discussion on new citation template

Hi. I've started a discussion at MOS here regarding a new citation template I've created. Your feedback would be appreciated. //roux   11:59, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Footnote 5

It was suggested over at WT:Layout to move the material in footnote 5 (the long footnote) into the text. I don't feel strongly about it, but I generally think of footnotes as "offhand" comments, and a long footnote doesn't feel "offhand" to me. Any objections? - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 01:04, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Well, I know you only asked for contrary comments but, since no one is saying anything, I'll add this comment to remind folks that your question is out there (and to add that I have no objection). Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 02:32, 26 November 2008 (UTC)


Nofootnotes links to this page via inline citations
Inline citations is no longer mentioned anywhere on the page. It never was specifically defined. Censors, prove you aren't sloppier and lazier than contributors. Anarchangel (talk) 17:16, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Are you saying that Wikipedia:Citing sources#Inline reference is not sufficient? If so, how would you improve it? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 23:42, 1 December 2008 (UTC)
The project page for this article mentions inline citations in the inline reference section. Subsections of that section discuss inline references in some detail. Perhaps the {{nofootnotes}} template should link directly to that particular section of this project page. Perhaps that template should complain about a lack of "inline references" instead of or in addition to complaining about a lack of "inline citations". -- Boracay Bill (talk) 23:20, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

How often to cite with the same source

I've checked here and some of the other links and can't seem to find any info on how often to cite from the same source. Specifically I'm talking about when multiple paragraphs can be cited or when multiple parts of a paragraph can, but not all (like the beginning and end, but not the middle), or where part of the paragraph can be cited by 2 sources and 1 of the same sources can be used to cite more of the paragraph. Do I put 1/ref of each type per paragraph, section (for the former), or what?じんない 23:33, 7 December 2008 (UTC)

It should be clear what text in the article has come from what source. Otherwise material can be challenged and possibly removed on the basis that the source does not validate it. If multiple paragraphs come from one source it is a good idea to put the ref at least at the end of each paragraph. There is always the possibility of a problem if someone inserts new material in the paragraph, not from the same source, so you may want to add the ref to some/all of the sentences in the paragraph, depending on the nature of the content. If the beginning and end of a paragraph are from one source and the middle from another, then they all need to be referenced, i.e. beginning (ref 1), middle (ref 2), end (ref 1). If the beginning is take from two sources and the rest from only one, accuracy demands: beginning (ref 1, ref 2), the rest (ref 1). And so on. Best to over- rather than under-reference. Ty 23:54, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the info.じんない 02:44, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Monthly updates?

With all the great work that's been done here over the past few months, I'm inclined to throw WP:CITE into the pile of style guidelines at WP:Update that gets updated (usually by me, but volunteers are welcome) every month. If anyone disagrees, stop me now. Technically, this involves adding it to CAT:GEN. - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 14:42, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Combining {{Harv}} and <ref></ref>

I left a comment at the subpage, Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Further considerations; here is is, reproduced for your convenience:

The section Wikipedia:Citing sources/Further considerations#Using Harvard and Citation templates details how to use both {{Harv}} and php ref tags together. I have always found this citation style annoying, especially in articles with only a few refs, because it causes the footnote itself to be linked (which makes the reader think "a-ha, a link I can click to read this source!" clicking on the link does nothing more than send the reader down about half an inch on the same page, since the footnotes and the references are in adjacent sections anyway. In fact, the first time I came across an article written this way, my first thought upon clicking the link was that the refs were broken and I would need to fix something; combining the Harv template with php references in this way is just not reader-friendly or beneficial.
It might be useful in cases where an article has an extremely long list of references and it would be difficult to find the appropriate reference in the list when all you have to go by is a shortened footnote. But in the majority of cases I've seen, it's just annoying—when I see "Miller 2005, p. 23" in a footnote, it's not very hard for me to figure out that that's referring to Miller, E (2005). "The Sun", Academic Press. in the list of references. In my opinion, {{Harv}} should only be used with parenthetical citations, where the citation itself is embedded in the main text far away from the list of references.
Any thoughts? —Politizer talk/contribs 19:28, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
It's a hybrid thing, and I agree that it's not Harvard as we know it. I've done a couple of articles using the Harvnb system, and once you get used to it (give it time, give it time), it is quite harmless to the reader. I think it just about is quicker than scrolling down, but I've given up using the system myself because it really can be a pain to write: it's fiddly, and there are so many bits that can and will go wrong. A simple shortened ref or parenthetical Harvard are much easier to write: one hardly knows one is doing it, whereas you have to really scrunch your eyes up and concentrate to construct the pinball refs, as I call them. qp10qp (talk) 20:51, 7 December 2008 (UTC)
I agree that it is awkward and annoying. My preferred way to indicate page numbers is Template:Rp, which looks like this [1]:20 and can be added with a simple {{rp|[page number]}}. II | (t - c) 23:25, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

Page number bug in Zotero?

It seems that a lot of edits Citation bot (talk · contribs) is making relate to the number of pages in a book, not a specific page. I think these numbers are generated when importing data via Zotero. For example, that's how I added books to Keith Vinicombe. You can recognise such data by the presence of double colons. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 13:05, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

Referencing video?

Are there any official guidelines on how to format a reference to a television programme, or a film? This article seems to deal exclusively with written sources, rather than visual ones. - • The Giant Puffin • 00:03, 11 December 2008 (UTC)

There is {{Cite video}}, but you may wish to simply cite the program manually. Some don't like that particular template. Huntster (t@c) 01:44, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Yes, there aren't really any official. That's why there are so many options. See Wikipedia:Citation templates for more templates and examples. – Alex43223 T | C | E 08:20, 12 December 2008 (UTC)<
I've done one from Rogers TV in Ottawa. You may find it listed on one of my user subpages. See User:CyclePat/Currently_Working_On#Video. --CyclePat2 (talk) 19:29, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

IPA citations

Hello! What is the current procedure when including an IPA pronunciation in an article? I'm currently adding the citation of where I found the pronunciation whenever possible.--el Aprel (facta-facienda) 20:31, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

That sounds all right. — Cheers, JackLee talk 14:46, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Citations within sentences

I think item 2 near the top of the Citing_sources#How_to_present_citations section should be changed to "2. Footnote: By placing it in a footnote, with a link following the assertion (whether a clause, sentence, paragraph, etc.) that it supports.[3]". At the moment it sort of implies that links cannot be inside a sentence. I think that sometimes[2] links need to be, but not always. The footnote section's example ("the sun is pretty big,[1] ..." seems to agree. Open4D (talk) 14:37, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

How can you avoid repetition of reference details - having only a, b, c at foot?

In the introduction to an article, I have included one or two bits of information which are taken from subtopics later in the article. This repetition of information includes three references. It is inelegant to have three duplicate references in the footnotes, albeit separated by others. I have searched the citation article and further material referenced at the end of that article but cannot find anything explaining how to achieve a single footnote preceded by superscript instances a, b, c, etc. Would I need to use templates like cite book and citation - which I would prefer to avoid? Would be grateful for some advice.--AlotToLearn (talk) 01:12, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

Does this help? Wikipedia:Footnotes#Naming a ref tag so it can be used more than once qp10qp (talk) 02:01, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, that explains it. Glad it is so easy--AlotToLearn (talk) 05:38, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

Circular references...

WP may want to add to its citation policy a passage which justifies removal of cites and information which is taken from third party sites which mirror older versions of WP articles. Foofighter20x (talk) 03:21, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

That's covered in WP:V#Self-published_sources, where it is currently phrased: "Articles and posts on Wikipedia, or other websites that mirror Wikipedia content, may not be used as sources." Gimmetrow 03:31, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

Notes-Footnotes-References vs Notes-Citations-Bibliography

I'd like to discuss this change, which promotes the use of ==Bibliography==, which has been widely deprecated as potentially confusing (is that the "books [and other stuff] I used when writing this article" or "books written by this particular author"?) for -- well, years, as far as I can make out.

A quick search shows almost three times as many articles (mainspace) containing "footnotes" as "bibliography" -- and almost none that actually use ==Citations==, which this guideline recommends. There are ten times as many "footnotes" articles as "citations" articles, and of the first 500 "citations" articles in my search, exactly three (Ecosystem Management Decision Support, Alpha Phi Alpha, and Michel Coiffard) used that term as a section heading for short footnotes. Most of the rest contain the word "citations" in reference to a military honor or are talking about it as a scholarly term, in an article like Citations.

Compare these numbers:

Quoted search term # in mainspace % of first 500
used for section name
Extrapolated use
(all 2.5M Wikipedia articles)
Footnotes 160,750 281/500 = 56.2% 90,000+
Bibliography 49,185 77/500 = 15.4% 7,500*
Citations 16,890 3/500 = 0.06% 100

(*Note that this search for "Bibliography" as a section heading includes all instances of "Bibliography" being used in the "Books written by this subject" sense as well as in the "References" sense.)

So as a practical matter of documenting normal, accepted practice (that is, meeting the basic goal of every guideline on Wikipedia), this particular recommendation is a complete failure. We have promoted the use of a section heading that is probably used in a whopping one hundred articles. We have completely ignored a section heading that is probably used in ninety thousand articles.

