Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)/Archive 171

Deprecate parenthetical citations

‹See TfM›

This discussion has reached a consensus that inline parenthetical referencing should be deprecated. Please see the section #Parenthetical citation closure for details and rationale. Seraphimblade Talk to me 18:13, 5 September 2020 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I propose that we formally deprecate the inline parenthetical citation style.

Wikipedia has long valued different styles of citation, and we do formally protect a wide range of citation styles. There was even a 2006 ArbCom case that ruled on the issue. However that was 14 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. As Wikipedia moves forward, and our style grows more standardized and formal, I question the utility of the rarely used parenthetical citation style. This style exists because it is used in scientific papers and college essays. However, papers and essays do not have the benefit of being online; thus they cannot have expandable footnotes with fancy coding. Parenthetical citations also clutter the text and make reading more difficult. See for example Actuary, which is one the bare handful of FAs with parenthetical citation style. It includes sentences like In various studies, being an actuary was ranked number one or two multiple times since 2010 (Thomas 2012, Weber 2013, CareerCast 2015) and in the top 20 for most of the past decade (CareerCast 2014, CareerCast 2016, CNN Money 2017, CareerCast 2019). which is cluttered, and unnecessarily long because of the citations. At the end of the day, our goal is to serve the WP:READER. The best way we can do that is to provide easy to read articles, free from inline clutter. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 20:38, 5 August 2020 (UTC)

The most recent arbitrary break is the following: #Arbitrary break 4 (citations). Steel1943 (talk) 16:14, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
Note There has been some confusion about the wording, so let me clear that up. I am not proposing we ban ALL parenthetical references. I am merely proposing that we do not use inline, non software based, text parentheticals. This is NOT a proposal to ban Template:sfn, or Template:Harv (as long as it is properly nested in a ref tag). The only goal is to make it so that instead of seeing Ipsum lorem facto (Eek, 2020), we end up with Ipsum lorem facto with a little blue ref number at the end, which leads to a footnote that can still say "(Eek, 2020)". As I mentioned below, I think the best solution to existing references is to simply convert them to sfn. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 19:44, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
Note upon note As to the other main wrinkle: use of The paper by Eek (2020) showed and Eek (p. 35). I also suggest this be phased out, in the interest of consistency. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 20:09, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
CaptainEek, I think it would be a useful clarification here if in addition to stating your intent for the RfC you give an example of the wording change to CITEVAR (or elsewhere) that meets those intentions. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:23, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
I don't want to speak for someone else, but I suppose a proposal to implement the proposed deprecation at WP:CITEVAR might look somewhat like this:

Add a bullet to WP:CITEVAR#Generally considered helpful:

  • Converting parenthetical references to numbered footnotes, unless either 1 or 2 below, or both, apply:
    1. The article is about a topic for which, in reliable sources, parenthetical references are commonly used, and there is an established consensus on the article's talk page that the article will only use parenthetical references.
    2. The conversion creates a mess.

This implementation proposal seeks a middle way between very hard implementation ideas (e.g., deprecate outright and/or enforce by bot) and softer implementation ideas (e.g. only deprecate for new pages), both directions already being elaborated in the survey area below. --Francis Schonken (talk) 09:13, 2 September 2020 (UTC)

Survey start (citations)

