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English-language sources should be given whenever possibleEdit


i currently have an issue with a user on Talk:Battle of Jenin due to a problematic translation to a newspaper article. this translation page is added with personal highly POV thoughts and unverifiable references in regards to the original article.

the user keeps stating that "English sources must be used, while in this case it is clearly a non reliable and unprofessional source that is also known as POV.

i suggest some statement be issued about such a case in the "Citing sources" article, so that issues like this would not repeat for other users. however, i do not know how to raise the issue in the proper channels and could use a little bit assistance on the matter.

p.s. a comment on the Talk:Battle of Jenin#gush shalom source, would be a generous act to help end this conflict. Jaakobou 00:14, 3 July 2007 (UTC) ( updated Jaakobou 14:01, 3 July 2007 (UTC) )

As a matter of fact, regardless of language all reliable sources should be cited. Also, if you are having issues with another user regarding an article, try an request for comment or a mediation case. Miranda 14:04, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
anyone interested in helping on working this into the "Citing sources" article? Jaakobou 11:15, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Comment - editors might be interested to know that this problem was solved by deleting this detailed and undisputed personal account from the article. The solution previous to this, apparently prefered by the nominator, was to include a misleading synopsis sourced only to this foreign language report. We've had no explanation why he now wishes to keep this account out of the article. PalestineRemembered 11:35, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Purpose of this article.Edit

I have raised this a couple of times as a side-issue on discussion of other points, and have been shut down each time. OK side-issue-wise. I now want to raise it as a main discussion point.

Citing a section of an articleEdit

Is there a standard for citing a specific section of a long article in a web page? This section is linked from John N. Gray. I want to format the link as a reference in a citation template. Should I link to the section or to the article? What goes in the title?

Red Thrush 12:16, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

I am not aware of a standard. I would use the {cite encyclopedia} template, filling in as many of the parameters as possible, and put "section 4" in the pages parameter (or possibly the location parameter—check the template's documentation for parameter usage). By all means include the section in the URL (anything that gets your reader to closer to the text you are citing is good). Also, follow the Cite this entry link from the article itself for guidance. Finell (Talk) 00:12, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

Important question about: Say where you got itEdit

In the section Say where you got it, I'm wondering how far this requirement goes.

For example, it states, "It is improper to copy a citation from an intermediate source without making clear that you saw only that intermediate source. For example, you might find some information on a web page which says it comes from a certain book. Unless you look at the book yourself to check that the information is there, your reference is really the web page, which is what you must cite. The credibility of your article rests on the credibility of the web page, as well as the book, and your article must make that clear."

Now let's say that author Smith has written a book talking about widgets. In author Smith's book, he supports his argument that widgets can withstand 450 pounds of pressure by citing a book or study written by author Jones. Now, for Wikipedia purposes, let's say that editor Bob merely quotes author Smith regarding the pressure issue and then editor Jim doubts that claim is valid. Is it incumbent upon editor Bob to locate the book by author Jones and instead not only quote author Smith but must also must quote author Jones and give an inline quote to support the whole pressure issue?

I would support the requirement that editor Bob could use author Smith's book but also must quote the info from where author Smith got that info and that would be from author Jones. Plus, an inline quote from author Jones would also be appropriate.

Can someone verify whether this is the correct fashion by which to ideally cite a source? Thank you. Jtpaladin 14:09, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

In this case, the value was determined by Jones, and it is important to credit Jones. However, if you can't get Jones' original publication and must rely on Smith's somewhat unconvincing retelling, I'd recommend saying "Jones (citation) cited in Smith (citation)". It is not very pretty, but neither is the scholarship. That's how this problem is often solved in the scientific literature. Phytism 12:01, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

Sometimes Smith may be more of an expert on the subject than Jones, so although Smith gives credit to Jones for originally writing the material, Smith is the one with the knowledge to do a good job of picking Jones out from all his competitors as the one to believe. If that were the situation, and one were paraphrasing, it would suffice to cite Smith. --Gerry Ashton 14:37, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

In legal citation this problem is addressed by putting the more important source first regardless of which is being directly cited , thus using the example above, if we consider Jones primary we can use Phytism's method "Jones (citation) cited in Smith (citation)" but it would be far better to find Jones work and reference it directly. However if, as Gerry suggests, Smith is primary, we would use "Smith (citation) citing Jones (citation)" (in legal citation we would put the second reference in parens). Either way Jones should be referenced because Smith didn't come up with this on his own, but the second version - when used appropriately - is sound scholarship and there is no need to go to Jones, often we don't even have the full citation to Jones available. I would suggest that a lot depends on both the specialization and credibility of both sources AND the importance of the information in the earlier source. Doug. -- DDHME 20:46, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Wiki linking web retrieval/access dates is trivialEdit

The suggested practice of wiki linking web retrieval/access dates (example 1: Wikipedia:Embedded citations#In References, example 2: Wikipedia:Citing sources#Embedded links) is a form of trivia. Trivia is frowned upon in Wikipedia as denoted by the tag {{trivia}}. - Steve3849 talk 14:28, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

No, it is not trivia. Because many Web pages change over time, the access date is a way of indicating the particular version of the page that was used as a source. The policy in favor of providing access dates applies to all Web citations, not just in embedded links. Scholarly journals often require access dates in citations to Web pages for the same reason. Finell (Talk) 22:07, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Let me clarify as my point has been missed. Citing dates, which I agree is important, does not require an actual wiki link to that date. Have you tried the examples I gave? October 27th through-the-ages. What does that have to do with a particular reference? It is trivia. Including dates for retrieval is not the matter of my criticism. Wiki linking the specific date of an arbitrary year for a specific reference is my criticism. Please follow the link to 10-27 as suggested in my initial post. How is this a matter of scholarly reference for any article other than as that page suggests in it's own references "On This Day?" "On This Day" subjects are trivia. - Steve3849 talk 22:26, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Wikilinking dates has the side effect of presenting the dates, to a logged in reader, in the form specified by the user. The choices are
  • No preference
  • 16:12, January 15, 2001
  • 16:12, 15 January 2001
  • 16:12, 2001 January 15
  • 2001-01-15T16:12:34
That is the reason for wikilinking dates, not because there is an interesting article about the date. --Gerry Ashton 22:31, 3 July 2007 (UTC)
Thank you - Steve3849 talk 22:37, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Placement of footnote reference tagsEdit

I have changed the entry under Wikipedia:Footnotes#Where to place reference tags to match this article. But I have two points I would like to raise:

  • Should we change the section heading in this article from "Placement of footnote reference tags" to "Where to place reference tags"?
  • Until I changed it to match this article's section the footnote article's section started with "Place a ref tag at the end of the term, phrase, sentence, or paragraph to which the note refers." Which is I think clearer than the current wording "Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence, while others are referenced at the end." Does anyone object with replacing the latter with the former in this article?

--Philip Baird Shearer 09:26, 4 July 2007 (UTC)

I think you turned an awkward phrase into a very sleek one! Dysmorodrepanis 07:57, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Making references for use throughout the projectEdit

It's handy being able to use the <ref name="XYZ"> function, but when working on a different article you have to start again from scratch. Wouldn't it be possible to create 'fixed' reference names for commonly used reference works, so that people can just use 'ref name' straight away on a new article? Users could just add a new reference to the list each time they needed to use multiple references. My only concern is a) is it feasible with the software and b) What about existing reference names?

In terms of b) I think we could easily solve that problem by using names that would never be used normally. For example, I might add the name "Darwin" to refer to Origin of Species, but another article may already be using the same ref name for Descent of Man. To avoid a clash, we could add some simple code before the name or something like that - for example 'rnDarwin' for 'reference name Darwin'. I doubt there would be any existing references using 'rn'. We could also just use different code perhaps, so that there could not be any clashes. Richard001 03:41, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

See m:Wikicite. Both the current version and the old proposal. (SEWilco 03:49, 6 July 2007 (UTC))

References in wikipedia listsEdit

Please comment in Wikipedia_talk:Verifiability#Verifiability in lists. `'Miikka 23:18, 5 July 2007 (UTC)

Citing image sourcesEdit

Hi there,

I'm an admin on the Afrikaans Wikipedia and having a disagreement with a user who only cites the home page of the site from which he downloads images and doesn't link to the page containing the image. The sites where he gets his images from are quite difficult to navigate and in German, which makes it near impossible for a non-German speaker to try and track down the specific page. I have asked him to add the url of the page on which the picture appears, but his argument is that this is not mentioned explicitly anywhere.

Our policies are based on the English Wikipedia's and I was wondering if anyone could help to point me to a page where this is mentioned explicitly? I provided him with a link to Wikipedia:Cite_your_sources#Images, but I have a feeling he is going to argue that the example is just that: an example, and that it still doesn't say that he has to link to the page containing the image.

Any help or advice would be appreciated. Anrie 16:58, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

How about Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Images? -- Boracay Bill 21:57, 6 July 2007 (UTC)


Images must include source details and a copyright tag on the image description page. It is important that you list the author of the image if known (especially if different from the source), which is important both for copyright and for informational purposes. Some copyright licenses require that the original author receive credit for their work. If you download an image from the web, you should give the URL:

   Source: Downloaded from

I pointed him in this direction - but so far he's refused to answer, even though he's been active there. Thank you for the help though, I appreciate it. Anrie 08:02, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Citation of J. Random does not mean generally acceptedEdit

I seem not to be able to edit this page, which is just as well, but I have seen a problem with a contributor citing anybody, at all, and thinking that that justified the use of phrasing that implied that this person's views were generally accepted. People should use language that admits that their statement is based on their citation, unless they are prepared to argue credibly that what they say is generally accepted. To do that, of course, they should be prepared to provide a citation of a work seemingly enjoying wide respect, in which what they say is said to be generally accepted. Do I do this? I doubt it, but Wikipedia should make me and everybody else do it, especially after a challenge. I think that ultimately, any implication of general acceptance is slipshod. Who cares? The rest of the world is crazy. Implying general acceptance without substantiation is easy and feels good, but doesn't serve the reader. FETSmoke 19:41, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Sources rarely say that the source's information is generally accepted. For example, P. K. Seidelmann's Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac, 1992, University Science Books says on page 56 "many countries also adopt daylight saving time". The words "generally accepted" do not appear in the paragraph. There is no convention in scholarly writing that I know of to routinely present evidence that a source is generally accepted, nor is there any footnote convention to format such evidence. In Wikipedia, if you think a source is not generally accepted, bring it up on the article's talk page. --Gerry Ashton 19:55, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
Gerry, could you clarify? I read you as saying two, contradictory things. My complaint was about Wikipedia contributors (NOT source authors) deliberately using language that would lead a reader to believe that an assertion was generally accepted, when it was nothing more (e.g.) than the speculation of some individual who managed to get published. As a test case, an alternative health advocate, initials HC, says that minuscule electric currents taken through the body kill parasites. Would it or would it not be best for me to add to an article on parasites the statement that minuscule electric currents kill them, followed by a footnote reference to a publication of HC, with no language to indicate that this view was far from generally held? FETSmoke 22:33, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
This style guideline, "Citing sources," is about the methods for citing sources. Given that you (FETSmoke) made your post on this page, I took it to mean that editors should not only word articles in a way that reflects the general acceptance of the source (or lack thereof), but should put something in the footnote to prove that the source is generally accepted. If you just meant editors should be careful about how they word articles, then I agree. --Gerry Ashton 23:28, 7 July 2007 (UTC)
Beautiful. Thanks. I'm looking for anything I can do to get this point more institutionalized (officially stated). I think some people (we don't all have cultural contact with the intellectual world or academia) just assume, innocently enough, that in view of Wikipedia policy, if they provide a citation, they are then justified in using language that implies that the statement is generally accepted in our civilization. FETSmoke 00:54, 8 July 2007 (UTC)
Well, the best defense in this case would be Only the highest quality sources are acceptable as support for extraordinary claims. from Wikipedia:Verifiability. I would suggest that you add that this is not the generally accepted view (or whatever) in the article and then defend your edit on the talk page. Unfortunately I know nothing about the subject myself, so I can't help much. Anrie 18:41, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

Too Many References?Edit

At what point are there too many references for a particular statement? If the statement is moderately (but not highly) contestable, for example something that has recently been in the news and has been established as fact by the media, how many references would be needed? Thanks. - ARC GrittTALK 20:27, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

I'm curious too. Check out the Halo:Combat Evolved article, it's rendered extremely difficult to read due to a HUGE number of refs on trivial statements. Maury 20:36, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
But since that article was recently promoted to Featured Article status, I'm guessing that it does not have too many inline citations. -- Satori Son 00:12, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
See the MOS on "overlinking", WP:OVERLINK, and the over-the-top example at [1]. -- Boracay Bill 23:42, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes, but that section of the MOS refers only to internal wikilinking, not outside references. Ditto for the example.
In general, every statement of fact or opinion, but not necessarily every single sentence, should be attributed to a reliable published source. But each such statement probably does not need more than one citation unless it is particularly contentious. Then perhaps two or three would be called for, but even that would depend on the quality of the reference(s).
In short, it's really a case-by-case determination, so I'm not sure there's much guidance we can give without a specific example. -- Satori Son 00:12, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
I hope I'm not too late, but I'd like to get your collective opinion on Dulwich College, which I reduced from 60 references down to 11 by removing specific page citations (90% of them came from only two books - see this edit). It has recently been reverted by an editor who claims page numbers should be included when known, regardless of how many there are. Is this article over-referenced in its current state? Hoof Hearted 18:33, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
If a specific fact is found on a specific page in a major-length work - so that a reader checking the source would be hard pressed without such assistance, it is nice to include the page number. Dysmorodrepanis 08:13, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
In some academic settings, particularly when dealing with controversial material, one would expect a minimum of one citation per sentence. The only time I would try to reduce references is if a statement is sourced by multiple citations that are of equal academic credibility, and they all say the same thing on the subject. But even then, showing multiple sources for a single statement is sometimes the only way to overcome challenges to the statements. On Wikipedia, some articles are hotbeds for controversy, and very strong citations are of particular importance for such articles. Buddhipriya 18:52, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
As a good rule of thumb: "enough" sources. That is, if it's uncontroversial and trivial or general, not even an inlined citation may be necessary as long as the reference work is given in the list of sources. If its uncontroversial and specific, one source. If it's controversial, at least one source for any significant POV in the controversy. If it has to be assembled from multiple lines of evidence - no scientist knows all material on the subject, and interdisciplinary research is always demanded but not that often really delivered - it is obviously necessary to cite all relevant sources for the issue at hand. E.g. see American Kestrel footnote 2 (and these are about half of the available sources... more will inevitably follow when I've got them. As a side note, in such cases always try to start with reading the newest sources. Some day, this will save you a lot of rv work...) Dysmorodrepanis 08:13, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Amalgamating multiple references for the same source?Edit

I've been working on articles that use the same source as reference for a couple of different points. But entering a ref tag against all points results in the source being listed multiple times in the references section. Is that the desired behaviour? Or is it possible to make multiple ref tags point to the same reference source listing? Thanks --Irrevenant [ talk ] 01:10, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

If you're just citing an entire source and don't need page numbers for each citation, then use the <ref name="name"> ... </ref> code. For information on its usage, see Wikipedia:Footnotes#Citing a footnote more than once. Pretty simple, really.
If you need to use unique page numbers for each inline citation, then it gets more complicated. One possible solution is the relatively new Template:Rp, but I haven't yet used it myself and I don't know how widely it's accepted; it's only used in a handful of articles thus far.[2]
There are also a some ref tag customization features discussed at mw:Extension:Cite/Cite.php, but that's a little over my head. -- Satori Son 01:46, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
<ref name> is what I was after. Thanks --Irrevenant [ talk ] 08:29, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately, use of named references in that way makes the article more difficult to maintain, often causing structural errors when casual editors make a change to one use of a named reference with no systematic checking for collateral damage. Also, the lack of page numbers makes citations difficult to verify. I generally dislike seeing named references and tend to challenge any general book citations on the basis that that are vague and difficult to verify. Buddhipriya 18:59, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

References in headings?Edit

Is the reference for the route description in U.S. Route 50 placed appropriately? If not, where should it go? --NE2 20:47, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Also, is it necessary to reference every part of that section to a different map, as in State Route 1002 (Lehigh County, Pennsylvania) and suggested at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject U.S. Roads#Reformatting of U.S. Route articles? This seems like overreferencing to me; for instance, in that same article, the "Diners of Pennsylvania" cite doesn't give page numbers, and none of the links to scanned maps give locations on the maps (like "grid A2"). --NE2 22:11, 10 July 2007 (UTC)

Further ReadingEdit

I think the guideline related to the "Further Reading" sections should be expanded. The guideline should only encourage the inclusion of high quality references in the further reading section, while, for now, the practice is encouraging the multiplication of low quality references.

