Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 26

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TfD about formatting lists of references

In re Wikipedia:Templates_for_deletion/Log/2009_July_10#Template:Ref_indent

Template:Ref indent, which formats references into non-bulleted hanging indent paragraphs (instead of the bulleted list recommended here), has been proposed for deletion. Must of the previous discussion was essentially WP:ILIKEIT and WP:IDONTLIKEIT. Since it has been relisted for further discussion, the policy- and MOS-based opinions of regular editors here might be particularly helpful in reaching a recommendation. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:13, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Apparent loss of data by WebCite

Editors who use WebCite to archive web pages may wish to note that there seem to be some continuing problems with the site, even though it appears to be up again. (It may be that it is not fully functional yet.) I have tried archiving a few web pages but it doesn't appear to be working properly. More worryingly, web pages that I archived before the site was taken down for server migration (see, for instance, "Choor Singh" and "Han Sai Por") are not accessible at the moment.

I sent an e-mail to Gunther Eysenbach, the initiator of the WebCite system, using the e-mail address stated at but have not received any response. I also left a message on his Wikipedia user talk page, but another editor has pointed out that he hasn't been active on Wikipedia since February 2009. Anyway, until WebCite has ironed out these issues, editors should be cautious about using the service. I also sincerely hope that web pages that have previously been archived using WebCite will be accessible soon, and have not been "lost".

I'm not sure where the best place to discuss this issue is. Please feel free to leave messages on relevant talk pages directing editors to the discussion here. — Cheers, JackLee talk 09:49, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

In addition to the old archives not working, there are several other (less serious) problems with the site. I have been in direct contact with Mr. Eysenbach and it appears that he is not getting any straight answers from his programmer(s) at this point. In my experience, things move pretty slowly on their end so unfortunately don't expect any quick fix. :( I do find it hard to believe that the data is completely lost though. --ThaddeusB (talk) 15:05, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
I've also had problems with webcite lately. Mostly error messages so that I can't archive anything, but I've also been finding dead links where I previously did manage to archive something. I e-mailed them but got no response. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:07, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
As near as I can tell there is not a single archive that was created before the server transfer that is currently working. It appears that there is currently a bug causing the archive meta data to align properly with the archived data, and thus nothing comes up at all.--ThaddeusB (talk) 00:19, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
I have some suggestions to mitigate (what I hope) what will be a temporary loss of data. Most important, we should get the word out to the general community that webcited links are down, so that people don't go mass-deleting these "dead" URLs. Maybe we can institute a temporary policy of not deleting these links until the problem is resolved. I'm not sure how such a message would be most effectively transmitted. Perhaps in the Signpost and maybe a banner display? I think this is serious enough to warrant such an action, since many controversial items on BLPs are backed up with webcited pages. Also, should the Board and Jimbo be alerted, if they don't know already? --Blargh29 (talk) 21:57, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
The Signpost and the village pump are a good idea, though it'd be good to know for sure first that the apparently dead links aren't gone forever. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 23:06, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
Until we know whether they are gone forever, let's just keep them in the article, until we know for sure that they're gone. Apparently, the programmers are working on it.--Blargh29 (talk) 23:28, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm just wondering what we could say in a notice on the village pump, i.e. what do we know for sure? I've just emailed the webcite people again to ask for more information. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 23:43, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
How about this: "Webcite a popular on-demand web archiving service is undergoing maintenance, causing many archived web pages to show error messages. Communication between the project's founder and ThaddeusB indicates that the maintenance is taking longer than expected and outages may continue. Please use extreme caution when deleting Webcite links, as they may not be true victims of link rot."?--Blargh29 (talk) 00:03, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Here is what I know (and I've probably followed this more closely than anyone else due to being User:WebCiteBOT's programmer:

  • had regular intermittent problems for essentialy the entire month of June.
    • I was informed this was due to server load, partially caused by all the links my bot was submitting, and partially to general site growth
    • As such a new server was ordered.
  • WebCite appeared to crash entirely on ~June 24.
    • Eysenbach acknowledges the downtime on his Twitter page - says a new server is on the way... Apparently the initial downtime wasn't directly related to the upgrade
  • WebCite comes back for a few hours on June 26, but quickly goes back down
  • Eysenbach acknowledges the servers are down for upgrades on June 29
  • (which formally ran off the same server as WebCite) comes back online
  • Several days pass and no sign of WebCite; Eysenbach leaves town for major health conference
  • On June 7th, I email to figure out what is going on.
    • Eysenback replies to it should have been back up by now & he isn't sure what is goign on
  • WebCite returns on June 8th
    • I email with a very minor bug - cite IDs are being returned like "1.24734562784E+15" instead of "127345627841214"
    • I quickly realize there are much more serious problems (the archives not loading being the worst, obviously) & email a fuller list of problems
  • The minor bug mentioned above is "fixed" incorrectly such that instead of returning the number it returns the short form (5iCDarRqh) instead of the number. I point this out.
  • I send several emails directly to the head developer, but hear nothing.
    • The cite_id is changed back to the # form, but still displays wrong
  • This morning, I get an email from Eysenbach saying he is still out of town and is struggling to manage the developer remotely. He says the problems are being caused by a new distribution of Linux and the developer is struggling to make it work
    • As near as I can tell, of the 5-6 bugs I reported only 1 trivial one has actually been fixed

In short, I think the data (& corresponding links) is still good, but I wouldn't expect the bugs to be fixed soon. Unfortunately, every time I have pointed out a non-trivial bug over the last several months it has taken a while before it was acted upon. --ThaddeusB (talk) 00:19, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Wow, great info. Thanks. How would you summarize that for a message to the general population to let them know not to remove these links?--Blargh29 (talk) 00:36, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Starting with what you wrote above, I'd say something like:

WebCite, a popular on-demand web archiving service referenced by Wikipedia over 20,000 times, went down for a server upgrade on June 24th. WebCite is currently "on-line" but a few things were broken in the upgrade and it is currently not working properly - for example, returning error messages or blank pages for most previous archives. ThaddeusB has been in contact with Gunther Eysenbach throughout the process and would like to assure the community that efforts are underway to fix the broken links. In the mean time, please do not remove, or otherwise attempt to fix, "broken links" to See this discussion for more information.

A shorter version for where a long message is inappropriate might read:

WebCite, a popular web archiving service referenced by Wikipedia over 20,000 times, is currently returning error messages for most pages. Efforts are underway to resolve the problem. In the mean time, please do not remove "broken links" to (more information)

--ThaddeusB (talk) 01:04, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Both VPs, Signpost, and the new Wikipedia:Content noticeboard would be my suggestions. WP:AN might not hurt either. --ThaddeusB (talk) 04:22, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Posted. --Blargh29 (talk) 05:24, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, ThaddeusB, for the useful updates and Blargh29 for helping to alert other editors to the current status of the matter. — Cheers, JackLee talk 06:03, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, thanks for taking the time and trouble to get that information and post it. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:54, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

New archives

So, I still can't access archived pages through WebCite, but it seems that I can make new archives of pages (e.g., [1]. Is archiving links now a good idea, or should we wait until this whole thing is figured out? Thanks. –Drilnoth (T • C • L) 02:30, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

New archives are working properly, but it wouldn't hurt to hold off for a few days just to be safe. I did notice some progress today - old URLS are no longer returning 404s but rather something like "/var/www/sites/". This tells me that it is at least trying to find the caches now, but still isn't matching up quite right. New archives work when accessed via "" or "" or short form "" but fail if you use the raw url "". So, it knows how to find the data using the query function but the raw URL is wrong. I am guessing this means the raw URL is being generated in properly which is why it can't find the old data. It is possible that when this is fixed newer raw URLs that were malformed won't work anymore, but I imagine a work around would be put in place to overcome this. --ThaddeusB (talk) 02:56, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Okay; thanks! –Drilnoth (T • C • L) 03:01, 15 July 2009 (UTC)


Most older archives are loading now. There still seem to be some problems with pictures not loading, but the text does. The formatting is all messed up because of the missing pictures, but the textual info is there. PDF archives don't load properly currently; and, multi-byte characters (primarily on Chinese/Japanese pages, but occasionally on other pages with extended characters used as separators) load as black question marks rather than the proper characters.

So, there are still some issues but at least all the data appears to be intact. --ThaddeusB (talk) 15:50, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Just about all the kinks are ironed out now. I think it's completely safe to resume normal archiving activities and am restarting WebCiteBOT. Hopefully I don't overload their server again. :) --ThaddeusB (talk) 21:04, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Implications of WebCite outage for usage of archiveurl's by Wikipedia citations

The WebCite outage, and the possibility that it was to some degree precipitated by calls to its database from Wikipedia readers, brings up one issue regarding Wikipedia's usage of the archive services. Currently, including the |archiveurl= ... parameters in a citation using the {{cite ...}} template causes the main hyperlink in a citation to call the archiving service. This usage implicitly assumes that the original URL is non-functioning, and it shifts all the server load from the original URLs to the archiving service.

I think that we should consider reducing the load on the archive servers by modifying Wikipedia's procedure so that the original URL is normally used for the main hyperlink. This is the procedure that WebCite itself suggested in its documentation. The main disadvantage of this procedure is that readers will more often find dead links on their first attempt. That could be mitigated by adding still another parameter to the template to indicate that the original URL is dead. On balance, the WebCite experience suggests to me that we should make this change. Easchiff (talk) 12:13, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

I think that's fair enough. This issue was discussed (inconclusively) at "Template talk:Citation", so I think you need to revive the issue there and invite editors active at, say, "Template talk:Cite book" to join the discussion. — Cheers, JackLee talk 14:41, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
I've taken the liberty of reproducing your comment at "Template talk:Citation#Order of original and archive URL in citation template". — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:31, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
It's a tough call. Most users will just click on the link presented. If it leads to a dead link, or worse, some error page that doesn't look like a dead link, most will never find the correct item. I think the real problem is that WebCite just isn't a big enough operation to be used as an archive for Wikipedia. --John Nagle (talk) 16:53, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Centralized references

It has been proposed in several places (see, e.g, this essay) that wikipedia centralize its references, perhaps as part of the wiki commons. That is, every journal article, newspaper article, book, etc, would have a single entry in a centralized database. Wikipedia articles would then include in-line references to the database (which could be collected at the bottom of the page, if desired). Such a system seems much better than the current potpourri of referencing conventions currently in use, solving several problems at once. And, it has been implemented elsewhere. See Quantiki, which implements bibwiki, as an example.

Is there a consensus on the suitability and feasibility of this idea? Has it stalled? I looked at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Wikicite but it didn't seem to directly discuss this. Njerseyguy (talk) 15:48, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

I recall that this has been raised and discussed before, but don't recall any consensus being reached on the matter. Try searching the archives of this talk page. — Cheers, JackLee talk 03:55, 21 July 2009 (UTC)

Templates and Aligning

When using citation templates, I always put them on a single line. Another editor recently went to a few articles I've worked on, including some GAs, and changed them to the vertical align method. As I abhor this method and I felt it was in violation of this guideline (which says to use the existing format and not change it purely for personal preferences) and the vertical format is the far more commonly used in the media related areas where we're interacting. So I reverted, noting so. However, he continues attempting to do this, and is edit warring across multiple related articles. The one time he bothered with an edit summary, he said he was doing it because it "looks better to me", which to me is not a valid reason to change this and its getting really annoying. Are there any guidelines regarding this that can be reviewed to (hopefully) help stop this? -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 05:45, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

I have two thoughts. First, the relevant text in this guideline is the last line of introduction: "if an article already has some citations, an editor should adopt the method already in use or seek consensus before changing it", and in the section WP:CITE#Citation templates and tools: "Because templates can be contentious, editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus." My second thought is this: does it really matter? Is this worth fighting over? ----CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:23, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Other editor finally stopped and apologized for "warring" over it. But good to know I was pointing to the relevant passages in my requests that he stop. (and in some ways, yes, it is, if you are the primary editor who is the one sourcing and fixing up articles...those horizontal formats are horrendous to work around) -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 14:02, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Improving <ref>

I'm in a mood to patch something. In particular, I'd like to improve the <ref> system to reduce the clutter in wikicode. There are several possible ways to do this, but at current I am leaning to towards expanding <references /> to allow reference definitions to appear within a references block, i.e.:

<ref name="foo">abcde</ref>
<ref name="bar">xyz</ref>

One could then change all the prior <ref> calls into <ref name="foo" /> and move the cluttered wikicode out of the main body of the text. Of course the current system would continue to function as is, but this would provide an option for greater readability of wikicode if people chose to use it.

Does that sound like a good idea? Do people have other suggestions for (small) ways to improve <ref>? Dragons flight (talk) 10:25, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Yes, definitely! This has come up many times, and there is great demand for this feature. (The point about section editing is valid, but not a big deal as we already often have sections citing references whose definition is in other sections.) Of the many bugs that Anomie mentioned, bug 18890 is probably the most recent one and with some code too, by User:Wtmitchell. Do keep in mind that it would be good to allow defining references anywhere, not only in one block at the end: that way we could have references defined outside of the prose paragraphs to avoid clutter but still "in" respective sections. I mean something like, say,
This is a paragraph<ref name="foo"> within a section.

<ref define="foo">abcde</ref>

This is another paragraph.
A lot of people would be very happy if you patched this, one way or another! Shreevatsa (talk) 14:29, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • I'm going to move the opposite way and say this is very much the wrong way of going about it. Moving citations from the end of the article into the article text made editing them so much easier. ref could be made better, but this is not how to do it. --Golbez (talk) 14:55, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    Really? How often do you edit the content of references? I certainly don't do so often, and when I do it is usually something like converting a bare link into a citation template, which doesn't really matter where the ref is defined. The reference marker would still be placed inline so, so I assume you mean something other than simply tagging referenced text? Dragons flight (talk) 16:39, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    I create dozens of references for the articles I'm working on, and if I had to jump around the whole article having to do them, I'd be much less happy about doing it. Adding <ref> was a godsend, finding out how to nest refs was awesome too, then I could completely abandon cite/note. So to answer your question: Quite often. --Golbez (talk) 15:27, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
    (ec with Dragon's flight, I repeat some of his points) When I think about the situations I, Gnome, edit references, I think I can break them down into the following three cases:
    1. I see an unsupported fact, and I come in and add a reference
    2. I enhance plain references in articles by the citation templates
    3. I greatly expand an article with lots of references (OK, that has only really happened once)
    In the first case, I agree that it's more cumbersome to have to edit two places.
    In the second case, I'll actually have an easier time if they are all in one place.
    In the third case, this proposal would help my editing style as well cause I'll already have a list of references prepared in proper format when I compiled the article. For me, it sucked to then spread the articles to the first uses of the refs.
    Of course, real content builders are certainly going to have very different editing styles, but I do believe that the editing of *existing* references could actually be easier if they are all in one place, and that the only situation when the new system would give me a harder time is when I add a new citation into an existing article. Shreevatsa's solution is interesting to help with that, but personally I'd prefer to keep them all in one place, and think that it might be confusing if I have to distinguish the type of reference by the attribute names. I'd expect some confusion there, when people mistakenly add definitions inside articles or actual references at the end of a paragraph.
    I believe that the better solution would be to just not care, to place them right next to the fact as before, and, in the (delusional?) assumption that the MOS will agree with the convention, wait for one of the many cleanup-bots and AWBers to move it to the proper place.
    That's of course the crux, getting the MOS to agree that by default we want all references collected at the end.
    Amalthea 17:06, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • How about this? SharkD (talk) 15:50, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
=== Section ===

<ref display="foo">This is a sentence in a paragraph.</ref> <ref display="bar">This is another sentence in a paragraph.</ref>