  • Support As nom. I do understand that there will be some tactical challenges to deprecating, but I do not believe they are insurmountable, and that they can be solved here by discussion. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 19:37, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Question Deprecations can go a few ways. There's deprecation where we just say "this is no longer a good idea, new articles shouldn't do this", there's deprecation where we say "editors can replace this unless there is a specific consensus against doing so", and "editors should remove this when found". Which form of deprecation is this proposal aiming for? --AntiCompositeNumber (talk) 19:43, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
    AntiCompositeNumber, One of the first two options: "new articles shouldn't do this", or "replace unless consensus is against it". I do not think we should remove it in all places at any cost. I left it a bit open-ended, however, because I think it up to the community to decide which version they think best. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 19:46, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
    Nineteen years and 6 million articles in, I'd say option 1 would have so little overall effect as to be fairly pointless. ―Mandruss  08:28, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support not accepting it in new articles. As a reader, I find it the most unfriendly form of citation style in articles. edit to add clarification based on extensive following discussion: For new articles, I support not accepting the use of text-only citations in parentheses that do not create hyperlinked footnotes, such as (Smith, 2012). My understanding is that this RfC is not about any other type of parenthetical citation. end added text Schazjmd (talk) 19:51, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support It makes articles harder to read. ―Susmuffin Talk 19:55, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support to the extent of not allowing any new articles using the style, and allowing updating of existing examples to templates unless consensus is against it. The learning curve here is minimal, especially with the citation tools in both source and visual editor, and the gain in legibility is very substantial. --Elmidae (talk · contribs) 22:28, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
  • I weakly support deprecating parenthetical citations moving forward, and formally preferring our software-supported footnote system—which in my opinion is clearly superior—but I'm tepid about converting existing articles, especially where that would be frustrating to some editors. The last thing I want to see is some otherwise productive contributor hounded for their citation style preference, especially "less technical" users who are uncomfortable with our XML-like footnote syntax. A formal preference is one thing, but a strong rule to not use a particular style is another. VisualEditor ameliorates this problem but does not eliminate it. {{Nihiltres |talk |edits}} 22:39, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
    • CaptainEek and Nihiltres, does "our software-supported footnote system" mean <ref> tags, or does it encompass templates such as Template:sfn and Template:Harv? I'm not sure whether the goal is to produce the little blue clicky numbers, or to make it possible for a bot to reliably determine whether there are refs on a page, or to produce a certain amount of standardization for editors (i.e., so the citation skills you learn in one place will transfer to all articles). WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:18, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
      WhatamIdoing, I do include sfn as software supported, I only support harvard as long as they are in ref tags. The goal is to make those little blue numbers, to make a greater amount of standardization, and to make it easier for our readers. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 19:34, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    • WhatamIdoing I include {{sfn}} and similar in "software-supported"; they output <ref> tags or equivalent ({{#tag:ref}}), therefore they're part of the software-supported system. I actually like the pattern of using Harvard-style references for repeatedly-cited references in the reference list, for what it's worth. {{Nihiltres |talk |edits}} 20:38, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
      • Nihiltres, Template:Harv produces this: (Smith 2005, p. 25) and you would only get ref tags if you wrapped the template in them (i.e., <ref>{{harv|Smith|2005|p=25}}</ref>). WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:57, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support making it the status quo for new articles, and for older articles, permitting others to change the citation style to non-parenthetical (but not automatically demoting FAs and GAs just because they're still using the parenthetical style). Sam-2727 (talk) 23:12, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose I think, on balance, this is a net negative. I definitely agree that inline, parenthetical citations, are nowhere near our preferred style or the style which readers necessarily expect from us, but I think the harms are overstated. It is a rare format on Wikipedia but it's not a rare format; I would be surprised if most of our readers are completely unfamiliar with parenthetical citation styles. Does it disrupt the flow of prose? Probably, but just like the little blue numbers and {{cn}} tags we have inline, readers quickly learn to ignore it and skim past. These are definitely not ideal, but I doubt parenthetical citation styles are causing us to lose significant readership. What makes me oppose is that, in discussions like these, people tend to overlook the benefits of allowing unpopular citation variants.
    Most people have encountered parenthetical citation styles at some point in their lives. Imagine if I told you that to participate effectively on Wikipedia you not only needed to learn a new citation style, but the technological trappings that go along with using it. Most people hate citation styles anyway, so in pitching an edit-a-thon or recruiting editors, it is much easier to get people excited about contributing when I can say "just cite it as you would in one of your papers". That line works for students and professors alike; they already know how to do parenthetical citations, and allowing parenthetical citations lowers the learning curve for many people. VisualEditor has helped, but it's not perfect and not everyone likes using it (among computer programmers I work with, they actually like the source text over the WYSIWYG editor). Among subject matter experts, the parenthetical citation is the dominant style. Many academics and journals publish open access articles under terms compatible with our license. Allowing parenthetical citations means that if an academic publishes an open-access article in a journal that licenses it under CC-BY-SA, we can just copy the lit review section and we've got a new article peer-reviewed and written by a subject matter expert. By deprecating this citation form, it also increases the opportunities for newbie biting. If someone writes a nice article that happens to use parenthetical citations (or copies a properly licensed journal article), and NP patroller comes by and suddenly changes the entire thing, that will be discouraging at best. This isn't even farfetched, wholesale citation style changes and the interpersonal disputes that arose from them are what led to the citevar ArbCom case, so I'm not keen to open the doors to that again. (See discussion below) Similarly discouraging is writing an article and immediately being told there were unwritten citation rules you had to learn before participating. Having a lax policy on citation styles is a benefit for the project.
    None of these are reasons to encourage the use of parenthetical citation, but they are reasons we should not forbid it. Per WP:CITEVAR, we can already change citation styles by consensus, so this proposal would only close the door on a lot of possible benefits. Saying "use any citation style you like" is a benefit, and we should not change that general principle. If any page could be improved by changing the citation style, be bold (but not reckless) or start a discussion to change it. But the encyclopedia is not improved by a blanket deprecation or prohibition of an otherwise valid and well-used citation style. The harms in my opinion vastly outweigh the benefits of mildly improved prose. Wug·a·po·des 23:16, 4 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose The important thing is that articles be cited. Just how they are cited is much less important. Once we have a citation, it can be improved. Many unsophisticated users do not know how to format a citation in any of our preferred methods, and we should do everything possible to encourage them to add the reference anyway, in whatever method they choose, however informal. The official citation methods in Wikipedia are among the most complicated part of the project that the ordinary article-writer will see. In our efforts to standardize them, we have also made them more intimidating. It would be very counter-productive for a beginning writer to try to add an article and fail to get it accepted because they could not figure out how to cite it. After many years here, and decades working with citations more generally in the academic and library world, I have never seen a system as complicated and poorly documented as ours (We have equally poor documentation elsewhere, but not for a function so important and so frequent), I know all the various devices to help people get a citation in one of the currently correct formats; I sometimes use them, though I have not yet succeeded in always getting what I intend. But I also know (or at least know of) the various devices and bots we have for improving citations; or, more exactly, forcing them into our preferred formats. What I'm saying here has been said more fully just above by Wugapodes . DGG ( talk ) 00:48, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - noting that this proposal isn't to "nuke on cite sight" but to "move away from", and I support moving away from parenthetical cites. That might mean discouraging them in the policy docs, not accepting them in new articles, and/or changing articles that use them to a different style (but in a non-disruptive, not-mass-nuking way). Wikipedia is for a general audience; it's not like a peer-reviewed journal; and our global audience, which skews very young (we're writing for what level of reader comprehension?) will not be familiar with parenthetical cites. Footnotes are much more common outside academia -- in fact, parenthetical cites really aren't used outside of formal academic writing, the kind governed by, e.g. MLA or APA style guides. They break up the prose -- in my view, it's not a "minor" prose improvement, but a major one, to get rid of the parentheticals. And they are much more distracting than footnotes. I mean, just look: Here's a sentence with a parenthetical citation. (Levivich 2014). Here's a sentence with a footnote.[1] I think the footnote scans much easier. As to creating cites, the easiest citation to create is <ref>bare url</ref>. The second-easiest way to add a reference is to click the "cite" button (whether or not one is using a visual editor). Whereas actually create parenthetical citations in a wiki article (that links to the actual bibliography item), one must master citation templates that are more obscure than {{cite}}, like {{harv}}. I mean, just read WP:PAREN, it ain't easy. So, new users are not going to be going for parenthetical cites. And, indeed, that's why parenthetical cites are rare, whereas ref tags in bare URLs, and visual-editor citations (you know, the lovely <ref name=":1"> ones) are much more common.
    TLDR: Parenthetical cites are harder on readers and harder for new editors; it's time to get rid of it. Lev!vich 01:03, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. There's nothing wrong with parenthetical citations, but we should aim for consistent formatting wherever possible and footnote citations are the overwhelming de facto standard. Re. Wugapodes and DGG's opposes: this isn't going to stop new editors using parenthetical citations. It just means somebody will come along later and standardize them, as happens when newbies use unformatted citations, or title case in headings, or any number of other WP:MOS details, without any great fuss. I think the idea that it will deter academics and students is also a red herring. Even within a field, different publications insist on different citation styles. I don't think people find it surprising or off-putting to learn that Wikipedia has a house style too. – Joe (talk) 07:35, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Wugapodes. To recap, deprecating parenthetical citations (even for just new articles, and in fact, especially for new articles) will hurt the following groups of editors: 1) New editors. New editors must be able to contribute quality content with the least amount of hassle around things that are unrelated to our core principles like verifiability. Out of all citation styles, some newbies may be most familiar with parenthetical citations (say, because of a background in academia). Indeed (contra Levivich above), parenthetical citations are the only kind of citation style one is able to produce with absolutely no knowledge about wikitext (such as ref tags) or templates. 2) Editors who import public domain or freely licensed material. For this to be convenient, the number one priority should be to easily import the material in the first place. Any "wikifying" is secondary. Converting the citation style of the source material can be a chore, and there might be instances where there are exceptionally tricky situations, such as a source repeatedly using "In Smith (2008), it is argued..." and other shorthand that fundamentally alters how prose is organized. I've personally experienced this when harmonizing articles that inconsistently mix the two citation styles. 3) Established editors who prefer parenthetical citations. If for some the choice is between contributing using that style or stop contributing, we all lose. 4) In the end, all editors (and readers) are benefited. I never use parenthetical citations; It's not my preferred style. But for those who do, it helps them to contribute and that's what we want to encourage, not discourage. Citations are there to ensure WP:V and parenthetical citations do that just as well as any other style. A consistent citation style is required within one article, but we've agreed not to require consistency among all articles when it comes to citation (and date, and English) variety. The current policy already allows changing an article's citation style on a case-by-case basis. Thus, if CaptainEek in good faith finds parenthetical citations unsuitable for Actuary, they can ask for it to be changed. – Finnusertop (talkcontribs) 08:25, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
Given how rarely they are used, I find it doubtful that the demographic of new editors that you mention would be able to find out about parenthetical citations in the first place. To do so, one has to navigate the byzantine (for a newcomer, at least) network of meta-informational pages and find the appropriate MoS guideline, as opposed to figuring out a format that that has an example on almost every article. As for editors who import external material, I think that if they don't have the time to change the citation style (something that can easily be done with a script), then they probably don't have the time to properly vet the material and determine that it is suitable for Wikipedia. - Axisixa T C 01:11, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support formally preferring our software-supported footnote system and permitting others to change the citation style to non-parenthetical for older articles. We should not reject an article at AFC because of parenthetical citations, but there should be no bias shown towards anyone who takes it upon themselves to retrospectively upgrade existing articles to software-supported footnote systems. Cavalryman (talk) 11:04, 5 August 2020 (UTC).
  • Support for consistency. The manual of style takes all sorts of arbitrary positions, and this is far more noticeable than most. I should note that, if Category:Use Harvard referencing is accurate, there are less than a thousand of our more than six million articles that use this style. I would support formally deprecating it and allowing users to migrate the style of existing articles, but I would stop short of disallowing new articles with the style. Just start considering {{Use Harvard referencing}} a maintenance tag, and people who care about this sort of thing (possibly including myself) will be able to migrate the syntax, just as people copy-edit articles to make them comply with WP:MOS. I should also note that the ArbCom case was mostly in the context of a single disruptive user edit-warring over style issues, and the preservation of citation styles, in particular, seems (to me) almost incidental to the case. Vahurzpu (talk) 15:56, 5 August 2020 (UTC)
    • Caveat: User:Finnusertop asserts that Category:Use Harvard referencing is in fact not very accurate, so "less than a thousand" shouldn't be taken as accurate. However, I will say I almost never come across parenthetically referenced articles, so the general point of "they're very rare" still stands, as does the rest of my comment. Vahurzpu (talk) 01:51, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose per the above !votes in opposition. The claim that parenthetical citations "clutter the text and make reading more difficult" seems more a matter of taste than something empirically supported; if the style was so fundamentally bad, surely style guides everywhere would warn against it, serious publications wouldn't use it, and schools wouldn't teach it. XOR'easter (talk) 06:30, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose. There are multiple valid uses of parenthetical citations, even in articles using Wikipedia's more-common footnoted references: referring to a publication in-text by Author (Year) in contexts where that is encyclopedic information rather than mere reference-clutter; referring to a different page in an earlier footnote by putting a parenthetical citation into another footnote; giving a shortened footnote to a reference in an article that (because there are many references or many reused references) keeps footnotes short and has a longer bibliography of complete references separate from the footnotes. This proposal makes no distinction among these uses, nor among the other now-less-common use of having inline parenthetical citations in place of footnotes, but just declares them all invalid. It is an overbroad solution to a non-problem. It is the foolish consistency that we have all been warned about. It is WP:CREEPy. It is a slippery slope that flies in the face of WP:CITEVAR and sets a bad precedent that is likely to be made worse by future removals of allowed variations in citations. And it will make far too much makework for gnomes instead of encouraging editors to do the real work of content creation and cleanup. —David Eppstein (talk) 06:32, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    • @CaptainEek: without parenthetical referencing, how exactly do you propose to format articles in which many footnotes refer to different pages within the same book, such as (to pick a Good Article example) Hypatia? (Actually Hypatia uses the parenthesis-free Author Year style in its footnotes but it's more or less the same concept as the one this proposal would ban.) Do you think the entire citation to the book should be repeated over and over in each separate footnote? Do you think that magically parenthetical referencing within footnotes would be excluded from your deprecation even though your proposal says nothing about such exclusions? —David Eppstein (talk) 19:09, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
      David Eppstein, Hypatia does not seem to use parenthetical style? It uses our supported sfn system, which I think is fine and dandy. Perhaps there's a misunderstanding as to what I mean by the parenthetical style? I only refer to the practice of inline parenthetical references that do not create references that can be auto-compiled into a reference list. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 19:21, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
      If you think that is not parenthetical style then you need to make your proposal much much more specific to match what you think more closely to what the proposal actually says. The sfn system is an example of parenthetical style (within footnotes). It is irrelevant that the article happens to use harvnb instead of harv or harvtxt within the formatting (so that the footnotes are formatted as Author Year rather than (Author Year) or Author (Year)) — that is not the level of detail of referencing style that we should be legislating. Your proposal deprecates parenthetical style everywhere, not merely parenthetical style used inline purely for referencing. For another example, look at the article text of Dehn invariant — at one point the article states "Dehn, in his 1900 habilitation thesis..." while later on it has the text "As Dehn (1901) observed...". The second example is a parenthetical reference. Your proposal would deprecate it. So you may have thought you were proposing only a change to referencing style, but are actually proposing to impose constraints on the content of our articles. If you did not intend such sweeping changes, I suggest you withdraw your proposal and think harder about what it is you actually intend to accomplish before proposing innocuous-appearing changes that have much more significant effects than intended. —David Eppstein (talk) 19:30, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose – I can't add anything to those well argued opposing points above. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 07:48, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support This one is a toughy since I hate parenthetical citations, but this seems like CREEP and I'm therefore surprised that it has received the amount of support that it has (and I'm still not sure it'll pass). What swings me to this position anyway is that a) nobody reads the MoS before they join, so they're not going to be like "Oh boy, I can't wait to add a Wikipedia article!" and then be shocked and disheartened by our fairly large set of style minutiae, b) readers will always be orders of magnitude more numerous than editors, and footnotes are ultimately more reader-friendly than parenthetical citations (if only slightly), and c) Levivich et al. have convinced me that this is a gentler solution than how it might appear. This might (emphasis might) also improve accessibility by having citations be special footnotes for the use of screen-reading software (not to mention being focusable) rather than plain text. – John M Wolfson (talkcontribs) 11:07, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose: The proposal wrongly assumes that there are only two citation styles: author-date and footnote. But there is also a hybrid style (call it short-cites) where short citations (author-date) are used within footnotes using {{harvtxt}} & {{harvnb}} & {{sfn}} templates. When using this hybrid style, it is occasionally useful to use a {{harvtxt}} template within the article body, even though the overall style is short-cites, thereby avoiding the readability problems of author-date style mentioned in the proposal. A major benefit of author-date and short-cite styles is that the reference list is (typically) sorted by author name, which is extremely helpful in fields such as the humanities and some social studies where author names are especially important. I have discussed why this is so at Talk:Psychotherapy § Citation style, where I wrote: Second, your assertion that Wikipedia users don't care about author names disregards the variability in the subject matter of Wikipedia articles and in the purposes of Wikipedia users. The importance of authors may vary by field: in the humanities, where the subject matter is often personal experiences and opinions, who authored a source is often extremely important; in the empirical sciences, where the subject matter is often impersonal data and models, who authored a source is less important. The proposal completely ignores such differences between fields of study. The proposal claims that the author-date style exists because it is used in scientific papers and college essays. This is wrong. In fact, scientific papers in many scientific fields don't use author-date style. In the fields where author-date style is used, it is for a good reason, often related to the benefit of having a reference list that is (typically) sorted by author name. Editors can be encouraged to avoid the worst readability problems of author-date style without a global ban of all author-date citations. In conclusion, this is a terrible proposal that misunderstands the purpose of citation-style diversity. Biogeographist (talk) 11:15, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    • Biogeographist, from the Captain's comment above, I think that Psychotherapy would require no changes, even if this proposal were enforced retroactively. He actually seems to want a very minimal case, in which anything that looks like [1] ("little blue clicky numbers") is okay, and the only thing that gets deprecated is something that looks like "(Smith 2019)". Psychotherapy has plenty of little blue clicky numbers. WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:39, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
      Right, I took my quotation from Talk:Psychotherapy out of context. There it was part of an argument for why someone's bot should not strip author first names from citations (if I remember correctly). Here it supports the argument that the proposal ignores important differences between fields of study that would make author-date referencing more appropriate in some subjects than in others. Biogeographist (talk) 23:09, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose however, I wouldn't mind if we adopted the <ref> style citations as the preferred style, even to the point of allowing editors to refactor other styles to that style - provided it can be done in a very careful manner (certainly not to an article that is actively being created - maybe on something like an article that hasn't had a citation updated in over a year or something like that). — xaosflux Talk 14:03, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    Xaosflux wrote: even to the point of allowing editors to refactor other styles. WP:CITEVAR already permits such refactoring, when there is consensus. And if there is well-reasoned opposition to such refactoring in a particular article, then the refactoring shouldn't be done. Biogeographist (talk) 14:45, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Biogeographist: basically I'm in favor of strengthening that, and preferring that inline-footnote style is "preferred" - to the length that if an article has become somewhat stable changing to that form shouldn't require determining a page consensus first. Just my opinion though, — xaosflux Talk 16:17, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Xaosflux: So it's your opinion that even shortened footnotes (author-date style within footnotes: {{sfn}}) are illegitimate and should be refactored? Biogeographist (talk) 16:38, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Xaosflux and Biogeographist: To my understanding, {{sfn}} is NOT considered a parenthetical citation style as discussed here (i.e., it's not covered at Wikipedia:Parenthetical referencing). It's not something we can effectively get rid of, in any case, because it is meant as the go-to approach for citing individual page numbers in a multiply cited work. I'd strongly oppose throwing that out. --Elmidae (talk · contribs) 16:46, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    (edit conflict) @Biogeographist: absolutely not, I don't think any of the reference styles are illegitimate; just that there is a benefit to preferring one. I'm not speaking so much to the markup style, just the results here as well - regarding your mention of {{sfn}}: it actually does result in a <ref> style result already (the output of the module invocation is a ref tag). An example of what I'm talking about would be the references in Lottery paradox for example. — xaosflux Talk 16:52, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    Specifically, in my Lottery paradox example, I think it would benefit the reader more to use a more data-integrated reference style here - not that there is anything wrong with the current referencing. I keep meaning to refactor this one (as I already got OK from the primary author) but keep not getting around to it. — xaosflux Talk 16:56, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Elmidae and Xaosflux: See Wikipedia:Citation templates § Harvard reference and shortened footnote examples and Template:Harvard citation documentation, both of which group Harvard (author-date) citations and shortened footnotes together. Wikipedia:Parenthetical referencing § Examples lists Irish phonology as an example of a featured article that uses author-date citations, and Irish phonology uses a combination of {{Sfn}} in addition to inline {{Harvcoltxt}} and {{Harvcolnb}}. Wikipedia:Author-date referencing and Wikipedia:Harvard referencing redirect to Wikipedia:Parenthetical referencing. Therefore, "Harvard", "author-date", and "parenthetical" all refer to the same citation style. If you are arguing in favor of deprecating author-date referencing, you are arguing in favor of deprecating all of those templates. And the effect is the same if you are arguing in favor of refactoring all author-date referencing to standard footnotes after an article becomes stable. Biogeographist (talk) 17:05, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    All of those templates are invoking Module:Footnotes - so they are already using data-integrated citations. Did you see the example I specifically referred to above that is just using free-text citations? That is what I think should be less-preferred (though it is 100x better than not having citations and therefore shouldn't be disallowed by editors - especially ones that don't care or don't know other ways). — xaosflux Talk 17:19, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Xaosflux: I saw your example. But the proposal here is to deprecate even the author-date referencing that invokes Module:Footnotes: see the example cited in the original proposal, Actuary. We need some new terms to differentiate between author-date referencing that does and does not invoke Module:Footnotes. Biogeographist (talk) 17:35, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Biogeographist: the proposer specifically says I propose that we formally deprecate the parenthetical citation style. - it doesn't say only ones using certain markup templates. My suggestion is that using markup and the auto-references section should be preferred to using plain text parenthetical citations and plain text manual references sections. — xaosflux Talk 17:47, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    Xaosflux wrote: My suggestion is that using markup and the auto-references section should be preferred to using plain text parenthetical citations and plain text manual references sections. By "markup" I assume you mean author-date referencing that invokes Module:Footnotes. Fair enough. That's more specific than your !vote above. It's also more specific than the original proposal above, which proposes deprecating all author-date referencing, whether it does or does not invoke Module:Footnotes. Biogeographist (talk) 17:56, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Xaosflux: I often use {{sfn}} when I am citing multiple pages from one or more sources, e.g. Alphonse van Gèle. It does not clutter up the text, either for the editor or the reader, but allows for precise citations without having to replicate the complete source definition for each page or section cited. I would be strongly opposed to allowing editors to change from {{sfn}} to <ref></ref> style without discussion. That said, I see no need for any styles other than {{sfn}} and <ref>, which can be intermixed in one article, with either text or {{citation}} to format the source definition. Aymatth2 (talk) 00:59, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
    Hi @Aymatth2: thanks for the note, I've got no issue with that at all, as it actually is already using <ref>, just wrapped in another template. For example, {{sfn|Smith|Jones|Brown|Black|2005|p=25}} expands to <ref name="FOOTNOTESmithJonesBrownBlack200525">[[#CITEREFSmithJonesBrownBlack2005|Smith et al. 2005]], p. 25.<span class="error harv-error" style="display: none; font-size:100%"> sfn error: no target: CITEREFSmithJonesBrownBlack2005 ([[:Category:Harv and Sfn template errors|help]])</span></ref>. The only thing I'm suggesting is that we strongly support references that intergrate in to the references markup over the simple plain text pararenthicial format. — xaosflux Talk 01:24, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support. The goal of a reference is to transmit information. There is no fundamental advantage of one style over the other, so having a proliferation of styles just makes it harder for tools to manage the data. -- RoySmith (talk) 16:00, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    RoySmith wrote: There is no fundamental advantage of one style over the other but I mentioned a major advantage of author-date and short-cites styles above. Other advantages are listed at Parenthetical referencing § Advantages. Biogeographist (talk) 16:38, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    Biogeographist, I assume you are referring to A major benefit of author-date and short-cite styles is that the reference list is (typically) sorted by author name, which is extremely helpful in fields such as the humanities and some social studies where author names are especially important. I think you've missed the point. How a list is sorted is a matter of presentation. If the underlying data were stored in a uniform, machine-parsable, format, it would be trivial to build a tool which sorted the references any way you wanted. -- RoySmith (talk) 17:16, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @RoySmith: Ah, I see. You're right, I missed the point. Does your tool already exist, or is it hypothetical? Better build the tool first before banning author-date referencing! We have to see how well your tool works before we decide to use it instead. Biogeographist (talk) 17:35, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support. More than once I have come across an article with parenthetical citations like (Smith 2008) in the text and no other referent in the article indicating who "Smith" is or what any such person wrote in 2008. This sort of error is made possible when the items of information are allowed to become detached in the first place, so that the editor writing the content can forget to even include the referenced citation, or another editor reusing a piece of content can forget to port it over. BD2412 T 16:25, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    The disadvantages that BD2412 mentioned also occur with ref tags: More than once I have come across duplicate ref tags, or ref tags with incomplete citation information. Negligent editors are not a good reason to globally ban author-date citations, since editors can be just as negligent with ref tags. Biogeographist (talk) 16:38, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    Ref tags can be rescued. Parentheticals for which the corresponding citation is never added can not. BD2412 T 17:45, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    I'm fairly sure that I've had to remove unrecoverable ref tags more than once. There's no difference. In both cases it's a lack of sufficient info that impedes verifiability. Biogeographist (talk) 17:50, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    The problem outlined by BD2412 can occur whenever a system of shortened citations is used. It doesn't matter if it's the in-line parenthetical citations discussed here, or shortened footnotes (as the ones produced by the ubiquitous {{sfn}}). – Uanfala (talk) 19:21, 17 August 2020 (UTC)
    Uanfala is correct, this problem isn't caused by parenthetical referencing. And the problem usually isn't even that difficult to fix. It usually arises when an editor copy-pastes some text from one article that uses short-form refs into another, and forgets to copy the corresponding full cites. For example, there were two cites missing from Main conjecture of Iwasawa theory, and it only took a few seconds to realise they were likely in Iwasawa theory, from which the article had been split. Problem solved. In the few cases where that doesn't work, a search on the wiki source text will usually find it. --NSH001 (talk) 14:20, 18 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment References can be nested with template:refn. This can preserve the citation style, and reduce clutter. --Emir of Wikipedia (talk) 16:56, 6 August 2020 (UTC) (please {{ping}} on reply; thanks!)
    @Emir of Wikipedia: I don't see the relevance to this discussion. Can you give an example of how nesting references with {{refn}} applies to author-date referencing? Biogeographist (talk) 17:10, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    Biogeographist, an example is the first reference in this edit. The parenthetical citations would be preserved in the reference list, but they would not clutter the article. Emir of Wikipedia (talk) 17:15, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Emir of Wikipedia: Thanks. Your edit is basically a shortened footnote. Shortened footnotes are used, for example, in Irish phonology which is listed in Wikipedia:Parenthetical referencing § Examples as an example of a featured article that uses author-date citations. It's funny that your chosen example edit was in Actuary, since I just proposed converting that article to shortened footnotes: see Talk:Actuary § Shortened footnotes proposal, August 2020. Biogeographist (talk) 17:35, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    The proposal does not say that shortened parenthetical citations are ok within footnotes. It just says they are to be deprecated in general, wherever they might appear. So this suggestion is not compliant with the proposed deprecation. —David Eppstein (talk) 19:13, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    David Eppstein, That is not what I meant for the proposal to say, and I'm sorry if that was misconstrued. As suggested by the Actuary article, my problem was only with the non-footnote parentheticals. I am perfectly fine with sfn, and think that turning existing parentheticals into sfn's is one of the ideal solutions here. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 19:23, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    Proposals that get enacted within Wikipedia MOS and guidelines often turn out to be interpreted by stubborn and gnomish editors who insist that the actual wording of the proposal, and not its original intent, should be adhered to rigidly throughout the encyclopedia. So if that interpretation is not what you intended, then your proposal is flawed, and should be fixed before we accidentally break a lot of articles that are properly referenced by forcing their references into a more constrained format that cannot accomodate the flexibility required for short citations or whatever. —David Eppstein (talk) 19:41, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    At the risk of repeating what I already said above, I agree that this is a terribly formulated proposal. Wikipedia:Parenthetical referencing covers a range of variants. I am more sympathetic to CaptainEek's new first amendment that permits {{sfn}} and the {{harv}} variants in footnotes, but I don't agree with the new second amendment that would ban even very occasional in-text {{harvtxt}} references (e.g. "Eek (2020) proposed") in articles that already use shortened footnotes. That second amendment strikes me as unreasonable since permitting occasional in-text {{harvtxt}} references in articles that already use shortened footnotes neither eschews hyperlinked references nor impedes readability, which were the original proposal's stated reasons for deprecating author-date citations. See Irish phonology for a featured article that sensibly mixes occasional in-text {{harvtxt}} references with shortened footnotes. It's perfectly readable, at least as readable as an article on phonology can be expected to be. Biogeographist (talk) 21:07, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose deprecating the style entirely, but I do rather like xaosflux's proposal above of making the <ref> citation style the "preferred" Wikipedia style (including any templates that generate such markup). I personally prefer the footnote style also, but per Wugapodes above, we already make life difficult enough for new editors, and while I am appreciative of the argument that ultimately we are serving the reader, I think we would be unnecessarily burdening new editors with even more rules while providing very little (though admittedly positive) overall reader benefit. However, establishing a preferred (but not rigidly enforced) style for citations allows contributors to provide proper citations in any way they are able, and others can come later, after the article has reached some semblance of stability, to adapt them to the preferred style. CThomas3 (talk) 21:14, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    But it would be important to explicitly state that the "preferred" style does not exclude shortened footnotes, as clarified in CaptainEek's new first amendment. Biogeographist (talk) 21:32, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Cthomas3: to clarify what I discussed with @Biogeographist: above, I think we should prefer referencing that uses ref tags and ref sections - but I'm not really picky about how we go about doing that (e.g. via a literal ref tag, via a template of pretty much any style that incorporates the ref tag, etc) - but that literal plain text parenthetical citations should be less preferred. — xaosflux Talk 13:42, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
    Xaosflux and Biogeographist, that's what I was trying to get at when I said "including any templates that generate such markup". I'm right there with you, I don't think we need to specify exactly how we generate the tags, just that anything that generates them is perfectly fine. And I certainly would not want to specifically exclude anything like shortened footnotes. CITEVAR would still apply to any valid style. CThomas3 (talk) 16:18, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support - This misinterpretation of this proposal is unbelievable since it so clearly refers to parenthetical citation that are in the text itself; hopefully Eek's amendments have made that clearer. The style used in article like Irish phonology and Battle of Red Cliffs simply hurts the reader and distracts them from the content, there's not much more to say than that. Some of these reasons for opposition are equally baffling, the average reader will not care who the author is, and throwing that in their face is pointless: the History of the discipline section in this article is hardly even readable. If a statement/idea is so importantly founded or thought of by a specific scholar, then a well written article would simply say something like: "John Smith suggested that...". There are also some serious assumptions about some imaginary groups of editors that will leave Wikipedia if their preferred citation style (Keep in mind – a citation style not at all commonly used nowadays) is removed. I used sfn and sometimes nested harv, but I wouldn't just leave Wikipedia if one were removed, I mean what?? If it's that easy for something to push you out of Wikipedia then I had no idea how you're still here. Aza24 (talk) 21:49, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    Aza24 wrote: the average reader will not care who the author is. This may be true of Irish phonology § History of the discipline, so I agree that section may overdo it. When I said "occasional in-text {{harvtxt}} references" above I didn't mean in every sentence, more like once per paragraph if necessary or convenient. But it's just not true that in all fields all average readers will not care about authors. In humanities fields such as philosophy that are cross-generational conversations, it matters very much who said what and when they said it, and author-date referencing with a reference list sorted by author name makes sense. Biogeographist (talk) 22:09, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    Glad to see that I am also interrogated by the same user who feels the need to go through every opposing viewpoint and pick out whatever they can to disagree with... But I'm sorry, what you're saying does not make sense. Every citation style dictates who the author is, every single one, if a reader is so inclined to see who the author is all they need is to hover over the ref, so I really have no idea what you're getting at. Putting the name in the citation of text does nothing but add unnecessary distraction and confusion. You seem to have completely ignored what I said about if the name is important or the idea is intrinsically linked with a certain individual then it should be in the text anyways, outside of the citation – something which is already common practice for well written articles. Aza24 (talk) 22:21, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
    I don't disagree with your statement that a well written article would simply say something like: "John Smith suggested that..." so I didn't address it. In fact that's typically how I write. I agree that articles with footnotes are generally better written. But I don't agree that every article with "occasional in-text {{harvtxt}} references" is necessarily badly written or unreadable enough to justify universally deprecating the style. Every citation style dictates who the author is, as you said, but not every citation style sorts the reference list by author. There are more advantages to sorting the reference list by author that I could list (such as easily seeing at a glance which works by an author are cited). This makes perfect sense to me, but if it doesn't make sense to you then I can understand that you would strongly support the proposal. And regarding your comment that I am a user who feels the need to go through every opposing viewpoint and pick out whatever they can to disagree with, that's not true: The comment immediately above yours is on "my side" of the debate, but I responded to that one too because I had information to add. And if I think of additional information that expands the conversation, why shouldn't I add it? Biogeographist (talk) 23:09, 6 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - I'm a psychologist who eschews APA style whenever possible. The parenthetical citations interrupt the flow of the text; they require flipping back and forth (print) or scanning back and forth; and the style permits lazy referencing in which the author does not have to specify where in a document he/she/they find support for their argument or statement. I realize this proposal is not about APA style per se. I simply wish to explain my support for discharging most forms of parenthetical citation on the English Wikipedia. // The "second type" of deprecation seems preferable: "editors can replace this unless there is a specific consensus against doing so" (see the astute comment by AntiCompositeNumber near the beginning of this section).   - Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) (I'm a man—traditional male pronouns are fine.) 00:06, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
    Markworthen wrote: the style permits lazy referencing in which the author does not have to specify where in a document he/she/they find support for their argument or statement. This is a major problem in too much social-science scholarship, but can be an issue with standard ref tags too—hence the {{page needed}} tag. See Common factors theory for an example of an article in psychology, much of which I wrote, that uses author-date style in shortened footnotes with plenty of page numbers. Biogeographist (talk) 00:28, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
    Excellent points Biogeographist. In this instance Wikipedia is requiring a higher level of scholarship when it comes to reliable sources than many prominent psych journals. // Btw, Common factors theory a very good article on an important subject.  - Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) (I'm a man—traditional male pronouns are fine.) 00:00, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Markworthen: All ref styles used on Wikipedia permit lazy referencing in which the author does not have to specify where in a document he/she/they find support for their argument or statement - whatever style I use, I am not forced to enter a page number, nor is there any kind of warning or error message should I forget. Parenthetical refs are no different in this regard: moreover, there is nothing about them which hinders the provision of a page number. The article Actuary has been mentioned; here, I see that some (but by no means all) of the refs explicitly show a page number, for instance (Trowbridge 1989, p. 7) at the end of the opening paragraph. Where page numbers are omitted from the parenthetical refs, either it's a source without page numbers (such as a web page) or the page numbers are provided in the full citation. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 11:46, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    Redrose64 - Good point. I was specifically talking about my frustrations with APA style, but you highlight an important difference between the formal styles (APA, Bluebook, Chicago, etc.) and Wikipedia. I know that editors often ask for specific page numbers to support a statement, so there's at least some awareness of this topic. But do you think we need to place greater emphasis on the importance of specific page citations?   - Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) (I'm a man—traditional male pronouns are fine.) 02:38, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    I am not familiar with APA or those others - different academic institutions may set their own rules, and they might forbid the use of page numbers, I don't know. I have a book which I picked up one day when I was at Hertford College, Oxford, for an interview:
    • Fisher, David; Hanstock, Terry (1998). Citing References. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 1-85377-992-X.
    This book explicitly shows how to give a page number with a parenthetical ref. Academic institutions may require their students to adhere to particular rules when submitting their work, but we are not bound in that manner. If the source uses them, page numbers (or similar) are great to have, in the interests of WP:V; but that page (which is a core content policy document) mentions them just once - in the sentence (Cite the source clearly, ideally giving page number(s) – though sometimes a section, chapter, or other division may be appropriate instead; see Wikipedia:Citing sources for details of how to do this. Besides WP:CITE, it's covered more fully at Help:References and page numbers; and both of these include sections on parenthetical refs that show how to provide page numbers (see Wikipedia:Citing sources#Parenthetical referencing; Help:References and page numbers#Parenthetical referencing) so it's not as if the practice is either hidden away or discouraged, although WP:V could do with improvement in regard to page numbers in general.
    My point is that opposing a parenthetical style on the grounds that it may sometimes used without page numbers is a fallacious argument. I have yet to find a ref style used on Wikipedia that prohibits or discourages the use of page numbers, other than the obsolete WP:CS:EMBED method. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 14:17, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support the "second type" of deprecation, i.e. "editors can replace this unless there is a specific consensus against doing so". There are good uses of in-prose parenthetical citations, especially for print usages, and there are Wikipedia editors like me who use parenthetical citations in real life. But on Wikipedia, which is primarily online, this is quite unwieldy, and relatively rarely used in favor of footnotes (using <ref></ref> tags) and a reference list. Having parenthetical citations right in the prose may go so far to be be distracting and unhelpful, since there is no footnotes list (or a reduced one) provided in this format. Even the {{sfn}}-style and {{harv}}-style templates in footnotes are easier to comprehend.
    I understand that there are people who feel comfortable with parenthetical referencing, and that some people will remain opposed to this proposal. However, there are better ways of referencing on Wikipedia, in particular footnotes. In the end, these types of references are supposed to convey information to the reader, but the reader's experience can be hindered by putting parenthetical citations right in the prose, rather than in small, relatively inobtrusive brackets. epicgenius (talk) 01:08, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
    • @Epicgenius: so to be clear, do you support a different proposal than the one we're discussing, one that only applies to in-prose parenthetical citations that are intended purely as a reference and not as part of the article text? Or do you support the proposal we're actually discussing which even after two levels of attempted clarification still explicitly applies to examples like the Irish phonology link above where the main text of the article discusses authorship of publications? If the latter, which circumlocutions for discussing authorship in-text would you find to be acceptable alternatives, and why? —David Eppstein (talk) 01:24, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
      David Eppstein, I'm responding to what CaptainEek said in their first clarification: The only goal is to make it so that instead of seeing Ipsum lorem facto (Eek, 2020), we end up with Ipsum lorem facto with a little blue ref number at the end, which leads to a footnote that can still say "(Eek, 2020)". I am supporting the proposal all of the other comments seem to be replying to. As for the Irish phonology link, that would be treated as discussion of scholarly work rather than as examples of parenthetical citations (e.g. Some statement is mentioned in Scholar (2020). as opposed to Some statement. (Scholar 2020). It would be unnecessary to convert these to footnotes, and I would not support changing this if it's already in the article. epicgenius (talk) 14:31, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Accept articles that indicate their sourcing in any manner, Support formally allowing&encouraging conversion of plaintext cites to <ref> cites. Update WP:Parenthetical_referencing to indicate that it is adequate if used, but that it can and should be upgraded to a proper ref. Alsee (talk) 02:50, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support – my take would be different (allowing the system to co-exist with the others) if I hadn't encountered some stubborness by adherents of the system to cling to it where it is really not suitable (example). Wikipedia is aiming at a broad readership (both scholarly and non-scholarly). In scholarship references-by-numbered-footnotes are used in all disciplines: no scholar has any difficulty understanding such system of referencing (even when writing about philosophical topics etc). For broad readership outside scholarship, numbered footnotes are far more easily digested. So adopting a fade-out scenario seems perfectly acceptable to me. In a first step, WP:CITEVAR could be updated saying that it is up to the proponent of harvard references that that referencing system is most commonly used in reliable sources when writing about the topic of the article. All other articles, where that can't be demonstrated, can then be transformed to numbered footnotes by editors willing to do so. I suppose such transformations should however never be operated by bot, while likely too counterproductive (too error-prone: a fix-by-bot may introduce more problems than it resolves). --Francis Schonken (talk) 08:03, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support I support to deprecate parenthetical citations like (Smith 2020) in new articles and also support converting existing articles into a style using clickable indices like[1] - not in a brute-force mass-movement hammering it down on all articles no matter what, but with good common sense applied: If an editor feels the urge to convert an article, s/he should not be hindered doing so, unless there is a clear consensus (based on good reasons why that is the style to be used in an article, not just road-block mentality) to continue to use parenthetical citations in that article, or unless an editor hanging on to parenthetical citations is still in the process of actively editing an article (so s/he isn't confused or discouraged). However, the default without such a consensus should be to allow the conversion rather than to rule it out it by some strange outgrow of WP:CITEVAR. Progress is important for us.
Some editors have brought forward the argument that our citation styles are difficult to grasp for new editors and that they should not be discouraged from editing because we need new editors, and therefore they should use whatever style they are used to. That's fine with me to a certain degree, however, there is also an argument to be made about existing editors (not) being discouraged from contributing to articles using (distracting to read and non-functional) parenthetical citations:
I have made the experience that some (typically not very well developed) articles are basically WP:OWNed by some editors who enforce parenthetical citations without adding anything to the article (any more). Some of them once contributed to the article years ago, others never added anything but just revert for the sake of it, even if the article is lacking and the contributions brought major additions. Such editors are basically just sitting there blocking out a significant portion of the potential degrees of future development of an article. So, for as long as these editors are actively contributing to an article, I think, they should have their way for the sake of it, but in the end, we are not here for ego-trips but to write an encyclopedia, and since articles are never complete and finished, our priority must be on improving article contents and functionality, not pleasing editors. Also, while CS1/CS2 citation templates might be difficult to master (in particular some esoteric special cases), using basic <ref>...</ref> wiki syntax is really easy stuff. So, if such editors don't contribute to an article for half a year or a year, the "grand-father clause" should automatically time out, so that, for the benefit of the article and the project as a whole, other editors feel more encouraged to contribute their stuff to such articles as well.
--Matthiaspaul (talk) 11:28, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support having a diversity of reference styles is not good for Wikipedia look. This is a hard to use style so let's deprecate it. We can say that a featured article must not contain this style of referencing. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 11:57, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per Alsee (accept and change) and other arguments above regarding page clutter and readability. · · · Peter Southwood (talk): 14:20, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per Alsee.  Majavah talk · edits 15:19, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...". Andrew🐉(talk) 20:49, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • I'll Support per the principle of avoiding/eliminating unnecessary complexity. The encyclopedia generally does not benefit from multiple methods of accomplishing the same thing. I haven't seen an Oppose argument that outweighs that for me. I oppose limiting this (or virtually anything) to new articles, as most articles of real significance have already been created. ―Mandruss  23:59, 7 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support — We must simplify the reference system. This is a good small step. —¿philoserf? (talk) 08:30, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose as the thin end of the wedge etc. I don't like this system at all, but it is dying the death naturally. Nor do I like the promoting of the horrible sfn style in the proposal. Johnbod (talk) 13:04, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Tentative support. The arguments of Wugapodes et al are entirely valid, but as far as I can see this proposal wouldn't disallow articles written using that style, just as article written entirely without inline citations are not currently disallowed. Our software gives us the ability to link inline citations with corresponding bibliography entries, and doing this hugely improves accessibility. Given that, our citation guidelines should allow editors to switch to a format allowing that, without going to the trouble of having to obtain consensus first. As things stand, the original author's preference for an inaccessible style carries a lot of weight, and that's what I think needs to change. We should guard against this change becoming another thing to bite newbies with. Vanamonde (Talk) 16:04, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    Parenthetical refs can also link to the corresponding bibliography entries, this is what {{harv}} does. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 16:39, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Redrose64: Until it says so explicitly, I'm going to proceed in the belief that this proposal refers only to what the layman would describe as parenthetical refs, rather than the broader interpretation you and David Eppstein are proposing. As far as I am concerned, the sfn format is still a footnote format, that has author-date citations in the footnotes; it's not adding author-dates to the text itself. CaptainEek If you're proposing getting rid of harv citations, you need to make it explicit. If you're not, and I don't think you are, that might be worth clarifying in the proposal also. Vanamonde (Talk) 15:07, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    Vanamonxe93 You are correct, I mean the narrow interpretation. As I have clarified at the top, I only mean inline citations, not the sfn/harv templates. The goal here is to make little blue numbers, not destroy all parenthetical citations. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 19:06, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    (edit conflict) I'm not suggesting that {{sfn}} and {{harv}} are the same - they're not, although the method that these use to link to the the corresponding bibliography entry is the same. Nor am I proposing we get rid of anything. I'm pointing out a fallacy, i.e. the claim that some have made that parenthetical refs cannot link to the corresponding bibliography entries when they demonstrably can. Using Actuary as an example, look at the lead section - there are ten parenthetical refs in the lead section, and every single one of them has a link to the corresponding bibliography entry. Click any you like: they all work. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 19:12, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Redrose64: Okay, that's a fair point, but how many articles with parenthetical citations use that syntax? Also, with respect to that article, I'd argue that the added clutter is still a substantial concern; and at the very least, we need to give editors the ability to add that syntax to an article that uses unformatted parenthetical citations, which is also currently forbidden by CITEVAR without a consensus building exercise. Vanamonde (Talk) 16:06, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
    Almost seven thousand. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 17:49, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per nominator. — Slade 10:00, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. There's no reason to be using kludgy reference formatting when we have tools that handle things much better and make the reading experience for regular users of Wikipedia better. ···日本穣 · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe · Join WP Japan! 23:49, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. this project is an encyclopedia, not a paper. Clone commando sev (talk) 00:06, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - This is not a printed encyclopedia, or a college research paper typed double-spaced on an IBM Selectric with gobs of Wite-Out. It's time to abandon buggy whips and embrace accessibility, usability, and hypertext. - MrX 🖋 12:09, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. Anonimu (talk) 17:21, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support the "moving away from" part. If someone were to use in-line citations, I dont' think their contributions should be stripped automatically, but maybe these sort of articles could just be tagged with a "citation clean-up" notice. Something like that. All things considered, I'd love to see all Wikipedia articles use the same citation style, for consistency sake.--Gen. Quon (Talk) 19:00, 3 September 2020 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 1 (citations)

