Wikipedia talk:Citing sources/Archive 2

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Proposed in-text citation guidelines

  • In-text citations should provide the minimal information necessary to find the fact or opinion being cited. This means:
    • If a summary of a substantial portion of a source, or a general argument, or a discussion of a broad subject, or a well-known fact is being cited, cite the entire source work in the article text. Use the author's name alone if there is only one work by that author in the reference list; otherwise, use the date of publication or the title of the work (in abbreviated form if desired) as well. So if Darwin's Origin of Species is his only work listed among the references, use "(Darwin)" in the text; if there are others, use "(Darwin 1859)", or "(Darwin Origin)".
    • If a passage is quoted directly, multiple citations to the same source are given, or it will be difficult for a reader to find the fact or discussion being cited, provide a page number as well as the minimal information above. Use "(Darwin 11)", "(Darwin 1859, 11)", or "(Darwin Origin 11)" according to the above guideline.
-- Rbellin 20:53, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)
On the one hand, I like the idea of providing only minimal information. On the other hand, I expect that such a guideline will make in-text citations in large articles prone to ambiguities, especially in a collaborative project like Wikipedia. Example: User:Aaron creates an article about Charles Darwin and cites Voyage of the beagle as "(Darwin)". A few days later, User:Bert joins the fun and adds a paragraph about evolution theory, in which he cites The origin of species as "(Darwin, 1859)". Readers will first encounter the "(Darwin)" in-text citations; when they look up the citations in the reference list, they will have to deduce which of the two books they are being referred to. In my opinion, omitting years of publication should not be recommended, in order to avoid such problems.
I also propose that we recommend "p." as a prefix for page numbers so that it is clear what these numbers mean. This will be helpful for people who are not/less familiar with scientific citation formats.
Last idea: mention the republication date in the in-text citations too, especially if page numbers are provided. I think it is a bit confusing when page numbers refer to a republished edition, whereas the in-text citations suggest that they refer to the original work. Sietse 10:35, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I too would like to see articles better cited than normal encyclopaedias (story of recent aggravation with one such elided), but I too don't like what in-text cites do to the flow of the text. However: Wikipedia is not paper; we can have our cake and eat it too! In the long run, I would like to see cites supported as first-class metadata, so one could e.g. click on a tab (as suggested by others) and see the articles with (copious :-) cites shown. However, in the interim, we have the source - we can put citations in as comments, something like <!-- Cite: Darwin, 1859; 1978 reprint pp. 172-173 -->. And if we fix on a set syntax for the leading tag for cites in comments, then if and when the glorious day finally comes that they are supported as first-class metadata, they can all be converted automagically by a bot. This is something we can start today - so can we agree on a syntax, and get to it? Noel (talk) 13:45, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

How 'bout "Cite:" as you suggested. I'll start using that, and mention it on my user page. If another one is picked, we can bot-change the "Cite" ones to fit it. JesseW 14:20, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think this is good as a general idea, but it seem like "Source" or "Reference" would be more clear than "Cite".
Also, I'm just curious about thoughts on footnotes. I'm ambivalent about them. Maurreen 16:20, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
It's just a hidden tag for in-text citations (e.g. "Brandybuck 77, pg. 129"), not anything readers would see. I suggested "Cite" because it's short and quick to type. Noel (talk) 23:17, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The idea of citations (and references?) as meta-data sounds great to me. Maybe we could use a BibTeX-like syntax for this, so we don't have to re-invent the wheel? I think it would be best if we start adding such tags only when the meta-data system is working, otherwise articles would have either no visible citations (i.e. the citation is a comment) or double citations (i.e. both comment and text citations, so redundant) in the mean time. Sietse 08:56, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I like the idea of BibTex for the list of references, because it explicitly tags volume/number/year, etc - which could (down the road) fix our problems with MLA/APA/Turabian/etc - eventually your reference list style could become a user option, like dates are now.
However, I think BibText only does the list of references at the end, not the individual citations in the body of the text, right? So we still need something else for those.
What's the deal on the meta-data system, anyway? Any idea when it's likely to arrive? If it's going to be a while, I'd still like to go with my original suggestion: pick a syntax for doing in-text citations as HTML comments now; they can be automagically converted (by a bot) to whatever the meta-data syntax turns out to be later.
I didn't understand your comment about "double or none" - I was assuming that for in-text citations there'd only be one, as a comment in the source (i.e. not visible normally). Noel (talk) 23:17, 3 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I don't like the idea of hiding the in-text citation in a comment. These pointers are there because they provide useful information — they tell the reader that a particular statement came from somewhere that can be easily looked up, they give some information about currency (via the year), and they tell the reader where to find the reference. (Yes, you can say that all of this will be available once again at some unspecified point in the future via improvements in the software. That doesn't excuse degrading the utility of Wikipedia now.) If you have so many in-text citations in your article that it is getting in the way of reading, then something may well be wrong with the article (e.g. it may be verging on original research). —Steven G. Johnson 00:27, Dec 4, 2004 (UTC)

Encyclopaedias generally don't cite in the text at all, so far as I know. All the rationales you cited above would of course equally apply to them, so they must have some good reason for not doing so. In addition, I think adding citations in the text that ordinary readers see would be obtrusive and distracting to them. Wikipedia is not a scholarly journal article, and our readers will not be (in large part) academics. Putting citations in the source, so they are available to editors, and for a meta-data system later, seems like a good balance.
Also, I am dubious about the "so many .. citations" point. I am involved in a number of pages on various topics where I see editors asking each other "what's your authority for that point" a lot. Many such articles are assembled from a long list of secondary sources, so it's hardly original research, but those sources may disagree. E.g. I'm doing some updates to the articles about British crypto efforts against the higher-level German ciphers in WWII (e.g. Tunny and Sturgeon), but my secondary sources often disagree, and because of that I'm always listing where I found stuff. Another example is in Egyptology, where many points are still not settled; e.g. how long Akhenaten and his father were co-regents. Even if you NPOV simply give all sides of the debate, you ought to provide a citation to each one. Neither one of these cases even comes close to the line of "original research": scholars in the field simply disagree.
Even worse than these easy cases (or so they seem, compared to what's next), there are many contentious topics (which are things I devoutly stay away from), of which the Wikipedia has plenty, where things will be even worse than this - people will want citations for everything. To not put them in because it would create an article that is too logged with citations is, IMO, a grievous error - going back and adding the citations later is an incredible amount of work, and frankly is just unlikely to happen.
Which gets us back to my previous point - hide them where the ordinary readers don't see them. Having them hidden in the source (available for later bot processing) is far better than not having them at all. Noel (talk) 00:23, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)
"Encyclopaedias generally don't cite in the text at all." But encyclopedias generally don't have our complex issues of open collective authorship, and consequent need to validate that statements weren't pulled out of someone's ass. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:33, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)
Sure, but that doesn't mean they don't contain errors. 47 Ronin currently contains a bunch of errors because I relied (in part) on the Japan Encyclopaedia, published by Harvard University Press. Citations would have been really useful there.
Anyway, the issue is not whether or not to add citations in the body of the article - I think we all agree that they are a good idea. The only question is "do they display for all readers, or are they hidden".
If my only choices are "only a few citations" or "hide them", the second is the only viable way to go, as far as I'm concerned. Noel (talk) 03:01, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Adding bibliography guidelines: Any objections or comments?