I would like to change the text to reflect the most widely used practice, like this:

This would replace the existing second bullet point, which recommends using Notes-References-Bibliography or Notes-Citations-Bibliography. Does anyone have any objection to this change? WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:40, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

I can't see the existing existing second bullet point, ever recommended using "Notes-Citations-Bibliography" - with "citations" as an actual section header? Johnbod (talk) 19:05, 24 December 2008 (UTC)
It says, "(A variation on this approach is to name the last two sections "Citations" and "References" as in Pericles)," which certainly indicates using the word "citations" as an actual section header. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:50, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

I agree with deprecating 'bibliography'. I'm not sure Notes-Footnotes and full citations in the References section is the most widely used practice, as Notes-References is probably more widely used, and I don't think the former should be promoted over the latter. But those two systems seem like the best, and I endorse encouraging them. II | (t - c) 00:12, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
That's the system suggested in the first bullet point in that section (there are several suggested). WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:58, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Agree. To make guideline match practices. -- Quiddity (talk) 19:50, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
I am very strongly in favour of "Bibliography"'. A bibliography is a great chance for Wikipedia to do what it does best, provide a starting point for further research. The first stage in any study of a subject is to find a bibliography. Except online, one can't really find bibliographies until one has a book on the subject. In my opinion, searching for bibliographies online is a very random business, and often one ends up at Wikipedia. However, the only way one can find a bibliography on Wikipedia is if there is a section (or article) title with that name. Many of our bibliographies are actually lurking under other names.
One objection to "Bibliography" is that it is may not be complete. That's the nature of Wikipedia, but what we provide may at least give a start. Another objection is that any booklist in an article should restrict itself to the sources cited. I disagree that this needs to be the case, since the footnotes section will show which books are cited; if there are further ones in the bibliography, I don't think that matters. On the latter point, I would add that since citations may come and go, it is more or less impossible to preserve the umbilical relation between citations and book list over time: sooner or later, a ref will go while the source remains in the list. qp10qp (talk) 01:51, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
You seem to have confused the section under discussion with the one that is commonly called "Further reading" (a great list of books you might wish to read if you want to learn more than what is presented in the article). The section under discussion is solely for the purpose of listing the sources that were actually used in constructing the article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:46, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
No, I haven't confused it. It's a deliberate proposal that the two be amalgamated. The footnotes section makes it perfectly clear which books and articles have been cited. qp10qp (talk) 11:40, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
You are proposing that which two be amalgamated? The Further reading section and the section containing citations to article sources as part of wp:layout#Notes, Footnotes, or References? (If that is the case then you should probably make that proposal at wp:layout.) Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 13:56, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
Qp10qp, your proposal to merge lists of 'stuff I used' and 'stuff I didn't use' into a single large section should be handled separately from this issue. Do you have an opinion on the specific question here, which is whether this guideline should accurately document the widespread practice instead of promoting the least-used section headings for short citations? WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:35, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

I am against using Bibliography as a section name for anything other than works published by the subject of a biography article. --PBS (talk) 09:17, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

A bibliography can be broken into sections, though. See Mary Shelley for an example. No "Further reading" there, by the way: it would have run into hundreds of titles.qp10qp (talk) 11:40, 20 December 2008 (UTC)

Agree with WAID concerning Citations, and thanks for the research; it isn't used enough to justify the recommendation. Qp, my feeling is that slightly more Wikipedians use the word "Bibliography" as the others are saying here. I have a slight preference to use a different word or phrase for the concept you're describing, but if we do say that some people use Bibliography in your sense, we should also mention that it might be confused with the other meaning of the word (and if we mention it both here and at Layout, then we should probably mention the possible confusion over there, too). - Dan Dank55 (send/receive) 04:01, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

I'm also finding the ==Citations== is being used in strange ways in some articles. Taranto#Citations lists some ancient quotations. Some bios of researchers use ==Citations== to boast about the number of times their publications were cited (or, worse, to provide a list of papers that cite them). At least one company used it to describe their publicity achievements: it listed every instance in which the music label got some ink. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:07, 22 December 2008 (UTC)
  • I'm also generally against using "bibliography", which raises expectations of comprehensiveness and selection for quality that are rarely met - many German WP articles have massive examples, often rather odd. "Further reading" is usually more appropriate. I think books & articles actually cited, or at least seen, should be kept separate from those not seen. Johnbod (talk) 19:05, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

Consider the case of James Strang

I'm looking for advice on a relatively common problem with complex references. Consider the problem with the organization of references in James Strang. The article contains a divided list of books that were used in building the article (full citations and short citations). It also contains a list of non-book sources used to support specific statements. These are strangely merged with the short citations, even though they are not short citations.

How do you list these? Do you:

  • Create full and short citations for every single item, including websites?
  • Use three separate sections (one for short citations, one for full citations of those items that have matching short citations, and one for full citations without matching short citations)?
  • Merge all citations (full and short) into a single list, using the full citation for the first instance of any book that we cite for multiple pages?
  • Demand that the developers finally provide a solution to this problem?

I'm open to all ideas. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:59, 22 December 2008 (UTC)

I'm old school. I merge footnotes and citations into a single section called "Notes". I provide a full citation for the first occurrence of a particular source in the notes, and thereafter use a short citation. The full citation also goes into a "References" section. It seems to me that readers might find it a little strange to have full citations and short citations separated into two sections. — Cheers, JackLee talk 03:43, 24 December 2008 (UTC)
I'm not sure that I understand. You list everything in ==Notes==, and then repeat the full citations in ==References==? Wouldn't that be redundant? WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:47, 24 December 2008 (UTC)

References in other languages

Can anyone tell me is it neccessary to translate foreign references into English in the References section? It seems that it is unmentioned in the Wiki guideline. Thanks for helping!--Clithering (talk) 14:22, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

Since the guideline is silent on this, I'd say it's not necessary but helpful to readers if you can do it. I try to wherever I can. — Cheers, JackLee talk 16:08, 28 December 2008 (UTC)
Be carefull though in translating titles of sources like books and newspapers; the main reason for referencing to reliable sources is that other editors can track down your source and check it. Translating e.g. Volkskrant (Dutch) into Peoples Paper (which is a pretty close translation) would make this less easy if not impossible. When in doubt report both, or the original I would say. Arnoutf (talk) 16:56, 28 December 2008 (UTC)
Guess I should have been clearer. What I meant to say was that an English translation can be provided in addition to the title of a reference in its original language. Here's an example from "Robert Hues": "Hues, Robert (1594), Tractatus de globis et eorum usu: accommodatus iis qui Londini editi sunt anno 1593, sumptibus Gulielmi Sandersoni civis Londinensis, conscriptus à Roberto Hues [Treatise on Globes and their Use: Adapted to those which have been Published in London in the Year 1593, at the Expense of William Sanderson, a London Resident, Written by Robert Hues], London: In ædibus Thomæ Dawson [in the house of Thomas Dawson]  (in Latin)". — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:25, 28 December 2008 (UTC)
Thank you so much for your suggestion. In fact, I have been working on an article (Rosanna Wong Yick-ming) that many Chinese materials have been used. I think it is a good idea to provide English translation additionally. On the other hand, the setting of the Chinese references in the article is now following Chinese academic referencing style. So should Chinese punctuation be retained for the Chinese references?--Clithering (talk) 18:08, 28 December 2008 (UTC)
Can you provide an example? — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:17, 28 December 2008 (UTC)
For example, should we reference in this way:
〈房委會歡迎新任主席〉,《新聞公報》,香港:香港特別行政區政府新聞處,2000年9月29日。["HA Welcomes New Chairperson", Press Release, Hong Kong: HKSAR News Agency, 29 September 2000.]
or that:
"房委會歡迎新任主席", 新聞公報, 香港: 香港特別行政區政府新聞處, 2000年9月29日. ["HA Welcomes New Chairperson", Press Release, Hong Kong: HKSAR News Agency, 29 September 2000.]--Clithering (talk) 18:26, 28 December 2008 (UTC)
Mmmm, I am not sure there is a guideline for this. Can you relevantly use italics in Chinese sign language?? If not, then I would suggest the Chinese academic ref style. If you can use Italics I truly don't know. Arnoutf (talk) 18:42, 28 December 2008 (UTC)
I haven't come across a guideline for this before. I've been using {{Citation}} (for example, ""预赛曾破世界纪录 小泳将叶品秀为我国夺首枚残奥银牌 [Having previously broken world record in heats, little swim leader Yip Pin Xiu seizes our country's first Paralympic silver medal]", Lianhe Zaobao, 14 September 2008, retrieved 4 December 2008 ") which would render certain titles in italics as in your example above, but if you dislike that I don't see why you can't stick to the traditional angle brackets used in Chinese citations. — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:50, 28 December 2008 (UTC)
Italics can be used on Chinese letters, but it is seldomly used because italic Chinese characters is less readable. In this case, Chinese quotation marks are used instead. Anyway, I wish a guideline on this can be made so there will be rules for us to follow. Thanks for your notice!--Clithering (talk) 18:56, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

We don't need a specific, Wikipedia-wide guideline for this. Each article gets to choose its own appropriate and rational style of presenting references. If you think that option 1 or option 2 is better/more appropriate/more understandable/etc, then go with that. Ref styles must be consistent within a single article, but they do not have to exactly match every other article in the entire encyclopedia. In short: format the English text however you want. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:51, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

Format advice

I'd like to know what fellow editors think about the following. Suppose I want to submit an edit like this...

The Sun is pretty big,<ref>Miller, E. (2005), ''The Sun'', Academic Press, p. 23</ref>
but the Moon is not so big.<ref>Brown, R. (2006). "Size of the Moon". ''Scientific American'' '''51''' (78): 46.</ref>

Which would render like this...

The Sun is pretty big,[1] but the Moon is not so big.[2]


  1. ^ Miller, E. (2005), The Sun, Academic Press, p. 23
  2. ^ Brown, R. (2006). "Size of the Moon". Scientific American 51 (78): 46.

My question would be - would anyone see a problem with this? If so, what specifically?

And what advice does the Citing sources project page give?

Thanks, --SallyScot (talk) 15:28, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Looks all right to me. What problem do you see with it? I feel like it's a trick question. — Cheers, JackLee talk 16:58, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Personally, I think it looks okay too. But I feel the guideline (in effect) makes unwarranted fuss and could be simplified. If nobody sees serious issue with it I think that would rather support my point, so I'm inviting comment on this basis, in particular from anyone who might have issues with the format. --SallyScot (talk) 17:38, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

It seems pretty normal to me. I would end the first one with a full stop. I would have first name second name for this footnote form and reserve second name first name for the alphabetical sources/references/bibliography list. qp10qp (talk) 17:44, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
I also prefer the format with commas because the citation is all in one sentence, but don't intend to reopen the commas v. full stops debate on the matter at this time. — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:09, 2 January 2009 (UTC)


Okay, both citations could end with a full stop, and let's say we are talking about an alphabetical reference list...


  • Brown, R. (2006). "Size of the Moon". Scientific American 51 (78): 46.
  • Miller, E. (2005), The Sun, Academic Press, p. 23.