It seems to me the FR (Further Reading) section is very important, it's where wikipedia is sending people interested to explore the subject further, we should be certain only to include references of high quality. However, this section seems to be taken lightly. I'm currently trying to clean some articles where, IMO, there's too much references of low quality (even some containing misleading remarks contradicting directly the article), but I found that there's some odd reversal of the burden of the proof taking place. Normally, if someone is trying to add something to an article, if it's even moderately controversial, the modification will be reverted and moved to the discussion so consensus can be made, and THEN the article will be modified.

For the FR section, it's very often the exact opposite. Books are added without any discussion to justify their inclusion; still, attempts to remove the references and talk about it are tortuous. By making it so hard to clean the FR section, and so easy to add new references, the FR section will become (or are already) libraries of poor references. And it's very sad, because the FR should be made to encourage readers to acquire a deeper understanding of the subject. I think it's disrespectful to the readers to allow anything to be added in this section with no or little discussion about the references quality. -PhDP (talk) 09:07, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the above problem statement. I tend to try to delete the Further Reading section completely if the article is well-referenced and has a credible References section. The lax approach to Further Reading is connected to the poor referencing on many articles. If books are listed in Further Reading but are not actually used in Notes (which results in their inclusion as References), why are they being mentioned? If the book is so wonderful why is it not cited anywhere in the article? Note that the References section is supposed to contain a list of works actually cited in Notes. Thus books listed in Further Reading are not "References", they are book suggestions. See: WP:LAYOUT Buddhipriya 19:05, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes, I also usually eliminate "Further Reading" sections. Then again, I usually do natural science articles; it is certainly different in the Humanities. But often, "Further Reading" should be nothing but a holding pen for future references to work into the text - if the works therein are not popular treatments of the topic (which still may hold some WP-worthy gems), inclusion in a "Further Reading" section usually implies that the editor has not read them; ese they could be cited. Dysmorodrepanis 08:17, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Should we ever box in referencesEdit

With the recent increase in references people have started to add scroll boxes around the references (see e.g. European_Union#Footnotes), effectively hiding the majority of the references to the reader unless extra scrolling actions are taken.

Do we think references should be treated in this way??
I strongly think not because:
A quick glance at the ref-list (ie without scrolling) gives a lot of information on the quality of citations. It also gives a good overview whether the article relies on a single repeated references, or that there is a true richness of references underlying the article. (being an academic myself this is one of the most powerful ways I use to judge the value of a scientific publication)
Also, some browsers may not depict the boxed references correctly.
Thirdly scrollbars within scroll bar areas are not a very good thing with regard to general usability for the less browser savvy among us.

Furthermore there seems to be no true argument to box the references, as they are usually at the complete back of the article and this will not reduce readability in any way, not even if the list of references is truly staggering (e.g. over 1,000 refs). Hence I would strongly call for a wiki-guideline in the referencing page stating clearly that the refs should not ever be boxed. Arnoutf 16:46, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

That boxing is a horrible idea; perhaps we can go for a simpler guideline: don't do things that cause the article to no longer be printable. Kirill 17:26, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
I concur that this is a bad idea, and also concur with Kirill regarding the simpler guideline: don't do anything that makes the article unprintable. Carom 18:20, 13 July 2007 (UTC)
For the benefit of the reader, the scrolling was removed with this diff.--SallyForth123 07:23, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

PMID citation filler is no longer workingEdit

This site appears to be dead.

  • Template builder — Given an ISBN, a PubMed ID, etc., output a citation which can be pasted into a Wikipedia article.

Pdeitiker 19:03, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Working now just fine68.90.41.42 21:43, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

How do you source if...Edit

Ok, for this one album wikipedia page I am working on, there is a problem. There are few sources I can find that are good, HOWEVER, there is this one perfect source. It was a Vh1 Ultimate Albums documentary back in 1994 of the band in the era of the album, interviewing them on it, giving history, it's the best source available. However, how do you source it? An example would be great. Or, would I have to upload it to a video streaming site and source that? Someone please help, it could really make the article 99% better. Xihix 22:21, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

The purpose of citation is to allow a reader to locate the source. Was the documentary sold on DVD or videotape? If so, someone could find it in a library, even if it is no longer for sale. --Gerry Ashton 22:25, 15 July 2007 (UTC)
I believe it was sold on videotape, but I'm not sure where. I do know a few sites that have the entire documentary for download. Xihix 22:43, 15 July 2007 (UTC)
No, you don't have to actually upload it (that would most likely be a copyright violation, anyway). There's no requirement that every reference must be readily available online; it's just strongly preferred by many editors.
As far as how to cite it, the {{Cite video}} template is a good option. -- Satori Son 00:36, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Intermediary sites, dead links, retrieval/access datesEdit

1. What is the proper citation format for a footnote for an article published by an intermediary source/site? Can't seem to find this.

2. What is the protocol for citing an article from a magazine that does not publish online, but which another site has archived online? The intermediary web site allows readers to verify the information, yet the site may not have permission to have republished the article in question. What should be done? Is the link valuable, or is it better to include a footnote to the original source (if you saw it there also) without any link because of the potential copyright issue for the intermediary source's site?

3. What should be done for footnotes with dead links?

4. If an article's footnotes don't currently indicate retrieval dates, should something be done about this? Or should only new footnotes indicate accessed dates?

Thanks --Melty girl 01:22, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

1. The 14th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style in §15.124 offers this example of a chapter that was originally published in a publication other than the one being cited:
Fromson, Orlando. "Progressives in the late Twentieth Century." In To Left and Right: Cycles in American Politics, edited by Wilmer F. Turner. Boston: Lighthouse Press, 1990. First published in North American Political Review 18 (fall 1988): 627–42.
2. Don't cite websites that appear to be violating the copyright.
3. If you can't repair a dead link, leave it to show that a source existed when the information was added, and also because a more skillful editor might be able to repair the link.
4. Access dates are not usually important if a publication date is provided, but it may be useful to add one if the article concerns an ongoing event. --Gerry Ashton 02:45, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
1. Thank you!
2. It's OK to cite a publication without a link, right? (Because the article was never published online by the magazine?)
3. Aha.
4. Is a biography an ongoing event?
--Melty girl 05:02, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
2. Naturally, your wouldn't be able to provide a link if the source was never published online. You do have to cite the printed material accordingly, though.
4. If the person is still alive, then yes, a biography is an ongoing event. This might also be true of people who are very recently deceased. Anrie 07:07, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
Thank you kindly! --Melty girl 08:22, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
Sometimes, you find for example re"print"s of scientific papers that lack images etc. In such cases, I give the proper citation (which in newer papers usually includes a digital object identifier for which there is the very useful {{doi| }} template) and add an additional link to the full-text with a remark on the format it's in such as "HTML without images" etc. That should provide both the information needed to get the original article (which usually is not freely accessible in such cases) and the re"print", and warn users that the latter is not identical with the original. Dysmorodrepanis 14:01, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
As for publication vs. access dates, web sites often have no publication date, or some generic statement that appears on every page such as "Copyright John Doe 1988-2007". If there is no publication date, or it appears the publication date does not give a real indication of when the material was written, an access date is important. Also, if the event is ongoing, new information might come to light, and the publication date might not make it clear whether the web site was written before or after the new information. For example, if a web site was trying to guess how the Harry Potter books would turn out, a publication date of "2006" would be sufficient, but if the publication date was "2007" you should add an access date as well. --Gerry Ashton 18:58, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
Should all editors, then, infer from this that editors need to keep a record of accessdates added because the access is a current-year access, and then need to go back next year to clean up those no-longer-needed accessdates? Wikipedia articles are not dated,. and (IMO -- I don't know whether this is Guideline-supported) Wikipedia articles should contain no material which depends implicitly on the time/date of the insertion of the material in question. -- Boracay Bill 23:38, 16 July 2007 (UTC)
"Wikipedia articles should contain no material which depends implicitly on the time/date of the insertion of the material in question." - this is obviously untenable (though the rationale is perfectly valid), as anyone who has ever edited articles on emerging scientific issues (such as Colony Collapse Disorder) over months can attest: knowledge does get obsolete, and not all obsolete knowledge can at once be weeded out. Access dates are a nice bit of information. Not necessary, but helpful in a pinch. What is more important is the date of last revision of Web sources - unfortunately, this is not always available, and then, the access date has to take over. But in general, access dates just help keeping track. Dysmorodrepanis 07:55, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

I would say the purposes of an access date would be to allow a future reader to:

  • know the latest possible publication date, if there is no publication date given in the source
  • understand discrepancies between Wikipedia and the source that could be due to the source being edited after the portion of the Wikipedia article was written
  • find archival material stored at the cited web site.

I see no reason for access dates to be updated or removed unless the fact cited needs to be changed due to new or better information. --Gerry Ashton 01:03, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

I agree. Dysmorodrepanis 07:55, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
I was just thinking about this. If the destination link is dead or no longer includes the information required it is often removed. This might lead us to think that the access date is a bit pointless. Of course there are the counter arguments, including "it's just what you do" and the use of web archive systems such as the Wayback Machine. violet/riga (t) 10:07, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
I have formerly removed deadlinks, but now, I try to outcomment them if they contained subject matter that is not trivial or replaceable by another source. That way, the information can eventually (hopefully) be referenced by another source. Dysmorodrepanis 07:55, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

References templateEdit

I've found that {{reflist}} seems to give a better display than a bare <references /> tag -- should we change the article to recommend it instead? Or does that violate the "take it easy with cite templates" advice given elsewhere in the article?--SarekOfVulcan 17:41, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

I just tried them side by side, and couldn't see any difference. Could you explain what the difference in appearance is? --Gerry Ashton 18:20, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
For one thing, it uses references-small: for another, it accepts parameters for column count or width.--SarekOfVulcan 19:15, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
I have not studied the fine points you are mentioning. I suggest that a general statement that {{reflist}} is preferred to <references/> is not appropriate because it does not actually describe the preferred appearance. Instead, it would be necessary to make a statement that specifies exactly every single character that the editor should type; otherwise nothing is really specified. --Gerry Ashton 19:39, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
I have observed that "X is preferred" usually actually means "I personally prefer X, and so should you". I think mentioning {{reflist}} would be useful, though I don't think that this mentioning belongs in this guideline (IMO, this guideline is ranging far beyond how to write citations in articles, but that seems to be a minority view). -- Boracay Bill 23:50, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Scrolling Reference ListEdit

I have seen various discussions about scrolling reference lists:

  1. Wikipedia:Templates for deletion/Log/2007 June 11#Template:Scrollref
  2. Wikipedia talk:Citing sources#Should we ever box in references
  3. Talk:Disappearance of Madeleine McCann#Reflist Formatting
  4. Wikipedia talk:Footnotes#scroll box for references

I strongly believe that the templates for deletion discussion sets a precedent which means that scrolling reference lists should never be used. As such I have been in a discussion (see #3), however no progress is being made in this discussion. The editors in the talk page for the article seem to be using the argument that "regular editors" of an article have a more valid opinion than other editors (or in this case the vast majority of editors, see #1). I believe this is against the philosophy of Wikipedia, though I cannot find any guildline or policy which states as such.

I have seen scrolling reference lists on many other pages aswell, and I have left the present as I did not really put much thought into them. I have now thought about it and I feel that it is clearly a bad idea to have scrolling reference lists. I wish to make a formal guideline discussion which sets out when (if ever) a scrolling reference list is appropriate for an article. How would I go about this? Thanks - ARC GrittTALK 17:10, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

There is another discussion Wikipedia_talk:Footnotes#scroll_box_for_references.
I would like to see not using it becoming part of policy as well, but don't know how to get that done. Arnoutf 17:38, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
Help:Modifying and Creating policy states that "Discussion on policy talk pages [is] Most suitable for small changes within the given policy, where the talk page may reflect consensus of editors most active in connection with that policy and its development." We should discuss either here or at Wikipedia talk:Footnotes to change the guidelines. - ARC GrittTALK 21:58, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
strong agreement that changes to project-wide policy and guidelines should not be made by a small group working in isolation without obtaining wide agreement. I have no idea what arrangements might exist to support this. -- Boracay Bill 23:21, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

I believe this is the correct place to address this issue, because it is just as applicable to the reference list for Harvard references as it is for footnotes. --Gerry Ashton 23:36, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

I have mentioned this dicsussion at the Wikipedia:Village Pump. --Gerry Ashton 23:53, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
Either here or in Wikipedia:Footnotes would be a good place to mention that scrolling reference lists are inappropriate; they're both linked to as subsidiary pages of the Wikipedia Manual of Style, which governs this sort of question. The house style is necessarily flexible, but puts reasonble limits on formatting and layout—and should definitely bar scrolling boxes inside articles. They break when someone tries to print an article, and they may not copy properly when pages are mirrored. Plus, they're a nuisance for someone who is trying to actually look at the references. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 01:15, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

Always place references after punctuationEdit

see Wikipedia talk:Cite sources/archive17#"Footnotes come after punctuation" for previous long discussion

"Some editors prefer the style of those journals, like Nature, which place references before punctuation."

