Wikipedia talk:Quotations

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Proposal to promote to policy/guideline[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
This is the latest in several moves to get Wikipedia:Quotations accepted as a guideline. While broadly liked, it was felt by opposers that the advice given in WP:MOSQUOTE and WP:PLAGIARISM is sufficient, and there was caution regarding having too many rules. The supporters felt that the advice in this essay regarding when to use quotations, and how many or how much to use, is valuable advice which is distinct from that given elsewhere, and is already widely used. While there was merit in much of what the supporters said, they do not have community consensus to carry this forward. The proposal has attracted attention to the essay which has undergone considerable editing in the past few weeks. It is possible that a variation of the current version may be accepted as a guideline at a future date.

Lots of people have mentioned that this essay should be promoted. I support this idea.

I will contact the past supporters to see if they are still interested in this proposal.

I will make a note at wp:policy and guidelines.

I will add this to {{cent}}. (talk) 01:44, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Proposals Village Pump has been notified of this discussion.

Policy Village Pump has been notified of this discussion. (talk) 04:26, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Er do you mean policy? If so I'd support this, as I think everything in this guideline is uncontroversial and well-established in practice. Dcoetzee 02:04, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, policy or guideline or pillar. (talk) 02:30, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
You shouldn't contact the past supporters, as that would be a form of WP:CANVASSing. This thread/rfc should be enough to attract the attention of those who have commented in the past about having this page as a guideline, both for and against.--Father Goose (talk) 06:48, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
But I see you have already contacted them. On the other hand, I can only see two users who seem to have opposed in any form in the past; User:Radiant! tagged it {{historical}} at one point and User:Kevin Murray tagged it {{rejected}}. I'll inform them both.--Father Goose (talk)
Note that an rfc had been filed in the past, with only one response.100110100 (talk) 12:47, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Canvassing is only inappropriate when the editiors are uninvolved. (talk) 12:45, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia:CANVASS#Votestacking is what's involved here; you can't inform only those who have previously supported and not those who have previously opposed. I informed the two past opposers, so the stack has been unstacked.--Father Goose (talk) 21:03, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. We already have WP:MOSQUOTE, which is all that is needed. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 05:12, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Stable, common-sensical; I see no reason why this shouldn't be a guideline. Ironholds (talk) 15:21, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. Sensible and long-standing. -- œ 21:29, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support Looks fine on first reading. RayTalk 21:51, 13 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support - I had to read through this and compare with WP:MOSQUOTE to determine if this would be redundant. It seems to provide a lot of guidance on the proper use of quotes that's missing from the MOS, which focuses more on their presentation. This seems to describe universal long-standing practice, the documentation of which is the purpose of a policy or guideline, so I support promoting this. Equazcion (talk) 22:00, 13 Mar 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. Seems helpful and clear. -- Banjeboi 07:02, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This reads like the essay it is. We already have WP:MOSQUOTE, which is succinct and all that is needed. I think that promoting this to a guideline would be instruction creep. -- PBS (talk) 11:07, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support to promote for guideline. I think we need a guideline on using quotations beyond WP:MOSQUOTE (I've seen some instances of disputes on using quotations), and this is good enough, though could be improved. But I don't support this for policy, as the importance and need of it has not been demonstrated, and it should stay a guideline for some time before considering 'promotion' to policy. Cenarium (talk) 18:38, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose promotion. This is great as an essay, and it should stay that way. I did add a {{Further}} link to WP:MOSQUOTE which I think should effectively achieve the desired result of increasing awareness of this essay. No idea if that edit will stick, but it seems like a decent idea to me.
    — V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 21:17, 14 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is fine as an essay. I removed Ohms law's link from the MoS when I investigated it. I've just been through on an initial copy-edit, which has trimmed off unnecessary wording and fixed a few things on the surface. I've left a few inline queries about poorly organised and repetitive text. When it's fixed, I think it could go back as a link from the MOSQUOTE. Tony (talk) 00:25, 15 March 2010 (UTC) PS More examples would be really helpful. Then we'd be referring FAC nominators to it. Tony (talk) 00:27, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
    So, this essay isn't ready to be guideline/protocol? We need examples and have FAers opine? (talk) 03:25, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Promoting this to guideline would mean yet another page to monitor for inconsistencies with the other guidelines and policies. Also, editors tend to take this kind of advice very literally, so we'd end up with quotations being removed for spurious reasons. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:31, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
    This page doesn't say what kind of quotes can be used. I just says how short quotes should be kept, how often they should be used. If the quote is applicable to it's use wherever it is, then it will be used regardless. You can take quotes by a case by case basis. Even if the quote is irrelevant, it will still be used. This page says nothing about subject matter in regards with quotes. (talk) 10:12, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support guideline. I'm inclined to think that guidance is actually a good thing, since it gives contributors something tangible to refer to in making decisions. There are some minor concerns I have with it as it stands (see below), but the "essay" tag is misleading. It says, "Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints. Consider these views with discretion." This doesn't. WP:PG notes that, "Guidelines" are sets of best practices that are supported by consensus." This would seem to me clearly to qualify. (For some reason, I can't bold the word support, and I've given up trying. It's refusing to read one of the initial apostrophes and consequently malformatting the rest of my !vote. I even tried using {{CB-support1}}, and it didn't work. Life is short. I'm moving on.) .. Fixed :) -- OE --Moonriddengirl (talk) 12:27, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
    Expanding my support, in partial response to several opposes: Those of you who know where I work will probably already realize that talking with contributors about how to handle imported text is a big part of my daily life. I believe, as I said above, that this essay already reflects consensus of the community in its broad outlines. I myself would find it very useful to have a guideline on quotations to point to. :) I do not typically point to this document for new contributors because I believe that the "essay" tag can cause confusion. They don't want to hear minority views; they want to know how things are done. And should they by any chance refer to WP:PG, they will read that "Essays are the opinion or advice of an editor or group of editors, for which widespread consensus has not been established." Aside from a few minor points (see section immediately below, where these are being discussed), with respect to this document, this is just wrong. Widespread consensus has been established for these points; there simply is no other place where consensus on use of quotations is gathered. In re: concerns that elevating this to guideline will create "an absolute requirement to follow them", I refer again to WP:PG: "Editors should attempt to follow guidelines, though they are best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply." This is not an absolute requirement to do anything. It also isn't necessary that new guidelines come into existence to fix problems. Their purpose is to let members of the community know how things are done ("sets of best practices that are supported by consensus", per WP:PG again), and there's no reason that especially new contributors should have to learn this through trial and error. In terms of redundancy issues, I believe that this is distinct from WP:MOSQUOTE (which is a style guide) and WP:PLAGIARISM both in its scope and depth. Neither MOSQUOTE nor PLAGIARISM are concerned with when quotations should and should not be used, for instance. While there are some overlaps, there are fewer than between Wikipedia:Notability and the 10 specific subject subsets of it, or even than between the policy WP:V and the guideline WP:IRS. While this is my own observation, quotations seem to be pretty widespread in usage through the project. Having a single guideline that documents the best practice of a feature so frequently used seems like a good thing. It's not here for the benefit of those who already know these consensus practices, but for those who do not. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 12:14, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
    Here here!. (talk) 14:40, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose:
    • Partly duplications WP:PLAGIARISM, which will cause inconsistencies. --Philcha (talk) 14:38, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
    • Does not whether it's proposed as a guideline or a policy. There's a bit differance, e.g. WP:IAR does not apply to policies. --Philcha (talk) 10:00, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Only the issues of verifiability, attribution and plagiarism need to be rules, and WP:MOSQUOTE and WP:PLAGIARISM already cover or could easily be expanded to cover these points. Most of WP:QUOTATIONS deals with questions of good taste and good style, which serve us better at the essay level where editors do not have an absolute requirement to follow them. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:04, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose - but solely on the grounds of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I'm not aware of any current problem with Wikipedia's treatment of quotations that needs to be solved through a new guideline. That said, if we WERE to have a guideline, this seems like an excellent one. Support - vote changed, see below. Congratulations to everyone who's worked on this well-written document. - DustFormsWords (talk) 01:49, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • I am returning to comment after your edit summary appeared on my watchlist. Let me say that "ain't broke, don't fix" is the feeblest justification for opposing change that does the rounds. So ... climate change isn't "broken", therefore don't fix it. Yeah. Here on WP, I like to think that reform, improvements—whether gradual or substantial—can happen without weak-kneed resistance to the very idea of change. Tony (talk) 02:04, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • It's fair to say "ain't broke, don't fix it" may have been flippant. Can I suggest you read my comment above as, "The support arguments have failed to demonstrate how this proposal would actively improve Wikipedia?" Having too many guidelines and policies promotes an overly legalistic culture on Wikipedia and may make it harder for new editors to meaningfully contribute to community debate. For each new guideline a case needs to be made as to how that guideline will improve Wikipedia; that case hasn't been made here, largely because, as I say, I'm unaware of any problem in the way we currently handle quotations. But thank you for requesting a clarification of my position; it's nice to know my viewpoint has been heard! - DustFormsWords (talk) 02:17, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • The case is already made. Editors have been following this guidance and putting it into practice for a long time now. So in effect this already HAS been actively improving Wikipedia. Which is probably why you're unaware of any problem in the way we currently handle quotations. All that's left to do is legitimize it by formally calling it a guideline. -- œ 04:30, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Well, no, with respect again to the excellent work contained in the article, that's NOT making the case. This isn't a proposal to note this essay, or a discussion about whether it's good advice (it is). It's a discussion about whether to make it a guideline. It's not now, and we seem to be fine. What's going to change if we make it a guideline? Is there some morass of bitter dispute that I'm unaware of, where people are edit warring over quotations and loudly lamenting, "If only there was an unambiguous policy about this"? To put it another way, what benefit do we gain by making it a guideline that we don't continue to enjoy by leaving it an essay? - DustFormsWords (talk) 04:43, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Nothing much will change at all. Except that we will properly be referring to it as a guideline rather than an essay. As per Moonriddengirl's statement above, the "essay" tag is simply misleading. And perhaps there is some bitter dispute somewhere out there concerning use of quotations, or there may be in the future, who knows? But we would be proactively avoiding it by legitimizing this guideline as something more formal than just an essay. -- œ 07:29, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
    • I want to add that I am in a dispute with quotations. I've seen many articles that use {{quote box}} and they are inserted with no explanation of it's relevance in the article, or in the section. It would be important (if not imperative) that this be upgraded. (talk) 10:13, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Hmmm, how to interpret that statement? One way would be that you wish more sway to "win" your dispute, which would be a mean interpretation. Another way would be that you are demonstrating that the essay is not all that widely accepted and so should not be promoted. I've no doubt there are others, those are just two I thought of, they both give me pause. Franamax (talk) 10:29, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
That's an interesting response that basically gives us some insight into why it's so hard to promote anything nowadays. Some people say an essay doesn't have wide enough acceptance to be a guideline, and some say that since everyone does what the essay says already there's no need to make it a guideline (some people even essentially say both). This basically means that no matter what, there's always a reason to refrain from promoting. Equazcion (talk) 10:58, 16 Mar 2010 (UTC)
Indubitably. WP:PLAGIARISM was strenuously opposed from it's first writing as being an overlap of WP:CITE and WP:V as I recall. It's a serious concern, because guidelines can start drifting apart. I'm just looking here for what "extra value" is being gained. Franamax (talk) 11:10, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
That's a goood thing. Overlegislation is the bane of initiative; it's to Wikipedia's credit that it's able to run at a high level with only a very rare need for new formal law. As I've said above, the goal that we all share is to improve Wikipedia. If Wikipedia isn't improved by promoting an essay to a guideline - and I've still not seen any case that it is - then we gain the very substantial benefit of not having to increase the size of the Wikipedia policy book, which means increased ease of access for new editors and a debate style that favours substantive argument over the technicalities of policy precedence. - DustFormsWords (talk) 21:15, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
It's not a good thing that there's always an interchangeable reason to refrain from promoting anything. That means that worthy pages could be getting blocked from promotion on mere whims or ulterior motives rather than solid rationale. The role of policies and guidelines is to have something to refer to that explains what is always done. This page explains what is always done. If the reasons not to promote it are that there aren't enough fights over quotes to warrant legislation that would force a desired result, and that there are fights over it which we should take to mean that it's not what is always done, then there is a problem in the promotion process. Equazcion (talk) 22:15, 16 Mar 2010 (UTC)
It's not a reason to oppose everything. Clearly where there's a gap or dispute about a substantive issue it will be necessary to introduce policy to resolve the issue. That's what's recently and currently been happening around BLPs, it's what's been happening with WP:EVENT, and it's what will happen any time that a new policy would create concrete benefits to the smooth and high-quality operation of Wikipedia. It's not the case here; there's obvious benefits to NOT introducing unnecessary guidelines, and there's no argument been advanced that this proposed guideline is a necessary one. The argument here so far seems to be that any generally-agreed essay should be advanced to a guideline, and I don't think that's an argument that's in either the short term or long term interests of the encyclopaedia. - DustFormsWords (talk) 22:24, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
What do you mean by "necessary"? In the BLP case, policy is treated as prescriptive. There's a problem that needs fixing, so we need something that tells people what to do, because they currently aren't all doing the "right" thing. Think in terms of what Wikipedia claims policy is supposed to be, and there's a reason to promote this -- because it describes what we already do. There doesn't need to be a problem requiring a fix (making it "necessary"). That's not what policy is supposed to be, or at least, that's not what it's claimed to be. Equazcion (talk) 22:35, 16 Mar 2010 (UTC)
What I mean by "not necessary" is that no one has put forward a reason why promoting the essay to a guideline creates a better Wikipedia. DustFormsWords (talk) 23:12, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Why does any promotion create a better Wikipedia? It's good to have documentation of what we do and why we do it, so that it can be easily referred to when someone doesn't know. Equazcion (talk) 23:14, 16 Mar 2010 (UTC)

