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Motion Concerning the Referencing of Assertions in Articles

Citizendium articles aim for comprehensiveness in content. Likewise Citizendium articles should aim for comprehensiveness in citation of sources for that content. Accordingly, I propose that authors strive to reference all assertions included in the content that they contribute.

In the case of a single paragraph that contains only multiple assertions attributable to a single reference, it would not be necessary to cite every assertion; a single citation at the end of the paragraph would suffice. An explanatory note should be included on the Talk page to indicate that paragraphs containing only multiple assertions attributable to a single reference will cite that reference at the end of the paragraph.

When paragraphs contain assertions not all of which are attributable to a single reference, each assertion requires citing its source reference.

If an article in its entirety is based on only few sources, say, less than five, no citations need be given in the article. A note, however, should be included at the top of the article stating that the article is based on the sources listed in the Reference section.

Citations to references should not be omitted based on the claim that the assertions constitute “common knowledge” unless it’s truly common knowledge at the level of a high school student or any generally educated person.

Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 23:39, 4 March 2017 (UTC)

This strikes to the heart of bitter arguments I used to have with Wikipedians back in my days with that organization. I would say, for instance, "Do we REALLY have to have a source and citations for a statement such as 'Wilt Chamberlain was a tall basketball player.'" One of the things I enjoyed most about moving to CZ was that obvious "common knowledge" statements were taken as written. But I suppose that it could be argued that what *I* assume is common knowledge is not the common knowledge of a 17-y/o girl student in a rural Georgia town....Hayford Peirce (talk) 00:38, 5 March 2017 (UTC)

Preceding discussion

I copy here for ease of reference the discussion leading up to this.

Wikipedians are removing links to the Daily Mail from their articles following this discussion. (Those of you who aren't familiar with the Daily Mail... well done.) The tabloid is no longer considered a reliable source.

Could we ever justify such a ban? We currently have 19 articles that link to the Daily Mail, including on some controversial topics. Wouldn't it just be an admission that our sourcing guidelines don't work? John Stephenson (talk) 19:33, 9 February 2017 (UTC)

Yes, I noticed that discussion a little while back. Their RS criteria are rather vague and subject to endless argument and manipulation. It's certainly been alleged that they have a left-wing bias in assessment of reliability of news sources. How would one judge that objectively? Someone once told me the criteria were originally drafted by WMF lawyers for BLP and then mindlessly (or lazily) applied to everything else. In particular, as I pointed out, it's strange that a reputation for fact-checking is a requirement for citation of opinions.
Neither the page you link to nor the one that links to gives any definition of RS. The reason, no doubt, is the theoretical CZ model of expert approval, which should obviate the need. Maybe we should have something. One possibility I suggested years ago was an extension of our concept of Editor. If a source is written or edited by someone who'd qualify as an Editor here, it would count as reliable.
Actually, of course, there's no such thing as a reliable source, except maybe extremely specialized. There are mistakes in perfectly reputable sources like EB.
I wonder whether DM will report this itself, and if so in what terms. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:48, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, the guidelines are brief because it was assumed that there would be a significant number of Editors who would be able to determine what was reliable. I think it's problematic that it states that references are not required for information that is "common knowledge among experts" because something may not be at all obvious to a lay reader. It may be better to restrict this to "common knowledge" among the general public, although it is not clear what this means either. John Stephenson (talk) 14:29, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
It says this is following the practice of print encyclopaedias, which is indeed not to give references for most things. Would an expert-approved article here be any less trustworthy in that respect than that? That is, do editors of print encyclopaedias simply ask recommended experts to write articles, or do they also have those articles peer-reviewed by other experts? I suspect the former.
How much is actually "common knowledge" among the general public? And how much of that is actually true (according to experts)? Peter Jackson (talk) 15:45, 13 February 2017 (UTC)
I suggest that we try to provide references for all assertions, however common the knowledge they might appear. Some may consider that to be overdocumentation, but in my opinion that is preferable to underdocumentation, especially for the truly curious undergraduate or high school student unfamiliar with what we are calling common knowledge. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 00:57, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
In practical terms there's a lot to be said for that. The main reason we don't do that, I think, is that in theory our articles are in preparation for Editor approval, and so are supposed to approach the form they'd have then. Trying to do the same as Wikipedia, but better, might be an alternative, as you suggest. Peter Jackson (talk) 14:06, 26 February 2017 (UTC)
One possibility might be to use the subpage system to have two versions of an article, one trying to meet approval standards and one more like WP.
Bear in mind that the WP concept of verifiability is really a fraud. One might, at least in principle, verify that an RS says something, but one can't verify that there aren't loads of others disagreeing. Peter Jackson (talk) 09:58, 28 February 2017 (UTC)
Sourceabilty would affect the way we write things. Summaries would often be more difficult. Peter Jackson (talk) 10:00, 28 February 2017 (UTC)

Since we do not have a superfluity of Editors, what Peter says above about why "in theory" we do not reference all assertions does not apply at the present time. Which brings me back to the suggestion of over-documentation. Anthony.Sebastian (talk) 21:39, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

If you want to make a definite proposal, it should go in a different forum. You'd need to specify more exactly.
  1. Are you just proposing adding references where available?
  2. Or are you proposing including only sourced statements in articles? In this latter case
    1. would it be necessary to find a single source for each statement
    2. or would it be permissible to combine statements from different sources (which isn't usually allowed on WP)? Peter Jackson (talk) 10:55, 4 March 2017 (UTC)

End of copied discussion. Peter Jackson (talk) 15:34, 6 March 2017 (UTC)

Further comments

Uncategorised pages list

The uncategorised pages list has been updated. There is an automatically-generated list, but it's flooded with subpages such as /Definition, because in most cases we add categories through templates rather than directly to the page. The 'pain-free' list strips out all the subpages and includes articles only. Without categories, they do not count to our overall total of articles (currently 16,949), and are effectively invisible because they don't show up on any category lists. They can be fixed by adding the {{subpages}} template at a minimum, and ideally by adding a Metadata page (which the template will prompt you to do). John Stephenson 16:45, 24 October 2014 (UTC)

Article lists

If you check the workgroup home pages, e.g. for the Astronomy Workgroup, you will see that new lists of articles have been added (under 'Articles' and/or 'Core articles'). These are 'transcluded' (incorporated from another page) from two main sources: the lists from the defunct 'Core Articles' initiative, and the 'Subtopics' list from the Related Articles subpage for each group's main article.

Previously, different groups of people came up with separate lists in at least three different places, with a high degree of overlap. Transclusions allow the lists to be edited once and then reflected on all the pages on which they appear. John Stephenson 18:21, 13 November 2014 (UTC)

Rewriting the past

According to the Contact page the constabulary email is not yet back online, and it says to go straight to Forum, so here I am.

This is about [1].

  1. Is it permissible to change other people's posts?
  2. The edit summary cites "legal reasons". If the relevant law indeed requires us to rewrite the past, should we move to another jurisdiction?

Peter Jackson (talk) 15:21, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

Article 8.3 of the Charter does allow members to moderate their own user Talk pages, and in this case it appears that this was done at least in part to comply with our rule that contributors be identified with their real names. As there has been no significant alterations to the actual discussions, I would allow the changes to stand. John Stephenson (talk) 19:39, 4 January 2016 (UTC)