Under the Citation templates and tools section it says: "the {{Cite xxx}} family separates elements with a full stop (period), while the {{Citation}} template separates elements with a comma. Thus, these two families should not be mixed in the same article." [original emphasis]

Now, if the matter of separation with commas versus fullstops is really worthy of such note, then it should equally apply to references written freehand (as in my example), shouldn't it? Yet I would agree, even amongst the minority that would spot such a thing, most rightly wouldn't debate such a minor issue. I don't think the Citing sources guideline needs to refer to formatting minutiae to this extent. If it does, then it would have to do so with equal regard to freehand references, not just to specific families of citation templates.

--SallyScot (talk) 22:15, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree that the guideline shouldn't fuss about things like that. It's templates that force naff styles, but freehand references have the scope to be elegant. qp10qp (talk) 23:18, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
I disagree. If we're putting something forward as a carefully checked and very well-written article, then using the same ref formatting style throughout is not really that big of a deal. I don't think that the "warning" statement was added to be picky: I think it was added to give editors advance notice that this was an (inexplicable, unpredictable, idiotic) problem that literally dozens of FACs have encountered. It's much kinder to our editors to tell them in advance that Wikipedia's templates are mutually incompatible. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:21, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree with WhatamIdoing. I am not so concerned about whether commas or full stops should be used, or whether "p." should be placed before page numbers, but surely there ought to be consistency of citation throughout one article. I wouldn't characterize this as "minutiae". If a reader sees "p. 23" and correctly interprets this as "page 23", then she might think that "46" refers to something else since it doesn't have "p." in front of it. — Cheers, JackLee talk 08:24, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
I think there are many ways to get there from here (just pick your favorite authoritative style guide), but there is much to be said for consistency, for reasons WhatamIdoing and Jacklee have given as well as simple aesthetics. I generally use the Chicago-style author-date system, which uses full stops and doesn't put parens around the dates; I use the system because it covers a great many situations, and, well, it's a system I've used for many years and with which I'm quite familiar. Because none of the templates quite implement this, I usually hand code. But many approaches are workable; again, I think the key is consistency, whether using templates, hand coding, or combination thereof. I know many people who instantly spot inconsistencies such as commas in one instance and full stops in another (I once worked for one; fortunately, we were of the same mind). JeffConrad (talk) 11:09, 3 January 2009 (UTC)


Hmm. I'm still wondering how many people would really notice such comma full stop difference, but as my opening gambit may have been interpreted as a trick question, and I've since clarified, it's hard to know really. - The difference is of course easier to spot after it's been pointed out.

I think inconsistencies of format are sometimes undeservedly attributed to template usage. JackLee says: "If a reader sees "p. 23" and correctly interprets this as "page 23", then she might think that "46" refers to something else since it doesn't have "p." in front of it." - Yet this has no bearing on the advice not to mix usage of citation template families. With the Brown "Size of the Moon" reference for example, Citation and Cite journal templates render like this...

  • Brown, R. (2006), "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51 (78), p. 46 .
  • Brown, R. (2006). "Size of the Moon". Scientific American. 51 (78): 46. 

Personally, I don't see this as significant enough to warrant such bold emphasis admonishment against mixing citation template families and I'd be happy to drop the wording. If you disagree, then, in order to be self-consistent, you'd also have to concede that the same standard of scrutiny should equally apply to references written freehand, implying an onus for some rewrite and perhaps repositioning of the guideline advice I'd say.

--SallyScot (talk) 13:46, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

I used to mix citation template families until it was pointed out to me that there were differences between the two, primarily the use of commas v. full stops. Also, do the two template families render the elements of a citation in the same order? It may be the case that {{Citation}} and {{Cite journal}} generally render in the same way, but the {{cite xxx}} family is extensive – I believe that {{Cite book}} and {{Cite web}} render differently from {{Citation}}. I think that the advice not to mix template families should stand (though perhaps the boldface can be removed), and would support its application to freehand references as well. — Cheers, JackLee talk 14:14, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
The answer is to have more templates, and more flexible templates, so that editors can have a template for whatever reference format they are using. The issue of full stops or commas is not very important, but editors who like elegance (I'm afraid I'm one) may want to edit for consistency. This is the work of a moment freehand, but where templates are involved it is a mountain to climb and may offend guidelines about changing the chosen template style of an article. qp10qp (talk) 14:27, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
I support removal of the boldface attribute. The guideline already says that the ref style must be consistent within in article, so it's not really necessary to restate that a (third?) time with the additional words "even when not using templates". WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:57, 3 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't think that having more and/or more flexible templates, which make it easy to mix styles within an article and to mix styles between articles, adds anything to Wikipedia. I do think that an advantage of templated citations is that if Wikipedia ever does adopt a citation style guideline it is easy work to bring all templated citations into compliance. It would be a nightmare bringing freehand citations into compliance. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 13:59, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting mixed styles as such. It's just that many style guides recommend a different format for footnote references as opposed to bibliographical references, the first with commas, the second with full stops. Templates should therefore, in my opinion, either be more flexible to acommodate this or be grouped in mutually compatible pairs, one pair for each style.
I don't think Wikipedia should ever adopt one citation style, since so many styles cohabit in the real world. Openness to multiplicity is one of Wikipedia's secrets, which those who call for more regimentation often overlook. qp10qp (talk) 14:50, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

As the Citing sources guideline already says that the reference style must be consistent within an article I think detail about Citation template usage belongs more properly in Wikipedia:Citation templates. In the interests of simplicity the Citing sources guideline itself need only make the reader aware that Citation templates exist, and point them in right direction for further information should they wish to learn more. --SallyScot (talk) 19:36, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Multiple citations of same source

A recurrent question on the Help desk and elsewhere is how to deal with multiple references to the same source in an article. Granted, the requisite information is available at WP:FN#Naming a ref tag so it can be used more than once, but apparently people aren't finding it. I wonder whether it shouldn't also be included here, at the main page visited by folks who want to add proper references to articles, perhaps under "How to format citations." Anyone have ideas on this? Deor (talk) 03:02, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

I'd just comment that, in addition to any Help or policy changes to make those instructions more visible, it would be possible for a bot to churn through existing articles, find <ref /> tags that contain exactly the same text, and consolidate them into a single reference. (I unfortunately am not a botmaster myself but I'm sure there are many people who may be interested in something like that.)--❨Ṩtruthious ℬandersnatch❩ 13:06, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
Someone runs a bot which does that. Gimmetrow 13:33, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

What do you do

How do you take care of a citation that dosen't back up the statement?--Ipatrol (talk) 23:28, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Usually, start by raising the issue on the talk page. If you can at all easily sort out who added the citation (or changed the text so it no longer matches an older citation), contact that person and see if he or she can sort it out. Or, if the facts are obviously correct but the citation is lousy, just substitute a good citation. - Jmabel | Talk 23:35, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Mixing short and full refs

The first example at WP:CITE#Footnote_system has been interpreted as requiring full cites for each and every line unless the short cites are placed in a separate section from the full cites.

That is, you could have:

  • Miller, E: The Sun, page 23. Academic Press, 2005.
  • Brown, R: "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51(78):46.
  • Miller, E: The Sun, page 34. Academic Press, 2005.

or you could have:

  • Miller, page 23.
  • Brown, page 46.
  • Miller, page 34.
  • Miller, E: The Sun, Academic Press, 2005.
  • Brown, R: "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51(78).

but you could not have:

  • Miller, E: The Sun, page 23. Academic Press, 2005.
  • Brown, R: "Size of the Moon", Scientific American, 51(78):46.
  • Miller, page 34.

This mixed style is common in many style guides, and when you cite different pages of the same book several dozen times, then repeating the full ref for each any every one of them is just silly. I'm not sure that this problem is trivially solvable, or if it would be better to invoke WP:COMMONSENSE. Any thoughts? WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:53, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

The examples on this page are just examples of one way to do things, not illustrations of the only way to do things. You can have full citation info for every note, or you can have short refs, or you can have full refs the first time a source is used and short refs after that. Whatever the page editors find most appropriate is probably good, with some limited exceptions. (For instance, WP practice found that Loc. cit. may be difficult to maintain in heavily-edited text.) Gimmetrow 02:44, 9 January 2009 (UTC)


When citing multiple pages from a single long work, like a book, Template:Rp can be used. The page number (here "[number]") is placed after the footnote ref-tag, like so: <ref>[ref information]</ref>{{rp|[number]}}.

This is an example.[1]:230


  1. ^ Large book....

Above removed from the end of Footnote system subsection. There are a number of concerns with this method of handling multiple pages from a single work.

1. There's no precedent for this outside Wikipedia.
2. There's very little precedent for this within Wikipedia.
3. In any case, it doesn't require a template.

Re points 1 & 2, readers are likely to be confused by the format, which anyway looks clunky...

This is an example.[1]:234 [2]:456 Further text with further example.[1]:278

It's not as neat as using Shortened footnotes.

Re point 3, there's little point in having a template that does nothing more than add a colon and superscript its content. Superscript can simply be achieved using <sup> tags. These tags are already available from the edit box toolbar (x2).

--SallyScot (talk) 16:57, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Good for you! Template:Rp prescribes a dopey system. Wikipedia is supposed to be understandable by ordinary people. No one (or hardly anyone) will understand citations that use Template:Rp because that form of citation is unknown outside Wikipedia, and, as SallyScott points out, barely known within it. The template should be nominated for deletion. If someone does nominate it for deletion, please let me know so I will be sure to vote. Finell (Talk) 01:58, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

Paragraph on citation density

This paragraph was added very recently.

It is important to remember that a Wikipedia article as a research work, composed under the policies and dictates of the Wikipedia Project, is a document of a somewhat different nature from an academic research work. An academic researcher is an individual who is professionally expected to be capable of and innovative in original research, whereas a Wikipedia editor is under the mandate to exclude all original research from his or her writing. Hence it is entirely possible and appropriate that a Wikipedia article will contain more and denser citations compared to a work of academic research. As WP:V demonstrates, in Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales's opinion every single fact presented in Wikipedia needs to be concretely verifiable: an article could quite reasonably present a reference for every single fact contained within it.