We have that document. It's the essay. What do we gain by promoting it to a guideline, and how does it outweigh the small but real costs to accessibility, efficiency and inclusiveness that come with incremental overlegislation? - DustFormsWords (talk) 23:38, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
An essay is "the advice or opinions of one or more" people. When referring people to documentation of our practices, that message at the top tends to call its credibility as documentation into question, as it rightly should. An essay that documents consensus practices is a policy or guideline, and failing to say so (at least for your stated reasons) is a product of fear outweighing accuracy. Equazcion (talk) 23:47, 16 Mar 2010 (UTC)
Changing opinion above to Support - Sorry everyone, my arguments above turn out to be based on an incorrect understanding of WP:GUIDELINE and insofar as I have a disagreement it's with that page and not this one. Given that page, and my acceptance that this essay is both excellent and community-agreed, it would appear I don't have any valid reason to oppose its promotion, and I change my argument accordingly. Thank you everyone for the discussion and insofar as I've learned from it it's not been a waste of time. - DustFormsWords (talk) 00:01, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
As mentioned above, this generally states style, and so if required, we can categigorize it as a MOS page (i.e.: name it "wp:mos (quotations)" or "mos:quotations"). (talk) 14:22, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose promotion at this time. This is a great compilation of best practice for quoting and is fine as an essay. I'm unclear on what it would add as a guideline, that is not already overlapped elsewhere. MOSQUOTE ahould already be covering the should-do's and other policy/guideline already covers the must-do's, but maybe I'm missing something? Separately, one thnig that jumped out at me was As an editor, it is your responsibility... - actually, as an editor, I have no responsibilities at all, I can do whatever I want right up until I get blocked. Sure, I've volunteered to take on one or two hundred responsibilities, but really, please don't start dictating my responsibility to me, I don't respond well in that way. :) Franamax (talk) 11:04, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
    Shall we strike a task force to review the relevant protocol? I think, as mentioned previously above, that this page states the good use or quotations in articles, not the rights infringement of other protocol.

    The most important point (IMO) of this page is the attribution. I've seen quotes used everywhere, from being at the top of an article, to having 5 quotes in one section, and all of them having no explanation as to it's pertinence to the article. This is what erks me because we have a sister for this. (talk) 11:26, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
    If you have such strong opinions about the project why not create an account, because the opinions of a person with only two days edit history is not given much weight? -- PBS (talk) 23:02, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
    Creating an account wouldn't give him more days of history. Besides which opinions should be given weight based on their merit, not a person's contrib list. Moving on, 174, when you say there's a lack of attribution, do you mean there's not sufficient info on who authored the quotes, or on what value they give to the article? Equazcion (talk) 23:08, 16 Mar 2010 (UTC)
    The latter. (talk) 02:39, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
    He has an account. He is User:100110100 (he has used both the account and the IP in this discussion, though he did not make it clear above). -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 00:12, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
    How do you know that User:100110100 and are the same person? "Besides which opinions should be given weight based on their merit, not a person's contrib list." Not so. If I see an argument from a user id which I know and respect then I tend to need less persuasion that their point of view is worth considering without the need for further questions and explanations. This is after all the major advantage to the project of people using user ids.-- PBS (talk) 00:50, 17 March 2010 (UTC) = = User:100110100. I know because its been confirmed by the admin who has dealt with this editor and per the [[|lengthy ANI thread regarding the same user. An admin did request he identify himself when he has used both the named and IP in discussions, though it was apparently ignored. I only note it now because someone specifically suggested he make an account, which of course is unnecessary. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 01:00, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
    (after e/c, omitted bit about why accounts are good) I'm interested in the answer to that because it might help to illuminate what this is meant to address as a guideline. If it's attribution of the work quoted, isn't that covered in detail elsewhere, or is there a hole in the instructions? And if it's "value given", does this essay cover that and does that need the force of a guideline? Or if it's that quotes are overwhelming a section, isn't that a matter of indivdual consensus on articles? Excessive quoting from a single source? Is that covered somewhere? WP:PLAG is slowly becoming regularly referred to now and it's specific guidance occasionally gets quoted. What would be the analogous guidance given by this proposed guideline in the scenarios I just outlined? Franamax (talk) 00:15, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
    What I meant by attribution is: "Explicitly stating the pertinence of a quote.". (talk) 02:39, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Eventual support. I don't think this is quite ready for guideline status, but I think it could be ready in fairly short order, and I thing it would be of value as a guideline once it has been improved a bit mroe. DES (talk) 04:30, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. It seems like it's easier around here to promote a new guideline than to get a single sentence into an article past the squad of censors who can misquote them all. Even essays, if well-regarded, are cited anyway. So when I see little details that worry me, I'm for caution. For example:
  • I don't think that "epigraphs" should be banned. Why? Because you're asking someone to interpret what an "epigraph" from a piece of fiction translates into in Wikipedia. What they're going to come up with half the time is that just about any free-standing quote is an "epigraph".
  • I don't think that WP:QUOTEFARM should be repeated here. Why? Because you end up with two copies of it, either of which can change, and then the discussion goes back and forth while either or both are used... it's a mess. It should be incorporated by reference ONLY. This gets even worse when you have extra policy guideline advice about not "overusing" quotations and not using "long" quotations. After what I got into at "Johnny Weir" trying to introduce a few quotes in one section, I don't think the policy is all that lenient now.
  • "Three or more consecutive words". This is a nightmare waiting to be uncorked. There are all kinds of situations where you use three or more consecutive words, because there's just no other way to say it. Once that one gets out there won't be a political edit that doesn't get flagged by the censor squad because you say "Senator ---- introduced a bill..." without putting it in quotation marks, or because you're "quoting too extensively", etc.
  • "Do not put quotes in italics" also strikes me as unneeded advice. Lots of people are used to seeing quotes in italics - it seems as fair as using a 24-hour clock and such.
  • Advising editors against using quoteboxes except in dire circumstances also rubs me the wrong way. Quotes are like images, meant to spice up an article. Other media don't mind using them, so why should we enforce boredom on the reader? Yeah, don't use them to break policy by giving WP:undue weight... but that's a policy already.