I would like to add more information about APA style rules for formatting references and citations to the An example citation style section. Specifically, I want to

  1. add rules for citing republished or translated works, as well as 'secondary' works such as book reviews.
  2. add rules for references to non-standard sources like television series episodes
  3. explain various minor rules concerning things like capitalization and how to describe the location of the publisher of a book.

My additions will be based on the APA Publication Manual, fifth edition. Since this page is based on consensus, I would like to know in advance if anyone thinks that it is necessary to discuss this first (e.g. because it makes the page more complex). Suggestions, comments, etc. are also welcome. If I receive no replies within a week or so, I'll assume that it is okay with everyone and start changing it. Sietse 09:21, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It sounds fine to me. JesseW 14:32, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Fine with me, as long as you try to keep simple things simple. Be sure to come up with good jokes for fake citations. =) —Steven G. Johnson 19:49, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)
Could you show us a draft here first? Maurreen 04:39, 25 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Related page

You might be interested in Wikipedia:Forum for Encyclopedic Standards. The group is discussing reference standards, possible software changes and the like. Perhaps there should be some coordination between here and there. Maurreen 15:47, 28 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Quotes around article names?

Shouldn't there be quotes around the names of articles (still with italics around the title of the whole publication)? --L33tminion | (talk) 22:18, Dec 3, 2004 (UTC)

In many style guides, yes. Not in APA style. (See e.g. [1].) —Steven G. Johnson 22:50, Dec 3, 2004 (UTC)

If the author cannot be determined...

The following was recently added: "If the author cannot be determined, then you may reconsider whether you have a reliable source at all." Was this on the basis of some consensus I missed? If so, I disagree. Official statements of organizations and governments, texts of laws, etc. are rarely attributable to authors; for that matter, articles in Wikipedia are rarely attributable to a particular author. I would really like to see this sentence either removed or expanded to the point where it resembles a sane policy. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:18, Dec 7, 2004 (UTC)

Dittoed. Johnleemk | Talk 07:39, 7 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Categories not Covered

I guess because I mostly focus on historical topics of Wikipedia I've encountered some problems in citation not discussed here. These are:

  • Citations from the Bible. The style I'm most familiar with is to write out in full the name of the book, then abbreviate it afterwards (e.g., Genesis & afterwards Gen.); chapter & verse are given in arabic numerals, separated by a colon (e.g. 3:16).
  • Citations from Classical sources. These are the ancient Greek & Roman authors: Homer, Hesiod, Vergil, Livy, etc. Whenever possible, write out the complete name of the work in Latin or Latinized Greek; italicize the title if it is considered book-sized, otherwise use quotation marks; book & line or section are given in arabic numerals, separated by a period (e.g. Iliad .100, & afterwards Il.; not Natural History but Naturalis Historiae 5.20, & afterwards N.H.)

ISTR that this is in line with the MLA guidelines, or matches established practice by scholarly classical journals -- but I could be wrong. Yes, I've been changing every citation I've seen to fit these; & yes, I've occasionally been inconsistent. -- llywrch 03:32, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

About the names of books, it seems like that would fall under the general rule of using whatever title the book is most commonly known by in the English-speaking world. Maurreen 05:15, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)
One could finesse by making links to our growing collection of articles on the ancient source works, and making redirs from Latin/English as desired. Even after studying all this for some years, some of the names of works do not ring a bell for me (even when written out), casual readers will be even more mystified. Stan 17:17, 18 Dec 2004 (UTC)

What do you think about this? (footnotes and bibliography)