=== References ===

<ref define="foo">abcde</ref>
<ref define="bar">xyz</ref>
  • Please don't make us go multiple places to edit a single reference; that will just cause people to abandon the notion. A better editing environment, one that had a separate edit box for refs right alongside the ref itself, seems like a better idea. I like the idea of tying refs with text, but only if we don't have to edit the ref in two locations. --Golbez (talk) 15:47, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    How would your suggestion remove the clutter from page source? SharkD (talk) 15:52, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I welcome this proposal cautiously, but agree with the concerns raised by Amalthea and Golbez. I think that if all the reference definitions were moved to the end of the article, this would make editing cumbersome as it would be necessary to keep moving there to add, alter or delete references, and would make section editing impractical. Placing reference definitions relating to a particular section at the end of that section sounds like a fair compromise. The split screen suggestion by Golbez is also great, if that can be implemented. — Cheers, JackLee talk 16:07, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
I really do not understand the point some people are making about section editing being made cumbersome: isn't it already the case that not all references in a section are always defined in that section? Shreevatsa (talk) 17:33, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
At present, most references inside sections of an article are typed directly in between "<ref>" tags. Alternatively, you can give a reference a name using "<ref name=>". Therefore, when you are editing a section and want to use the same reference, you just have to remember the name you gave the reference earlier. However, if a new system requires all reference definitions to be placed at the end of the article, then most of the time it will be necessary to edit the whole article so that new definitions can be inserted at the end. Editing a section will be more inconvenient because it will not be possible to insert the reference definition in that section – unless, of course, we put such definitions at the end of each section rather than at the end of the article. — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:55, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Just to be clear, any technical change would allow but not require references to be moved. References placed directly would still work, but people would have the option of relocating them as a means of reducing clutter, if the community decides that is a good idea. Dragons flight (talk) 18:03, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes, it should be backwards-compatible. SharkD (talk) 06:41, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
  • For the record, any proposal that requires a separate editing box for references is a non-starter for me. Even if the community unanimously agreed to it, that's a much bigger change than I am personally willing to implement. However, I am willing to consider other options for relocating reference blocks, such as some way of defining them at the end of each section. Dragons flight (talk) 16:39, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    Err, what you're proposing is already possible using the cite id system. Take a look at GRB 970508. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 18:05, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    That's rather different, I'd say. The style used there is a compromise that can be useful in particular if many refs go to different pages of the same book. I personally find that style less useful, from a reader's point of view, cause I have to click the inline ref and the "Notes" item to get to the actual reference. Furthermore, if all you have are sources to online articles, without any page numbers, that system loses all advantages in my opinion, sunce you effectively duplicate all refs. Easier for the editor, while less useful for the reader, whereas the proposed system won't necessitate a visual change. Amalthea 23:00, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Hi Dragonsflight, I don't fully understand what your proposal is (in fact, I don't understand it at all, to be honest), but I'd like to add that anything that sections the refs off from the text (e.g. puts a box around them), or highlights them, or increases their length, makes copy editing for flow very difficult. In fact, it is impossible with some of the citation templates, which leaves us with some badly written articles and no clear way to improve them without removing a lot of the references. So I'd be opposed to anything that would make that situation worse. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:23, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    I, in return, don't understand at all what you are saying. :)
    This proposal is about moving the body of references from the prose into into the "References" section. Only the named reference tag will be placed in the prose, e.g. "<ref name=nytimes/>". This will make copyediting the actual article text easier, and it will have no effect on the rendered page. Amalthea 23:00, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Is it possible to set up a page somewhere showing what this would look like? Even if it's not a working model, it would be good to see how it would appear, and in what way it's so very different from what some editors do already. Amalthea, the way you describe it, I can't see a huge difference between the proposal and editors who already use Harvard refs between ref tags in the text. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 18:09, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  • My thoughts: Keeping the references in the same place as the content is much preferable than having to go somewhere else to print them, as we used to. That's just asking for people to forget to do the reference, or just skip doing the reference at all out of laziness. Having an editing environment where we could collapse references or explode them out to a popup of some sort might help, but please don't return us to the days of {cite and {note. Even as an option, it will just screw things up. --Golbez (talk) 20:43, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    As I mention above, I agree that there are circumstances when placing the body of references in a separate section is cumbersome. Would you agree though that for a new editor and from an editor who wants to edit existing references, having all references listed in one separate section instead of in the middle of the text will actually make things easier?
    I believe that if we still allow editors to place their new inline citations in the middle of the prose, without reservation, just as they do now, and rely on bots/AWB/gnomes to "clean" those articles up, it will very much be a net positive. Or do you see issues when editing existing references will be made (much) harder with the proposed system, Golbez? I'd certainly agree that if any change will make people use less citations, then it needs to be avoided, but I don't see why the proposed change would have that effect. Amalthea 23:00, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
    I found things much harder when references were split between prose and the end, I can't assume all new editors feel the same way but I know how I felt, both then and now. The problem with this proposal is that it gives three meanings to a single tag - it makes <ref> dependent on context and values, and I would think that would confuse new users more than anything. I find this proposal difficult for new users to understand (Heck, I have a problem with understanding it), and there are much better solutions than returning us to the old method of separating citation from prose. --Golbez (talk) 23:15, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Finally, a way of moving ref definitions that is fully backwards-compatible and intuitive.
First let me say that I do not support fragmenting articles to the extent of implementing a <define>...</define> tag; that is just asking for confusion and poorly-constructed pages, the wiki equivalent of the evil 'jump' statement in some programming languages. Why are refs different? Because refs are what we'd describe as 'inline' elements: they come between, and sometimes within, the prose sentences. An infobox might be a huge block of ugly code, but it is distinct from the prose: whether or not people understand what the code does, they can easily recognise it as 'the code that makes the infobox appear', and skim past it to the text. Refs are not like that: because they break up the prose so horribly - often many lines of code for something that comes out as four characters on the screen - they are incredibly distracting, and make it almost impossible to copyedit or even read the prose. The reason we have so many problems with punctuation and references being in the wrong order (lorem[1], ipsum), or even duplicated (lorem,[2], ipsum) is because by the time you've skimmed through the huge ref body, you've completely forgotten what the preceeding text was like. Anything that makes ref tags less intrusive into the article prose itself is, IMO, a very good idea.
Editing references can be difficult, everyone knows that. Section editing is particularly irritating, both because references are not displayed in preview, and that the necessary ref may be defined in another section, outside the scope of the edit. These problems are nothing new, and ubiquitous in any article long enough for section editing to be worthwhile. The 'solution' is likely to involve fully separating the references from the content: that might be by having them in a separate edit box; the long-term goal is I believe a WYSIWYG editor. An intermediate solution could be as simple as a piece of javascript or MediaWiki code to pick up reference definitions from the rest of the article and make them available within the confines of a section edit. Do you think writing such code would be easier if the references remained scattered throughout the articles, or if they were collected in one DOM element at the end?
In short, I fully support this as what seems like by far the most elegant and effective way to improve the flexibility of the ref system. Happymelon 22:50, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
Thank you Happy-melon, that is an excellent description of the problems caused by the clutter. The only thing I would add is that the existing in-prose reference markup (especially with citation templates etc.) indeed turns away several newcomers, as we learnt from the usability study: please watch File:Wiki_feel_stupid_v2.ogv. Shreevatsa (talk) 23:47, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
From the video it looks like it doesn't compare <ref>s with {{ref}}s; it simply shows people's confusion with <ref>s. That in itself does not mean we should change back to the {ref format. --Golbez (talk) 23:50, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
The video shows that excessive markup is intimidating. No one is proposing changing back to the {ref format, only that anything that reduces clutter is good. One particular instance is that "Person is X,<ref name=nytimes/> Y,<ref name=post/> and Z.<ref name=la/>" is more readable for users than "Person is X,<ref>{{citation | date=...(4 lines of markup)}}, Y<ref>(another 4 lines)</ref>, and Z.". Of course, other ways to reduce clutter and make prose readable when editing are also most welcome. Shreevatsa (talk) 00:23, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Reducing clutter would be great, I'd be all for that. I don't see how this accomplishes that; it moves the clutter out of the article text but it's still there, and this would make it less likely that it would be properly added and maintained, IMO. And if this change makes it easier for people to edit yet decreases the total value of references - as I think it would - I have to be opposed to it. There are other ways of making it easier to edit than this proposal (which really should be just a "what do you think", as the specific proposal here is pretty bad; again, we shouldn't have one tag do three different things depending on context. THAT would confuse new editors even more, I think. No other HTML tag works in that fashion, and few wiki tags do) --Golbez (talk) 00:50, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Moving all references to the references section would organize them and make it a lot easier to a) read the article prose, and b) read the citations themselves, since the article prose would be rid of the citation clutter, and the citations themselves would appear on their own lines with the wiki markup' characters lined up in rows and columns. SharkD (talk) 06:39, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
It might organize them but in IMO it would make it less likely for people to add them in the first place. As for what you say above - "Yes, it should be backwards-compatible." - then there's no point. No clutter will be removed; Some people will still use the present system (since it's backwards compatible); and newbies will still be confronted with a wall of clutter. If you truly want to do this to get rid of clutter then you must go all the way with it and not support the old ref-in-text system. --Golbez (talk) 14:41, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
You're making a lot of assumptions. SharkD (talk) 08:31, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
I am? The only assumptions I see up there is when I say "some people"; that includes me, and I'm pretty sure I'm not making an assumption about my own preferences. --Golbez (talk) 14:37, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
It's not particularly hard to extract the refs from the wikitext, even when they are scattered around the article. If you really want to make that easier, eliminate the three different methods of quoting allowed for parameter values (name="foo", name='foo', and name=foo, all with different rules as to which characters are allowed in the value). Anomie 00:51, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
Good thing there's no description of what the script actually does. SharkD (talk) 08:30, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
The sad thing about statements like that is that they go out of date so quickly. Anomie 00:26, 9 July 2009 (UTC)

< It is already possible to separate references from the text, using the {{Note}} and {{Ref}} templates. (This was mentioned before by Golbez and others but I want to underline it to make sure newer editors understand the issues. This example is adopted from WP:Verification methods.)

Article This is some information.1 This information comes from a book.2 This is more information that comes from a different book.3 This is a point that needs clarification.4 This is more information from the first book.2
  1. ^ This tells exactly where this information came from.
  2. ^ ^ Doe, John (1996), Book of Information, Great Books, ISBN 1234567890 Invalid ISBN
  3. ^ Doe, Jane (2020), More Information, Better Books, ISBN 1234567890 Invalid ISBN
  4. ^ This is a footnote that clarifies the point above.
This is some information.{{ref|1|1}} This information comes from a book.{{ref|2a|2}} This is more information 
that comes from a different book.{{ref|3|3}} This is a point that needs clarification.{{ref|4|4}} This is more 
information from the first book.{{ref|2a|2}}

=== References ===

# {{note|1}}This tells exactly where this information came from.
# {{note|2a}}{{note|2b}}[[John Doe|Doe, John]] (1996), ''Book of Information'', Great Books, ISBN 1234567890
# {{note|3}}[[Jane Doe|Doe, Jane]] (2020), ''More Information'', Better Books, ISBN 1234567890
# {{note|4}}This is a footnote that clarifies the point above.

What you propose is certainly an improvement over {{Note}} and {{Ref}}, because it automatically numbers the footnotes. As several people have noted, many editors would like to see clutter-free text like this example. However, as others have noted, this method was abandoned for several reasons that go beyond just the numbering issue, as discussed by Golbez, JackLee and others above. My own view is this:

  1. I agree with HappyMelon and others above that Wikipedia needs a WYSIWIG editor that at least allows us to edit footnotes as easily as, say, Microsoft Word. The logical first step is that the editor window should show the linked, superscripted numbers that link to footnotes in a separate window or window section, where you can edit the contents of the footnote. All other proposals are, in my opinion, temporary and kludgy fixes that don't fully solve the problems and introduce new unforeseen problems.
  2. Most editors don't seem to be aware of {{Note}} and {{Ref}}, despite the fact that these are used in a number of featured articles. Any new system, such as the one you propose, is probably destined to be just as rare and unknown, if not more so. Adding the code is fine, but "marketing" it to the vast majority of editors is another issue all together.

That's my two cents. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 18:40, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Thank you for expressing what I've been trying to say with #1. The problem is not the backend; the problem is in the editor. We've grown beyond a simple textarea form; while that of course can remain available, the only true solution to this is to have an advanced editor that allows us to separate the logic but not the entry. Many many more editors are aware of <ref>, both because it's more widely used and superior to {note}/{ref}; any change to <ref> to add two more types to it would confuse editors and doesn't solve the problem of clutter. --Golbez (talk) 19:42, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
    I've tried working with WYSIWYG HTML editors in the past and have found that they are more trouble than they are worth. While it is easy to get a simple page up and running in little time, they tend to insert junk and "invisible" formatting that shouldn't really be there.
    Also, thanks for mentioning the ref and note templates. However, it seems that they also require the refbegin and refend templates in order to achieve the smaller font. Could you provide an example of them being used along side the standard ref syntax, as well as the Cite XXX and Citation templates, so that we can see if there are any other stylization differences? SharkD (talk) 08:40, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
Hold on there, I'm not recommending these templates. The numbering really is kind of a pain. I'm just pointing out that "in the old days" there was a system very similar to what is being proposed and it was soundly rejected in favor of the current system, mostly because of the section editing issue. Just FYI. (I also fixed a bug in the example, just now.) ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:17, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
On the "improved" (but not necessarily WYSIWYG) editor idea: check out the way wikEd handles the problem. It allows you to hide everything between <ref> and </ref>, changing it into a little button. It's a little buggy, but it is developing into a real solution to this problem.---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 03:17, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Straw Poll on modifying <ref>

Based on the previous discussion, there would appear to be three possible courses of action at the software level for improving <ref> at the present time.

  1. Alter <ref> and <references> as initially proposed so that the content of references may be defined within a <references> ... </references> block.
  2. Alter <ref> so that the content of references may be defined in some other way at an arbitrary point in the page (such as at the end of the relevant section).
  3. Do nothing now, and wait for a WYSIWYG editor or other solution to present itself / become widely adopted.

I would note that the first two of these aren't mutually exclusive, so one could support both and envision changes to allow for both. In order to move forward, I would like to know if a supermajority of Wikipedians support any of these options, hence the purpose of this straw poll, which I will try to advertise in the appropriate places.

Rgardless of any possible changes, the current <ref> syntax would continue to be fully supported, and changes would affect only how wikicode could be written with no change at all to the rendered page. Dragons flight (talk) 11:39, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

Option #1: Allow reference content to be defined inside <references>

Alter <ref> and <references> as initially proposed so that the content of references may be defined within a <references> ... </references> block. Each call to the reference, including the first one, would then be identified solely by the name parameter.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet<ref name="foo" />, consectetur adipisicing elit, 
sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.<ref name="bar" />