Bottom line: this guideline reads to me like it practically bans quotes from articles that in my opinion could use more of them, not less. Instruction creep is a leading known flaw of Wikipedia and we're right here at the cutting edge of it. Wnt (talk) 22:46, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

I disagree with most of that. Italics for quotes should be advised against in some guideline, as it's extraneous formatting. It's not used in most reputable (non-magazine) publications, and on Wikipedia it's almost never done/accepted.
Advising against quote boxes is also a good idea, because for any given topic there are generally a rather high number of possible quotes to use, so they're very prone to overuse. That's different from the choice of images, which are generally finite; and I don't think images are present in articles merely to "spice them up", but are rather mainly there to provide information -- a picture is worth a thousand words, and so forth. Taking words that could just as easily be in the main text and displaying them in their own box is just the kind of extraneous style (for the majority of cases) that's more magazine-style than encyclopedia oriented, which we generally try to avoid.
Quotefarm shouldn't be repeated but it should be summarized briefly, as it's very related to the quote box issue and the topic of the page in general.
"In general, using three or more consecutive words from a source is a quotation." -- It already says "generally", which I'd interpret as an attempt at a disclaimer to avoid the problems you predict. Maybe "Broadly interpreted,..." would work better for that purpose; but this wording can be worked on. I think it's a good thing, though, to offer a quick definition of what the page is describing and offering advice on.
As for epigraphs, I think that sentence needs some definition. I don't think it's intended to mean using epigraphs found in literature is bad, as you've interpreted it; but instead, that it's bad to insert quotes into an article in epigraph-style, for example with no lead-in or lacking attribution. Pull-quotes, same deal -- although quote boxes basically are the same thing, and are allowed sparingly, so again this sentence needs more explanation in order to remain.
Whatever you think of the practices described on this page, it generally describes the principles that win out on Wikipedia, in nearly all cases, as far as I'm aware. Equazcion (talk) 02:59, 18 Mar 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, that's not what I meant about the epigraphs. What I mean is that an epigraph in literature is a free-floating quote at the beginning of a book, which is seldom really completely irrelevant though often the relationship is rather indirect, and sometimes may be fairly closely related to the topic of the work. But what's a "book" in a Wikipedia article? Does the policy ban a quote at the beginning of a section, subsection, table, infobox? Does the quote have to be totally off-topic to the section text, or somewhat difficult to integrate, or is it anything not directly linked to the text by a sentence introducing it with a colon? Wnt (talk) 06:09, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Again I agree the sentence poorly described the issue, but it was merely warning against delivering quotes for purely stylistic purposes, I think; without a lead-in, explanation, attribution, etc. The sentence seems to have been removed now anyway. Equazcion (talk) 06:14, 18 Mar 2010 (UTC)
Yes, the proposal is to ban quotes that have no explanation of being there. Quotations don't have to be introduced by a colon, but it should be explained why it is there. There is no reason why a quotation should appear out of the blue, and hit you in the face. Yeh, that's nice for magazines, but if we want something verifiable and encyclopedic, that's this is not the place. (talk) 14:14, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, the example that comes to mind is when the text says that an herb "is known for" some activity, either (usually) without a source, or with a fluffy source from a few years ago that doesn't cite sources itself. And what you have is a quote from some ancient text - Hippocrates, Sushruta, Dioscourides, etc., which is worded in such a way that it is fairly clear that this is what it is talking about, not to mention generally being very well put and interesting. Now if you introduce this directly in the text, saying "X said this", you're still arguably making an OR connection between the way it's put in archaic language and the thing they have. But if you make it merely a footnote reference, then you see the very important source that has shaped history hidden away, while the fluffy pop article stands supreme. But if you have the quote sitting off alone in a box at the beginning of the section, then people have this information and reference, which is in itself relevant to the article and quite interesting, without watching the awkward contortion of someone trying to link it in.
It's true that a deeper research of the topic might allow a more integrated approach, but the topic should be allowed in the meanwhile. Wnt (talk) 14:51, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
It looks as though WP:QUOTEFARM has redirected here for quite some time. Were you thinking of something else?
I agree with the criticisms regarding "epigraphs" and "Three or more consecutive words". This sort of thinking is endemic in a few of our guidelines and policies. The ideas themselves aren't really problematic, it's taking the decent general advice and making it into a hard and fast rule which reads as though you can never do whatever it is, which is a problem.
I also agree with the item about italicizing quotes. Some articles really benefit from such typographical styling, while attempting to shoehorn that style into others only works to create a mess. There are too many variables with this issue to make a hard rule effective or useful.
I concur with the thoughts on quoteboxes as well.
Ultimately, this hits on all of the reasons that I think this is a decent essay which should not be a guideline. It's good advice for places where it's helpful, but if applied generally it will work at cross-purposes to actually improving articles. As I said above, I support something like linking to it from the MOS, but not to promoting it to be "a rule". Implementing the "style classification" discussed below, and placing it into that category (with a few more minor tweaks), would also be perfectly reasonable to me.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 03:03, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Addendum: I oppose the below because that solution is not legally binding. It is useless to create another category of page. Now, THAT, is "instruction creep". (talk) 03:54, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Not "legally binding"? What does that mean? Nothing here is actually "legally binding", and really the only policies that are unambiguously binding are the WP:5P's. Making this a guideline would hardly make it "legally binding".
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 10:08, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
No, those aren't legally binding, as there are many exceptions to those rules. You can take it as a metaphor, but being an essay, it is impossible to enforce the statements that appear here. (talk) 14:02, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
The point though is that you can't really "enforce" guidelines either. As with most things here, Guidelines receive what little authority that they have through the weight of our collective acceptance, and willingness to follow them. You or I could create a guideline saying that lead text must use {{Pink (color)}} text, but that doesn't mean that it'll happen. Actually, I'd estimate that more guidelines (and policies, for that matter) are ignored then are followed.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 14:51, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
No, the point is that people dismiss what is written here because it is an essay and has no consensus. Although this is contrary to de jure. (talk) 16:05, 19 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Ohms, that's not really true. The onus is usually on a non-compliant editor to show, if challenged, why the article should not comply with a style guide. Untenable style guides, such as the pink example, do not survive for long, because style guides are taken seriously. Tony (talk) 03:37, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
    The "if challenged" part is a key component to your reply, though. Besides, I never said that style guides weren't "taken seriously", only that what authority they have is given by the continuing consent of most editors. There's literally nothing that couldn't change in any policy or guideline, if we wanted it to. The real issue here though, is that Wikipedia's policies and guidelines are definitely not laws, by any stretch of the imagination. That has been a Wikipedia policy since 2001.
    — V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 05:39, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
    That doesn't make anysense. We explicitly are saying what is acceptable with good reason and asking people to GIVE a good reason when something falls out of the rule. Of course wikipedia is not a bureaucracy, you don't have to say that because consensus is how we do things. Of course it is law. That's why we decide on a case by case basis what violates what. (talk) 16:06, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose Redundant to our numerous other policies and guidelines. Please see WP:BURO and WP:CREEP. Colonel Warden (talk) 14:17, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. This is a helpful essay. It should remain so. WP:MOS and WP:PLAGIARISM provide sufficient formal guidance. --Mkativerata (talk) 21:43, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. The essay's stance on stand-alone quotes and quoteboxes seems rather arbitrary. Stand-alone quotes can make an article more enjoyable to read (e.g.), a consideration which I feel gets too little air-time in WP discussions. I don't feel that the injunctions not to overuse quotations and not to use long ones are particularly helpful. --MoreThings (talk) 14:40, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
That article you linked is exactly the articles we don't want to have: encylopedias are very different from magazines. If we let everyone have a joy to read wikipedia, we would let them have 20 quotes on every featured article, considering they are the "best" articles on wikipedia, so they should "read" the "best". We have a devoted function for that: wikiquote.
Your defence that the article is a joy to read is undefensible, because I didn't think the article was beautiful at all. (talk) 15:59, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
No. Let's not have anyone enjoy reading WP, whatever we do :) I think the layout of the Larkin article could be prettied up a bit, but I think the quotations themselves improve the article a lot. If a WP article can manage to be as enjoyable and engaging as an article in a good magazine while remaining within policy, that's a win. In that respect having to write encyclopedically is a constraint as much as it is a goal. --MoreThings (talk) 19:33, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
wikipedia is an encyclopedia and presents facts. Those quotes are thrown around everywhere, arranged into incoherence, and belong on wikiquote. (talk) 04:56, 23 March 2010 (UTC)
"That article you linked is exactly the articles we don't want to have" - 174 is mistaking their opinion for consensus. If I understand their grammar correctly almost-instinct 08:02, 29 March 2010 (UTC)


So we obviously have no consensus on the status of this page. Would anyone object to me removing the rfc and {{proposed}}? (talk) 02:41, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Be aware that consensus is a process, not a vote; although the yeas and nays are about evenly split, the page and its purpose are now actively being discussed, and with further discussion and reformation, it might yet become a guideline. Or not. The wheels are in motion, though; might as well let them turn.--Father Goose (talk) 03:14, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
As at the moment there is no clear consensus either way, I suggest we leave the RfC to run until it is automatically removed by the bot after a month at that point we can decide what the outcome of the RfC is. -- PBS (talk)
Based on the discussion that many editors are using this as if it were a guideline yet given the lack of full agreement, what I'd like best would to establish a new class of objects between "Essays" and "Guidelines", which I would call "Styles". Each would bear the initial template:
Then editors who start or substantially work on an article might add to the talk page
(The check mark should be substituted by a unique recognizable logo, and the color for the first should appear white on an Essay: page. wp:style currently redirects to Manual of Style but some other target should be chosen, unless this idea can be incorporated there. The "group of users" would be such as support it here, plus recruits, who would sign up to a numbered list like for a WikiProject; optionally it could actually be some sort of WikiProject. This would apply potentially to many other "more than essays" floating around.).
I think that this might safely span the gap between guidelines required for FACs or imposed by overbearing editors, and simple essays that are non-binding. Such a page would stay in Essay: namespace and retain this "legal status"; it would not be binding in FACs or other situations where guidelines become mandatory; but it would effectively offer a way for users to coalesce, while leaving room for alternate style guides supported by other user groups, and for independent decision making. Wnt (talk) 01:46, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Actually, I think that this idea has merit. I was thinking along the same lines myself, the other day. Probably the paramount aspect to a potential "style classification" is that they should first strive to be as permissive as is reasonable (which is always a tough tightrope to walk. Too permissive and the guide looses it's reason for being, too restrictive and it kills innovation.).
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 02:52, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I oppose this. (talk) 03:05, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Is there some good reason you have for editing under two names (an IP address and a username)? It is very irritating. Tony (talk) 03:09, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I remember that before I globalized my account, I got logged out of Wikipedia all the time and it was easy to end up editing as an IP by accident. I'm not sure that's the reason, but I think so - there's no obvious "timeout" parameter to set in Options. Wnt (talk) 18:46, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

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


Generally, I am for the idea of making this a guideline, but there are a couple of questions/issues I have. The last of them I've altered in the proposed guideline because I think it's important to emphasize policy, but others are less urgent, and I'm loathe to substantially alter a document under consideration.

  • "Quotes, especially those from living people, must be attributed properly: not to do so is often plagiarism."

Why especially those from living people?

  • "As a courtesy to other contributors, if removing a quotation, please say so on the article's talk page."

This is a bit unnecessary, I think. There are situations where it's proper to say so on the article's talk page and situations where it's pointless. Sometimes, edit summary explanation is sufficient; sometimes quotations will be removed in a general overhaul of material and this wouldn't seem to call for singling out.

  • "Inappropriate tone. Where a quotation presents rhetorical language in place of more neutral, dispassionate tone preferred for encyclopedias, it can be a backdoor method of inserting a non-neutral treatment of a controversial subject into Wikipedia's narrative on the subject, and should be avoided."