It seems to me more like an essay than a guideline. Please discuss if it belongs here. Gimmetrow 13:36, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Hmmm... well, I don't have a very strong opinion on the exact text, but do you think that there's any policy or part of another guideline that expresses a need to limit the number of citations in a Wikipedia article, contrary to that bit of WP:V? Limiting the density of citations is a standard practice in academic writing to my knowledge (aesthetics can trump citations, for example... I was literally told by English professors at university that too many citations shouldn't be included because it can make a paper look unoriginal) but the thing in WP:V I linked to would seem to be explicitly saying that no, in a Wikipedia article that isn't so.
It just seemed to me important to include that bit from WP:V in WP:CITE under the question of when to use citation. But it wouldn't need to be the text I wrote, I just thought I had come up with a good way of articulating it.
Conversely, if I'm misinterpreting WP:V somehow and there are actually reasons an article should not cite a certain category of facts it contains - if, contrary to what I wrote, it would be inappropriate for an article to contain more citations than a work of academic research - that seems like an omission in WP:CITE that should be remedied. But otherwise what I wrote seems to be articulating a part of what it says in WP:V that is relevant to when to cite sources.
Perhaps, Gimmetrow, you could explain what makes it seem like an essay to you rather than a guideline? Does that paragraph say anything that doesn't guide users in following existing, consensus-established Wikipedia policy and practice? That's all I intended to do. If it's just the wording, I wouldn't object to completely changing that.
But if that part of WP:V does indicate that it would be appropriate to cite every fact in an article I think this guideline should say so, and if there's some situation where you should not cite every fact in an article this guideline should say so. (But I'm open to other opinions too, if there's a good argument why such information should not be in this guideline.)
(Of course, if a citation is incorrect or not related to the material it's placed on, it should be removed, and if an unreliable source can be replaced with a reliable source for the exact same information it ought to be. But I'm referring to the density of correct and proper citation of reliable sources as stipulated by this guideline.) --❨Ṩtruthious ℬandersnatch❩ 17:17, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
I've been digging through some of the talk page archive here looking to see if there was any discussion of situations when a fact should not be cited. I haven't gotten all the way through yet, but it does appear that in a previous version of the project page (or one of its merge-ancestors) it originally stated that there shouldn't be too large a number of citations in an article, which I assume has been removed by consensus / community process; hopefully I'll hit on the discussion that led to that.
Anyways, a thought occurred to me: because many people (mistakenly) regard guideline pages to be things that require the behavior they recommend (as opposed to policy pages, which are what actually create those requirements) perhaps you misconstrued that paragraph to be an attempt on my part to create a requirement that every fact in a WP article must be cited.
So just to be clear, that's not what I'm trying to do. All I'm trying to do is add a note essentially saying, "You can't add too many citations to an article, so if you've got the info to demonstrate a reliable source for a fact don't be shy; don't worry about the notion in college writing that you've got to show you're an originally-thinking student" basically, and point to the parts of the WP:V policy that indicate that. --❨Ṩtruthious ℬandersnatch❩ 18:44, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't think the paragraph is necessary. I've never encountered a dispute in which an editor removed refs for reasons of aesthetics. I have seen cases of too many citations (see recent versions of Physician assistant, which listed about a dozen wholly insufficient refs after one sentence). And there are things that do not and should not be cited: anything that is perfectly, patently obvious to the average reader. You don't have to cite a reliable source for statements like, e.g., "If you stop breathing for a long enough period of time, you will die."
We don't usually point this out very loudly, because people will misunderstand, but WP:V does not actually require refs for every single fact. It only requires refs for two things:
  • Direct quotations
  • Material whose accuracy has been challenged (or, in a preventive step, which we reasonably expected to be challenged). WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:28, 8 January 2009 (UTC)
But as I said above (pretty clearly and explicitly, I'd thought), I'm not talking about adding that particular paragraph, nor am I talking about having to cite a source or requiring citing a source; nor am I talking about insufficient refs, I'm talking about correct and proper refs. I'm saying that per WP:V you can't add too many correct and proper refs to an article, that it's always an option to add a correct and proper ref to an article if you have one. Which, as I see it, isn't an essay or anything, it's an accurate articulation of WP policy if it's expressed in a clear and non-confusing manner.
Are you objecting to that at all? And if you're objecting to it, is it because it's inaccurate information, or is it a wording issue - because you think it cannot be expressed non-confusingly or something of that sort? --❨Ṩtruthious ℬandersnatch❩ 02:50, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
There is a range of views about citations on Wikipedia. Some editors add a citation for every fact or sentence, while others are happy to leave more routine facts verifiable to general references without a specific inline citation. This paragraph seemed to be an essay favoring the former. WP:V policy doesn't really decide between these, except for certain types of facts. Gimmetrow 02:52, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Oh, okay, I think this may simply be a misunderstanding then. I'm not trying to advocate for the former, simply to clearly state that the former is even possible and compatible with WP policy, which to me does not appear to be articulated in the guideline. So I will try out other wordings, but I definitely want to communicate it as clearly as possible so please feel free to be aggressive with objections. --❨Ṩtruthious ℬandersnatch❩ 03:03, 9 January 2009 (UTC)
Better than the previous insertion, I'll leave others to tweak it or decide if it's even necessary. One thought is that Wikipedia:Featured article criteria refers to Wikipedia:When to cite, and hasn't excluded articles like Charles Darwin which provide extensive citations. . dave souza, talk 09:47, 10 January 2009 (UTC)

How to clean up inconsistent formats?

I'm doing some copyediting on Kuril Islands dispute. I want to clean up the hodgepodge of citation styles in the References section. Unfortunately, the first complete citation (in this revision, ref #2) was inconsistent with prior formatting, and later citations added even more inconsistencies. Am I expected to honor the style of the first author of each individual element of the citations? If so, I'm not sure it will match any of the present styles. Or can I just format everything in the style I personally prefer, given that it's a mess right now? -Unconventional (talk) 18:52, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

I forgot to add: The current References section contains some pretty extensive excerpts from the cited sources, in the manner of footnotes. Are these appropriate in a References section? If not, what's the best thing to do with them? -Unconventional (talk) 18:56, 13 January 2009 (UTC)

I usually just convert everything to use {{citation}} and let it do the formatting. People can revert you if it bothers them, but if they added inconsistently-formatted citations that probably means that they don't care about the formatting that much, so I generally regard this as a WP:BOLD situation. --❨Ṩtruthious ℬandersnatch❩ 20:12, 13 January 2009 (UTC)
I usually assume that the "citation style" that you're supposed to respect is the overall style (e.g., parenthetical vs. footnotes), not the precise formatting of each ref. Furthermore, if you honestly can't identify "the" style that the article is using, then pick any style that you can plausibly claim is somewhere in the article. If you want to be friendly, announce the problem and invite assistance on the talk page a day before doing it. Cleaning up refs is tedious, and most people would be thrilled to have someone else to do it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:46, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
I think the question about intermingled references and footnotes is a good one. When I'm the first to provide references, I usually use author-date to avoid a clash with footnotes should they ever be needed (I've learned this the hard way from other things that I've written). What does one do if notes are already present and intermingled with the references, as Unconventional mentioned? And what if the article uses endnote-style references and a note needs to be added? The group attribute of the <ref> tag is one option, though note labeling such as “Note 1”, “Note 2”, etc., seems a bit tedious. JeffConrad (talk) 00:19, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
If everything is in the same {{reflist}}, then by far the simplest "solution" is to retitle "Notes and References" and leave it alone. This becomes less desirable when the number of items in the combined list is very large. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:57, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
No disagreement on simplicity; I've sometimes taken this approach for expediency, with or without retitling. But would the call not also depend on the nature of the “notes” and the “references”? See Exposure value, as I cited in another reply below. JeffConrad (talk) 08:37, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Off-topic comment

I Its mukta nath . i wana know about active D ... Can u help me / My Email Addresh is <REMOVED FOR PRIVACY REASONS> . Plz .help me about this matter . im very cragy for it . —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:56, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

It may help if you phrase your question in a version of English that can actually be understood. Arnoutf (talk) 18:46, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
You can ask questions here. This page is only for talking about Wikipedia's rules about citing sources in the articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:28, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

References or Notes?

I take issue with the seperation of notes and rerences, as defined by this policy. IMO, they are both being used to cite the source of information in Wikipedia, and the tag used to make a list of "notes" is: {{reflist}}. In addition, articles that have only one major "reference", but multiple "notes" could be tagged with {{refimprove}}, even though there is a decent amount of actual references. I believe it makes more sense to use one style of citing, namely, the <ref></ref> stlye. Thoughts? Sephiroth storm (talk) 02:20, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Take a look at Exposure value; are the notes and references really the same thing? Note that some of the notes cite references. JeffConrad (talk) 08:28, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
In that article, I see a definate use of "notes". This is a good use of it, but in most articles that I see, Notes are web sources for information in the article, and the references section is used for books and other sources. See: Computer security. Sephiroth storm (talk) 16:01, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree on Computer security, but I think the real issue is that editors need a better understanding of the difference between notes and references. JeffConrad (talk) 16:58, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Sephiroth storm, IMHO your complaint is not with this guideline, but with the choices made by many individual editors over time. This guideline does not encourage anyone to split up their lists of reliable sources into "Those that I cite inline" versus "Those that I typed at the end of the page". That some editors choose to name one or the other "Notes" or "References" or "Flambejuwhatzits" is not actually the fault of this guideline.
The problem is an inevitable consequence of Wikipedia's previous reliance on lists of general references (list three books and a website at the end of the article, and assert on your honor that every single fact in the article is contained in one of those items) and the incremental editing process. Every single fact might actually be in one of those books, but the original editor is no longer active, and nobody else knows which book supports which facts.
So other editors start adding inline refs at a (much) later date (=generally upgrading the article). However, each new editor may only be able to provide a source that supports one small issue. So we can't ditch the previous refs (because they're still being used for all of the non-inline-cited items), and we can't place them inline (as explained in previous paragraph). There's no handy way to combine the lists. So the editors usually look over the list of common section headings, and just pick whichever sounds least stupid for the purpose.
Myself, I fairly often do this:

One of the reasons I like this approach is because it avoids making some reliable sources appear to be "more reliable" than others. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:47, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

Is this reasonable?