  • Strongly oppose per David Eppstein & DGG. In addition, I support xaosflux's above position of adopting the <ref> style citations as the preferred style; not deprecating paranthetical citations, though. 0qd (talk) 18:08, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support for a different option I see some support for deprecation of this option going forward while leaving existing articles and change that use this format. I'm going to suggest the exact opposite. This is inspired by @Wugapodes: support for allowing new editors to adopt a variety of styles (it's hard enough to start editing without imposing a potentially new referencing style – why not just let them do something they already know), as well as the observation that permitting multiple styles is jarring to the reader. Per WP:CITEVAR, we properly discourage multiple styles within an article (which means if a brand-new editor at an edit-a-thon wants to work on an existing article rather than a brand-new article they need to learn the style), but it is only a little less jarring to see different styles from article to article.
    We should:
    1. Pick a house style
    2. Allow new editors to use any style that works
    3. Task a bot to do the conversion to the house style
    Permitted exceptions where warranted (I don't pretend to have surveyed all citation styles, and there might be a good reason for a different style in some article or some special class of articles.)--S Philbrick(Talk) 18:09, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Sphilbrick: While I generally like your idea, I would caution that getting a bot to interpret free-form citations would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. Especially if you're talking about articles created by users not familiar with Wikipedia, it's going to be a mess of different fields in different pieces, some random bare links, etc. I tried to write a citation parser once and failed; existing tools like AnyStyle are more for consistently-formatted academic citations than things found on Wikipedia. Vahurzpu (talk) 18:48, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    Vahurzpu, I will not be surprised at all to find that some styles, or even worse, bare links aren't amenable to bot conversion. If we write the bot carefully, we will be careful not to force a style on something that doesn't support it, and leave that for humans to address. I don't pretend my proposal will solve every citation problem, but I think it's a step in the right direction.--S Philbrick(Talk) 18:54, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    This proposal was deliberately not life, the universe, and everything. If you're interested in pursuing yours, I'd suggest some WP:VPI or WT:CITE time shaping how you think this would work. I know I've seen some light support for the idea that we should establish a house citation style, but I don't know whether 'light' is really enough to get a 'VPPRO nod' for it.--Izno (talk) 23:26, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support the proposal, which is directed at the beneficial goal of reducing clutter in the prose. Readability is important, and even for numbered references, we have wariness of clutter. The concerns raised mostly relate to specific interpretations and wording which can be discussed once the intended principle of the matter is established. I disagree that this change will throw off new users, given it is essentially proposing using whatever style they want, but putting <ref></ref> around it (rather than the misinterpretation that it will standardise a particular reference format). Adding two short tags is not remotely an equivalent hurdle to learning a new citation style. It is far less onerous than asking users to flesh out bare urls, which is a common and expected practice. I further suspect almost everyone who uses that citation style in other work will have faced far more onerous and annoying citation formatting reqiurements. This change would presumably be a MOS issue, rather than a matter of strict policy, and so would not be something that new articles get rejected over, or that editors get bitten over, more than any other part of MOS. CMD (talk) 19:25, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    Um... people do get bitten over MOS issues. Blueboar (talk) 19:40, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    Yes, and I don't think this proposal would exacerbate that issue as has been suggested. CMD (talk) 16:58, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Opposed. This is yet another proposal that has the potential to discourage productive contributors in the name of consistency and uniformity. We may end up with a limited number of editors trying to control but failing to grow and maintain the entire Wikipedia. With fewer editors watching articles, we could easily be overwhelmed with vandalism. --Robert.Allen (talk) 19:29, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. Parenthetical cites are an excellent style when used with explanatory footnotes. While it is possible to mix explanatory footnotes with citation footnotes, it's much cleaner to have citations and explanations clearly distinct.
    That means parenthetical cites are especially good for highly technical articles, where explanatory footnotes are most likely to be useful. We shouldn't try to shoehorn all articles into a single style, when topic-based considerations can favor one or the other. --Trovatore (talk) 19:39, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support second option (i.e. "editors can replace this unless there is a specific consensus against doing so"). Looking at actuary: yuck. It's awful. Unequivocally. The fact that it's still allowed to exist as an FA in 2020 is a prime example of how Wikipedia is often overly resistant to change.
To get a little more specific, I'm not persuaded that there's anything better about parenthetical citations for readers, even (as argued above) for humanities subjects where the author is more important—Aza24 dispatched that argument. And Markworthen's point about them allowing lazier citing that introduces ambiguity is also compelling.
Regarding beginner-friendliness (which I do think is of critical importance, as anyone familiar with my editing work knows), Wug's points persuade me enough not to support the third option, although only barely. It's important to note that there is some additional confusion that is introduced for beginners by not having a single unified citation style, and editor effort spent improving documentation for parenthetical citations is effort that would be better directed toward Citation Style 1 documentation. But on balance, I do think it's a little easier to just tell them they can cite however they want. That's just not a compelling enough justification to outweigh all the other considerations, though. Regarding WP:BITE, no one should be having an article declined at AfC or deleted at AfD because it uses different citation style, since AfC is supposed to be solely about whether an article would survive at AfD, and at AfD WP:Deletion is not cleanup. And I just don't see someone being outraged because the article they wrote had parenthetical citations converted into footnotes. The best solution for not biting newcomers is for experienced editors to not bite newcomers.
Regarding importing, under the second option, that would still be permitted, since something is better than nothing. The point here is to formally acknowledge that parenthetical citations are inferior, not to mass-delete everything that contains them.[hyperbole] The second option will appropriately set the groundwork for us to later, once our main citation tools have been further improved, apply a stronger form of deprecation.
Lastly, to those arguing that this flies in the face of WP:CITEVAR, I find that utterly unpersuasive. There is nothing sacred about guidelines established a decade ago, since WP:Consensus can change. And in this case, it should. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 19:50, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Weakly support, to the extent that we should discourage the style in favor of inline refs: it's too wordy, doesn't indicate page numbers, etc., and in an FA or GA discussion I'd support asking or even requiring the authors to move away from it. However, per User:DGG's and others' points, we have much, much more trouble with articles without any citations at all, and even a poor style of citation is several orders of magnitude better than none at all, we do not want to have any conflicts over such a trivial thing, an risk discouraging an otherwise productive new or moderately new editor who is using this style, we want to applaud that they are using any citations at all. --GRuban (talk) 21:11, 8 August 2020 (UTC)
    @GRuban: You state it's too wordy - Author, year and page: how is this more wordy than any other style? Also, you claim doesn't indicate page numbers - of course it can. See WP:PAREN#Inline citation in the body of the article, sixth bullet; WP:PAREN#Page numbers; and WP:REFPAGE#Parenthetical referencing. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 14:38, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Redrose64: Because it's inline. Captain Eek's example from Actuary at the top of this proposal is an excellent example: half the content is dedicated to the citations, which is distracting to the reader who's trying to just read, rather than verify. We do need to provide verifications, but our primary goal is to provide actual readable content, right? Standard inline ref style would have been seven small superscript numbers that would be easier be read over. Also, inline parenthetical citations need to be repeated every time they're used, so it's a name and a year in parentheses every time - or, if it's actually as you write, then a name, a year, a colon, and a page number, in parentheses every time, even longer! Again, as I wrote, this is secondary to having citations at all, but doing so less verbosely in the main content of our article and saving all the details to the end is just more legible. --GRuban (talk) 14:53, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support for "preferred-but-not-required" approach. If a subject is notable, we shouldn’t be giving newbies grief at AfC about formatting and such, and I wouldn't want this adding to it. Also Wugapodes makes a good point about the copy-paste use case.
    I'd like us to say that an editor is free to upgrade plain-text citations to any kind of linked <ref> footnotes (including sfn, list-defined refs, etc.) without needing to consult each time, unless there's a local consensus against it. Currently CITEVAR's defer to the style used by the first major contributor means first writer wins. That could change. And "upgrade" could be a good way to express it.
    It's not just readability, software supported references give the reader extra conveniences, like mw:Reference Tooltips; plus others have mentioned programmatic detection of references.
    If you have a need to mention the author and year in-text, and don’t want a "circumlocution" like In 2020, Pelagic et al. found that..., then I would go as far as to recommend a construct like Pelagic et al. (2020) found that ...[1] – i.e. provide a clickable ref in addition to the "author (year)". For an article where the refs are already alphabetical order (or some other order like date), you can retain that via list-defined refs.
    Pelagicmessages · Z ) – (18:48 Sun 09, AEST) 08:48, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    Pelagic wrote: For an article where the refs are already alphabetical order (or some other order like date), you can retain that via list-defined refs. Is this true? I have never seen list-defined references display a reference list (in the final rendered HTML) in any other order but the sequence of citation in the text. List-defined references can be in arbitrary order in the reference list markup, but I don't know how to make the reference list display in alphabetical order (or some other order like date) in the final rendered HTML, so I have always used author-date referencing for that purpose. Biogeographist (talk) 13:20, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    Apologies, @Biogeographist, you’re right. I was thinking of a situation where another editor re-ordered list-defined ref's in an article I was working on, but that’s because they wanted them alphabetised in the source code not the rendered result. I’ve struck out my mistake above.
    So, to produce an alphabetic output list, are we left with shortened footnotes, using {{sfn}} and {{refbegin}}, as the only alternative to naked parenthetical style? That produces nice results where there are many cited pages in a few books, but could it be clunky otherwise?
    It would be interesting to have a feature where the reader could sort the more common reflist-style by author, date, or order of occurrence as it suits them (similar to how tables are sortable).
    Pelagicmessages ) – (07:38 Wed 12, AEST) 21:38, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support any kind of standardization that contributes to a consistent reading experience across articles. ~ ToBeFree (talk) 13:54, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support, Actuary is a perfect example of what's wrong with this style. Readers expect to see the traditional blue number following a statement in a Wikipedia article. Inline parenthetical citations clutter the article, and because they are not commonly used, established editors won't necessarily know how to add citations. The beauty of the footnote system is that all you need to do is insert a <ref> tag with a {{cite}} template, and it formats itself. Most editors are not as familiar with {{harvnb}} and the like, and as a result, I am inclined to think that allowing parenthetical inline citations will discourage other editors from contributing to the article. As others have already stated, this isn't a reason to decline such articles at AFC, but it's time we start standardizing our citation style, and deprecating PIC's is a good place to start. --PuzzledvegetableIs it teatime already? 13:58, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    Comment No, it's not a "perfect example" of what's wrong with this style. As I've pointed out several times already, the "problems" there can be dealt with using normal editing, without any need to ditch parenthetical referencing. --NSH001 (talk) 08:51, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment Owing to contuied concerns, I have added a single word the the original proposal text: "inline", which is what I intended and explained originally. I apologise for any confusion, as I did not even realize that folks called sfn/harv referencing styles parenthetical :) CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 19:16, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    @CaptainEek: But that's precisely what is causing confusion: you write folks called sfn/harv referencing styles parenthetical as if {{sfn}} and {{harv}} do similar jobs - they don't.
    {{sfn}} is essentially {{harvnb}} wrapped in <ref>...</ref> - it makes a little [1], and in the ref displayed later in the page there are no parentheses (the letters "nb" stand for "no brackets").
    {{harv}} is essentially {{harvnb}} wrapped in parentheses, but there is no little [1] or similar.
    So whilst {{harvnb}} is common to both, the end result is very different. It's like the Coventry Climax FW engine - you could find that in such diverse machines as fire pumps, forklift trucks and racing cars, but nobody would claim that these were the same as each other. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 22:17, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    As I said in my first amending comment: I am okay with sfn. I am not okay with harv on its own. Harv templates need to be in ref tags, so that they make a little blue number. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 22:20, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    Again you're mixing them up. The {{harv}} template is not intended for placing inside <ref>...</ref> tags, it is used standalone. If you want to put something related to {{harv}} inside <ref>...</ref>, you should use {{harvnb}} or {{harvcolnb}}. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 23:08, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. Agreed that the parenthical style leads to clutter, and we should aim to present are articles neatly. With that said, DGG (who opposes) makes a very fair point that the wiki markup for inline citations is novel to most new users, and we should not be rejecting articles just because they use the wrong style of citation. What I think deprecation should mean is that an article with parenthical style can be changed to a preferred style by any editor, and newbie editors who use it should be encouraged, in a way that doesn't bite, to use the preferred styles. Sjakkalle (Check!) 19:35, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose formally "deprecating". I support the general principle of saying that footnotes are preferred, and encouraging people to move away from simple parenthetical citations, but to me "deprecating" seems to be a step beyond that, and inevitably will lead to conflict over citation styles. Andrew Gray (talk) 20:05, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Per most of the opposes above, particularly Wugapodes. The benefits to the reader seem minor; in fact readers used to scientific articles may well prefer the parenthetical form. The annoyance to editors who prefer parenthetical references is likely to be real. If this form of citation is dying out, let it die of its own accord; if it's not, it's because some editors like it. On a procedural note, I think anything that can be seen as chipping away at CITEVAR should be advertised as widely as possible; where have notices been left so far? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 20:39, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    Mike Christie, This is currently on the centralized discussion template, which is about as visible as it gets. I also left notes on some of the MOS project pages to advertise it. I believe another user also spread it to some of the WikiProjects. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 22:40, 9 August 2020 (UTC)
    CaptainEek: I think a watchlist notice would be justified; if you've no objections I can request it or you can. I'll mention it at WT:FAC, which is read by a lot of content writers who may not watch other forums. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:11, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
    Mike Christie I think a watchlist notice is probably overkill, I can't recall the last time a policy RfC was a notice like that. But I have no objections to posting it at WT:FAC. CaptainEek Edits Ho Cap'n! 00:14, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
    I agree with Mike C. The more visibility, the better. This is one of those matters that anyone will be angry that they missed saying their piece. Especially if she/he is on the losing side. -- llywrch (talk) 21:38, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
    I might as well repeat what I've said elsewhere (I see others making similar points far above): "The rfc "question" is extremely unclearly worded, and has already been messed about with twice at least while the rfc was running, including a far-from-minor bolt-on. As a result, "supports" and "opposes" often appear to be talking about different views, and different bits. I don't see how any policy-changing conclusion can really be drawn from what is currently a fairly finely balance tally of votes - for different things. There would have to be another stage to discuss properly-drafted proposals, and vote on a range of options. It might be too soon to raise the fyrd at this point." Johnbod (talk) 21:50, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support deprecation, which I expect will be akin to making CITEVAR not apply anymore where a style using inline parenthetical citations are used (and I get the gist most above have come to that as the preferred state). I think most above have made it obvious why. I might be persuaded the occasional "Name et al did this thing (date/year).<ref/>" or "Name et al (date/year) did this thing.<ref/>" is reasonably short, but I don't think that will be necessary in the general case.

    As for the concerns for biting, I think the statement in WP:CITE's lead is already sufficient (and if you see BITING, call out the user): While you should try to write citations correctly, what matters most is that you provide enough information to identify the source. Others will improve the formatting if needed.

    As for suppositions about comfort, I hated parenthetical referencing from the minute I started being asked to supply citations in high school, and the style I grew up with was MLA. Which was predominantly parenthetical. :) Let's move on from the paper way of doing things. --Izno (talk) 23:19, 9 August 2020 (UTC)