soren9580 and I have come up with a method of citing/referencing/footnoting pages that is very easy and very professional. Can we consider this method for the Wikipedia:Cite Sources page? Here is an example and we have created a page dedicated to this method as well, which serves as another example as well: Wikipedia:Footnote2. --[[User:Alterego|Alterego]] 22:58, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Do I understand correctly that people have to hand-maintain keeping the numbers in the right order? -- Jmabel | Talk 23:30, Dec 21, 2004 (UTC)
Yes it's not that bad because they are very simple templates. We can hope that in the future there is a possibility of autonumbering. In the meantime, this is the only one that works and it is very simple. Just {{f1}} and {{f1b}}. Aside from this though, can we consider adopting this suggested Notes and Bibliography style for the encyclopedia? It looks very good I think. --[[User:Alterego|Alterego]] 23:43, 21 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Hand-maintaining is unfortunate, but I can't think of a better idea. This is less visually intrusive than the (author, year) in-line citations, and for texts with lots of disputes (say Internet Explorer) you really need in-line citations to justify statements. I think it'd make sense if you'd like! Maybe this will help gain experience, and then the software can be modified to support something like this but to number things automatically. Dwheeler 00:10, 2004 Dec 22 (UTC)
Without auto-numbering, I don't see a compelling reason to prefer this over in-text parenthetical citations. Bouncing around between anchor tags is, for me, a suboptimal reading experience, while parentheses can easily be skipped over by eye without web-browser assistance. So I'd prefer this to be presented as an alternative, not an all-Wikipedia prescribed style. Also, this introduces a potential new problem: many footnoted styles do not use a separate reference list. Do we intend to use both end-of-article notes and end-of-article reference lists? -- Rbellin 00:16, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Hi Rbellin. Well, I don't think the point about in-line parenthetical references is good, because it's easier to skip over a tiny footnote if you don't want to read it. And it's also what we are used to seeing in books too. I would ask your opinion concerning the notes and bibliography section. I think it looks very nice in my example article, and in addition it is the proper way to do it when added with MLA styling. It is my opinion, and i know some people will find this extreme but that is ok, that since this is an encyclopdia even all of our external links should be in MLA style like i have done in MBTI. Just providing a link provides no context and no meta data and since the articles can be used under the GFDL outside of wikipedia, it seems very important to provide some information about the hyperlink that exists there. What do you guys think? --[[User:Alterego|Alterego]] 00:47, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I use both footnotes and references (which the new suggested style suddenly changes the name of after we've been using the present style guide on thousands of articles), as far as Rbellin's question. I found this method useful so I could footnote my paraphrases but list references/bibliography for the other sources generally consulted for background information that were not paraphrased or quoted OR where a whole article owes a great deal to one source, listing the source in a References area is better than footnoting every single line. I think doing things with only a footnotes list would cause too many footnotes to be put in an article; having a separate references/bibliography leads to a cleaner look and fewer footnotes. I think footnotes should be just used occasionally when drawing particular attention to sources of a specific point, quotation or paraphrase that you can see might later lead an editor to want to verify it, but a References or Bibliography should always be used for the general background info. I guess I do like "Bibliography" better than "References" as a title. (I realize wikipedia used APA style for the "Notes" and "References" sections, having looked the other day. My old World Book Encyclopedia seems to only have "Additional Resources" as a section at the end of its articles and a byline for the article writer, but that is a different situation since our articles aren't written by solo authors credentialed in an area of expertise but are a joint (often anonymous) effort, and we have a need to verifiably show where we get our info so that readers and Wikipedia critics trust it.) I also used External Links to generally useful sites for more information for readers but which I likely didn't actually use information from in my article. One other thing: I also use footnote "short form" in re-listing article titles on the subsequent citation to a previously footnoted source, per most style guides, in case someone isn't used to that. Subsequent references to a source (short forms and ibid., etc.) could stand to be put in the footnotes part of the citation style guide. Emerman 08:36, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)
In reference to your comments above about bibligraphies, as I said at Wikipedia_talk:Guide_to_layout#References vs Further Reading:
[for average users] it is important to distinguish between:
  • things they might find useful to go find and read, if they want more information about the topic than what is available here (what I am calling "Further reading"), and
  • the material used to create the article, which quite likely are detailed academic materials which would be of little use or interest to them (what I am calling "References").
... from my experience in exploring fields by going through bibiographies in books and getting items (something I have done in a very large number of fields) that the (sadly uncommon) bibliograhies which include comments about which items are good for what are a zillion times easier to use productively than the ones that just provide a barren list. I've lost count of the number of times I've ordered a book based on solely the listing in a bibliography, only to find out when it arrived that it was a waste of money. The article writers have (or should, if they are any good) an excellent understanding of which readings are best for "average people", and I think it's our duty to pass that very valuable information on.
I'm not so hung up on the particular titles we chose (although I admit a certain fondness for "Further reading" for "books the average reader should go look at if they want to know more than is in this article" - which I argue is probably important to more readers than the ones who want to know the exact source of each statement), so perhaps it's best if we first decide on how many sections there ought to be, and what the function of each is; we can worry about the exact names later. Eventually I'd like to see information on exact sources of article content moved to meta-data, but I think that's clearly a separate category of stuff than "Additional Resources" (also a choice I'd be happy with, although "Further reading" seems to have a large foothold already here). Noel (talk) 16:45, 27 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Generally concur. It bothers me that people keep collapsing "Further Reading" into "References": often I can say pretty confidently that the "Further Reading" has not really been mined for the article. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:05, Dec 27, 2004 (UTC)
Oh, maybe I should call "Further reading" certain things I called "External links"? How would you distinguish the purpose of an "External links" section from that? I will go back and look in our faqs for more info too. Emerman 16:17, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)
This topic has been discussed at length here (see #References vs. External Links) and also at Wikipedia_talk:Guide_to_layout#References vs external links again. Noel (talk) 20:39, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)
"External links" is probably OK for online material (although I'd love us to move to a standard where references are identified as References regardless of whether they are paper or online) but I was referring to print material. -- Jmabel | Talk 18:53, Dec 28, 2004 (UTC)
I think this would all be a lot less troublesome if we came to understand that there are two things which are logically separate axes: i) information used to produce an article, and ii) sources of further information for those who want to know more. Yes, the often overlap, but one is usually not a subset of the other. If we'd stop trying to cram things from these two distinct "meta-categories" into a single set of categories (created by dividing up one axis into categories) we'd have a lot less problems, I reckon!
Along the "further information" axis, I reckon it's useful to distinguish between "external links" (meaning other web sites on the topic, with all the plusses and minusses of the web - see previous comment), and "further reading" (altough some other name, such as "additional resources" would be equally OK with me). Making distinction is less useful when it comes to "article sources", and you have to do other things too - e.g. when referencing a web site (as opposed to directing users there for more info) it's important to specify which version (i.e. when) of the site you used. Noel (talk) 20:39, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)
My last sentence above leads me to look at Chicago Manual footnote style and notice that they don't use "page" before page numbers (though I assume they would show a paragraph symbol or para. before a paragraph symbol in an online source) unlike the APA style I had found online. Chicago style (as well as Turabian) also doesn't repeat the article title the second time even partly, unlike another style guide I had referred to (but can't find now); they just repeat the author last name and page number, so I may leave out the article title in the short form. Emerman 16:10, 25 Dec 2004 (UTC)
My opinion: I like your handling of external links in the MBTI article (with extra information like date cited and author when known). I do not like the double full listings of reference info in the endnotes and in the reference list; if the reference list contains the complete citation information, the endnotes should probably just be relatively minimal pointers to the full citation, plus page numbers. About ease of reading, I simply disagree with you. And, as a sidenote: I have read lots of citation-dense books that do not use endnotes like these. They use parenthetical citations (or true footnotes on the same page, or marginal notes), two formats which allow easier reference without leafing from page to page (comparable to following anchor links to the bottom of the article and then clumsily trying to scroll back). In web-browsable format, probably the ultimate best solution would be marginal notes on the right in a wider browser window (a format that Edward Tufte advocates in his information-design books). But for now, I personally prefer parenthetical citation (for ease of maintenance and readability) over this solution, so I'd be against mandating it throughout Wikipedia. -- Rbellin 02:06, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I just had an idea too. It would be really easy for someone to write a script that was onsite or offsite, where you put in the article coding and it went through and numbered everything for you. Possibly! --[[User:Alterego|Alterego]] 00:51, 22 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I spent a lot of time using the current style guide as well as info from the APA to do my Notes and References sections in the Kristin Hersh article and have seen others like this. Do I now change all articles using the old way to say Bibliography and find whatever things you've done differently from the previous way to copyedit things? Or is your example similar to the current style we already have? I suppose if the main change is to call what was once "References as now "Bibliography," that is not so hard; what are the main changes I'd be making to do this your way if it becomes adopted? I don't know if I can keep up with all future changes to the guide but I'll try. It seems like a style guide should have been developed prior to launching Wikipedia rather than have continual changes that will lead to inconsistencies between older stories referring to the old guide and newer stories where the writers referred to whatever was the latest version of the wiki citation style guide at the moment. The main point of a style guide is to create consistency, so I think a style needs to be developed and stuck by without changing it at some point. I do like how you just put the number to the note without "Note 1" or "Note 2" to start a citation though since I think that is the normal way to do it everywhere but Wikipedia, though I haven't double checked (is it APA style to say "Note 1" etc. before a footnote citation? If so then, I was mistaken). Also, I'm about to add a section at the bottom about how I cited to online publications without page numbering. Emerman 08:04, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