Is this reasonable? I added some content that I thought was obvious (it should have already been in the article), someone complained about no source, I asked them to tag what they were doubtful about and they did so (thank you), a third party reverted both the tags and my content, and now a fourth party scolds me on my talk page. --Una Smith (talk) 07:15, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

It's a little heavy handed, given the completely innocuous nature of the sentence you added. The rearrangement of material may have been the larger concern, though. It appears the main emphasis on that page's development right now is a featured article nomination, and the regular editors are (perhaps naturally) somewhat possessive. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:09, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
It might have been heavy handed on my part if this was a new editor, and it had been the first example of the behavior. But she's not, and it's not. Note also that instead of responding to the matter directly, on her talk, Una has immediately brought it somewhere else, looking for ... vindication? sympathy? That's unfortunately a common behavior pattern for Una. Along with adding unsourced material and then asking others to do her sourcing for her. Finally, this (a page to discuss a policy) is not really the appropriate place to discuss behaviors, is it? However, bringing things to the wrong place is another characteristic behavior of Una's. ++Lar: t/c 15:42, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Lar, your comments here strike me as being a lot closer to "personal attack" than to "helpful information" or "good advice". Would you please revise your comments to show a spirit of friendly, collaborative editing? WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:04, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm comfortable with the wording choices as accurate. ++Lar: t/c 13:56, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't believe that I raised an issue of accuracy (an issue about which I have some doubts, but which I consider irrelevant here). I raised an issue of compliance with WP:CIVIL, which is one of Wikipedia's basic policies. Do you insist on this insulting way of communicating your concerns instead of finding a more polite form? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:30, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm fairly familiar with Wikipedia's basic policies. But I don't agree with your characterization of what I said, which is why I said I was comfortable with the wording choices I made, initially, and here, as being accurate and sufficiently civil. I'm sorry if you find them not to your liking. See WP:SPADE. ++Lar: t/c 20:33, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I think that Lar's comment above, though critical, is entirely civil. Being civil does not mean refraining from criticism. I also do not think that what he said qualifies as a personal attack under WP:NPA; certainly no more so than Una's pejorative characterization of the request she linked to as scolding.
All I've read are the comments on this page and those in the linked section of Una's talk page, so I do not know whether the criticisms that Lar makes are valid or even supported at all. But the type of criticism he is making - describing verifiable behavior patterns that amount to WP:GAME - is something it's appropriate to voice when such criticism is accurate and is expressed in an appropriate way. We should not categorically dismiss such criticism and Una ought to articulately respond to it (though not on this page, and perhaps she has already responded to it somewhere and vindicated herself.)
Lar's tone there was aggravated and sarcastic, but that in itself is not a violation of civility; an argument could be made that it transgresses some protocol of etiquette, but whether or not WP:GAME behavior is occurring is a far more important issue IMO (though as that guideline notes it would not necessarily indicate malicious intent, but it is disruptive and aggravating nonetheless.) (It's more important particularly since Lar appears to have refrained from sarcasm in the original comment Una linked to.) --❨Ṩtruthious ℬandersnatch❩ 04:44, 26 January 2009 (UTC)


Am I the only on who thinks this formatting is getting a bit convoluted? I mean, new users who try to edit a Wikipedia article for the first time aren't going to be able to make heads or tails of the Byzantine code. I think we need to simplify and move to a completely transparent WYSIWYG system. Nathan McKnight -- Aelffin (talk) 13:31, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Ref sections

I'm contemplating an addition to Wikipedia:CITE#How_to_present_citations. After the 'common ways of listing notes/footnotes/refs' bullets, I'm thinking about adding a sentence along these lines:

Many editors prefer to reserve the section heading Bibliography for complete lists of published works in authors' biographies. The section heading Citations is often similarly reserved for military citations and government proclamations. Sources is often reserved for sections about source code, geological sources, anatomical and biological sources, and the locations where materials are procured.

This is the actual practice on Wikipedia, and using a 'potentially confusing section heading' can result in edit wars and confusion for an editor that accidentally transgressed the unwritten convention. Does anyone object to adding this descriptive/explanatory statement? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:42, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

I don't object to what you propose there. And in passing, I agree with your reversion of Jonfos's recent edit. --❨Ṩtruthious ℬandersnatch❩ 03:58, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
 Done. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:00, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Niceties in the quick summary

Regarding these reverts (1, 2) after re-reading everything a couple of times I realize that I misunderstood the meaning of the term "numbered" in the first bullet - being a technical guy I was at first supposing that it was referring to the numbering of the HTML anchors (the "#cite_note-1", "#cite_note-2", etc. that appears in the browser bar after you click on a link.) But now I can see that I was being a bit obtuse and that "numbered" has the much more straightforward meaning of referring to the visible numbers that appear in the article content. Perhaps ImperfectlyInformed had the same misunderstanding.

So anyways, I agree with SallyScott that the point about naming the references, for the purpose of re-usability or for determining the HTML anchor text, does not belong in that section of this guideline, and so I agree with her reverts of my edit and ImperfectlyInformed's. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 06:39, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Notable sources?

I expected to find a guidance here that only notable sources should be cited. I'm convinced I saw it somewhere. If it exists, would somebody add it to the See also, please? (If it is relevant, see talk:Gold as an investment for backgrounder). --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 00:45, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

You're probably thinking of reliable sources. But I don't think that the guideline says "only reliable sources should be cited" - it basically just says that reliable sources are better than other kinds of sources. So if a source isn't reliable I don't think that's a good reason to remove the citation. As far as removing the cited fact itself because of a questionable source you probably want to refer to WP:V. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 01:43, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

General reference and presenting citaitons

"The burden of evidence lies with the editor who adds or restores material. All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation." (WP:BURDEN)

Wikipedia:Citing sources#How to present citations

General reference: By placing the citation in a list at the end of an article.
Once a style is selected for an article it is inappropriate to change an article to another unless there is a reason that goes beyond mere choice of style.

It seems that most people would not see a ==References== section as a citation style and coupled with the "inappropriate" sentence it is a recipe for conflict. Better to remove general reference as a way of presenting citations. --PBS (talk) 20:17, 20 January 2009 (UTC)

PBS, have you found an actual problem? Have you ever seen someone attempt to claim that compliance with the fundamental policy does not count as as "a reason that goes beyond mere choice of style"? WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:50, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

In most professional, scholarly publications, so-called "general references", supposedly supporting the "entire article", are not used. They might be used in a couple of professional magazine articles, but when this is the case, they are not combined with inline (directly cited) sources, as I see from time to time popping up in Wikipedia articles. I think if Wikipedia wants to use inline citations, we need to support that, and discourage "general" references, but using both together (a) looks bad and (b) is confusing to the reader. Dr. Cash (talk) 21:53, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Oh, I dislike the general reference idea myself, and think it's completely out of place once the article exceeds a short stub. But I do not see any actual conflict between these two instructions. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:09, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
For many articles, exactly what the reader needs are general references on the topic at hand. This is particularly true for articles on basic topics in the sciences, mathematics, statistics, etc. Providing a good list of general references is an important aspect of an encyclopedia article.
On the other hand, there's no reason the section of general references has to be entitled "references". It can be called "Further reading". — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:30, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Sure there is: if it's a list of the references that you actually used in creating the article, then it shouldn't be listed as "Further reading" (i.e., the section that is actually defined as recommended sources that you did not use in writing the article). A critical distinction here: we're talking about "references that were used to create the article and which support some part or another of its contents", which may not actually be good general-purpose references for the subject. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:40, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
If the concern is that all materials consulted should be cited, then it's hard to see how anyone can be against the use of "general references". Surely there will be times when editors consult many sources in writing an article, but only include inline citations to a few of them. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:00, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
This is guideline on citing sources. As such sticking a reference section at the bottom of the article is not citing sources. The question of whether a reference section is sufficient is a policy issue covered in WP:V. But what is not acceptable is to say that when an inline citation is required for a quote or something else which is challenged or likely to be challenged, that a list of reference in a reference section covers this.
The problem is that many short articles and stubs start off with just a reference section, this is fine for small articles. But once the article develops and more information is added then it is best practice and policy mandated to use inline citations for things like quotes. Reading this section "Once a style is selected for an article" is in contradiction of this.
This prohibition was originally added to stop edit warring over changing from Harvard style and footnote style inline citations, it was never intended to discourage someone using inline citaions, just because there was a general reference section at the bottom of the article. --PBS (talk) 10:55, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
PBS, let's use a different example. Here are two rules:
  • Do not mash on people's bodies without permission, unless medically necessary.
  • Do give life-saving CPR to unconscious people with no heart beat.
You seem to be adding up the rules to say, "Oops, if someone collapses with a heart attack on the sidewalk, then I can't give him CPR because that's 'mashing on somebody's body without permission'." You seem to be totally, and perhaps even deliberately, ignoring the (very important) "unless" clause.
Changing from general refs to inline refs so that you can comply with an absolute requirement in WP:V "goes beyond mere choice of style". Permission to change from general refs to inline refs in this situation is already given by this guideline.
Also, as a point of fact, the policies do not mandate that long articles change to inline refs. I agree, of course, that it's best practice, but there is no requirement, unless the article includes direct quotations and/or facts that are likely to be challenged. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:02, 29 January 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I have to agree with WhatamIdoing and say that this is starting to sound a bit like WP:GAME3 - more like playing policies off one another as an attempt to justify policy change, rather than a proposed policy change based upon a real problem. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 06:08, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

<-- Suppose a person wishes to add a paragraph to an article and would like to use an inline citation for that paragraph. Usually that would be considered to be a good thing to do. With the current wording, if only general references exist, someone can remove the citation and move the source down to the references section stating that that this guideline says "Once a style is selected for an article it is inappropriate to change an article to another unless there is a reason that goes beyond mere choice of style", so changing to inline citations from a general reference section is a style choice. The style issue was introduced to stop the change from one method of inline citation to another it was not introduced to discourage changing from general references to a citation method. General references are not a method of "How to present citations" -- It is a way to include a list of references in an article. PBS (talk) 18:34, 30 January 2009 (UCT)

That's an entirely separate issue than your previous assertion of conflicting policies.
In your new example, was the choice of an inline ref (whether parenthetical or <ref>) done for a reason that goes beyond mere choice of style? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:28, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