  • Support. I'm very glad someone made this proposal, and still cannot believe people in 2006 thought it was a good idea to allow this kind of citation for a website aimed at the general public. Best way to confuse the casual reader. T8612 (talk) 00:49, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support encouraging use of <ref> and allowing conversion of in-prose parenthetical references like "(Smith 2020)" or "Smith (2020)" to use <ref> in some manner without the need for additional consensus on each individual article. Articles should not be deleted or rejected from AFC for using parenthetical style instead of <ref>, at most they might be tagged for cleanup if not just converted. For that matter, I'd also like {{rp}} to be deprecated in the same manner, even {{sfn}} is better than that mess. Anomie 00:58, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
    • At this time {{sfn}} or {{harv}}-within-<ref> would not be discouraged, however in the future I'd personally !vote for deprecating them in favor of "book referencing" once that feature is completed and deployed. Anomie 00:58, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support. Would also support deprecation IRL. GPinkerton (talk) 01:35, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose per CITEVAR --Guerillero | Parlez Moi 02:10, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support – I use such references in real life on a daily basis, but they are not suited for Wikipedia. Given that we have technology available to minimise the disruption that such citations cause to the text, I think we should do so. I've been very happy to use the Harvard referencing templates. While others here seem to imply that this would discourage newcomers, on the contrary, WikiGnomes will come along and fix such things for them, ideally teaching them how to do it themselves! This is how most of this work gets done on Wikipedia, and there's no reason why it can't happen here. RGloucester 13:44, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose - this appears to be an attempt to abolish CITEVAR and forcing everybody to use the "one true" referencing system, as can be seen by User Anomie's comments, where they admit that their aim is to ban all short form referencing styles other than some mysterious "Book Referencing system which doesn't even exist yet - it seems designed to drive away editors in droves - and despite what the proposers say, this will undoubtly be used to bite content creators - just as the fact that the cite xx templates are supported by editing tools is used by ediotrs to force use of these templates, with frequent claims that they are "official".Nigel Ish (talk) 16:29, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
    You're assuming a lot of bad faith here. T8612 (talk) 19:26, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support a move away from parenthetical citations (per Alsee). I think that Wugapodes' concerns are worth considering in the sense that as things get more codified over time, people get more concerned about enforcing "the rules" (consider how much blood has been shed over MOS disputes), but on the flip side something like Trio sonata is a humongous mess. bibliomaniac15 19:13, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
    Not a comparison worth drawing. People get battlegroundy over MoS stuff for the specific reason that all fluent and even wannabe-fluent users of a language have an innate sense of mastery of the language and of what is "right" and "wrong" in it (i.e., what they were taught), even though those absolutist and prescriptivist feelings are objectively and linguistically nonsensical for the most part. Writing style is mostly arbitrary and subjective, and the main reasons we (like all other major publishers) have a house style on all those writing nit-picks is to present a fairly uniform reading experience, and to put to bed various tedious "style wars" that turn recurrent and circular. By contrast, no one is under a psychological illusion that one citation style is innately Right and another one an error. Everyone who even knows what a citation is knows that they come in different formats. Everyone of around high-school or higher education has already learned that they have to format citations differently for different classes, and everyone who publishes papers or other material professionally is entirely used to having to format citations to suit particular journals or other publishers (or to have the editors make that change for them). So, likening MoS squabbles to CITEVAR squabbles is a false analogy. They're only similar in that people get grouchy about it, and the word "style" is involved.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:23, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
    That is entirely reasonable, and I have no objections to that. But I also find it impossible to underestimate the singular ability of Wikipedians to debate about petty stuff... bibliomaniac15 02:43, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support I've suggested even mild versions of this before and gotten shot down, but it's the basic bare minimum of enforcing useful standards for our readers and editors. I don't find the concerns that it's going to materially affect contributions, since those people weren't reading our style guides to begin with. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs talk 20:55, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
    I dislike parenthetical citations too, but the point of CITEVAR is to let editors who work on an article use what they like, not necessarily what others like. First they came for parenthetical citations, and I supported the RfC, because I don't use parenthetical citations... Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:23, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
    Godwin's law. Please, for the love of [anything you swear by], do not again trivialize the Holocaust to engage in false-equivalence analogies and slippery-slope fallacies about citation formatting trivia. That's just so wrong in so many ways. If there were an actual slippery slope here, the end result of it would be just an entirely consistent citation style, which would actually be easier on everyone, from readers to editors. In what possible reality tunnel is that comparable to state-organized mass-murder of millions? FFS. If you didn't know the source of the phrase, I could let it slide, but you linked right to it and know exactly what you're doing.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:23, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
    Struck, since if you find it offensive no doubt others will too. I meant only to pick up the theme of escalation, not any of the other connotations. And shorn of the offensive metaphor I still think that’s the case. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:45, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - yes, time we used a form of referencing that suits an online encyclopedia. Parenthetical references have always been a carry-forward from some academic traditions rather than something which suits Wikipedia or its readers. That's not to say contributions with parenthetical references should be rejected, but we should establish the ref tags and templates as the preferred method of providing reference information. The Land (talk) 22:02, 10 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support for most of the reasons already given. In short, we should – like pretty much every other publisher on the planet – move toward a consistent in-house citation style. Even if we preserve various forms of field-specific divergence, we do not need to have every imaginable citation style running around on here, especially ones that only make sense in a paper context, like inline parentheticals. See also WP:NOT#JOURNAL. Mimicking old paper journal style is just annoying clutter for our readers, who are not academics and do not need things like "(Johnson 2005 pp. 345–352)" thrust in their face every sentence or so, when [7] will do just fine.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  02:23, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support. One of the biggest turn-offs for newbies. It almost certainly contributes to our high departure rate, and inhibits account creation by anons. It's a bore for established editors, too. Tony (talk) 02:46, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Tony1: What is your evidence for your claim that parenthetical citations is one of the biggest turn-offs for newbies, or that it almost certainly contributes to our high departure rate? Surely, it's much more of a turn-off for them - or even a reason to quit - when their content additions are frequently reverted on the grounds of being unsourced (even considering valid WP:BLP reverts). I've never once come across a newbie - or indeed an oldie - who has remarked something like "I've just found an article that uses parenthetical citations, and I can't work out how to do it, therefore I'm outta here." There are plenty who have quit because we won't let them create a page about the band they just formed in Bob's dad's garage.
    I'm even more at a loss to see how parenthetical citations inhibits account creation by anons - I completely fail to see the connection. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 11:27, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
    No, it is unlikely to be a turn-off for newbies, when it isn't that common. I can easily suggest a much more likely candidate. Suppose you're a newbie and you open a page in edit in edit mode, and you see this heap of incomprehensible and unreadable crap (taken from a page I happend to be looking at just before I first saw your post):
    During the war, Israel also damaged hospitals,<ref name=Haaretz-empty-Al-Wafa>{{cite web|last1=Cohen|first1=Gili; Hass,Amira; Khoury,Jack|title=Israel bombs empty Gaza hospital, calling it Hamas command center|url=||publisher=Haaretz Daily Newspaper Ltd.|accessdate=12 August 2014}}</ref> alleging they were concealing "hidden missiles".<ref name="washpost-hospitals">[] "Gaza's hospitals in the middle between Israel and Hamas", ''''; accessed 23 July 2014.</ref> A Finnish reporter team from [[Helsingin Sanomat]] life at the Gaza [[Al-Shifa hospital]] reported seeing rockets fired from near the Al-Shifa hospital.<ref>{{cite web|title=Reporter for Helsingin Sanomat confirms longstanding Israeli claims that Hamas missiles launched from the Shifa compound|url=}}</ref><ref>[,7340,L-4553643,00.html] "VIDEO: Finnish reporter sees rockets fired from Gaza hospital", [[ynet]], 2 August 2014.</ref> However, two Norwegian doctors who have been working at the hospital for decades have denied there was militant presence nearby, saying the last armed man they saw by the building was an Israeli doctor at the time of the [[First Intifada]].<ref>{{cite news|url=|title='Israel has stolen Gaza's future, and its hope'|date=2 August 2014|publisher=Haaretz}}</ref> The Washington Post described Al-Shifa hospital as a "de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices."<ref></ref> Nick Casey of the [[Wall Street Journal]] tweeted a photo of a Hamas official using Al-Shifa hospital for media interviews, but later deleted the tweet.<ref></ref> French-Palestinian journalist Radjaa Abu Dagg reported being interrogated by an armed Hamas member inside Al-Shifa hospital and ordered to leave Gaza.<ref></ref><ref></ref><ref></ref>
I doubt that more than one person in a thousand will want to edit Wikipedia after looking at that dungheap. How's that for "clutter"? --NSH001 (talk) 13:28, 18 August 2020 (UTC)
@NSH001: Your argument falls apart when you consider that new users are more likely to use the visual editor anyway. Noahfgodard (talk) 21:40, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • @NSH001: That's why I like list-defined references. But they do have the down-side that you need two separate section-edits to add text and reference. Pelagicmessages ) – (17:27 Thu 20, AEST) 07:27, 20 August 2020 (UTC)
    Indeed so. There are four different ways of gettting rid of dungheaps, and list-defined references is one of them. Each method has both advantages and disadvantages. I have written a tool (the ETVP script) which offers the choice of all four. You can see examples of its use at User:NSH001/ETVP/examples. But bear in mind that the ETVP script is private, so that only I can use it, although it might eventually become publicly available. --NSH001 (talk) 09:39, 20 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose Firstly, a pragmatic reason - adding citations from British History Online is cumbersome without bare formatted citations, because they are not provided in a Wikipedia compatible template so can't just be cut and pasted in. So unless a gnome is prepared to follow people and fix these up, I don't think it's practical. The second reason is, I believe this has the opportunity to make Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case/Civility in infobox discussions look like a vicarage tea party (at least if threads like these are anything to go by). Please, let's focus on making the encyclopedia better for the readers and not arising mighty conflicts from trivial things. Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 09:32, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
    • No! And how dare you use a hyphen instead of a dash? It's outrageous that an administrator would so openly flout our policies and guidelines![FBDB] Lev!vich 17:28, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose My mind was blown at the realisation Wikipedia doesn't even have a single standard citation format. Until such time as it does, it would seem cruel and unusual to start signling out individual forms as if they were somehow inferior, but the rest are cool beans, just use whatever you want, mix it up even. And besides, does Wikipedia ready need to be telling people who are used to using this particular format as part of their everyday writing, to get the hell out of here with their stupidness? Jenga Fet (talk) 19:41, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
    • There are valid reasons why using templated citations helps us to avoid WP:LINKROT and to maintain consistency within an article. Parenthetical referencing is one the few styles commonly used that doesn't use templates and therefore is an obvious target for singling out. Nevertheless, you make a good point that that the goodwill of editors is important to retain. --RexxS (talk) 20:08, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
      RexxS, what's {{harv}} then? --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 20:40, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
      @Redrose64: It's an obsolete template. --RexxS (talk) 20:52, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
      Obsolete why? Its doc page doesn't suggest that, and I can't find any deletion discussion other than this one from eight years ago, which closed as snow keep. --Redrose64 🌹 (talk) 21:54, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
      Obsolete because nobody uses it. It can be found in less than 0.1% of our articles, and most of those are misuses. See Darth Vader footnote #22 for a classic example of why we don't need it. --RexxS (talk) 22:05, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
    • Nobody here said that editors using the parenthesis style were stupid. Cut that. T8612 (talk) 20:56, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I suppose it is what I am used to from my academic background, but I like to read in the text who has written the reference and when, rather than have to move the cursor to find out. Secondly, it is often necessary to say what was written in a particular article. It looks much neater to write "Smith (1999) argued this", than "5 argued this". Having said that, I mostly do write using Wikipedia's common referencing style: but I want to retain the choice not to. Jmchutchinson (talk) 19:46, 11 August 2020 (UTC)
    "Smith argued this5". CMD (talk) 04:11, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support strong deprecation of this seldom used style that's at odds with how most editors work. In my academic papers I do use inline bracketed author/year style when I can, but for an encyclopedia it's really just a disruption to the reader, and in this case also to us writers who have to work on such articles. Dicklyon (talk) 00:37, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
  • SUPPORT I would suggest that this proposal is the opposite of CREEP as simplifying things such as referencing isn't a bad thing. Remember the K.I.S.S. principle is more helpful than hindrance to the newbies. Regards, GenQuest "Talk to Me" 03:01, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
    Very odd arguments. Parenthetical refs are extremely simple to do, above all for those not used to mark-up or templates. It's the reader who suffers from them. In practice they are these days almost exclusively used by newbies, who may well just leave their stuff unreferenced if told not to use them. Johnbod (talk) 04:08, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose First of all, this proposal is not well thought out. It does not make clear just which styles it is prohibiting. Secondly, I do not agree that all parenthetical styles get in the way for a reader, and of the ones that do, the sfn system, where a little blue number links to a parenthetical, which in turn links to a bibliography entry is in my view more confusing and harder to read (not just writer) than the form where an in-line parentheticl links directly to a bibliography entry. There are advantages to a bibliography orderd by author, or in some cases to one by date, particularly when sources cover a wide rangem of time. There is an advantage to the reader knowing witjhout following anything just who said what and when in some topics, as is pointed out above. But most of all, I think this weakening or abolition of WP:CITEVAR would set of a huge round of edit-warring. If we are going to start deprecating unusual citation formats, how about the much harder for non-specialist readers style of Bluebook, which some editors insist on in legal topics? How about mandating the use of citation templates, or at least the use of <ref>...</ref> tags? I'd actually love mandating list-defined references, but not many would agree. I can see a general statement that styles that use ref tags are favored. I'd like to add a statement favoring the use of citation templates. But we have enough trouble getting new editors to move beyond bare URLs. I think this will have little gain, adn the potential for major problems and a major time sink. DES (talk)DESiegel Contribs 15:59, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support no downside as far as I can see to preferring footnotes. The inline (Smith 2008) citations are in 99% of cases excessively distracting and actively work to prevent verifiability (page numbers); also per BD2412's point. (t · c) buidhe 21:42, 12 August 2020 (UTC)
    Whether any given citation will have page numbers or not is independed of the citation style. Every style allows you to have page numbers, and it's editor choice whether to supply them or not in each instance. – Uanfala (talk) 19:21, 17 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support ... to an extent. I tried to read all the above comments and I'm glad I did – because some very good opposing points were made (eg, by Wugapodes) which I wouldn't have considered at all. But after a couple of editors mentioned the Actuary article, I just had to follow the link there, and it really looks terrible. The inline parenthetical citations do no one any favours; it's a very poor visual presentation, and yet so easily avoided. I'd like to see them strongly discouraged here, if nothing else. As for considering new users, which is important, I think they should be advised to place all references (however they've chosen to word the content) within ref tags. I agree with the sentiment expressed above that adding these tags shouldn't present too much of a challenge for anyone. In academia and in general reference works, inline parenthetical citations are still widely used, yes, but I've found when writing articles here on 1960s popular music and society that titles by university presses in Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Chicago and the like will revert to footnote or endnote citations for books aimed at a more general readership. It seems to me we should follow that approach, because of the broad readership that Wikipedia attracts and to ensure information is presented on the page without unnecessary distractions.
I don't support advocating the use of only a "software-supported footnote system" instead (if I've understood the term correctly – it doesn't seem to me that WhatamIdoing got a clear answer above when asking for some clarification). Nor the idea that we should be looking to move towards a single citation method, as has been suggested also. If "software-supported" means cite 1/2 templates, then no, definitely not. I think the less control that is placed with a chosen few cite-template editors – with regard to options allowed within certain parameters and therefore how details are rendered on the page – the better. JG66 (talk) 12:05, 13 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support I don't come across this style very often here and looking at a few of the mentioned articles above I can see why. They are an eyesore that results in a sea of blue and inhibit the flow of the article. Some sentences are more reference than actual words. We have a standard style in as much as the vast majority of our articles use the little ref numbers and we are big enough and have been around long enough that this is the expected style for most users and readers. It should be encouraged to the point where changing any inline refs to numbers is not controversial, but the refs should not be outright deleted, converted to a completely different style or used as a bludgeon on newbies that might use it because that is the only style they know. Much like we wikify well meanong, but poorly formed articles at the moment. AIRcorn (talk) 23:02, 13 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I don't like this style, but that's no reason to tell people to stop using it. And, eventually, someone is going to use this RFC as a justification to come after a citation style that I do like. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 15:31, 14 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose per DGG, David Eppstein and others. We need to make adding references as easy as possible. Issues of consistency and style are tertiary at best. Paul August 15:55, 15 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support in the sense that this gives others the prerogative to convert parenthetical to footnote. Obviously parenthetical is better than nothing at all. But footnotes are better for readers and they have organically become our house style. Nothing about this makes references harder to add, as others have said. If some prefer doing parentheticals, gnomes will pass by and switch them over. Calliopejen1 (talk) 00:14, 16 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment. I have posted a request for a watchlist notice for this RfC here; please comment there if you have an opinion. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:19, 16 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose deprecation of any citation style. Much as I loathe certain styles, WP:CITEVAR is as much a bulwark against divisive and ultimately pointless edit-warring as WP:ENGVAR and WP:ERA. Our core policies include WP:V, but they do not include WP:MOS; consistency of appearance within an article is desirable, between articles is a minor matter or even counter-productive, since some readers' preferences and fields' conventions will inevitably not be represented after non-conforming pages are changed to conform. Encouraging people to provide citations, and further encouraging them to go beyond bare links and in-line links on text in doing so, is a high priority and this would discourage some, in-line references are doing no harm, and I would rather have the gnomes perform useful tasks; there's already far too much tinkering with citation formats using AWB. Yngvadottir (talk) 23:43, 16 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose complete deprecation wihout prejudice against preffering other styles in the vast majority of cases per those above. — Godsy (TALKCONT) 13:12, 17 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support We no longer need to tolerate other styles. The sorts of editors some of you think will come to Wikipedia with parenthetical references either don't exist or can learn another way. Chris Troutman (talk) 13:46, 17 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support It is both confusing and hypocritical to enforce WP:MOS to gain uniformity of appearance in every other aspect of or appearance except referencing. Good quality, standardised presentation of information is essential, and references are one of the most important elements of our pages. Yet our guidance on how to do it has been woefully inadequate for years, and we have allowed multiple approaches to referencing, which I doubt no publisher or journal would countenance. And I say this as an author of books and papers who has used parenthetical referencing in print.
Just read through the lead of Actuary to appreciate how laughable it is to have this awkward and glaringly different style to reference presentation within a Wikipedia article, and then consider that Feature Article candidates have to fuss over whether em- or en-dashes are used correctly, and innumerable other minutiae. Our non-standard approach to encouraging one form of referencing seems akin to the The Emperor's New Clothes. We can all see there's an issue, but we've gone along for so long believing having multiple standards is OK that it has become ingrained, and we refuse to see there's a problem. Rather than worry about putting off academic contributors who are, by definition, relatively clever individuals who are capable of adapting, we should worry about ensuring all other new editors are encouraged to use one style for inline citations and be willing to see articles actively converted to that preferred house style for referencing, just as we do for everything else here.
The argument for keeping inline parenthetical citations on Wikipedia because social scientists and others prefer it is akin to me, as a naturalist, demanding that we allow capital letters for common names of plants and animals in all articles directly about a species because that's how naturalists prefer to see them written, because it avoids confusion. Wikipedia agreed one approach on that, and we should stick to it; we should now accept the blindingly obvious, and start cleaning up the multiple approaches we have too long tolerated and encouraged for referencing. Nick Moyes (talk) 23:36, 17 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. The obvious benefits far outweigh the (mostly theoretical) costs. Yilloslime (talk) 03:27, 18 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Very strong oppose. In my opinion, this proposal is a non-starter and should never be allowed to pass.
    The proposer mentions the Actuary article. Since I am an actuary myself (but long retired) this article has been on my watchlist from almost the day I joined Wikipedia in 2006. The article was written by the excellent User:Avraham ("Avi" for short) – another actuary - one of Wikipedia's best admins and bureaucrats, widely respected for his consistent hard work, integrity, sound judgement, and scrupulous adherence to Wikipedia's policies. Sadly he's not very active on Wikipedia at the moment, but it would be good to see him back and contributing to this discussion.
    Anyway, the citation style on Actuary has never bothered me. It's not my preferred style, but there is nothing wrong with it. If the "clutter" bothers people that much, there are a few simple changes that I've mentioned on Talk:Actuary to deal with it such as reducing the number of citations in the lead (per policy, a lead without any citations at all is perfectly fine if the material is sourced elsewhere in the article) and, as far as possible, keeping citations to the end of sentences.
    No, the "problem" (if it is a problem, which I don't think it is) is not the citation style but the particular arrangement of citations on that article, easily fixed. It is also worth noting that this is a Featured Article, and if the citation style really were a problem, it would have been dealt with by FA reviewers by now. I quote from what I wrote on talk:Actuary,

    Firstly, I remain unconvinced by the "complaints" argument. Rather, they appear to me as people saying, "I haven't seen this before, therefore I don't like it". Like anything new, it is possible to get used to it, and maybe eventually appreciate its advantages

    It just so happens that recently I have been doing more editing on mathematics articles. There are good reasons for not using superscripted citations in mathematics articles. One of them is obvious: superscripts, when placed next to a mathematical expression, can easily be misinterpreted as part of the expression. (The same applies to chemistry formulae). But the objection goes much further than that.
    Take an article I happened to be working on quite recently: monster group, which is written using parenthetical referencing. Then think how you would change it to use superscripted referencing. Firstly, the job wouldn't be easy, and secondly the result would be worse, not better. The last thing we need is a policy change that would make (some) articles worse. And I say "No, thank you" to the endless, counter-productive, time-wasting edit-warring that would result.
    No, we should allow editors to use, at their discretion, whatever is the best citation style for a particular article. And if someone thinks the citation style on an individual article should be changed, we already have in place policies that work fine: WP:CITEVAR and WP:CITESTYLE.
    Now let's deal with some of the points raised by the proposer and others here.
    • The proposer opens by referring to an Arbcom case from 2006 that underpins the current WP:CITEVAR, opining that things have changed since then, and arguing from that that we should deprecate in-line parenthetical referencing. Now some things have indeed changed since then. The biggest issue, as I remember it from 2006, was whether or not manual citations should be converted to use citation templates. Some very well known and high-profile editors argued firmly against using citation templates. The result was a policy that Wikipedia neither encourages nor discourages the use of cite templates (I'm paraphrasing here). As far as I'm aware this policy still stands, de jure. But in practice every day I see editors busy converting manual citations into templates. (By the way, they do a very bad job of this, because the citation-generating tools they use are so bad.) Mostly, this policy is de facto ignored.
      Back in 2006, there was strong justification for avoiding cite templates. Because of technical limitations, the range of options they offered was inadequate, and they were computationally very inefficient (in plain English: very slow). An article citing about 400 sources using templates took around 5 minutes to load (I'm thinking of Gaza War (2008–2009)). Those editors favouring manual citations liked the detailed control they could have, which was not afforded by the then-available templates. Nowadays, thanks to some hard work by some brilliant technical people, these objections have mostly been met, and the new templates run several orders of magnitude faster than the old ones. So I personally strongly favour the use of templates, but nevertheless I still think, on principle, that editors should be allowed to use manual citations if they wish.
      The point I am (laboriously) coming to is this: Yes, things move on, which does make a difference on the question of cite templates. But there is no comparable change – or "moving on" – that makes any difference at all to the question of parenthetical referencing.
    • The main objection – that it "clutters" the text – is a matter of personal taste, not of principle. Once you get used to it, you begin to appreciate its advantages. On articles like monster group, the advantages over superscripted referencing are obvious. Parenthetical referencing reads naturally and easily there, much better than superscripted citations would do.
      Like short-form referencing and list-defined references, parenthetical referencing has the advantage of moving the clutter of huge citation templates out of the body of the article. It shares, with short-form referencing, the advantage of providing a nice, neat, alphabetically ordered bibliographic listing at the end of the article. On top of that, it has the advantage over short-form of dispensing completely with a "citations" section, and of requiring one less click to get there. Readers can also see, right there in the text, who has written the source, and when, complete with page number(s) if applicable. No need to carefully manoeuvre the mouse either to hover over the superscript or click on it to see what lies underneath.
      Coming back to Actuary again, such minor objections as exist can be dealt with by normal editing to the lead. Just read through the whole article again, please. Apart from the lead, it reads perfectly fine and easily. There is no need to ditch parenthetical referencing.
    • I haven't bothered to repeat the points made by Wugapodes, but I urge readers to go back and read them. Similarly for the excellent contributions made by users DGG, David Eppstein and Finnusertop.
  • This is a bad change on principle, for the same reason that I favour allowing editors to use manually formatted citations if they wish to, even though I am personally strongly in favour of using cite templates.
    This is a really, really bad proposal. Just think about the obvious stupidity of banning a perfectly fine citation style, that is indeed the best for some articles, just because someone might have put a few too many citations in the lead of one particular article. This proposal should be firmly buried where it belongs, six feet under, and permanently, with no hope of resurrection, please. --NSH001 (talk) 07:43, 18 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support proposal. While I understand the wishes of editors to use the style they are most comfortable with, in a more wide view, that is counterproductive to the wiki. Readers going from one article to another and wishing to check the sources need to adjust to a new style. The inline style is much less reader friendly than the ref style that allows the reader to view the source without cluttering the text and without forcing them to scroll down the page, leaving the spot they were at. --Gonnym (talk) 08:36, 18 August 2020 (UTC)
    Err, parenthetical referencing doesn't "force" anyone to scroll down the page, nor leave the place they were at. Quite the opposite. --NSH001 (talk) 09:04, 18 August 2020 (UTC)P
    Please use my words in the context they were written - allows the reader to view the source [...] without forcing them to scroll down the page - you cannot view a complete source of "(Thomas 2012) without scrolling down the page. --Gonnym (talk) 09:38, 18 August 2020 (UTC)
    Yes you can, provided the page is using one of the {{harv}} family of templates. I suppose this is another example of the poorly expressed nature of the proposal, which mentions in-line text parenthetical citations, but then goes on to object about Actuary, whose parenthetical citations are entirely template based. --NSH001 (talk)
  • Support per proposal: parenthetical citations clutter the text and make reading more difficult. Having read all of the counter-arguments above, and checked all of the example pages, none of it persuades me that the benefits of keeping the style outweigh the disadvantages. MichaelMaggs (talk) 09:57, 18 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. First off, I don't see a need for such a new rule, as in-line parenthetical citations are already pretty rare, and in articles aimed at the most general readership they are almost non-existent. On the other hand, in some specialised articles (think for example of obscure topics in abstract algebra), they are likely to be as familiar to the readers as they are to the writers of those articles. And even when <ref>-formatted citations are used there would sometimes be a case where the fact of who wrote the cited text, or when they wrote it, is of encyclopedic relevance. Then a parenthetical citation is the most economic way to convey that fact; the alternative of using a footnote and then expanding the prose with the relevant information would actually add more clutter. And as pointed out by NSH001, on some topics (like mathematics), references in the form of superscript numbers have the potential to interfere with the content. Furthermore, as has been explained by Wugapodes, DGG, Finnusertop and others, banning this citation style will deter potential new editors that we do not want deterred, and enforcing the ban will drive away existing editors that we don't want driven away.
    Yes, in some cases (including articles aimed at a general audience, like Actuary), converting away from in-line parenthetical citations will lead to improved presentation. Instead of adopting a blanket ban, editors can instead consider attempting thoughtful conversions (like at the actuary article, but as pointed out by NSH001, even then it may not necessarily be the best solution). It also seems to me that the advantages for readability have been overstated in this discussion. Parenthetical references make it a lot easier for a reader to go back and forth between the text and the sources (especially in comparison with the {{sfn}} system where they have to always click through the footnotes). – Uanfala (talk) 14:43, 18 August 2020 (UTC)
    • Our articles are supposed to be "understandable to as many as possible" and "written in simple English language as non-experts can understand properly" (Stevertigo et al 2005). This is particularly important in specialized articles about obscure topics. We shouldn't be dividing the encyclopedia into "accessible" and "experts-only" sections. pburka (talk) 16:30, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
      • Well, our articles have to be accessible to the people will read them. I don't think we should try making articles accessible to people who will not read them. How, and why, would we try to make Enantioselective synthesis or M-estimator easily comprehensible by a completely lay audience? For a reader to end up looking up any of those topics in the first place they will need to have had some interest in and familiarity with the broader academic subjects. – Uanfala (talk) 19:15, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. The nomination sums up quite well why this would be a good idea, with the key takeaway that it is reader experience that is all-important here, with editor experience a secondary consideration to that. And articles such as Actuary, with its awkward insertion of refs in and amongst the text, provide the perfect example of why that style should be deprecated. Of course, this does not mean that we reject anyone's submissions or go around deleting text, because they've only supplied cites in the inline format. It just means that the arcane rule prohibiting gnomes from converting such cites into the standard footnote format should be scrapped. As a final point, it was said above that the present permissive arrangements prevent disputes because editors can just do what they like, and changing the format is banned. I would argue the contrary - standardising on one format is what really gets rid of disputes, because once that format is established, there is no basis for ever again having to discuss which one should be used even where two regular editors on an article disagree. Cheers  — Amakuru (talk) 15:11, 18 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support progressive deprecation. The plethora of citation styles exists to the detriment of visual consistency. I see no reason why parenthetical citations cannot easily be put within ref tags. If editors want to copy in some CC text for a new article, it wouldn't stop another editor who likes working on cites to come in afterwards and put them into the defined style. -- Ohc ¡digame! 08:38, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support For a host of reasons already mentioned. If there are really {potential} editors out there who find it an insurmountable technical challenge to write <ref>Bloggs 2003</ref> instead of (Bloggs 2003), they probably aren't going to last long here anyway. Chuntuk (talk) 10:59, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support formally preferring footnote-style citations, oppose formal deprecation of inline parenthetical citations. Support allowing / encouraging gnomes to convert inline parenthetical citations to footnotes without the requirement of adding content, provided the article is not in the process of being built out by an editor employing parenthetical citations. With respect to User:NSH001 and awareness of my own potential ignorance, the benefits of using parenthetical over footnote citations in monster group are anything but obvious to me. I would additionally assert that the blockquoted wikitext example from human shield in response to User:Tony1's support does not meaningfully impugn the edit-side readability of footnoted citations, as there is no guidance to editors either to define their named references in the text of the prose where they first occur, nor to do so without non-rendering whitespace in the template call parameters, although I will readily grant that most editors do in fact engage in both of those practices. I don't think there's any reason why we can't prefer footnoted citations and also ask editors to try to make their references legible enough that the article prose can still be understandable in the edit window without too much effort. <3 Folly Mox (talk) 20:48, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
    Tony1 made an assertion about what he thought drove editors away; I responded why I thought that was unlikely, and gave a much more likely explanation why newbies are driven away. There's a good reason I call it the dungheap citation style. I state on my talk page why it will drive me away if it can't be fixed. If it almost drives me away, an editor with 14+ years experience, just imagine what a newbie is going to think. I stay because I can still work on articles that are not in the dungheap style, and I have developed a tool (the ETVP script) I can use to get rid of dungheaps, although its use is restricted by WP:CITEVAR and WP:CITESTYLE (as it should be).
    My main point in replying to Tony was to correct his assertion about what drives potential editors away. I remain very strongly opposed to the proposal to deprecate a whole valid and useful citation style (in the process overturning long-standing policies that have been proven to work) – as I'm glad to see you do too. That doesn't mean I'm against footnotes, far from it (it's still possible to use footnotes without creating a dungheap). All the articles I've ever written have used footnotes. Authors should use whatever is the right style for the topic, and that might be parenthetical, list-defined references, or short-form, or even a mixture of these, if sensible.
    You might wish to bold the "oppose" part of your response, for clarity. On monster group, User Uanfala makes some useful comments above. Encouraging gnomes to go around converting parenthetical to something else, without first gaining consensus on the talk page, is a really, really bad idea, which will just lead to time wasting and edit-warring. --NSH001 (talk) 22:58, 19 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. They're used in a vanishingly small minority of articles and are very distracting and unexpected in those articles. We should aim for some baseline level of consistency in how we present our articles to the world. This, that and the other (talk) 10:19, 21 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support because the in-line format is disruptive to the reader (the person we exist to serve), and probably harder than other formats for editors (especially newer ones) to get right; we should be aiming at making both reading and editing easier; happy days, LindsayHello 10:57, 21 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment.
    • Many of the contributions I see here are based on a quick and superficial look at the Actuary article. The problems there can be easily fixed by normal editing, as I've outlined at talk:Actuary. You're all trying to cure the wrong problem.
    • It's silly to ban a valid and useful citation style for the wrong reason.
    • Parenthetical referencing actually has some compelling advantages. I've highlighted some of them in my earlier contribution.
    • In some cases, parenthetical referencing actually improves the appearance of the article.
    • Here are some articles using parenthetical referencing: Falling cat problem, Fréchet algebra, Graph algebra, Harmonic Maass form, Mock modular form, Monster group, W-algebra. None of these would be improved by switching to superscripted citations. Mandating such a change smacks of Stalinist/Soviet-era totalitarianism. Not to speak of the colossal waste of time involved. And, by the way, trying to change the style in those articles wouldn't be easy.
    • My view remains that parenthetical referencing is an underused and under-appreciated citation style. It isn't my usual or preferred style, but this RfC has resulted in my appreciating its advantages more fully. I'm already using it partly, and in a very small way.
    • Think of parenthetical referencing as a variant of short-form, which nobody here seems to have any objection to. It's very close to short-form in many ways (as shown by the fact that the {{sfn}}} and {{harv}} families of templates work in basically the same way). Parenthetical gives you the advantage of getting rid of a whole section at the end, and making it a little easier to access the full citations. The trade-off is the "cost" of a small amount of additional text in the body of the article. That "cost" can be minimised by careful editing, most notably by keeping citations as far as possible to the end of sentences.
    • Like short-form (see, I told you, it has a lot in common with short-form!) it gives you a nice, neat, alphabetically-ordered bibliographic list of citations at the end, in contrast to {{reflist}} where the order is more-or-less random (the order in which the cites appear in the wikitext).
      --NSH001 (talk) 13:26, 21 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support, in-line format is cluttery and less accessible. No need to mass-change existing articles, let's just not add any more of it. Stifle (talk) 15:39, 21 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong Support. Parenthetical "citations" are hideous and reader-hostile, and I hate them with every fiber of my being. –♠Vami_IV†♠ 18:46, 21 August 2020 (UTC)
but I truly the current "cite" format, tho I use it to conform to existing style when convenient. We each have our own very strong preferences, and judging by what type of format we individually" hate " is not cooperative nor productive. DGG ( talk ) 03:18, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support In none of the few articles that use this that I have seen have inline citations been an improvement; they are clutter. I think it's okay to mention the source as part of the prose ("Author (2020) says...") when appropriate, but "This is a fact (Author 2020)" and not using the standard footnote citations should not be done. Reywas92Talk 07:20, 22 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support not introducing them into new articles and grandfathering in articles that already use parenthetical inline citations.--Esprit15d • talkcontribs 11:34, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support not introducing them into new articles, or at least discouraging their use, but grandfathering in articles that already use parenthetical inline citations. I think this is the compromise I've been waiting for. Certes (talk) 12:06, 24 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Continuing to oppose: If I had to recommend any single style, I'd not only permit but recommend parenthetical citations for any but the most complicated articles--they're immensely easier to write, and I find them easier to easy to read. It's obvious not everyone agrees--most people seem to prefer other styles, and I think that our system of permitting any consistent style whatever has merits. DGG ( talk ) 18:27, 25 August 2020 (UTC)
I disagree that in-line parenthetical references are immensely easier to write. Ref-tag citations can be as simple as copy-pasting a URL between two ref tags and you're done (I know, bare URLs are not recommended...). In-line citations require something in the main text and a full entry in the post-article section. --HyperGaruda (talk) 20:25, 28 August 2020 (UTC)
Have you ever done any training of new editors? I'm guessing not. Parenthetical references (which I don't like at all) require zero knowledge of wiki mark-up, which is a big barrier in itself for most new editors. Johnbod (talk) 02:47, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Lake Ptolemy is an example of a GA that uses parenthetical referencing. And it looks awful and unWikipedia-ish, like a college paper. Even readers are bound to wonder whether they've landed at the wrong website when they see this. SD0001 (talk) 15:57, 28 August 2020 (UTC)
the way I'd word this is that WP is so well noted for a confusing style of citation and writing, and an obsolete appearance and awkward layout, that anything simple and clear looks like it isn't WP. DGG ( talk ) 04:02, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
Really? Is that your best argument? Some misplaced nostalgia for messyness? --Francis Schonken (talk) 04:41, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
It's arguable whether the parenthetical style is "simple and clear" for anyone other than academics. It comes back to the question of whether we write WP for the experts or for the lay readers. Subject experts would probably prefer to see parenthetical referencing. But I'd reckon the majority of readers aren't academics, and haven't come across this style except from a few college papers written all those years ago.
That being said, the {{harv}} and {{sfn}} templates are syntactically very similar, so it'd possible to have a gadget that makes {{sfn}}s show up like {{harv}}s (or vice versa) as per the user's preference. SD0001 (talk) 05:10, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
Comment No wonder you thought that Lake Ptolemy looked bad. Whoever wrote it incorrectly put the citations after punctuation. The result was that all the in-line citations appeared to start sentences and clauses to which they had absolutely no relevance at all, and were disconnected from the statements they were supposed to support, making the whole thing unreadable. I'm surprised it passed GA in that condition. Anyway, I fixed it here using my ETVP script. I think it reads perfectly fine now, and the citations now support the statements they're supposed to.
But the main point that should be drawn from this is that I keep seeing so many editors taking a quick, superficial look and failing to identify the real problem (and the real problem isn't parenthetical citations). --NSH001 (talk) 05:03, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
But that's exactly what so many of our readers do: take a quick, superficial look -- and articles with inline parentheticals in blue, indistinguishable from links, reduce the readability and approachability of the article. Retswerb (talk) 06:20, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
No, no, no, you've completely missed the point. Here I am talking about editors in a RfC being superficial, and as a result coming to the wrong conclusion. The whole point is that any problems with Actuary can be fixed by normal editing, without ditching parenthetical citations. The problem there is not parenthetical citations, yet people here keep on responding as if it were. But since you raise the point that (allegedly) parenthetical citations reduce readability, that's not true in general either. A parenthetical cite (PC) at the end of a paragraph never interrupts the text (and in fact is a slight improvement); similarly a PC at the end of a sentence is little or no interruption. A PC of the form "(Smith 1990) found that ..." also reads perfectly fine. I'll concede that a PC in the middle of a sentence can sometimes be intrusive, but careful editing can usually avoid that. Plus the attractiveness or otherwise of the format is a matter of taste or opinion. And it certainly doesn't justify a Stalinist/totalitarian ban on a valid and useful citation style. --NSH001 (talk) 08:20, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Great example! This would seem to violate WP:OVERLINK to me: There's so much blue repeating the authors' names, the clutter makes it harder to skim or read the article. No one needs to read the authors' names over and over as they try to read the actually meaningful content. And no, the location of the punctuation is not the issue, it still looks awful! How in the world are numbered footnotes confusing? Reywas92Talk 02:27, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support: I stumbled upon this discussion after gazing in awe at Sepermeru. It felt like the entire citation shebang was used as in-line reference, making me sometimes wonder where the main text would continue. At the very least the ban on undiscussed style conversion from in-line parenthetical refs should be lifted. I would not mourn if in-line parenthetical referencing were completely deprecated, but it might be step too far for some. --HyperGaruda (talk) 20:14, 28 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - articles that use this archaic style are hard to read and hard to verify. I felt that way when I was a student and nothing has changed! Simply use ref-tag in-line citations like the vast majority of articles. GiantSnowman 20:44, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
    Comment No, they're not "hard to verify". As long as they're making proper use of the {{harv}} family of templates, and a proper target exists in the bibliography, they're actually slightly easier to verify. --NSH001 (talk) 09:08, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per standartization, consistency, ease of maintenance, and readability. —  HELLKNOWZ   ▎TALK 20:56, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - it should be discouraged on new articles; and editors should feel free to transition existing articles. Refs are easy to program and mass update, and keep the text clean. We shouldn't let limitations that exist on physical paper dictate what we do in an online encyclopedia where technology can be used to provide even better features. — Starforce13 21:03, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support VisualEditor and other tools have improved the ability to add/edit refs without using the in-line shorthands. Thosbsamsgom (talk) 21:11, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per Thosbsamsgom. There was a reason to allow different styles back before VisualEditor and the related tools made it trivially easy to create citations in the standard format. Now there is no such reason, and a number of reasons to demand consistency. The strongest is ease of verification: even a bare, non template-ified reference formatted using ref tags is vastly easier to check than an inline parenthetical ref. AleatoryPonderings (talk) 21:20, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - I have a personal preference not to see parenthetical citations, but if it were just my personal preference I wouldn't be !voting here. The reason I'm throwing in for the support camp is indirect: the citation toolbar in the Visual Editor (or whatever it's called these days) which allows easy creation and editing of citations has been, in my experience, the single most important development for the new user learning process. That is, it makes citations easy. It has major limitations and drawbacks at present (don't get me started on the ":0" naming, for example), but it's a great step in the right direction. I would support most measures which try to standardize the way citations are input. That's not to say there should be inflexibility in the way we display citations, however. The more we can standardize the input process, the easier it is for new users and the easier it is to develop tools that work -- to provide flexibility in the display, to streamline complicated processes (even for experienced editors), to automatically fix errors, to make more powerful bots, etc. I know this isn't a proposal for standardization, but it's a step in the right direction, away from a process that's far removed from the way the vast majority of editors do things (and the way all of our new user training materials say to do). — Rhododendrites talk \\ 21:20, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - I don;t feel stringly about this, but I'm supportin' because inline parentheticals don't gather the references in a separate section which can be easily browsed. Beyond My Ken (talk) 21:26, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
Actually, that's exactly what they do do. Johnbod (talk) 21:50, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - Software-supported footnotes are easier to read and access, provide clearer information, and look much less messy than parantheticals. So long as templates like Template:Sfn and Template:Harv would still be in use, I think moving away from inline text parantheticals is a great idea. Noahfgodard (talk) 21:33, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
@Noahfgodard: I don't understand your comment. You support deprecating parenthetical short-references as long as the templates that generate parenthetical short-references are still used? That makes no sense. Note that the wording of the RFC does not distinguish between references like (Author 2020) (a reference that in most cases clutters the text and would be better as a footnote), references like "Author1 (2018) wrote that ... but Author2 (2020) disagreed, writing..." (a parenthetical reference where the author name is part of the article text and is presumably relevant as content rather than purely as a reference), and references using sfn (parenthetical references within footnotes), and later clarifications by the proposer have indicated hostility to all of these forms). —David Eppstein (talk) 01:44, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
@David Eppstein: To quote the proposer, "I am not proposing we ban ALL parenthetical references. I am merely proposing that we do not use inline, non software based, text parentheticals. This is NOT a proposal to ban Template:sfn, or Template:Harv (as long as it is properly nested in a ref tag)." Thus, the third option you provide is appropriate, but inline parantheticals are not. That being said, it seems like perhaps I (and the proposer) misunderstand the use of Template:Harv, in that I (we) support the use/function of Template:sfn, but likely not that of Template:Harv. Noahfgodard (talk) 03:25, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support – Moving away from in-line parenthetical citations would make formatting more consistent and verification/usage easier. - Flori4nK tc 21:34, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Wugapodes, DGG and several others. - SchroCat (talk) 21:52, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose, mainly for the reasons articulated by David Eppstein. There are various situations where the use of parenthetical referencing notation is encyclopedically preferable and advisable. Taking away that option for the sake of blanket uniformity would be a mistake. I would perhaps be cautiously in favor of something like what xaoflux is proposing, but only assuming that various conditional provisos are mentioned. Nsk92 (talk) 22:03, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support, seems like this style is more difficult to read in translations. Semper Fi! FieldMarine (talk) 22:04, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support, hyperlinking between references and footnotes makes it easier to assess validity. Easier to read. BennH (talk | contribs) 09:04, 31 August 2020 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 2 (citations)