As I've explained when this topic was raised (by the same people?) in the past, splitting "References" into "Further reading" and "Bibliography" is a bad idea — there are good reasons why this is not done in scholarly articles. The main reason is that the distinction is completely artificial...especially in a multi-author work like Wikipedia, there's no clear distinction between works that were used to write an article, works used to verify it, and works suggested for further reading. (What you really seem to want are "advanced references" and "introductory references" sections. Of course, if there is a very long list of references, which is rare, there's no reason not to add a subsection heading or two.) The main thing is to cite readable references in the first place: Wikipedia is not for original research, and so it is preferred that we cite things like textbooks and review articles rather than scads of primary sources. —Steven G. Johnson 18:40, Dec 28, 2004 (UTC)

And I will reply (again) that Wikipedia is not a "scholarly article", and it would therefore be inappropriate to use scholarly article procedures here. The average encyclopaedia reader is not a scholar. I do wish people would put more importance on this point. Noel (talk) 20:39, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I have never advocated blind adherence to procedures for scholarly journal articles in Wikipedia; please don't put words in my mouth. However, many of these procedures have been developed for a reason and have withstood the test of time, and it is wise to examine those reasons before disregarding them. (Moreover, referencing procedures are similar across wide varieties of publications; it is misleading to suggest that they are only used in abstruse technical articles with no relevance here.) —Steven G. Johnson
Sorry; I clearly didn't understand your "there are good reasons why this is not done in scholarly articles" comment. Anyway, I am very interested in importing good ideas from scholarly practise - e.g I'm one of the people who would like to see us have better citations for material in articles. In this particular case, however, it's the general practise of encyclopaedias (with their "further information") which I would like to follow. To borrow your words, "many of these procedures have been developed for a reason and have withstood the test of time, and it is wise to examine those reasons before disregarding them." Noel (talk) 13:52, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Also, as I pointed out above, we probably do need to distinguish between things used to write the article, and suggestions for additional resources, because I think a lack of this distinction is behind a lot of our problems here. Noel (talk) 20:39, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The point is that you cannot in general distinguish the two, however much you might like to, and attempting to do so artificially leads to even more confusion about citations. —Steven G. Johnson
I also have to disagree very slightly with your point about 'cite readable references'. I do agree whole-heartedly that it's a absolutely desirable goal, and one that should be ignored only if no other course is possible. However, there are circumstances in which a reference to a not-widely-available work is necessary, especially when making a point that goes against the "received" wisdom. (E.g. I just had reason today to add a reference to a complex scholarly article to HMS Hood (51) because it's more recent work which debunks the common wisdom that it was weak deck armour that doomed her.) Sometimes, alas, in persuit of our goal to make Wikipedia a source that people can trust, there's just no substitute for a reference to a primary source which is not, alas, suitable for the average reader. (Again, refernces != further info....) Noel (talk) 20:39, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Certainly, one sometimes cannot avoid citing a range of sources, from layperson to specialist. In most cases, however, a reader is perfectly capable of distinguishing the difficulty of the sources simply by the title (e.g. is it from a newspaper, or a textbook, or a scholarly journal?). In the worst case, there's nothing wrong with adding a comment to the citation information in the references. —Steven G. Johnson 02:33, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)
Alas, I wish I could be so sanguine! Yes, if we could be certain that editors would add illuminating comments, I would be happy to go along with your proposal. However, I fear that most will not take the time. (Heck, most don't even take the time to list sources/etc!)
And as for being able to do it from the titles, there I must emphatically disagree with you. The shelves of my library are littered with books which I bought from the title, having seen them listed in an un-adorned bibliography, and which turned out to be worthless. Noel (talk) 13:52, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Regarding numbered styles, I think it is a bad idea until/unless MediaWiki has autonumbering support in software. (The parenthetical style is also easier for new users since they don't have to learn yet another wiki syntax.) —Steven G. Johnson 18:40, Dec 28, 2004 (UTC)

Linking authors

I don't like the recent change that links a bunch of author names and at least one word in a title. I think this distracts from the main thrust of this project page. I'd rather revert that and just have one paragraph on the fact that links from within citations are allowed, where appropriate. Does anyone strongly disagree? -- Jmabel | Talk 23:26, Dec 22, 2004 (UTC)

Sounds reasonable to me. —Steven G. Johnson 01:27, Dec 23, 2004 (UTC)

Citing to online publications in footnotes by paragraph number

I recently saw someone misunderstand why I had paragraph symbols in my footnotes to Kristin Hersh because I don't think they had seen the current Cite sources wikipedia guide mention it and the person thought I meant to use page numbers till I explained it to him. I had found the paragraph symbol method by going to the bottom of the Cite Sources page to the link to Citation Style Guides, and clicking the link at the top for APA style. That page includes the following example:

For electronic sources that do not provide page numbers, use the paragraph number, if available, preceded by the ? symbol or abbreviation para. If neither is visible, cite the heading and the number of the paragraph following it to direct the reader to the quoted material.

(Myers, 2000, ? 5)

(Beutler, 2000, Conclusion section, para. 1)

Examples addressing online publications without page numbers should be in our wiki cite sources page because people need to be as specific as possible when citing in a footnote to the source of material we directly paraphrase or quote.