I never said it was a conflict of polices. You have not addressed my issue that a general reference section is not a citation style and that it was never the intention that the prohibition of changing styles was anything to do with moving from using a general reference to inline citation. It should not be necessary to even answer your last question, as changing from general references to inline citations was never an issue in the past. See for example the page as it was when I last edited it on 12 August 2008. When was it discussed that general references were a citation style? I see that it had started to morph by 11 September 2008 but AFAICT, The prohibition was for different inline citation styles and this prohibition from moving from general references to inline citations was never agreed. --PBS (talk) 12:48, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

Even if the equivalence between the terms "general reference" and "citation style" in this page were as you're parsing it, this "prohibition" you're talking about, the sentence beginning with "Once a style is selected...", does not have the effect you are describing. At most, all that might be prohibited is changing an article from general references to inline citations when justified by preference alone. But as WhatamIdoing points out, making such a change justified by "this makes the facts in the article more verifiable" is entirely compliant with this guideline; what you are describing as prohibited is not in fact prohibited here.
This would appear to be some extremely contrived reasoning in place so that you can talk about a "recipe for conflict", a conflict that hasn't occurred anywhere yet but which must be avoided, and hence you're saying that we need to "remove general reference as a way of presenting citations" - which is the change to the guideline you're proposing, correct?
I again have to say that it does not seem to me that you are beginning from an actual problem and attempting to remedy it; on the contrary, your approach to this makes it seem as though you're starting from the proposition that you want to remove general references as a sanctioned method of verifying facts, then straining to develop a line of reasoning that would justify doing so. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 13:56, 31 January 2009 (UTC)
My intention is to clarify the section (basically going back to the situation where General references and citations are not wrapped up in the same section), as general references are not a citation style. --PBS (talk) 17:21, 31 January 2009 (UTC)
Okay then - as long as you are accepting the general references as a (definitely sub-optimal) way of fulfilling WP:V, if you're just trying to clarify the definition of "citation style", I think that's a good idea and I agree with your intent.
From the way the term is used in this guideline and in the essay "Verification methods" it appears that we would call general referencing, inline citations, and parenthetical referencing citation methods - does that look correct? If so it seems like this guideline ought to distinguish between citation methods and citation styles. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 18:49, 31 January 2009 (UTC)
"parenthetical referencing citation methods" footnotes and what the essay Verificaion methods calls "temporary references" and this guideline calls "embedded links" and are covered by "Inline citations", are all form of inline citations. A link to another Wikipedia page and a general reference section are not inline citaitons. --PBS (talk) 14:06, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
You're correct. General references are non-inline citations.
This is what I began to suspect as I re-read and re-read everything trying to figure out why much of what you've said makes so little sense to me - it shows in that you have been very particular about the word "citation" and you've avoided at any point acknowledging that general referencing is a form of citation. Underlying everything is a semantic argument: you've been trying to find some indirect way to make the claim that "to reference" and "to cite" are not synonyms. That's why the change you want to make to the WP "Citing sources" guideline is to completely remove any mention of general referencing.
You have quite probably been doing this all in good faith but your semantic preferences simply do not take precedent here. General referencing is considered a form of citation on Wikipedia. And elsewhere as well: on Princeton's WordNet one of the definitions of "to cite" is "to make reference to." (See the entry halfway down the page here and note that it also explicitly lists "reference" as a synonym for "cite". WP general referencing also is compatible with the definitions of "cite" from the other dictionaries IMO.)
Look, I think that WP would be better if all citations were inline citations too; however that probably isn't practical, and in any case it would represent a major change to the approach to citation on WP - it's not fixing a problem, not even an anticipated one, it's a policy change and a significant change to editing practice. This is something you need to formally propose, acknowledging that it's a change in policy without dissembling, and open it to community discussion. It's not a change that can be slipped into a guideline with specious arguments about semantics (i.e. when you say that your concern is clarifications around how the term "citation style" is used) or by implying that not allowing general referencing is the way the guideline originally read. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 15:14, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
Also, I just noticed that the guideline itself states that "citation" and "reference" are interchangeable: Wikipedia:Citing sources#Use of terms. I added the reference that I dug up above but didn't change the text itself in that section. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 02:02, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
Oh, right: The perennial "it's not a real citation unless it has a page number" argument. I'd forgotten that PBS was one of the people pushing that a few months ago. I think that probably explains the actual goal. (Thanks for adding that footnote.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:52, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

PBS, you said that the existing statements were "a recipe for conflict." I have no idea how to interpret that except that you think that they conflict.
I do not see any need to change anything. There is no conflict, and there is no problem. You're apparently smart enough to figure out what is actually meant in this paragraph. Please assume, until there's concrete evidence to the contrary, that Wikipedia's other editors are smart enough to figure it out, too. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:58, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
I would have though you had been here long enough to know the problem with this sort of issue, is that an identified potential problem should be fixed sooner rather than later because "Wikipedia's other editors are smart enough to figure it out" and some will exploit it. Think of it as the Microsoft problem, should we fix bugs before they are exploited or after they are exploited. Small ones like this which can easily be fixed with a small change of words (as it was broken by a series of good faith edits -- we have an audit trail back to suitable words that can be adapted) should be fixed, because if one waits until exploitation of inconsistent wording then there will be resistance to change from the party that is interpreting the wording in a specific way to help them in a dispute on an article's talk page. This blows a small problem up into a larger one. --PBS (talk) 13:47, 1 February 2009 (UTC)
My solution for the "Microsoft problem" is to have Microsoft-free computers. So far, it's been working fairly well for me.
I do have some sympathy for writing policies in ways that cannot be misinterpreted even by willful idiots. But your proposal here strikes me as an inappropriate level of instruction creep. If there's ever a real problem with a real editor claiming that moving to a more specific and detailed form of sourcing is "just personal preference", then we can issue the patch. Until then: ain't broke, don't fix. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:52, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
What I am proposing is the opposite of instruction creep I am proposing to go back to what was here before. I happen to have been around and seen some of the edit wars over citation styles, and know the reason why the prohibition was added to this guideline. What I am proposing to do is to go back to that formulation as it had nothing to do with reference sections.
BTW from reading the talk page I think that this guideline is straying into areas that should be addressed in WP:LAYOUT not here (see #Ref sections). But that is a discussion that should be held in a new section and not here. --PBS (talk) 11:13, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Add something on sources for a fee??

Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Links_and_ID_numbers reads: If your source is not findable online, etc. However, there are sources that only can be read for a fee which an editor might have in hard copy or whatever making it more difficult for other editors to check. (As opposed to mere need for a logon which is free.) So could the policy/text be changed to read: If your source is not findable online, or requires a fee to access, etc. CarolMooreDC (talk) 15:26, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Books are not given away free; they must be paid for. Carolmooredc is proposing to prohibit the use of paper books. This concept is absolutely intolerable. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 19:49, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
Check out WorldCat and get an interlibrary loan. It's never failed me. This could be mentioned on this page. II | (t - c) 20:26, 5 February 2009 (UTC)
I don't think that this section cares how much it costs. The issue at hand is links and ID numbers -- the point of which is simply making sure that you've got the intended source, instead of some other source with a similar name. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:15, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
Also, even without any hacking tricks, through Google Books you can get access to quite a bit of content that is not technically free. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 10:16, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
This is not meant to apply to books. To clarify what I was suggesting (underlined), ( was making it clear that fee sites also should be under the rule: If your source is not findable online (or requires a fee to access) it should be findable in reputable libraries, archives, or collections. If a citation without an external link is challenged as unfindable, any of the following is sufficient to show the material to be reasonably findable (though not necessarily reliable): providing an ISBN or OCLC number; linking to an established Wikipedia article about the source (the work, its author, or its publisher); or directly quoting the material on the talk page, briefly and in context.
I wasn't saying you can't use them; in fact I was dealing with someone else taking out such references and wanted to make it clear this is what would make it a reasonable source. (This was a situation where the person using the source was quite biased so there were questions about whether the material actually was in the source.) Thanks for WorldCat. link CarolMooreDC (talk) 17:25, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
I don't think this is the correct place to address that concern. Why don't you propose to WT:RS that a sentence like "Sources do not have to be available online or at no cost to be considered reliable"? WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:01, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

CarolMooreDC's sentence "If a citation without an external link is challenged as unfindable, any of the following is sufficient to show the material to be reasonably findable (though not necessarily reliable): providing an ISBN or OCLC number; linking to an established Wikipedia article about the source (the work, its author, or its publisher); or directly quoting the material on the talk page, briefly and in context." requires that an editor who adds material from an old book (pre-ISBN) to monitor the article eternally. If the person who added the material dies, or for some other reason stops monitoring the article, the material could then be removed because the person who had access to the book fails to answer a challenge. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 06:08, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

The sentence already appears in the guideline; it was not CarolMooreDC who added it. Apart from the editor who originally added the material, presumably other editors who have some interest in the article and have it on their watchlists could also deal with the challenge. And if there is no one interested in the article ... well, not much can be done about it – that's just the nature of Wikipedia. — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:35, 8 February 2009 (UTC)

corrolation retencion capacity

how come the english wiki need way more ref s than any other language article??
corrolation retencion capacity??
one word
one sentence

Wdl1961 (talk) 05:44, 14 February 2009 (UTC)

Author names, titles, degrees etc.

The templates seem to to only have tags that support first and last names. I notice middle initials being sometimes simply appended under the "first" tag. However what about titles and degree letters, for example "Dr John Doe, M.D.?" "Prof Jane Doe" "Richard Roe, D.D.M."? Are these to simply be omitted?--Ericjs (talk) 20:06, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

None of the style manuals I've seen give the degrees held by authors, nor do they mention titles that come before the name, like "professor". --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:16, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
Ok then.
Note that I'm deleting my comment / question on authorlink, as it appears not to be relevant here, in favor of posting it separately. --Ericjs (talk) 20:34, 16 February 2009 (UTC)


What is the "authorlink" tag intended for? In the examples it seems to be used to show the author name in the more "normal" format, for example "Jane T. Doe" as opposed to the "Doe, Jane T." format displayed in the citation from the "last" and "first" tags. The word "link" certainly does not suggest this usage, and instead suggests that it might be used for an actual link, perhaps to the author's bio or such, but none of the examples support this idea. Further, it does not seem to be used in the display of the actual citation; if it currently has no practical effect this increases the importance that its purpose be documented since no one will see the effect of its misuse (or it should simply be eliminated).