<ref name="foo">abcde</ref>
<ref name="bar">xyz</ref>
Support #1
  1. This is my personal favorite. Dragons flight (talk) 11:39, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. This would reduce clutter in source text by a large amount. For example, short phrases between two ref tags are very hard to visually locate in the edit box. A. di M. (talk) 13:18, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. This is also my personal favorite. I should say that having method #2 as a choice would be nice as well. --Izno (talk) 14:18, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Makes far more sense, and is the standard method used in academic publication Modest Genius talk 16:39, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Yes, it would be an improvement to shift ref definitions out of the prose. When adding refs, I avoid section edit anyway because preview then allows footnotes to be checked for expected appearance, cite errors etc. PL290 (talk) 17:52, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    I concur that section editing with references works poorly.—C45207 | Talk 04:14, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Assuming this is backward-compatible. -- Taku (talk) 19:41, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Sounds good if it can be made to work without causing confusion about numbering. See for instance what I had to do to Taner Akcam - bundling loads of refs into one place in order to make the text editable. It would also make the "cite" templates more bearable - I can't stand the way they make it so hard to edit the text, in the common format where each item is on a new line. Rd232 talk 19:51, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    By the way, I tend to remove line breaks in front of cite fields wherever I see it, and I haven't heard any squacking about it (yet). There's absolutely no reason to put line breaks in between fields of citation templates, and there is plenty of reason not to, as you've pointed out here. I think at least one of the template documentation pages actually says not to put the fields on new lines as well, and that could easily be standardized to all of them.
    Ω (talk) 23:31, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
    Agree with the above.--Esprit15d • talkcontribs 11:31, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Would quite elegantly solve the problem of orphaned references (currently bots do it). I also like the logical grouping of all the references together instead of mixing them in w/ article text. --Cybercobra (talk) 21:47, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. This would be a huge improvement towards improving usability for editors. This particular proposal was something that I was wishing for, a while ago.
  10. As long as it's backward-compatible, and migration to the new system is easy. Sceptre (talk) 01:56, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. Per Sceptre. –Juliancolton | Talk 02:37, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. Page clutter -- a sea of templates -- is one of the most difficult barriers for new users to overcome, especially if those users aren't tech savvy. This would reduce that clutter considerably. Anything that makes the site easier to use is a Good Thing. – Luna Santin (talk) 03:34, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    Assuming there will be constantly running bots to update this to create backwards compatibility.NW (Talk) 03:50, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    Prefer option 4. NW (Talk) 16:10, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. Without question, this is my favourite. Much cleaner. Someone mentioned that this method may cause problems when moving text between articles, but I imagine it would be possible for a bot to automatically fix such orphaned fact, User:AnomieBOT is performing a very similar task right now (works really really well). Huntster (t@c) 09:32, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    Yes, and anyway there are already problems when moving text between articles: depending on whether "ref defs" and "refs using defs" are present in the moved text or the remaining text, the move can result in cite errors in either or both places and it becomes necessary to play "hunt the ref def". The proposal will not worsen this and could improve it in cases where it's used well so that all the ref defs are found in one place. PL290 (talk) 10:03, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. A lovely plan. Also makes it easier to check/format all references in an article where people are using it. OrangeDog (talk • edits) 21:19, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  15. Most definitely. See my comment above for reasoning. Happymelon 22:16, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  16. This seems like a good idea (and per PL290's comments above, not a bad idea), but #2 would be fine too. Shreevatsa (talk) 22:54, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  17. This would be a significant improvement, particularly for new editors having to wade through refs and wikitext to find the text they want to change. Btw, whilst you're at it, is there any way of adding ==References=={{reflist}} automatically at the end of every article which has a ref tag? AndrewRT(Talk)(WMUK) 00:51, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    Automatically appending a references section to articles where it is missing is already possible with appropriate changes to MediaWiki:Cite error refs without references. Dragons flight (talk) 09:07, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  18. I like this plan. The best of all worlds. I am very concerned about how this would be retrofitted to current articles.References are the literally the backbone of wikipedia, and yet, by their nature, they often get deleted, tampered with and otherwise compromised or destroyed because of technical issues or editor laziness. This could potentially exacerbate the problem exponentially without sufficient foresight and airtight bot execution.--Esprit15d • talkcontribs 11:31, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  19. Yes, as long as the current syntax remains available. (Not sure about the syntax, though—it's a bit too heavy IMHO.) —Ms2ger (talk) 11:47, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  20. Ruslik_Zero 19:29, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  21. Sure, this or option 2 would be great, as long as it is backwards compatible with existing usage. Plastikspork (talk) 20:40, 13 July 2009 (UTC) Although, it seems like this could be mostly achieved with the current {{ref}}/{{note}} system. Plastikspork (talk) 19:02, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  22. I support this option or something like #2. However, I can see an issue with adding/tweaking the reference while editing just a single section: only that section is visible, but the References section is not visible. Option #2 is slightly better, but still does not solve the problem of references used in multiple sections. Are references important enough to warrant their own edit box?—C45207 | Talk 04:13, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  23. Support. I have personally proposed this a long time ago[2]. This would be a huge step forward. The great thing is if this is done, and becomes the standard, it's easy to have a widget that lets you edit the contents of a {references /} block, even without full WYSIWYG. Stevage 07:25, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  24. Per discussion above. Amalthea 08:21, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  25. Yes, I support this syntax. It also urges editors to assign reference names, so that reuse of that reference on the page is facilitated. --Wikinaut (talk) 10:06, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  26. Yes, this is a really keen idea. It will make editing wikipedia articles 62% less intimidating. Kaldari (talk) 16:48, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  27. This prevents text clutter especially with very long refs. Strong support. —Ynhockey (Talk) 17:34, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  28. Yes, please. In articles that I've massively edited I have used the short-cite system just because I can't deal with the clutter of inline refs, but this would be much better. Looie496 (talk) 18:06, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  29. Support - I support both options listed. SharkD (talk) 19:17, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  30. Support This is the natural way to do it, at least for me. For those who prefer other ways, other ways remain available. Will greatly increase the readability of source text and facilitate editing . DGG (talk) 06:18, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  31. Support. Heavily cited articles can be almost uneditable as the citations overwhelm the text. I've often wished for the ability to have the information in a bibliography of some kind. This would address that.   Will Beback  talk  09:46, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  32. Support, this would be a good additional option to be used at the discretion of editors. Christopher Parham (talk) 11:08, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  33. Support gradual change. —Anonymous DissidentTalk 16:15, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  34. Support. It's going to make it easier to edit Wikipedia. Tempshill (talk) 20:14, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  35. Support This will make it simple to add references, simple to scan the Edit page, and simple to edit the article. GizzaDiscuss © 06:18, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  36. Support This is how it's done in LaTeX, and it's much more convenient both for editing the text and for editing the reference list. I hope this is implemented! Zvika (talk) 14:09, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  37. Support I've been always been wondering why this hasn't occurred to anyone else. Cite.php was broken because we didn't reinvent BibTeX yet. BibTeX did this right: If you put references in one place, they don't always break. So please make it more like BibTeX as long as you don't break existing stuff too badly. --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 17:47, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  38. Support I've begun my userpage plugging Bugzilla:5997, Bugzilla:2745, and Bugzilla:12796 for a while now. It's not difficult to bounce around and find references using the find (command). II | (t - c) 22:57, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  39. Support. The bigger the article, the greater the benefit. (Imagine a really, really huge article with lots of references. How is this in any way worse than what we have now?) For small articles this is not really beneficial but: 1) small articles aren't a problem, 2) there would be a choice between the two referencing styles anyway. GregorB (talk) 11:30, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  40. Support. This would make the content much easier to navigate for the new editors - a step in the right direction.--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 17:10, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  41. Support if additional to, not replacement of, current system. For some articles the current system works just fine (usually shorter articles). Carlossuarez46 (talk) 23:13, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Oppose #1
  1. Strongest possible oppose As a content editor, I'd hate this. It'd mean that I'd need to be editing in two places simultaneously, which would be horrendous. Unless, of course, I've misunderstood the proposal - it's not really very comprehensible. --Dweller (talk) 12:37, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    No, it doesn't mean that, since it's backward-compatible and you can continue using the existing system: when you insert a reference, you can insert it in-text, as you do now. Whenever any reference is used more than once (and this inevitably happens in any decently long Wikipedia article), you already have to edit "in two places simultaneously"; and this proposal doesn't make it any harder. Shreevatsa (talk) 14:26, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    If I can continue using the existing system, what's the point of introducing a new one? I have no doubt that if you introduce this, MOS will be adapted to say it must be used and every FA I work on will have to comply. No thank you. I don't understand what you say about already having to work in more than one place. I've worked on some very long articles that refer many times to the same reference - I only have to insert it once, and it goes where I'm editing. Not in a completely different place at the foot. I get a sense that not enough quality content editors have been contributing here, probably because they're busy contributing quality content. I'll post at WT:FAC and see if some others disagree with me. --Dweller (talk) 17:53, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    Sorry, Dweller, but your argument is very weak. The proposal is for more flexibility: you *can* define references in the footer - or in place. In a long article with multiple references to a single source, I think what will probably happen is people will start by defining them in place, then when that gets unwieldy, move the bigger ones to the footer. There's rarely a need to both modify the citation itself, and the reference to it at once: they're separate. And your claim about what the MoS will dictate is just spurious. Rejecting a proposal because you think the MoS will abuse it is extreme cynicism and bad faith. Stevage 05:56, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
    Dweller, you say about using the same reference many times: "I only have to insert it once, and it goes where I'm editing" - yet you complain about "editing in two places simultaneously", as if you don't need to edit in two places simultaneously right now, especially on very long articles you mention. That does not make any sense to me. GregorB (talk) 10:59, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Weak Oppose One of the concepts in computer science is to put related code in close screen proximity. The more that one has to jump back and forth, the less efficient. Our current system has this problem when you have a named ref, and there's no easy way to find where it was defined. But instead of putting the ref closer, this solution pushes them all equally far away, which is probably not the ideal solution. This is in addition to the other drawbacks mentioned below, such as the fact that we can already do this without software changes, and the ease of orphaning refs, which was a bigger problem in the earlier days of wikipedia. Gigs (talk) 13:09, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    "of the concepts in computer science is to put related code in close screen proximity" - well and truly trumped by factoring out detail. No computer scientist would propose inlining all function definitions. Certainly, it would be nice if there was a convenient way to get from a reference to the citation and back - but that's a usability issue, not a syntax one. Being able to remove the citations from the content is absolutely the right way to improve readability of wikitext. Stevage 06:10, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Oppose. This will lead to references being defined and not used in the article (clutter) and/or references being used in the article without actually being defined. Any system that could lead to this potential mismash is not a good idea. Karanacs (talk) 18:27, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    " This will lead to references being defined and not used in the article" - I doubt it, but it's actually not a bad thing. If there is a relevant source which for some reason is no longer associated with a particular sentence, we're better off retaining the citation. Currently, we would lose it altogether. Also, currently there is no way to smoothly integrate general references with specific ones. You do raise the issue that we haven't specified what will happen in this case yet.
    "and/or references being used in the article without actually being defined" - that's already possible. Nothing stops you writing<ref name="undefined" />. Has this become a big problem? Can you find a single example of this? In fact, the proposal makes this less likely, because there is less chance of someone deleting a reference which is relied on somewhere else. Stevage 06:10, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
    AnomieBOT fixed 1773 instances of the problem in June (some of those may have been reverted along with vandalism (e.g. if a vandal blanks a section, AnomieBOT fixes orphans resulting from that, and then someone reverts both edits)). Whether that qualifies as a "big" problem, I couldn't say. This proposal would help the "revised article and accidentally orphaned a ref" case, but exacerbate the "copy a fact from a different article" case; FWIW, the former is typically easier for AnomieBOT to fix than the latter. Anomie 18:31, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Oppose. It's not clear from the proposal how it would work in an upward-compatible way. What if both the text and the references section define the same tag? What if there are duplicate tags in the reference section? How would templates like {{reflist|colwidth=30em}} work with the new system, or with a page that uses both the current and the proposed system? With the new system, can text refer to a preceding reference section? What if there are multiple reference sections? What can be nested inside a reference section other than refs? What happens if a reference is defined but not used? Just off the top of my head. Eubulides (talk) 23:03, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    You're rejecting a proposal because its implementation details haven't been spec'ed out fully? Way to go. Ok, let's go through them:
    • What if both the text and the references section define the same tag?
    Good question. One of them presumably takes precedence. Let's say we have:
    "Text [ref name="foo"][/ref] text text. [references] [ref name="foo"][/ref] [/references]
    I would suggest that the in place reference's "name" field is ignored, and is treated as [ref][/ref], since it clashes with another reference. This is most likely what the user intended.
    It doesn't sound right to ignore a name field. Wouldn't it be better to treat duplicate definitions the same, regardless of where they occur? But how would that work, exactly? Eubulides (talk) 02:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    I think it's the best compromise. The local reference appears correctly. All other references use the definition defined in the [references] section. The only time it would be wrong is if one of the other references was supposed to use this local definition. Stevage 04:34, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    • What if there are duplicate tags in the reference section?
    Ignore all after the first one.
    This seems to clash with the rule you proposed in the previous question's discussion. Eubulides (talk) 02:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    • How would templates like {{reflist|colwidth=30em}} work with the new system, or with a page that uses both the current and the proposed system?
    I believe someone else has suggested a solution. I think I would prefer that references can be defined outside a [references /] block for this reason.
    Sorry, I missed that. Do you have a pointer to this other suggestion? Eubulides (talk) 02:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    I was thinking of Amalthea's suggestion right up the top of this section - not really a solution, though, just a wish. Stevage 04:34, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    • With the new system, can text refer to a preceding reference section?
    Sure, why not? The parser is not a recursive descent parser, so there's no particular cost in backtracking like that.
    Currently if you refer to a citation that isn't defined, there'll be a notice in the references section. But if you can refer to a preceding reference section, how will that still work with the new system? Eubulides (talk) 02:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    Ask the developer. Stevage 04:34, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    • What if there are multiple reference sections?
    What if? Currently they don't work very well. I imagine that wouldn't change.
    They don't work very well now, because there's no way to indicate which section a reference should go in. But with the proposed system, this would be easy to do, no? Eubulides (talk) 02:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    • What can be nested inside a reference section other than refs?
    Why not? And what happens if you go ahead and do it anyway? It would be useful, e.g., for Daylight saving time #References, which currently cannot be made 2-column because of the images. I'd like to put the images within the reference section. Eubulides (talk) 02:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    Looks like the solution is a table, refs in one column, images in the other, no? Stevage 04:34, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    • What happens if a reference is defined but not used?
    Good question (also raised by previous person). I suggest it is rendered, but obviously without any links to uses. Stevage 06:10, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
    That will lead to useless text in the article. It would be better to report a diagnostic, just as we do when a reference is used but not defined. Eubulides (talk) 02:11, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Weak oppose. One of my pet peeves with the current implementation of named references (see remark under Option #3) is having to manually hunt for the definition when the ref is used in multiple places, especially in multiple sections. This proposal would increase the number of places one needs to look. ~ Ningauble (talk) 13:53, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
    Increase? Under this proposal, definitions would be in one place, whereas under the current implementation they might be anywhere in the article. GregorB (talk) 11:02, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    On the contrary, the proposal is "backward compatible" so there would be a mix of inline definitions and definitions in the References section. ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:55, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Strong oppose, obviously propsed by seomeone who doesn'tmreference or edit artciles or review them for GA or FA. I'd need two coputers just to co-ordinate what is foing on. Jezhotwells (talk) 14:05, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Strong oppose. This is terrible: the referenced text and the actual reference will be split apart, leading to errors and refs pointing nowhere since they will be split into separate sections (and when refs are designed to increase reliability...). ChrisDHDR 18:51, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Vehement Oppose Editors who add references do not want to have to add the ref tag on the statement and then make another edit to add the actual reference just for the sake of so-called clutter. It might move the cite templates out of the way, but it surely does not make editing any easier and only complicates things for new contributers. Reywas92Talk 00:53, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    The proposal does not require you to edit in two places; we could continue adding the reference just as we do now. A bot might later move it out of the way on request. Shreevatsa (talk) 05:14, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    This just makes my oppose even stronger. Rather than millions of articles with a mostly uniform ref style, some will have citations after the statement, some at the bottom of the article, and some all over the place and you won't know where to edit. A bot will just complicate things further and ruin some of this uniformity. Reywas92Talk 14:12, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    Uniformity will still be there for the reader, and a bot can make near-uniformity happen. And how much confusion does this bring? Either it's in the ref section, or it's somewhere the text, and you need to use a combination of "find in page" and clicking the footnote-to-text links to find the ref: pretty similar to now. Except that newbies expect to find refs in the ref section, so if we can make that happen, it will make life easier for them. Rd232 talk 19:32, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. Strong oppose For an unusual reason. Every bit of complexity we add to the system makes it harder to use. Do you really think that brand new editors are going to be able to understand how this works on their first few edits? No. They're not going to even know what the hell <ref name="Frizoo43"> is for. They might think it has something to do with the font. They won't realize that it has anything to do with citations. So new editors won't leave us references; they won't be able to figure out how. The current system is ugly, sure, but it forces a new editor to see what is happening. Its sheer ugliness emphasizes its importance. Hopefully, it makes them realize that they are supposed to do something with those little tags. That's why I oppose this solution. I think the best solution is to add functionality to the editor that hides footnotes, as implemented in WikEd or the editor at in use at Appropedia:Sandbox. ----- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:53, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    newbies expect to find refs editable in the ref section, so if we can make that happen, it will make life easier for them. Rd232 talk 19:32, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    It would certainly make life easier for vandals, if we break the link between the text and the source. This is a bad idea. Hiding T 08:39, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
    Can you explain that? I don't get that at all. WP:VANDALISM, in my experience, has very little to do with messing with references; and where it does, I still don't see that having the body of the ref in a different part of the article makes vandalism easier. Rd232 talk 08:51, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
    At any rate, the basic idea is that we want people to add content and references at the same time. There are tens of thousands of people who are doing this. We want to make it as easy as possible. Separating the content from the references makes it harder, not easier, to add some content and a reference. It makes it more likely that people will just add content, and forget about the reference. We need to keep the references where they are: next to the material they support. As I said above, the solution to unreadable wikitext is not to make it look like a computer program (e.g. <ref name="gobbledegook"/>) but to make it look something like Microsoft Word. This requires an enhanced editor, which makes it easy to see that there is a footnote inserted here, and that you're expected to use footnotes with citations when you edit. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:20, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
    My experience of vandalism obviously differs to yours, since I've encountered vandals who like to play with references and also vandals who like to add "referenced" material to Wikipedia. I can also recall when we had this system before and undoing vandalism was a lot harder because with references and text un-linked, reconstructing an article after a while can become incredibly hard if vandalism is buried in the page history. This proposal is going to make article editing harder, weirdly enough, because of the disconnect. I appreciate what people are trying to do, but this isn;t the right solution. The right solution would be some sort of way of allowing editing with references or without references, I'm not sure if such a thing is possible though? Hiding T 22:28, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
    In my experience, 9 times out of 10, broken references are due to bona fide (or almost bona fide) cuts - not outright vandalism - that remove the definition, and leave the rest dangling. This is very difficult to fix if not spotted immediately (i.e. if dozens of article revisions intervene). One more thing: brand new editors are "not going to even know what the hell <ref name="Frizoo43"> is for" - yet, somehow, they do now? GregorB (talk) 11:13, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
    No they don't. That's my point. This proposal claims it would be better if all the footnotes were of the form <ref name="GRZ">. I claim this syntax is too hard to understand at first glance. I argue that a "rich text" method ("click on this and edit the footnote") is what new users need. ----CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:33, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Strong oppose The current system works and is easily understood - the actual formatting of the refs on first use is where the inexperienced slip up. The reference text is where it should be, and any problem with "clutter" is instantly resolved using WikiEd to colour the text. Jimfbleak - talk to me? 15:00, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    I defy you to look at the wikitext of this version of Taner Akcam and tell me the current system works for loads of inline refs using cite templates. Rd232 talk 19:35, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    I couldn't agree more, but that is a problem caused by citation templates. There's no need to use templates with the current ref system. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:37, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
    I disagree that citation templates are the cause of the problem and that hand-crafted citations would supply any improvement. For past discussion and horrible examples, see this and do a text search for "Example of the kind of problem templates cause" and for "hand-formated inline citations". Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 02:36, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. Oppose, retrograde step. This is how we used to do it, and was incredibly unwieldy. Hiding T 08:36, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
    The problem with comparing it is that we didn't have a choice then, except by using parenthetical citations. There will still be the ability to use the current system, i.e., you get a choice. Without having double checked, I'm fairly certain the first major contributor gets their say in how citations are dealt with, so, I'm not sure this is really cause for concern in this way. The points that some others bring up... possibly concerning. --Izno (talk) 06:05, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
    Don't follow you at all, and in this instance we can't actually fall back on the first major contributor since many articles were created before we had any ability to footnote at all. You haven't addressed any of the flaws that this system demonstrably has, so I fail to see how you can dismiss my opposition. This system is unwieldy, counter-intuitive and didn't work. No-one has demonstrated why it will work this time around. Hiding T 09:44, 22 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. I like some of the reasoning behind the changes, but I'm not sure that this actually reduces any of the complexity. Managing refs will still be a pain in the ass; until we get a nice editor that can batch refs or something, it's still going to be confusing to newbies. People who like grouping their refs can do inline author, page style with full citations at the end to cut down on markup in the article body. But this will just aggravate some problems, and having multiple systems increases the issues. --Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 17:09, 25 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. Oppose - I'm quite happy with the reference system the way things are. Splitting things up might make life easy for new users, but it certainly makes it harder for existing users. I learnt how to use references, if I can do that, then so can new users. It isn't difficult. Parrot of Doom (talk) 10:16, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Comments #1

This is simply a repeat of history. We used to do references like this with templates until <ref> was implemented. When we used {{ref}} templates, references would very often get separated when paragraphs were moved between articles and such. You would end up with orphaned references, missing references, etc. It was a mess. We need proper code folding of references in the text area, in my opinion. That, or split them out entirely into their own namespace. --MZMcBride (talk) 20:10, 11 July 2009 (UTC)

This did seem vaguely familiar from the misty past. Gigs (talk) 18:53, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure how no one has realized that this system is already possible. You just use ref tags in the body of the article and cite id tags at the bottom. See GRB 970508. There's really no need to screw up existing articles in order to achieve functionality that already exists. --Cryptic C62 · Talk 01:22, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
To quote myself from above: "That's rather different, I'd say. The style used there is a compromise that can be useful in particular if many refs go to different pages of the same book. I personally find that style less useful, from a reader's point of view, cause I have to click the inline ref and the "Notes" item to get to the actual reference. Furthermore, if all you have are sources to online articles, without any page numbers, that system loses all advantages in my opinion, since you effectively duplicate all refs. Easier for the editor, while less useful for the reader, whereas the proposed system won't necessitate a visual change." Amalthea 08:20, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  • I wonder if I am confused about what proposal #2 is about. My understanding (do correct me if I'm wrong) is that the reference definitions (e.g., something like "<ref>{{citation|...}}.</ref>") would be grouped at the end of each section to enable section editing to be carried out, but that the actual block of references or footnotes (created by </references> or {{reflist}}) would continue to be in the "Notes" section at the end of the article. If this is what proposal #2 is, then I prefer it to proposal #1. — Cheers, JackLee talk 05:30, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment It would be nice if the proposal could summarise what problem/s it's trying to address... --Dweller (talk) 12:41, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
    • Mainly clutter and intimidating markup, which affects even experienced users. See the conversation in the section immediately preceding the proposal, in particular Happy‑melon's comment and the usability study video. Shreevatsa (talk) 16:35, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
      • If this is intended to address issue of edit-pane clutter and intimidating markup caused by the practice of including the full specifications (author, year, title, editors, publisher, links, etc) of a cited reference work as an inline cite btw <ref></ref> tags, then it should be noted that we already have perfectly valid referencing system options that do exactly this, in a simple, intuitive and no-fuss manner—namely WP:CITESHORT or parenthetical referencing. In fact, option #1 in essence is only doing just what these accomplish—reducing the inline citation (either inside <ref></ref> tags or as inline parentheses) to a brief identifier string, while recording the fully expanded source reference one-time-only in a separate section dedicated to the purpose. The only difference is that in this option there'll be a clickable anchor connecting the citation and the source reference, however this can also be achieved for CITESHORT or PARENS where it is thought beneficial (but it's hardly necessary, and it doesn't work for 'small' articles or when you're already at the bottom of the page).

        Out of the 5 general classes of referencing systems described at WP:CITE, the issue this is trying to address is really a problem for only one of these, #2 [full] footnote system (possibly #5 embedded links also, but that's generally deprecated anyway). I'd agree that it is an issue for the 'full footnote' system (one of the reasons I avoid that system wherever I can, but it has several other serious deficiencies as well.) But it is not an issue for these others. Any proposal to alter the technical functioning of cites/refs must bear in mind that these other valid referencing systems exist, function perfectly fine the way they are, and need to continue to function as they do. If it could be implemented so that there is absolutely zero impact or change to the way CITESHORT and PARENS work currently, including the option of not requiring so-called "named references" (quite unneeded for CITESHORT), then well and good, I suppose. But I'm not seeing if this would be the case; would the tag <references/> on its own still just generate a numbered list compiling all the entries between <ref></ref> tags? Would all the ref tags have to be labeled ('named references') now? Presumably section editing & previewing with ref tags would still work (for previewing, it's a simple matter to add a temporary {reflist} when previewing to see how the section's refs will look)?

        If anything, the implication of this proposal and some general agreement that there are issues with the 'full footnote' system, is an argument to move away from the 'full footnote' system altogether, which I personally think is not a bad idea...--cjllw ʘ TALK 04:08, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

        • The mention of #3 shortened footnotes and #4 parenthetical referencing is mostly a red herring, since they are applicable mainly when sources used are books, when in fact sources used on most Wikipedia articles are websites, newspapers, and the like. And #1 ("general references") usually attracts a {{No footnotes}} template; inline citations are a good thing. So while I use #3 and #4 myself whenever possible, #2 (full footnotes) is really what is used on most articles, and convincing everyone to move away from it is infeasible. And yes, this proposal would not affect the way CITESHORT and PARENS work, would not require all refs to be named, and section editing and previewing would presumably still work as they do now (i.e., work when the ref is defined not elsewhere but inside the section, which is the case when you're adding the refs you want to preview). Shreevatsa (talk) 14:06, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
        • Bibliography-style referencing systems like citeshort & parenthetical referencing handle the full gamut of source types, not just books and journal articles. Websites, newspaper articles, audio-visual content, the works—there's nothing to stop these being entered in bibliography-style systems too. All you need is the name of the content's author (person/s or corporate identity primarily responsible, if genuinely unknown put anon.), a name assigned for the work, and publication date (or accessdate, or if unknown just use n.d.). Every source has at least these basic elements, and most will have many more identifying elements besides (I would be worried if we were using sources that did not have this accompanying identifying information). There is nothing that #2 full footnotes can do, that bibliography-style referencing systems like #3 citeshort & #4 parens cannot also do. However there are several other key things that bibliography-style referencing systems provide, that full footnotes cannot, which is why I for one avoid it wherever I may. But I'm under no illusions that it's going to be abandoned any time soon; I'm only commenting that these proposals seem to highlight some of its deficiencies, that are not shared by biblio-style referencing. And while the intention seems to be that the current implementation of citeshort and parens should not be affected in any way by the proposals, without any actual technical spec & review to go by (this is a concept proposal), it is still to be seen.--cjllw ʘ TALK 15:48, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Option #2: Allow reference content to be defined anywhere

Alter <ref> so that the content of references may be defined (without being displayed) at any arbitrary point within the page. For example, references could be collected at the end of the first section in which they occur. Each call to the reference, including the first one, would then be identified by the name parameter.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet<ref name="foo" />, consectetur adipisicing elit, 
sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.<ref name="bar" />