Can we strike this and make after punctuation our house style? Placing refs before punctuation looks awful. I thought this was the recommended style, anyway. Did someone change it? — Omegatron 01:30, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
Refs after punctuation is our house style and has been ever since the ref tags were introduced, Philip Baird Shearer recently changed it, both here and at Wikipedia:Footnotes. I've changed it back. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:51, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
The prescription on where to place references tags was added to Wikipedia talk:Footnotes by SlimVirgin at 05:38, 17 May 2006 without any agreed consensus to do so. The prescription on where to place references tags was added to Wikipedia:Citing sources by SlimVirgin at 18:54, 29 October 2006.
SlimVirgin, where and when in the talk pages was there a consensus for the prescription you placed in the guidelines? I only changed it after a very long discussion (Wikipedia talk:Cite sources/archive17#"Footnotes come after punctuation") where the wording was discussed in depth and a compromise wording was agreed. Why, given that a consensus to differ was reached only two weeks ago, do you thin you should have a carte blanche to change it back to your prescription on other styles without a consensus to do so? --Philip Baird Shearer 22:32, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
can we just say not to deviate from a style already established bin an article, and work on something substantial, such as adding references to unsourced articles? They need references, let the periods go where they may. DGG (talk) 03:30, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
There was a discussion recently (see the most recent archive) that came to the conclusion that we should permit either system and not waste time changing back and forth. Personally I am happy with letting people do whatever they want so long as each article has a consistent look and the actual citations are clear. Christopher Parham (talk) 04:47, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
Having spent an age getting a to compromise wording, I would not be happy to see the the removal of the compromise unless I am allowed to put in my own preferred style :-) --Philip Baird Shearer 13:27, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
Although I would personally prefer that Wikipedia have a standard style that was consistent across all articles, many editors obviously have strongly differing opinions on the matter and the current wording is a decent compromise. It's a hornets' nest that is not worth stirring up. -- Satori Son 14:04, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
The fact that many editors have personal feelings about things is the reason why organizations adopy a MOS. The purpose of a MOS is to establish a clear specification for how the organization wants to do things. I recognize that Wikipedia often places respect for diversity of views above other criteria such as consistency of style. In this case I think that something as basic as where to place references relative to punctuation should be standardized across all articles. Failure to state clear standards results in bickering over individual articles, time that would be better spent writing an encyclopedia. While it can be frustrating to continue to try to reach agreement on a single standard, the time invested in doing so may save far more time out in the trenches. Regarding the specific style question, I think that all references should immediately follow punctuation (except when used within the midst of a sentence), and that that method should be the only standard approved for use on Wikipedia. Buddhipriya 19:33, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. There is strong consensus for this. Ref tags before punctuation look awful. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:52, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
SV where is your strong consensus? The last time it was discussed two weeks ago (Wikipedia talk:Cite sources/archive17#"Footnotes come after punctuation") the wording as of yesterday was agreed. It should remain until such time as a new consensus is reached. --Philip Baird Shearer 21:01, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

I have read that placing the reference immediately after punctuation with no space between the punctuation and the reference prevents the reference number from wrapping to the next line by itself. In my sandbox, I put some references before punctuation, and I was not able to make the reference number wrap to the next line. Can anyone confirm this is a real problem. If so, it could serve as a reason for Wikipedia to adopt reference-after-punctuation as a house style, apart from opinions about what looks best. After all, other publications have the same appearance issues Wikipedia does, and some of them seem to not be concerned with how refererence-before-punctuation looks, but they don't have Wikipedia's line-wrapping software. --Gerry Ashton 21:02, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

As far as I understand if there is no space then the reference number will not fall onto the next line, which is as desired. The line-break problem applies to the issue of a space intervening between punctuation and the reference, but not to the order of the punctuation and the reference. Christopher Parham (talk) 21:08, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

In general, Wikipedia has always favored putting references after punctuation. This looks aesthetically the best, it is common elsewhere, and it gives our articles a uniform appearance. There is no consensus to move away from this standardized format, and a very broad one would be needed to do so. Crum375 21:13, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

To use the very objective argument the other way... References after punctuation look horrible, aesthetically terrible. Or in other words this is in the eye of the beholder. Of course me being from Europe I prefer the UK published style of Nature over the Chicago referencing style. Perhaps the beauty of reference position is a cultural thing. Please do not use subjective arguments such as those concerning 'beauty'; that will not contribute anything. Personally I am in favour of the internally consistent style that may differ between articles. The same way as we allow English UK and English US spelling. Arnoutf 21:58, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
Crum375 you wrote In general, Wikipedia has always favored putting references after punctuation. Please read the archives. SlimVirgin introduced the instructions on where to put reference tags last year and since it was introduced there has never been a consensus on this issue. If there has, (other than two weeks ago when we agreed to dissagree) then please indicate where and when you think this consensus was reached. --Philip Baird Shearer 22:32, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
That's not true. Ever since these ref tags were introduced, people have placed them after the punctuation. I may have added it to a guideline, but it was already happening.
I also had to give up something I wanted in that regard, Philip. I wanted the house style to allow a space between the punctuation and the tag, and I argued in favor of it for quite a few months, and continued using the space myself, but the consensus was strongly against me, so I gave up — and I stick to the consensus style myself when I write now, even though I don't much like it. We can't say of every style issue: oh, it doesn't matter, let people do what they want. We need some degree of uniformity. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 23:09, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
I think the relevant technical features (same font, same background, etc.) provide a quite satisfactory level of uniformity. Every article is written and edited by a different group of people; I don't see much value in using style guidelines to create the impression that Wikipedia is monolithic. Christopher Parham (talk) 23:15, 20 July 2007 (UTC)
SV. No one is denying that some/many (who knows) editors put reference tags after the punctuation. But there are also a lot who do not. When you introduced you wording prescribing the method to use Ligulem, wrote a bot to change them he changed 600 articles before complaints stopped him. At that time there were 12,000 articles with reference tags before the punctuation if only 10% of those were not mistakes that is a lot of editors who disagreed with your prescription. The new wording which was agreed by editors two weeks ago (Wikipedia talk:Cite sources/archive17#"Footnotes come after punctuation") is a compromise which most seem able to live with and one which promotes the method you like. Why do you want to force your way or no way on other editors? --Philip Baird Shearer 16:35, 21 July 2007 (UTC)
I think perhaps it would be well to recognize that this is not purely an US project, and there are differences between the usual punctuation in the US and the UK. We accept spelling differences, we accept differences in the use of single and double quote, we can accept this. We do need some degree of uniformity, but this is just a wiki--just a community-built online encyclopedia, and trying for uniformity in details where they are not necessary is is a waste of time and effort. those who want to have a uniform standard of details might be happier in a project where rules are enforced from the top. There is something we need more important the the right sequence of punctuation marks in references--we need more references, and any time spent in discussing or correcting this does not improve the important aspects of the encyclopedia. DGG (talk) 04:59, 21 July 2007 (UTC)
Discussion is valuable, (though it gets a 'trifle' long-winded sometimes). Style guidelines, which promote consistency, are very desirable. Uniformity, of the "monolithic" type, is neither desirable, nor achievable, as noted just above by Users: Christopher Parnham and DGG. Consistency should not over-ride intelligibility, nor preclude valuable additions being made. All users who make sensible suggestions on talkpages are helping to improve WP, indirectly. This matter, of where to place the footnote tag, can be decided by experienced editors, who learn what to to by observing current examples they find in good articles. We have to put up with variation in spelling (US-Comm.), and that works well enough. (kicked two cents into the kitty) Newbyguesses - Talk 05:59, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

(outdent; general comment)

Isn't this a British (or commonwealth-) English vs US English issue? And shouldn't it be treated as such (i.e. depends on the subject, and the format used by the first editor to cite a ref)?

That said, if I give [1] three references in a sentence[2], why should only the last be outside the punctuation?[3] Doesn't the correct position perhaps depend on whether the preference is for the final clause, or the whole sentence? Andy Mabbett | Talk to Andy Mabbett 18:29, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

The second one is wrong; it would come after the comma. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 04:46, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
I've asked this many times. Can someone show me an FA, GA, or just a very well-written article that places refs before punctuation (not counting ones written by people involved in this dispute)? SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 04:50, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
As I said on the other page, this isn't a very compelling point. Because the relevant guidelines have until recently endorsed one method all FAs (and probably most GAs) have been changed to use that method. But by taking a look at FACs you can see that many well-written articles use the other system until they hit FAC. Enough articles have this issue that a script was written to change them around. Search "wikipedia featured article candidates references punctuation" or see, e.g. this FAC: "I was always taught (in the UK) the opposite. Since the language is in British English, is it not permitted for the article punctuation to follow British English convention also? It would seem perverse to use British English spelling and American English punctuation style!" It's happy that there is a script to make that change, because, as with other elements of the MoS, we are putting authors to work making changes that add little or no value. Christopher Parham (talk) 05:07, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
All FAs and GAs are written with refs after punc, but NOT because it's a rule; rather, it's a rule because that's the way all good editors (that I know of) write them. That's why I asked to see an exception.
This isn't a British convention. The overwhelming majority of British publications also put refs after punctuation. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 05:13, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Whether all FAs and GAs are written thus is an unprovable statement so it is therefore irrelevant (unless you can indeed provide the evidence). I have had the personal experience that I had to change the internally consistent formatting of an article at GA review because it would fail otherwise on the sole basis that the refs were prior to punctuation. In other words, this is a circular argument, by imposing this disputed guideline in GA and FA review you will make the guideline valid, but not through argument.
Also, who are you to determine who are good editors.
Again the statement "overwhelming majority" of British publons is an unproven statement. I could as easily state that only there is only a small minority of US journals placing the references behind punctuation (I challenge you to prove the opposite).
Please let us try to keep this discussion at acceptable arguments rather than the type of "everybody knows I am right, and if you think I am not right you are not a worthwhile editors so I don't need to listen to you" type of arguments in above statement Arnoutf 13:10, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
I don't think that Philip Baird Shearer and the few other users he has found that support him constitute a broad enough sample to override the existing established convention. Wikipedia is a mature publication and may set a preferred style. Changing horses in midstream is always a bad idea. Making Wikipedia inconsistent just to satisfy a small number of users is also a bad idea. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. IPSOS (talk) 16:29, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Making a petty rule on this subject was a bad idea to begin with. Like AE/BE, leave it alone. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:58, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
As I just pointed out, Slim, that is simply untrue; merely examine the many FAC's where editors are asked to change the style, of which I provided one example. Christopher Parham (talk) 16:31, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
I've worked for several UK publishers on medical/scientific works and, before editing Wikipedia, I'd never seen a stylesheet with references after the punctuation. I do think this is probably another UK/US dichotomy. Espresso Addict 14:15, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, Chris, I don't follow. You seem to be agreeing with me that all FAs and GAs use refs after punc (the house style), while also saying it is simply untrue. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:16, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
It is therefore untrue that all articles of FA and GA standard use this format. The circular causation: GA insists on the format because this page said so, because it's GA practice, is irrelevant; and it would continue to be irrelevant if GA were worthy of respect. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:58, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Okay, sorry if I'm being dense, but I'm not getting this. All articles that go for FA or GA are required to have refs after punctuation. This is a long-standing convention, not because of any "rule," but because it's what good editors do themselves, and want others to do for the sake of consistency. That is why it was added here as a "rule," because it describes best practice. It didn't become best practice because it was added to a guideline.
My question therefore was whether there are execeptions (and it's still not answered), so — could someone show me one FA or GA article that places refs before punctuation, or failing that, one very well-written article that does it (excluding any article where one of editors arguing for refs-before-punc here was the one to add them). In other words, if you are saying that refs-before-punc is a legitimate practice of good editors, please give some examples. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 23:16, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
FA and GA articles don't reflect, stylistically, the practices of good article writers. They reflect the practices of the nitpickers at FAC and GAC who enforce the style standards -- in many cases, the same people who water and nourish the ever-expanding thicket of rules that is our manual of style. If I changed all the text in Wikipedia to the color purple this wouldn't indicate that all of Wikipedia's editors prefered that color; it would indicate that I had undertaken sytemically to change all the articles based on my personal preference. And that is exactly what happened here -- a handful of people shared a personal preference, and used a variety of outlets, e.g. this guideline page and particularly FAC, to create the impression that their personal preferred method was the only acceptable one. Of course everyone is entirely well-meaning, but nonetheless, the result is undesirable. Christopher Parham (talk) 05:00, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Nature has references before the punctuation [3]. That's good enough for me. Andy Mabbett | Talk to Andy Mabbett 23:02, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

We're aware of that, but what one journal does has no effect on what our house style should be. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 23:16, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
However you are implying that Wiki editors who have published in Nature and use that referncing style in Wiki are not good editors. Arnoutf 08:15, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
That is not implied at all. A good editor works to the rule of the publication. The same editor may also be published in other journals, and most likely put references after punctuation if that journal requires it that way. Or the journal reformats to their own specification prior to publishing. Don't make a mountain out of a molehill. IPSOS (talk) 21:25, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Continuing in this vein, what do you think would happen if an editor submitting their work to Nature insisted that it not be published unless Nature ignore their own standard and used reference after punctuation for the one particular article. It simply wouldn't get published. Everyone is encouraged to submit their work to Wikipedia, provided that they don't object to it being changed. So submit it as you will, but don't object to editors working to rule coming along to fix it. Big deal, this could be done with a bot... IPSOS (talk) 21:31, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
A bot could change all the spelling to one version or another. That does not make it desirable. It was because a bot was altering reference tags that I objected in the first place. There are academic journals which allow the author to pick their own style of reference tag placement, the IRRC is one. There is no reason why Wikipedia guidelines have to be prescriptive over this, as there are clearly a number of editors who do not think that the prescription is desirable. IPSOS you still have not answered my question "would [you] be willing to support the Nature style placement of reference tags providing that is the only style recommended?". As you point out above a bot could be used to do the conversions so your previous objection "That's an incredible amount of makework," does not hold water. What I find strange is that you say that would object to converting to Nature style placements because it would be a lot of work, but you think it is fine to cause a lot of work converting Nature style placements to CMS style placements, chiefly, it seems to me, on the grounds of aesthetics -- which are of course subjective. --Philip Baird Shearer 19:12, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

I tried to follow this discussion, but I found myself losing the will to live. My opinion: references should follow the fact they support and therefore normally be before the punctuation. References after the punctuation do not look any better than references before. Since there are strong feelings each way, the style guide should allow for either. Rjm at sleepers 06:06, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

This entire discussion is ridiculous. Just make sure that there are references. The way the references are presented to the reader (note, the reader, not the writer) is apparently a matter of deep personal importance to some individuals. OK, let's make this a reader preference, as we do for date formats. If this is so damn important, someone should be able to write the appropriate code as was done for dates. I personally don't care much what the format is and I really wish you would all spend more time adding references and less time arguing about where they should go. -Arch dude 14:22, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
Citations/footnotes before punctuation looks awful. This is obvious. The proper way to do it is to place them after punctuation. This should be obvious to everyone and should come without thinking. 'Nough said. There obviously isn't consensus to change this, as the fact that we are even having this discussion clearly demonstrates. So we leave it as is, which is obvious. Citations after punctuation, just like my signature here comes after this period. Kevin Baastalk 18:00, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
"Citations/footnotes before punctuation looks awful. This is obvious" - no, it's an opinion; and of no more weight than mine, which is to the contrary. Andy Mabbett | Talk to Andy Mabbett 20:14, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
Why then the period before the signature Ewulp 03:10, 29 July 2007 (UTC)???
How is your signature analogous to a footnote? Christopher Parham (talk) 03:37, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
It follows the sentence, but is not part of the sentence, and looks awful if placed before the punctuation Ewulp 03:50, 29 July 2007 (UTC).
It implies ownership; it belongs to the sentence or the sentence belongs to it. In either case, the sentence, (or paragraph), is the unit. That which owns or is owned by the unit, is not the unit, and therefore stands outside the Kevin Baastalk 19:21, 29 July 2007 (UTC) unit, and is connected to it, in a visual relationship that implies ownership.

There is, IMHO, one "hard" argument for not using after-punctuation: See e.g. the end of the second paragraph at Peregrine_Falcon#Description. I built that, and therefore I know that USFWS refers to the severing of the spinal column only (it is not a scholarly or very comprehensive ref - not considering the scope of the article), but Terres (1991) and White (1994) provide general and (comprehensive and scholarly) referencing for the entire paragraph.
With after-punctuation style, a reference that pertains to a single fact - maybe a single word - at the end of a paragraph looks exactly the same as one that pertains to the entire paragraph. This loss of information is not OK with this user.
It sure looks unusual, but it maxes out information conferred, which should have top priority for an encyclopedia. And when you realize that (if I have not overlooked something) in-paragraph references come consistently before punctuation in the article, it becomes rather obvious. Dysmorodrepanis 08:35, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

References on subpagesEdit

What is the policy on references on subpages? For example, Riddick has no references, but the main pages have references. Would that qualify it as referenced? Slavlin 00:02, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

I believe a subpage would have a name in the form "Riddick/Subpage ttle". I didn't notice any such subpages, and I don't even know if they are allowed in the article space. So I suppose you must mean something else. --Gerry Ashton 00:06, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
I might have my terminology wrong. I mean pages which are more specific than the primary page, such as characters in a movie or episodes in a series. Slavlin 00:11, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
This is a bit of a controversial issue, and the success of this method depends a lot on execution. If there are any quotes or very controversial statements on the main Riddick page, they probably ought to be supported directly there. Otherwise, my view is that placing the references on the daughter article only is reasonable. Christopher Parham (talk) 04:35, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
The policy is that all material challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, needs a ref, and of course the refs must be on the same page as the material itself. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 05:15, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Quoting public domain sources & plagiarismEdit

I'm having a continued discussion with another editor at Talk:Battle of Washita River about quoting public domain sources. I posted at the village pump a few days ago, & got some comments, but I think this merits discussion here, for possible emendation to the Wikipedia:Citing sources page, specifically, WP:CITE#When you quote someone. I'll begin by copying the discussion from Village Pump here, since due to VP archive policies it might get lost otherwise. --Yksin 19:22, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Copied over from WP:VPPEdit

I came here way of researching the allegation by an editor in an article I'm involved with that it is unnecessary to put quotation marks around quotations of public domain material so long as the public domain source is cited. Such plagiarism would result in a very poor grade in high school or college paper, but I'm having a rough time finding any official policy that Wikipedia might have on it. I do see at the Wikipedia:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards that the proposed standards advocates Honesty, by properly indicating just what it is that is taken from a public domain source &, if it's the entire article, saying so. -- a standard with which I wholeheartedly agree. But can anyone point me to current Wikipedia policy about quotation of PD sources?

