Help talk:References

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Note: This page has discussions that have been archived because they are no longer active. See the archive.

The format of the "Articles and Resources" section on every article

We have also seen a proliferation of different formats for the "Articles and Resources" section. I'd like to standardize a format that is based on what I believe is the relative value of the links in that section, namely:

  1. Related SourceWatch articles
  2. Sources (this is where the "</references>" tag that inserts all the footnotes goes.)
  3. External resources
  4. External articles

I don't have a firm opinion on this, but my reasoning is that we want to direct readers to other SourceWatch articles first. Next come the external links and I think the most important ones are those that are used as sources for the article (I'm completely open to a different word for "sources" - Wikipedia uses "notes," though I'd prefer "sources" or "references"). Following those are external resources and articles. I don't know if one class is generally more important than the other, but for layout's sake I'd put the resources, which are generally less numerous than the articles, on top.

Also, can anyone tell me why we capitalize the "R" in "Articles and Resources"? This seems to go against our naming conventions.--Conor Kenny 15:44, 1 June 2007 (EDT)

I don't have a strong preference for the simple link or new "ref" system. If there is consensus to switch to ref tags, I don't think it makes sense to encourage folks to spend time converting the old links to ref's, though. (Of course, if someone wants to do it, more power to them, but encouraging people to do it is another matter.)
One clarification on the simple link system -- links are used to reference info in the article body, directly following the info they verify (where the "ref" tags would be). The sources that these links link to may or may not be listed in the "External Links" section. In many SourceWatch articles, the "External Links" section is more "if you want to read more on this, look here" than "this is where the info comes from." So, moving the "External Links" section to a separate SW entry generally doesn't have the effect of separating the references from an article. -- Diane Farsetta 15:33, 13 June 2007 (EDT)
I don't expect my thoughts to have much weight, since I'm a new arrival from Wikipedia. I'm strongly for the "ref" system. Making potentially disputed statements linked to the source, and when properly done, with the footnote in good form, not a blind link. Nothing like disputes about the content of an article to show the enormous help specific citations, sentence by sentence can have, for reviewing the reliability of the article, or of the sources generally. I also advocate that several citing templates from Wikipedia also be made public here, and modified to handle the fact that Sourcewatch doesn't permit user preferences on date display, as wikipedia does (which formats dates while editing like so: [[June 12]], [[2007]] ).
Anyhow, the citing templates, can be a real help in getting citations to be in standard form. See w:Template:Cite web and w:Template:Cite news and w:Template:Cite journal.
On the bottom sections, I admit to partiality to the malleable standards at Wikpedia, and also using names that tend towards distinguishing the category.
  • See also (implied is that the article is here on Sourcewatch family of wikis)
  • Notes or References for footnotes
  • Further Reading for journals, articles, resources not specifically cited in the article, or that are general and desirable to display in a bibliography like fashion.
  • External Links (which can be subdivided in an ad-hoc manner as needed indicating what kind of resource is linked to). -- Redtexture 22:02, 17 June 2007 (EDT)
Hey Redtexture, sure your thoughts have weight! I think it may be too much of a trial to radically change the "Articles and resources" section to fit those Wikipedia categories (unless you want to volunteer!), but I am interested in the cite templates. We can easily copy those over here, but I admit that I have some reservations. The advantage I see to not using them is that an editor will generally only see one format of references when looking at the underlying wikitext - that using the < ref > tag. When I first started using Wikipedia I was a little dazzled by all the different formats (templates) people were using to cite sources. What are your thoughts? I am also unclear on the formatting of dates - is this something that Wikipedia does automatically? As in, does it scan and every time you say "June" it changes it to "June"? Can you explain or link to some pages on Wikipedia that explain how this is done technically and/or why this is useful?--Conor Kenny 01:43, 4 September 2007 (EDT)

Reviving the standardization of the references section discussion

It seems that we have some areas of consensus:

  • The < ref > system is good and should be adopted as much as we can.
  • The "Articles and references" section should be standardized.

I leave for another discussion the adoption of the templates Redtexture recommends (which can be found on SourceWatch at Category:Citation templates). The outstanding area, I think, is what exactly to name the references section and its subsections and, specifically, whether to simply follow Wikipedia's lead. First, while the Wikipedia community has put a lot of thought and trial and error into the development of the site that should be respected, if we find something that works better for SourceWatch, I think we should go for it. So, to look at my original proposal (which I am completely open to changing):

  • External links (w) vs. Articles and resources (sw): I don't really have much a preference here, except that "Articles and resources" is pretty standard across SW and I don't see much of a reason to change it.
  • See also (w) vs. Related SourceWatch resources (sw): I'd be completely fine with this. As the projects on SourceWatch proliferate I hate to proliferate confusion by using variations like "Related SourceWatch/Congresspedia resources." Plus, the term "resources" I think could be a little confusing. All we're talking about here is wiki articles.
  • Notes (or Notes and References) (w) vs. Sources (sw): I prefer "sources" because it implies that the links in it are specifically the sources for the article, though I suppose "references" accomplishes much of the same thing (especially with the < ref >) tag. However, "References" just implies that something is referenced, not that it's used strictly as a source. I think this might be one place where it serves to differentiate ourselves from Wikipedia by calling attention to our stricter sourcing standards.
  • Further reading (or Bibliography) (w) vs. External resources and External articles: I actually kind of like "Further reading" because it further differentiates between related reading off-site and the actual sources used to build an article. I think I helped propagate the differentiation between "external resources" and "external articles" because some articles get literally hundreds of external articles and this was a way of separating out links to databases, whole sites, etc. One way to split the difference would be to have a "further reading" section that was split into "articles" and "resources" (as two fourth-level sections beneath "Further reading", which in turn is beneath "Articles and resources." I don't like "bibliography" because under both the wikipedia and the sourcewatch system we already have a place for the sources, which is what you'd expect to find in a bibliography.