Here is MLA style on the same subject:

If your source includes fixed page numbers or section numbering (such as numbering of paragraphs), cite the relevant numbers. For numbers other than page numbers, give the appropriate abbreviation before the numbers: "(Moulthrop, pars. 19-20)." (Pars. is the abbreviation for paragraphs. Common abbreviations are listed in the MLA Handbook, sec. 7.4.) Do not count paragraphs yourself if your source lacks numbering.

So, MLA would have me not cite to a paragraph of an unnumbered webpage. That makes footnoting to an online periodical less specific in showing people the location paraphrased material was taken from. I am curious as to whether I should go with APA or MLA since there is a discussion about this here. I have used APA so far in footnoting paraphrases from such material so far (mainly because that's what I thought the Cite sources page recommended), and I think it's actually better to provide the specific paragraph number when paraphrasing or quoting. (Of course it's easier not to. And here's another source that tends not to get into paragraph numbers: Columbia Online Style). Emerman 08:13, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Citing Other-language wikipedias

I've started a new section on citing articles from other-language Wikipedias. I won't be surprised if we have to duke it out a little to get a standard, but up to now there has been none. I do a lot of translation, and up until now, I find that in the absence of a standard, whatever I do people want to change it (or, worse yet, just delete it). We need a standard for this, even if it turns out not to be the one I am initially proposing. -- Jmabel | Talk 19:24, Dec 27, 2004 (UTC)

References, sources, etc.

People are using "References" and related sections differently, some just as "Further reading," etc. I'd like to suggest "Sources" for material used to write or verify the article. I think that word is more clear. Maurreen 19:51, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I've been using "References" for "things used to write the article which are not recommended to the general reader", but I would be happy to switch to "Sources" or any other similar term which is agreed upon for that purpose. Noel (talk) 20:53, 28 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Having separate sections for further reading vs. sources used to write/verify an article is a bad idea, as there is no clear distinction between the two (especially for articles with multiple authors). This has been discussed multiple times before; please see the previous discussions. —Steven G. Johnson 02:17, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)
The problem, from my point of view, is that in many articles (certainly this is true of most of the ones I write), of the two categories, neither is a subset of the other. So one can't subsume one into the other. Short of creating a name for the intersection set (gag!), I don't see any easy answer other than repetition. Yes, I know that's ugly, but the alternative (having only one list) is one I like less. Noel (talk) 13:38, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)
It's been reiterated, but it hasn't really been discussed. I know that I sometimes add, as "further reading", a book for which I've only read a review, but haven't even seen the book, let alone used it as a reference. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:30, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)
Your point is what, exactly? Yes, you should ideally only cite things that you have looked at yourself, but this is equally true for "further reading" sections. Yes, often in the real world people just want to point readers to a "standard" textbook/article on a subject, and they cite the standard book (e.g. one recommended by a colleague) without looking it up themselves...and this happens for "references" too. It seems to me that you are begging the question, because your apparent point is predicated on the assumption that "references" are only things that are used to write an article — this is true in school assignments, maybe, but not here or many other "real world" cases. —Steven G. Johnson 07:19, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)

Put in a more practical terms, suppose Wikipedia recommends separate "Sources for the article" and "Further reading" sections. Let's ignore for a moment the endless confusion that will result because many references will fall immediately into both categories. Consider instead what happens when someone else comes along, looks up a "further reading" book, and uses it to check an item in the article. Should they move the reference into the "sources" section? Or what if someone thinks that a "source" makes good further reading? Should they move it? Please, let's avoid a nightmare caused by an ill-defined breakdown. —Steven G. Johnson 07:19, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)

Sigh. If only we had citations as real meta-data, a lot of these problems might go away... Noel (talk) 13:38, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

(If you come across some rare article with dozens or hundreds of references, by all means break down the reference list into subsections such as "introductory" and "specialized", or whatever would be helpful to a reader. I'm not opposed to organization, in the rare cases where it is needed; I'm only opposed to a universal attempt to impose a false dichotomy on citations. —Steven G. Johnson)

You ask (probably rhetorically), '...what happens when someone else comes along, looks up a "further reading" book, and uses it to check an item in the article. Should they move the reference into the "sources" section?' I'd answer (non-rhetorically) that if that fact deserves specific citation, then they should make the citation clear and add it to the references.
I have no objection, though, to lumping far more of these things together: in practice, subtle distinctions are unlikely to be maintained; I also find the sharp distinction between print and online sources artificial, especially since so many things are now both. When I encounter those, I try to give the full reference for original print publication, but also provide an external link. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:53, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I do that too. Specific documents which I used as "sources" (in the sense you've been using) which are available online I put in the "References" section, and link to them - because generally such things don't have the "which version of the web site are we talking about" problem. I put web sites on the topic (where the content may change) into "External links". Check out e.g. HMS Hood (51) for an example. Noel (talk) 13:38, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

What Maurreen is proposing may be "ill", but it is "definition" and I find it laughable that her suggestion would lead to a "nightmare" situation (unless one has a phobia of overinformation). I would assume that if people keep bringing this up there is already a problem. Perhaps the relevant policy needs to clearly explain Steven's point so that it is not brought up as often: Obviously Maurreen has seen the citation policy and it did not lead her to the same conclusion as Steven. Hyacinth 19:02, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Adding that clarification seems like the best solution to me, at least for the short term and possibly for good. How about this? -- Rbellin 23:58, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)
The References section should list both recommended further reading for interested parties and sources cited in the article. Adding known useful readings to an article's reference list makes it much easier for later editors to confirm the article and add citations for further information, even if you don't have the time.

There is a proposal for a separate namespace for sources, see bug 1199.

My opinion is that it would be preferrable to have "further reading" and "external links" in articles, and keep sources out. Source information should be kept out of articles for the same reason that discussion is kept on talk pages. Consider for example how currently WWW references are (recommended to be) given with the date for their retrieval, which certainly is relevant to editors but irrelevant to the article subject.

There are many advantages to this scheme. The most obvious is that one can provide detailed references, page and line numbers if necessary, for each fact — without kludging up the articles. Another advantage appears when the most authoritative reference for a fact is located in a printed work that may be difficult to access for most Wikipedians for verification purposes. Instead of just listing this work, which is the only reasonable way inside an article, one can on the sources page list 10 websites that contain the same fact, so editors can verify it quickly. Discussion of source material and directives for other editors can also be included.

