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Citation needed

From ISOGG Wiki

Innovative application for the template in xkcd 285 (Wikipedian Protester)
The {{Citation needed}} template aims to promote accountable discourse.

To ensure that all ISOGG Wiki content is verifiable, anyone may question an uncited claim by inserting a simple {{Citation needed}} tag at the end of the sentence in question.

Example: 65% of people believe in ghosts.{{Citation needed}}

When and how to use this tag responsibly

A "citation needed" tag is never, in itself, an "improvement" to an article: it is nothing more or less than a request for another editor to verify a statement: a form of communication between members of a collaborative editing team. For the user of the encyclopedia however it is at best a somewhat cryptic distraction; although it may alert an experienced user to a problem with the veracity of a particular statement. Tags that remain in place for months or years form an ever growing Wikipedia backlog—this is a problem in itself.

  • Do tag thoughtfully. Avoid frivolous or "hit-and-run" tagging. Consider the hypothetical fellow-editor who will, hopefully, notice your tag and try to find the citation you have requested. Is it clear just what information you want cited? Is the information probably factual? (If it is not, then it needs deletion or correction rather than citation!) Is it so self-evident that it really does not need to be cited at all? (Some things do not.)
  • Some tags are inserted by people well placed to find a suitable citation themselves. If this is the case, taking responsibility for your tags is very constructive. At the very least, any articles you have tagged should be on your watchlist. Re-visiting such articles occasionally, and trying to fix verifiability problems yourself when you have the opportunity, is also highly commendable.

When not to use this tag

Before adding a tag, at least consider the following alternatives, one of which may prove much more constructive:

  • NEVER use this tag because you don't understand a statement, or feel that "non-expert" readers are likely to be confused. Use {{Clarify}} as appropriate, instead.
  • Do NOT tag nonsense, just delete it.
  • If you are sure the statement you want to tag is not factual, even if it does not come under either of the preceding headings, it may still be appropriate to simply remove the text (delete it!). Be sure to add a suitable edit summary such as "Very doubtful - please do not revert without giving a citation". If the original statement was accurate after all, this gives someone the chance to put it back, hopefully with a proper citation this time.
  • If a statement sounds plausible, and is consistent with other statements in the article, but you doubt that it is totally accurate, then consider making a reasonable effort to find a reference yourself. In the process, you may end up confirming that the statement needs to be edited or deleted, or you may find an excellent citation yourself. Either of these outcomes is better than a tag that goes nowhere.
  • A reference at the end of a paragraph typically refers to the whole paragraph, and similarly a reference at the end of a sentence may almost always be taken as referring to the whole sentence. If a particular part of a sentence or paragraph seems to require a separate citation, try to check the original reference rather than adding tags to text that may already be well referenced.
  • NEVER insert a "citation needed" tag to make a point, to "pay back" another editor, or because you "don't like" a subject, a particular article, or another editor.

If your work has been tagged

  • If you can provide a reliable source for the claim, then please just add it! If you are not sure how this is to be done, then be bold and replace the "Citation needed" template with enough information to locate the source.
  • If someone tagged your contributions with a "Citation needed" tag or tags, and you disagree, discuss the matter on the article's discussion page. The most constructive thing to do in most cases is probably to supply the reference(s) requested, even if you feel the tags are "overdone" or unnecessary.

How to help reduce the backlog

Please help by checking articles with "Citation needed" statements. Frequently the authors of statements do not return to the ISOGG Wiki to support the statement with citations, so other ISOGG Wiki editors have to do work checking those statements.

Help creating a citation

There is a tool provided for easily creating citations usable on our wiki.

Example output of tool using a DOI:

<ref name="Lalueza-FoxGilbert2011">{{cite journal|last1=Lalueza-Fox|first1=Carles|last2=Gilbert|first2=M. Thomas P.
|title=Paleogenomics of Archaic Hominins|journal=Current Biology|volume=21