The last thing to consider here is how much time and effort changing to a radically different format will take. We would probably want to do this with a bot, but the CMD IT team (Sheldon Rampton, Patricia Barden and Blake Hall) is working on some major projects right now, including a graphic redesign of SourceWatch and a "Subversioning system" that will make it easier to upgrade and troubleshoot SourceWatch when it's having problems. In light of these projects (and a long list they have after them), it would take at least a few months for them to get this done even if there was a lot of demand to switch the system. If it wasn't too drastic of a change, however, we could probably just move forward with the new system while waiting for a bot to be set-up.

So, the question is, what do you all think of my proposed standard vs. the wikipedia standard and how worth it is it to convert the standard?--Conor Kenny 12:58, 13 September 2007 (EDT)

I seem to be the lone commentor. I don't necessarily think that the Wikipedia standard is so wonderful. But, it has tremendous advantages that are invisible to you. I speak to a much larger issue while replying to the specific topic tangentally.
There are more than 100,000 registered users on the English-language Wikipedia, and the number is more than tripling each year. Plus un-numbered anonymous IP editors not logged in. This is an example that many people have worked with, and if there were only ten, or fifty of those folks trained on what the methods are there showing up here, it would be really noticeable here. More than a few editors depart from there because they're tired of edit vandals and intemperate political adversaries. I advocate taking advantage of that.
If the technology here is closer to the current Wikipedia standard you get several benefits:
1) A few outsiders will really know what's possible because they've been trained there (I am one).
2) There is more than a little momentum from wikipedia's existence. Ride that momentum, instead of diverging from it.
3) Because the licensing is the same on copyright, there and here, material that has been developed and is well sourced can be imported here without tedious refactoring of the text, whem the formatting technology is similar or the same. This is a big deal for importing good text here.
4) Sourcewatch gets the advantage of not having to work out some standards on its own...let Wikipedia develop them, and just import most of those standards.
5) There are some great articles that some dedicated editors have worked on there the could be imported here if there is good technical alignment with Wikipedia here.
6) Date formatting is another formatting alignment bugaboo. See w:Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Autoformatting and linking. To see what's going on there. Basically, the user can set their own display preferences to British Style ( 1 August 2007) or American (August 1, 2007) or another style for all dates that are formated like so when editing: [[August 1]], [[2007]].
An example of the result of alignment. There is a set of articles on the Dismissal of United States Attorneys, that a number of editors have mostly kept up with, and significant sections there could be brought here if there are appropriate technical alignments.
w:Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy timeline;
w:Category:Dismissal_of_United_States_Attorneys_controversy (for a hint of how many articles are connected there to the topic)
w:Dismissal_of_U.S._attorneys_controversy_hearings and w:Template:Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy
and not least, their out of date main article, w:Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy
I hope all of that outlines the possibilities of getting the "ref" system aligned, and other things too.
-- Redtexture 23:02, 20 September 2007 (EDT)

Associated Press - finding stories and permalinks

Finding good permalinks for AP stories is always a pain. I've done a bit of looking around and it seems like Google has a new deal with the AP for the way its stories turn up in searches. This bears looking into. I've also included some links to and may add some others as alternatives.

Google and AP

News stories about their recent deal

Google News Links

AP links

Topix links


Another news aggregator is, which it claims "offers world-class search powered by the Internet's leading providers, robust content from industry-leading sources, and full-portal personalization - all with no banner ads and no pop-ups."


TextMap is another aggregator but seems to also try to give meta information on trends in the news and on the Web. From their about page:

"TextMap tracks references to people, places, and things appearing in news text, so as to identify meaningful relationships between them. TextMap monitors the state of the world by analyzing both the temporal and spatial distribution of these entities. We currently analyze over 1000 domestic and international news sources every day. TextMap uses natural language processing techniques to identify entity references and a variety of statistical techniques to analyze the juxtapositions between them."

Cite templates

I moved the following section off the article page for the moment -- I must have missed noticing that when it was added. The problem with it is that it gives a different format to the references (author, date, url & title, publisher) than the standard format (Author, url & title, publisher, date).

Rather than create another inconsistency in a reference formatting, it is easier to standardise on the basic ref tags, at least until I can see if we can tweak the display order.--Bob Burton 00:18, 19 October 2009 (EDT)

Using {{cite}} tags

Using {{cite}} template tags can make things a little easier when entering references. The {{cite}} templates also help give references a consistent look. Here's an example:

An example of using the {{cite}} tag
What you put in What you get
{{cite news | author = Paul Hutcheon | url = | title = Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood | publisher = Sunday Herald | date = January 22, 2006 }} Paul Hutcheon (January 22, 2006). "Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood", Sunday Herald. 

If you are referencing a news publication, the template tag should begin with "{{cite news." If you are referencing some other type of web page, it should begin with "{{cite web."

You can use {{cite}} template tags in combination with <ref> tags. Example:

An example of using the <ref> tag in combination with a {{cite}} template:
What you put in What you get
This is the sentence I'm sourcing. <ref>{{cite news | author = Paul Hutcheon | url = | title = Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood | publisher = Sunday Herald | date = January 22, 2006 }}</ref> This is the sentence I'm sourcing. [1]

You can also use {{cite}} templates to format references that appear as part of the "External links" section at the bottom of articles.

  1. Paul Hutcheon (January 22, 2006). "Sleaze probe into nuclear lobbying at Holyrood", Sunday Herald.