Duplication between source lists and further reading lists seems like a minor issue to me. Fredrik | talk 00:23, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Using just a "References" section and no others is OK with me. My original point was that the current common division between "References", "Further reading", and "External links" is ambiguous. I agree with Jmabel that having Web sites or pages in a separate section is an artificial distinction. Maurreen 05:07, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)
It all depends on what kind of web reference it is, I think. If it's to a particular fixed document (e.g. a magazine article, or published paper) that someone has made available in its entirety online, it's quite proper (IMO) to list it in whatever category you feel it belongs in. It's OK to list as a source/citation, because even if the web site goes away, the link was never more than a convenience anyway - the original document is still acessible (albeit a lot less easily).
If, on the other hand, if the link is to an entire site, the content of which is changing often (as many sites do), and it's linked to as a source of more information, we have to recognize that what's there in the future, when some reader clicks on the link, may not be what's there now (if the site is there at all), so it really is in a different category from a book which one would list in "Further reading". (Although a link to a book which has been made available online would be fine in "Further reading", of course.) Noel (talk) 14:31, 30 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Stevenj's recent edits

I strongly disagree with Stevenj's recent edits drastically reducing the discussion on how to correctly cite books, and assuming that it's just a matter of telling people to use templates.

  1. Somewhere we need to discuss the actual policy on what is correct. I think this is the place to do this. Stevenj's edit is tanatamount to burning the requirements document because you believe you now have a correct implementation... or at least one that can be tweaked.
  2. Furthermore, not everyone likes using templates. Someone should be able to look at this page and see how to write a citation. They should not be effectively told, "hey, if you are not comfortable with parameterized templates, don't try to cite things."
  3. Even if you disagree with me on the previous points, this change is incredibly premature. We have effectively dropped discussion on citing a particular article within a larger book and on handling the situation where a book is attributed to particular editors rather than particular authors.

It is possible that some of the deleted material is, indeed, redundant, but I stand by my general points.

I don't want an edit war, so I will not revert; I would appreciate other people's comments on this. -- Jmabel | Talk 22:53, Jan 1, 2005 (UTC)

I strongly agree and feel the examples should be immediately replaced. There is no consensus at all that the templates are preferable to plain-text citations. (And even if there were such a consensus, it would behoove us to support non-technically-minded users with strong examples which provide all the information necessary for later template cleanup.) The removal of the discussion of the citation templates' technical limitations is especially strange; has the cap on 5 citations per template been removed (and in that case, why preserve "template 2" and "template 3"), or are we just brushing it under the rug? -- Rbellin|Talk 23:06, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Yes, MediaWiki 1.4 (we just switched to it) removed the "only allowed to use any template 5 times per page" limit. I imagine we'll have to keep template 2/3 around until all the pages that use them get updated. (Although I suppose they could be turned into redirects.) Noel (talk) 23:11, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I am a little baffled by your objections, since it seems we all agree that templates are not necessarily the way to go. I totally agree that plain-text citations may well be preferable. (My removal of how to cite an article in an edited book was accidental; I've reinstated it.) Since User:Pcb21 added a whole section on the use of templates, I figured that it was redundant to put the same information in the "Citing a book" section so I removed it from the latter. Especially given that it is controversial, I think the template stuff should all go into one section (especially to minimize the confusion to new users). —Steven G. Johnson 23:35, Jan 1, 2005 (UTC)

That looks better! Thanks for fixing this so quickly. I agree, it's probably better to put all the template information together, and if possible in a form that parallels the plain-text citation examples so that comparison is easier. -- Rbellin|Talk 23:43, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Templates vs. Plaintext References

Disregarding the comments arising from accidental/interim changes, the important point arising here is

Why are templates not the way to go?

Jmabel's objection is "some people don't like using templates". Could you expand upon this please? Clearly we will need more than one template. To get a usable set, would we have too many templates? I don't think so. But let's discuss that. If the idea of having a whole references tab, or perhaps a metadata tab continues to gain momentum, having these templates around are going to be a tremendous boon. If there are objections, I want to know about them and to know whether they have merit. Pcb21| Pete 00:04, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

My concern is simply that the template adds yet another syntax that new editors must learn in order to add reference information, which may deter them from adding references at all. Templates address the relatively unimportant problem of formatting while (perhaps) worsening the primary problem that people don't reference in the first place. (Yes, editors can still add plain-text references that get templatized later, but if the template becomes widespread I worry that a new editor will open the "References" section and get put off by all of the non-plaintext syntax.) Let's not lose sight of the forest here. —Steven G. Johnson 00:32, Jan 2, 2005 (UTC)
Sure absolutely, the most important thing is getting references however they come. However, even "plaintext" is not really plain text - new users learning the syntax by copying other pages will still see a sea of markup for bolding and italicising. My feeling was that the template version of a reference was actually more readable and intuitive than where you have to specify the formatting yourself. But perhaps my view is coloured by a) my using BibTeX all the time and b) my being familar with templates. Pcb21| Pete 11:34, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)
As another issue, plaintext is much easier to modify for special cases than templates, if a particular citation doesn't fall neatly into a particular cubbyhole. If you look at a really serious citation formatting system like bibTeX you'll see it has an enormous number of optional fields to cover all of the various cases (and these still aren't quite enough...errata aren't handled gracefully, for example). One can use a mixture of plaintext and templates, of course, but then you lose most of the advantage of templates (the ability to reformat all references on the fly, use "metadata tabs" etcetera.) —Steven G. Johnson
Yes my long-term hope is that a BibTex file would be readable by the MediaWiki software and it would spit out appropriate HTML (likely on the metadata tab page). Perhaps we would then end up with one .bib for each WikiProject or something like that. Power users would then take advantage of the powerful BibTeX system. Regular users would carry adding references in plain text. However that is clearly sometime away (and if it happens at all it is because some developer is interested in it) but I thought an appropriate suite of templates would take us along the path.
I don't use templates. This doesn't mean I object to anyone else using them for this purpose. But so far, they aren't worth the trouble for me. I'm not saying anyone should cater to me, but I doubt I'm a minority of one. Maurreen 05:24, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Ok, knowing that our policy has to cater for this point of view, it is clear we cannot mandate a template-only approach at this time. I understand where you are coming from when you say "so far, they aren't worth the trouble" if you are talking about templates in general - mostly they are used for metadata junk rather than to add much to the article. Have you seen how they are used in practice for references though - my feeling is that the formatting using Template:Book reference is actually neater and more intuitive than direct formatting. Have you tried that? Do you disagree? Pcb21| Pete 11:34, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I took a look at Template:Book reference, and I don't see the value. But if other people want to use it, that's fine with me. Maurreen 18:48, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)


I didn't think we had anything like consensus in favor of Template:Cite sources, so why is it mentioned on this project page (without even any discussion of the arguments as to why it may not be useful)? -- Jmabel | Talk 06:37, Jan 4, 2005 (UTC)

It doesn't appear to be discussed on this page at all ... or did I read too quickly. Incidentally, I am firmly not in favour of having the template dominate the whole article appear at the top. The talk page is the most appropriate place for it. Pcb21| Pete 18:18, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I've removed the following from the article until we can achieve at least a basic consensus that (a) it is useful and (b) where such a tag should be placed. —Steven G. Johnson

If you want to mark an article as having inadequate citations, you can do this by including {{Cite sources}} at the top of the text — this inserts a template notifying people that the article needs citations, and automatically includes the article in the category for missing citations. Note: the appropriate use and phrasing of this template is still under discussion. Please see Wikipedia talk:Cite sources and Template talk:Cite sources.