<ref definition name="foo">abcde</ref>
<ref definition name="bar">xyz</ref>

== References ==

Note: The exact syntax for implementing this is still subject to further discussion and possible changes.
Support #2
  1. I don't think the cleaner wikitext is worth losing the ability to easily edit a section. My personal preference would be to separate them from the main textarea altogether, but failing that, this would be better. Mr.Z-man 15:22, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. More or less support - I think something along the lines of the "definition" flag is necessary in order to maintain backward-compatibility. It could also be incorporated into the tag name (i.e. refdef) or into the "name" parameter (i.e. ref namedef=""). SharkD (talk) 02:41, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. I agree, for the reasons given by Z-man. — Cheers, JackLee talk 08:36, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Am I allowed to vote twice...? Can't make up my mind. –Juliancolton | Talk 16:16, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
    • I don't see why not. :-) — Cheers, JackLee talk 17:08, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. I believe I proposed something like this above, so I ought to vote here :) But #1 would be fine too. Shreevatsa (talk) 22:54, 12 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. May be useful, and would certainly be better than nothing to declutter wiki text, but #1 would be better in my view. AndrewRT(Talk)(WMUK) 00:52, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
    Sure, this or option 1 would be great, as long as it is backwards compatible with existing usage. Plastikspork (talk) 20:40, 13 July 2009 (UTC) (moved to oppose) Plastikspork (talk) 18:57, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Oppose #2
  1. Strong oppose As a copyeditor, this would also be horrendous. I'd have to scan the entire text to find where someone had dumped the details of a ref I'm working on. --Dweller (talk) 12:39, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Absolutely; but you already have to do exactly that! (When ref names are used.) So I can't understand why you don't like #1, which makes possible what currently isn't: to dump all the details in one place. Not everyone will have to use the feature, but where someone has done, your editing will be enhanced. PL290 (talk) 19:41, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  1. Oppose for the exact same reasons that Dweller just mentioned. I do a lot of gnoming and copyediting, and this would make those jobs so much more difficult. More harm would come from this than good. hmwithτ 16:07, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Oppose for same reason as my oppose to option 1. Also, as Dweller says, this will make copyediting horrendous. Karanacs (talk) 18:27, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Strong oppose This is a superset of #1 but brings no advantages over #1, its additional freedom merely undermining one of #1's two benefits by perpetuating the current distribution of refdefs throughought the prose so that they have to be hunted down during article-to-article moves involving ref names. PL290 (talk) 19:12, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  4. Per Dweller. The separation of the contents of the ref from the citation tags themselves would be confusing. Dabomb87 (talk) 20:48, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  5. Making the wikitext layout more like the published page may seem logical and easier to edit but I think it would lead to problems. Keeping the references in line with the associated facts means they are likely to stay with those facts. It makes it much easier to reuse the text.filceolaire (talk) 21:25, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
  6. Strong oppose. Manually hunting for named ref definitions is enough of a nuisance already without making them invisible! ~ Ningauble (talk) 13:56, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  7. Strong oppose. What a remarkably dumb idea! References belong alonmgside associated statements. Then they can be checked by editirs and artcile reviewers. Putting them elsewhere has to be one of the most stupid ideas I have seen. Jezhotwells (talk) 14:02, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  8. Even stronger oppose. The ref link, the ref text, and where the ref shows up are all split up, leading only to confusion, errors and refs (links and texts) leading nowhere. A simply terrible idea. ChrisDHDR 18:56, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  9. This retains the few disadvantages of the general idea (allowing all references to be declared away from their point of display, not just duplicate refs), with none of the benefits. Happymelon 22:34, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  10. Vehement Oppose As an editor, I want my references where they reference something, not hidden elsewhere in the article. Reywas92Talk 00:43, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  11. Oppose There is already the {{ref}}/{{note}} convention if someone wants to use that citation style. Plastikspork (talk) 18:57, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  12. Oppose. Not very different from how it is now, worse then proposal 1 above. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 17:10, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  13. Strong oppose, confusing and makes referencing an even bigger headache. No benefit at all and only weakens consistency and referencing standards. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 19:00, 19 July 2009 (UTC)
  14. Oppose if we can't know where to look for it, it's hard to find. Also, there is the wonderful occurence when someone adds a different definition of the same source name and you have to find which is being accepted by the parser. Argh. Carlossuarez46 (talk) 23:15, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
Comments #2
  • My thoughts:
    • I see this proposal as at least no worse than proposal #1, and probably better. My understanding of proposal #2 is that reference definitions will be placed at the end of each section rather than in a block towards the end of the article. This will (1) clear the reference definitions out of the body text in each section, thus making the text easier to read; (2) still keep the references in fairly close proximity to the text to which they relate; and (3) enable section editing to be carried out which, for me, is what gives this proposal an edge over proposal #1. The reservation I have about proposal #1 is that one would always have to have the whole article open in order to jump between the body text and the reference definition block at the end of the article.
    • It is true that searching for reference definitions in proposal #2 will be slightly harder than in proposal #1, since in proposal #2 the definitions appear at the end of each section rather than all together at the end of the article. However, searching for the definitions in proposal #2 will be no more difficult than it is at present. In fact, it will probably be slightly easier because the definitions will be grouped together at the end of each section rather than embedded in the body text. Anyway, with the use of the "Find" command (CTRL-F) searching for references is not really a huge problem.
    • As regards ChrisDHDR's comment, one doesn't really need to worry about where the references eventually show up. I believe they will continue to be in a "Notes" section towards the end of the article. — Cheers, JackLee talk 19:53, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  • In addition to what Jacklee said above, I don't understand many of the oppose votes above, which imagine that references will get placed at arbitrary points in the article instead of as close as possible to their first use (or wherever they are defined now). Why would anyone be so deliberately perverse? Shreevatsa (talk) 05:24, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
    Where is a 'sensible' place to define a citation? Where the numbered link appears in the text is certainly defensible, although it has the problems espoused above of horribly breaking up the text. Where the references are actually displayed at the bottom of the article is certainly also defensible. Where else would it make sense to define references?? Nowhere. So why encourage such behaviour? The issue is not one of being "deliberately perverse", but rather of what makes 'sense' to one person not being intuitive to another. Maybe one editor's preference is to define each reference at the bottom of the section where it first appears: that seems defensible, certainly. Then the reference is used in another section, later in the article; fair enough. Then the original section is rewritten and the first use of the reference is removed, but the editor forgets to move the citation (fair enough, since it would be needless additional work to work out where to move it to). Now, without any perversity, we have a reference in one section drawing on a definition at a totally "arbitrary point in the article". Why expose ourselves to that problem? Happymelon 18:56, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

Option #3: Wait for something else / do nothing

This is the option for perserving the status quo, at least until something better comes along. For example, the widespread adoption of a WYSIWYG editor could remove the problem of reference clutter without any other modifications to the reference system. Alternatively, a more comprehensive system could create a separate interface (and edit box) for manipulating references. Such things may be possible, but they are longer-term solutions that could not be immediately implemented.

Support #3
  1. There working on it now at It's supposed to come out in January, I think. Neither of the two above ways really make it that easy, and they can also lead to orphaned refs. It they don't come up with something, then someone here needs to make the WYSWYG. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 21:49, 11 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. Support. These proposals both exacerbate the tedium of manually hunting for the definitions of named references by increasing the number of places to check. This is already my No. 2 pet peeve with the current implementation of named references. If a mechanism for traversing an implicit link to the definition were available then the proposals would be more attractive and I would support option #1. My No. 1 pet peeve is that, when editing a section, references are not supported by WYPIWYG ("P" for Preview, never mind WYSIWYG). Aargh! ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:01, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
  3. Don't waste the programmers' timeShii (tock) 05:00, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
    The programmer who's time would be spent on this has initiated this RFC, with willingness and intent to implement this change if it is found to be an improvement. It's really not for you to say what would be a waste of his time. Amalthea 13:55, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Oppose #3
  1. WYSIWYG is not coming along anytime soon. Nor is any other solution. Waiting for Godot is a stupid solution. Stevage 07:33, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Incorrect. See these Wikipedia WYSIWYG (or WYSIWYM) editors: [3]. The best one is the UNESCO designed one. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:20, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
This rich text editor is apparently already in use on Appropedia. You can play with it, at Appropedia:Sandbox. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 08:37, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
Another one is WikEd ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:02, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
  1. Technology is always changing. Reasons for waiting would be (a) prohibitive implementation cost/complexity or (b) concern about loss of backward compatibility. Neither applies in this case as far as I can see from what's been said. So while we wait, let's also use the better solution being proposed. PL290 (talk) 19:11, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Option #4: Wait for rich text interface

Apparently a rich text interface is being considered for ease of use. Many of these take extensions, meaning that when available then <ref>...</ref> tags could in principle be collapsed into a yellow highlighted word "ref", which users can click to edit. Long term that's probably quite a nice solution, especially as this kind of interface is (apparently) likely to be under consideration already. FT2 (Talk | email) 08:33, 12 July 2009 (UTC)

Support Option #4
  1. NW (Talk) 16:10, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
  2. CharlesGillingham (talk) 21:48, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Comments #4

Can't something like this be done in javascript, right now? Gigs (talk) 18:54, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

If you add a tag {{reflist}} to the bottom of any section that is being edited, the references for the block will be visible in the preview. I suggest that this should be the default view for editing. Twocs (talk) 06:07, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Note that WikEd has already implemented this, so it is certainly feasible in the near term. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 21:46, 15 July 2009 (UTC) There is also a (slightly buggy) wysiwyg editor in use on Appropedia. See Appropedia:Sandbox ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:04, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Comments on improving <Ref>

I'm jumping into this discussion late (and necessarily briefly as I will be leaving on vacation in a week or two). Let me identify myself right away as the person behind Bugzilla:18890 (to which, incidentally, I am not wedded, and for which a test wiki running that proposed enhancement is available at I do urge anyone interested to click over to that test wiki and to take the added functionality for a test drive. Create an account ... or not. Clone the content of some Wikipedia pages there and try moving some or all of the <Ref>s on those pages into <Ref def ...>s, as illustrated on the main page there. I think that you will find that the functionality there is similar to what is being discussed here.). Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 08:22, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Centralized References

(copied from below) It has been proposed in several places (see, e.g, this essay) that wikipedia centralize its references, perhaps as part of the wiki commons. That is, every journal article, newspaper article, book, etc, would have a single entry in a centralized database. Wikipedia articles would then include in-line references to the database (which could be collected at the bottom of the page, if desired). Such a system seems much better than the current potpourri of referencing conventions currently in use, solving several problems at once. And, it has been implemented elsewhere. See Quantiki, which implements bibwiki, as an example.

Is there a consensus on the suitability and feasibility of this idea? Has it stalled? I looked at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Wikicite but it didn't seem to directly discuss this. Njerseyguy (talk) 22:01, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Mediawiki, Wikipedia, and <Ref>

Most participants in this discussion are probably aware that <Ref> is not a Wikipedia thing, but there are probably some participants who are not aware of that. Just to clarify, Wikis are done using Mediawiki software which runs on a web server. That software is used by a lot of users other than Wikipedia. Extensions may be added to that software. One extension which is used by Wikipedia and by a lot of people.projects/organizations outside of Wikipedia is Mediawiki:Extension:Cite, which does <Ref>s.

What is being discussed here, I think, is a proposal to (1) modify the Cite extension at Mediawiki (2) in a way which would add additional functionality and in a way which would be transparently 100.00 percent backwards compatible with current functionality. We may or may not be contemplating here bypassing the Wikipedia:Bug reports and feature requests process. I hope that what is being discussed here is not a proposal to separate the Cite extension used by Wikipedia from the Cite extension distributed by Mediawiki. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 08:22, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Yes, it would be a modification of the Cite extension for everyone, and yes it would be 100% backwards compatible. Dragons flight (talk) 09:13, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Enhanced editor

An enhanced editor which would (optionally, I presume) allow multiple edit windows to be opened into different parts of an article undergoing editing (one window, say, into the article prose containing <Ref name=whatever />s and another window, say, into point in that article where a block with corresponding <Ref name=whatever>Ref body</Ref>s or <Ref def name=whatever>Ref body</Ref>s are placed) is an idea which I would urge be considered separately from the idea of improving <Ref>. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 08:22, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

The editor at Appropedia:Sandbox uses a pop up dialog box to edit references. (Push the "r" icon up at the top to open a reference.) WikEd opens or closes the footnote inside the text of the editor. So this functionality is certainly feasible in Wikipedia. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 09:06, 16 July 2009 (UTC)


The poll ran for nearly two weeks, with little movement during the last several days. Option #1 received 41 comments in support and 12 in opposition (77% support). In accordance with that result, I've begun writing the necessary software patch. I hope to commit it sometime today or tomorrow (though one will have to wait a while before it becomes live on Wikipedia). Option #2 is generally rejected, and I won't be implementing it. Dragons flight (talk) 02:14, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Implemented as revision 53790. Dragons flight (talk) 22:18, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Dragons flight, will you let us know when this change is actually available in the English Wikipedia? Will you be editing WP:CITE and/or WP:FN to explain the new possibility? --Jc3s5h (talk) 22:42, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
If I remember, I'll let you know. The delay in these things is often weeks and sometimes months. I don't have any plans to edit CITE / FN directly, though I think there are plenty of people above who understand the gist of the change. If people want to ask questions about implementation details, I am happy to address them. Dragons flight (talk) 23:59, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

FYI, since auto-archiving removed the info: Option1 was "Alter <ref> and <references> as initially proposed so that the content of references may be defined within a <references> ... </references> block. Each call to the reference, including the first one, would then be identified solely by the name parameter." In other words, the content of refs could be defined by editors in a ref section, rather than (as now) defined in the text and collated into the ref section for readers. ~~~~

Note: this change is now live on this wiki. (Note added after archival) Stevage 23:46, 17 September 2009 (UTC)


We could use more eyes at WT:Footnotes#REFPUNC. The text of WP:REFPUNC expressly permitted the placement of footnotes before punctuation (a style used in many scientific journals), and a footnote in an example expressly prohibited it (for no discernable reason). WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:40, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Citation templates: Good or Bad?

Editiing in good faith, I implemented various citation templates to a couple of articles some weeks ago, including Passive analogue filter development and Constant k filter. Those edits were, however, both reverted by User:Spinningspark, explaining on my talk page that I was "imposing style rules for others to follow in articles you have otherwise made no contribution to." Now I thought I was doing some useful work by implementing citation templates in order to give "References" and "Further reading" sections a consistent look in as much Wikipedia articles as possible. Is there any recommendation for this dissension? Can citation templates be implemented although the author who "owns" the article does not like them? --bender235 (talk) 09:37, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

The answer to your question is at WP:CITE#Citation templates and tools, and reads as follows:

Citation templates are used to format citations in a consistent way. The use of citation templates is neither encouraged nor discouraged. Templates may be used or removed at the discretion of individual editors, subject to agreement with other editors on the article. Because templates can be contentious, editors should not change an article with a distinctive citation format to another without gaining consensus. Where no agreement can be reached, defer to the style used by the first major contributor.

Since the articles already had a reasonably consistent way of citing sources, it was inappropriate to change the system without first gaining consensus on the talk page. Also, although no one "owns" a Wikipedia article, it is inconsiderate for one who has no plans to improve the content of an article to make style changes that may be uncomfortable for those who regularly work on the article. --Jc3s5h (talk) 16:47, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

Noting an article's citation style

I often encounter articles which have citations in styles with which I am unfamiliar ("What the heck are those colons doing after the author's name?"). I propose that if a particular citation style is used, especially a specialized one (e.g., Vancouver system, Bluebook), that it be noted in the article to assist future editors, especially ones like myself who are looking to clean up the article up.—DocWatson42 (talk) 05:34, 27 July 2009 (UTC)


Hi! The first sentence in Section Tools / Citation creation tools link to WP:Citation tools which contains exactly the same information as already given below. What about simply dropping the sentence? —Alfie±Talk 12:20, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

Ref within ref?

I'd like to put a note in one ref, that uses another ref. Can anyone tell me my options? I tried doing this but it didn't work, and there's probably a better way. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 01:21, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Use the #tag: magic word, such as: {{#tag:ref|In the first volume of the English language release of the ''Tokyo Mew Mew'' manga, Tokyopop used the spelling "kirema anima" to refer to the monsters. In subsequent volumes and in ''Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode'', this is changed to ''chimera anima''.<ref name="TMM Chapter 1" /><ref name="Three Plus Two" /><ref name="TMM Chapter 2" />||group="n"}} (see this in action at List of Tokyo Mew Mew characters)-- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 01:28, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
I would say the #tag magic word is too obscure to expect the next editor who comes along to figure it out. When intricate cross-referencing or multiple references to the same work, but with different page numbers, is necessary, Parenthetical referencing works better. --Jc3s5h (talk) 01:54, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Not dealing with cross referencing within a work, but a note that needs a reference. Different issues and one not easily solved by just throwing in a parenthetical reference. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 02:15, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Some claim that <ref> itself, templates, and much other wikitext syntax is too "obscure" for some people to figure out, but we don't discourage their use. IMO, it's more likely that the next editor will just treat it as some magic template named "#tag:ref". Anomie 02:57, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for letting me pick your brain, C. I'm trying to avoid a separate notes section, which may or may not be possible. I can't tell if that's an integral part to your code on TMM, or if I'm just doing it wrong. Here's a diff of my attempt. It seems like the parser (or whatever) is still seeing the first closing HTML ref dealy it finds, regardless of the #tag:ref stuff. - Peregrine Fisher (talk)(contribs) 03:16, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
You were close :) When doing ref within ref, you don't surround the whole thing with a ref tag, just the second ref. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 03:24, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
Cool. Thanks a lot! I've wanted to do this before, and now I have a nice template I can follow. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 03:27, 20 August 2009 (UTC)
A little late to the party, but this is documented at Wikipedia:Footnotes#Known bugs. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 10:09, 20 August 2009 (UTC)


I'm GA-reviewing Phineas and Ferb, which cites a podcast 15 times. If a book were cited I'd expect page numbers. I don't intend to listen through the podcast each time I want to check that a point is verified. The editor insists there's no way to provide a route to the required points, e.g. by % through the podcast - especially as I don't know how long it is without listening all the way and the editor just describes it as "long". I guess similar issues occur with DVD commentaries. Any suggestions? --Philcha (talk) 18:49, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

I believe it's normal to provide a time index for the beginning of the cited portion. Most players should be able to display this information. Anomie 01:57, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
After a try-out, I now think podcasts are hopeless as a source of verification - see Talk:Phineas_and_Ferb/GA1#Podcast. Comments?

Position of inline citations

Is it best to place inline citations within a sentence directly after a point is made or at the end of a sentence? I tend to the use the later as it looks and reads better, even though the source may not be a reference for the whole sentence. Is that poor citing? - Shiftchange (talk) 01:27, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Usually, at the end of the sentence or behind a comma or semi-colon, if the sentence has multiple references. Now, if the source is not a reference for the whole sentence, that should be made clear, either by positioning the ref behind the part of the sentence being cited, removing the uncited portion, or splitting the sentence. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 02:28, 2 August 2009 (UTC)
If part of a sentence is actually unsupported ("Jane says ___,[1] but other people disagree[citation needed]"), then clarity is probably desirable.
It might be worth figuring out whether the unsupported phrases should be included at all: they may be wrong, or WP:SYNTH or WP:NPOV problems. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:21, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for the responses. I had been wondering about this for ages. Maybe your answers should be integrated into the article page. - Shiftchange (talk) 11:54, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

I agree with this advice for contentious points in contentious articles, but much of the time you only need a citation at the end of a paragraph, possibly at the end of a sentence, even if only part of it is supported by the cite. There is nothing worse[3] than a string[4] of references[5] interrupting the flow[6] of a sentence[7] unless absolutely necessary.[8] SlimVirgin talk|contribs 12:12, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Inline citations are typically placed at the end of a statement that is to be verified but if multiple notes from the same source are being recognized, I concur that "bundling" the group of citations with a single citation at the end of a passage or paragraph is acceptable. One of the other pet peeves is seeing a string of citations all verifying the passage and yet being from as many as five or more different sources. This is usually overkill and detracts from the sense of verification. Some of the similar or identical citations could best be sources as part of the bibliographical record. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 13:27, 4 August 2009 (UTC).
I'd be happy to see a sentence added that points out that it's not normally necessary to repeat the same reference after every single sentence in a paragraph: once is usually enough.
The counter-argument is that some careless person could later split the paragraph without copying the source to both resulting paragraphs, but I think this is too unlikely a problem to require repeating the same tags throughout an obviously single-topic paragraph. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:35, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
If you write "not every single sentence", someone will take that to mean you should have one in every second sentence. --Trovatore (talk) 22:46, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Our current silence is routinely interpreted as requiring a citation after every single sentence (especially by FAC newbies), so cutting the nonsense by half is an improvement in my books. I'm open to suggestions for "least-misunderstandable" language, however. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:15, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Giving just a single citation at the end of a paragraph causes problems when another editor inserts unsourced material in the same paragraph. A third editor coming along can no longer easily tell which parts of the paragraph are sourced and which ones are not, or may assume that only the last sentence is sourced. Citing sentence by sentence avoids that ambiguity. JN466 15:16, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

For <ref></ref> is this not covered by WP:REFPUNCT and a very very long edit war? For parenthetical referencing in Wikipedia:Parenthetical referencing#Inline citation in the body of the article -- PBS (talk) 14:54, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

It might be enough to stress that only material challenged or likely to be challenged, and quotations, need a citation, and that wherever possible, the flow of a sentence or paragraph should not be interrupted by multiple unnecessary sources. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 14:59, 7 August 2009 (UTC)
(Slightly off topic but) SV given that we use logical punctuation for quotes, '"He came around the hill".' instead of '"He came around the hill."' do you think that a ref tag should come before or after the full stop? --PBS (talk)

How long should a [citation needed] go before being removed entirely?