Sometimes, the non-neutral treatment is the point. As it says in WP:NFC and in the "Quoting copyrighted text" section, quotes can be used to "attribute a point of view". Immediately springs to mind critical evaluation of books, films, music, etc. :)

  • "NOR. A quotation should not be used to support original research."

I suspect this may cause some confusion, I think, in how a quotation can be used to support original research. I wonder if this could be clarified by a change along the lines of, "A quotation that does not directly relate to the topic of the article or directly support the information as it is presented should not be used, to avoid original research."

  • Quotations and fair use section

I think it needs to be emphasized that extensive quotes are forbidden. "Editors are advised to exercise good judgment" seems a bit weak there, as I can assure you there are plenty of editors whose good judgment will tell them that quoting three pages from a four page article is necessary and appropriate. :) I've altered this to read "Editors are advised to exercise good judgment and to remain mindful of the fact that while brief excerpts are permitted by policy, extensive quotations are forbidden." Better wording more than welcome. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 12:27, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

I support all of these points. Is someone prepared to address them in the text? Tony (talk) 12:46, 15 March 2010 (UTC)
Additional point: why is three words the standard for suspecting plagiarism? Tony (talk) 08:32, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Do people agree that the page needs examples to engage with the very editors we are trying to reach? Tony (talk) 11:30, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I've made several of the changes, but am not sure how to word a change to "Inappropriate tone." Suggestions would be welcome. I saw the three word recommendation, too, Tony and wondered about that. I didn't say anything, though, because it's probably appropriate to drop quotation marks around a run of three words if they are strikingly original words. If it's "He was born", well, not so much. That's a bit difficult to convey in a short guideline, though, that the degree of creativity of the language may dictate how much you can use without quotation marks, while still making it clear that the threshold for creativity is quite low in copyright concerns. I'm not sure how I feel about examples; brevity is important, but if there are difficult concepts, they may be useful. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 11:40, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Problem is, examples tend to become benchmarks. People like simple rules and they will derive them from the examples. Examples would need associated reasoning to demonstrate the ambiguity, especially if it was around a three-word count. "He was born" vs. "sprang from womb" is pretty easy, but there are a lot of in-betweens. Franamax (talk) 11:58, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree with both of you, but I don't think we've yet got to the core of it.

First, the decision as to whether text unbounded by quotation marks is plagiarism comes down to more than just the length of the string of words: to that might be added the extent to which it (i) is common knowledge; (ii) occurs elsewhere (especially on the Internet, which seems to harbour multiplicities of some word strings); and (iii) is distinctive, linguistically, conceptually, intellectually. Possibly there are other relevant criteria that might also be weighed up in some circumstances. I'm drawn to the example of the criteria for judging whether an action is canvassing on WP; it's in the table at the top of that guideline. While individual judgement will often be at issue in deciding whether text is plagiarised, we desperately need a framework spelled out.
Second, any guideline for quotations has to deal with the mechanics of (a) whether to quote directly or to paraphrase; and (b) if paraphrasing, to what extent and how paraphrased and original text should differ.
These matters are all entangled. I'm starting to wonder whether they should not all be treated in a single guideline, encompassing quoting, paraphrasing, and plagiarism.
Thoughts? Tony (talk) 13:42, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Good idea. When one of the editors opposed promotion, I was thinking maybe wp:plagarism should be merged with this guideline. But, anyhow we would need to examine all guidelines if we were to propose a merger. (talk) 14:54, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
@ User:Tony1:
  • How do you think paraphrasing differs from what we're doing all the time, hopefully selecting and concisely?
  • How would you define plagiarism that does not include quotations?
  • How would you handle quotations that have become stock phrases in the relevant sub-culture? --Philcha (talk) 15:29, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
I think I like the idea of a CANVASS-style grid to illustrate the "sliding scale" idea of how to make assessments. Similar to the guidance available there, editors will tend to be drawn toward the centre green-zone areas. However I think we're dealing with a hypercube here, there are axes of: length of text; distinctiveness of text; substantiality of the copied work; structure of sentences and paragraphs; substantial structure of work; ownership status of work; use of in-line, block or no quote marks; method of attribution; relevance of copied text to article. I might be able to add a few more. These factors all weigh into decisions, but different factors have different weights in assessing copyvio, plagio, quality of attribution, quality of article, etc. - so I think we'll either have an awful lot of matrices in one guideline, or continue to assess each aspect individually. But I do like the idea of sliding scales. Franamax (talk) 00:47, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

I think we should keep the plagiarism and quotations pages separate. As long as a quotation is attributed, it isn't plagiarism, although if it's too long, it can still be copyright infringement. Meanwhile there are stylistic and compositional issues with quotations (how they should be formatted, when they should be used) that don't intersect with plagiarism. And I'd say outright plagiarism (copying someone else's text without attribution) isn't a quotation at all.--Father Goose (talk) 23:11, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Something that is marked as a quote but with no useful attribution (for example A critic once said, "He uses works superbly" or such as This is well illustrated by the comment that: "The novel will live in our cultural memory forever") may be both plagiarism and a quote, and is surely not acceptable whatever you call it. I would also emphasize that quotes should normally be attributed in the text, not just in a footnote. DES (talk) 00:24, 17 March 2010 (UTC)
I have reservations about DES's quotes should normally be attributed in the text, not just in a footnote. E.g.
  • From the reader's pov, the quote is a benefit (if well-chosen) but attribution in the text makes it harder for the reader to read the rest.
  • Some books and academic articles have 10 or more authors. How would you handle these?
@bullet2: Just say et. al., and then the reference. (talk) 14:52, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Consider a hypothetical example each way:
  • George Smith, writing in the New York Times said "It is clear that this President has made a fatal miscalculation." [ref here]
  • A typical critical comment on this action was "It is clear that this President has made a fatal miscalculation." [ref here]
Now how does the first version "makes it harder for the reader to read the rest"? If you thought I meant that the attribution in the text should substitute for the full citation in the footnote than I expressed myself poorly. I meant nothing of the sort. Similarly, a scholarly article could be quoted like this:
  • Keats, Joyce, et al. write that "This poetic form was obsolete by the end of the 1700s."[ref link here]
as opposed to
  • As a much cited article puts it: "This poetic form was obsolete by the end of the 1700s."[ref link here]
Do those exmaples make my meanign clearer?

Three words[edit]

The "three words" sentence needs to go. There are too many cases when it's just wrong. "Jane Smith was born on February 29, 1947" is 7 words, but does not need to be put in quotes, because there is no other reasonable way to say it. "Nuts" is one word, but a very important quotation. It's certainly true that having rules helps, but not when they're so often wrong. --GRuban (talk) 15:09, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Ok, let's take it out and leave it for wp:plagarism. Let's turn this into a style guideline, without actually having to dictate credit. (talk) 15:53, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
I think it should be not simply removed, but rewritten to indicate the delicate, case-by-case nature of the decision on when to mark something as a quotation. DES (talk) 00:54, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I propose the following:

When must words from a source be treated as a quotation?
"When a sequence of words is copied from a source, it will usually be a quotation, and must be marked and attributed as such. If the sequence is purely factual and fairly short, and there is no other obvious way to state the fact, it need not be treated as a quotation. For example "Jane Smith was born on February 29, 1947" need not be treated as a quotation even if copied exactly from a source. Nor need a list of facts arranged in an obvious manner, for example an alphabetized or chronological list of names or events. However, statements of opinion, or statements with any originality of expression must be treated as quotation. In some cases a single word must be treated as a quotation: The general is reported to have cried "Foreward!" as he led his troops to battle. or, more realistically, The tenor of the Dreyfus affair was changed by a single word: Zola's "J'Accuse". If in doubt, treat any sequence of three or more words copied directly from a source as a quotation."

What do you think of that longer but IMO more accurate statement? DES (talk) 01:25, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

"When a sequence of words is copied from a source, it will usually be a quotation, and must be marked and attributed as such." It is not true that sequence of words is copied from a source, will usually be a quotation,..." (my emphasis) It depends on the origins of the source from which the text comes, and simultaneously it also depends on what the text says (is it non-NPOV) see wp:plagiarism. -- PBS (talk) 02:12, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Point noted, here is a revised version:
When must words from a source be treated as a quotation?
"When a sequence of words is copied from a source, it will in many cases constitute a quotation, and must be marked and attributed as such. If the sequence is purely factual and fairly short, and there is no other obvious way to state the fact, it need not be treated as a quotation. For example "Jane Smith was born on February 29, 1947" need not be treated as a quotation even if copied exactly from a source. Nor need a list of facts arranged in an obvious manner, for example an alphabetized or chronological list of names or events. For these and other cases where copied text need not be treated as a quotation, see Wikipedia:Plagiarism# What is not plagiarism. However, statements of opinion, or statements with any originality of expression must normally be treated as quotations if copied exactly. In some cases a single word must be treated as a quotation: The general is reported to have cried "Foreward!" as he led his troops to battle. or, more realistically, The tenor of the Dreyfus affair was changed by a single word: Zola's "J'Accuse". If in doubt, treat any sequence of three or more words copied directly from a source as a quotation."
Is that better? DES (talk) 02:44, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
"However, statements of opinion, or statements with any originality of expression must normally be treated as quotations if copied exactly." No it depends on the type of source, if it is public domain then it may be just as acceptable to transform ...He was from an old and noble family... to ... Foster stated that he was from an old an noble family ... without quotation marks -- it depends on editorial judgement. --PBS (talk) 04:57, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
It is often acceptable to paraphrase, and I agree that some judgment is needed. In the example you cite, i would probably write ... Foster stated that he was from "an old an noble family" ... But I don't think the public domain status really is what matter is such a case. That governs whether copyright applies, but not what attribution is needed. For example, Shakespeare is clearly in the public domain, but passages from his works should normally be treated as quotations -- unless they have become more or less proverbial (such as "guild the lily" or "honored in the breach", and note the first is a very common misquote -- the actual passage is "To gild refine-ed gold; to paint the lily" -- and the second is generally misapplied or misunderstood) are are used as such. that is why I wrote "normally". When an article is quoting exactly rather than paraphrasing, this should generally be indicated, public domain source or not. DES (talk) 05:25, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I am sorry but "When an article is quoting exactly rather than paraphrasing, this should generally be indicated, public domain source or not" is just not true and a large part of plagiarism guideline is about this issue. If it is in quotes than it must be a copy, but if it is not in quotes and it is a copy from a suitable source (within copyright law) then it can be edited and improved just like any other text in a Wikikpedia. See for example the Western Allied invasion of Germany. -- PBS (talk) 20:17, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
But just to clarify, when an article is quoting exactly from a PD source, yes it definitely should be indicated, just not necessarily by using quote marks. Use of PD templates combined with edit summaries, talk page notes, and the brand new {{citation-attribution}} are equally acceptable means of incorporating PD text. Unless it is a copy of a quotation contained within another work, in which case I think it would still need mandatory quote marks. And if we wanted to incorporate Shakespeare's works here to be mercilessly edited, we can do it, we just have to say so. I've always thought that Merchant of Venice should have ended with a much lower quality of mercy. ;) Franamax (talk) 20:54, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
No, I have to agree with DES. If the quote is unchanged then this should be mentioned
For example, you have a piece of work that is paraphrased. There are a couple of ways to give credit.
  1. You can put a foot note.
  2. You can mention in the same sentence that this is a paraphrase and where this is paraphrased from, so you are still giving readers an OPTION to look for the original document.
But this guideline is specifically different. We are trying to say how to use quotes. Quotes ≠ paraphrases.
wp:plagarism covers the line (the fine line) of copying someone else's work with out giving credit. Plagiarism is using someone else's work with out giving credit. And even if it is free, in the public domain, or even if the author does not care if you give credit, the READER wants to know "the credit", so the reader can go back to the PRIMARY source and see just for whatever reason they want to, maybe for research, for example. It doesn't matter who wrote it. It doesn't matter if it is free. It doesn't matter if it is public domain. IT HAS to tell where you got it, who said it, where, what, when, where, why.
Paraphrases are totally different. YOU STILL have to say where you PARAPHRASED it from. YOU MUST indicate the primary source. (talk) 23:08, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