I personally think that a template of some sort is useful (particularly in cases where you don't have a specific reason to doubt a claim, but are uneasy because you have no way to verify it). Unlike Pcb21, however, I believe that it clearly belongs on the disputed article itself as for {{NPOV}} and {{disputed}} and {{dubious}} and {{stub}}, rather than in Talk. Like for the latter tags, putting it on the article serves three purposes: (a) warning readers that a specific article's reliability has been found difficult to verify (beyond the general disclaimer that applies to all Wikipedia); (b) making sure editors see it (since a notice can easily be buried in a long Talk page, like this one); and (c) serving as a barb to spur editors to fix the article. —Steven G. Johnson 19:51, Jan 4, 2005 (UTC)

I don't have a strong feeling either way about whether it belongs on the article page or the talk: page - either is fine with me. I do note that there has been a recent campaign to move most of the messages concerned page quality to the talk pages, and I would assume that the people doing that would consider this message to be similar.
I think you have a good point about it being buried, so if it does go on the talk: page, it should go at the very top, where it's more likely to be seen. Noel (talk) 21:38, 4 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I think editors are likely to miss it even at the top of a talk page, since the usual habit is to scroll to the bottom. This is the first I've heard of a "campaign" to move dispute/complaint tags to Talk; can you provide a link? —Steven G. Johnson 22:00, Jan 4, 2005 (UTC)

I can't even remember where this was previously discussed (maybe the Village Pump?) but my concern remains that merely saying that an article lacks citations isn't very useful. Unless we were to demand that all articles meet an academic level of citation, citing even for things that are common knowledge -- which I simply don't see happening in the foreseeable future -- citation issues are always going to require specification of what specific matters are doubtful and require citation. If we can agree that this is parallel to the NPOV tag or the dispute tag -- not to be used lightly, and requiring an explanation on the talk page of exactly what issues are disputed (or, in this case in need of citation), then I'm all for it, and don't care which page it is on. If it is not accompanied by such a requirement, I see it as a sheer liability. -- Jmabel | Talk 04:36, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)

Prior discussion from Village Pump

I found the prior discussion from the Village Pump. Here it is. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:15, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)

Moved from [Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)]]: CiteSources template and Missing Citations category

I've created a new "CiteSources" template to help identify articles that don't cite their sources. If you come across (or write!) an article that doesn't adequately cite its sources, you can add {{CiteSources}} to the top of the article. This will automatically add it to the Category:Missing Citations, which maintains a list of the articles missing citations.

Nobody's obligating anyone to use it. But, if you'd like to use it, here it is! -- Dwheeler 01:00, 2004 Dec 29 (UTC)