This raises the general question / criticism: Why are not each of these fields' meanings and purposes explicitly defined instead of simply given by example? Some may be obvious enough to be "self-documenting" but the fact that there are cases like this where this is not so, makes reliance on them being self-evident inappropriate. --Ericjs (talk) 20:44, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

"Authorlink" is used to link the name of the author stated in {{Citation}} to a Wikipedia article about the author, like this:
Wikitext: {{citation|last=Bloom|first=Harold|authorlink=Harold Bloom|title=Emily Dickinson|location=Broomall, Pa.|publisher=Chelsea House Publishers|year=1999|isbn=0791051064}}.
Result: Bloom, Harold (1999), Emily Dickinson, Broomall, Pa.: Chelsea House Publishers, ISBN 0791051064 .
— Cheers, JackLee talk 06:21, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

Template:Rp removed on lack of precedent; precedent exists

About a month ago User:SallyScot removed the mention of the above template [3]. She justified this by saying that it isn't used outside of Wikipedia. That's not true quite true. It's not common, but I don't even read a ton of scholarly literature and I've seen it a few separate times in peer-reviewed medical research (example, see footnote 6). The rp template is an elegant way to cite specific page numbers in long works without using shortened footnotes (which are awkward and much more difficult to maintain) or parenthetical referencing, also awkward. The rp template is an elegant compromise between parenthetical and standard academic footnote referencing (which does not use shortened footnotes), and we need a way to use large works separate times without converting articles to shortened footnotes. In academic literature, shortened footnotes are fairly common in large works, but not common in the short peer-reviewed articles that Wikipedia are more similar to. I'm open to hearing other people's comments before I restore. II | (t - c) 23:51, 29 January 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, I noticed when she did that, and after examining the template, which I was unfamiliar with, I found the removal a bit questionable but I didn't get around to saying anything.
I haven't come across the opportunity to use it yet, but I really like the idea. It seems as though, in the cases described, it would increase the ease of verifying facts while reducing clutter in the refs section and improving the readability of the wikitext code. I've done it before myself for specificity but it looks dumb when you have ten citations in a row that are identical but differ only in the page number.
Anyways, I support restoring mention of it to this guideline. I would even go so far as to say that the text "can be used" ought to be changed to "should be used"; you shouldn't have to read through an entire referenced work to try to track down where the WP editor was getting it from. There's even a {{pn}} template for requesting a page number for a specific citation. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 05:28, 30 January 2009 (UTC)


I've restored the archived original discussion entry that relates to this below for ease of reference with a further (new) post below that.


When citing multiple pages from a single long work, like a book, Template:Rp can be used. The page number (here "[number]") is placed after the footnote ref-tag, like so: <ref>[ref information]</ref>{{rp|[number]}}.

This is an example.[1]:230


  1. ^ Large book....

Above removed from the end of Footnote system subsection. There are a number of concerns with this method of handling multiple pages from a single work.

1. There's no precedent for this outside Wikipedia.
2. There's very little precedent for this within Wikipedia.
3. In any case, it doesn't require a template.

Re points 1 & 2, readers are likely to be confused by the format, which anyway looks clunky...

This is an example.[1]:234 [2]:456 Further text with further example.[1]:278

It's not as neat as using Shortened footnotes.

Re point 3, there's little point in having a template that does nothing more than add a colon and superscript its content. Superscript can simply be achieved using <sup> tags. These tags are already available from the edit box toolbar (x2).

--SallyScot (talk) 16:57, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

Good for you! Template:Rp prescribes a dopey system. Wikipedia is supposed to be understandable by ordinary people. No one (or hardly anyone) will understand citations that use Template:Rp because that form of citation is unknown outside Wikipedia, and, as SallyScott points out, barely known within it. The template should be nominated for deletion. If someone does nominate it for deletion, please let me know so I will be sure to vote. Finell (Talk) 01:58, 10 January 2009 (UTC)


I should stress that my reservations about Template:Rp don't pivot entirely on point number one. In any case, User:ImperfectlyInformed(II)'s given real world example, has numbered references like so...

"people spend from 240 to over 10,000 times more per gallon for bottled water than they typically do for tap water."1(p1)
its first goal is to "Reduce the proportion of children and adolescents who have dental caries experience in their primary or permanent teeth."6(p21-11)
The American Academy of Pediatrics12(pp110-111) has stated that...

which isn't really the same as what's proposed with Template:Rp. The inclusion of bracketed numbers prefixed p. or pp. is a little more intuitive perhaps (though quite why and how p. and pp. are used in that same example isn't particularly clear).

Anyway, the way to progress any such adoption within Wikipedia is via discussion and reaching consensus, not by the design of a wee template, implemented here and there, then quietly slipped it into an unsuspecting project page.

Even if I did agree that this sort of reference[1]:234 [2]:456 was a good idea (which I don't), I would still maintain that the Rp template itself is a waste of space; as I say, it does nothing more than add a colon and superscript its content. Superscript can already be achieved quite simply e.g. using the edit box toolbar (x2).

--SallyScot (talk) 21:54, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

I still think that there's good reason to include mention of this style of inline citation in the guideline but SallyScot makes some good points: {{Rp}} itself isn't needed and shouldn't be central to the discussion of this style (much like {{citation}} is only marginally mentioned in the overall guideline) and the specific format used by the American Academy of Pediatrics example is better and clearer than what {{Rp}} does.
Whether {{Rp}} is a dopey template, though - it's certainly much simpler than many templates but that level of simplicity and the sort of thing it implements is probably pretty close to the average among all WP formatting templates. It could be improved and made to be more sophisticated, but even then its existence would not need to be any more than a footnote itself in this guideline. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 22:45, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
The style used in my real-world example[1](p1) is actually AMA style. Personally I think that's worse than the style of {{Rp}}.[1]:1 I don't see how it could confuse - what else could the number after the colon refer to? And certainly it's not as clunky as the common parenthetical style eg (Ferdinand & Rolfwitz 2007:1), which uses either a colon or a p to indicate the page number. It's hard to believe that a colon and a small number after a footnote is clunky while the common parenthetical method is not. As far as 3, that there's little point to the template, I don't really agree. Sup tags are a pain, as I've discovered writing this post, and certainly they add more space than the Rp tag in terms of raw characters. They also require more typing and attention to close the tags -- which makes editing more time-consuming. I'm not a fan of restricting ourselves to only accepted style guidelines, and I'd prefer to use what's reasonable and let people decide optionally. However, if a lot of people don't like the output generated by template rp, then we should at least add the AMA's way of dealing with page numbers. II | (t - c) 23:59, 2 February 2009 (UTC)
I'm not a fan of restricting WP styling to styling from third parties either. (Especially when many of those styling guidelines are actually the product of profit-making operations like the MLA or APA... I always found that so utterly outrageous. Some aspects of academia are so rotten to the core it's as clownish as academic regalia, like professors who make their own published books required texts for the courses they teach - unless maybe it's a really, really good book, but I never once saw that when I was in school.) But IMO there are some vagueness problems with the way {{Rp}} formats.
If there is another numbered list within the Wikipedia article (say, if there was both a numbered list of references and a numbered list of notes, or if there was a numbered list in the main article content) the number after the colon might be construed as relating to that. Or if the source is something that's arranged as a numbered outline, the way many academic papers are, or contains numbered sections, as many books do, it could be construed as relating to the outline or section. Or if the source is a periodical or other serial it could be construed as an issue or volume number.
So with that in mind I just added "at", "page", "pages", and "nopp" as parameters to {{Rp}} that will trip it into an "AMA-like" mode, similar to the example ImperfectlyInformed presented but with proper punctuation and a space. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 10:33, 3 February 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for your help. Could you provide an example of how to work it? The template still outputs the same thing, and your edit isn't easy to understand [4]. You also need to provide document how to work it differently at Template:Rp/doc. Not sure what you mean about proper punct. and space, since AMA style does not have spaces between footnotes and page numbers, or page numbers themselves. II | (t - c) 17:49, 5 February 2009 (UTC)


This may seem like a minor point, but under the auspices of attention to detail I think it worth noting. User:Imperfectly informed suggests that the style used in real-world example is like this.[1](p1) It's not. Actually it's like this.1(p1) The point being that square brackets around the footnote number are a feature of Wikipedia. The square brackets have the effect of acting as delimiter. Wikipedia doesn't use commas to delimit multiple citations. Compare this to the given AMA style guide, where they use commas to delimit multiple citations, like this.3,4 The effect of trying to include page references outside Wikipedia's obligatory square footnote brackets is hence more visually confusing and counter-intuitive.

Also, I must come back to the point about the template just introducing unnecessary syntax. As <sup> tags are standard html, also available from the edit box toolbar (x2), they're going to be of much greater utility to the overwhelming majority of editors. Asking other editors to follow your coding {{Rp|page=101}} or {{Rp|pages=101-102}} to achieve this,(p. 101) or this,(pp. 101-102) just because you don't like the <sup> tags seems, in my opinion, something of an indulgence.