AnmaFinotera's reverts[edit]

If an essay is the advice or opinions of one or a few editors, I don't think consensus is needed to make changes. If it were a guideline, that would be a different story. Equazcion (talk) 17:28, 18 Mar 2010 (UTC)

Seems like she wants to discuss the changes.
Anyhow, to answer her question, it seemed to me that there was consensus to apply those changes because a lot of the editors have expressed that the sentence 3 words should not apply.
But anyhow, the change has been logged, so you guys can help decide what should be the better version and it will be up to AnmaFinotera to explain why she feels those changes are not reasonable. (talk) 17:41, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
Equazcion - a better header would have been nice. And as this is proposed as a guideline, I would think consensus WOULD be needed for such changes. If the proposal to up to a guideline is considered failed, then of course feel free to revert. As to the IP, the change for 3 words some consensus, yes, but no clear preferred wording on identifying a "quote" has been proposed. That is also not the only change you made, and your continued additions against quote boxes does not have consensus. -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 18:18, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
This reminds me of another reason why I proposed a "style" subcategory of Essays that I forgot to mention. With a guideline, you need (ideally) consensus of all editors who wander in to the page, whether they're for or against the idea as a whole. If a style had a signed list of editors who advocate it, it would follow that they would be the authorities on how to apply it and would only need consensus among themselves. Wnt (talk) 18:52, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
The problem with that idea is I can easily see a set of editors coming up with a personal style for minor things (versus actual community-consensus approved style guides), then running around and throwing it on a bunch of articles and applying it willy nilly by bullying any editors there since they have a "consensus". Particularly if you are calling them an "authority". How would that be any difference from a WP:CABAL? -- AnmaFinotera (talk · contribs) 18:55, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
You do have a point, but it should be clear that guidelines trump optional styles. Some caution would be needed, though. Wnt (talk) 20:52, 18 March 2010 (UTC)
The mechanic is that if an article is written in a certain way, it stays that way. This is the notwithstanding clause used in preference of American English and British English on articles. So if most of the words in an article is in British English, do not use a bot and change them to American English. (talk) 21:23, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Where was consensus for the "three words" rule established? i for one object to it, as I think it is too inflexible and often will be inaccurate. in some cases a singe word will be a quotation and ned to be shown as such, and in others six words will not be. And I note that multiple editors objected to the "three words" rule in discussion above, adn i didn't notice any significant defense of it. I think there is, in fact, consensus enough to change it. DES (talk) 00:39, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

See #Three words above. DES (talk) 02:45, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Alternate idea[edit]

I just got carried away and made my own idea about what this should be at WP:Quotations/2. (It's a pretty hurried first draft, since I'll allow there's a fair chance of an unfavorable reaction...) Wnt (talk) 20:52, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

Here's mine. (talk) 21:25, 18 March 2010 (UTC)

change of wording -- attribution to source[edit]

I changed "Quotations must be verifiably attributed to a reliable source." to "Quotations must be verifiably attributed to their origin, the person or entity who said or wrote the words, or the document where they appear. A reliable source must be cited that confirms the origin of the quotation. "

The previous wording was IMO either confusing or inaccurate. It seemd to imply that only a RS must be quoted. (A quote is attributed to a speaker or writer by a source.) What is or at any rate should be meant is that whoever said or wrote the words, we must say where they came from and we must cite a reliable source to demonstrate that this is accurate. Obviously we often quote the subject of an article or people who have commented on the subject, many of whom will not be RSs in general, but whose views it would be PoV to omit. But we need an RS to demonstrate that the people we quote said what they did. DES (talk) 01:09, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

It should not have been confusing to you because it just repeats policy "All quotations and any material challenged or likely to be challenged must be attributed to a reliable, published source using an inline citation." (WP:PROVEIT) --PBS (talk) 02:50, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Sorry I forgot to mention "The word 'source', as used in Wikipedia, has three meanings: the piece of work itself (a document, article, paper, or book), the creator of the work (for example, the writer), and the publisher of the work (for example, The New York Times). All three can affect reliability." (See WP:SOURCES) --PBS (talk) 02:54, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
It was not confusing to me, but it was (and is) potentially confusing to others. I am aware of the possible meanings of "source" adn indeed there are more than those three. When "source" is qualified by "reliable" it indicates or should indicate a citeable source, a publication of some sort. But "source" in "the source of a quotation" means the author of the quotation, usually a person, but sometimes an institution, as when an official document with no identified author is quoted. (Of course "the source of a quotation" can also mean the work or document from which the quotation is taken.) One deos not, strictly speaking, attribute a quotation to a reliable source; rather one documents or cites the fact that a reliable source attributes the quote to its author. That is, it is attributed by the reliable source (and also by the wikipedia article, in reliance upon the reliable source) to its author. We could say that the quote is attributed by the reliable source to the quote's source. But such a double use of "source" in two different but related menaings, would be to invite confusion. That is what, IMO, the previous wording (and perhaps the current wording of WP:PROVEIT, i'll need to look at that page) does. I hope you can now see more clearly why i think the change was desirable. DES (talk) 03:39, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
But source does not just mean thean author it means the published source where the citation can be found to check that the wording is accurately copied into Wikipedia. For example "'Fight them on the on the beaches' -- Winston Churchill" is inadequate it has to be tied into a reliably published source, so that it can be verified as accurate and as reliable source is linked to WP:RS (although I personally would link it to WP:SOURCES) allows someone who does not know what "reliable sources" means in this context to check it. --PBS (talk) 04:00, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Thinking about it further the author of a quote does not have to be reliable, for example a the BBC might report that members of a mob shouted out "Kill him", without attributing it to anyone but a mob, therefore the source of the cry is not a reliable source, and it may written up by an anonymous staff member of the BBC, but the published BBC report is still a reliable source. So perhaps your "two different but related meanings" does not invite confusion but keeps it simple. -- PBS (talk) 04:11, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
That was exactly my point. We attribute the quotation to its author, who may be known or unknown, reliable or distinctly unreliable. But we make that attribution in a wikipedia article only because it is supported by a reliable source that also makes the same attribution -- in short we cite a reliable source that says where the quote came from, who wrote or said it, and usually when and in what context. That is the distinction i have been trying to make. WP:PROVEIT currently does not make this distinction as clearly as I should like, although I am sure it is understood by most editors. DES (talk) 04:28, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
You should make the distinction clear on proveit. (talk) 07:08, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
The way I handled this in the WP:Quotations/2 I mentioned above was to put two separate statements:
"As with all material in Wikipedia articles, quotations should be verifiably attributed to a reliable source."
and later
"A quote isn't a quote if it is not attributed to the original speaker or writer. If the original writer is anonymous or unknown, this can be stated, but it should be attributed to a reliable source - you shouldn't say "— author unknown" only because you don't know who it is."
Note that anonymous or unattributable quotes should be allowed, as such documents are of substantial historical importance. Wnt (talk) 16:53, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
That halps but I still dislike the wording "...quotations should be verifiably attributed to a reliable source." they should be verifgibly attributed by a reliable source, or cited to a reliable source (the meaning is much the same). DES (talk) 20:37, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
Hmmm... WP:V uses "attributed to" a lot. My feeling is that if the wording is at issue, it should be cut out entirely in favor of direct reference to WP:V. Wnt (talk) 23:06, 20 March 2010 (UTC)
I am planning some edits there on this issue as well. But there is no reason, since this page is more focused, it can't express the same ideas in clearer language. DES (talk) 00:13, 21 March 2010 (UTC)
"WP:V uses 'attribute' a lot". Perhaps you are not aware of the "Great Attribution warconsensus building exercise" (2006-2007) see the lead to Wikipedia talk:Attribution for a brief history -- PBS (talk) 02:00, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Quotations should always be introduced[edit]

This sentence "Quotations should always be introduced with a lead that introduces them, putting them in context and providing any necessary explanation." puts the cart before the horse, the whole point of quotations in articles is usually to illuminate and explain a point in the article, if the quote needs to be put in context and have a "necessary explanation" then it is probably unnecessary. -- PBS (talk) 02:48, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Sometimes the text which the quote is to illustrate serves also as its introduction. Perhaps this is best. The "lead" is text that serves to inform the reader of when, under what circumstances, and by whom the quote was said or written. It may in many cases be a mere phrase in the same sentence as the quote. An example:
The American tradition of separation of Church and State was given forceful support by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a group of ministers, when he wrote that there should be "A wall of separation between Church and State".[Ref here] This phrase has been often repeated and has come to symbolize the concept for many.[ref here]
Imagine the above as part of an article Separation of Church and State. The phrase "by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to a group of ministers" is the lead that introduces the quote and places it in context. More properly the year of the letter (which i can't recall off-hand but would check if i were adding this to an article) would be included to give better context. Almost every quote needs to be "put in context", that is it needs to be made clear who said or wrote it, when and under what circumstances. Was it made at the time of the events it illuminates? Or is it a reflection on them, some time after, perhaps long after, the events? Both kinds of quotes can be useful, but it must be made clear which case a particular quote fits. Sometimes the rest of the article text does this already, but in many cases a few words are needed to make this clear. i could give many more examples if they are wanted. DES (talk) 03:55, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Some comments[edit]