By way of background, in the article at issue (fully protected article Battle of Washita River; see also Talk:Battle of Washita River), it was discovered that there were a lengthy quote from a copyrighted source that was not in quotation marks (which has since been removed by an admin as a copyvio); but that there was also an lengthy quotation from a PD source with no quotation marks that had originally been sourced, but its source removed through sloppy editing during an edit war.

Thanks for any assistance you can provide. -- Yksin 19:24, 19 July 2007 (UTC)

You're correct. Any quotation – public domain or not – should be set off with quotation marks or indented in a clearly defined block of text, along with a proper footnote or reference. While copying blocks of public domain text into Wikipedia doesn't expose anyone to a legal risk (no copyright infringement has taken place), failure to use quote marks and cite appropriately certainly carries a moral risk. Plagiarism is absolutely to be avoided in this, as in any, scholarly work.
Of course, the best solution in many cases is to paraphrase and rewrite the material in Wikipedia style. Few public domain sources are appropriately written for a general encyclopedia (though short passages are sometimes relevant primary source material). TenOfAllTrades(talk) 21:14, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
This is a very interesting topic. TOAT - your answer is compelling. I would assert that it is also important to attribute quotes the the proper sources (PD or not) because if I were to use a quote without citation, it would be implied that the work (quote) is my own. the_undertow talk 21:52, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for your replies. I also found this, in WP:CITE#When you quote someone, You should always add a citation when quoting published material, and the citation should be placed directly after the quotation, which should be enclosed within double quotation marks — "like this" — or single quotation marks if it's a quote-within-a-quote — "and here is such a 'quotation' as an example." For long quotes, you may wish to use Quotation templates. --Yksin 23:09, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
I find the <blockquote>''copied text''</blockquote> markup useful on talkpages, but find it doesn't sit so well within articles. LessHeard vanU 18:49, 21 July 2007 (UTC)

Continued discussion on public domain sources & plagiarismEdit

Since the above posts at WP:VPP, the conversation has continued at Talk:Battle of Washita River#Copyvio & misquoted footnote text removed; plagiarism discussion, with User:HanzoHattori continuing to insist that quotes from public domain sources don't need to be set off as quotes (through quotation marks or block quotes) as long as the source is given. I maintain, as I wrote there, that "The different between public domain & copyrighted text is that with public domain you don't have to ask the copyright owner's permission to quote the text because there is no copyright owner for PD text. But there is no different between PD & copyrighted text when it comes to plagiarism."

I propose clarification of WP:CITE#When you quote someone to say, You should always add a citation when quoting published material, regardless of whether the published material is under copyright or is in the public domain. Really, I think there needs to be a statement about plagiarism. Not that we're writing academic papers here, but the standards of an encyclopedia should had some standards about intellectual honesty.

Comments? --Yksin 19:22, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Clarification: I think what I meant a clarified text to say is, You should always add a citation when quoting published material, and should always set a quotation off with quotation marks or as a block quote, regardless of whether the published material you are quoting is under copyright or is in the public domain. --Yksin 20:13, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Yksin, it's poor form to copy public domain material and stick it in a Wikipedia article. I know there are editors who do it, but it's lazy and it leads to terrible writing, because much of the PD stuff is old (which is why it's PD), and the writing is often POV and fussy. That it's been plagiarized jumps off the page.
Therefore, it's far better to read the PD material, digest it, read some other things, then write the article in your own words, citing the sources as you go along, and quoting when you use the sources' words. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:32, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Oh, I completely agree, but User:HanzoHattori does not. At Talk:Battle of Washita River#Copyvio & misquoted footnote text removed; plagiarism discussion he has basically indicated that he thinks it's okay to write entire articles based on public domain sources, quoting them wholesale, but not marking the quoted text as being a quote, just so long as they are sourced. --Yksin 20:08, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
(ec) Direct quotation should always be sourced. I'd suggest "You should always add a citation when quoting published material, regardless of the source or copyright status." -- MarcoTolo 19:35, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
But it also needs to say something to the effect that quoted text must always be set off as a quote -- through quotation marks or blockquoting. There is a different between the source/citation and the quotation marks: HanzoHattori believes that as long as the quoted text has a source citation, the quote itself doesn't need to be marked as a quote. Whereas I maintain that "A claim of original authorship is implied by the lack of quotation marks. Attributing the source is always good & necessary; without quotation marks, it is assumed that the facts discussed in a passage are based on the source, but that the authorship of the exact text was written by the person who placed the text." -- therefore, quotation marks or blockquoting is necessary even when the text is sourced. --Yksin 20:08, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
I would agree with that. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:14, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
Yksin, I agree with your "clarification" - directly quotation requires source attribution regardless of where it came from, and needs to be denoted with quotation marks. The text does seem a bit wordy, but sometimes it needs to be spelled out, I suppose. -- MarcoTolo 20:21, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the clarification. I say to my students that whenever you use a verbatim text from the source that text is a quote that needs to be quoted per above. If a fact (or argument) from a source is rephrased in the own words of the writer, a normal reference suffices. I think that is the distinction we are looking for here as well. Arnoutf 20:57, 23 July 2007 (UTC)
I too agree with the interpretations by Yksin and SlimVirgin and MarcoTolo. The tolerance of unmarked quotations and unsourced PD has bothered me ever since I joined. I commented at the time, I think, and was ignored, so I'm glad someone has taken it in hand. There's an even clearer case to be made now, with the increased emphasis of following the exact terms of GFDL and knowing where everything came from. DGG (talk) 01:52, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

No, I'm sorry, I think this is wrong. Take a look at [4]. In my opinion this usage of PD material is perfectly fine. We do need to maintain the bit about "where it comes from", yes; it's a given that we don't represent the work of others as our own work. But that doesn't mean we can't use it and modify it, if it's in the public domain, or if it's licensed under a free license that permits modification and we comply with the terms of the license.

Those of you who think that such material needs to be in quotation marks and unmodified -- do you then accuse Wikipedia forks of plagiarism, since they start with WP articles and modify them, without putting them in quotes? --Trovatore 21:10, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Some people are confusing plagiarism with copyright violation; the two concepts are not directly related, although there is some overlap between them. Direct copying of another's work without quotation marks and attribution is plagiarism regardless of whether the copied work is under copyright: it is the taking of another's work and passing it off as one's own. Likewise, copying relatively small potions of a copyrighted work may not be a copyright violation because of the de minimus doctrine, but it is still plagiarism if done without quotation marks and attribution. Trivial changes to the appropriated work does not defeat a valid charge of plagiarism or copyright violation. On the other hand, original writing that uses the information in a prior work, even if the work is under copyright, is neither plagiarism nor a copyright violation—but the source should still be cited. As for Trovatore's example of fork's within Wikipedia, that is not plagiarism because it is not copying another's work; Wikipedia's contents are the work of Wikipedia (or, if you prefer, of Wikipedians). But the topic of this project and this talk page should be how to cite sources in Wikipedia, not morality, legality, or philosophy. Finell (Talk) 15:25, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Proposed guideline on plagiarismEdit

This helps a lot, & if there are no outstanding objections here, I will make changes to the guideline text in the next couple of days.

Meantime, I have also decided that more is desirable, so I'm proposing a policy or guideline about plagiarism. Please see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#Proposed guideline: Plagiarism & join in discussion. Thanks. --Yksin 01:02, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Ordering and formatting of Reference section itemsEdit

Currently, the References section of this article contains the following:

  • Concordia Libraries (Concordia University). Citation and Style Guides. Retrieved December 28, 2004. (This provides a list of common citation styles.)
  • Citation Styles Handbook: APA
  • Citation Styles Handbook: MLA
  • APA
  • Using American Psychological Association (APA) Format (Updated to 5th Edition)
  • Citing Electronic Documentation (APA, Chicago, MLA)
  • The Columbia Guide to Online Style
  • Ritter, R. (2002). The Oxford Style Manual. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860564-1
  • University of Chicago Press Staff. (2003). The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-10403-6

Regarding ordering or items, the current version of this article says, "It can be helpful when footnotes are used that a separate "References" section also be maintained, in which the sources that were used are listed in alphabetical order."

Regarding formatting of items, the current version of WP:GTL says, "... Additionally, notes should be added to the end of any reference that may not be self-evident. ..."

I observe that the References section of the current version of this article appears noncompliant with both of these guidelines. I took a whack at making it compliant, and found myself dithering about both item arrangement (alphabetical by what?) and item formatting ( Consider that, though it is not an issue with the entries currently in the section, citation templates are widely used and, if used, force whatever citation formatting the template editors currently favor — which may impact "alphabetical by what?" ). -- Boracay Bill 23:28, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

This isn't an article and isn't intended for public consumption; there's no reason to worry about whether it follows our style guidelines. I'd object to adding citation templates here. Christopher Parham (talk) 18:31, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Refs after punctuationEdit


The claim that the present text is consensus is a lie. The consensus (with the usual few dissentients) was established a month ago, here; it existed three days ago; and was altered unilaterally by SlimVirgin yesterday. Is there support for an RfC on this? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:20, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I have therefore reverted to the text of Drymordepanis, three days ago, before SlimVirgin's edits; and marked the consensus dispute. If she can establish consensus to change the version that was here for a month, this is the place to do so. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:28, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
That's not the way it works. IPSOS (talk) 03:58, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
You need to establish consensus for the change that was made a month ago, PMA, and you haven't done that. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 04:00, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I consider the version recently restored by SlimVirgin to be superior because it recognizes that obvious facts need not be contained in a reference unless they are challenged, and also it requires that "contentious" rather than "negative" facts in biographies of living persons should be sourced. After all, bad people do exist in the world, and putting in unsourced positive statements about a bad person is little better than the reverse. --Gerry Ashton 04:12, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
That is not the issue here, the debate is about position of reference before or after punctuation. The rest are details. Arnoutf 08:12, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Arnoutf, I should have given the exact diff I was referring to. If you examine the diff, you will see the issues I mentioned are included. --Gerry Ashton 14:12, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I restored an old form before SV's revert warring, in its entirety; I would agree with both the changes Gerry Ashton suggests. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:23, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I see; we need to establish consensus for a compromise has stood undisputed for a month, and has wide consensus behind it; but SlimVirgin can unilaterally overturn a consensus without any discussion at all, and without any evidence of consensus at all. IPSOS and she can suppress any suggestion of dispute from the page. I would like to see policy backing these assertions. I will endorse any RfC on this matter. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:21, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

From the history of the article:

16:07, 24 July 2007 IPSOS (Talk | contribs | block) (27,446 bytes) (revert to User:SlimVirgin, per talk page, consensus to change has never been established) (rollback | undo)

Please read above a consensus was agreed for the wording that is a compromise. --Philip Baird Shearer 16:12, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Straw PollEdit

Should the text worked out in June on the placement of footnotes be restored? It stood until three days ago essentially unaltered, and I see no consensus to remove it, merely one opinionated editor's revert warring.

The text in question read, before SlimVirgin began her revert war against it:

Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence, while others are referenced at the end. Frequently, a reference tag will coincide with punctuation and many editors put the reference tags after punctuation (except dashes), as is recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS).<:ref>"Note reference numbers. The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parentheses." (The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. 1993, Clause 15.8, p. 494)</ref> Some editors prefer the style of scientific journals, like Nature, which place references before punctuation. Each article should be internally consistent, but editing solely to change from one style to another throughout an article is deprecated unless there is a consensus to make the change.

I shall be notifying all those, for and against, who took part in the discussion that produced this text. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:51, 24 July 2007 (UTC)



Guidelines can serve two purposes:

  • To inform A what Wikipedians usually do. The June consensus text does this.
  • To empower B to harass A about complying with the "house style". The June consensus text deprecates this; and I think it a bad thing.

Regards, Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:51, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I've looked through the archives. There has never been any consensus to change this. Even if you put together all the people who have supported your position over time, it doesn't make a consensus. If you disagree, please list all the editors who support your "consensus" so we can count them, or stop wasting everybody's time. IPSOS (talk) 15:59, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
The consensus to remove the prescription was reached here --Philip Baird Shearer 16:14, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
There is no consensus there. You're dreaming. IPSOS (talk) 16:17, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
If you do not think that was building a consensus then where is the talk page consensus for the prescription wording? --Philip Baird Shearer 16:24, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
In the very old archives from when the ref-tags were first introduced. IPSOS (talk) 17:12, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Diff or date, please. This vague reference to some time before IPSOS began to edit is valueless. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:16, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
You'll have to look through the archives yourself, PMA, because there's too much to expect anyone to dig up. Discussions were held in various places: here, on Footnotes, and on other pages that I forget. My recollection is that it was only ever Philip Baird Shearer who objected.[1][2][3][4]. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 17:41, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
My pleasure to help out, and it seems that your recollection is not accurate:
There are many more who have objected on the talk pages right from days after the inital "style recommendation" was put in place. There never has been a consensus for this to be a prescription. Indeed today the debate is between those who want a prescription and those who are happy to have a recommendation but want to keep the option open of other styles and no edit waring between styles. Something which seems to work well most of the time with national differences. --Philip Baird Shearer 22:05, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Regardless of the past, there is now no consensus for the change; that much is clear. It's also clear that most publications in the English-speaking world place refs after punctuation; and that it looks bad to do otherwise, especially with multiple refs. Look at this, for example[5][6][7][8]. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 17:41, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
It's even worse with commas and multiple refs. Imagine this sentence: Smith fired Jones on August 19[9][10][11][12], the court heard[13][14], but Jones alleges[15][16], contrary to that testimony[17], that Smith wasn't even in the office that day[18][19][20][21]. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 17:46, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Yet you do not object to Harvard referencing that is also placed before the punctuation. If HR is used on the same artificial construction you have used above, the punctuation would be far further from the last word before the first HR. No one is suggesting that you have to use this format unless you edit an article that already has it that way. You on the other hand are trying to deny that format to people who prefer it because you say they must. --Philip Baird Shearer 21:03, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Oh, is that where this comes from — people getting mixed up with Harvard refs? They're not used much now on WP precisely because they interfere with text flow and can make the punctuation look odd (plus people get very confused about where to put them). The beauty of footnotes is that these issues don't exist, so let's not invent them. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 00:53, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Well, if I had an Imperius Curse (massable) to impose consensus, multiple refs would be the first thing to go; they really don't appear in respectable publishing houses, since they stopped photo-offsetting typescript. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:14, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Given that it contains 12 footnotes I don't think that sentence looks particularly bad. Christopher Parham (talk) 18:33, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I haven't been following this, but it just appeared now on my watchlist. I'd like to say that while I haven't paid as much attention as I should have to the MOS, so I don't know that it says or what it has said in the past about this matter, I agree strongly that that most publications place references after punctuation, and I'm pretty sure I've corrected examples of refs before punctuation whenever I've seen them. ElinorD (talk) 17:53, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
It is probably in sources that you read, so you think it is in "most publications". This argument is not about forcing Wikipedians to place reference tags before the punctuation, it is about the right to choose the style (like spelling) and not have revert wars over it. So it is a choice between prescription and consensus. --Philip Baird Shearer 21:03, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
Except that that's a mischaracterization, as the consensus is prescription. IPSOS (talk) 21:05, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
You've said that before; you didn't present any evidence then either. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:47, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

I notice from remarks and edit summaries of editors who like to have the references after the punctuation time after time again that the most common argument is about perceived aesthetics. Whatever other arguments are there, please keep in mind that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is hence an inherently subjective argument that should not play a role in this discussion.
Another issue that comes up is that the majority of scientific publications uses the ref-after-punctuation style. However, in spite of repetition of this argument, there is no evidence given for this claim. Even if it where, it is still irrelevant. Wiki should decide on its own reasons, not based on a majority of publications (this can be an indication that something is going on that is important but never a reason in itself).
When I summarise the objective arguments (correct me if I am wrong) the argument in favour of adding the references always after the punctuation (without a space to prevent line breaks) are:

  1. No local discussion over choice of reference style possible
  2. The same look everywhere in Wikipedia
  3. Easier possibility of bot construction to perfect referencing.