  • Strong support – As others have noted, just look at the articles on Sepermeru and actuaries for how awful this looks. Plus, if all citations in an article are enclosed in <ref> tags, it's much easier for the references to be processed via scripting. I am also very surprised that anyone is opposed to this. Brad (talk) 21:18, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
    Comment Wrong on both counts. The Sepermeru article has nothing to do with the parenthetical style (or any other style), and the "problems" on Actuary can be dealt with by normal editing, as I've already pointed out, more than once. --NSH001 (talk) 05:45, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Lots of new editors, particularly academics, are used to using parenthetical citations. Forcing them to learn a different style - either from the outset or after another editor or bot has changed what they wrote to use a different style - would be one more barrier to entry and we have too many barriers already. Clayoquot (talk | contribs) 22:02, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support for the sake of consistency and as the version used on a lesser amount of articles. Steel1943 (talk) 22:43, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. It's OK to have a standard and this change would enable prose generally easier for the reader. I don't support enforcement in a draconian way that discourages inexperienced editors from contributing. Airborne84 (talk) 22:46, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose. we should welcome citations in any form at the encyclopedia anyone can edit. Feoffer (talk) 22:48, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose (for now) mostly per David E. and DGG, but the "for now" is when visual editor is available on every page and inserting and editing footnotes is easy for new users, I can see revisiting this discussion. But at present, the way of editing a footnote is still far too difficult, while parenthetical citation with bibliography is much easier. -- Michael Scott Cuthbert (talk) 22:59, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly Support This proposal will help standardize the content in our project. I don't think this proposal should or will cause an editor's work to be reverted if they use inline parenthetical citation style. Instead, another editor can come along and wikify it. Academics, people and students who write papers off-wiki have to adhere to the preferences of who they are submitting their papers to for publication or evaluation. I think it's expected that Wikipedia has their own style and we ask editors who publish with us to adhere to it or expect someone to come along and "fix" it. The most persuasive argument for its removal is parenthetical citations make articles harder to read because of the extra "clutter". Numbered citations are less cumbersome and should be encouraged for our project. Z1720 (talk) 23:03, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support simplifying the referencing system and hyperlinks are more intuitive for non-academic readers. Cheers, 1292simon (talk) 23:07, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Yngvadottir. --JBL (talk) 23:08, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong Support. There are many more readers of Wikpedia than editors, and many more readers who just want to read the article to get information out of it and not study it as if it were in a learned journal asking for peer review, and I'm quite sure that through-readers are more numerous than conscientious citation-checkers.[citation needed]. From WP:NOT: "Wikipedia articles should not read like...Academic language". I'd claim even further: the more academically abstruse a subject is, the more we should aid understanding for an intelligent reader, and a fluent reading experience is essential for that. Even if you understand its meaning (and how many readers actually do so?) the parenthetical citation is a log rolled in the path of understanding and can break up the mental parsing of a well-written sentence or paragraph. To be honest, I've always even hated little blue superscript numbers because they are like a little thorn in my eyeball; even those little things get mentally "read" and break up the prose (yes, I know I could CSS them into invisibility). What's more, I support encouraging editors to convert them to <ref>-style citations when they come across them. Have I mentioned how much I despise them? David Brooks (talk) 23:13, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Wugapodes but also mainly as this is unenforceable and I am generally opposed to unenforceable non-policies. I don’t think I’ve read the MOS once in my time as an editor and I have 11 GAs and a featured list to my name (less than many, but it’s also not nothing.) Anyone who is a competent enough writer who wants to use parenthetical citations is going to use them anyway and that’s okay. This change would have no actual impact on the way people write articles because 1) most people don’t use it anyway and 2) IAR is best used on MOS type stuff, which this is, so the people who want to keep using it if it fits their subject matter will anyway.
    Tl;dr: this would be unenforceable and it’s not common enough now where even if it was enforced it would have any impact. TonyBallioni (talk) 23:15, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support for the benefit of the typical reader. Tdslk (talk) 23:16, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per most of the above. Inline citations are disruptive to the smooth flow of reading a text and I have personally always used the Chicago Manual of Style wherever possible. That said, I don't think we need to be uber-dogmatic about this. Where articles exist with inline citations, if there is a reasonable argument for why they are best in that situation and they are supported by a strong local consensus, then let them be. But I do think their use should generally be discouraged. -Ad Orientem (talk) 23:27, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose per CITEVAR. I don't see a convincing reason for this and fear it will deter new editors who are used to this style. --Tom (LT) (talk) 23:35, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Yes, citations in this style will almost certainly make an article difficult to read. 41618CCEC (talk) 23:37, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose It's not worth forcing it sooner than it naturally would, which we would expect it to if it ought to at all. Usedtobecool ☎️ 23:41, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose Using a certain style of citation should be optional, not forced on other contributors simply because another editor doesn't like it or doesn't know how to implement it in articles. Or it looks "better" or "more organized"...whatever the hell that means. The only thing that matters is that content is supported by a citation. I'm sure if this passes, another similar discussion will occur concerning era-style via WP:ERA where this community decides to force other editors to use only one era-style, and I'm sure such a discussion will backfire. I prefer the "academic" style...whatever the hell that means. People, if you don't want an academic-style article, there's the Simple English Wikipedia. Jerm (talk) 23:48, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose Wikipedia shouldn't be dictating that perfectly fine citation styles are unacceptable without a pretty good reason, and the only reasons I've seen is that individual editors don't like it and for consistency; if we truly wanted consistency over individual choice, however, then we would mandate a specific style. We shouldn't be making it harder for academic newcomers to contribute, and all I see out of this proposal is a step in that direction. Zoozaz1 (talk) 23:50, 29 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support: While most articles obviously use a footnote style of reference, the few that use parenthetical references appear jarring, I think to readers and editors alike. For readers, it breaks up the text flow and is massively inconsistent with most articles. As an editor, they annoy me because (1) they are hard to track throughout any article longer than a stub, (2) they are often broken (e.g. just an author's last name and year of publication, but no corresponding footnote), (3) MediaWiki's <ref> system and our citation templates are more flexible through the use of abstraction, (4) they encourage the omission of a page number, and (5) they work well for books and journal papers, but not for websites (i.e. {{cite web}}), which account for upwards of 90% of the sources I encounter on all topics outside of liberal arts and medicine. To those concerned about discouraging new editors, I would reiterate the above proposal is for replacing parenthetical references with standard footnote-based ones; there is no need to pounce on editors who contribute content with parenthetical references. – voidxor 00:06, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support I lean to standardization so the encyclopedia looks more cohesive and recognizable to the reader. This style is rarely used and looks awful. When I first saw an article with these citations, my first thought was that I was on the wrong site or the page citations were rendering improperly. MB 00:12, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. Clunky and messy. Bye bye, parentheses! 👋 —Biscuit-in-Chief :-) (/tɔːk//ˈkɒntɹɪbs/) 00:16, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. Check Actuary to see how god awful it looks. Moriori (talk) 00:22, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
Yeah, that is pretty clunky. We really should discourage its use. -Ad Orientem (talk) 00:40, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
@Moriori and Ad Orientem: And Aristobulus I? Jerm (talk) 00:58, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
This looks fine. This is not using parenthetical citations... Reywas92Talk 02:38, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. We're an online encyclopaedia - let's embrace that. Popcornfud (talk) 01:20, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - These look awful and IMHO shouldn't be in articles unless absolutely necessary, Agreed with the above they're confusing and make reading articles hard work!. –Davey2010Talk 01:33, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - We're not an academic journal and have no reason to look like one. Some consistency to our style should be expected for ease of use. I realize this may take some adjustment for new editors coming from academia - if some resources can be created to ease their transition, I imagine that would be worth investing effort. In the end, our users will benefit from a consistent reading experience across all our articles. Radagast (talk) 02:04, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose - The important thing is the citation, not the style of it. If parenthetical citations are not preferred for an article, they can be reformatted to the preferred style. I personally hate the cite template and find it very difficult to use, so it must be even worse for inexperienced editors. Let them have their parenthetical citations. MaxBrowne2 (talk) 02:20, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose outright deprecation but support updating WP:Parenthetical referencing to strongly encourage the conversion of existing parenthetical citations to the software-supported footnote system (per Alsee). Armadillopteryx 02:31, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support, although I rarely see this on Wikipedia any more. Anyway, the parenthetical style is prone to gaming, it's messy, and it interrupts the flow of information and text. One of the reasons Wikipedia has whatever respect it now does is because of our use of footnoted and instantly checkable and generally clickable citations (and barring that "citation needed" tags). Parenthetical citations are obviously a step backward into lazy, distracting, less-accurate referencing, and should not be tolerated at this point. Softlavender (talk) 02:35, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support This isn't a paper publication, so no need to adhere to a paper journals' style, and it makes for a cleaner, more readable body text. I wouldn't refuse an article submission if that's how it was submitted, but I would convert it to use {{harv}} inside {{sfn}} pretty early on. (Not that I'm necessarily a fan of those, either, as they require multiple edits to add in both the footnote and the bibliographic reference, and for the reader require multiple clicks to find the full ref, but I digress.) oknazevad (talk) 03:02, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support I find it a rather jarring style. It works, yes. But it is not good for readability. I'm not buying the "it hurts new editors" argument, as an experienced editor can simply tell them to place it in a ref tag, which is not that hard to do. -Indy beetle (talk) 03:46, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support – Took a read through the page and some of the pages mentioned and agree that the pages look messy and the citation style makes the pages harder to read. I can't even imagine how it looks to readers. QueerFilmNerdtalk 04:00, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose, per Mike Christie's argument: "If this form of citation is dying out, let it die of its own accord; if it's not, it's because some editors like it." SarahSV (talk) 04:04, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support for consistency. Standardized appearance is a Good Thing. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 04:27, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - Oh man I have not had to use that crap in a long long time and even that it was too recent. It does not work well for an online encyclopedia as demonstrated by the example page and should be discouraged by force. It is a disservice to the reader. PackMecEng (talk) 04:33, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support. This is already the case broadly except in some niche subject areas, and is much much easier to read. I don't think anyone is arguing that inline citations are worse than no citations at all, or that articles be rejected because they have inline citations, but no one should have to argue the point if they want to convert inline citations to the proper format. Frickeg (talk) 04:37, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose – What is important is not the citation style, but that statements are cited. Some contributors are most comfortable with inline parenthetical referencing. Giving them the freedom to use it encourages their contributions. Having more editors writing more content serves the WP:READER in a more meaningful way than a consistent citation style across articles would. Some subjects are clearer with inline parenthetical referencing than with ref tags. If the consensus is that they make a particular article harder to read, the citation style of that article can be changed. But a citation style should not be deprecated merely on the grounds of personal preference. --Worldbruce (talk) 04:43, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose Parenthetical referencing is vastly superior for both readers and editors. (1) For readers, they immediately see the author and date, and often the page number. Likely they will know the author. Seeing the date tells how old the information is. Given this information, there is a good chance that they will immediately know the source. (2) For editors, the reference is neatly and concisely contained in the text, making it easy to see where it begins and ends. The other style can go on for hundreds of characters, making it very hard for the editor to see where it begins and ends, making it very difficult to edit that section of text. I wrote about this on my user page years ago, see User:Bubba73#Why_I_like_Parenthetical_referencing_(also_known_as_the_author-date_system_and_Harvard_Referencing). Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 04:46, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
    @Bubba73: This reaction confuses me, because I feel like it's begging the question of who a "typical" Wikipedia reader is and what they want. Some of your arguments:

    For readers, they immediately see the author and date, and often the page number.

    Agreed, but I find it odd seeing that characterized as a positive. "Most readers" (meaning, laypersons — the "average reader" who isn't an academic) don't want their reading to be interrupted with irrelevant (to them) details like the name of the author a claim is referenced to.

    Likely they will know the author.

    That is just patently false. The average reader is not familiar with the authors of research papers being cited inline in article text on Wikipedia. The average reader is not so thoroughly steeped in academia that every time they catch a cold, they sneeze corduroy.

    Seeing the date tells how old the information is.

    That's a fair point. I question how interested in even that information the "average reader" really is, but it's a (tepid) argument for parenthetical citations.

    Given this information, there is a good chance that they will immediately know the source.