Just a few notes, sorry if I'm duplicating anything above:

  • First of all, what do we mean by "quotation"? Farther down it eventually says that "[q]uotations must always be clearly indicated as quotations" - but we still haven't defined "quotation".
    • An exact reproduction (more or less) of verbatim text which must be left unedited?
    • A sequence of text set off from its surroundings by either quote marks or formatting ekements?
    • The words of a person?
  • Next, #How to use quotations says Any quotation that is not sourced may be removed at any time - but WP:BURDEN says whether and how quickly this should happen depends.... On what basis would this guideline sanction immediate removal rather than the normal {{cn}} tagging cycle, for uncontentious material?
  • While quotations are an indispensable part of Wikipedia, try not to overuse them - this is great for an essay but not very guideline-y, "well I did try, but I failed. I've complied with the guideline!" :) A guideline should set out the current practice, in this case make an attempt to define "overuse".
  • #Quoting copyrighted text looks like a fork and/or smerge of the copyright policy and style guideline - or maybe it's part of the problem with not defining what a quotation is up-front. Is it saying anything new, or should the section just be linking to other guipolicy?
  • #When not to use quotations addresses style decisions, but again, what is the definition of "quotation"? What about PD/free material that can be added woth attribution but without quote marks?
  • #Quotations and fair use finally gets around to PD/free but then says [n]one of these restrictions apply...or...GFDL-compatible...
    • Aren't the GFDL-only sources the ones we're supposed to be nuking if they're after the CC-BY license transition date?
    • And if a guideline is going to say "none of these restrictions", shouldn't it be very clear on what "none" means, i.e. the attribution requirement very definitely remains.

OTOH, there's a lot in here that I agree with and believe to be standard practice and some of it indeed seems to be non-duplicative and/or better summarized in one place. I've tried to look at it as "what does this guideline actually tell me I should be doing?". Franamax (talk) 23:32, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

1. A quotation is an exact reproduction of verbatim text that must be left unedited set off from its surroundings by either quote marks or formatting elements attributed to a reliable source.
Below is a comparision of quotes and paraphrases:
Quotations vs. Paraphrases
Quotations Paraphrases
Formatting elements Yes No
Exact reproduction of verbatim text that must be left unedited Yes No
Explanation Yes
Credit Yes
Attribution reliable source
2. This guideline should never sanction immediate removal rather than the normal {{cn}} tagging cycle, for uncontentious material.
3. Overuse happens when a quotations is used without pertinence. That means that a quotation is visually on the page, but its pertience is not explained. Anywhere. This is why explanation of all quotes are so important and quote boxes cannot be used.
5. PD/free material that can be added with attribution but without quote marks must be explicitly said so. This means this can be paraphrased, but:
  • This must be mentioned somewhere,
  • Given a footnote, or
  • Given a link to the original text. (talk) 18:29, 22 March 2010 (UTC)
I adapted the above in [1] (talk) 19:24, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

Unnecessary Phrase[edit]

"The use of quoted material is a skill in itself."

Should be removed because as this is a guideline, and not a how to guide.

People will come here to see what to do, and what is allowed, not how to use quotes. (talk) 19:43, 22 March 2010 (UTC)

This is an essay not a guideline (talk) 10:59, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Stand Alone Quotations, Such As Quoteboxes[edit]

These unexplained quotes can be thought as sentence fragments. (talk) 06:08, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

Unable To Post[edit]

Being unable to post on Slimvirgin's talkpage, I will have to post here to ask her:

"Your edit summary says that some of the sections are not right. Can you explain this? Obviously, some of the sections are right, then why did you revert the whole thing?" (talk) 14:46, 24 March 2010 (UTC)

" I have posted a message to her talk page for you. I am going to revet your revert. You have been bold, now wait a reasonable time and see what here objections are before reverting again. From the IP addresses that you are using and the style of your comments are the the editor formally known as User:100110100? -- PBS (talk) 21:21, 24 March 2010 (UTC)
It's safe to assume that 174.3 is indeed that user. The username is blocked in favour of editing solely with IP's, done by User:Father Goose. Franamax (talk) 20:12, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Reversion of whole thing was justifiable due to the confusion of so much change so quickly without talk page explanation or even edit summaries. Even if you are right, you should explain what you are doing. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 12:01, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
I reverted because there were a lot of changes, and also because the same IP address has been objecting to samples of Philip Larkin (edit | talk | history | protect | delete | links | watch | logs | views)'s work being added to his article, adding the quotefarm and NOR tags, and reverting against multiple editors. That has left me concerned about the thrust of his changes here. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 17:07, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
I have to agree there is cause for concern when someone starts making changes and suggesting promotion to guideline at the same time they are in a dispute and 174.3 is not helping their own case by re-reverting here or anywhere. When I wrote my set of comments just above I went looking for examples of articles with standalone quote/epigrams and couldn't find where I'd seen them before (I thought Mark Twain for sure but I was wrong). The Larkin article is a good example of what I wanted, the boxed quotations make for a very nice article. However. What criteria went into the selection of each quotation to head each section? The aesthetic sense of the editor who put them there, or some more objective criteria? Should I be easily able to see the relevance of each boxed quote to the containing section? Or are they just a decorative device? I'm not siding either way, but what is the guidance on those kind of style decisions? Franamax (talk) 20:36, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Think of it this way: Look at our guideline wp:captions say that photos should be given a caption. Quotes should be the same, and given an explanation. Someone who wants to read about the quote should be given information about the quote. If it's notable, why is it notable? Compare wp:notability. If wikipedia is to include notable quotes, then shouldn't we explain it's notability? Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate repository of information, quotes at a minimum should be given an explanation. (talk)
This will be my only contibution to this discussion, I trust. Re Larkin quotes. When this article went to PR people pointed that the many photos were by and large as dull as hell. Someone suggested quotations. After consulting I removed some of the photos and - again consulting as I went - added some quotations. People might notice that most sections of the Larkins page now have a quotation at the top-left and a photo at the bottom-right. For the biogs sections I chose quotes that had some relevence to that section of Larkin's life. The other quotes are from popular poems and can stand alone. I was surprised to find that many famous Larkin passages don't make sufficient sense when detached from the rest of the poem. Larkin's poems are, of course, still under copyright so the proportion of the poem quoted is an issue. I hope this is useful. As a footnote I would like to say that trying to edit an essay, while at the same time trying to enforce it as a guideline or rule, is in my opinion, pretty shabby behaviour. I hope you all enjoy chewing on this wasp. I won't be watching this page, so if I can be of any further help to anyone, please pop by my talkpage and be nice almost-instinct 22:50, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great presentation that enlivens the article. The thing about good ideas on-wiki though is that inevitably someone else will try to copy that good idea somewhere else where it might not be quite so beneficial. At that point there becomes a need for guidance built up over time by sifting through the views of many other editors, which is what an essay or guideline should be providing. So leaving aside the idea that one could "win" a dispute by changing wording elsewhere, does this essay provide appropriate guidance on how to properly incorporate quotations? If it's a matter of aesthetic judgement on the part of the primary author(s), fine with me if it makes a better article. I would prefer to see that explained on a project page though as "subject to editorial judgement and local consensus", is that done on this page? The current dispute is not really relevant to clarifying that wording (though relevant when evaluating the ongoing changes). Franamax (talk) 23:26, 25 March 2010 (UTC)
The idea is that there is definitely no consensus that quotes should be not be explain. Look at the supporters above and the existence of {{quotefarm}}. (talk) 05:53, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
I don't really think it's something you can legislate for. It's an editorial decision to be taken on an article-by-article basis. Part of the job of an article writer is to pick out salient points from the various sources she reads; this is an extension of that task. If another editor wants to make a case that other quotations would be in some way better or more representative, that's fine, but I don't think we need to write a guideline about how to make that case. And my own view is that it's okay for quotations to be illustrative rather than definitive. I guess the essay could explicitly say that it's an editorial decision, although, in the absence of anything to the contrary, that would normally be taken as read.
This seems to be something of solution looking for a problem. People are finding it a scrape to find articles to use as examples in this discussion, so there clearly hasn't been a sudden outbreak of inappropriate standalone quotations appearing across the Wiki. --MoreThings (talk) 12:21, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

I was a bit thrown by the Dunning–Kruger effect article having a couple of no-context quotes from Yeats and Bertrand Russell in the (then) lead, which seemed out of keeping with Wikipedia's house style. This was (I now realise) a couple of months after someone removed "Quotations should always be introduced with a lead that introduces them, putting them in context and providing any necessary explanation. A stand-alone quotation of itself is not a proper paragraph." from this essay (leaving only the mild "try not to [use a quotation whose] relevance is not explained anywhere"), so at the time I wasn't sure whether policy supported floating, unexplained quotes.

Is it worth drawing a line between quoting a poet or writer on their own page, and quoting writers on unconnected subjects? (The Dunning-Kruger quote seems more along the lines of "here is a quote I've found which I personally think is a good illustration of the subject matter".) --McGeddon (talk) 09:02, 18 June 2010 (UTC)


  • Moving definitions into the table
    • Making definitions more easily comparable
  • Wikilinking "Quotations"
    • Making it possible to more quickly able to access the encylopedia's information
  • Wikilinking Quotations and Paraphrases
    • Same reason as above
  • Addition of the section ==Formatting==
    • The some of the sentences in the essay were moved into this section.
      • Broke up the essay so the essay would be more clear
  • Addition of the section ===Examples===
    • Same reason as above
    • Removal of some of the sentences was necessary so the content was relevant to the headline. The removal of the sentences were added to more pertinent sections, as explained above. Thus they were not deleted (removed), but moved. This is because the essay was broken up, so to be more easy to read, as above.
  • Addition of ==Overusing quotations==
    • Breaking up essay as above
  • Addition of "Overuse happens when:[linebreak]<blockquote>a quotation is used without pertinence</blockquote>[linebreak]This means that a quotation is visually on the page, but its pertinence is not explained. Anywhere.[linebreak]Here are a few applications of this idea:"
    • After many of the sentences were moved, the additional sentences were included to: explain the relevant ideas, to consolidate all the relevant ideas together, and to introduce why it is important to introduce quotes
  • Removed ===Quoting copyrighted text===
    • As explained by another editor and agreed upon by at least myself, I moved this section to ==Fair use== so that the content could be more pertinent and self-explanatory. Many editors have explained that there is overlap with wp:plagarism and wp:copyright. The deletion was necessary so that this essay would not overlap per wp:policy. Other editors have expressed that this essay if promoted should espouse the usage of quotations so the deletions where necessary.
  • Addition of ==Alternatives to quotations==
    • This was necessary as paraphrases were described and this was a good description of the content, per the break up I had attempted
  • Changing "* The quotation must be useful and aid understanding of the subject; irrelevant quotations should be removed. " to "* The quotation must be useful and aid understanding of the subject; irrelevant quotations should be moved to the appropriate wikiquote entr(y)(ies)."
    • Deleted extraspace
    • wikiquote is the quote repository
  • Removal of "None of these restrictions apply in the case where the work being quoted is either"
    • As expressed by an editor, this was not clear
  • "*Manual of Style regarding the use of quotation marks" to "*Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Quotation_marks"
    • Trimmed excessive language
  • "* Wikipedia:Plagiarism (guideline)" to "* Wikipedia:Plagiarism"


Almost-instinct is not unaware of the concept of this essay: [2].