The argument in favour of allowing more than one style (although consistent within an article) is:

  1. Non-enforcement of rigid guideline for a relatively minor issue allows editors with different preferences to contribute more easily.
  2. It is a considerable expenditure of effort to enforce the preference; it is doubtful that the enforcement can be complete. This is not the most effective way to write the encyclopedia. [added by Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:41, 24 July 2007 (UTC)]

I think these are the obective facts in this discussion. Please amend if you disagree (but keep aesthetics and everybody does it so we should out of it).
My opinion is that although the single style has more arguments in favour, all of these are weak arguments (local discussion on such trivialities are in my opinion easily solved, consistent look is a good thing but a single look at the much more visible many types of country maps illustrates that this issue should not be the focus of such effort, easier construction of a bot; if the bot is ever constructed fitting it to allow two styles will not be that difficult), while (in my opinion) allowing editors flexibility in the technical details (such as this) is a very convincing argument. Arnoutf 18:28, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Comment. I really don't have time to keep up with this discussion, so for the record I support whatever ends up being SlimVirgin's opinion. I have a very big problem with allowing PBS's convention and the proposed wording, because if we [22] come across[23] [24] some article with a mix[25][26], we will not[27][28] be able to change it [29],[30] without asking on the talk page,[31] [32] and waiting some weeks for a [33]consensus[34] to develop[35].[36],[37] that the notes were placed at random [38][39] and presumably a lengthy discussion on what convention the article should use [40]; [41]; [42].[43]Perhaps the spaces and punctuation in the previous sentence have significance? Gimmetrow 00:24, 25 July 2007 (UTC)


It is rather disconcerting to see respected users—some of them admins, no less—revert-warring over a policy page. I have protected the page for the time being; while some of the parties to this unfortunate affair have the technical ability to continue reverting regardless, it should go without saying that doing so would be a profoundly bad idea. Please work out your various differences without edit-warring. Kirill 16:19, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

ah! It is always the wrong version that gets protected ;-) --Philip Baird Shearer 16:25, 24 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree that a revert war is not good and think Kirills action is an important de-escalation step. I would have liked to have a remark at the section that there is no consensus on this policy and a reference to these discussion though.Arnoutf 18:31, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Oh dear godEdit

I thought I was just pointing out a simple misunderstanding, but if there's one thing I should know by now, it's that Wikipedians would rather spend all of their time fighting over trivial aspects of the site itself instead of writing articles. How many hours and kilobytes of text have you wasted on this dispute so far? How much article content could have been written with the same amount of time and effort?

Consistency is more important than making every little minority happy. That's what style guides are for; to settle such disputes once and for all (the kind that don't have an overwhelming consensus one way or the other, and don't hurt the content either way, just the visual formatting). Of course different guides are different. So what? We pick one that works well for us and stick to it.

And stop citing the American vs English and BC/BCE (non)decisions everywhere there's a dispute about formatting. There are reasons behind those decisions, and they simply aren't relevant in most other contexts. The "defer to the first contributor" rule is a last resort, not a precedent that we should jump on the first instant three people disagree with a guideline. (Or, I guess, we could keep applying that to everything, throw all the MOS guidelines out the window, and let people write articles in neon green Comic Sans.)

And yes, consensus can change, but that doesn't mean that five friends can agree on a talk page to derail something that hundreds of other editors are using consistently everywhere else and aren't aware has been challenged. As far as I know, refs after punctuation has been the recommended style since at least 2005. In order to change this, you'd need to show:

  1. Compelling reasons to change things, which address a problem with the original recommendation. "My favorite publisher does it" is not a good reason, and I haven't seen anyone pointing out a problem with the original recommendation that this change solves.
  2. You would then need to demonstrate that most of the people who have followed this guideline or participated in previous discussions agree with this reasoning (usually based on new information coming to light) and support the change in the guideline. Not just the handful of people who happen to be on the talk page that particular day. In other words, you need to demonstrate global consensus, not local consensus. See Wikipedia:Consensus can change for a more in-depth explanation.

And these stupid, stupid disputes would be completely avoided if people just set their egos aside and deferred to the recommended style, regardless of which style the particular publisher they are most familiar with uses. I was raised on American English and I have no problem using title case, writing articles about Brits in British English, or using logical quotation marks. If there's even the slightest benefit to one style over the other, we should acknowledge it and go with it uniformly.

Can someone provide a concise summary of the problems with refs after punctuation (I'm not aware that any have been presented), and how it would solve these problems to remove a widely-followed recommendation? — Omegatron 00:57, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Well said. And to answer your question, I don't think there has been a problem with refs after punctuation. It's very widely accepted.
Question for Philip: Do you take Omegatron's point about the need to set ego aside?
It was not I who put this prescription in place. It was you SV. I would like a more liberal interpretation of this issue. I do not mind a recommendation of one style, but not a from of wording that prescribes a style on on others. I think SV you should consider whether your prescription effects more people than the editors involved in this discussion, as far a I can tell my more liberal wording effects less people. --Philip Baird Shearer 10:42, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
Another question: I strongly dislike that we use no space between whatever point we're sourcing and the ref tag. In other words, the house style is this.[44] I would prefer this. [45] I argued my case several times. I tried to add to the guideline that editors could choose what to do. I submitted a few featured articles with spaces (most were changed by others before being promoted). I was clearly outnumbered, so I gave up eventually, and now when I write articles I don't use a space, though it makes me wince every time I do it.
My question to you is: in your opinion, should I continue my no-space-before-a-ref campaign? Should I start revert wars on multiple guidelines, look around for people who might help me, cause pages to be protected?
If not, why not? SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 19:31, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Omegatron: For me the major problem with a prescription references after a full stop is one can not tell if the reference is for the last sentence or for the preceding sentences. This is particularly true when the reference tag is at the end of a paragraph. When the reference tag is placed before the full stop then there is no such ambiguity.
With an academic source which is written by a few authors and an editor the placing of reference tags outside a sentence is not a real problem. But on Wikipeda because new sentences can be added to the text that might or might not be covered by the citation, it can cause confusion and lead to errors. To give you an example from real life. If citations are from books that are not on line, unless someone has access to that book it is not possible to tell if the information in the cited sources covers the preceding sentences or not. Here is an edit made earlier today on Death of Adolf Hitler. The trouble is that neither source given at the end of the paragraph say a that it happened "On the night of April 28-29" they both make it clear that it is in the early morning. But because the references are at the end of the paragraph it is impossible to tell that the references do not cover the statement. --Philip Baird Shearer 10:42, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the "space-before-a-ref" format. The current no-space format looks cluttered and cramped to me. I don't believe the simple space would confuse readers as to what the reference point was referring to. It doesn't seem to me that the spacing issue addresses the above "Death of Adolf Hitler" problem, space or no space, what does the reference refer to, and is there any actual reference at all? I do believe we need a consistent, recommended style - but the no-space rule causes article references to look cramped to me. As for addressing what the reference is referring to, the preceding word, sentence, several sentences, paragraph or section, I'm sure we can find a way for editors to at least see what it's referring to - without having to play detective..but I think that's a separate issue than the space/nospace question. Dreadstar 18:24, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Current practice in regular articlesEdit

I thought it might be interesting to do a quick sampling of existing articles (not necessarily "Good articles" or "Featured articles".) I used the Random article feature to look at ten articles (I excluded one list because some people don't think lists need references). I found that the results were evenly divided; five articles had no references at all (neither inline nor general), and the other five had general references but no inline citations.

Conclusion: if we ever clean up this encyclopedia, the relative placement of footnotes and punctuation will be the least of our problems. --Gerry Ashton 02:46, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

the only thing that really matters to a reader about style in general is consistency within an article. and the thing about references that matters most is having them, and then having good ones, and then having clear ones that correctly show the sources. DGG (talk) 03:38, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree wholeheartedly with DGG above. Generally though it seems that the Chicago MOS has right of way around this site, and I would have thought that if there is any dispute within an article that "well, that's what the Chicago MOS says" would have a fair sway - unless it totally contradicted a statement within WP:MOS.
My personal opinion is that "whole of sentence" references go after the punctuation, and "fragment" references go "wherever they make sense".
I can live with "it's an article that would fit well in (insert publication) so let's do it the way they do it", but what happens on articles that would fit equally well in two publications which have different style guides is the problem that will always be rather difficult to answer.Garrie 05:31, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
PS. If a guideline that doesn't fit in with current practice is written, people will just ignore the rule.Garrie 05:32, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
Well I tried to summarise the points above, but it seems arguments play only a minor role in this discussion compared to editors (on both sides) who are dogmatically convinced they are right. Perhaps WP:DR might provide a way out.
I will leave this argument now and go back to writing articles, came on this page in the first time to put an end to the scroll-boxes around reference lists (which are a non-trivial issue IMHO, as those boxes decrease legibility and printability).Arnoutf 08:18, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
I also do fragment references wherever they are relevant, and put sentence/paragraph references after the punctuation. m:WikiRose may be the long term solution. (SEWilco 04:08, 29 July 2007 (UTC))
if it fits into two articles, it should be edited to fit according to each articles, just as if something were being added to articles using two different spellings. The time to worry about things like this is when we eventually have a proper reference database to use. For now, perhaps we can simply give the chicago method as preferred and say the alternative is also acceptable if used in the article. we will never settle this, given that the publishers in the two countries haven't settled it either. So we might do better to compromise. DGG (talk) 21:45, 25 July 2007 (UTC)
But that is the problem the current wording was worked out earlier this month was a compromise (Wikipedia talk:Cite sources/archive17#"Footnotes_come_after_punctuation"}, -- no one is saying Nature style an no other style -- but this compromise it seems is unacceptable to people who want a blanket prohibition.
Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence, while others are referenced at the end. Frequently, a reference tag will coincide with punctuation and many editors put the reference tags after punctuation (except dashes), as is recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS).[46] Some editors prefer the style of journals such as Nature which place references before punctuation. Each article should be internally consistent, but editing solely to change from one style to another throughout an article is deprecated unless there is a consensus to make the change.
Notice it recommends the CMS when it could be turned around and say:
Some words, phrases or facts must be referenced mid-sentence, while others are referenced at the end. Frequently, a reference tag will coincide with punctuation and many editors put the reference tags before punctuation, as is recommended by the EU style guide and journals like Nature. Some editors prefer the style of Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS) which place references after punctuation(except dashes). Each article should be internally consistent, but editing solely to change from one style to another throughout an article is deprecated unless there is a consensus to make the change.
But no one is proposing that we use the second wording. Instead the prescription editors want[5]:
Wikipedia's house style is that ref tags are placed at the end of the term, phrase, sentence, or paragraph to which the footnote refers. This is the format recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style.
When placed at the end of a clause or sentence the ref tag should be directly after the punctuation mark without an intervening space, in order to prevent the reference number wrapping to the next line. The same is true for successive ref tags. The exception is a dash — which should follow the ref tag, as recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style
Which does not look like an attempt to compromise to me as it is even more strident than the wording of a month ago which was[6]:
Place a ref tag at the end of the term, phrase, sentence, or paragraph to which the note refers.
When placed at the end of a clause or sentence the ref tag should be directly after the punctuation mark without an intervening space, in order to prevent the reference number wrapping to the next line. The same is true for successive ref tags. The exception is a dash—which should follow the ref tag. This is the format recommended by the Chicago Manual of Style.
--Philip Baird Shearer 10:25, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

Reader choice, not editor choiceEdit

I think that we need to make this a reader's preference, not an editor's preference, just as we do with dates. In this whole debate, it is quire clear that both sides are primarily concerned with the appearance fo teh result, and that the appearance is a personal preference. Surely someone can write the code for this? -Arch dude 15:37, 27 July 2007 (UTC)


I haven't taken part in this latest round of debate, for several reasons, and I hope that what I say here will be taken by all sides in the conciliatory way in which it is intended. I shall try to consider the matter objectively, although I am aware that my opinion might not be seen as unbiased. Firstly, the original discussions about prescribing pre-punctuation citation cannot be found, leading to disagreement about whether there ever was consensus for it. Secondly, there is widespread and unbending disagreement now about whether citations should go before or after punctuation (and particularly, which "looks better"). Finally, editors who have not previously argued strongly for either side (Arnoutf, GDD) believe that the placement of citations is not especially important, and certainly not important enough to warrant prescription (they should correct me if I've misrepresented their opinions). Against this backdrop, I would like to suggest that the guideline be changed to the alternative wording, which allows editors to apply slightly different styles on different articles; I believe that this would reflect actual usage and the general lack of consensus for enforcing any single style and would also serve to prevent the surprisingly numerous edits that serve only to switch between the two styles. This is not a question of right or wrong, nor of good and bad, but a question of whether we need to prescribe such minutiae, and I think the more widespread opinion is that we don't. I would like to hope that those on either side can agree at least that there is no agreement, even if it just for the sake of peace. --Stemonitis 08:46, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

Style question re: references listEdit

A somewhat trivial style question: if I am wikilinking a journal title in a reference in article X to the Wikipedia article about that journal, and the reference list in article X contains multiple items published in that journal, how many times should the journal title be wikilinked - once (first occurrence)? every time? once per article section? or using some other rule of thumb? See List of dragonflies recorded in Britain for an example where only the first has been linked (and which I think looks ok, but it only has a relatively small number of references) and Bird for something altogether more complicated. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. SP-KP 07:47, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

My personal opinion is that contrary to the policy for the body of the article, it's okay to have a title of a journal made into a wikilink multiple times. The reason is that this should not be distracting to the reader, who has a very different mindset when looking at footnotes (in fact, may just be looking at a single footnote, just dropping down from the body of the article). Secondarily, a reference might be deleted if a better one becomes available, or information goes out of date, so picking just one reference for the wikilink is problematical. And third, this approach allows a journal in a reference to be wikilinked without the editor having to check the other references to see if the journal is already wikilinked (he/she should check to make sure the article title isn't already cited, but that's another matter). -- John Broughton (♫♫) 11:28, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Wrong WP:Verifiability linkEdit

It looks like the link to Verifiability in Wikipedia:Citing_sources#When_you_add_content should be WP:Verifiability. Can you change this? Thanks. JordanSamuels 05:04, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

  • I've done that to clear the editprotected tag. If it's wrong, the regular editors of the page can simply revert me. DrKiernan 09:04, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Scrolling Reference Lists: Formal Policy DiscussionEdit

NB This discussion was first started on the Wikipedia talk:Citing sources page, however any changes to the policy would be in the Wikipedia:Footnotes policy so I have moved the discussion here.
See Wikipedia talk:Citing sources#Scrolling Reference List for a preliminary discussion.