While I am a very strong advocate of citing sources...
  1. Wouldn't something like this be better on the talk page?
  2. Citing sources is not usually a black-and-white matter. For example, it's really no problem if we don't cite a source for the readily ascertained date of the JFK assassination, but it's very bad to have an unattributed claim about gunmen on the Grassy Knoll. This kind of thing isn't easily dealt with by slapping on a template. I think, like the NPOV template, this should always be accompanied by a specific indication of what facts need citation, so it can be removed when the matter has been addressed. -- Jmabel | Talk 06:21, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)
Further, while it is worthwhile to cite sources for "news/event reporting" facts and "opinions of experts and opposing forces" facts, the kinds of facts that are generally well-understood or are very uncontroversial wouldn't seem to need cites in the article itself (but perhaps discussed out in 'talk' instead). Also, consider that many descriptions, if not written in a fully factual manner or don't provide full coverage, will be edited over and over again until they meet the community's agreement for NPOV and factuality. --Stevietheman 06:42, 29 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Such a template should go on the talk page and not on the article itself, IMO. olderwiser 14:49, Dec 29, 2004 (UTC)
If you think it's better on the talk page for a particular article, you can obviously put it there. I'm not even saying anyone has to use this at all; I just thought it'd be a useful tool for those who want to use it. However, I think it would usually be better to put this template on the article itself, and not the talk page, for the same reasons we put the NPOV and stub templates on the articles themselves. By placing this template on the article, readers of that article are given a heads-up about a known problem and are invited to help fix it. I think that most of the time people will view articles, not their talk pages. If you only place the template on the talk page, many people you want to notify won't get the notification. NPOV and citing sources are two of the standard ideals for articles, and sometimes it's hard to deal with POV without the sources being identified, so it makes sense to give them similar treatment. Early in Wikipedia's life, the question was whether or not there'd be enough people to get any information at all. I think that question has been resoundingly answered. Now the question is whether or not the quality and reliability of the articles will be sufficient for it to be useful. I think citations are important to getting there, so little tools like this can help people know where they are missing so the citations can be added. -- Dwheeler 19:37, 2004 Dec 29 (UTC)
There are some meta-templates that are appropriate to appear on the article (such as VfD, NPOV, or disambig) and some that are less appropriate, but widely established (such as stub). However, in general there should be an extremely compelling reason to clutter up an article page with meta-comments. NPOV and related tags are important to place on the article page to alert readers that the content of the article is contested--it functions to make casual readers aware that the article may contain factual inaccuracies or biased statements and to use the content carefully. I have a few objections to placing the CiteSources tag in the article: 1) it is IMO rather subjective, since a majority of articles in Wikipedia could arguably be tagged as not citing sources sufficiently. 2) The tag in isolation is unspecific as to in what way the article is lacking citations--is it a specific fact or in general? Regardless of whether the tag appears on the article or the talk page, there should be a justification for the tag on the talk page explaining exactly what areas are felt to be lacking. It is similar to expectations for adding an NPOV tag--there should be some explantion for the tag on the talk page--and without such a justification, the tag should certainly not be allowed to remain on the article page. 3) Having the tag appear on the article provides very little benefit to the casual reader--most casual readers are likely not interested in doing research to provide citations for unspecific reasons (and most would likely not have sufficient resources or interest to do research for specific reasons). If the lack of citations is sufficient to cause one to doubt the veracity of the article, then a different sort of tag should be used to alert the reader. However, if you're not alleging the possibility of factual errors or POV biases, but simply requesting assistance to improve the article, it seems that is more appropriate on the talk page, similar to how the various tags on Wikipedia:Cleanup are supposed to be placed on the talk page and not on the article. Please understand, I am supportive of the need for better citations in articles. However, I suggest incorporating this template with the existing set of cleanup tags. olderwiser 18:18, Dec 30, 2004 (UTC)
I was modeling this after NPOV and stub, which do appear in articles. In fact, this is the first time I've heard that placing "stub" on an article (instead of its talk page) was controversial to anyone. I took a look at the talk page for cleanup, as you suggested. While placing this on talk pages is certainly suggested here, it's not clear to me that there's a consensus that this info really should be on a talk page. In fact, under the "Talk?" heading in the talk page of Wikipedia:Cleanup, I see that MacGyverMagic, Icundell, and CDN99 strongly opposed placing the notices in talk pages and wanted them in the actual articles instead. rbrwr was ambivalent in general. Nobody seemed to support the notion that these notices should be in the talk page, although there must be at least one person who does since the text suggests it. If that's representative, perhaps all cleanup notices belong on the article itself, and we should fix Wikipedia:Cleanup to reflect that? That's probably a pointless exercise in argument, though. A simpler approach might simply be to leave it to the discretion of the submitter -- no matter what, this tag should be temporary anyway! Thus, if the person adding this mark thinks it's important for readers to know about an absence of citations, then put it in the article, else in the talk page. Since these markers go away as the information is added, it's not clear that a strong standard is really needed. -- Dwheeler 21:41, 2004 Dec 30 (UTC)
Now that the template is there to experiment with, it's interesting to see what people are doing with it. It's been added to Semen and Remote Viewing by others (not me), and in both cases to the article not the talk page. (Warning: Semen seems to be a high-vandalism article.) I presume they find it okay to put it in the article itself, so I must not be the only one who thinks that'd make sense. The Semen article uses a third option, interestingly enough, not discussed so far. In the Semen article, the template is used in the article itself (not its talk page), but instead of placing the template at the top, it's placed where the references would go if there were any. Perhaps suggesting placing this template where the citations are or would go be a reasonable compromise for this case...? -- Dwheeler 23:39, 2004 Dec 30 (UTC)
By the way, I disagree with the idea that "obvious" information never needs a citation. Certainly our current guidelines for ideal articles say that all articles should have citations. Things that are "obvious" are often less so over time, and over time some information gets progressively harder to find. Sometimes, in the process of finding our citations, we discover that the assertions aren't right! I don't view lack of citations as a "cleanup" anyway; grammatical problems and the like can often be fixed by lots of people, in many cases without even in-depth knowledge of the subject. But finding good citations can often be really hard for anyone other than the original author (where did you get that claim about XYZ?) And in any case, articles really need citations to give (1) readers a reason to believe in the quality of the article, and (2) helping readers/fact-checkers verify the assertions in the article. Anyway, it doesn't sounds like we're arguing over the goodness of citations, but merely where to best place a note when they're weak. -- Dwheeler 23:50, 2004 Dec 30 (UTC)
But finding good citations can often be really hard for anyone other than the original author, which is precisely why the tag would be more appropriate on the talk page rather than cluttering up the article with vague suggestions that the article might be incorrect without coming right out and saying so. There is a big difference between suggesting that an article is inaccurate or is biased and identifying that an article could use some citations. I mean seriously, most articles in Wikipedia could arguably use more citations--so what? Unless there is some specific indication about what statements could use citations, the tag really isn't very helpful, and especially not for the casual reader. For individuals with a passion for researching, having a tag on the talk page and a category should be sufficient to help in identifying articles that have been marked as needing attention. I see no need to place vague insinuations about the quality of the article within the article itself. olderwiser 01:25, Dec 31, 2004 (UTC)
Concur. Strongly. -- Jmabel | Talk 03:10, Dec 31, 2004 (UTC)

<end moved content>

Making Template:Book reference and Template:Book reference 2 compatible

Template:Book reference (hereafter, T:BR)and Template:Book reference 2 (T:BR2) are very similar in purpose, except for T:BR2 being for situations when the range of pages needs to be included in the citation. User:Rdsmith4 attempted today to alter T:BR to match the other, but I think some more discussion of what's actually the right thing to do is called for.

Differences / suggested changes:

  • T:BR includes the '*' for the list item, while T:BR2 does not. I think the latter is the correct behavior, because it is the more intuitive, because it allows use in other context than a bulleted list, and because it breaks the concept some of the developers have advocated, that templates are self-contained rather than depending on syntax in the containing documents.
  • T:BR2 is hard-coded to insert the 'ISBN', and thus works only for books that have ISBNs. This excludes many older works. I think that T:BR's use of an 'ID' field works better; it allows any cataloging number.
  • T:BR has capitalised argument names, while T:BR2 does not. Which is the preferred style?

Anything else? Any opinions? —Morven 08:38, Jan 5, 2005 (UTC)

Just in case you were wondering BR and BR_n were implemented independently and then later had only their names merged whilst the slightly more onerous task of uniformizing the input was left to, umm, now.
Re your points in order:
I prefer BR_n on this.
I prefer BR on this for the reasons you cite.
I don't have a preference but.... BR is used quite a bit (>100 pages). BR_n are not widely used. Removing the "*" from the BR would be quite quick to fix, but removing capital letters is a little fiddly. Maybe stick with BR for pragmatic reasons? Pcb21| Pete 11:59, 5 Jan 2005 (UTC)
In response to this, I have made the first two changes: T:BR now no longer includes the * for the list item, and T:BR2 now uses 'id' instead of 'isbn' so that non-ISBN books can be cited using it. I have edited all the articles that use these templates to correct their syntax.
I am still undecided about the argument capitalisation, but after correcting all the T:BR articles for the list item star, I don't think I want to go through that again, so that may be sufficient argument to fix T:BR2 etc. instead! —Morven 17:56, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)