I don't see anything about this. How long should it stay before the statement is removed in its entirety? It says the BLPs should be removed immediately, but nothing about regular articles. TheWeakWilled 02:05, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

There is no reason to remove something only because it has been tagged for a long time. For example I occasionally tag things that I know are verifiable, but don't want to dig up a reference right then. In general, remove things that are dubious and leave alone things that are not, regardless how long they have had a fact tag. — Carl (CBM · talk) 02:11, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
I guess it would depend on what the statement says, how controversial or "likely to be challenged" it is. -- œ 02:23, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
Thanks. I'll keep that in mind. TheWeakWilled 02:30, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
I agree with CBM that sentences with "citation needed" tags don't ever need to be removed. They need a citation. Research is called for, not removal. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 19:19, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
I also agree that tagged sentences needn't ever be removed unless challenged. Njerseyguy (talk) 03:42, 17 August 2009 (UTC)
Sentences that you believe are false, on the other hand, should be tagged with {{dubious}}. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 19:21, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
Or removed entirely, depending on how sure you are... --NE2 19:23, 5 August 2009 (UTC)
That's a useful distinction. I've occasionally used[citation needed] when I don't think something is true, my quick research doesn't back it up, but I'm not absolutely sure it is false. I've felt that those situations should be rectified at some time, or the statement removed. However, the tag[dubious ] seems to fit my situation better. Moreover, it provides useful advice to the reader, who now see the metaphorical red flag. I'd be tempted to remove the statement eventually, but haven't though through a good policy for time, as it could vary. If I do remove it, I try to mention it in talk, so if the original editor returns, they will see why it is gone.--SPhilbrickT 15:55, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
or on which page they are ... --Amalthea 19:48, 5 August 2009 (UTC)

Abbreviating journal names

Perhaps I missed it, but I could find nothing in this guide about whether it is acceptable practice to abbreviate journal names. Personally I like to see the full journal name, particularly for journals covering fields that are unfamiliar to me. Take, for example, Phys. Rev. Lett.: without googling it, is this journal about physiology, physical or physics? (I happen to know it's 'physical', but about physics.) Likewise, what is the ASEA Journal? I have especially mixed feelings when an article mixed full names and abbreviations. Abbreviation of journal names seems like jargon. It would be good if this guide could settle the matter. Thank you.—RJH (talk) 15:04, 6 August 2009 (UTC)

I tend to agree. I can see no value in abbreviating journal names and doing so seems more like a version of jargon that only those familiar with the topic would understand. Far better to use the official spelled out name, rather than abbreviations. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 15:11, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
I also agree. It's fine for the article writers who know what the abbreviations mean, but most readers don't, and it's for the latter's benefit that citations are supplied. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:15, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Such abbreviations save nothing and make the citation obscure. Journal names in citations should be wikilinked on at least the first use, where there is an article on the journal. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 15:21, 6 August 2009 (UTC)
Devil's advocate:

"In the sciences, journal titles are usually abbreviated (often with periods omitted) unless they consist of only one word. Standard abbreviations for scientific journals may be found in BIOSIS Serial Sources (bibliog. 5) and Index Medicus (bibliog. 4.5), among other reference works. Both are published annually in print form and are also available online. For a partial list of standard abbreviations of frequently used journal title words, see Scientific Style and Format or the AMA Manual of Style (bibliog. 1.1)."—The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition (2003), 16.100 "Abbreviations" (p. 618).

(This is taken from the author-date system of citation.)
That said, I agree that abbreviations of journal titles are often obscure and unhelpful to the non-specialist. (The Chicago Manual of Style also states in 17.159 (p. 689) "Except for reference lists in journals, which proscribe their own style, it is never incorrect to spell out all journal titles.") My own recent example: "JHKBRAS" for the Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in the Shanghai International Settlement article (until I cleaned it up).—DocWatson42 (talk) 12:12, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
I certainly think these titles should always be written out in full. We should remember that the abbreviated versions were concocted for the use of academics in their particular field. Most Wikipedia readers are not academics, I suspect. Alarics (talk) 18:07, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Agreeing with the devil's advocate, proper citation sometimes requires abbreviations (e.g. the Bluebook). In those cases, the citation guide should be followed, with a wikilink providing the necessary clarification. This is similar to what we do with court cases, where we use the correct method of citation (e.g. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).), where the citation will be linked either to the particular source (here the United States Reports (volume 410, page 113)) or to case citation, which explains the citation system. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 09:50, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

Non-Accessible sources

Hello, I was wondering if someone could clarify the wikipedia rules on world accessibility of cited sources. I've been reading a few articles that cited sources who's links led to an abstract of the article, but the full article needed subscription to the journal. As I was not subscribed to the journal I couldn't access the full text, and the abstract didn't cover the material being cited. I've looked around the article writing guides but can't find any concrete policy either for or against this practice. Is it accepted or discouraged and if accepted, what is the justification? Does it maybe need to be verified by other editors and if so, how do you know if it's been verified? This information could be useful to add to this page to clarify it for other users who might be confused. --Rentrustic (talk) 15:01, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Using sources that require payment is acceptable. Refusal to accept non-free sources is equivalent to advocating book burning, and would result in justified hatred towards Wikipedia. --Jc3s5h (talk) 15:19, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Less dramatically, the best sources on most topics cost money - they cost money to produce, and they know their own worth. Most of the cheapest sources, i.e. are blogs and forums, most of which are worthless. If you doubt a point that cites a source and the source costs money, you can: WP:AGF any way; ask the relevant Wikiproject, as some one may have access or know a non-WP friend who does; look around for sources of your own that discuss the point - Google books sometimes strikes gold; or you could even visit a library. --Philcha (talk) 15:31, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
We actually encourage hard to check sources (offline, pay only, etc.). It makes me wonder about our FAs, though. They use a lot of offline sources, and could be full of inaccuracies and plagiarism, for all we know. AGF is great, but it's kind of a week way to assess something. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 16:31, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Can you suggest a better alternative? --Philcha (talk) 17:09, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
This is the opposite of FAC, and will never gain consensus, but I think sources that can easily be checked should be preferred when there are options. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 17:11, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
While I object to the simplistic (and false) assertion that the best or "worthiest" things cost money (this is like saying that any journal becomes worthless the moment it turns open access), it is nevertheless obviously true that the best sources are very often not available online to everyone, and there's no reason not to use them. People should write articles with whatever sources they have or think are best. Shreevatsa (talk) 17:23, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. If a high-quality source happens to be freely accessible, it should certainly be preferred. WP:MEDRS, for instance, explicitly mentions this: "When all else is equal, it is better to cite a source whose full text is freely readable, so that your readers can follow the link to the source." But I would find it very hard to swallow if we suggested that lower-quality sources should be preferred just for the sake of accessibility. This would undermine the purpose of WP:V. Fvasconcellos (t·c) 17:26, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
I guess those are the reasons they will never be preferred. I think it's silly to prefer a high-quality source that no one can/will ever check over a lower quality one that's free online for the same info, though. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 17:35, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
If there is an online one with the same info, no reason not to include it as well as a "back up" source, so long as it is still a quality (for FA), reliable source. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 17:37, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
(EC) Most sources viewable on those payment sites are easily retrievable through any decent library system, especially the college journal databases. If there is a question about a source, of course one can retrieve it to verify it, however saying "easy to check" sources inevitably indicates online sources, which are not always the best nor useful, particularly for "older topics". I know I've crafted GA articles using pretty much nothing but offline sources for older novels that required me to not only do searches in college journal databases, but sometimes even request copies of articles from a local library that had archives of a paper that was not archived in the databases. Ditto local history and notable structures that received extensive coverage during construction, but require a trip to the local library to go through the old newspaper archives to get them. Giving preference only the online ones, particularly in FA, would be a smack in the face to those who have spent hours, days, even weeks doing the offline library source gathering for an article. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 17:37, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

(outdent) I'm with you on the "back-up source" practice (I sometimes refer to these as "convenience cites"), by analogy with the "laysummary" parameters of some citation templates. Fvasconcellos (t·c) 17:39, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

Many people don't find it convenient to physically visit the library, but the good news is that a lot of stuff can now be accessed free on line if you have the right library card. This is particularly true of newspaper archives, more and more of which are being digitised. For instance, I can now access the whole of The Times (London) back to 1785, right here at home. It doesn't enable you to give a direct link to the item (that would be of no use to anyone without the right library card) but it does make it very much easier to check and verify for those who do. Alarics (talk) 18:49, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
By quoting inaccessible records, a person is also saying "This is not original research". It should of course be remebered that if those records are accessibleto a few people, the "no original research" claim can be verified. Probably the best way to handle this problem is to apply the same rules to inaccessible records as one would apply to a foreign language.Martinvl (talk) 20:47, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
I cannot believe this conversation is even happening. If you only allow free online sources, why bother to write an article at all, just provide a link. The only information you will ever get is the same as what's already on the internet. So just provide links and searches: then rename Wikipedia to Google. SpinningSpark 20:55, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
If it's a recent change, then the editor that placed the ref is frequently willing to provide a relevant quotation on the talk page. If that fails, you can usually find someone at a related WikiProject that has access to the source. If that doesn't work, then WP:LIBRARY and WP:LIBRARIANS are also good places to ask. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:58, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Discussion of what sources are, or are not, acceptable is not appropriate for a style guideline page, which is what this page is. This is a matter for policy to decide. SpinningSpark 09:28, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

"Notes" section or "References" section? Just <references />!

The "Footnote summary" section says to add a == Notes == section. But most articles I see seem to use a == References == section

Also it doesn't explain the difference between <references /> and {{Reflist}}. I think the latter is where there are many references to make it smaller, but by definition that's not the case when someone is adding the first reference!

So I think the section can just say:

add the following wiki markup at the bottom of the page
== References ==
<references />
The existing section may be called "Notes" and may use {{Reflist}} instead of the <references /> tag.

Maybe someone who really knows can do this. Remember this is a Quick summary , leave the endless academic babble elsewhere. -- Skierpage (talk) 03:04, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

You can get small references without using the template with;
<div class=references-small>
which is all that the reflist template is doing. Notes are used when the inline citation is a shortened form of the full citation under references. This is often used on articles above a certain size when it becomes inconvenient to have the references scattered throughout the article. SpinningSpark 09:43, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
FWIW, I've recently adopted a style I saw on a few articles and liked—I use both Notes and References. I place offline references, such as books, in the Reference section. Then I use Notes for footnotes, citing online sources directly, and citing the book on my Reference section by author name and page number. Example: Hazel Walker
I'm aware that there is an alternative way to cite different pages of the same book, but it puts the page number in the article—I think it looks ugly.
I'd love some feedback on this approach, as I plan to use it and encourage it—if there is something wrong with it or something better, I'd like to know.--SPhilbrickT 15:36, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Its one of many common methods for citing sources. "Encouraging" is fine if the article does not have an established method already in place, otherwise please follow the guidelines and not change an existing style. Personally I ate such a method and never use it. I use notes for actual footnotes, and references or references. Its up to editorial preferences so long as it is within the prescribed methods (which that is). -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 15:58, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Sphilbrick, In theory, you shouldn't combine styles (<ref> tags for some reliable sources, and parenthetical notes for other reliable sources), because articles should use one consistent system for the refs, and I don't see any way around using two systems with your example.
What I particularly dislike about dividing up the online and offline sources is that it implicitly indicates that their reliability is different. There's also the complication of whether an academic paper is an "online" or "offline" source: most are both.
I think you'd be better off with a system like the one that we worked out for Nitrogen narcosis (which includes explanatory notes, books cited multiple times to different page numbers, academic journal articles, and online sources). Perhaps you'd like to look at it, and let me know what you think of it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:02, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
The style that Sphilbrick uses is pretty common, especially for MilHist articles (have a look through their FA's; for example, Fountain of Time). --Izno (talk) 19:42, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
I think I have misunderstood his system; I should have looked at the example he linked. I thought he was doing this:
"Here is my text.[9] Here is another sentence (Smith 2009:15)." WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:17, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
{{reflist}} also allows for a multi column display of longer lists of references. This works for most browsers. IE may be the only significant one that this does not work with. Vegaswikian (talk) 20:14, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
"This works for most browsers. IE may be the only significant one that this does not work with." Ha ha ha! You do realise that IE is still the browser used by 70% of internet users in the world? Alarics (talk) 20:47, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

<- Thanks for the extensive comments. No WhatamIdoing ::shudder:: that would be horrible :) I don't recall where I first saw the approach, but it was an FA, so I assume that the citation style had been through the usual grilling. Thanks for pointing me to the article on the bends - looks professional, and I know, I know that space is cheap, but multiple references to the same text mean the Title, ISBN and other info are repeated every time a new page is referenced. In contrast, I list the info other than the author and the page exactly once. In the article I referenced, I have 13 references to Ikard covering seven different pages, but only list the ISBN, Title and publisher once.

Thanks Izno, for the improvement you made—I've been struggling with multiple references to the same page, and that's a neat solution.
AnmaFinotera, I'll be gentle about encouraging. For example, I wouldn't think of suggesting it for the nitrogen article, which is in fine shape, and I probably wouldn't mention it to an editor tackling any established article (unless it is a mess). I meant in more in the sense of offering advice to someone who has only cited online sources and wants to add some books as cites, or someone starting an article from scratch and wanted some thoughts on how to proceed with references.--SPhilbrickT 23:20, 24 August 2009 (UTC)

Nitrogen narcosis doesn't repeat any details: see refs 9, 10, 14 (and more). The difference is only that it's all in one list, and that the short citations are clickable to the full citation. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:37, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

To get back to the topic, "References" is by far the most common title for footnote sections, so should we be encouraging "Footnotes" here? I think not. And is "general referencing" really something we still encourage? I thought the recent emphasis on inline referencing implied a certain deprecation of that approach. Rd232 talk 14:41, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

I don't have a problem with informing other editors of commonly used alternatives like "Footnotes", especially for short citations ("Smith 2000 p. 15").
General references are still accepted for many purposes. Telling people how to present these citations is not the same thing as encouraging editors to use them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:44, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

Consistency & first name abbreviation

I would like to seek policy clarification on the matter of the author naming convention in wikiped citations. On a pair of occasions I've encountered an issue wherein a well-developed list of citations have been extensively edited so as to replace all of the authors first names with initials. The editor in question justified this in the interest of "uniformity", but to me this seems like excessive and perhaps pedantic adherence to the word "consistency".

Unfortunately I see absolutely no benefit in this editing pattern, and I believe it may even cause harm by increasing the level of authorship ambiguity. It will also make it more difficult to track down and author (in order to establish their bona fides, for example). Thus this formating seems like a needless loss of useful information. I have to wonder how many of the wikipedia readers are going to actually care that some of the citations have full author names whereas some do not? If anything, while acting as a fact-checking editor I would want the full name of the author whenever possible. This is particularly the case for citations that may not necessarily be available over the internet.

For this reason, I would like to suggest a modification to this policy so as to allow for a more reasonable level of discrepancy in how much author information is provided. I would prefer it to say something like, "The complete first and last name of the author should be provided whenever the information is readily available. The exception is for citations that have more than three authors listed; in this case initializing the first and middle names is acceptible." (The limit of three authors above is arbitrary, of course, but I think that would work in most situations.)

Does this seem reasonable? If not, then I would prefer this reference to state clearly the opposite: that the first name should always be initialized. This would eliminate editing conflicts over the issue. I'd prefer not to just rely on common sense, as that doesn't always work. Thank you. :-) —RJH (talk) 19:56, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

This proposed change reflects common sense and what is normally done across Wikipedia. If the full name of the author is provided on the book, then it ought to be listed in the article. Karanacs (talk) 20:04, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I fully agree. I suspect the culprit here may be the APA citation style (maybe other styles too), which reduces first names to initials even when the first names are stated on the front of the book. Somewhere or other I think I have seen a guideline that says there is no need to follow that slavishly and that to give at least 1 first name, where available, is recommended. I usually tend to follow whatever is given in WorldCat, myself.Alarics (talk) 20:28, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
The degree to which the authors name is abbreviated is, as Alarics says, part and parcel of the citation system used (APA style, Chicago manual, etc.) The change that RJHall proposes would be the first time I've ever seen where this guideline says "don't follow any of those other style manuals, instead do...."
It would be necessary to modify the sentence "Any of these styles is acceptable on Wikipedia so long as articles are internally consistent, except that citations with three or fewer authors should contain the first and last names of the authors whenever the information is readily available." (Added text underlined.) --Jc3s5h (talk) 20:57, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
I support full first names. I don't know the APA from NWA, though. Jc, are you saying that all citation systems do the initials thing, or just some? If it is all of them, that gives me pause. They may have good reasoning. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 21:10, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
Only some citation systems abbreviate first names; APA does, Chicago doesn't. --Jc3s5h (talk) 21:15, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
I think initials are the norm in citations in academic books and journal articles, for example in the citations at:
  • the "References" section at the end of each chapter of Ruppert, E.E., Fox, R.S., and Barnes, R.D. (2004). "Lophoporata". Invertebrate Zoology (7 ed.). Brooks / Cole. ISBN 0030259827. 
  • the "Further reading" section at the end of each chapter of Cowen, R. (2002). History of Life. Blackwell Science. ISBN 0931292387. 
  • "Further reading" at Nielsen, C. (2001), "Bryozoa (Ectoprocta: 'Moss' Animals)", Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., doi:10.1038/npg.els.0001613 
  • Eckman, J.E. (December 1998). "A Model of Particle Capture by Bryozoans in Turbulent Flow: Significance of Colony Form". 152: 861–880. doi:10.1086/286214.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  • von Dassow, M. (August 2006). "Function-Dependent Development in a Colonial Animal". Biological Bulletin. 211: 76–82. Retrieved 2009-08-05. 
  • Halanych, K.M.. (2004). "The new view of animal phylogeny" (PDF). Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. 35: 229–256. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.35.112202.130124. Retrieved 21009-04-17.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  • Massard, J.A. (2008). "Global diversity of bryozoans (Bryozoa or Ectoprocta) in freshwater". Hydrobiologia. Springer. 595: 93–99. doi:10.1007/s10750-007-9007-3.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  • the "References" section at the end of Chapman, A.D. (2006). Numbers of Living Species in Australia and the World (PDF). Department of the Environment and Heritage, Autralian Government. p. 34. ISBN 978 0 642 56849 6. Retrieved 2009-08-07. 
  • Strathmann, R.R. (March 2006). "Versatile ciliary behaviour in capture of particles by the bryozoan cyphonautes larva". Acta Zoologica. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 87 (1): 83 – 89. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6395.2006.00224.x. 
All publishers appear to provide only initials, although they vary about whether terminate each initial with "." and/or a space. One of the examples is from a U. of Chicago publication. --Philcha (talk) 21:21, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
Those sound Biology related. Is it different in different fields of study? - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 21:33, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

But WP:CITE/ES already says as follows: "A good guideline is to list author names as they are written in the original article/book, without further abbreviation. The APA guidelines recommend abbreviating first names to initial letters instead, but since Wikipedia has no shortage of space, you need not abbreviate names. Indeed, there are good reasons to include the full names of authors; such information makes it much easier to find the cited work, and it also makes it possible to find other related information by the same author."

And all the examples given on that page give first names in full. Alarics (talk) 21:41, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

I've never seen the example style before. I think it is seriously deficient (for example, it does not explain what the citation within the text should look like) so I don't plan to look at that page again. --Jc3s5h (talk) 21:55, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
Whether or not you plan to look at it, the fact is that it's there, and some of us have been following it, assuming that that is what we are supposed to do. Are you saying it is wrong? If so, it needs changing. Alarics (talk) 22:00, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
As far as I'm concerned, it is just an example style that people can follow if they feel like it, just like they can follow APA or Chicago if they feel like it (respecting any established style in an existing article, of course). As for needing to be fixed, well, someone can fix it if he or she wants to, or it can just be abandoned. --Jc3s5h (talk) 22:05, 25 August 2009 (UTC)
I would be more than satisfied by that. I just need something to say (in effect) that a consistent mixed style (of full first names or initials) is acceptable and does not need to be squashed in favor of utter uniformity. Thanks.—RJH (talk) 22:55, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

I also support the original poster and the example style at WP:CITE/ES in the view that there's no reason to lose information and needlessly abbreviate names; we don't have space constraints like a book or journal. Also, please remember that "first names" and "last names" apply only to naming conventions that exist only in some parts of the world (see personal name, Category:Names by culture, etc.), so a misguided attempt to "abbreviate" a name often has undesirable results. Shreevatsa (talk) 23:39, 25 August 2009 (UTC)

My guess is that the practice of initials is a throwback to a space usage constraint, which doesn't apply here. I'd opt for full names in general, with the acceptance that in the case of multiple authors, initials might make sense, not because of physical space issues, but visual space issues.--SPhilbrickT 17:48, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Charles revert

Hi Charles, could you say what was wrong with this? [4] SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:22, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

The whole question about naming the edition of the book would be irrelevant if the citation provides an ISBN.
I wonder whether, in some instances, chapter names/numbers might also be another useful method of narrowing down the range for verification. "Chapter 3, In which Pooh and Piglet go hunting and nearly catch a Woozle" is fairly specific, no matter what edition you're looking at. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:56, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
The ISBN won't help in the case of older books whose publication predates the ISBN system; but, in terms of simply identifying the version used, both the edition number and the ISBN are secondary to the publication date. Is there any significant citation format which doesn't include publication dates for books?
(Pointing to a chapter only solves this problem if the only difference between the editions is page numbering. If the text itself might be different—for example, with different translations—we still need some indication of which version of the book is being cited.) Kirill [talk] [pf] 12:03, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
Where there is no ISBN, one can (and in my view should) give the OCLC number instead. But even so, a lot of people type these numbers wrongly: yesterday for instance there were 4,775 instances on English WP of incorrect ISBNs (see WP:WPCHECK). On top of that, it's not unknown for the ISBN to refer to the right book but the "wrong" edition, i.e. not the one from which the page number was quoted. I do not think we are going to get a cast-iron solution to this problem. All we can do is urge people to give as much information as possible. Alarics (talk) 12:39, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Sorry for the slow reply. Page numbers in different editions are different. So, if you use page numbers, you need to give the edition, otherwise the page numbers serve no purpose. That's all. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 18:52, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Newspaper titles

The article says "Citations for newspaper articles typically include" bla bla, and does not mention the place of publication. This is all right for U.S. newspapers where the place of publication is usually part of the title (New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune), but that is often not the case in other countries. The Times (London) should always specify "London" because there are other Timeses. Ditto The Guardian (London) as there is also a "The Guardian" in Tanzania.