    We're back to patently false, now. Who are these people you're talking about!? The "average reader" I'm experienced with has absolutely no familiarity with the writings of "D'Arcy 2005", "Krutov 2006", or "Bader & Gold 2003", to pick three random examples from Actuary. ...Those combinations of name and year don't tell me anything at all, I can say that for sure. Are they meaningful to you? (Not "do you find them useful?" or "do you want them to be visible in the text?", we've established that. I'm asking, do those identifiers alone tell you anything about the works being referenced? — Aside from the age of the information, I already gave you that one.)
    It just feels like at least one of us is projecting quite a bit of their personal POV onto this idea of the strawman "average" visitor to Wikipedia. (I mean, I can say that I'm definitely guilty of this to some degree...) Maybe what we need here is an objective picture of Wikipedia's core audience. To consider this proposal and its impact on the Wikipedia readership (as opposed to its author/editor community) in the proper frame of reference, it's important to understand how people consume the site's content and what they expect from it. -- FeRDNYC (talk) 09:38, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
    • As far as knowing the author of the source, yes, that generally applies to reading an article in an area that you have some knowledge of. For instance, if it is history, you may know who the prominant historians are. Bubba73 You talkin' to me? 15:29, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
    FeRDNYC, I don't think an encyclopedia with six million articles can have a single coherent target audience. While Bubba73's statements certainly don't apply to the most common types of readers, they largely do apply to readers who visit the specialised types of articles that normally use parenthetical referencing (Actuary being a notable exception). – Uanfala (talk) 12:48, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support While hardly any articles use this style, we're not in the 1970s anymore. This is the World Wide Web, where we can have 'new', smoother techniques like inline sourcing. Have a painful glance at parenthetical references in action at Actuary.ThatMontrealIP (talk) 05:01, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Those saying that the citation style isn't important are misguided. Wikipedia itself it a tool for those to explore other sources and to read more on a topic for details that might not be included in or appropriate for a Wikipedia article. Additionally, it's old, archaic, and meant to be used in physical text, not online. Utilizing templates and the Wikipedia software is a better, cleaner, more adaptable, and more streamlined option. Nihlus 05:19, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support it is the most disruptive citation style we currently allow in terms of reading flow. It should be deprecated. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 05:24, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. While I also hate the brackets citation style and it often makes me confused, I get along with it as I read the article more. People have different styles, you can't force them to just use CS1 or CS2 or CS100, yknow what I mean? By letting more citation styles on Wikipedia we allow more people of different citation backgrounds to edit, thus increasing Wikipedia's diversity and accessibility in terms of who can edit. Overall, I cannot see how deprecating it would increase readership. GeraldWL 05:30, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Fully support. As the full reference is shown when hovering, the parenthetical citation style is not needed at all. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 06:09, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment on broader picture. Above I wrote about continuing to support the parenthetical citation style limited to disciplines that commonly use them, an idea that, afaics, received zero traction in this RfC. A list of such disciplines is given at Wikipedia:Parenthetical referencing#Pros and cons versus other referencing systems: "... humanities, society, arts, and culture ..." Looking at that section of the guidance, it seems to me that a "con" is missing. Parenthetical citations are used in these disciplines mostly when writing an essay, or another type of contribution to the field about something that was not yet written before. In other words, when the author has to prove a point. This contrasts with what we're doing at Wikipedia: we have no new points to make (WP:NOR). So, a contraindication for using them would seem to me that parenthetical referencing systems may create the (wrong) impression that Wikipedia articles are a sort of (tendentious) essays in which summaries are made to prove a point. --Francis Schonken (talk) 06:22, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support, because:
  • Less inline text makes for easier reading - less text that most readers will skip over anyway - and we exist for the benefit of the readers, not the editors. We are a general encyclopedia, not an academic journal, should use whatever is easiest for general readers, not academia, or editors. (Do we have any metrics on how many people read the citation details?)
  • We have a Manual of Style for a reason - consistent styling makes for easier reading - if the same conventions apply to all articles it's easier to follow what they mean. Consistency should apply to all aspects, including citations as they appear in body text (independently of how they appear in the "References" section). For someone who is not familiar with inline parenthetical referencing it can merely obfuscate the meaning - is the author the Wikipedia article trying to tell me something with the parenthetical text?
  • Disallowing inline parenthetical citation should not prevent new editors from adding material or deter them from continuing to edit - any more than our other MOS guidelines stops people from Over-Capitalising, using "illogical quotation style," etc. Experienced editors merely follow and edit the article to comply with MOS, as we do for so many other style issues, preferably with a link to the relevant guideline in the edit summary. Wikipedia is a communal effort - it's OK for subject matter experts to add material in the wrong "style" and experienced editors to "fix" it.
Mitch Ames (talk) 06:52, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
Exactly! Did that many times -- "fix" it -- and nobody never complained. -- BhagyaMani (talk) 07:49, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support anything to try and keep to less overall citation styles. Certainly not nuke on sight, but we should try to replace these with a more consistent style Best Wishes, Lee Vilenski (talkcontribs) 07:37, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per Puzzledvegetable --Amkilpatrick (talk) 07:49, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose there are type of articles where each style works best. Citing multiple pages out of the same book can't be done well with our more standard referencing, for example. We should allow our editors the choice to select which style works best for the type of article being written. ~~ Alex Noble/1-2/TRB 07:59, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
    Citing multiple pages out of the same book can't be done well with our more standard referencing — {{Rp}} works for me. Mitch Ames (talk) 08:15, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
    Fantastic. Why have I never seen this before? — JohnFromPinckney (talk) 09:02, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
    JohnFromPinckney Well I used it almost the moment it appeared. See Holocaust Educational Trust, an article I started. But usually I find short-form is better for handling different page numbers (as is parenthetical, by the way). --NSH001 (talk) 09:26, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - Free-floating parenthetical refs, with no link to a fully-cited ref or footnote, leave the text open to question regarding its Verifiability. That's my main reason to phase out that style. DonFB (talk) 08:25, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
    Comment But that's not what we're talking about (the same thing can happen in other styles, too). And, incidentally, as long as a valid target CS1/2 cite template exists in the biblio listing at the end, my ETVP script can fix them. --NSH001 (talk) 08:42, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • @CaptainEek: Would {{quote}} be allowed if the attribution to the source is supplied with a date? Thincat (talk) 08:57, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose Of the many, many problems Wikipedia has, people referencing articles using a perfectly acceptable style really isn't one of the big ones. I understand the desire for some form of uniformity and prefer using ref tags myself, but this flies in the face of CITEVAR which, for me, is a big deal. Ultimately using parenthetical referencing at least ensures people learn how to reference "properly" - unlike a reliance on cite template helpers which simply ensure the same people continue to confuse the publisher and the work, for example, and doesn't promote the idea that there are different ways of producing references. Like others, I have a feeling that this is a move towards the "one true style" as well, which is something I would feel uncomfortable dealing with, and allows a license for the interpretation of its outcome to lead to the wholesale removal of a range of referencing styles. Please ping me in some way if there's response to this as I'll not see it otherwise. Blue Square Thing (talk) 09:38, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support: If there wasn't an expectation that editors use the citation style that already exists in the article - and this is how WP:CITEVAR is usually interpreted - the counter-argument that this style causes no harm would be correct. But since we do have this expectation, it forces people to familiarize themselves with unusual citation styles whenever they want to edit articles using them, or else jump through hoops or simply slap their own preferred style in instead. I think it's reasonable to discuss and implement a reduction in citation styles so that folks only have to learn a limited number of them. Yes, I did write Lake Ptolemy with parentheticals but changing them to harv style is no issue there. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk) 09:48, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose because it would discourage new editors with backgrounds in fields that use that style, including some fields (such as some of the humanities) that are probably under-represented among editors. A very casual reader -- who likely won't read past the lead -- might stop reading because of parentheses "clutter", but it's doubtful that the citation style will dissuade a reader who reads past the lead. It would make sense to discourage the parenthetical citation style in the lead, where citations are often unnecessary anyway. But we don't need new rules that might further limit our pool of editors. NightHeron (talk) 10:41, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. This would be the thin end of the wedge of imposing standard citation templates. I can see the issue with readability, but the real cause of that problem is not parenthetical citations. Rather, it is the ridiculously high density of citations demanded by many reviewers on Wikipedia. Citation density has now gone way beyond anything found anywhere in scholarship. It has even gone way beyond anything that is demanded in Wikipedia policy. Fix that problem, and the issue with parenthetical citation goes away. SpinningSpark 11:06, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
    • Academia does not have an WP:OR policy, quite the opposite. This is the reason Wikipedia have so many citations, and that is good, not a problem. ― Hebsen (talk) 11:44, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
      • @Hebsen: Yes, Wikipedia is different from Acedemia, but please point to another encyclopaedia that has citation densities at this order of magnitude. Brittanica doesn't do it, nor does any online encyclopaedia except those cloned from Wikipedia. SpinningSpark 12:22, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
        • You misunderstand. Other encyclopedias does not have an WP:OR policy; in fact they do not need sources, because there are some experts or an institutions behind them, guaranteeing their reliability. Contrary to Wikipedia, which is crowdsourced and thus per se unreliable (sources make the content they support reliable). ― Hebsen (talk) 19:05, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. I see no problem in discouraging editors from avoiding a minimal use of a style that properly formats notes as notes. It's simply better for the preponderance of the reader base to avoid just letting editors stuff more didascalia inline. Our visual formatting of notes has improved substantially over time, allowing readers to actually see the "Foobar 2020, p. 14" reference text nearly inline just by doing something seamless with their mouse, so whoever is used to the format can basically have nearly the same experience. Just like we should no longer use a gazillion inline <ref name=foo>{{cite bar | ... | page = 14 | ... }}</ref> tags, and should instead simply use {{efn|Foo|2020}}, we should not tell people to use raw inline references either. --Joy [shallot] (talk) 11:10, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support deprecation. It is fine that articles are still there with parenthetical citations, it is fine that articles are created with parenthetical citations, but I do think that it is a good idea to, slowly slowly, migrate all those to one standard citation style. Although parenthetical citations fulfill our needs of sourcing, you basically have to scroll down, identify which citation is linked to the reference (and possibly check the reference). With the <ref> tags you hover over the number and get the reference directly, generally including a link to the actual source if you want to check further. I would oppose throwing messages at editors who keep creating articles with parenthetical citations because it is deprecated, I would oppose enforced (and/or bot) move from parenthetical citations to other citation styles, I would oppose nuking on sight. However, articles should not be changed (back) towards using parenthetical citations, and changing over to using <ref> tags should be encouraged. --Dirk Beetstra T C 11:24, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Weak support. Nom have given a number of reasons why parenthetical citations should be avoided. I would add the following two: (a) A good wikipedia article has A LOT of references (I count 107 in the ~3200-word article) because every claim need one, so the format need to be compact (a non-compact format actively discourage citations unless absolutely nessesary); and (b) The use of footnotes have become the de facto Wikipedia standard to such an extend that readers expect to see it, so us not using it confusing for the reader and harder to decode. It total, I think all the drawbacks of the style outweight the potential advantages it might have in specific articles or topics. There is not that big a difference between using parenthetical referencing and shortened footnotes.
Remember also that deprecation does not mean that it is not allowed, but rather that it is acceptable to change to another citation style. I don't buy that it will make it harder for newcomers to contribute, as newcomer often just use whatever they like, e.g. bare urls or parenthesis. In fact, I think it parenthethical citations make it harder for newcomers to contribute to such articles, because the editor's citation system automatically creates footnotes.
The support is weak because I don't care that much. ― Hebsen (talk) 11:44, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose I am swayed by Wugapodes' arguments – the potential positive impacts are too small to outweigh the potential negatives. For every example of parenthetical atrocity such as actuary (which, by the way, could and should be changed under already existing guidelines), there is a contrastingly harmless implementation such as falling cat problem. – Teratix 12:39, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose – Although I don't use parenthetical citations and prefer the citation method more commonly used in Wikipedia, the parenthetical style is far from unusual in books and online sources, and I think editors should have the freedom to use it if is one they are at ease with. Tim riley talk 12:47, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. We write for our readers, not for ourselves. And our readers appreciate standardization, readability and usability - all of which point towards the deprecation of inline citations. Sandstein 12:57, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose: Were such a flimsy IDONTLIKEIT argument posed in a deletion discussion, the jeers would be heavy. I'm not enthusiastic about parenthetical citation myself, but vox populi notwithstanding, there are many non-Village Pump readers and editors who use them, and I haven't heard a reason to ban them ("deprecate," in this context, is weasel wording) that's more trouble than it's worth. For all the "standardization" worship that goes on here, any reader who flees in horror in seeing a citation style not to his preference is a goofball. Ravenswing 13:26, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support a MOS preference for footnotes. No editor should convert footnotes to inline parenthetical citations, and editors should be permitted to replace inline citations with footnotes. pburka (talk) 13:38, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support A more standardised citation style is preferable, and a casual reader may be confused by parenthetical citiations. I normally see parenthetical citations in journal articles, theses, and academic publications meant for fellow academics, and they are useful for easy identification of authors whom they would normally recognised, or want to recognise, and where who says what is important. This is not so for Wikipedia where the casual readers would not know nor care who wrote the referenced source. Having parenthetical citations merely clutters up the article without imparting useful information for a casual reader. Hzh (talk) 13:45, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support They do make the articles, much more difficult to read. ~mitch~ (talk)
  • Support because they make the articles hard to read, and articles should be written with the readers in mind. I'm not persuaded by the argument that this will deter new editors from contributing, because really how hard is it to put <ref></ref> around a citation? It's right there under the edit box! Richard75 (talk) 14:46, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. This isn't a major issue for me, but I find that when I come across the rare article that is formatted that way, it just looks so 1980s to me. Citevar isn't an end in itself, and although I agree with other editors that what matters most is having sources in whatever format, I also think it would be a net positive to move in this direction. I see "deprecation" as something that should be regarded here as soft deprecation, so that, if an editor wants to revise the citation style, that should be considered acceptable, but still subject to discussion if someone else objects. If there is consensus at a given page to stick with the parenthetical style, that's OK too. --Tryptofish (talk) 14:52, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support: the ridding of abomination is a duty to all. (And whaatever anyone says, pace, but Actuary is literally an object lesson.) ——Serial 15:51, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support It's clutter and makes it harder to read articles (Actuary is eyewatering). Like Richard75, I don't buy the arguments that this will deter new users – should we abolish MOS:DATE because new users regularly write out dates like "24th of April" and don't like being corrected? I also don't see how this is 'the thin edge of the wedge' regarding WP:CITEVAR. I can't stand {{cite}} and its variants and never use them, but I can't see how this will lead to their imposition. Number 57 15:57, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. An outright ban (assuming that's what "deprecate" is intended to mean) would preclude both parenthetical usages even when they are genuinely part of the textual information. Example:
After two leading American researchers claimed to have found independently that water is not actually wet (Jones 1996, García 1997), several Canadians soon responded[fn multiple sources] ... Pérouse (1998) was especially vociferous...
Ban, no. As is so often the case, that absolute could -- and almost certainly would -- backfire, precluding useful cases, resulting in text less informative than amateurish overuse of excessive listing is annoying. The perennial Wikipedia compromise: it's true that the text should be accessible to Uncle Everett and Aunt Gladys; it's also true that this isn't Pee-wee's Playhouse, but an encyclopedia. Barefoot through the chollas (talk) 16:22, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support In general, having a consistent formatting style makes for a better experience, both on the side of editors and readers. Wikipedia should not expect people to learn multiple different citation methods. PieThrowerChamp (talk) 16:28, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per the example of Actuary, which is visually cluttered and disorienting. I think most readers are used to the numbered citations that are used in the vast majority of Wikipedia articles. —Granger (talk · contribs) 16:35, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support. Verbosity is horrendous. Article text should be as compressed as possible.Untitled50reg (talk) 16:43, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support this is 2020, we have a myriad of tools available to us, and this is one more example of Wikipedia's ineptitude to adapt to modern web standards. The examples given of parenthetical citations are atrocious. ɱ (talk) 16:47, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support The fact that we tolerate a diversity of citation styles the product of historical anomaly. Wherever possible, wee should work toward streamlining citation styles. This one is not especially common and is not conducive to quickly accessing information in an article. Ergo Sum 17:05, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support  White Whirlwind  18:51, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Mild oppose. As DGG said, the important thing is that articles and their individual claims be cited. Airbornemihir (talk) 20:48, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose Parenthetical citations are a convenient and widely-used format. The online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has inline (author year, page) citations in the main text without any apparent readability problems. Wikipedia's WP:CITEVAR is an indispensable anti-edit-warring feature not a bug. No one would argue for deprecating WP:ERA because of their idiosyncratic opinion that BCE/CE is more "cluttered" than BC/AD. Keahapana (talk) 22:22, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support While I fully agree that what really matters is that there are citations and that this information can be displayed in many different ways including inline parenthetical citations there is significant value in standardization and several disadvantages with this specific format. I thus believe that there should be a preference against this specific citation format, but it should be considered far better than no citations at all. --Trialpears (talk) 22:41, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds". Gog the Mild (talk) 22:59, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose, mainly due to the malformulation of the proposal, as pointed by David Eppstein. I cannot fully tell what is being proposed to be deprecated or not. I strongly oppose deprecation of any parenthetical reference of the type linked, or "clickable", such as my favourite one Template:Harvp. I do support deprecation of non-clickable ones; if that is what you meant (and it seems so), make sure to write a proposal that sums it up and make it clearer. Thanks for taking the initiative, though. Walwal20 talkcontribs 23:31, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
    • Strong oppose. The nominator proposes putting every citation, linked or not, within a <ref> tag, and I think his arguments to do so are not convincing enough. Inline citations of type Mackey & Glass (1998) are extremely useful when what is being said was clearly said is an important result achieved by these authors. I think placing it in a ref tag would greatly diminish the importance of the authors, and I can see this to be undue in many contexts. Walwal20 talkcontribs 00:01, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support the formal notion of citation preference, oppose banning parenthetical. Looking at some of the articles for the parenthetical, I can see why some people would like to use them. However, I think it should be discouraged for the many other reasons in this discussion. Integral Python click here to argue with me 23:52, 30 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support discouraging or disallowing it except in specific circumstances. I read actuary and agree it really clutters the text, hurts the aesthetics, and looks inconsistent with the rest of Wikipedia. Besides, it discourages adding more specific citations any additional ones will make the cluttering worse. I thought about cleaning it up but I was worried it would be controversial because one is not supposed to change an existing style without a consensus/good reason. HaEr48 (talk) 00:21, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support to phasing the citation system out. I've read all the opposing arguments carefully and find them unpersuasive. It makes for unpleasant reading and introduces unnecessary clutter into Wikipedia articles. The more popular system is also not that difficult to figure out, especially given that there are templates to generate citations. Kohlrabi Pickle (talk) 02:36, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support of phasing out citation system. It seem just an academic excuse to get noticed.War (talk) 02:53, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose – When I have encountered parenthetical citations, I've considered them candidates for conversion; but I don't think of them as inherently intrusive or confusing. I've encountered at least one experienced editor who has expressed distaste for sfn templates, which aren't the most graceful solution for their purpose and for which parenthetical references seem a useful substitute. Added to that is the fact that when articles have many hundreds (~5–700) of citation templates, the templates seem to be the cause of the inordinately slow rendering of such pages on underpowered devices (e.g. a netbook). Although such overly referenced pages are the least likely to adopt the parenthetical style, it's another reason why the present citation templates aren't the complete answer to referencing (awaiting the day when referencing is done through Wikidata identifiers that can specify not just the source but also the source's relevant supporting text). Dhtwiki (talk) 03:57, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - more consistency can't hurt. In fact, I didn't know Wikipedia used this citation method. Anarchyte (talkwork) 04:38, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose – i want to see the citation without having to move to my mouse to footnote number and/or have to click on the footnote. However, consistency is important. So, picking just one for the entire site is best. (But, you know which one i would choose that though....) – ishwar  (speak) 05:01, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose Consistency in form is far, far less important than consistency in other standards, those for researching and writing...and those require researchers and writers, who may bring with them their own preferences about style. Why alienate the worker bees to placate the dronesgnomes? Qwirkle (talk) 05:53, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support of deprecating parenthetical citation system.— al-Shimoni (talk) 06:32, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. I was a little on the fence until looking at Actuary, and then taking a peek at some of the other pages mentioned above as examples of why we should keep using inline parentheticals (Falling cat problem, Monster group, etc.) sealed the deal for me. So. Much. Blue. Retswerb (talk) 06:34, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support but keep in mind that deprecation is not a clear-on-sight process. It is fair to say that most readers find the footnoting system more convenient as they can view the footnote directly without having to scroll all the way back up to continue. Besides, as other editors mentioned, the vast amounts of blue (almost like WP:OVERLINKing) proves to be inconvenient. So, on the long run, as Wikipedia is meant to serve WP:READERS, the general style (footnotes) is more convenient as compared to the inline WP:HARVARD style. However, it's no big deal, and the changing process has WP:NODEADLINES. Eumat114 (Message) 06:45, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support At AFC we encourage the disuse of the parenthetical system. Deprecating it makes that encouragement even easier to give Fiddle Faddle 07:29, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Parenthetical citations look messy and make articles less accessible and harder to read. Davidelit (Talk) 09:10, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support the citations pad out "normal" article text and distract from the content proper. Granted, there would have to be some effort cleaning out what's there, but deprecating it would help in stemming the flow of new articles styled that way. Juxlos (talk) 09:59, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support I am not so far from being a novice in Wikipedia and find that what makes citing a pain is the bewildering choice offered, not the lack thereof; the eternal "yes but also" in the MOS. Wikipedia needs a house style. CITEVAR should go. <ref></ref> and Sfn. Johannes Schade (talk) 11:24, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose I would have said support until a supporter's comment directed me to pages (such as Irish phonology) where the Name (date) format is hyperlinked to the full citation. With this, a mouse hover one time lets you see what that source is, and subsequent citations don't require a second check because you've got a name/date, which is far easier to recall than a footnote number. This is the reason why generally, paper journals favour named citation over footnote/endnotes. (I had only previously seen non-linked citations, which are inferior to a hyperlinked number). One of the problems Wikipedia faces is the variable quality even within what the community says passes as reliable sources. It's helpful for those more familiar with a topic to be able to see more quickly the level of reliance on better or worse sources. OsFish (talk) 14:52, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose. I don't think we need to ban things like this to begin with. All the rationales given are effectively using examples of bad editing as if this proves there is no good way of using such citations which is clearly incorrect. This type of citation can be quite useful in certain situations. Having the option available is a good thing.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 07:26, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support, but only as a standard for new articles. If info was referenced in parenthesis inline before, the info should not be removed because of the ref. form, but the ref. should be updated.Paradise Chronicle (talk) 20:16, 1 September 2020 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 3 (citations)

  • Oppose, mainly per Wugapodes, and DGG. We should remove obstacles to editors creating content. The parenthetical notes can always be converted later, but no need to discourage their use. Modern readers are well used to skimming over non-critical mark-up. Gleeanon409 (talk) 10:40, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support separating citations from the text into footnotes is important for making the overall text both accessible and usable by machines for different tasks (i.e. evaluating if a sentence needs a citation). Sadads (talk) 12:07, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Bots can likely be taught to read these citations or at least flag the article for further review. Gleeanon409 (talk) 12:48, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support - Seems to me to be a more user/reader-friendly way to cite sources. I feel Harvard-style referencing can seem overly-academic, particularly if applied to sources that are not books, journal articles, etc. Paul W (talk) 12:33, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per Alsee's comments in the main discussion. – The Grid (talk) 12:40, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - As someone who has spent a lot of time patrolling new pages, I have never seen inline parenthetical citations used. However, I have seen many examples of footnotes without inline citations. In those situations, the page can either be tagged or incline citations can just be added. Here, if someone were to ever use inline parenthetical, the page could be tagged as having improper citations, or it could simply be manually fixed by conversion to footnotes. I cannot imagine how passing this would create a barrier to new content creators. Ultimately, WP has a massive MOS which is often misapplied or ignored. Why would adding something new to the MOS harm the project? I think the average user is going to understand what footnotes are. ‡ Єl Cid of Valencia talk 13:02, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong Support I think that removing inline citations improves the look of the articles. I also think it standardizes referencing and supports KISS. If anyone wants to see the citation they can just mouse over it. I think most readers can figure that out. --Ian Korman (talk) 14:06, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment Agreed that the usage of parentheticals in Actuary is excessive and unnecessary. In the first three paragraphs, all could be footnoted, with little or no loss to textual information.
Does that license banning all parenthetical references, or would that be a bit like banning wine from dinner nationwide because a tiny percentage of the population are given to guzzling large amounts of “liquor” at any time? Does the extreme case of Actuary justify banning all parentheticals?
Point: Best to do surgery with a scalpel rather than a chainsaw. There’s a crucial distinction between backgrounded sources, rightly footnoted, and references that, yes, could be footnoted, but that are not just references, but genuinely informative parts of the text, such as in recounting the well-known war instigated by Smith in his landmark publication – Smith (1999) brought about a basic reassessmentBarefoot through the chollas (talk) 14:31, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support: inline parenthetical citations create lot of confusion and nearby wikilinks make things worse.--Deepak G Goswami (talk) 14:53, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose: Such a way to turn a non issue into an issue. Just for the sake of "ILIKEITHISWAY" editors with experience in such citation style might be driven away from Wikipedia. Also in quote boxes, informational notes, meta-context and other specific contexts inline parenthetical references are possibly a better option, anyways. Recommendation not to turn paragraphs into a forest of family names & dates? Ok. Full ban irrespective of context? No way --Asqueladd (talk) 15:06, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose: Inline parenthetical citations are particularly useful when there is a need to reference multiple separate pages from the same source. Which is often the case when dealing with articles of old topics. Using parenthetical citations actual result in less clutter in those cases because it becomes easier to point to specific pages. For instance, "John Doe 1990, p. 3" and "John Doe 1990, pp. 33–35" as separate inline citations are more specific to the material being sourced than the other method in which it would either be "...pp. 3–35..." or a repetition of the entire reference template and source. David Eppstein lists many valid points and it would be a net negative to actively discourage a particular referencing format, especially when that format is widely accepted in publications and has uses unique to it. — The Most Comfortable Chair 15:20, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
My bad on misunderstanding exactly what had been proposed. I would still reaffirm my oppose. Discouraging a referencing style that is accepted and employed in certain areas may discourage new editors from those areas from contributing. As others have pointed out that its use is rare as it is, and if it results in too much clutter in an article, it can easily be converted to other referencing formats. I do not see any benefits to an outright prohibition. It is a non-issue. — The Most Comfortable Chair 06:56, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
{{sfn}} and {{r}} can both be used to reference multiple separate pages from the same source without using parenthetical citations. --Ahecht (TALK
) 20:53, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Although I strongly support changes to policy and practice that make editing easier without compromising quality and maintainability, I am opposed to this specific proposal because it's so poorly written that I honestly do not understand what exactly is being proposed. (That is quite disappointing in an RfC that is being advertised to all logged-in editors.) Moreover, it does not appear that the Visual Editor currently supports adding and editing citations in a way that also makes articles easy for editors not using that editor. That would, of course, also have to support citations that point to specific portions of a document (page, section, etc.). When it reaches that state, we should revisit this kind of proposal. ElKevbo (talk) 15:27, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose per DGG, David Eppstein As a humanities student the Harvard system was drilled into me when I started at university many decades ago. Deprecating any widely used proper referencing system is a sure way to discourage newbies who are comfortable using such references (subject specialist academics for example, the most sought after new editors we need). Not only is this proposal a solution in search of a problem, it will in fact exacerbate the very problem it claims to be addressing. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 16:34, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support In the beginning, when we moved from just asking that articles end with a list of references to requiring inline citations, the goal was to encourage the latter so no one citation style was demanded.