His comments are not inline with the practices that he executes. (talk) 09:58, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

IP 174 is aware that my I am not watching this page, as I said so above, and yet IP 174 heads this section "Baiting". Draw conclusions.
In case anyone can be bothered to examine the edit which IP 174 thinks proves anything: The Douglas Murray (author) page is about a highly contraversial political writer; I do my best to keep it free of abuse from those who disagree Douglas Murray and free of excessive lauding of his prouncements. If IP 174 really thinks that this has any bearing on the use of illustrative quotations from the poetry of Philip Larkin on the Philip Larkin then .... then at this point I wonder if I ought to go and reread WP:DONOTFEED almost-instinct 12:39, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Your edit summary says otherwise. (talk) 06:35, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I think using only a quote (amongst others, and being unexplained, creating POV) is being choosy. (talk) 06:37, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Example of improper mess of quotation[edit]

Here's an example of integration of quotes into the body of an article:



I'd like to open this up for promotion again. (talk) 04:19, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Use of Long S in quotations[edit]

I think the Wikipedia manual of style is pretty clear on the point that long "s"es should be changed to modern "s"es. But I'm having trouble convicing one guy in this discussion. Help?--Rsl12 (talk) 16:00, 2 April 2010 (UTC)


A section on biographies was added today with the edit summary, "I propose emphasising the use of quoations in biographies compared to other kinds of articles". I disagree with this addition, both in general principal and in specific wording. To start with the latter, the specific wording indicated that "The use of quotations is likely to be more extensive in biographies than in other types of article, because direct quotations of the subject are often necessary to accurately represent the person's beliefs." I think this is probably incorrect; why would we need more quotes in the article René Descartes than we would in Cartesianism, Rationalism or Foundationalism? If direct quotes are necessary to accurately represent one person's beliefs, wouldn't they be necessary to represent several people's beliefs or a school of thought? Also, I take issue with the suggestion that extensive direct quotations are necessary. Take featured biographies Eric A. Havelock, Hilary Putnam and Bernard Williams, philosophers (since those were singled out). These manage evidently to be quite good articles without relying on extensive quotes (the block quote in the last is not even by the subject). Just to make clear, I'm not cherry-picking here. Those were all of the biographies listed under Wikipedia:FA#Philosophy and psychology. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 12:24, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

I agree that the wording was not very good. The point I was trying to make seems not to have come across at all. The articles you gave as examples do include about one quotation for every paragraph, several more than a non-biographical featured philosophy article such as the Philosophy of Mind, and many more than in any of the featured articles for warfare. How would you feel if we included something like this.

The use of quotations is likely to be more extensive in some types of article than in others. For example, in the biography article for a philosopher, relatively extensive direct quotations of the subject may be necessary to accurately represent the person's beliefs. On the other hand, in a historical article such as World War II or a biology article, such as Bald Eagle, quotations are likely to be fewer.

This would not need a separate section heading. Gregcaletta (talk) 13:06, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps it would help us to reach consensus if I explain why I feel the current Quotations policy is potentially harmful to certain categories of articles, of which the category of "biographical articles on philosophers" forms perhaps the best example. Generally, I am frustrated in reading such articles by the lack of direct quotation. Even featured articles such as the article on Bernard Williams tend to stick to small snippets, but it is even worse for non-featured articles, such as the article for René Descartes. The reason I am frustrated by the lack of direct quotation in a section such as René Descartes#Philosophical work is that I know what I am getting is the editors' interpretations of his philosophical work rather than a summary of his work itself. Any paraphrasing relies on the particular editor's understanding of the philosopher's work, which will be inherently (although unintentionally) biased and a violation of WP:NPOV and almost threatens to be a violation of WP:ORIGINAL RESEARCH. What I am interested in when I read an article on Descartes, Freud, Nietzsche or Russell, is hearing a direct summary of the philosopher's opinions, not a Wikipedian's interpretation (however well intentioned) of them, and I believe the only way to do so in a way which is truly NPOV is through direct quotes. See what I am getting at? Gregcaletta (talk) 13:22, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
On en.WP a quote originally written in English may the most accurate way to person the idea(s). Like [[User:Gregcaletta|Gregcaletta], I'd make WP:NPOV and WP:NOR greater priorities than WP:QUOTE.
But a quote in en.WP but originally written in another language cannot a direct quotation, it must always a translation. I can't think of an answer. --Philcha (talk) 13:43, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
Your explanation does help, Gregcaletta, since I was about to ask you what the purpose of this was at all. But Philcha raises a good point. (And when you start talking about extensive quotations, you run into copyright policy, which forbids them if they are non-free.) Moreover, the alteration you propose doesn't seem to take into account that the use of quotations is going to be article specific in all cases. An article on a complex math theory or a hotly contested political movement may require many quotations to attribute points of view and provide context; a biography on the pioneer who invented Product X may not. Perhaps it would be helpful to identify what part of this essay you find harmful? --Moonriddengirl (talk) 13:55, 7 June 2010 (UTC)
(Oh, and p.s., so far as we do rank things, WP:NPOV and WP:NOR are greater priorities WP:QUOTE. They're core content policies. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 13:57, 7 June 2010 (UTC))
Although I agree that some articles benefit from quotations more than others, I am not sure there is a good way to categorize their defining characteristic. They need to be considered case by case. Direct quotation is not the only solution to the problem of naive contributor interpretation: another is authoritative secondary sources. These can also sometimes mitigate problems of naive reader interpretation when the primary source material is challenging.

I am very leery of including language that could be taken to mean "please add quotes to biographies." It could exacerbate the temptations of original synthesis and of undue emphasis that are often felt, consciously or not, by contributors to biographical articles. There can be several good reasons to include a quote, and perhaps this essay could elaborate on some. "It's a biography" is not one of them. ~ Ningauble (talk) 16:00, 7 June 2010 (UTC)

Right. Well I've conceded that specifically stating biographies vs non-biographies was a bad choice of language, so if we could move on from that now please, what would you say to something like this instead

The use of quotations is likely to be more extensive in some types of article than in others. For example, in the biography article for a philosopher, relatively extensive direct quotations of the subject may be necessary to accurately represent the person's beliefs. On the other hand, in a historical article such as World War II or a biology article, such as Bald Eagle, quotations are likely to be fewer.

On the specific point of translations, you can still quote directly from an published translation, which is very different to an interpretation of a translation by a Wikipedia. Personally, I don't think published secondary source opinions are much more interesting that Wikipedian opinions. I'm interested in hearing directly from the philosopher. Copyright cannot be a problem for anyone who has been dead for more than 100 years (that's the law). I should also be clear that I meant "extensive use of quotations" not "use of extensive quotations", in other words, lots of reasonably short quotes, rather than a few extremely long quotes. Sticking to a few sentences at a time would mean avoiding copyright problems even for more modern philosophers. I fear I may have begun this conversation in the wrong way and perhaps in the wrong place too. But basically I feel that problem with this essay has many examples of when not to use quotations, and far fewer examples of when it is a good idea to use quotations, and in my experience of reading Wikipedia, I have found that the underuse of quotations is generally more of a problem than the overuse. In any case, please tell me what you think of my most recent attempt (just above). Gregcaletta (talk) 01:53, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Some men's words I remember so well that I must often use them to express my thought. Yes, because I perceive that we have heard the same truth, but they have heard it better.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lectures and Biographical Sketches
I agree with you about the lack of constructive advice on when to use quotations (a common failing at Wikipedia, attributable to the impetus for giving advice usually being occasioned by error). The essay's lede paragraph is clear that quotation is a Good Thing™ generally but, as to when and why this is so, the body of the essay is merely proscriptive. Still, I am not sure I could come up with a good list of purposes served by quotation and situations where it is beneficial: they are legion. I don't think advice couched in terms of types of article gets to the essence of the utility of quotations – one might liken it to characterizing the types of article where images are useful.

I do understand your perspective on quoting philosophers. Have you considered discussing your subject-specific ideas at WikiProject Philosophy or recommending some language about quotations at their Manual of Style (philosophy)? ~ Ningauble (talk) 18:47, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

It's ironic how relevant that Emerson quote is. Raising this discussion on a Philosophy page is a good idea; I'll do that eventually. I still think this essay needs some changes to though. You seem to understand the essence of my problems with it. Perhaps you could make some changes? I won't attempt to make any more changes myself until I think of something better. Gregcaletta (talk) 05:39, 10 June 2010 (UTC)
No irony or incongruity intended; rather, just the opposite. I meant to congruously state and demonstrate my own top reason for using quotations, for I could hardly say it better myself, and to illustrate relevant use of quotation on an entirely different type of page. There are many other good reasons to use quotations which, ironically for a Wikiquotian, I am at a loss to enumerate. ~ Ningauble (talk) 13:04, 10 June 2010 (UTC)

How to handle spelling errors in the quotation?[edit]

Should we use the traditional latin '[sic]'? If so, should it be italicized ([sic])? —Prhartcom (talk) 14:54, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

I don't mark them visibly instead I mark then with a hidden comment <!--sic--> so any editor who thinks to "fix an error" knows it is deliberately left that way even if incorrect or unusual without impinging on the quote as seen by a reader. -- PBS (talk) 10:53, 5 July 2010 (UTC)
It should be italicized, when used. It should probably be used visibly, so that those who don't stop to edit won't think we can't be bothered to proof quotations. {{sic}} may be useful. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:46, 13 August 2010 (UTC)

Wikilinks in quotations[edit]

Is there a guideline or policy concerning when (if) it is appropriate to wikilink (markup) a quotation? (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 16:08, 29 September 2010 (UTC).

Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Linking is about linking in quotations. Nurg (talk) 08:11, 23 June 2011 (UTC)

Constitution articles[edit]

In articles about amendments to the United States Constitution (e.g., this one) there is a back-and-forth regarding whether the Text sections of those articles should use the "quote" template or the "cquote" template. Which side is correct? SMP0328. (talk) 21:47, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

I apologize for the lack of response: "quote" is the correct template. The more decorative "cquote" is theoretically not supposed to be used in any article. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:53, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

Restoring balance between for and against quotations[edit]

The essay, as I found it, was very heavy against quotes. But as an editor of controversial political subject, I know that every word of text will be questioned but a well used quote will not. Therefore, quotations are my friends, not my enemies. I made multiple edits to restore some balance between the arguments for and against using quotations. Emmanuelm (talk) 21:11, 26 February 2011 (UTC)

Removal of Qoutes & References[edit]

What is wiki's policy on removing well qouted and referenced materials? (Can someone just radomly remove will referenced materials & qoutes simply because they dont like what it says?)

I presume just the ramification of it alone defeats the whole purpose of wikipedia if everyone went around removing what they dont like???

Henry123ifa (talk) 08:17, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

See WP:WARN, probably Page blanking, removal of content or Not adhering to neutral point of view. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 01:32, 6 March 2011 (UTC)
You should check with the person who removed it. They may have had a reason besides not liking the material. Quotes are best kept short, and lists of quotes belong in Wikiquote.   Will Beback  talk  02:12, 6 March 2011 (UTC)

Footnotes in quoted material[edit]

Hello. There is a conversation about this topic at Talk:Canadian French. It might be advisable to have guidelines about this issue. (talk) 19:19, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

What is this page?[edit]

Since this is "not a Wikipedia policy or guideline" what is it, exactly? Can anyone make unilateral substantive edits to it? It seems somewhat confusing to me, because I've encountered editors citing as if it was a policy in cases of disputes.Sylvain1972 (talk) 17:32, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

"This guidance essay contains comments and advice of one or more Wikipedia contributors." People cite it because they think it is good advice. ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:45, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
With all due respect, that doesn't answer my question. I didn't ask why people cite it - obviously they think it is good advice. I'm asking what it is, and by implication what weight if any does it have in settling disputes, if it is not a policy or a guideline. It's not a rhetorical question, I would genuinely like to know.Sylvain1972 (talk) 17:03, 27 May 2011 (UTC)
It is an essay, and as such does not have the force of a policy or a guideline. It overlaps with and links to underlying policies and guidelines, and can assist in their interpretation and application. Policies and guidelines often link to essays for that very reason.

It is advice that can be used to inform a discussion. The discussion at "Proposal to promote to policy/guideline" above indicates that most observers, including those who oppose making it a guideline, believe it is good advice. If this all seems very ambiguous, consider that essays, guidelines, and policies do not settle disputes, disputants do. ~ Ningauble (talk) 23:23, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

Put another way, it is an WP:Essay, and you might like to read about WP:The difference between policies, guidelines, and essays. Some essays (e.g., WP:Five pillars, WP:Bold, revert, discuss, WP:Tendentious editing, WP:Use common sense) often have more weight than some "official" guidelines. Wikipedia is not a system of laws or bureaucratic regulations; it's not a matter of finding a specially endorsed sentence that allows you to win a disputes. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:57, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for the clarification. For the record, I am not looking to find "a specially endorsed sentence that allows you to win a disputes," I'm just trying to better understand the procedures.Sylvain1972 (talk) 22:22, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

Quotation style on article talk pages[edit]

Would it be useful to mention preferred quotation style on article talk pages - especially the case of when quoting other editors comments from other talk pages? There are a wide variety of quotation styles in common usage on article talk pages, some of which interfere with proper indenting or attribution. A related "issue" is the "use" of quotation "marks" as a form of disparagement or "commentary" rather than to signify "actual" quotations (quotation marks added "as" examples). Perhaps some guidance on quotation style on article talk pages would be helpful? Guy Macon (talk) 02:00, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

While that is an important issue, I think it would better be addressed elsewhere, e.g. in the behavioral guidelines at WP:TALK. Opening that can of worms in an essay about using quotes in articles would be a confusing digression because talk pages are much less formal. (That said, I do believe that quoting anyone in any context should always be done with all due respect.) ~ Ningauble (talk) 16:45, 1 June 2011 (UTC)
Makes sense. Thanks! Guy Macon (talk) 19:00, 1 June 2011 (UTC)

Overuse of quotations?[edit]

In Condemnations_(University_of_Paris)#Effects, most paragraphs begin with "Pierre Duhem [said] ...", where Pierre Duhem just happens to be one of the scholars writing about the subject, and incidentally the one who was most perused by the authors of the article. That seems to adhere to the current recommendations of this essay, but I still find it very annoying and distracting. Should we try to improve that wording (how?), or is it actually good that it's so clumsy, because it may warn readers and invite the eventual addition of other viewpoints? — Sebastian 09:22, 31 December 2011 (UTC)

Avoid preceding a direct quote with "that"[edit]

I propose an additional guideline for either Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Quotations or Wikipedia:Quotations: Avoid preceding a direct quote with "that". An example of this objectionable usage appears in International reactions to the 2011 Egyptian revolution#Media (permalink):

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof said that "it should be increasingly evident that Mr. Mubarak is not the remedy for instability in Egypt; he is its cause. The road to stability in Egypt requires Mr. Mubarak's departure, immediately."

The word that should be removed because it implies that what follows is a description of what Kristof said, not his exact words. This principle is obvious, but because this error is so prevalent in Wikipedia, an explicit rule would be helpful. —Anomalocaris (talk) 16:42, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Your example reads okay to me. Could you perchance cite a grammar/usage authority for what this claimed rule is? --Cybercobra (talk) 06:29, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Though the use of that preceding a wholly quoted statement is unusual, and a blurring of the distinction between direct and indirect reported speech might be bad style, I would not say it is a style issue that we need a rule for. In any case, it should not be stated so baldly since this construction is quite normal when the reported speech is not a (single) whole sentence or clause (e.g. '. . . said that "the ageing dictator" was not the answer . . .').--Boson (talk) 09:07, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Spelling error[edit]

I apologize in advance if this is not the proper forum for this question. If quoting a document that contains a spelling error, how should this be addressed? This university document spells the Nicolas Andry Award as "the Nicholas Andry Award". Thanks! Location (talk) 14:02, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

Location: that is what [sic] is for. Quote it with the spelling error. The link you provided is dead, but do something like this made-up example:
  • SUNY Upstate Medical Center reported, "In 2001 Joe Smith was awarded the Nicholas Andry Award [sic] for his work on intestinal infections." —Anomalocaris (talk) 08:13, 21 April 2017 (UTC)

Awkward phrase[edit]


This guidance essay says "An exception are trivial spelling or typographical errors ...". This looks like lack of number agreement. Would it be better as "An exception is the case of trivial spelling or typographical errors ..." or "An exception may be made for trivial spelling or typographical errors ..."? Chris the speller yack 16:27, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

Agreed. Done. Mitch Ames (talk) 13:20, 18 September 2012 (UTC)

Discussion of the nature of images and text at the village pump[edit]

Hi folks. There has been an issue raised about how we treat text in an otherwise free image. Discussion is here at the village pump. Thanks, Hobit (talk) 16:59, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

"false" versus undue[edit]

I made an edit [5] which was reverted [6]. My position is:

  • Even if the phrasing was deemed by some to be inelegant, our policy is still one of "verifiability, not truth", so speaking of what is false is not well defined. The reverting edit summary makes a clarification about "unequivocally" false information, which is not done in the text, and would limit the case to very rare circumstances.
  • emphasizing WP:DUE is useful for the far more common situation in which quotes are simply controversial viewpoints, as well as for cases of false information. Wnt (talk) 17:43, 18 November 2012 (UTC)
  • The wording about "saying the statement is false" tends to risk BLP trouble, because as in the McCain case, you are being urged to make an either or decision - believe the quote as stated, or say that someone is a flake or a liar. Usually a more nuanced text - he said this, but many others disagreed - is more encyclopedic. Wnt (talk) 17:43, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Reproducing footnote numbers within quoted text?[edit]

An editor is arguing[7] that omitting the footnote numbers from a quoted text is modifying the quoted text. Is there a policy regarding this? Thanks. — goethean 14:43, 16 August 2013 (UTC)


I am not happy with the phrasing this passage:

There is no difference between quoting a falsehood without saying it's false and inserting falsehoods into articles.

(1) Strictly speaking, that is a logical fallacy. "X said Y" is literally true even if Y is nonsense. I appreciate that there are people who will infer from that proposition that Y is true, but that is because they have an inadequate grasp of the English language. Even if we need to take steps to prevent that kind of inference from being drawn, it does not mean that that kind of inference is right. (2) In some cases (especially where one is dealing with a subject that is only taught or studied at an advanced level) it will be difficult or impossible to determine with absolute certainty whether a quote is true or not. James500 (talk) 13:05, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

How about something like:

If you quote a false statement without saying that it is false, readers might imagine that it is true.

James500 (talk) 19:32, 7 September 2013 (UTC)

How to cite examples of an idea/argument[edit]

I would like to address the over-quotation tag on the evaluative diversity article. It contains a section about famous arguments which cites appearance of the arguments in major texts of the world's most popular religions. Like the quotes listed in the golden rule article, these quotes together supposedly make the case that the arguments are noteworthy, ancient, and not specific to any particular religion--readers may want to see the quotes to judge for themselves whether the case is actually made. Can you please clarify how quotes should be handled in such a case? (talk) 22:23, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

I have added a proposed section Wikipedia:QUOTE#Examples in which encyclopedias may list many quotes
Langchri (talk) 02:24, 26 June 2014 (UTC)

Quotations about quotations[edit]

User:Joshua Jonathan added some quotes to the "Overusing quotations" section last December ("Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart") - I can't work out if these were trying to be pithy reminders of the importance of good quoting, or (as they seem to have been presented) examples of "The quotes dominate the article:", but since the former seems inappropriate and the latter seems oblique and unnecessary, I've cut them. --McGeddon (talk) 14:02, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

@McGeddon: no idea anymore why I added those quotes, but they seem quite appropriate in this case. Which makes them actually relevant. And that gives a very nice 'feedback-loop', doesn't it? ;) Best regards, Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 18:38, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

Should you align quotes' standards of English to that of their article?[edit]

Should you align quotes' standards of English to that of their article, such as correcting "prioritize" to "prioritise" in a British English article or vice versa with an American? SpikeballUnion (talk) 12:17, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

No. Quotations should be the original author's words. ~ Ningauble (talk) 14:34, 25 April 2017 (UTC)