There are currently no guidelines for the use of scrolling reference lists, however they are popping up on many mainspace pages. Examples include Disappearance of Madeleine McCann and Sonic the Hedgehog. Scrolling reference lists cause a number of problems, such as:

(list updated Monotonehell 14:38, 27 July 2007 (UTC))
  1. Lack of uniformity between pages - seemingly random pages have been "selected" by their editors and have scrolling reflists.
  2. Pages cannot be printed - scrolling reference lists stop users from being able to print the page to paper.
  3. Problems with browsers - scrolling reference lists use very strange HTML formatting and some browsers do not display them properly. See [here] for a scrolling reference list which has issues with Firefox.
  4. Problems with wiki mirrors not reading refs.
  5. Accessibility issues with multiple scrolling divs.

I also believe that the intentions of editors which create these boxes are to hide references, which is definately against wikipedia policy. I have started this discussion in order to create wording for a new paragraph or subsection in either the WP:CITE or WP:STYLE page. I believe this should be started by first reaching a consensus on whether or not scrolling references should be used. I stongly believe that scrolling reference lists should never be used in mainspace articles. - ARC GrittTALK 12:17, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

I hadn't really thought about these effect. The fact that the article cannot be printed is enough to convince me that policy should be against using them. IPSOS (talk) 12:54, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
There's a problem with printing, and there's probably also a problem on Wiki mirrors. I don't think they should ever be allowed. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 12:57, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
Stongly agree with a ban on scrollboxes for all reasons above. Arnoutf 13:01, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
Agree There's not much more to say on this, it should be included fairly swiftly. Editors adding these features in good faith simply because they seem neat, may not be aware of the problems they cause other users. There's no real advantage to them, in fact a reader needs to change from one scroll bar to another in order to read them. A list of valid reasons should be included with the guideline to help people understand why. --Monotonehell 14:27, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
There are also accessibility issues. Ban these abominations. Andy Mabbett | Talk to Andy Mabbett 14:28, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
They make references less visible to the general reader, and should be banned for the reasons stated above. Finell (Talk) 15:32, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

I disagree with moving this discussion to the Footnotes page, because scrolling reference boxes are just as undesireable for articles that use Harvard references. --Gerry Ashton 17:01, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

I have moved section back, I had a little confusion about what each page was specifically referring to. - ARC GrittTALK 17:40, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

See also: Wikipedia:Templates for deletion/Log/2007 June 11#Template:Scrollref. Andy Mabbett | Talk to Andy Mabbett 21:55, 27 July 2007 (UTC)

Preliminary guideline change suggestionEdit

Please do not change the following text and instead make comments below. I believe that the following should be added at the end of the first paragraph in this section: {{editprotected}}

Scrolling reference lists should never be used. Issues with readability, accessibility, printing, and site mirroring arise. Additionally it cannot be guaranteed that such reference lists will display properly in all web browsers.


  • Support - but consider widening this out to cover all content: "Scrolling text boxes should never be used..." Andy Mabbett | Talk to Andy Mabbett 18:22, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
  • While I agree, this is the discussion page for the citing sources guideline only, and as such cannot cover all content. This guideline amendment could be used as a precedent or starting point for changes to other guidelines. - ARC GrittTALK 00:09, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Disagree about complete generalization. I a number cases, terribly unwieldy diagrams and panorama are made scrollable horizontally. And this is not the place to discuss this. Circeus 00:12, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Support: Wikipedia is complicated enough, and scrolling text boxes would be a further complication. Are we going to have each section of a page (article) in its own scroll box, with just a few (how many?) lines of each section visible without scrolling? That just makes Wikipedia harder to read and use. Can anyone point to a well designed Web site that uses scroll boxes to break up text this way? Sites do use it to make it harder to read, or even apprehend the length of, their humongous terms of use, no-privacy policy, and the like. Enough of this nonsense argument, please. Finell (Talk) 22:10, 27 July 2007 (UTC)
  • heartfelt support template was deleted. That's not an excuse for doing it with HTML! Circeus 00:12, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Support current wording As I stated above, this is undesirable for many reasons. --Monotonehell 05:26, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
  Done. Cheers. --MZMcBride 13:59, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

Minor changeEdit

{{editprotected}} "Scrolling reference lists should never be used. Issues with [[readability]], [[Wikipedia:Accessibility|accessibility]], printing, and [[Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks|site mirroring]] arise. Additionally it cannot be guaranteed that such reference lists will display properly in all [[web browser]]s." should be changed into "Scrolling reference lists should never be used, because of issues with [[readability]], [[Wikipedia:Accessibility|accessibility]], [[printing]], and [[Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks|site mirroring]]. Additionally, it cannot be guaranteed that such reference lists will display properly in all [[web browser]]s." Melsaran (formerly Salaskаn) 04:36, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

  Done. Cheers. --MZMcBride 14:16, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
Please wait until protection is lifted. This is not an urgent change. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 15:01, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

The edit was reverted on a misunderstanding. It can probably be restored if all agree. (I've moved the edit request to a subsection of the discussion to avoid further confusion) --Monotonehell 16:24, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Guideline misplacedEdit

I agree with the guideline. However, it does not belong in the Citation templates section. Where to put it? I propose that the Further reading/External links heading be changed to Sections for references and links (or something to that effect), and that the section prescribe the placement (after See also, if any), ordering (in the order listed below), formatting, and use of sections for Footnotes, References, and External links. The guideline against scroll boxes would be part of that section. The same guideline, not restricted to reference sections, probably also belongs elsewhere in the WP:MOS, as part of the guidelines for page layout and formatting. Finell (Talk) 21:23, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

Richie Sambora's Wiki pageEdit

--paulkinmPaulkinm 21:54, 29 July 2007 (UTC)

I am writing to find out why external links to Richie's page keep on being removed. I can see that the page is protected, but I would like to know by whom and what for. Any help would be appreciated.

Removing referencesEdit

The project page doesn't appear to mention anything in regards to not removing verifiable references. I had a situation where an editor was removing references from infoboxes because the information was assumed to be correct and references clutter the infobox. The references were not in question and were pretty solid. Example:Robert Duffy is the mayor of Rochester, New York, USA. That information can be verified at

I've asked a similar question over at WT:V, but shouldn’t this page give better guidance on when it is inappropriate to remove references? —MJCdetroit 14:26, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

This sounds like the issue isn't the references themselves, but whether you need them in an info box or not? Blueboar 14:54, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
In my view the section of the page which describes what to cite would be the best guide. The example you gives seems like a low value citation. The fact is not likely to be contentious and it's not clear why a reader would find this information particularly useful. So on the whole I sympathize with removing citations for information like that, or (better in my view) replacing them with citation types that do not clutter the readable text--e.g. {{inote}} or HTML comments. Christopher Parham (talk) 15:09, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
My example above was to show what kind of information is being removed and not the actual reference itself. I tried not to pick an example from which this editor had not edited to and a place big enough to be familiar to editors here; hence Rochester. The actual pages where the references were being removed, were small cities in which without a reference nobody from outside of that geographic area would know whether the mayor of Northville, Michigan is Christopher J. Johnson or Joe Schmoe without doing an internet search. The actual reference shows up as a bracketed number [1]. An Example can be seen at Rochester, New York next to the word Government. A different example can be seen on the Detroit article where a reference is given for Detroit's elevation being 600 feet. Sorry if I confused anyone. —MJCdetroit 15:42, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
Also, the reference supports impermanent information which may change without being the change reflected in the article text. Presumably, though, the change would be reflected in the referenced City of Rochester web page, and patrolling editors might pick up on the change. Towards this end, it would be useful to see mayoral term start/finish dates in the infobox and a proper inline citation which puts a full citation (including accessdate) into the References section. -- Boracay Bill 23:23, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
The reference to support the statement about who the mayor is should stay. If I know nothing about Rochester, but notice the page is being vandalized by several vandals, I would want an easy way to find out who the real mayor is. Also, since number vandalism is popular, no reference supporting a number should be removed unless the number is well known to the entire English-speaking world. --Gerry Ashton 18:36, 31 July 2007 (UTC)
Also, as the info presented is impermanent and may change at the next Mayoral election, it would be useful to have info about start/finish of the current Mayoral term near the info about who the mayor is, and a proper [[WP:IC|inline citation}} which puts info about the cited source, including accessdate, into the References section. Presumably, if a different Mayor is elected next term, the City of Rochester will reflect that info in the page the article cites. -- Boracay Bill 23:23, 31 July 2007 (UTC)


It looks like there's nothing specific for citing magazines - what would the Wikipedia community say to creating a template for doing so? I have no idea how to do so, but I'd like to gauge reactions if possible. Seegoon 12:17, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

{{Cite journal}} Andy Mabbett | Talk to Andy Mabbett 12:23, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
So you'd cite Rolling Stone or GQ using this? Seegoon 13:16, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
No. I'd use {{cite news}}. Circeus 15:56, 4 August 2007 (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.

Jossi's revertEdit

His recent revert does not correspond to tyhe protecion policy, which does not forbid non-controversial edits. `'Míkka 17:09, 4 August 2007 (UTC)

I would appreciate it if you refrain to address me in this manner. If you have any concerns about my use of admin privileges, please follow process by positing a complaint at WP:ANI, including diffs. As for my intervention here, I believe it was appropriate: the edit was not of such urgency that cannot wait until the protection is lifted. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 17:41, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
Obviously what you actually believe is that you are smarter and righter than another admin you reverted. I am not going to chase you or sue you, but such your actions in my watchlist will be reverted so that you will not feel yorself too close to wikipedia god. `'Míkka 22:08, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
I would kindly ask that you stop making value judgments about me. It is most unbecoming of you. You do not know what I think or not. I discussed this with the admin and told him to revert me if he found it necessary. See my talk page. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:16, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
Red herring. You just reversed him, without any discussion. And it even did not occur to you to apologize when the reerted person questioned your actions. Obviously you feel that the notion of "wheel war" is not applied to you, and you can revert any admin on a whim, without having any doubt that the other admin had no valid reason to do what he did. `'Míkka 22:49, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
Mikka, this is simply ridiculous. I do not know if you two hav any background, but this thread is completely unwarranted and unnecessary. Circeus 22:41, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
No it is not. Yes, there is a background. Each time I see jossi in my watchlist (not very often), he is acting as a person who knows it better than all of us. And I will continue to remind about such dismodesty. `'Míkka 22:49, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
Give it a break, would you? And please do not make divisive statements in which you include others. You seem to think you know what I think and what others think. Indeed a sign of poor judgment. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 00:19, 5 August 2007 (UTC)
Mikka, Jossi is actually the last person anyone could reasonably say that of. He's a very considerate editor who's always willing to discuss his edits. As for the revert, he's right that protected pages ought not to be edited, except to fix typos and similar. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 00:51, 5 August 2007 (UTC)
I guess you haven't read the policy lately before defending your most righteuos among righteous. You all are changing them so laborously and frequently that you wikilawyers yourselves don't remember what's current. I guess it's high time to set up some kind of version control, like, major updates twice a year max. `'Míkka 01:44, 5 August 2007 (UTC)
I've had experience with Jossi as an editor before he was an admin, and I have seen his work as an admin and a editor since. He is respectful and considerate of others, and I have not observed in him any trace of arrogance or hostility; to the contrary, he often promotes peace and civility when others get heated. Anyone who is as active as Jossi is on WP will make judgments that others may disagree with. I have no doubt that Jossi acted in good faith in this instance and exercised his best judgment based on what he saw at the time. Personal attacks on his motives or character are way out of line. By the way, so far as I am aware, Jossi was not involved in the ridiculous revert war that led to the project page being protected. It is Mika who is being sarcastic and uncivil. Finell (Talk) 01:52, 5 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, I've had a repeated different experience. You think I am doing this for fun? I am not playing your games of wikilawyering and I don't have buddies to defend me, but reversing an admin and not apologizing when he politely protested hardly reads as "respectful" in my copy of the Etiquette for Dummies in 21 Days". `'Míkka 02:28, 5 August 2007 (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.

Citing other Wikipedia articlesEdit

Is it appropriate to have Wikipedia itself in the references list of an article? Specifically, I noticed it in Solubility table and wasn't sure whether it should be there or not. Jibjibjib 10:20, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

No, it's not. It might be okay to use it in an article about Wikipedia, but not an article like that. 17Drew 10:30, 5 August 2007 (UTC)
Actually, this could be more nuanced. In a sense, links inevitably invoke the authority (FWIW) of other articles. If article A links at a relevant point to a comprehensively sourced WP article B, I feel the citations are inherited, in the sense that I won't go to the trouble of copying the citations to article A. Unless perhaps if the issue was highly controversial...(not something I've run into yet). Otherwise, reference lists in summary-style articles could become monsterous. In the solubility table example the problem is that you can't always find a relevant external reference on the WP pages cited. PaddyLeahy 13:00, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Problem is that you can't see the quality of the quoted Wiki article at first glance. References as a string of articles within wiki would lose most readers and might end up at highly controversial, or even hoax articles at the beginning. Therefore, bothersome as it may seem, I would place original references that you found in other articles (please check with the reference whehter you agree with the interpretation).
In brief, stick with the existing guideline that refs to Wiki articles are no good. Arnoutf 22:27, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
Ideally, you should be able to pick a source/reference from the WP article you'd want to cite, rather than having to refer to the article itself. No source? Too bad. Try finding one, and insert it in both ;) Dysmorodrepanis 08:47, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
I fully agree. However a note of caution; be very careful about picking a source from another article and copying it without actually consulting the (original) source. This kind of 'chain-referencing' may lead to misinterpretation stacked on top misinterpretation, to a level where the statement is in no way anymore connected to the original source (I have seen this happen in peer-reviewed scientific journal publications, so trust me this hazard is big). Arnoutf 10:33, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
(outdent) I've seen studies suggesting that 10% of academic citations are incorrect in at least one significant detail, and like Arnoutf I've seen references to completely the wrong paper. The fact that such errors persist in the professional literature suggests that it would be futile to try to eliminate them in wikipedia (although every editor should do his or her best). The question is, do you want to spend your time on wikipedia clogging up articles by copying existing references across many pages, or would it be better to add new citations to assertions that are currently unreferenced anywhere? (Which I would say still includes the majority of assertions that ought to be backed up). In fact, my attitude is basically summed up by Wikipedia:Scientific citation guidelines; note especially comments on summary-style articles. PaddyLeahy 13:37, 15 August 2007 (UTC)


MOS:CL#All caps says to avoid all caps when naming headlines. Are prepositions for headlines also uncapitalised? For example, this source is titled "Wonder Embarking On Rare Tour In Late Summer". Should "on" and "in" be uncapitalised just like the naming conventions for Wikipedia pages? Spellcast 04:57, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