--SallyScot (talk) 20:26, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

I think you might have a misunderstanding about the significance of templates. The existence of a template is not a request that users employ it, nor does it indicate dislike of HTML. (Oddly enough, I have encountered users who think that the mere existence of a template creates policy somehow!) I am a web software engineer so believe me I like HTML just fine, though I kinda have a thing for the proposed HTML+SVG gestalt standard.
To respond to ImperfectlyInformed's question up above the usage examples are in the testcases for the template.
But as I said above the details regarding the template or how this page information would be input are pretty irrelevant for this guideline and should at most be a note or footnote; the thing the guideline should discuss is the inclusion of the verification details next to the citation number for high-frequency citations, whether or not the user hand-codes things. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 10:30, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

User:Imperfectly informed described <sup> tags as "a pain"; it's in that context in which my remarks about not liking them were made. And, regardless of whether using a template is or isn't an implicit request for other users to employ the same (i.e. adopt its use for themselves), such usage does imply a measure of expectation that others ought to follow the meaning of the syntax. Either that or one must assume there's otherwise disregard for others following it. --SallyScot (talk) 11:51, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

  • The argument that since Wikipedia has delimiting brackets around its footnotes, it can't adopt the AMA style1(p5) is kind of like arguing that since Wikipedia has delimiting brackets around its footnotes, and scholarly publishing generally uses commas instead, Wikipedia can't use a scholarly style. Neither argument seems reasonable. It does make one wonder if maybe we should eliminate the brackets, but they are there for ease of reading and clicking. II | (t - c) 07:32, 17 February 2009 (UTC)
  • Sometimes it is necessary to provide a reference for an equation or a unit of measure. The square brackets around the footnote number help distinguish it from an exponent. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:47, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

New tool for finding references

Next time you need a reference for a fact, please try the WRS project's search engine. It is based on Google but only shows results from a few hundreds "reliable websites", making it faster to find a good reference. Open the search page and enter a fact (for instance: Obama born in 1961). Your feedback is most welcome :-) Thanks Nicolas1981 (talk) 14:46, 17 February 2009 (UTC)

I like it. --♪♫The New Mikemoraltalkcontribs 22:05, 21 February 2009 (UTC)

When quoting someone

In the "When quoting someone" section, it explicitly states sources must directly follow the quote. Now, I'm curious as to what's organizations style guideline this page is using to justify that statement (i.e. Harvard rule, APA, etc.), as I have generally always been taught that sources come either just before the nearest punctuation (if you're using the parenthetical format that identifies author and year), or directly after the nearest punctuation (if you're using the Wiki in-line text style of a number to represent the source that is listed elsewhere). In other words, I've always been taught not to break up the flow of the sentence by placing a source in mid-statement (even when you're quoting), but wait till a punctuation (like a comma or period). Where is the statement from this page coming from?  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 21:37, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Anyone going to tackle this?  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 20:20, 16 February 2009 (UTC)
If you're presenting a direct quote, the end of the quote offers you a punctuation mark (the quotation mark itself), if that's what you prefer. But the end of the sentence is sufficient for this guideline. What's not acceptable is the use of "general references" (a list of sources at the end of the article, with no indication which source contains the direct quotation). WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:25, 23 February 2009 (UTC)
Oh, I hate that. You cannot tell what's going to what. My concern was brought up at a recent FAC, when I asked why there were sources interrupting sentence's flow by putting the source literally directly after the quoted text instead of after a comma or a period (which is keeps the flow as those are natural pausing points). Apparently, the editor running the FAC was told that they MUST be directly after the quoted text (i.e. right after the quotation mark), and there were no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 03:33, 23 February 2009 (UTC)

Should we cite for definitions?

If a page is about a word or a concept, it should contain a definition. Should we get the definition from a source? Or use a common-sense, intuitive definition?

This came to my mind when editing reason. (talk) 01:10, 27 February 2009 (UTC)

If possible a cite is preferable. Common sense is not always providing the best definitions. Arnoutf (talk) 17:53, 27 February 2009 (UTC)


Is there no policy on the the problems of over-referencing? If you look at this article, for example:[5] you see how a long string of inline citations can be a problem for the ease of reading. Surely there should be some kind of guidelines against this as well, but I haven't been able to find any. Lampman (talk) 02:58, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

Much in the way that people can change the channel, no one forces readers to read the citation notes unless they want to... FWIW Bzuk (talk) 03:16, 24 February 2009 (UTC).
I think Lampman is referring to the flow of the sentence. It has nothing to do with checking the references, and all to do with the fact that 7 sources are being used to cite a non-subjective comment. Unless there is controversy surrounding the event (in such a case, you should be reporting each individual thought), then only 1 (most reliable) source is needed.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 03:19, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
I believe the appropriate talk page of an article can and should be used to guide the development of an article. A well-placed commentary may help to bring the editor in question a new perspective on how to structure the article more effectively. FWIW Bzuk (talk) 03:30, 24 February 2009 (UTC).
For this article, yes, but for articles in general that suffer from similar issues I think it might be good to have a place where we talk about when it appropriate to use multiple sources for a single statement, and when a single source will suffice.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 04:09, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
Bignole gets my point, it's an issue of readability of course, and centralised guidelines makes it much easier to deal with individual cases. Comments on talk pages are all well and good, but there is no reason why we should have to reinvent the wheel every time. Lampman (talk) 13:46, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

If it seems necessary to put a passage in "Citing sources" that it is usually sufficient to just list the best source, fine. However it shouldn't be a hard and fast rule. For example, if one source is the most reliable, but difficult to access, and another isn't quite so reliable, but available online, it might be wise to list both. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 18:05, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

Another reason for listing multiple sources is that some sources such as links to newspaper websites expire after a while. — Cheers, JackLee talk 18:14, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
I'm not saying there should be a hard one-source-limit, there are certainly cases where more than one can be beneficial or necessary. I'm thinking more of a gentle warning like "Beware of unnecessary over-referencing, as this can impede ease of reading." Would that be an acceptable phrasing? Lampman (talk) 20:00, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
If it's on the internet, chances are it never will expire. That was why the internet gods created Internet Archive. If it was ever on the internet, chances are, if the link dies you will be able to find a saved copy there. I have done it for countless sources in various articles. Someone comes by and says "this source is dead" and then removed the entire passage, when all they had to do was go to IA and put in the original url and presto-chango you've (typically) got multiple updates to saved pages for that article.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 21:14, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
Lampman, I think your proposed change of wording is fine. Bignole, I have to disagree with you. I've encountered numerous cases where material on the Internet has expired and become inaccessible, even from Internet archives. I've noticed that material on newspaper websites often expires, and it is not uncommon for such websites to prevent archiving or caching of their data as they usually make such data accessible only upon subscription. — Cheers, JackLee talk 22:23, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
That's a rare occurrence that happens with specific types of sources. The vast majority don't have that issue. Just the same, there is a difference between having a "back-up" source, and having 7 back-up sources. At some point you have to say, "I think we're protected".  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 22:30, 24 February 2009 (UTC)
That was my original point - there's a difference between double sourcing and septuplet sourcing. The cases were multiple sources are needed, are claims like "several sources say" or "this was widely reported all over the world". In those cases, bullet-point references might be the best way to go. They allow several refs in only one footnote.[3]
  1. ^ 1
  2. ^ My example edit.
  3. ^ This claim is supported by:
    • This source
    • And this one
    • And this

IMO there's nothing wrong with having many, many sources for any given fact in an article. It's perfectly all right if an article cites every single source in existence for a fact. Sourcing material should not be removed from an article for merely aesthetic concerns.

If a proliferation of superscript numbers indicating the presence of refs interferes with the readability of an article then the solution is to do something that hides or groups together the reference numbers, such as the above suggestion to group multiple sources as a list of bullets within a single ref, not to remove sourcing material for the article simply to get rid of the little numbers.

(So in summary, IMO if indeed there is such a thing as over-referencing it doesn't have anything to do with aesthetics - you'd need a much more substantial reason to claim that an article or fact was too well-referenced.) --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 01:08, 25 February 2009 (UTC)

No-one is talking about aesthetics here. It still remains to be explained what are the benefits of having a long string of references to support a completely uncontroversial fact. This not only makes the prose all but illegible, but it also slows down load time, and makes editing unnecessarily difficult. Wikipedia works on the principles of summary style and article size, and the fact is that a string of references can increase article size manifold of what the sentence they support does. For longer articles, there are in fact limits to how large they should be, and excessive referencing takes up space that could be used for readable prose.
As an example, if indeed articles should cite "every single source in existence for a fact", you could end up with an article that read only "Barack Obama is the President of the United States", that would still be 2-300k or more. Lampman (talk) 02:40, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
What you're saying simply isn't true. As I pointed out above, references could easily be hidden; they could be comments in the wiki code, in which case they would take up no space at all in the downloaded page, or otherwise elided. Your one-sentence 300k page and all of this worry about well-referenced pages "taking up space" is pure FUD. The removal of valid citation information from an article would need much stronger reasoning than anything you've offered.
Look at the history of any given article on WP and you'll see that it's quite expansive. Space is of negligible cost to the Wikipedia Project and we're quite happy to take up gobs and gobs of space in exchange for thoroughness and accuracy. If WP editors had actually done research that generated 300k of accurate citation information for the sentence "Barack Obama is the President of the United States" we would definitely want to keep that. It would be a fraction of the amount of space taken up by any one of thousands upon thousands of blurry vacation photos that have been uploaded to Commons and we keep those.
There are a great variety of reasons why a reference work such as Wikipedia should document the source of the information within its articles, whether that information is controversial or uncontroversial. Your assertion that it "needs to be explained" seems rhetorical to me, so I'll refrain from elaborating on the reasons already presented in WP:V and elsewhere unless you have a more specific request.
If you were out to simply make the rendered page look nicer when there are lots of references I would support you. But if your objective is to get rid of valid reference information, which an editor like me in many cases spent a fair amount of time carefully putting together, I have to oppose you. Many elements of the work people do on WP get offhandedly destroyed or tossed aside but well-written, valid citations are simply something that there is no justification for casually deleting. --❨Ṩtruthious andersnatch❩ 09:27, 25 February 2009 (UTC)
I don't think you quite understand what it is I am saying. I know there is no practical limitation on Wikimedia server space, that is not the issue here. If you had looked at the links I provided, you would have seen that there are limits on individual article size, however. Articles should not be much longer than 60k, and definitely not longer than 100k. Excessive referencing takes up space that could be used for readable prose - and notice that I'm talking only about excessive referencing here, i.e. multiple references to support completely uncontroversial facts. What this does is:
  • impede readability, when every sentence is followed by endless footnotes
  • complicate editing, when articles get filled up with code rather than readable prose
  • slow down load time, particularly on mobile devises
With all due respect, I don't care what editors like you "in many cases spent a fair amount of time carefully putting together", and neither should anyone else. Wikipedia is there for the reader and not for the editor; producing better articles should be the only concern, not the sensibilities of editors. Every time you edit a page you will see the text "If you don't want your writing to be edited mercilessly or redistributed for profit by others, do not submit it." If you cannot accept this, you should not be editing Wikipedia. I think I have explained quite thoroughly what the problems of over-referencing are. This same problem has also been addressed by other editors below, and previously. That is why I'm asking what your justification is for including multiple references in cases where one would suffice. I cannot find this in WP:V, nor in your comments above; "because I worked so hard on it" just won't do. Lampman (talk) 16:58, 3 March 2009 (UTC)