    That time is long past us now. Our technology has improved, for one. Using inline parentheticals seems quaint and outdated to me, and, I'm sure, lots of other editors. Perhaps there are still some articles somewhere that use {{ref}}, the first citation system I remember using. I resisted at first the move to {{cite}} and {{reflist}}, since the latter columnized notes no matter how few there were, which I thought looked silly in an article with only two or three sources, but that issue has now long been corrected. And it manages note numbering automatically. Inline parentheticals still require manual, hands-on reference management.

    Further, the community has voted with its keyboards. {{Cite}} is clearly the winner.

    We are also moving, more and more each year, to an era when the data structuring allowed by Wikidata (something that was just an idle pipe dream back in 2008 for most of the community) will facilitate the translation and importation of references across all Wikimedia projects. This can't work with inline parentheticals.

    And lastly I believe that the inline-parenthetical style is wrong for an encyclopedia, any encyclopedia. It's more appropriate to the sort of academic journals where the majority of readers are those who keep up with the field in question and might reasonably be expected to know the work being cited just by the author and year. We write Wikipedia for a lot more people than that.

    Writing references that way, I also think, actually slightly encourages the insertion of original research because of these academic associations and connotations.

    It's time, indeed it's been way past time for a long time, that we deprecate this style for new articles and encourage the conversion of those articles that still use it to Harvard referencing, which is more conducive to the way we do things now. Daniel Case (talk) 17:03, 31 August 2020 (UTC)

  • Strong support: This proposal will make articles much easier to read and retain all relevant information. GrammarDamner how are things? 17:17, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support: Many of the opposers above aren't taking into account that we're just talking about inline parenthetical citations, not any kind of parenthetical citation. Many others think that we would for some reason treat a newbie who uses them as a vandal or sistematically revert their edits were this change to be implemented, when that is far from what is being proposed. The same way that some users just put the link in-between ref tags and afterwards another user comes in and uses a proper citation template, some other user will come in afterwards and change the inline parenthetical to a {{sfn}} or something of the sort. Any newbie that uses inline will have the freedom to do that, they just won't be able to keep an article that way just because they like it. El Millo (talk) 17:29, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
    • But parenthetical references are by definition in-line (in parenthesis, within the text), aren't they? Of course, I can't speak for others, but the concern about newbies is for those of them who would look up the help pages about referencing and find out that the style they know how to use they can't use here, they can be put off contributing. And this is not completely analogous to how we handle bare urls: most uses of parenthetical referencing are careful, considered choices and editors who have made those choices and then gone to the trouble of implementing them will probably not be happy if others come by and reverse them "because just so". – Uanfala (talk) 17:52, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
    • It is clear from the comment not far above by Fiddle that AFC are already denying their victims the freedom to do that, so far without the slightest authority from the community. The proposal is so vague that that what we're talking about is highly unclear, as is evident in a high proportion of the comments above. You are making one set of assumptions; other are just as entitled to make completely different ones as to what is proposed. Johnbod (talk) 17:55, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
      • Many opposers cite referencing different pages of the same book as an argument, when that can perfectly be done with {{sfn}}, so while technically parenthetical citations are inline by definition, the same style of citations can be wrapped within ref tags and the problem is solved. That was what I was referring to. I guess I would be more in favor of saying it is the preferred style without outright deprecating it, but I'll still support this proposal. By "preferred style", I mean that there would be no need to get consensus in order to change one article from inline to reftag-style references, because there would already be a consensus for the latter in the community at large. El Millo (talk) 18:31, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
      • What? No way does Fiddles comment equate to denying their victims anything. This is ridiculous hyperbole. Also if 99% of the commentators understand the proposal clearly and one percent don't the problem is probably with the 1%. AIRcorn (talk) 22:11, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
          • "He says "At AFC we encourage the disuse of the parenthetical system. Deprecating it makes that encouragement even easier to give Fiddle Faddle" - "encourage the disuse" surely means not allowing articles to pass if they use parenthetical refs. What else could it mean? It is clear from the votes who go into any detail that voters on both sides have widely divergent ideas about what the proposal does or should mean. Johnbod (talk) 13:43, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
            • That's your own interpretation of his comment, in my opinion incorrect. encourage the disuse can just as much mean to tell someone to consider learning how to use ref-tag references in future contributions, just as someone could tell someone else to consider using a {{cite web}} template instead of just putting a link between ref tags. Let's just ask them. Fiddle, care to clarify? El Millo (talk) 18:18, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
              Facu-el Millo, Precisely as stated. We encourage the disuse. It is not a gating factor Fiddle Faddle 19:33, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • I don't feel strongly enough to bold, but I think I'm mostly with xaosflux. Don't ban or proscribe inline parentheticals, but change CITEVAR to allow any good-faith conversion to the standard citation style (i.e., without having to separately find consensus for it). (I don't plan to watch this discussion, so ping me if needed.) --BDD (talk) 18:16, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support for AntiCompositeNumber's first and second types of deprecation: stating formally that hypertext endnote citations are Wikipedia's preferred citation style and preauthorizing the noncontroversial conversion of inline parenthetical citations to the more user-friendly endnote style. If a new editor (or any editor) prefers to use the parenthetical style, then they should still be free to do so, but any other editor who wants to make the article easier to read should be free to jump in and change the citations to Wikipedia's preferred style. -Bryan Rutherford (talk) 20:02, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support These types of citations are becoming less common with time. At this point, all they do is create an inconvenience for readers, because they make the article look messy. It is time to move on. Scorpions13256 (talk) 20:06, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support These types of references are distracting because of how uncommon they are on Wikipedia, and it's much cleaner and more readable to have these delegated to a ref tag. Wikipedia is online, and people should be making use of the tools that offers. Every time I see people using * † ‡ etc for footnotes I always change those to EFNs because hyperlinks should be used when possible. Same idea goes with inline parenthetical citations, it's much clearer without.  Nixinova T  C   20:25, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Wikipedia is hypertext, there's no reason we should be sticking to conventions based on print publications that require cluttering up articles with citation names when the full citation could just be a click away. There are plenty of ways around the "multiple citations to different sections of the same source" problem, including using Shortened footnotes (via {{sfn}}) or using {{r}} to add a page or section name in superscript. There's also the upcoming meta:WMDE Technical Wishes/Book referencing, which allows you to do something like <ref extends="previosreference">Page 25</ref>. --Ahecht (TALK
    ) 20:53, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. Parenthetical references are cumbersome and distracting from the average reader's perspective. Wikipedia is not paper, and we should take full advantage of its capabilities for inline citations. --Sable232 (talk) 22:05, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support articles are written for readers, not authors. This isn't a University press designed for elites. It's for everybody. Also, there's this thing called hypertext. -Rob (talk) 22:13, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose-The most important thing is getting articles well sourced. Forcing editors to avoid parenthetical style, particularly those with expertise in some filed and who are used to that style, only adds to the discouragement people complain about who attempt to edit here. Does anyone have any evidence this citation style is a real problem with actual readers? When I tell people I edit a lot on Wikipedia, I hear all sorts of stories. I've never heard anyone mention parenthetical references as a problem, but I get complaints all the time about how bureaucratic we are.--agr (talk) 23:17, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
    That's probably because articles with this kind of citation style are very rare. I for one have never encountered one on my own, not counting those that have been put as examples in this RfC, of course. El Millo (talk) 02:12, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
    If they are rare, why make a contentious policy change? Get local consensus and go change the few that have high visibility.--agr (talk) 12:28, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
    In my mind, this policy change would make official and clear the preference for ref tags over parenthetical notation. It isn't banning parentheticals, but it does make clear for an editor who is trying to write to Wikipedia standards what the preferred style is.Carter (talk) 13:01, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support for both discouraging new use and for replacing them unless there is a specific consensus against doing so. Nick Number (talk) 23:58, 31 August 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. Hypertext allows for sources to be easily jumped to or to pop up when hovered over. Depreciating parenthetical citations doesn't ban their use, and there are some cases where it may make sense, but the preferred should be reftags. Carter (talk) 00:17, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support With the condition that talk page consensus is reached before retroactively changing any existing articles to a different format. Tonystewart14 (talk) 00:31, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
Under this condition, how would this proposal differ from already existing guidelines? – Teratix 03:18, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support As per extensive arguments above. Loopy30 (talk) 01:58, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. I was of two minds about this, since in my entire career, writing in two academic backgrounds and one professional, I've always used footnotes, not parenthetical cites, and I was afraid I was letting my personal experience bias me. Then I tried to read the Actuary article. If that is a valid use of parenthetical in-line cites, and it seems it is, then I think it needs to be stomped out as quickly as possible. That style makes it extremely difficult to read the article. Footnotes are, I think, more commonly understood and more accessible. A strong preference for footnotes, with parentheticals gently deprecated (just like bare urls need to be fixed) would be my option. Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 03:53, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support for future articles. It simplifies reading and gives more consistency over the whole Wikipedia. Existing articles using the format can be converted over time without rush. --Ita140188 (talk) 05:26, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. Especially for a general audience, minimizing the obtrusiveness of citations is important. Based on the clarifications of the proposal, I'm quite satisfied that this is an appropriate way to address a citation style that is already unpopular on Wikipedia and (imo) detracts from readability. ― biggins (talk) 07:45, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. Wikipedia serves the general public. It is not an arm of academia and parenthetical references are a mess to read and edit. Pyxis Solitary (yak). L not Q. 07:50, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Wugapodes et al. The disadvantages outweigh the minimal advantage of slightly easier readability. Jakob.scholbach (talk) 08:01, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per some others' arguments. Would rather not repeat. Flyer22 Frozen (talk) 08:37, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
      • Given the huge range of what people think this proposal means, it would be helpful to the closer if you could specify at least what you support, even if you skip why. Johnbod (talk) 13:36, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - others have once again said what I would have said here. stwalkerster (talk) 10:40, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support, provided we don't beat newbies over the head with it. Parenthetical cites are a holdover from the pen and paper days, there really isn't an advantage over footnote templates. If people want they can just hover or click on the blue numbers, it's not much of a hassle and worth the tradeoff to make reading easier. Now that we have the digital technology to make cites less intrusive, let's embrace it instead of clinging onto the past. - AMorozov 〈talk〉 10:56, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Other editors have expanded on this in much more detail, but I believe footnotes are vastly more consistent, readable, and user-friendly. I don't buy that this is going to make it harder to contribute to Wikipedia. If a new editor starts editing with parenthetical citations then another editor will simply come along and edit those - much like how things work everywhere else on the encyclopedia. Sam Walton (talk) 10:58, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. The amendment to the MOS should make it clear that Harvard citations remain welcome (and in many cases are most appropriate) provided they are enclosed in ref tags. If done properly, mouse over the reference number will pop up Smith (2008) with a hot link to the specific publication. --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 12:47, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Readability is the principal concern of the wiki. Other problems are secondary. Cabayi (talk) 13:19, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Wikipedia is not a scholarly journal, and readers should not be burdened by intrusive footnotes. In fact, if I had my way, the default mode of Wikipedia would not show footnotes at all; you'd click a button to turn them on, if you are really interested in the sources. --Kent G. Budge (talk) 13:53, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
Kent G. Budge, In general, I agree that we should enable readers to consume our content in whatever way is most useful to them. And, indeed, our HTML markup is sufficiently structured that hiding the references is probably one line of added CSS.
But, I'm going to push back on the idea that hiding the references should be the default. It's important that we make it clear to our readers that we're just a WP:TERTIARY source. Showing the references by default frames how we expect readers to treat what we say, i.e. with an appropriate dose of skepticism and a need to fact-check everything. If we hide the references by default, that encourages people to just trust us without verification. -- RoySmith (talk) 14:26, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
And yet, the printed encyclopedias I grew up with did not have footnotes at all. They'd simply identify the contributor for each article, and there was a separate contributors page listing the credentials of each.
This doesn't work for Wikipedia because Wikipedia requires no credentials of its authors. Instead, it requires reliable sources of its authors. I think it follows that the citations are primarily there for authors and editors, not for the reading public. Though I acknowledge it is a truism that serious researchers do not come to Wikipedia for information; they come to it for its lists of sources.
But I should emphasize, before this gets off track, that I'm not actually proposing to turn off citations by default any time soon. I made that comment to emphasize that I think citations should be as unobtrusive as reasonably possible, to minimize the burden on readers. --Kent G. Budge (talk) 14:36, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Parenthetical citations distract from the fluidity of reading the text. It puts the onus on readers to obtain a text and flip through pages to see if the reference even supports to claim. I view these parenthetical citations as simply "lazy", and the notion that they might be fixed later... well, we know that reality rarely pans out. -AppleBsTime (talk) 15:20, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose CaptainEek’s explanations of the proposal has phrases that are vague (“a lot has changed since then” and “our style grows more standardized and formal”), and I’d like to know what’s meant. The proposal appears to be solving a problem that CaptainEek suggests is a small problem. Respecting what’s said in the numerous oppositions above: CaptainEek’s suggested solution will replace a small problem with other small problems. A more important and serious citation problem is accuracy and verifiability—not getting persnickety about style with editors who may be new, who may be accurate, who may be academic, who should be encouraged not discouraged.(Einbildungskraft) (talk) 15:29, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Comment TL;DR: MOS RfCs are a valid way to settle down on a preferred in-house style. They are not a valid way to determine user experience facts. When the RfC rest heavily on such facts (as is the case here) seek out the facts first.
This RfC might be a valid straw poll or consensus-building of what reference style Wikipedia editors prefer, but determining what the readers prefer is a different story. An RfC about citation styles is bound to suffer from large selection bias towards editors who care about such things, therefore, who already have a much higher familiarity with references than the average editor let alone reader.
My understanding of the average Wikipedia reader, based on IRL interactions, is that they do not care about citations and would only check them if a claim looked outlandish. If my sampling was representative, the best solution in terms of readability for the audience would be to hide references from readers, or maybe have a button to toogle them on or off (with default off), and probably let editors use whatever they want in the backstage.
Is my sampling/feeling a good approximation of the average Wikipedia reader? Probably not. But probably neither is that of someone who writes Most people have encountered parenthetical citation styles at some point in their lives. (Most academics, sure, most Wikipedia editors, maybe, but certainly not most Wikipedia readers, let alone most people.) I am singling out Wugapodes here because it was easy to extract one sentence to criticize but other arguments about what readers want are dubious as well.
For instance, many supporters say that Wikipedia footnotes are good usability, or at least better usability than parenthetical. That is how I personally feel as well but is it really the case for the average reader? The only evidence is see, which is highly circumstancial, is that few if any modern websites use linked footnotes, in particular news websites, whose income depends on how readable they are (and whose average reader is probably similar to Wikipedia's). This suggests that footnotes in websites are poor design for some reason. Does the reason apply to Wikipedia though?
TigraanClick here to contact me 15:31, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
@Tigraan: This isn't just my personal feeling; there is a sizeable body of literature in education and information science on how to teach in-text source attribution at the primary and secondary school levels. Vieyra and Weaver (2016) give an overview of this literature and point out that while students at the secondary school level are not particularly good at creating in text citations they are at least prevelant. They received 198 essays from students between grades 6 and 12 and 32% of those essays contained in text citations (nearly all had reference pages). This rate varied by grade level, with high schoolers far more likely to provide in text citations (peaking at 10th and 11th grades where the majority contained in text citations; see figure 1). They also report a survey of college faculty where they asked for faculty perceptions of how much practice first year college students had in high school with in text citations, and of the 23 faculty they surveyed all but 3 pereived students as having had at least minimal practice with in text citation. As a curricular point, the Amerian Association of School Librarians and its membership have been working to improve student competence in citation, and just searching the internet for secondary school library websites will show a significant number providing information on MLA and APA citation styles (e.g., Garfield HS, Ladysmith Library) often with pointers to Purdue OWL which describes in text citation formats for those styles. Test prep resources for high school standardized tests like the Advanced Placement exams likewise recommend students use some kind of in text attribution in order to receive high marks (example from Spring Grove School District). While my phrasing may not have been the most precise, you cannot just hand-wave away the literature on teaching in text citation to middle schoolers and high schoolers which suggests a sizeable proportion of our readership have encountered it. Wug·a·po·des 21:15, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
"Attribute your arguments to sources" is not the same thing as "use (author, year) style"; indeed, the crux of this RfC is the citation style to use, not to forego citations entirely. From your first ref, table 2 seems to include an example of numbered references. It also says about a third of science faculty think students have had at least moderate practice (...) using a standard citation style (35%); although what faculty thinks is different from the reality, and a "standard citation style" is not necessarily (author, year). As to the latter arguments, whether resources are available in libraries for motivated students is irrelevant to the question of whether the majority of students will use them.
Also, this tells us about US students. I am fairly sure that science fairs (for instance), cited in your ref as a context where proper citation is needed, are not a thing in the UK (they certainly aren't in France). English-language-Wikipedia is not US-Wikipedia (if anything, by population, it would be India-Wikipedia). TigraanClick here to contact me 09:01, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
It's obvious you didn't even read the paper. Table 2 isn't about in text citations and the paper explicitly says that two sentences prior: The presence and completeness of citations in the reference page at the end of the report was evaluated using the rubric in Table 2 (emphasis added). The examples are numbered examples, not examples of numbered footnotes. If they were meant to be examples of numbered footnotes, we wouldn't expect the authors to suddenly switch from numbered to non-numbered footnotes for level 3 despite keeping the same bibliographic citation. If you want the table on in-text citations, you should read Table 1 which is conveniently titled "in-text citations". Yes, faculty may not be the perfect survey group, but what evidence have you presented to support your claims that their perceptions are disconnected from reality? I doubt the connection is as tenuous as you suggest given that faculty perceptions are in line with the other results in the paper as well as the independent examples I provided.
I also suggest you read the Wikimedia pageview statistics by country which contradicts your claims about readership. We had 3 billion pageviews from the US last month which is the plurality of our 9 billion page views. India constituted 700 million, and the UK 800 million, so I'd like some evidence for you're claim that we're the India-Wikipedia, especially considering less than 11% of India's population speaks English. Further, the Ladysmith Library example I provided is from British Columbia, Canada and was chosen specifically for its representation of a non US perspective. Have I done a complete literature review and survey of international curricula? No, of course not; I have other things to do. If the evidence I've presented does not satisfy you, I suggest you do your own research to support your position instead of trying to force an argument from ignorance. You've made two claims that are easily shown to be false, so I simply do not trust your intuition. Wug·a·po·des 20:30, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
If the list of references at the end of a paper is numbered, obviously the in-text cite marks are numbers rather than author-year. (Having author-year cite marks and giving the ref list as a numbered list by order of appearance would make no sense.) The table examples are numbered at the two locations where multiple refs are given, but I agree it does not prove conclusively that authors intended to demonstrate a numbered ref scheme.
Even if "35% of faculty think students have moderate practice using a standard CS" implied "35% of students have moderate practice using a standard CS", that in turn means neither that the majority (51%) of students have practiced a standard CS, nor that said standard was (author, year). My remark about faculty perceptions was intended as a concession that things might be better than faculty perceives (because faculty might expect higher standards of students than what would suffice).
As to the country viewing stats, I admit I am somewhat surprised, but my main point was that even if US page views were 90% of all traffic it would not warrant aligning Wikipedia practices on US practices.
I do not have a position on the RfC precisely because I have not seen evidence that footnotes refs are more or less user-friendly than (author, year). If you had shown that (author, year) is something that a large fraction of US students use or read during high school (or at least is significantly more common than numbered references), it would not be a direct proof (says nothing about the situation outside US, more common ≠ better for UX, etc.) but it would have moved me to oppose because every other argument I have read here is anecdotal evidence. I do not think that your refs show that, but at least I commend you for trying to bring facts to the table. TigraanClick here to contact me 10:34, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose Wikipeda does not 'move forward' by growing a more standardized and formal style, it moves foward by increasing it's scope along with the accuracy and verifiability of the information contained within it. That end relies on encouraging any potential editor to contribute, and anything that may potentially erodes or discourages that contribution, must offer something significant and meaningful in return. This is indeed a very rare form of citation style, but it's not difficult to comprehend and with thousands of pages crying off for references why on earth would we wish to erode the variety of ways in which it can be done. While I do understand the urge for a more unified style, I don't think the case is made for removing this option. Mighty Antar (talk) 16:04, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I would add the word strong, but I don't think that sways closing admins, and the strength of my support for WP:CITEVAR is, I hope, pretty well known. In a perfect world, the Wikipedia would have a house style, but with citation bot and its operators causing ongoing disruption,[1] this is far from a perfect world, and we should not do anything that gives more authority to bots than to readers and new editors. Every new editor will be familiar with a different style, and many existing editors (indeed, Featured articles) use inline citation styles that are common to that content area. In the current environment, this proposal would simply lead to more bot control, disruption, and errors introduced by bot operators. I strongly oppose any move to take citation style away from the editors who write articles, and I equally as strongly hope that these bot issues will subside so that someday we might be able to work towards a house style, without disruption. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:16, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
    • @SandyGeorgia: Let it be clear that the use of bots to fix this is not part of the proposal, and from what I've read most supporters here would oppose using bots for this. El Millo (talk) 18:29, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
      • And I predict that as soon as we eliminate any manual citation method, we will see bots move in and make errors that will be a disservice to both readers and editors. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:45, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support: As an academic, I've never liked the parenthetical style, anyway, but I find it to be awfully distracting and rather disastrous on an online encyclopedia, where it would be easier to link a user to an in-line citation than otherwise (I mean, as a user, I don't have time to check every reference just to find, say, "Public, John Q., et al." at the bottom of the page; and that's what parenthetical style always becomes, ultimately. Still, SandyGeorgia has a good point, and I should hope that we can continually work toward a general house style that can be standardized for all users. Javert2113 (Siarad.|¤) 16:54, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
    • Added the word "to" to my statement above. Javert2113 (Siarad.|¤) 19:59, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly support: I find the reference styles easy to learn and the superscript blue numbers reveal the reference's text by putting the cursor atop it. A reader can ignore the superscript numbers or use their cursor and easily see the pertinent sources. Using a style that is handy for typewritten on paper essays seems to be avoiding the advantages of Wikipedia. I am not an expert on all the techniques for references, but I have learned a lot, enough to use short format and then full format in a separate list for long articles on major novels, and get them to link together as easily as the superscript number links to the Reference list. I find that to be a good way to add the references, and it pushes me to find the complete reference, including the year, the isbn if published after 1970, the journal name if it is a journal. Typing a reference in short form in parentheses creates the problem of finding the full length reference somewhere in the article, and hard to take advantage of any online copies of the reference. Making it standard to use ref and /ref seems logical to me. --Prairieplant (talk) 17:37, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Time to get rid of the annoying things. Only in death does duty end (talk) 17:43, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. As a sort of new-ish editor, the lack of a single standard reference style when I began editing Wikipedia was by far one of the most difficult parts of the project to adapt to. I think that, overall, WP:CITEVAR increases rather than reduces the barriers for new editors. Every time I wanted to contribute to a different article, I was faced with learning a new citation style to match what already existed, and it was very difficult to identify how the different options compared to each other. This proposal, obviously, would not solve that problem, but I mention it to support the idea that allowing many options does not by definition make referencing easer for newcomers. The fact that Wikipedia theoretically allowed inline/non-footnoted citations in no way simplified my experience of learning to contribute, even though inline parenthetical citations were my 'native' format in my academic work; for a while I didn't even know it was allowed, and when I did learn, it increased my confusion substantially about how to approach citations. I support deprecating non-footnoted citations, by saying they are not preferred and that editors are encouraged to convert them. I would also support adding more functionality to the reflist template, such as allowing sources to be listed alphabetically or by date. I would also support a change in documentation about WP:CITEVAR to express to new editors the ideas I've seen described in this discussion, that variation in citations is meant to allow a lowering of barriers, rather than a raising of standards. The lowering-of-barriers interpretation on CITEVAR could be emphasized by, for example, describing a "minimal viable citation" (which I'd imagine is, 'the plaintext you'd list in a normal bibliography, but inside <ref> tags'). ~ oulfis 🌸(talk) 21:52, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
I want to emphasize that I support this proposal as a new editor who is an academic specialist accustomed to inline parenthetical citations (the kind of person I see many saying would be scared away by a ban on inline parentheticals) and that I support it because fewer options would have given me a smoother learning experience by making it clear what I was actually supposed to learn. It was totally baffling that a non-footnoted citation could be acceptable, when everything I knew from using Wikipedia as a reader suggested that the little clicky blue numbers were the standard. ~ oulfis 🌸(talk) 22:07, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. They're already effectively depreciated. In addition, we aren't a scientific journal. Inline citations are meant for highly academic discourse where instantly checking sources is top priority. We are an encyclopedia, where the citations are meant for other editors more than readers in the main. Adam Cuerden (talk)Has about 7.4% of all FPs 22:00, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support When citations are done this way, it makes it a lot harder to find if the information is true that required the citation in the first place. Andrew nyr (talk, contribs) 22:02, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support - favoring the second option. I publish papers universally using parenthetical citations, and on paper it's fine, but it really is a bad fit for Wikipedia, where there are several superior options available that are not available in print. I feel it's best if we discourage the practice here. Dyanega (talk) 22:48, 1 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support phasing out parenthetical citations and tightening MOS accordingly. Footnotes are more reader-friendly because they do not break the flow of the text and are automatically linked to the full citation, and footnotes are more editor-friendly because they eliminate unnecessary copy-paste jobs and manual cross-checks, as well as inevitable errors, to the benefit of readers and new editors who can more easily be taught a single consistent way of formatting references. (WP:CITEVAR causes unnecessary discussion and diverts attention to technicalities rather than article content.) While we don't have to strictly adhere to an outside style-guide or nuke every parenthetical citation on sight, it would be to everyone's benefit to universally establish footnotes—a consistent and easily accessible style. ComplexRational (talk) 01:23, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong support let's not make it any harder on our readers than it already is. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 02:02, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. Cbl62 (talk) 02:35, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support deprecation. UpdateNerd (talk) 05:40, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Slight Support. Thank to you the nominator for providing the example of Actuary as an article using the citation style which I don't believe I've seen in my years on this site. I agree that the style looks messy. I don't think it will have any great effect pushing away new contributors - so long as those in the new article pipeline are not overly harsh on incorrect citation styles - and actually a citation style as archaic and unusual as this one might equally push away experienced contributers who might have no idea why this one article is so different from the rest. // Lollipoplollipoplollipop :: talk 07:11, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose deprecation. As many said, it is not our business to limit and constrain contributions. This style actually promotes well referenced and verifiable writing. Personally (being an academic) I find it readable and I actually prefer it (more accurately, I prefer the "first time mentioned" referencing, but this is close). --Muhandes (talk) 08:23, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support preferred style being footnotes but not making parenthetical cites "wrong". I personally strongly dislike parenthetical cites but it's not unreasonable for somebody to prefer them. And what I don't want is somebody who contributes good content turned off from editing because of grief they catch over their citation style. This is why Wikipedia doesn't have a set citation style: we value substance over style. That said, it should be perfectly fine to change from parenthetical to footnotes if an editor thinks it improves the article: the Actuary example is a perfect candidate for improvement by change of citation style. But, if somebody objects, then it should go the traditional route: talk page and if the discussion gets tied up with no clear consensus, then the current style should prevail. Jason Quinn (talk) 09:31, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Inline citations make an article far less readable. A lay-reader primarily needs the article to be accessible, and even be able to scan it quickly. Lay-people only need to consult the references occasionally –and Wikipedia is primarily for lay-persons. Deprecation should be applied lightly though! As best practice rather than a requirement for contributors. I feel there should be a guideline on this topic, rather than have articles like Karlheinz Stockhausen which desperately needs fewer inline citations, but has no consensus to make the change entirely because "WP guidelines don't require it". –DTysen (talk) 11:34, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose - the nomination, and many of the supports, seem to be little more than WP:IDONTLIKEIT. I very rarely come across an article referenced this way, let alone new ones, and a very small minority doesn't justify a ban purely on personal taste. — O Still Small Voice of Clam 19:14, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Conditional Support - this is a good idea, will improve readability, and improve consistency. That said, let's try not to be WP:JERKs if people slip into old habits, and offer guidance (tools? bots?) to help editors fix the format. Shooterwalker (talk) 19:25, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose, per Wugapodes, DGG, Clayoquot, and several others (including Tigraan's comment, which questions assumptions made by even Opposers). This reeks of WP:IDONTLIKEIT and falls into the trap of assuming that what WP editors are most used to using is magically what's best. I'm an academic who uses inline parenthetical citations professionally and find it neither distracting, nor a disruption to flow, nor a style that leads to laziness in leaving out crucial info like page numbers, nor a ton of other personal preferential and/or anecdotal claims by Support !votes/voters. Finally I think removing a perfectly acceptable citation format will only limit new user participation; it certainly isn't going to improve the quality of citations overall, since citation quality is more about inclusion of information than it is about the format of that inclusion. Short of actual data showing what readers want, such arguments should be disregarded. What we're left with is arguments about what citations should be/convey, and in such a discussion, I don't see a compelling reason to eliminate inline parentheticals. --Pinchme123 (talk) 19:54, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support in weak form. I agree that in order not to discourage new editors, it should continue to be possible to use inline refs for new articles and edits. If WP (1) established linked refs as the preferred option and (2) therefore allowed (or even encouraged) the conversion of inline refs to linked refs, I can't imagine many technologically unsophisticated editors objecting to the resulting change. IF this is once agreed here, I don't see the need to establish a separate consensus on every page; the conversion should be noted on the talk page with a link to the standards page, however. Clean Copytalk 20:29, 2 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support – Just because CITEVAR exists does not mean we can't change it or get rid of it. This format may work for academic publications but, in those settings, the author is at times offering original analysis and original research (OR), for which citation is not required. We, by policy, prohibit OR. This means that, by way of WP:V, we require a LOT more citations to be placed in text. Footnotes are the only way to make sure the citations are not distracting from the prose. Another problem is that we are not a print encyclopedia and our articles are constantly changing. This makes in-line parenthetical citation styles unworkable and almost impossible for improvement. This citation style is a form of WP:OWN and has been used to fend off editors from making improvements. Citation templates in the age of the Visual Editor are extremely easy to learn how to use. I learned how to use them in less than 2 edits. The Visual Editor may even be the reason I joined Wikipedia and continued to edit for so long. Footnotes work! They work so well that considering any other format as a better option moving forward, even as an exception, is nonsense and not going to help us build the best encyclopedia we can. All articles using this format should be changed to footnotes style without any prejudice levied against the editor who in the past or future uses them. If a sourced article on a notable subject is submitted with this format in use, the article should be accepted and then changed to footnotes. --- C&C (Coffeeandcrumbs) 00:07, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support Below the reference line, I don't care what style gets used. Above the line however, its a different story. Parentheticals are messy and impede readability. If you don't link in-line and the full citations, it can be difficult to find sources and there is a much greater risk of outright forgetting the full citation than if footnotes are used. I've seen people bring up citation styles like Bluebook (aka legal citations) to justify the continued usage of the parenthetical policy. However, Bluebook citations are footnotes, so the above they don't cause the above the line issues of parentheticals. Additionally, the types of sources you would use for legal articles have unique citation information that would be difficult to reflect with a standard citation. This is not true of parenthetical citations. I've seen some people argue that parentheticals are easy to use for new members. However, its really not that difficult to type in <r.ef>source</r.ef> and every editor has a cite tab in the editing screen which will automatically create citations if you enter the information. Spirit of Eagle (talk) 01:18, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support – In addition to all the other reasons, reducing the number of citation styles makes it easier to merge articles or move sections from one article to another. We should deprecate, but we should invite newbies to use it if the are comfortable with it and then ask for help in converting to a more acceptable style. -Arch dude (talk) 01:27, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support per the arguments already made above regarding readability, consistency, and the fact that we're a digital encyclopedia, not a paper encyclopedia nor an academic journal. Some1 (talk) 05:58, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose - I've written for many sources which have strong style guidelines, and which enforce them. Wikipedia is not one of those, and citations are a glorious mess. I cannot express how strongly I am against the idea that only documents which are online are valid citations, which appears to be the logic behind one of the arguments of some supporters. If, in the case of a particular article, inline citations cause that particular article to become unreadable, that's something to thrash out in the GA or FA evaluation. It's very much not a priority for all articles, particularly in the destubification stage. AKAF (talk) 06:06, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose - per Wugapodes. Parenthetical style is better for new contributors, worse for readers.
Given it suits some highly academic articles just fine, it should be kept as a valid option to lower the friction for new users. --Spacepine (talk) 08:56, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support any and all steps towards standardisation. We already ask that additions to existing articles retain existing citation styles, so we're already asking many new users to learn a new style. It is far less onerous to expect everyone to learn a single house style than to expect everyone to learn a multitude of different styles dependant on what article they happen to be editing. Lowercaserho (talk) 09:09, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose per DGG and others. What matters most is that the article has citations and the citations be usable. You alienate a lot of people otherwise. Dennis Brown - 09:15, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support having a consistent citation style, towards which this proposal is a small step. Too much is said here about the needs of editors, but Wikipedia doesn't exist for the editors; it exists for the readers. Allowing a mass of different styles is like using a different style on each page of a book. We should take a more professional approach to our structure. Zerotalk 15:49, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support As long as we are saying this is "deprecation", so that 1) we elimination policy/guideline/MOS support for the style (though retain enough to establish that it was once supported but now deprecated) 2) existing articles with the citation are in no immediate rush to be fixed and that changing a style on an article still needs to be subject to discussion per WP:CITEVAR) and 3) only after a separate RFC to establish some process/deadline to actually go through and set sunset periods/deadlines after which editors can go through and start changing the paren refs to citation template versions. Basically, we just don't want new articles and new editors to use this style. --Masem (t) 16:02, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support since footer citations are the better choice Germartin1 (talk) 21:03, 3 September 2020 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 4 (citations)