So would it be possible to amend the article to say " ... place of publication (where this is not part of the newspaper title)"? Alarics (talk) 16:44, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

I think this kind of disambiguation is not necessary for well known newspapers like the Guardian and the Times. If there is indeed a paper called "The Guardian" in Tanzania then that one could be disambiguated but the London one doesn't need to. As for The Times, I would expect all the other Timeses to include the name of the place ("Irish Times", "NY Times", etc.) so when no place is specified the reader knows we are talking about the "original" Times from London. Laurent (talk) 17:15, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Actually there is a "The Times" in South Australia ( and others in Ontario, Canada (, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA ( and Trenton, New Jersey, USA ( All call themselves simply "The Times" on their mastheads. But perhaps that's not a very good example. There is a "Sunday Times" in Perth, Western Australia, and another one in Johannesburg, South Africa, and one in Sri Lanka, as well as the one in London. There is a "Daily Telegraph" in Sydney, Australia, as well as the one in London. And so on. So I think you are mistaken, and I reiterate my suggestion. There just are lots and lots of newspapers whose titles don't include their place of publication, so the default should be that the place of publication is to be included unless it is absolutely obvious to everybody which newspaper we mean. Alarics (talk) 18:34, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Either you link the paper in the cite or include the http link. Both of these should not be ambiguous. Or is this more an issue of improper citations. Vegaswikian (talk) 18:53, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
My original point was nothing to do with web links. I am talking also about cases where there is just a dead-tree newspaper article which might be tens or hundreds of years old. Or do you think it makes sense to link to a newspaper's home page, always assuming the paper still exists? I would not have thought that made much sense. Alarics (talk) 21:07, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
So may I go ahead and change it to " ... place of publication (where this is not part of the newspaper title)"? Alarics (talk) 21:47, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
{{cite journal}} includes a |location= parameter. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 22:27, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, and more to the point, so does {{cite news}} -- which I think reinforces my point that giving the place of publication is normal and expected in a newspaper citation. Alarics (talk) 07:48, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
I still don't believe that this is needed. Linking will solve the vast majority, if not all, of problems. If we don't already have an article on the paper, then the link would serve to highlight that fact in addition to providing any required disambiguation. Vegaswikian (talk) 22:27, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
I don't see how linking helps. Where there are several newspapers with the same name (see examples I gave above), it is perfectly possible that people will just put double square brackets round the name of the paper and not check where the link is going, so ending up linking to the wrong one. So that is not a useful check at all. In any event, it is useful and sensible and normal to state the place of publication even if the title is unique. Supposing I am citing something from the Eastern Daily Press. Even within the UK, many people in other parts of the country will only dimly have heard of it if at all, and might find it useful to know, or to be reminded, that it is the regional paper published in Norwich. Whether or not Wikipedia happens to have an article on the paper is entirely irrelevant. Even if it does, why put readers to the trouble of going there when all one needs to do is add the word "Norwich"? Alarics (talk) 07:48, 19 August 2009 (UTC)
Have we any consensus on this, or not? I just want to add " ... place of publication (where this is not part of the newspaper title)". Alarics (talk) 07:50, 21 August 2009 (UTC)

A quick, related question: is it generally considered good form to link the name of a newspaper (or similar publishing organ) in a citation, as is often done? -Wormcast (talk) 20:41, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Personally, I don't think it is necessary, and just adds confusing blue clutter. It might be acceptable in the case of an obscure newspaper, but I generally remove such links when I come across them. I certainly don't see what is achieved by sending the reader to an article about The New York Times, for instance. It seems to me a clear case of WP:OVERLINK. - Alarics (talk) 08:21, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

pages and pages

It there an accepted method of specifying both the page range location of a chapter or article being cited, and the specific pages being cited? e.g. if the work is

Author, An (2009) "Chapter 4: Some Chapter" in Some Book:140–195

and I want to cite material on page 190, but I don't want to lose the information that the cited work appears between pages 140 and 195 of the book... can it be done? Hesperian 11:40, 2 September 2009 (UTC)

Some possible ways, "accepted" to the extent that they are widely used, would be as follows:
  • "Chapter 4: Some Chapter", Some Book, pp. 140–195 
  • "Chapter 4: Some Chapter". Some Book. pp. 140–195. 
  • "Chapter 4: Some Chapter", Some Book, pp. 140–195.  Unknown parameter |separator= ignored (help)
edit this section and look at the wikitext for details. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 02:10, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

If I understand your question right, I think you are looking for a way to cite several different page ranges of the same book in several footnotes. The most common solution is shortened footnotes. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 05:29, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

Do we still use citation templates

User:SlimVirgin says we don't use citation templates any more. When did this occur? Should I be deleting them whenever I see them, or is this her interpretation of policy? She wrote: "removed citation templates please don't add any more, see WP:CITE". The message was here. Answer on my page please. Isnt the concept to have a standardized format and a template so say, in 10 years when we decide that newspaper names do or don't get italics, we can change all 10 million at once? --Richard Arthur Norton (1958- ) (talk) 05:39, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

SlimVirgin's change is here. This edit a little earlier added 1 template ("BMJ2"), when all the rest of the article's citations are hand-formatted. So I think SlimVirgin's comment meant, "WP:CITE recommends using a consistent approach".
Personally - I don't worry about this unless the artcile is GA or better, or when upgrading an article in order to nominate for GA. Then I use citation templates throughout to: get consistent presentation of citations; remind me of info that should be included.
refTools makes formatting a citation a very simple task well over 90% of the time. If you go to your "preferences" page, in the tab "Gadgets" there is a checkbox "refTools, adds a "cite" button to the editing toolbar for quick and easy addition of commonly used citation templates". Click this then click "Save". This places in the edit box a button Button easy cite.png that shows a form where you paste in the title, author(s), etc. Then place the cursor in the right place in the edit box' text, click "Add citation" and it does just that, including all the wiki-markup. Two notes:
  • The "Cite journal" option does not have a DOI box (has been requested), and I always insert | doi=....... afterwards if the source provides a DOI, as this provides a link that is automatically updated if the actual URL changes.
  • If you specify a URL, you must also specify accessdate - in format yyyy-mm-dd. I think the idea is that one can go to an archive (e.g. Internet Archive) and see the version of the page as it was when cited.
Sometimes none of the {{cite XXXX}} templates is right and you have to use {{citation}}. This gives a slightly different formatting - don't ask me why - and you should make all citations use {{citation}}.
I use WikEd's Find and Replace facilities are great for doing global edits such as this. N.B. wikEd does not currently work with Internet Explorer (a bug-ridden security hazard) or Opera (used to be good, falling behind), but is fine in Gecko-based browsers like Firefox or K-meleon, and in Safari and Google Chrome. --Philcha (talk) 07:14, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
WP:CITE also states "You should follow the style already established in an article, if it has one; where there is disagreement, the style used by the first editor to use one should be respected." So Philcha's approach of changing all the citations in an article to the Cite xxx family of templates would go against WP:CITE unless the article was already using that style, or consensus was reached on the article's talk page for the change. --Jc3s5h (talk) 08:01, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Also, re differences with {{cite XXXX}}, {{Citation}} can be caused to mimic the {{cite XXXX}} formatting with the separator= and postscript= parameters. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 10:44, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Philcha says: "If you specify a URL, you must also specify accessdate - in format yyyy-mm-dd." There is no "must" about it. If the URL leads to a page that has no date itself, an access date is highly desirable. If it leads to, say, a news item or press release which itself has a clear date, the access date is at best unnecessary, and there seems to be a consensus for the view that, if used at all in such a case, the access date should be commented out so as to be invisible to the casual reader (on the grounds that the only person to whom the information might conceivably be of any use is another editor in the future). The publication date of a news item is much more important than an access date.
Also, if an access date is specified, it doesn't have to be in format yyyy-mm-dd. The official line is that it should be in the same format as all the other dates in the article. - Alarics (talk) 12:58, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
I think Philcha was referring to the technical requirements of the refTools tool, not of Wikipedia. And, of course, I note that a visible accessdate is required under some citation manuals (e.g. Turabian). --Philosopher Let us reason together. 13:22, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
refTools comes (unfortunately) with today's date inserted in the accessdate field by default, but one can simply delete the default date and leave the field blank. So it is not a "requirement". Alarics (talk) 21:35, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
With some alacrity, I have changed the title to read "templates" as "tamplates" probably took this topic into another realm. As for citation templates, the original purpose was to provide editors with a basic means of providing reference sources, especially contributors who did not have a background or knowledge in coding the citation, or in the use of bibliographic styles of referencing sources. The templates were created in the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide, the most commonly used citation format for the sciences. Although the Modern Language Association (MLA) guide is more suited for the social sciences, the templates were not adapted to allow this format, despite numerous requests. The templates have now become a bewildering jumble of cite tags in every conceivable medium of text and non-text sources which also saddle the ISO dating format to the guide, regardless of the dating convention in use in the body of the text. For those reasons, I use an MLA/Harvard Citation Style Guide as the other issue is that many, not all, editors using the citation templates simply do not understand the coding or even the basics of bibliographical referencing, as noted by the many errors in punctuation, capitalization, alphabetical sorting and ad nauseum mistakes that generally can be classified as "garbage in, garbage out" errors. Reverting to "scratch" cataloging usually rectifies these common mistakes, so I agree with the first statement in that citation templates are available but are neither mandated, required or even (dare I say it) recommended. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 13:33, 3 September 2009 (UTC).
I just experimented with refTools, and found that if one specifies a URL, the current date will be inserted in the accessdate field in the YYYY-MM-DD format, but it can be changed to whatever you want. So there is no technical requirement to use that format. --Jc3s5h (talk) 13:34, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Indeed, it can be changed. It can also easily be deleted altogether, which is often the correct course of action. It is a pity the template (and refTool in particular) has given so many people the idea that the access date is always required. - Alarics (talk) 21:35, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
The problem with putting access dates in the format of yyyy-mm-dd is that this is not a very user-friendly or aesthetically pleasing format. Yes, it's ISO standard, but when reading articles, most readers are looking for something like "January 1, 2009" or "1 January 2009". And all those ISO standard dates were not a problem before the big date dewikilinking not too long ago. Once all the dates were no longer wikilinked, autoformatting stopped working, and we're left with all these dates in an awkward format. This should really be a priority for somebody to fix rather soon. Dr. Cash (talk) 14:32, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
The simplest solution is to write out the dates in the date convention that is used in the main body of text. When the question of ISO dating came up in a number of wiki project groups, it was readily apparent that many people did not even understand ISO or worse misinterpreted ISO dating, is it 2009-06-07, or 06-07-2009 (and is it June 7, 2009 or 7 June 2009, or July 6, 2009?...arrggh). FWiW Bzuk (talk) 15:33, 3 September 2009 (UTC).
Dr. Cash's comment indicates why it is so important to carry out date delinking. Dr. Cash is under the mistaken impression that " all those ISO standard dates were not a problem before the big date dewikilinking not too long ago. Once all the dates were no longer wikilinked, autoformatting stopped working". But for the vast majority of readers, who do not sign in or who did not choose a date preference, date autoformatting never worked. --Jc3s5h (talk) 15:50, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Re "You should follow the style already established in an article, if it has one; where there is disagreement, the style used by the first editor to use one should be respected" (Jc3s5h; 08:01, 3 September 2009), in most articles that have not passed GA or higher review after mid-2007: there are too few citations, the formatting of what few there are follows no recognisable or consistent format; if there is a discernible formatting convention, it generally does not scale to types of citation not considered previously - for example to identify all the elements in a citation of a journal article or of a book that is a compilation.
In short, I'm an unrepentant user of citation templates, as using them will almost always improve the article and provide conventions that extend to the more complex types of citation. --Philcha (talk) 16:17, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
...and in reply, that is balderdash. Choose your seconds, knave. Seriously, I am of the complete opposite opinion after seeing very few editors even having the basics of knowing what to input into the citation templates, which still are not provided in MLA style. I use a written form throughout and know that it is always correct. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 16:31, 3 September 2009 (UTC).
I can see Philcha's point in the case where the editors of an article have created a style unique to the article, and only cited a few sources. There would be no way to guess how to format sources of a type different than those already cited. On the other hand, if the article follows a recognizable style, such as MLA, Chicago, or APA, then there is a style guide available that will cover almost every conceivable source; a far greater range than is accommodated by {{Citation}} or the Cite xxx templates. --Jc3s5h (talk) 16:44, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
How am I supposed to discover whether "the article follows a recognizable style, such as MLA, Chicago, or APA"? Don't tell me I have to work at becoming expert in all of these 3 guides so I can recognise them at a glance - that's a ridiculous investment of effort. So far I've come across nothing the citation templates can't handle - and I've taken articles to GA on science, chess, fiction, computer games and soccer, so I've used several types of source. You've just given me another reason for recommending citation templates to anyone who asks - especially if one uses the tools available to make citation templates very easy. --Philcha (talk) 16:59, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Oh pleeeeze, they are nothing of the sort, you may know how to use them, but citation templates in the hands of the great unwashed are, and I can emphatically say it, are never used properly. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 17:21, 3 September 2009 (UTC).
Are you suggesting that "the great unwashed" would somehow make a better fist of their citations if the template didn't exist? Seems rather unlikely to me. - Alarics (talk) 21:35, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

(unindent) The guideline presently calls on you to preserve any citation style that is presently used in an article. If you don't know which one it is, ask on the talk page. If you think the present guideline is a "ridiculous investment of effort" then try to change it. At present, you are suggesting it is OK for you to ignore any guideline that you consider to be a "ridiculous investment of effort." --Jc3s5h (talk) 17:09, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

See comment above, about not wanting to become an expert?! FWiW Bzuk (talk) 17:21, 3 September 2009 (UTC).
(ec)"If you don't know which one it is, ask on the talk page" - and wait for long for a reply? Especially one that is credible, conclusive and links to the appropriate style manual? How do I have to wait if two or more fans of different external style manuals disagree?
Re ignore any guideline that you consider to be a "'ridiculous investment of effort'", some examples:
  • As a GA reviewer I'm known as quite hardline on WP:V, and look closely at adherence to WP:NPOV
  • WP:LAYOUT is simple and helpful, great value for money.
  • OTOH WP:DASH makes "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" look like a reasonable question.
Guiding principle: produce a good product for readers (i.e. good content, clearly presented) at the smallest cost. --Philcha (talk) 17:32, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
...and all that does not preclude a GA article from being reviewed and accepted using hand-written citations and bibliographic notations. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 17:37, 3 September 2009 (UTC).
Sure. But as a GA reviewer, if I saw an article with lots of citations, most of which could have URLs or DOIs but don't have these, I'd ask the nominator to provide the missing URLs or DOIs. The nominator might find that this is easier if he/she uses citation templates. --Philcha (talk) 18:14, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

In practice, one quite often comes upon an article with say 100 citations in 50 different styles and with important fields left blank (e.g. publication date) while unimportant ones are filled in (e.g. access date for a URL that in fact leads to a clearly dated and stable page, such as a news article). For those few of us who care about these things, there is nothing for it but to try to standardise it as best one can. Since some of the citations probably use a cite xxx template of one sort or another, the least messy thing one can do is often to use the template to fix all the others, even if one wouldn't necessarily have done so if starting the article from scratch oneself. Alarics (talk) 21:21, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

What is the difference when an editor uses: Author. Title. Place: Publisher, Date. for a bibliographic record. That's the basis of almost all citation guides and something that is taught in seconds. For notes: Author, date, source (page, url, whatever). Compare that to trying to juxtapose data into templates, which I still maintain are "buggy", do not accommodate all citation styles and are in two or three versions for the very same purpose. FWiW, even the great unwashed could learn a simple, elegant system, why are we giving them a complex, dumb one? Bzuk (talk) 21:49, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Richard, I meant that citation templates shouldn't be added to articles that already have properly formatted references, per this guideline. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:13, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
Philcha, it's not a question of becoming familiar with every style. It's just that if you see <ref>Smith, John. ''Title of Book'', Random House, 2009, p. 1.</ref>, it means there's no need (a) to change that to a template, or (b) to start adding other refs using templates, because a ref style has already been chosen.
The problem with templates inside texts is that they add a lot of unnecessary words, and they can make editing difficult for the people who edit after you. It's unusual to see a well-written article with lots of templates in it, because templates can make it very hard, if not impossible, to edit the writing for flow.
There's an article up for FA at the moment where the writing isn't that good. I went into it the other day to fix it up, and found it was littered with templates, so I had to leave it, because I literally couldn't see where one sentence ended and another began. It's not a good thing to write an article in such a way that editors coming after you will have difficulty working on it, and may have to abandon it. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 22:21, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
There's no guarantee that citation B will follow the style of citation A. Even if they are consistent, without templates you'd have look through the existing citations to see if there's one of the same type (e.g. book) as one you want to add. If you're adding a citation of a new type (for that article), you'd have to guess whether the earlier citations follow MLA / APA / Chicago / whatever and then look up whatever guide recommends for the type of citation you want to add. If you can't see that the article is following some well-known convention, you have to figure out to present the new elements of that in a way that minimises conflicts - and, even you've succeeded, you've increased the difficulties for later editors in devising a format for a further type of citation. IMO it's simpler to use the templates and let the template maintainers worry about all this.
I agree that all the citation mark-up makes the edit box crowded, even if templates are not used. But there are at least 3 solutions, which can be used in various combinations:
  • WikEd has an option to collapse refs and citations, so that user-readable text dominates the edit box.
  • Long before I knew about WikEd, I got into the habit of using 2 tabs when working on an article - one for the edits, the other for checking the flow.
  • The Preview button. --Philcha (talk) 23:04, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
The important point is that there's never a need for citation templates. All they do is add clutter, and it's faster to write refs manually. Regarding your point about preview, you need to have a clear sweep of an article or section before you can edit for flow, because flow is precisely about how to make one sentence lead nicely into the next. It's impossible do this if you're having to "preview" every few seconds to find out where the sentences begin and end, because you lose track of the flow in your mind when you do that. Can you show me a well-written article with lots of templates in the text? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 23:09, 3 September 2009 (UTC)
I completely agree, citation templates were a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless as they did not accomplish anything more than making wikipedia less accessible and more difficult to edit. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 00:04, 4 September 2009 (UTC).
You should consider that templates separate content from styling... much as CSS and HTML are supposed to be… --Izno (talk) 04:10, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

(Undent) I'm a little surprised that so many experienced editors are even having this conversation.