Normally, yes. However, in this instance the actual title of the article uses initial capitals for the prepositions. Finell (Talk) 08:53, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
MOS:CL#All caps gives The New York Times' method of transcribing headlines as an example. That source uncapitalises "on", "as", and "of" from the heading. I'm asking because people tend to copy and paste headlines into the references without taking into account the caps. And even when they fix the all caps, they overlook the prepositions. I know it's a minor issue, but I just want to make sure that uncapitalising prepositions from headlines is what the MoS is saying. Spellcast 15:15, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
I am impressed that someone else is so conscientious about matters of style! That is what MOS:CL#All caps is saying (short prepositions [fewer than 5 letters is the common rule of thumb], conjunctions, and articles [a, an, the]), but it is talking about changing the title of a publication from ALL CAPS (hypothetically, "WONDER EMBARKING ON RARE TOUR IN LATE SUMMER") to title case: "Wonder Embarking on Rare Tour in Late Summer" (see Capitalization#Headings and publication titles). MOS:CL#All caps is not addressing a title that departs from the normal title case convention by capitalizing the first letter (only) of every word. In this instance, one could make a "case" either for rendering the title as it was originally published or for using correct title case. By the way, concerning title case, pedants disagree over whether to capitalize the first letter of to when it is used in the infinitive form of the verb: some do, on the ground that it is not a preposition in that usage; others use lower case for (false, in my pedantic opinion) consistency. Finell (Talk) 17:40, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Generally uncapitalized:

a, an, and, at, but, by, else, for, from, if, in, into, nor, of, on, or, the, to, with

Dysmorodrepanis 19:59, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

"Comment is Free" - can this possibly be an RS?Edit

The article on ICAHD is being repeatedly edited with the clip "A column by Seth Freedman on the Guardian's Comment is Free website[7] described Halper as a "sinister figure in terms of the damage he does to the chances of rapprochement between the moderates in Israel and those on the Palestinian side of the divide."[8]

Is such a comment acceptable by RS? (And can anyone comment on BLP grounds?) PalestineRemembered 16:40, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

As I understand it, Freedman is a columnist for the Guardian. His article there is followed by comments in their blog. His article can thus be cited, though not of course the subsequent reader comments. If I'm wrong and he's just a blogger, then it can't be cited. DGG (talk) 07:58, 9 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm perturbed - I wouldn't think "columnists" would generally count as "journalists", of whom we expect a certain degree of professionalism with the treatment of the facts that they present. Every one of Seth Freedman's articles in the Guardian are on the "Comment is free" page. The Guardian is presenting them (I presume) in a spirit of "Right of Reply to Israel" etc since they're in direct opposition to almost everything else it publishes. Under those circumstances, I really don't believe we should treat them as Reliable Sources.
In addition, I'd have thought quoting this source calling a living person "sinister" seems a dangerously unencyclopedic practise. A regular journalist would not write this, surely. PalestineRemembered 11:51, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Citing traditional worksEdit

I propose we make it clear that traditional works like the Iliad should not be cited by page number (which would vary from edition to edition), but rather by traditional divisions.--Pharos 19:04, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

This should also apply to Shakespeare and Milton — probably to any widely published verse with well-defined line numbers; as well as Greek and Latin prose. ATTFAQ discussed this in one of its non-controversial sections: WP:ATTFAQ#When should I use prose attributions?. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:38, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
It would also apply I think to classical prose from other cultures, written before the advent of page numbers, e.g. classical Chinese or Indian literature.--Pharos 20:51, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
Even when citing non-traditional works editions and prints are needed to make sense of page numbers. But I agree it would be a good idea to use established and unambiguous divisions as we for example do for the Bible. Arnoutf 22:31, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
That's true, but it's important to note that the edition used still needs to be identified. Christopher Parham (talk) 22:51, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
True; editions are important. To be honest, that may be even more important for Bible and Iliad where translation introduces inevitable interpretation, compared to for example orignally english texts like Shakespeare. Nevertheless references to verses or similar may help anyway Arnoutf 23:23, 10 August 2007 (UTC)
If you are citing a translation, you should in general identify the translator. (Not always; what translation of Herodotus fails to say that the Spartans met the Persians at Thermopylae? but this is part of a larger discussion about sources not in English.)
Any edition or translation of Herodotus will identify the story of Ephialtes of Trachis as book 7, section 213; we should encourage this as communicating with the reader.
For the Bible, anybody cites Romans 1.1 as p 569 of a specific edition is being singularly unhelpful to the reader. This is making the reader first find a specific printing, and then requiring her to look through an entire page; when the proper and customary citation would have given her a sentence, out of any Bible to hand. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:38, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I would still say that the version should be mentioned somewhere, at least to be able to get the subtleties right. I suggest we cite this kind of source as "Romans 1.1 (1623 King James translation)"; or "Romans 1.1 (1923 Gideon Bible) and leave out the page number (sorry for not knowing the actual English translations but you get the idea). This would also go for Homer etc. How about that? Arnoutf 19:59, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Leaves out the case, which is why I came here, where one is citing the originals. But I trust that is a matter for wording (if citing a translation, include the translator and edition.) rather than a disagreement of substance. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:15, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
When citing the originals, it ought to be possible to use the same practice as for translations, i.e. use sections, chapters, stanzas etc. These are the one thing all translations (usually) agree upon... Dysmorodrepanis 08:51, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Well when citing originals you should enter the edition instead of translation "Hamlet act II vs 2-5 (1645 London edition)" (or something similar). Arnoutf 09:15, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Of course (or the imprint or whatever applies). Dysmorodrepanis 09:52, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
I hope we can do better than the example given--there was no such edition. If one actually used a reproduction of the folio or quartos one would cite it, but normally people use a modern ed. DGG (talk) 00:45, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
I know the edition did not exist, it was just meant as example. But indeed, almost everyone will use a modern version; which should of course also be mentioned in the footnote. Arnoutf 08:20, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Citing too many sources?Edit

Sometimes when I attempt to get something to Good Article status, I over-cite; that is, I add more citations than are necessary. I don't just cite controversial or potentially challengeable material; I cite the obvious. For example, the article Family (band) that I worked on has some citations for material that is not likely to be challenged, such as the band members leaving and joining, and the fact that the albums were released.--h i s s p a c e r e s e a r c h 17:41, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

Just noticing that someone's asked this question already but if anyone wants to re-initiate the discussion, that'd be good.-h i s s p a c e r e s e a r c h 18:03, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
If sources are added for non-controversial material, why not to keep them? What may be not challenged today, may be challenged tomorrow... or in ten years... ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 18:05, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
This sounds like it's probably all fairly well-known information. Mightn't it be possible to attribute it all to one book or magazine article? Then maybe, that book or magazine article could just be in a simple non-footnoted "sources consulted"-type section.--Pharos 18:14, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
Showing that information comes from a reliable source is not the only reason for a citation. It also allows readers to find sources that discuss the matter in greater detail. If the source provides more information than the Wikipedia article, it should be kept. If a person contemplating removing a source has not read the source, it should be kept, just in case it provides more details. --Gerry Ashton 18:32, 13 August 2007 (UTC)
The example seems like an obvious place to use named references. That way you will get a reference number everywhere but only one entry in the reference list. No reason to reduce number of references. Arnoutf 18:44, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

The article is still coming out in superfluous footnotes like a rash. This makes it less readable; which is a form of bad writing. Jossi's point is off-topic here; given the nature of these sources, it is more likely that the links will be broken in ten years than that they will then provide information otherwise unavailable. I understand hisspace's difficulty, and do not blame him; but one of the major flaws of Bad Articles is that it provides incentives for this sort of thing. It should be deprecated. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:22, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

It didn't pass GA anyway.-h i s s p a c e r e s e a r c h 21:37, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I think the larger problem with that specific (family (band)) article is the quality of the sources (all websites) rather than the quantity. Try to get in some printed material, preferably peer-reviewed/edited, less likely to change, and in general some more attention paid compared to websites. Arnoutf 22:00, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Citing Wikipedia articlesEdit

I just noticed that the note, "Other Wikipedia articles may not be used as sources." was removed from the guideline back in June: [9], was this a consensus removal? Was it moved elsewhere? I don't see a discussion on it. Seems like a significant change. Dreadstar 18:02, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

It is obvious, and needs to be put back. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 19:20, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm definitely a Master Of The Obvious.. :) Dreadstar 19:24, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
It should be put back, allowing that would destroy all effort in the overall quality improvement drive. Arnoutf 19:56, 14 August 2007 (UTC)
I would have restored it, but the article is protected. Dreadstar 20:36, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

I would like to add site on the postage stamps external links.Edit

Hi, good day!

I would like to add this site ( the list of external links on postage stamps article. This site talks everything about stamps. And i believe its necessary to include this because of its contents which will help stamps collector (novice and professionals) educate themselves. And since its a directory site, they will find it very useful and appropriate as external link.--Melvinthegreat 08:19, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

I suggest that you don't add this site. Wikipedia is not a directory of links. The site doesn't look like it has any actual information on it itself, it's simply a directory itself. Not the kind of site that should be added to Wikipedia at all. --Monotonehell 08:55, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Monotonehell. It is a portal to other (especially philately) sites and contains no valuable information in itself. I would not add it to any page. Arnoutf 09:12, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

service timeEdit

I really don´t think it´s is neccessary to provide a source for the exact length of service time, but here is one § 3 of the "Wehrpflichtgesetz" Which is to be found at I´m sorry but i guess there will be no better source in english on the internet unless the whole body of german law would be translated. —Preceding unsigned comment added by [[User:{{{1}}}|{{{1}}}]] ([[User talk:{{{1}}}|talk]] • [[Special:Contributions/{{{1}}}|contribs]])

I am not sure for which article this may be appropriate, but thanks anyway. Arnoutf 10:46, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

Scrolling Reference ListsEdit

Isn't it about time to simply declare {{reflist}} to be the recommended way to declare the reference section? It seems to me that a raw <references> section is acceptable up to about 20 references and then there is a desire to use a smaller font and multiple columns. Surely, the template provides the appropriate standard for any FA-class article.--SallyForth123 23:46, 16 August 2007 (UTC)

I oppose smaller fonts because I have trouble reading them. --Gerry Ashton 23:53, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Too many references may indicate that an article is either over referenced or is an appropriate size for a fork. --Monotonehell 02:18, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
Smaller ffont readability can be overcome by monitor settings.
Two column layout is used widely and is (IMHO) a good idea for long lists.
Better too many than too few references, I would not worry too much about over-referencing
Scrolling reference lists are never a good idea (see elsewhere on this talk page) for many reasons. Arnoutf 09:24, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
Not sure what the negative aspect of "over-referencing" is, if there is one. I always use the template myself. And as for complaints about small font size, I second the comment above or you can just enlarge the text in your browser by holding CTRL and using the scroll wheel on your mouse. As for scrolling ref lists, I don't ever use them, I am not trying to hide my sources from view. IvoShandor 09:27, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
You can do that in your browser, as I can in mine. But it's dangerous for accessibility reasons to assume functionality. Over referencing isn't a big problem, it's just sloppy. For example, most newsmedia references are circular and can be removed. But it's more an indication that the article is becoming too large. --Monotonehell 20:54, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
"Smaller ffont (sic) readability can be overcome by monitor settings". No - the user sets their font to their preferred size; then we come along and make it smaller. Fonts below 100% should not be used (and NEVER below 905). Andy Mabbett | Talk to Andy Mabbett 21:08, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree that fonts should not be smaller than the current font size in the reflist template (which are already smaller compared to body text font). However, I think the current smaller size is acceptable as the references are supporting material that you would not regularly read; it should be there as a background check. Arnoutf 21:49, 17 August 2007 (UTC)
This isn't about what people use the text for; but whether they can read it in the first place. Andy Mabbett | Talk to Andy Mabbett 13:37, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Ok, my question then is, does anybody think the current size in the reflist templated reference lists is too small. If so, I think that should be discussed in the talk of the reflist template. Arnoutf 15:26, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

(unindent) I think the default size associated with the reflist template is acceptable; I just wouldn't want people to do anything to make it even smaller. --Gerry Ashton 22:45, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Never my intention, never thought anyone would suggest that, it is small enoough as it is. Arnoutf 23:08, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Can a source link be removed if it requires registration?Edit

What is the policy on source links that require registration? Most links these days require registration, I've been removing the ones that do. Which sand witch sandwich? 19:12, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

That is a good one. I encountered a link that required paid subscription (or one time payment of 0.50 Euro) to access the article. I am not at all happy with these.
On the other hand a reference to a scientific journal; or book also means that the reader needs to own / have access to that printed source.
I think this issue deserves some in depth discussion. Arnoutf 19:18, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I recall reading some where that Wikipedia policy was/is against links that require registration? Which policy pages are relevant? Which sand witch sandwich? 19:26, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
The main relevant policy pages are WP:V and WP:RS. Christopher Parham (talk) 19:30, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
These sources are acceptable, so long as they come from reliable publications, like the NY times. If you doubt the accuracy of the reference there are many people who have access to the NY times either on the web or in print archives. Christopher Parham (talk) 19:30, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Looks like someone replaced the link on Maria Bartiromo with one that doesn't require registration. I thought it was Wikipedia policy to discourage the use of links that require registration? Is this true? Which sand witch sandwich? 19:40, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
It is false, so far as references go. The relevant policy for other external links is WP:EL, which does discourage links that require registration. Christopher Parham (talk) 19:42, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Dredstar's post below and the "Cites requiring registration" policy seems to disagree with you? Why should references be treated any differently that regular external links? Certainly a non registration requiring link, when available, is preferred over a registration requiring link, right? Which sand witch sandwich? 19:47, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
WP:EL explicitly does not apply to references. The main qualification for sources is reliability, because we are looking to produce a reliable reference work. Accessibility is a secondary concern. So long as you are using the most reliable sources available, replacing registration links with non-registration links is probably fine. Removing references entirely is not. Christopher Parham (talk) 19:50, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
It is easy to confuse policy/guidelines on "external links" to sites with the policy/guidelines on the External Links section. External Links can be either references or "further reading/external links", but the policy/guidelines around the actual links themselves is what I've described below. Linking to a paid or subscription site is the same whether it's used for a reference/note or just an external link/further reading link. Dreadstar 19:52, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
So links that require registration can be removed? links are over used as they almost always require registration. Which sand witch sandwich? 19:55, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
To quote the page you linked: "The subject of this guideline is external links that are not citations of article sources." WP:EL does not apply here. Please do not remove citations that require registration. The NY times is in general a reliable source and provides useful source information for article content. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:00, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
It says to 'avoid' linking, but doesn't prohibit it's use. I wouldn't remove links to the NYTimes because normally, that information is also published in the paper version of the NYT. I generally only remove links to contentious information, and generally only in the External links section. Christopher, even though it says "The subject of this guideline is external links that are not citations of article sources.", this seems to be a general statement that is contradicted in the specific. Perhaps it needs to be clarified. Or perhaps I'm not understanding it correctly. Although I do think if something is important enough, it should be found in sources that are not from paid or registration sites. Dreadstar 20:11, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
That is a general statement which applies generally. "External links" need to be accessible because we intend readers to visit those sites for additional content. References don't have that burden because, for the most part, we aren't recommending that the general reader pursue those links. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:19, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
The problem, as I've described in more detail below, is that WP:EL mentions "External links used as inline embedded citations are covered by Wikipedia:Embedded citations," which confuses the issue. Should be easy to clear up one way or the other. Dreadstar 20:29, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Many people no longer regard embedded citations as a best-practice style. It probably shouldn't be mentioned. The point is that links which support the content of the article are treated differently than links which point to additional content outside Wikipedia. The former are covered by WP:V and WP:RS, and the second by WP:EL. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:43, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