  • Oppose. We should be able to write articles in a text edit mode without being required to interrupt typing/train-of-thought to reference various arcane sets of template syntax rule sets. Dcattell (talk) 19:23, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. I mostly use {{sfn}} citations, but others like <ref> style citations. Either way, the reader sees text that is not cluttered up with citation details, but they can click on a link like [12] to see what is being cited. With text-type parenthetical citations the reader sees cluttered text, and the clutter may just be an imaginary source added to make a junk article look more authoritative, as in:
The Riverside Garage Girls are the sharpest prog electro rock band in the north city (Janssens 2020, p. 169).
Text-type parenthetical citations are a relic of clumsy old-style print citations. They have no place in Wikipedia. Aymatth2 (talk) 20:58, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose. Clearly prejudicial to offline sources Horatius At The Bridge (talk) 22:23, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Solution in search of a problem. Given that WP is wide open to many different citation styles, there is no particular reason to exclude this one. Wasted Time R (talk) 22:29, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support. When looking at the bibliography section I find it useful to be able to identify where (or if) the books are used in the article, this is quite easy to do if there is a footnotes section, but not if the article uses this citation style. EdwardUK (talk) 00:03, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Support, per EdwardUK. Having the footnotes all tidily at the bottom of the article and being able to jump back up to them inline is useful for the reader, and ultimately it's the reader's ease we should be thinking of. Horatius At The Bridge's oppose makes no sense - whether a source is offline or not has no bearing on whether citations in parenthesis are used. I have cited dozens of offline sources quite successfully using ref tags and sfn-based reflists; conversely, the hideous beast that is Actuary uses parenthetical citations to cite websites. ♠PMC(talk) 04:21, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
As per AKAF above: " I cannot express how strongly I am against the idea that only documents which are online are valid citations, which appears to be the logic behind one of the arguments of some supporters.." hope that helps you to understand my position a little better Horatius At The Bridge (talk) 11:17, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
Not really. As I said, offline sources are not solely cited by people using parenthetical citations, and parenthetical citations are not solely used to cite offline sources. The validity of offline sources (on either side) is a red herring that distracts from the real issue at hand, which is whether or not to continue to allow the use of a cluttered, confusing citation style. ♠PMC(talk) 07:28, 5 September 2020 (UTC)
That presumes that the style is cluttered and confusing, i.e. it is begging the question. Some readers want to see the provenance of an idea on the spot; some know the art of skimming and can read around parenthetical cites almost seamlessly. Given how little serious research has been done on the supposed focus of Wikipedia, the reader, we have absolutely no verifiable (in the factual sense, not Wiki’s hijacking of it) idea whether these are a net plus or minus or not from the reader’s perspective. Qwirkle (talk) 10:25, 5 September 2020 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Firstly, if the number of articles which utilize this method is as vanishingly small as the OP and others have claimed, then how much of an issue can they pose to the readership? Secondly, though the Harvard method is certainly not my preferred style, and in encountering one or two of these articles I have at first found it a bit offputting, when I laid my prejudices aside, I found them pretty easy to read, and not only that, I realized they actually have an advantage in that one can see at a glance exactly who is being cited and how often, instead of having to hover one's mouse over the links to find out. What's so terrible about that? Additionally, I found the argument of one user above that superscripted cites can make mathematical articles confusing to be persuasive. Finally, I'm concerned that deprecating the style might discourage some users from contributing, or worse, drive some away, given that people can be very attached to their preferred formats. And after all, it's not as if we are going to suddenly have a consistent style if we get rid of this one - people have all kinds of different approaches within the accepted parameters, and even the citation templates themselves yield inconsistent formatting (such as presenting dates near the beginning, in parenthesis, and having them near the end, with no parenthesis etc). I can, I think, accept the notion that we have a preferred style, but deprecating styles that some folks just appear not to like doesn't seem like such a great idea to me. Gatoclass (talk) 12:06, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
    Hovering the mouse only works if you have popups enabled; many editors enabled popups so long ago that they don't realize it's not a default. So the comparison is actually between having to click on the footnote and be taken to the bottom of the page, and then having to find your way back (many readers won't know to hit alt-left-arrow on their browser), or instead just seeing the citation right there. Like Johnbod I never use parenthetical citations, but to be honest, for those readers who care about what a statement is cited to, parentheticals are probably the most convenient form of citation, not the least. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:29, 4 September 2020 (UTC)

Discussion (citations)

Question: what happens to a new editor now who is adding good content on a page using a different citation style than what is in use on a page? --Dirk Beetstra T C 11:31, 3 September 2020 (UTC)

In my experience, editors who care about that article will convert the reference to the article's established style. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 12:18, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
Michael Bednarek, that is what I mean. So if this passes, instead of a conversion of parenthetical citations to <ref>-tag style or vice versa (depending on established style), such articles would now just be converted unidirectional (hence, always removing the parenthetical citations). The only difference may be that (if this passes) we will see that articles that were created with parenthetical citations would be moved over to <>-ref tags when someone feels like doing so. Dirk Beetstra T C 14:44, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
There are many different interpretations above of what this extremely vaguely worded proposal would mean - I'm not sure your one has actually been articulated previously, but no doubt many supporters think this. Other views expressed above by "supporters" include: a) there should be talk page consensus first, b) talk page objections can stop a conversion, c) a bot will automatically convert articles, d) if coming through Afc, the article would not be allowed into articlespace without conversion, e) articles on some subject areas should be exempt, perhaps after individual discussions. Many supporters only support "deprecation" in new articles - old ones to be left as at present. These options by no means exhaust what supporters support. Johnbod (talk) 15:54, 3 September 2020 (UTC)
Question: isn't this proposal consistent with both the wiki mark-up and the visual editor? Both editing options provide the mechanism to use footnotes, with no mention of parenthetical citations. For instance, the wiki markup editing box uses the imperative: "Cite your sources: < ref > < /ref >", while the Visual Editor explains in some detail how to provide footnote citations: Getting started: the visual editor's toolbar and Editing references. If the software is already set up on the basis of footnote citations rather than parenthetical citations, then shouldn't the policy be in favour of footnote citations? Isn't that the least confusing option for a new editor, to follow the citation system set out by the wiki software itself? --Mr Serjeant Buzfuz (talk) 04:54, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
Answer: No. Although I don't like & never use parentheticals myself, one big advantage they do have, for technically nervous new editors already used to them, is that they are pure text and don't need any help from the software. I'm guessing you've never run any training wikithons etc, or you would know how daunting most first steps editors find all the templated systems. Johnbod (talk) 12:03, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
I second Johnbod's point about newbies. I too have helped run editathons for new editors, and confirm that anything which makes their tentative and nervous efforts easier is a Good Thing. Tim riley talk 21:35, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
  • The profusion of differing interpretations above is one of my main worries about this proposal. I could fairly comfortably support a slightly limited form of Beetstra's proposal (the main difference I can think of being an exception for the fairly uncommon situation where an article needs to contrast different versions of the same person's views on a topic, in which case being able to differentiate inline between, say, Eek (2019), Eek (2020a) and Eek (2020b) may be the clearest way of doing so), but "supports" seem to range right through from something like Beetstra's proposal under very limited circumstances right the way through to insisting on {{cite}} complete with all parameters under all circumstances. And the "opposes" seem scarcely less varied in what precisely they are opposing. I rather sympathise with whoever has to take a decision on the screeds of opinions above - whatever they come up with is likely to get more vociferous criticism than agreement and, indeed, my sympathy for them won't necessarily extend to their decision. PWilkinson (talk) 11:38, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
    @PWilkinson and Johnbod:, my question was more specific. Now you obviously have editors who use parenthetical citations on pages where <ref> tags are used, and ‘’vice versa’’. Now, I ‘’presume’’ that these newbies don’t get crucified, quartered, or beheaded. Now, we are going to, if this passes, deprecate parenthetical citations. Deprecate, not forbid. Why is the oppose side soooo afraid that they, as well as newbies who may be used to parenthetical citations, will be crucified, quartered and beheaded?
    I turn inline external links into plain external link-refs. I do not take the effort of turning them into parenthetical citations or full cite refs. I haven’t been crucified, quartered or beheaded. Some came, saw, and made hem into cite-template-refs. Or not. Dirk Beetstra T C 19:35, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
And what does "deprecate" mean exactly? In practice, the citebandits who have already been roaming WP for years, illegally descending on articles and converting them to their preferred style (usually sfn these days) will make short work of any articles they find with parentheticals, often introducing mistakes of various kinds. They will soon be looking for the next style to ban. WP:CITEVAR already rightly bans mixed styles, as you recognise above. It is clear that many supporters think that no new articles with parentheticals will be allowed, and many opposers fear other styles will soon be attacked if this passes. Both groups are probably right. Johnbod (talk) 21:43, 4 September 2020 (UTC)
More or less what Johnbod has said, except that I have rather more sympathy with what you are suggesting (and what I think CaptainEek is intending underneath all the vagueness and attempted clarifications) than I gather Johnbod does. We have quite a number of enthusiastic but relatively inexperienced Wikipedia editors who take the most advisory of guidelines, intended to be applied with care and only in particular circumstances and ways, and treat their first hurried reading of it as unbreakable Holy Writ, applicable universally and literally. In this case, I think that most existing articles with inline parenthetical citations probably would be improved if those citations were either surrounded with <>-ref tags or modified into {{sfn}} templates - but also that a number of those articles will contain lesser or greater numbers of such citations which will require greater sensitivity to preserve the sense and grammaticality of the article text, and some cases where this is effectively impossible (and so such citations are best kept); and also that a number of newbie editors will find it easier at least at first to be allowed to use inline parenthetical citations without communal disapproval, keeping the need to worry about tags or templates to a reasonable minimum and letting them concentrate on writing article text until they gain greater Wikipedia proficiency. PWilkinson (talk) 12:49, 5 September 2020 (UTC)
PWilkinson, I just don’t expect that editors will be really scared away because they are creating articles in ‘the wrong citation style’. Just like now, when a new editor adds a different citation style than established in an article. They will be informed maybe, but more likely someone will just come and convert it. Yes, there will be some editors who overzealously push a guideline, but I have seen other editors trouting them around more than joining the dramah. But maybe that is just me. Dirk Beetstra T C 13:00, 5 September 2020 (UTC)

Parenthetical citation closure

Before starting the close rationale, I would like to thank the participants of this discussion for putting forth their well-reasoned arguments. The substantial majority of people who commented provided rationales for why they thought as they did rather than bare "votes", and while clearly some editors on both sides feel rather strongly about this matter, discussion did not degenerate into incivility and sniping. That is much appreciated.
While discussions of this nature are not determined by counting hands, the level of support and opposition is not entirely irrelevant either. In this discussion, support for the proposal by the standard formulation (support/(support+oppose)) ran to approximately 71%. That is a ratio at which rough consensus behind a proposal is generally considered to be possible.
In this instance, both supporters and opposers raised valid, clearly outlined concerns. Supporters primarily raised the concerns that this citation style is (for Wikipedia) nonstandard, that it makes it more difficult to distinguish between references and article content, and that it is confusing to readers used to the more common methods of referencing. Supporters sometimes called attention to existing articles in which they believed that this style of citation lowered their quality (actuary being a commonly cited example). Opposers raised concerns that newer editors may be discouraged by being told not to use this style, that some freely-licensed works may need work to change reference styles if they are to be used wholesale, and that some experienced editors who prefer this style may also be discouraged by its removal. Many opposers found the comments made by Wugapodes and DGG to be particularly on point.
Both sides raised valid, well-reasoned arguments in support of their positions. In such an instance, the substantial level of support over opposition indicates that a substantial majority of the community is dissatisfied with this style of referencing. Accordingly, this discussion has reached a consensus to deprecate inline parenthetical references. Some important points raised during the discussion and regarding implementation details are:
  • This discussion supports the deprecation only of parenthetical style citations directly inlined into articles. It does not deprecate the use of the entire citation format when it is used within <ref></ref> tags, nor the use of the {{sfn}} and {{harv}} templates.
  • This discussion is not an authorization to use bots, scripts, or other automated tools to change existing articles en masse. That should not be done without a separate consensus behind it.
  • This discussion provided only a rough proposal for particular wording changes to relevant policy, specifically WP:CITEVAR. Discussion should take place at relevant policy pages, especially WT:CITE, to decide on changes to wording, and if need be followup requests for comment may be initiated. Those discussions should focus on how, not whether, the wording changes should be made, as the latter decision has already been made here. Additionally, WP:PAREN will have its current text replaced with an explanatory note and be marked historical.
  • The point was raised by several, including many who support this change, that articles should not be declined at AfC solely on the grounds of using parenthetical citations. This assertion did not receive any substantial opposition.
  • At existing articles, discussion of how best to convert parenthetical citations into currently accepted formats should be held if there is objection to a particular method. There is no rush and no need for edit wars. However, once again, discussion should center around how rather than whether the change is to be made, as the latter is decided here.

Once again, many thanks to the participants here for your well-considered thoughts and exemplary conduct in this discussion. Seraphimblade Talk to me 18:13, 5 September 2020 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.