SlimVirgin, with respect, you were wrong to revert the template -- at least, wrong to claim that this page requires it: The injunction here is to have a consistent kind of reference (meaning: Do not mix WP:FOOT and WP:PAREN!) and, to a lesser degree that is only relevant at FA nominations (the Good Article criteria do not have any requirements about citation formatting), to use the same order, punctuation, italics, etc. If that can be achieved by having half the citations manually formatted, and the other half using templates, then there's not one word here that will prevent you from doing so. We care about what the reader sees, not what the guts of the file looks like.

Now if there's a consensus at a given article that the editors prefer to manually format all of the citations -- and this appears to be the case at the article in question -- then there's nothing here to prevent them from doing that. However, the reason needs to be a gracious "The consensus at this article is to manually format everything; I changed it to match the others for you", not something that could be (mis)understood as "WP:CITE says you did this wrong." WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:19, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

The argument being made is that citation templates are not mandated, required and I would go beyond and clamour for a move away from citation templates to the use of scratch cataloging, that is faster, accurate and leaves no ambiguity. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 06:48, 4 September 2009 (UTC).
I think you are battling fruitlessly against the tide of history there. Since the Mr Z cite tool is now included in the edit window toolbar, many editors are using it and clearly find it helpful. - Alarics (talk) 07:57, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
I disagree with Bzuk's "citation templates ... making wikipedia less accessible and more difficult to edit". I can remember my early difficulties working out how to format citations by hand - which parts in quotes, which in bold, which in italics, which in parentheses, etc. Then someone told me how citation templates could handle the formatting and show me what information was improtant, so in a user page I added a link to Wikipedia:Citation templates. At this point I was copying and pasting the appropriate template from elsewhere in the article or from Wikipedia:Citation templates, then pasting the parameter values from the source I wanted. Then I found a discussion that mentioned various template generators, and have used refTools ever since. For sources that are online, one always has to copy and paste the details from the source to the edit box; refTools enables me to paste them into a form that's easier to read than a template call that one is customising. For offline sources, mainly hardcopy, refTools or other citation formatters make it much easier to type into form fields without having to worry about the order or formatting of the elements. PS I still know nothing about the details of APA, MLA, etc., but my citations appear correctly.
In other words, citation templates make formatting easier for inexperienced editors, provided they are given links to the tools. --Philcha (talk) 08:24, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
With no disprespect, the citation templates were there for just that purpose, to assist the editor unfamiliar with markup coding or the basics in bibliographic referencing with a tool to place a citation into the article. Here is where it all went off the tracks; the templates were expressly written in the APA style guide to the exclusion of any other citation style guide. The APA guide is widely used in the sciences and was originally formatted as a fast, easy to use system for the student and researcher. The MLA guide however is the preferred system for the arts and social sciences, where many articles on biography or history fall into place within Wikipedia. There is no template to properly form a MLA style, not a Chicago, Turabian or other guide. When questioned about this, the developers wanted to standardize on one form, given that it was difficult to provide newcomers with the rudiments of understanding the framework of a style guide, as it was, and to introduce new templates would make the task even more difficult. Regardless, there was no effort to address a creation of a style guide outside of the APA guide. Here are the standard criticisms of the APA guide, it first attaches the date of publication to the author which is ludicrous when the author is deceased, or when multiple editions or issues are in use. Secondly, the place of publication is omitted although in many cases, the place is important information as imprint companies, reprinters and other facets of the publishing industries can be involved; knowing the source can be useful. The dating of a publication in most style guides typically follows the source of publication, not the author. My books have been printed, reprinted, rebound, translated, made into hard and soft cover and I had nothing to do with it, all of these editions are strictly editorial and publishing choices. (Yes, a confession, I am an author and editor for a number of publishing houses, and worse, I have been an academic librarian for over 35+ years, trained in the old fashioned way of going to school to learn the trade.) To continue my accounting of the citation templates, the first versions were filled with errors such as the laack of accomodation of second authors and were in a constant state of rewrite, and that's when I abandoned them due to the "buggy" nature of the templates and the intransigence of the developers to first fix the problems, and secondly, provide additional templates for other than APA styles. When the APA guide was first instituted, it was widely derided as a "dumb" system created to teach "dumb" students the basics of referencing. My university professors would insist on the APA style despite rejoiners that the guide was providing less information, did not fit the social sciences material well and was not designed for the contingencies of the non-print world which was coming fast. My other main criticism of the templates is that they provide a poorly formed idea of the reference source, and make it appear to the casual user that that is all that is needed to know, copy and paste a template, stuff in the information and you're set. This method, however, is fraught with confusion and errors as newcomers, do not understand the use of standard puctuation, alphabetical ordering or capitalization that makes the template system work properly. After numerous attempts to "shoehorn" corrections into the templates, I have found in any article I write that providing a simple, clear and accurate written ref/cite link is the easiest system of all. FWiW, after all your experience at Wiki editing, I would be amazed that you would not have a grasp of the structure of citation styles, yet that could be possible. When I taught bibliographical referencing (yes, another confession, I was a high school instructor), the bibliographic styles were taught in a brief, half-hour session and subsequently, were effectively incorporated into the research skills that all high school age students were expected to use. Don't get me started on the templates and ISO dating?! Bzuk (talk) 13:07, 4 September 2009 (UTC).
Yes, but your high school students had to do exactly what you told them to do. You were in a position where you could lay down the law. Unfortunately Wikipedia isn't, or at least it chooses not to do. It makes matters worse (in my view) by telling people to choose from any number of different ways of doing things. The fact that the cite refTool (Mr Z) is now on the edit toolbar by default is, I think, gradually bringing a greater degree of consistency to things. I too would prefer a somewhat different style, but consistency is more important. Alarics (talk) 13:33, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
Your point being that Wikipedia should mandate the use of one system, the citation template for referencing sources of information. Good luck with that, as many editors now are not only familiar with hand-written entry but find that creating rather than manipulating a citation is a much more efficient way of editing. FWiW, the choice of a system cannot be seen as a detriment, especially if the final result is a clear, easy-to-understand and accurate reference note. Bzuk (talk) 13:47, 4 September 2009 (UTC).

(unindent) Alarics wrote "The fact that the cite refTool (Mr Z) is now on the edit toolbar by default...." I believe that is incorrect. Perhaps Alarics clicked the appropriate checkbox on the "Gadgets" tab of the "my preferences" window long ago, and forgot having done so?

I stand corrected. Alarics (talk) 19:06, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

I wonder if Bzuk could point to some text establishing that the cite templates were based on APA style? The current developers of these templates seem to have forgotten that, and having noting to guide them, they tend to have long discussions about how to format any new parameter.

I find it interesting that cite templates are mostly used as footnotes, but the APA style manual only allows parenthetical referencing. It is also interesting that the {{Citation}} template is actually intended for use as a footnote, but except for using the comma to separate elements of the citation rather than a full stop, it mostly imitates the APA style, rather than some style that allows footnote citations (like Chicago). --Jc3s5h (talk) 15:53, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

The discourse about citation styles goes back to my first years in the Wikiywacky wonderland, but I can try to retrieve them, although at best, the style can be easily determined by observing the final format of the citaition elements, indicating that the present citation templates only recreate one citation style guide, the APA. I did most of my enquiries off line so the response from a template developer is probably buried somewhere in an email. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 16:50, 4 September 2009 (UTC).
(ec)Bzuk's criticisms of the APA style (13:07, 4 September 2009) emphasise the advantages of citation templates - if WP concludes that some other style is a better foundation on which to base its formatting of citations, the templates can be updated and the results can appear immediately on articles. All this without the drudgery of editors' having to memorise however many styles Bzuk listed. --Philcha (talk) 17:00, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
Templates are useful for some editors, but consistently reverting properly formatted hand-written citations with cite templates is not necessarily productive. The canard that Wikipedia developers have created a "magic bullet" is easily dissuaded by comparison to any current off-wiki publications. In certain disciplines, a "house style guide" predominates, and it is overwhelmingly a Modern Language Association (MLA) style that is used in the arts, social sciences, biographies and history. No one forces anyone to use citation templates or even learn what makes up the parameters of a bibliographical record, that is entirely a personal choice. After observing the consistent errors that are inherent in editors improperly using templates, correcting a template compared to rewriting the citation in a "scratch" cataloguing style, is a "no brainer." FWiW Bzuk (talk) 17:21, 4 September 2009 (UTC).
One has to "learn what makes up the parameters of a bibliographical record" in order to produce a decently-formatted citation. Do-it-self formatting may be OK for an experienced librarian such as Bzuk. I suggest most editors have no desire to become expert librarians, and the templates plus form-based tools such as User talk:Mr.Z-man/refToolbar are the easiest way for most editors to produce decently-formatted citations. --Philcha (talk) 18:14, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
In the USA, you can't graduate from a decent university without writing some correct citations. You don't have to become an expert librarian. (Of course, one does not have to be a university graduate to contribute to Wikipedia, but we shouldn't make a high school education the maximum permissible level of education for contributors.) --Jc3s5h (talk) 18:26, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

:::I'm not sure how "Wikipedia developers" crept in, as that term usually refers to the employees who develop the MediaWiki software. The citation templates were created by fellow editors using their best judgment.

If there is a feeling that the current templates do not format a cite in the desired style, then it isn't that hard to create a new one with a bit of knowledge of wikimarkup. The beauty of {{citation/core}} is that it can be adapted to any desired format.
{tl|Citation/core}} adds the COinS metadata that allows machine retrieval and insertion of cites. I use Zotero to maintain my bibliographies (listed on my user page BTW). If an editor want to manually add the CSS for all of that into a hand crafted cite, then so be it.
The core also wraps bits of the cite in CSS classes so that viewing can be customized. If you hate retrieval dates, then a short CSS rule will make them invisible for you.
---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 18:27, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
Gadget850 wrote "If an editor want to manually add the CSS for all of that into a hand crafted cite, then so be it." The creators of the citation templates have always known that the use of those templates has never been required, or even encouraged; just allowed. There is no requirement that editors manually creating citations add all the paraphernalia that the citation templates add, such as metadata. There is no requirement that editors who have created an article with proper manual citations throughout tolerate the conversion of the article to citation templates on the grounds of a lack of metadata. --Jc3s5h (talk) 18:34, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
"If you hate retrieval dates, then a short CSS rule will make them invisible for you." -- That completely misses the point! There is no point in making them invisible for me when I know that they are visible to everyone else. -- Alarics (talk) 19:17, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Date formatting

Since this discussion is wandering all over the place, I am going to address the history of date linking in the citation templates. There have been a multitude of discussions on date linking, but I am going to specifically address those related only to the citation templates.

  • At one point, ISO dates were the standard and formatted by date linking— see the {{cite web}} documentation for an example
  • 4 September 2008:, the removal of date linking in the templates was proposed per Wikipedia_talk:Citation_templates/Archive_4#De-linking_dates; note that the issue of ISO dates remaining was quickly brought up; a bot was proposed to fix this, but I am not aware of any such bot for this purpose; date linking in the templates was quickly removed

As best I see, there has been no consensus to go back and fix the formatting problems that resulted from the removal of date linking in the templates, thus the silent consensus has been towards ISO dates. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 23:22, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

This has been discussed to death, the ISO dating didn't work for the 90% of the editors who did not set date preferences. All they saw was the jumbles of numbers that did not correspond to the standard written out dates that predominate the article's text. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 00:02, 4 September 2009 (UTC).
I would greatly appreciate it if no one refers to dates in the format YYYY-MM-DD as ISO dates unless he or she has actually read the ISO 8601 standard. If you write about history, use what you think are ISO dates, and have not read the standard, YOU WILL CERTAINLY SCREW UP. --Jc3s5h (talk) 00:18, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
Then you need to fix ISO 8601, since today is 2009-09-04 according to the article. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 01:35, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
You, like the creators of the ISO 8601 standard, only care about dates that are likely to occur in current computer transactions. When writing about historical events, ISO 8601 is a trapping pit, just waiting to lure the unwary into making errors. (If I'm being a bit harsh, consider it payback for replying to a post that mentions writing about history with a discussion of today's date.) --Jc3s5h (talk) 16:02, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
Good point, let's not use anything other than clearly understood, written out dates. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 00:31, 4 September 2009 (UTC).
There are ways to technically fix this and resolve the issues of current YYYY-MM-DD dates. I consider this issue closed, and the consensus is to not change the templates and to leave dates as they were when the linking was removed. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 01:35, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
It surely does not help that the YYYY-MM-DD format is still shown as the default in most of the examples given in WP:CITET. Also, can Mr Z not be prevailed upon to change the default given in the accessdate field in his "cite" tool? - Alarics (talk) 07:50, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
Exactly a year later and still trying to clean up from the delinking. Good luck with getting a consensus on a default date style. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 11:46, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Back on topic

Circling back to the edits that provoked the discuss, everyone's behavior seems quite acceptable and in accordance with the guideline. One key aspect of the guideline, in my view, is that editors are encouraged to add new, useful citations in any format they are comfortable with, even if it is not precisely consistent with the existing style; other editors will come and clean up after them. Which is exactly what happened here. Christopher Parham (talk) 14:14, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

I agree. Good point. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 05:51, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

City of publication

I would like to remove, on the grounds of instruction creep, that the city of publication must be part of a citation. There is no need for it, and I don't recall that there was discussion about adding it (though maybe there was, and I missed it). Whenever I remove it, I'm reverted, [5] so I'm bringing it here for other views. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 08:18, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

We are only talking here about citations of newspaper articles. I have explained in several places what the need for it is. Obviously it's not necessary in the case of The New York Times. In the UK, at least, it is normal to include the city of publication when mentioning the name of a non-London newspaper. Outside the USA, the names of most newspapers don't include the city of publication. As I pointed out further up this very page:

... there is a "The Times" in South Australia ( and others in Ontario, Canada (, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA ( and Trenton, New Jersey, USA ( All call themselves simply "The Times" on their mastheads. ... There is a "Sunday Times" in Perth, Western Australia, and another one in Johannesburg, South Africa, and one in Sri Lanka, as well as the one in London. There is a "Daily Telegraph" in Sydney, Australia, as well as the one in London. And so on. ...
... it is useful and sensible and normal to state the place of publication even if the title is unique. Supposing I am citing something from the Eastern Daily Press. Even within the UK, many people in other parts of the country will only dimly have heard of it if at all, and might find it useful to know, or to be reminded, that it is the regional paper published in Norwich.

I would also point out that the "cite news" template includes "location" as one of its parameters. -- Alarics (talk) 09:00, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
What the templates have is not the point; they have too many parameters. The problem is that refs get very long, and if they're in the text, they become a nuisance if there are lots of them. I'd like to pare what we require down to the bare bones: Name, title of article, name of newspaper, date. If obscure, the name almost always includes the location. So perhaps we could add: plus city if the location isn't obvious from the title and the publication is not a well-known one?
What I wonder, for example, is why anyone would find it useful to be reminded that the Eastern Daily Press is based in Norwich. If they want to know, they can click on the link. Otherwise, what does it tell them that's useful in a citation?
I should add: I'm sorry if I sound short, or "anti-information." It's just that everywhere I look people are adding more and more rules: supply this, tell us that, full stop here, this spelling for that country, use the right date format, on and on, endlessly, to the point where I feel we're driving people crazy — though of course I may be projecting. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 09:14, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
"refs get very long, and if they're in the text, they become a nuisance" -- but they aren't in the text, they are in the footnote.
"If obscure, the name almost always includes the location". -- My whole point was that that is simply not the case. Didn't you read what I wrote above? There are a dozen different newspapers all called The Evening News.
"why anyone would find it useful to be reminded that the Eastern Daily Press is based in Norwich". -- I might think that it is based in Hong Kong or Bangkok or Bethnal Green. It can help the reader form a judgement as to how likely the newspaper cited is to know what it is talking about.
"If they want to know, they can click on the link". -- There might not be a link. Not everything is on the web. Or the link might be dead. Even if there is a link, I would like to be able to form a judgement as to whether or not it is going to be worth my while clicking on the link.
"So perhaps we could add: plus city if the location isn't obvious from the title and the publication is not a well-known one?" -- That just adds 8 more words to what I said in the first place (I thought you were trying to reduce the amount of instructions) and gets us into a difficult cultural grey area about which publications count as "well-known" and to whom. There may be many readers to whom hardly any publications are "well-known". Why can we not just say: "plus city, if not included in name of newspaper"? Which is what we have at the moment.
"people are adding more and more rules: supply this, tell us that" -- I agree that we need to not add unnecessarily to the burden on editors, but if you want to cut something, a much better candidate would be the idea that everything found on the web should have a "retrieved on" date. It is necessary only if the page linked to doesn't have a clear date itself. In particular, it is not necessary or useful for news articles and press releases, which always have a publication date shown, and that is the only date required. -- Alarics (talk) 11:35, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
I would agree that the city or place of origin of a periodical is usually not incorporated in a citation "string" wherein the location of publication for a book or encyclopedia may be of value as publishers do tend to have specific editions based on their publishing houses. For example, a book may be re-edited to suit a particular company's needs. In the case of having a source that is not readily identifiable, asuch as "The Evening Standard", there is no great difficulty in adding the location, as in "The Evening Standard (London)". FWiW Bzuk (talk) 13:07, 4 September 2009 (UTC).
Good, so if "there is no great difficulty in adding the location", let's make that the default recommendation, shall we? - Alarics (talk) 13:45, 4 September 2009 (UTC)
As long as default does not mean "regulated". FWiW Bzuk (talk) 14:23, 4 September 2009 (UTC).

Also: I have just found that MLA style says "If citing a "locally-published newspaper" whose city of publication is not in its title, the city is put in square brackets (but not italicized) after the title of the newspaper (178–79)." -- Alarics (talk) 19:13, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Re your point above, footnotes are usually in the text, which is why it's good to keep them tight. I think we should let people use their common sense with this. Perhaps we could add that advice, that MLA style is to add the name if it's not in the title. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 09:44, 5 September 2009 (UTC)
I was only giving MLA as an example to show that including the city of publication is not some weird freakish idea. I don't see any need to mention MLA in the article. The wording as it stands now ("Citations for newspaper articles typically include ..... city of publication, if not included in name of newspaper") will surely suffice. I don't know why people are making such heavy weather of this. -- Alarics (talk) 13:13, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

Re: Alonso Sotomayor Valmediano

I am challenging the article because it has provided two gross innacurracies.

The first error of import is Alonso de Sotomayor's maternal surname. The consequences: 1: The maternal surname of Valmediano leads historical and genealogical researchers to dead ends because they cannot connect Sotomayor with that maternal surname.

2: Alonso de SotoMayor's death date is all wrong.

The result: The person who wrote the article didn't do their research within the archives of Spain. They copied data that had the error from other authors who in turn didn't research as well.

In turn Wikipedia published the article that contains errors and has elevated its status as well...

I am publishing a book whose aim has been to correct errors that have been made by researchers and historians within the records of many importantant historical individuals. The data I will share is in the process of copyright.

Conditions that are to be met if you are going to used the corrected information within Wikipedia....

1: My book and my name must show very clearly within the article as being the source of the corrections: Page numbers must be listed as well.

If the writer of the article wants the corrected genealogy of the Sotomayor to be included they must also Site my book as well as my name....

You have my E mail address. Please feel free to write me regarding the conditions I have set forth above.

I have digitalized copies of the original documents that prove I am right.

Let me know if the conditions I have set forth can be met.


John J. Browne Ayes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ayesart (talkcontribs) 12:56, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Copyright only covers the way information is expressed, not the information itself. Once your book is published anyone may write about the information contained in the book, so long as they do not copy the way you will have expressed the information. Wikipedia policy is to cite the source of information.
In the mean time, if the archives you refer to are open to the public, you are free to edit the article and provide citations to the archives. --Jc3s5h (talk) 13:40, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Thanks SlimVirgin

for rebuilding the lead section as a nice clean summary of the guideline. ---- CharlesGillingham (talk) 16:35, 9 September 2009 (UTC)

Agree, lead as it stands is well focused on the key points. Christopher Parham (talk) 21:27, 9 September 2009 (UTC)


I'm going to go with the last edit of the month to diff for the Update on this page, but let me know if I've missed something and one of the late August edits hasn't survived and didn't have consensus; this is one of the harder pages to do. I'm going with this as my selected version for the Update, that is, the last version that seemed to have consensus. See WP:Update for more information, and let me know if you disagree. FYI, the only two policy pages this month where I felt the last version of the month had significantly less support than another version from the last week of the month were WP:CSD and WP:BLOCK; now I'm working on Category:General style guidelines. - Dank (push to talk) 21:59, 10 September 2009 (UTC)

When do captions need to cite sources?