The reasoning for the prohibition on links to sites that require registration or a paid subscription is detailed in WP:EL#Sites requiring registration. I fully agree with this reasoning. I would not want to have Wikipedia links guiding readers to sites where they have to pay or sites that require some sort of personal identification (even an email address), for access. Easy, quick verification is a hallmark of providing sources to verify content. Also, having to go through a registration process can be time-consuming and even frustrating at times. Dreadstar 19:37, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps we need to clarify this, I'm not sure if there's an explcit enough statement. The trail goes through Wikipedia:Embedded links to Wikipedia:Embedded citations, which says "This style of external link should only be used as a citation for a specific section or fact. Other external links should go in an External links section as described at Wikipedia:External links." Dreadstar 20:01, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
One way out maybe to make a guideline stating that paid or registration required references should only be used when no other source can be provided. That way we allow the high quality content in, while we also call for easy verifiability for readers who do not want to pay/register. Arnoutf 20:08, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I like this idea. Preference should be given to non registration requiring links. Also, this guideline should note it applies to references too since Christopher Parham above claims references are somehow excluded. Which sand witch sandwich? 20:12, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Agreed, it's an excellent idea. Definitely should be clarified, for both editors and readers what those links are about. Dreadstar 20:13, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I nominate Which sand witch sandwich? and Arnoutf to create this...I'll be the peanut gallery...;) Dreadstar 20:14, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
What should we call this proposal? Perhaps we should just propose this as a clarification to existing policies? Which sand witch sandwich? 20:18, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Oh, yes, it should definitely just be a clarification to one of the existing guidelines (perhaps several), not notable enough to be it's own page. Dreadstar 20:20, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, I was bold and updated the "Sites requiring registration" paragraph to specifically mention references too, and I added "[allowed only] If no non registration or subscription requiring link is available". Which sand witch sandwich? 20:27, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't make sense to add information about references to a guideline that says at the top it doesn't apply to them. Nor is the advice good without a strong statement that more authoritative sources are superior even if they are less accessible. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:34, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
We disagree that that is what it says. And if a reference is an external link I believe the external links policy applies. Which sand witch sandwich? 20:40, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
It is contradictory for the lead to say it doesn't apply to references, then have it actually have something that applies to references...unless, perhaps, it's clear that it is some type of exception? There's probably a better place for it, or mebbe further clarification in WP:EL. Dreadstar 20:48, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Maybe we should be trying to change the reference policy to prefer non registration/subscription links? I created a straw poll section below. Which sand witch sandwich? 20:53, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I've removed your poll on account of the fact that this discussion is about 2 hours old. Let's give it more time. Additionally, the place for discussing what types of sources to use would be WP:RS or perhaps WP:V. This is primarily a style guideline. I recommend you take this issue to Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:58, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

I think this conversation is looking at this from the wrong angle. We ought to encourage editors to reference the actual source they used and cite it properly. In that case, if the information is online, an external link is a convenience to readers who want to check - whether or not registration is required. Telling people not to link to a site if it's registration only doesn't help us any. They just put in the citation without the URL and other readers won't be in any better position to check the source. Preferring online sources that are registration and cost free, in much the same way we prefer English references is good. But removing courtesy links or changing references to less reliable sources should not be encouraged. -- SiobhanHansa 21:05, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

I concur. I don't think it's an either/or situation, but one that needs some clarification. Dreadstar 21:20, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

(after edit conflict)

I agree that this discussion is upside-down. The restriction on external links to sites requiring registration is not intended to apply to article sources. Articles should be based on the most reliable sources. In many cases, these will not be accessible without subscription. This was recently discussed here, and the consensus was that it's more important that an article have citations to reliable sources, than for every reader to be able to access those sources instantly. Remember that lots of reliable sources aren't even available online at all. You have to go to a library to find them — and sometimes not just any library, either. Those sources are arguably less accessible than subscription-only websites, but they're perfectly acceptable. Accessibility doesn't trump reliability.
As Siobhan points out, there's certainly a case for replacing subscription-only references with freely accessible ones when the free source is just as reliable as the subscription one. But that doesn't mean that it's OK to remove references altogether, merely because they link to sites which require subscription or registration.
It's also worth noting that this issue has come up on this page before: see Wikipedia talk:Cite sources/archive16#Query and Wikipedia talk:Reliable sources/ as a source. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 21:25, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I posted over on WP:Reliable sources my suggestion that references should be preferred from websites that do not require registration or subscription. Which sand witch sandwich? 21:23, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Even after reading those previous discussions, the whole EL-pay/registration thing still looks muddy to me. Dreadstar 21:33, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
It's clear, and simple. Sources are there to comply with a bedrock Wikipedia policy, WP:V, further spelled out in WP:RS. Everything we write about must be verifiable in order to encourage good writing, discourage original research and other things, and so that the reader can trust that it's true (and even find out if they care to fact check). This page is just a style guideline on how to cite the source once you've sourced it. If it happens to be a pay site, or an offline book or magazine you have to pay for, so be it. External links are not a bedrock issue; rather, they are a handy way to refer readers to additional information that's unsuitable for inclusion here, or we just haven't got around to it. In that case we try not to refer to pay and advertising sites because they're not useful, and allowing them would encourage link spam. WP:EL covers that. The only confusion comes because people get lazy and they don't cite their sources fact by fact or even paragraph by paragraph. Instead they just throw a link at the bottom of the page and call it a source. Those links are sourcing links and covered by this WP:V, WP:RS, and WP:CITE.
Sure, it's fine and preferable if you can replace a pay-link, broken link, or offline source with an equivalently reliable free linked source. I say equivalent to imply that it has to back up everything that's said, but once you reach a certain level of reliability for a given fact you may not need to go further. The Orange County Register, a moderately reliable cite, may be just as good for reporting somebody's birth year as the New York Times. Wikidemo 21:43, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I thought open or free as in freedom content is a bedrock policy of Wikipedia? Which sand witch sandwich? 21:47, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, Wikidemo, what you're saying is clear, but the guidelines are muddy, and they even seem to be self-contradictory. Thus the continued issues that are being raised here, and in the other places linked to above. Dreadstar 22:02, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
WP:CITE is a style guideline on Wikipedia, Wikipedia:Verifiability is official policy. Stated... " "Verifiable" in this context means that any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source."... The NY times is a WP:RS which is a content guideline. However, when a subscription is needed to view the relevant content, it fails Wikipedia:Verifiability as it is inaccessible to a substantial number of users. Any reader should be able to fact-check check material added to Wikipedia for accuracy. The Wikipedia:Verifiability policy easily supports using an alternative, accessable source instead, or removal untill one is found. --Hu12 22:39, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks HU12, I got that. I'm talking about the apparent muddiness in the guidelines. Dreadstar 23:07, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
In total agreemement with you on the insufficient clarity.;)--Hu12 23:16, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Is it time for a straw poll as there seems to be some disagreement? There could be consensus to change policy if current policy doesn't prefer non subscription/registration links for references? Other than a straw poll how should we go about modifying policy? I think Wikipedia should prefer non registration/subscription links and I would even, in most cases, support outright registration/subscription link removal. Which sand witch sandwich? 23:03, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Sandwich wrote "I thought open or free as in freedom content is a bedrock policy of Wikipedia?" That's true to the extent that Wikipedia shoud be freely available. But it would be absurd to suggest that the sources used to create Wikipedia should all be free; otherwise, we can't read books. After all, we either have to buy books, or supply personal information in order to obtain a library card. OK, I suppose we could limit our research to sitting in the library without ever checking any books out, but that seems overly restrictive. And don't forget to cancel all your magazine subscriptions. --Gerry Ashton 22:59, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

My suggestion is applicable only to external website links used as references. Registration and subscription are closed content. Which sand witch sandwich? 23:03, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Maybe with pay or registration links used as references, we shoud do something along the lines of what is suggested for dead reference links and "record the fact" that it is a registered or pay site, and perhaps not make it a 'live link'. Or is that already suggested somehere? Dreadstar 23:04, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I do not agree with limiting to strict open access. Free to check means that you are not allowed to use classified reports. Registration or payments is however open for everyone. An article from Nature or Science (or any other scientific publication) is only available for editors who have access to its original prints or online backlogs (and universities are paying a lot of money for that right). Saying that only freely availabe articles can be used would exclude almost all core articles on relevant scientific discoveries of the last century. That is just impossible. However, we could say that if a free source can be found it should be preferred.
With regard to making it a dead link. I would suggest referring to the print version rather than the web version in such cases Arnoutf 23:06, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree, we can't restrict to 'free only' sources, then we'd be down to virtually nothing. Yeah, citation to the paper version would be great, if there is one. Dreadstar 23:09, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Not making links to subscription sites live links constitutes a campaign to make it more difficult for those who decided to pay for a certain subscription to take advantage of what they have paid for. I oppose actively campaigning against subscription sites. --Gerry Ashton 23:10, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
On the other hand, the links provide some free advertising for those pay sites. Dreadstar 23:29, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
Agree it is avertising, and since the style guidelines specificaly do not prohibit thse sites, this can be a "legit" form of spamming Wikipedia (which many of us see daily). Although WP:EL and WP:V call for open access to the information, WP:CITE, does not prohibit subscription sites as sources. This should be clarified one way or the other.--Hu12 23:48, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
More mud, huh? ;) Dreadstar 23:56, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Straw poll on whether non registration/subscription links should be preferred for references

References should prefer non registration/subscription websites Which sand witch sandwich? 23:45, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

References should not prefer non registration/subscription websites

Wikipedia is not a democracy, please continue to discuss to attempt to form a consensus. --Monotonehell 00:13, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Obligatory voting is evil sectionEdit

  • Voting is evil, but there is no reason to limit links because they can't be accessed by everyone at home. What about non-commercialized sites like ProQuest and JSTOR that many can get access to at a library, seems not linking to them would actually restrict the amount of information available to the reader, this is not a good move, not at all, nor is this straw poll which won't prove anything. IvoShandor 23:57, 18 August 2007 (UTC)
The alternative is no link, and the writer still using the source. All that happens by removing registration required links is that it becomes harder to verify the information. IvoShandor 00:03, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
The alternative is not "no link", this proposal is for non registration/subscription websites to simply be preferred. Which sand witch sandwich? 01:13, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
If there is no non-registration/subscription required alternative to link to, then yes, the alternative is no link and a simple text citation, unless you plan to steal the article and host it yourself, which would be a copyright violation I think. IvoShandor 01:22, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
It just seemed to me that there was some ardent opposition to the links, if we can still use them I can't imagine why this change is needed, if an article has a link that requires subscription there usually isn't a free alternative to link to. IvoShandor 01:23, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
If we're creating links in references we might as well have active links in all of them, or none. Christopher Parham (talk) 01:28, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict)That's a good point, if you are uncomfortable linking to a pay site, you can provide the URL, unlinked, with a notation that it is a pay site, which, as Mr. Parham says above, would be more useful for print outs (it's the method used in academic writing). But I must say, if linking to a pay site is "free advertising" it isn't anymore so than linking to a free article from the same publication, or others, most news sites etc. are plastered with advertisements. Sites like JSTOR, I don't even think a regular, single individual can subscribe to, and they certainly don't contain any outside adverts. I don't think the "free advertising" argument hold water. IvoShandor 01:34, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
As it turns out the printable version expands the URL automatically, so that's not a problem. (Hence I edited my comment above.) I agree with your main point, though -- most open sites are no less for-profit than registration-required sites. Indeed open sites are much more likely to have outside linking as a profit driver. Christopher Parham (talk) 01:40, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
[edit conflict] I think we may as well go with a solution similar to Wikipedia:Verifiability#Sources in languages other than English. If there's a reference that can be linked to and is of equal quality and reliability, then that's preferred since it's easier to verify. These sources are simply more convenient to use, but there's nothing wrong with linking to a site that requires subscription; not linking would simply hinder any users that can access the site. 17Drew 01:37, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
There's a big difference between linking to a site where one must pay in order to view the cited content and a site that merely contains advertising links that one can chose to click on or not. And sure, the advertising argument holds water...;0
I do think we can reference pay/registration sites if it's necessary to use them as a reference, but we don't necessarily need to link directly to them - just like we don't link directly to a reference book in library or store. Dreadstar 03:55, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
A while back an 8 month elaborate Reference Spam scheme was discovered, seeWikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Spam/2007_Archive_Jan#Reference_Spam.2C_8_Months_of_S.E.O. which lead to Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard/Archive71#Community_ban_of_sneaky_spammer. Clarity in the style guideline needs to be stated on what is acceptable, because clearly it will be abused.--Hu12 04:40, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
    • I replace them with the same citation without the link (in the case of JSTOR, I use the DOI or first page link), because 90% of the time, those are archived paper stuff, or are valid anyway (e.g.Oxford national biography online, Grove encyclopedia of music online...) Circeus 05:00, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
That's what I do with the databases, link to the permanent record, almost anyone can access them at the library. My primary concern is that because some people abuse the system (which will happen with or without a change in the guideline) we are going to restrict what people can link to, thus making information less easily available and verifiable. I cannot and will not support any blanket policy proscribing external links to registration only websites as "illegal." I will support a change that denotes the wording its preferable to link to free sites; spammers can, as they are now, be dealt with on a case by case basis. The fact that people abuse something, though isn't enough reason to get rid of it, in my opinion. So I think we should just note that free links are better, and move on with it, if you think the notation will help. IvoShandor 07:44, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
it's easy enough to rewrite the reference properly, so the link goes to the specific article as it should, not to the website in general--if that is the problem. And the link should always be rewritten to specify primarily the actual article. As a reference, I use a form like <ref> "title of article" by X, ''Journal of Y'' v.0, p. 00-00 (2009) [url of Jstor or whatever abstract]</ref>; as an external link I would say *[url "title of article"] Journal Name (JSTOR).. The doi is good to add, and I usually do add it. The idea is to link to the source of record, which is never JSTOR but the journal, and to give the convenient link. I can think of no case where a link to a database alone or a service like JStor alone is proper, except in the very rare occasions when one is actually citing a search for some reason. .
But if there is a necessary link that is only behind a pay barrier, it's still a necessary link to be made. An example might be where an person's official web page is behind such a barrier. sounds absurd, but I've seen it. And of course for references, one gives the best there is regardless--but I also try to give a free one.
And links to widely used reference sources like ODNB are not to be considered spam. DGG (talk) 08:07, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Summarising: I would say something like:

  • If there is a version of the article available without copyright violations that does not require pay or registration this is preferred. (this will be very scarce in general).
  • If there is a source of equal reliability and quality, a non-paid, non-registration source is to be preferred. (this goes for many news items, but will be severly limited/non-existent for scientific journals)
  • If an article has appeared in print, give the full reference of the original in-print edition, besides any electronic edition (e.g. JSTOR, or the electronic access to the paper through e.g. Elsevier Science Direct). (this goes for almost all scientific journals, but not necessarily for news services, it will go for much of the major press - e.g. NY times)
  • If a stable database referencing system has been designed (e.g. DOI, or even ISBN) refer to the identifier in that database (this will work for scientific papers but not necessarily for newspapers).

And a statement of myself:

  • If neither of the above applies, a source that requires payment or registration may be used. In such a case, payment and registration should (in principle) be open to every editor. (i.e. internal business documents that are available to the author, but are not available to anyone who is not in employ of that company/security documents that are classified etc. etc. are not verifiable and can therefore not be used as sources).

Taken together I am not sure this would be stuff for a formal guideline, but perhaps a paragraph in the how to cite section? Arnoutf 08:53, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

I support Arnoutf's idea and wording. Which sand witch sandwich? 18:35, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Chapter in a bookEdit

The cite book template at present does not seem to allow for a chapter written by particular authors in a book which is edited by other particular editors. Have I missed something or is this currently not implemented? --CloudSurfer 20:14, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

There appear to be "chapter" and "editor" fields in addition to the author and title fields; I expect using those appropriately will produce something like the desired result. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:27, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for that. I wasn't looking down the page enough on Template:Citation. On Wikipedia:Citation_templates it is there as well, but only under the encyclopedia section. To make it easier, it should be in the book area as well. --CloudSurfer 21:24, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

National Roads and Motorists Association LimitedEdit

The current page states that the current CEO tony stuart is one of the longer serving CEOs,this is not factually true,historically NRMA CEOs were long serving such as John Lamble 1963-1993. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 03:42, August 20, 2007 (UTC)

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