I'm looking for guidance as to when captions need to cite sources. For example, Image:Jane Stanford.jpg, the first image in Stanford Memorial Church #Early history, currently has the caption "Jane Stanford, who built Stanford Memorial Church. Her taste and sensibilities are evident in the execution of the church." with no citation to any source. This sort of caption is quite common in Wikipedia: I assume it's OK? If not, then why not? And either way, there should be guidance about this topic in Wikipedia:Citing sources and in Wikipedia:Captions. Sorry if this is an FAQ, but I didn't find any guidance when I looked in the obvious places. Eubulides (talk) 23:51, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

Captions aren't all that special. They should contain citations in order to meet WP:V.
The facts contained in that caption (e.g. the first sentence) are cited in the article, so it is unlikely that they would be challenged. I don't think it needs a citation because of this, but it also would not hurt it to have one.
The second sentence in that caption could probably be removed to make it more concise (and, arguably, less biased & more topical). But I don't see how a citation could really improve it (unless it was a quote). --Karnesky (talk) 02:59, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
I agree that information in image captions require citations unless the information already appears properly referenced in the main text of the article. — Cheers, JackLee talk 03:38, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
Captions should tie the image to related content in the article, which is where the primary referencing should be located. In the example caption: I doubt she actually built the church herself, the second statement smacks of peacock terms and the associated content is sourced. BTW- note 1 contradicts the content. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 04:19, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Proposed addition for captions etc.

  • Thanks for the above comments. I changed the example caption so that it's clearly supported by the adjacent text and its citations.
  • I tried to draft an addition to this guidelines to cover citation of captions, and came up with several issues:
  • If a caption is supported by an inline citation in article text, is it OK for the inline citation to be far away? For example, the lead image for Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe has a caption "Virginia Poe, as painted after her death", but the only citation for this claim is in Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe #Death, a section far away from the lead. My assumption is that this is not adequate, in that the citation should be in nearby article text so that it's easy to find.
  • Does text that appears in an image require citation? For example, Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe #Early life contains an image File:PoeFamilyTree.svg that contains textual information (e.g., "George Washington Poe (1782–?)") that is not clearly supported by a citation in the article's adjacent text. My assumption is that this should be cited somewhere, e.g., in the caption.
  • Does text that appears in alt text require citation? For technical reasons, alt text cannot contain footnotes or wiki markup, and therefore cannot contain any citation style that requires these features. It could be supported by a general reference, I suppose. Or maybe by a parenthetical reference but that would run afoul of WP:ALT#Brevity. Typically alt text should not contain likely-to-be-challenged statements.
  • If the caption attributes the image, does that need to be cited? For example, the lead image of Cædwalla of Wessex contains a caption "Imaginary depiction of Cædwalla by Lambert Barnard". Does this caption need a citation, to verify the fact that the depiction is indeed of Cædwalla, and is indeed by Lambert Barnard, and is indeed imaginary? Here, my thought is that this sort of caption is actually a citation, in that it's attributing authorship of the image; since it's a citation, it does not itself need to be sourced (as requiring sources for citations would lead to an infinite regress).
  • Please see updated proposal in #Captions etc. draft 2 below. Given all the above, I propose that we append a new subsubsection Proximity to the subsection WP:CS #Inline citations. This new subsubsection would have the following content:
"Inline citations should appear next to the material that they support, so that it is easy to verify the material's claims. An image or other media file can contain material that is a mixture of non-text and text, for which embedded inline citations may be impractical; any inline citations needed for this material should appear in the image's caption, or in other adjacent text that discusses the material. A caption that identifies an image's source (e.g., the caption "Three Musicians (1921)" for Image:Picasso three musicians moma 2006.jpg) is considered attribution and normally does not need further citation. Alt text cannot contain footnotes; typically it merely describes an image's visual appearance and is verifiable directly from the image.

Eubulides (talk) 09:07, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Requiring the properly cited text associated with the image to be close, so the caption is easy to verify, sets a bad precedent. When writing text, it may be necessary to make use of certain information several times in an article. It should be sufficient to provide a citation the first time it appears, not every time. --Jc3s5h (talk) 14:35, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
Generally, I would prefer any citations needed to support a piece of media to appear on the image page, not having to be repeated in every article where the media is used. Also, as Jc3s5h says, this proximity principle seems to go against the idea that a fact only needs to be cited once: e.g. in the body but not in the lead. Christopher Parham (talk) 18:34, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Christopher. The only reason to have a citation with the caption is if the caption contains claims that aren't already supported in the article body, regardless of how much distance there is between the two. As for alt text, WP:ALT already explains that alt text should only contain description that is verifiable from the image itself. I don't see a need to repeat that here. --RL0919 (talk) 18:55, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for all these comments. Please see #Captions etc. draft 2 below. Eubulides (talk) 19:19, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Captions etc. draft 2

Thanks for all these comments. I agree that the guideline shouldn't require that every instance of duplicated material contain a nearby citation, that as a corollary a caption that contains only claims supported elsewhere need not have citations, and that the citation to support the media itself should be on the file page. The draft's point about alt text was too narrow: it applies to descriptive material in general (not just in alt text; it could be in the caption, for example); the point is that material that merely describes an image does not require a citation, as it can be verified directly from the image.

Three other points have occurred to me as well. First, tables and infoboxes are similar to images and other media files with respect to citations, and deserve a mention. Second, there's no need here to mention the relatively unimportant detail that alt text cannot contain footnotes. Finally, there are two different topics being covered here: one related to proximity (which applies only to inline citations, not to general references), and the other related to when citations are needed at all. I changed the above draft to make these points as well, with the results below. Further comments are welcome. Eubulides (talk) 19:19, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Please see updated versions of these proposals in #Captions etc. draft 3 below. Eubulides (talk) 17:35, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
An inline citation should appear next to material that it supports; if the material occurs more than once the citation should be next to at least one of the occurrences.
Tables, infoboxes, images, and other media files can contain material for which embedded inline citations are impractical. Any inline citations needed for this material should appear in a caption or other text that discusses the material. An image or other media file's source and provenance need not be cited in the article, as that information is on the file page. A citation is not needed for descriptive material such as alt text that is verifiable directly from the image itself. Material that identifies a source (e.g., the caption "Three Musicians (1921)" for the image File:Picasso three musicians moma 2006.jpg) is considered attribution and normally does not need further citation.

Eubulides (talk) 19:19, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Captions should be referenced like any other text, if it's the kind of thing that needs a reference (quote or something likely to be challenged). Is there a need to say anything more than that? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 19:34, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
In principle SlimVirgin's "Captions should be referenced like any other text" is right. However, as usual the devil's in the details. For example:
  • Suppose the text and the caption make exactly the same point. Which should have the citation. This is tricky, as the File tag appears in the (X)HTML before the related text, even if the File is right-aligned. The position in the (X)HTML is unimportant to most readers, but users fo screen-readers will hear the File first. Does that mean the File should contain the citation and the text should not?
  • Suppose the text and the caption make different aspects of the same point, and using the same source. Excuse me for sticking to fields I know a little, but I can be more confident of describing the examples correctly there:
    • Example 1: the text gives a list of similarities and differences between taxa, and the "image" is a cladogram that spells out the "family tree" relationships but does not specific features. There's a similar issue in physiology, where e.g. the text describes the operation of oprgan X in taxon Y and the image is an anatomical diagram that describes the size and shape of organ Yand its connections and spatial relationships to other ograns. I'd cite the same source for both, others may disagree.
    • Example 2: text says e.g. "dinosaurs became abruptly at location X" and caption says "Y is the most geologically recent dinosaur found at X". Here too, I'd cite the same source for both, others may disagree. --Philcha (talk) 20:05, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
  • It sounds like it'd be helpful to prepend a brief reminder (e.g., "Multimedia material should be referenced just like article text.") to the proposed Multimedia subsubsection. There is definitely a need to say something more than just this reminder, as issues about these details do come up, and there are errors about this even in recently-featured articles, as shown by the Stanford Memorial Church and Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe examples discussed above.
  • "Suppose the text and the caption make exactly the same point. Which should have the citation" The current draft does not say, which means the citation could be either place; it's up to editorial judgment. I don't see an WP:ACCESSIBILITY issue here, as there's no requirement that the first occurrence contain the citation (often it doesn't, as in infobox birth dates).
  • "Suppose the text and the caption make different aspects of the same point, and using the same source" I agree that if different material appears, the citation needs to be repeated. The current draft says that the citation need not be repeated "if the material occurs more than once". How about if we change that to "if the same material occurs more than once", to emphasize the point you're making?
Eubulides (talk) 20:32, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
No further comment, so I installed the above draft, with the further change suggested above. Eubulides (talk) 14:52, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
I reverted this - as in my comment above, I oppose the idea that the references associated with a multimedia file should be footnoted in the caption or elsewhere. The appropriate place for those references is on the page that actually holds the content (the media page) not the page where it is transcluded (the article page). Splitting the content and the references onto different pages is a formula for confusion and guarantees redundancy (all that reference material must then appear and be maintained independently on every article where that media is used).Christopher Parham (talk) 15:59, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, I thought that the further changes that I made to the draft addressed the objections. I agree with the previous comment about the appropriate place for references, and have modified the draft further to try to make this clear. Please see #Captions etc. draft 3 below. Eubulides (talk) 17:35, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

I don't see any support for these changes at all. And you waited less than two days for comments. I think that we should only add this if you've generated real consensus, but multiple editors seem to believe the guideline was adequate without any specific section for captions. --Karnesky (talk) 15:54, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Sorry; I modified the draft to address what I thought were the objections and explained the modifications; when there was no reply I assumed that was sufficient. I will try again, and this time I'll wait longer for comments. Please see #Captions etc. draft 3 below. Eubulides (talk) 17:35, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Captions etc. draft 3

Here's a revised draft of the proposal, which takes into account the comments above. It makes more clearly the point that the references associated with a multimedia file itself should be in the file page, whereas the references associated with material in the article that includes the file (e.g., the caption) belong in the article.

An inline citation should appear next to material that it supports; if the material occurs more than once the citation should be next to at least one of the occurrences.
Multimedia material should be referenced just like article text. Citations for a media file should appear on its file page. If a media combination such as an infobox, table, or thumbnail contains textual material that needs citing but cannot readily incorporate an inline citation, the citation should appear in a caption or other text that discusses the material. A citation is not needed for descriptions such as alt text that are verifiable directly from the image itself. Material that identifies a source (e.g., the caption "Belshazzar's Feast (1635)" for File:Rembrandt-Belsazar.jpg) is considered attribution and normally does not need further citation.

Further comments are welcome. Eubulides (talk) 17:35, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

That sounds better to me. For an example, take this featured image of some weather patterns. The sources (data) used to create the image are discussed on the image description page. The image then appears in a number of articles, where those sources are not repeated. I think this is the best general practice. Thanks for revising the proposal. Christopher Parham (talk) 17:47, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
Reads better to me too. Still don't know if the multimedia section improves the guideline, but at least it is short. --Karnesky (talk) 00:25, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Cite update

By the way, the previously discussed Cite update is now live: Wikipedia_talk:Footnotes#cite.php_update, Wikipedia:Village_pump_(technical)#Footnotes_update. Dragons flight (talk) 19:47, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

Fantastic Dragons flight, I've been looking forward to this for ages. Thanks muchly. Huntster (t @ c) 19:54, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

Revisionism of Queer History

I do not know why the actual story of this micronation cannot be told without allowing Australians with spurious motives to hack on it.

I was asked for opinions and those opinions, as well as all of the Gayzettes, are posted at I am the owner of that site's URL and to the extent Wikipedia allows untried editing this article will be misleading to those that follow our work. It is clearly misleading now.

I am not a wiki editor, so I'll ask for help in setting down a few facts and asking that the original article be restored. While it was never perfect, it is much more truthful than what is posted now.

William J. Freeman Lord Chancellor Gay and Lesbian Kingdom

Volley36 (talk) 00:06, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Could you be specific about what article you are referring to? I think you may be referring to Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, but it's not clear. Also, this page is for discussing the Wikipedia guidelines for citing sources, so most likely whatever your complaint is doesn't belong here specifically. But no one can help you if we don't even know what your complaint is. --RL0919 (talk) 00:26, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Not sure where to put this, but here goes anyway

It has become more and more difficult for editors to navigate guff in the edit mode because of the sometimes overpowering length/numbers of refs which make it difficult to follow the text. For instance, here is the first paragraph (following the lead) in the Barack Obama article

Barack Obama was born at [[Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children|Kapiolani Maternity & Gynecological Hospital]] in [[Honolulu]], Hawaii, United States,<ref name="maraniss">{{cite news|url=|title=Though Obama Had to Leave to Find Himself, It Is Hawaii That Made His Rise Possible|last=Maraniss|first=David|work=Politics|work=Washington Post|date=August 24, 2008|accessdate=October 27, 2008}}</ref> to [[Ann Dunham|Stanley Ann Dunham]],<ref>For Stanley Ann's first name, see Obama (1995, 2004), p. 19</ref> an American of mainly English descent from [[Wichita, Kansas]],<ref>{{cite web|publisher=[[FactCheck]]|url=|title=Born in the U.S.A.|date=August 21, 2008|dateformat=mdy|accessdate=October 24, 2008}}</ref><ref>{{cite news|url=,CST-NWS-ireland03.article|title=For sure, Obama's South Side Irish|last=Hutton|first=Brian|work=[[Chicago Sun-Times|The Chicago Sun-Times]]|date=May 3, 2007|accessdate=November 23, 2008}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=|title=Tiny Irish Village Is Latest Place to Claim Obama as Its Own -|work=Washington Post|date=|accessdate=November 8, 2008}}</ref> and [[Barack Obama, Sr.]], a [[Luo (Kenya and Tanzania)|Luo]] from [[Nyang’oma Kogelo]], [[Nyanza Province]], [[Kenya]]. Obama's parents met in 1960 in a [[Russian language]] class at the [[University of Hawaii at Manoa|University of Hawaii at Mānoa]], where his father was a foreign student on scholarship.<ref>Obama (1995, 2004), pp. 9–10. For book excerpts, see {{cite news|title=Barack Obama: Creation of Tales|date=November 1, 2004|url=|archiveurl=|archivedate=September 27, 2007|work=East African|accessdate=April 13, 2008}}</ref><ref name="baltimoresun2007">{{cite news|url=,0,91024,full.story|title=Obama's mom: Not just a girl from Kansas: Strong personalities shaped a future senator|first=Tim|last=Jones|work=[[Chicago Tribune]], reprinted in ''[[The Baltimore Sun]]''|date=March 27, 2007|accessdate=October 27, 2008}}</ref> The couple married on February 2, 1961,<ref>{{cite news|author=Ripley, Amanda|title=The Story of Barack Obama's Mother|url=,8599,1729524,00.html|date=April 9, 2008|work=[[Time (magazine)|Time]]|accessdate=April 9, 2007}}</ref> and Barack was born later that year. His parents separated when he was two years old and they divorced in 1964.<ref name="baltimoresun2007"/> Obama's father returned to Kenya and saw his son only once more before dying in an automobile accident in 1982.<ref>{{cite news|first=Kevin|last=Merida|title=The Ghost of a Father|date=December 14, 2007|url=|work=Washington Post|accessdate=June 24, 2008}} See also: {{cite news|first=Philip|last=Ochieng|title=From Home Squared to the US Senate: How Barack Obama Was Lost and Found|date=November 1, 2004|url=|archiveurl=|archivedate=September 27, 2007|work=East African|accessdate=June 24, 2008}}</ref>

I'm sure that's not the worst (best) example in Wiki, but you will see what I mean. Anyway, what if all article text (in the edit mode) was a different colour to the cite text? If one of our geeks created a bot, perhaps they could run it around Wiki to change all text between the <ref> and </ref> tags to a different colour from the article text. Would be a big help to all editors I believe. I'm not a geek, so I don't know how these bot thingies work, or even if it could be done. First off, does anyone else think it would be a good idea? Should I take it somewhere else? Kaiwhakahaere (talk) 23:55, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

A system similar to what you describe has recently been created - you can discuss it at Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)/Archive 64#New syntax highlighter, the actual javascript tool can be found at User:Remember the dot/Syntax highlighter.js. Once the code issues are worked out, this seems like a likely candidate to become a gadget. If you're not familiar with how to use javascript tools on Wikipedia, there are quick and easy instructions at Wikipedia:WikiProject User scripts/Tutorial. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 00:07, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Wasn't aware of User:Remember the dot's thingy. Not quite what I meant tho. For the average editor I think it would be more useful to see, say, the Obama stuff above, as black text for the article content, and maybe red text for the cites. Would make it much, much easier to follow the plot and actually edit the article. Cheers. Kaiwhakahaere (talk) 00:42, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Obviously it's not a "right now" thing, but if consensus developed to apply such a change for all users, a bot wouldn't make the change - rather it would be introduced as a change either to MediaWiki:Common.js which affects all pages or to the javascript page for the skin (e.g. MediaWiki:Monobook.js), which affects all pages for users using the skin. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 00:18, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
While I generally have no problems reading the code, that syntax highlighting rocks (especially being a web developer where I'm used to seeing code with colors :D) -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 00:33, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
There is also User:Cacycle/wikEd, which is already available as a gadget. It is rather elaborate, but one of the features it provides is a button to toggle hiding all the references (the "guff"). Shreevatsa (talk) 02:05, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
The use of a bright colour to highlight the references is an excellent idea and I fully support it. But it needs to work for everyone, not just those who have installed some specific widget. How can we help to make this happen? - Alarics (talk) 11:23, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
You wait a while for the bugs to be worked out of it, then if the gadget works properly you can propose that it be upgraded from a "gadget" to the "default". Of course I believe it isn't even a gadget yet because it is still a work-in-progress. If it becomes a gadget, you can enable it by checking a box under your preferences' gadget tab. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 19:53, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
I fully agree with this, it has almost got to the point in some articles where some newbies are unable to edit at all. Colour would help, but it does not fully solve the problem. I think the references should only be "opened up" for editing when you want to edit them. otherwise they should remain rolled as [1], [2] etc, even in the edit window. SpinningSpark 14:49, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Spinningspark, in most browsers the text size can be adjusted by (1) holding the CTRL key and clicking '+' or '-', (2) holding the control key and rolling the mouse wheel (if there is one) or (3) clicking View in the browser menu bar and looking for an option in the resulting dropdown menu to zoom in/out or to change the text size. Some editors may offer a browser-independent facility for changing the text size; AFAIK, the WP editor does not. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 00:10, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
Trouble is all of those adjustments increase the size of all text in the window. What I mean is that there needs to be a way to increase the size only of the text inside the edit box. Kaiwhakahaere (talk) 00:22, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
Now we're on to it. Yes Spinningspark, that would do the trick nicely, but it would need a simple little button somewhere to open up the rolled [1] or [2] (if required), not something that is part of a raft of little coloured boxes. I ticked wikiEd in my preferences, but found it very daunting and switched it off. Too many options (for me) but I couldn't find the little box to tick to make the type bigger! For some people, that is a must. I'm talking type size in the edit box, not browser size. Kaiwhakahaere (talk) 21:41, 28 August 2009 (UTC)
Any of these suggestions would be created/implemented through either a .js or .css gadget. If they had widespread approval, they could be incorporated as the "default" by incorporating them into MediaWiki:Common.js or MediaWiki:Common.css. However, I submit that this isn't the place to discuss such a tool - better to discuss it at Wikipedia:Village pump (technical), which is where the people hang out who actually know how to make such a tool. --Philosopher Let us reason together. 19:50, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

Wtmitchell, what are you talking about, I know perfectly well how to adjust my browser text size. We are talking about how references should be displayed in the edit window independently of the other text. No browser can address that issue. SpinningSpark 02:20, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

Meanwhile, a partial quick fix that I have discovered in IE8 is to type <ref in the find box and that will highlight in yellow all the references in an edit window. -- Alarics (talk) 09:07, 15 September 2009 (UTC)
Or, move the references out of the body using the new list-defined references. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 13:17, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
    • ^ foo
    • ^ bar
    • ^ a
    • ^ b
    • ^ c
    • ^ d
    • ^ e
    • ^ f
    • ^