|Ten Forward → Parenthetical referencing style (Reply | Watch)|
Memory Beta of course uses a modified in-line parenthetical referencing style, also known as "Harvard referencing", for most of its articles. That's when the name and year of the source appear in round brackets at the end of the sentence, or in our case, the type, range and name of the source. These are opposed to footnoted references, marking by superscripted numbers.
One thing that's generally recommended for in-inline parenthetical citations is that they be included within a sentence. That is, appearing before the full-stop, as follows (TOS episode: "Arena"). It can also go before a comma, like here (TOS episode: "Arena"), or (TOS episode: "Arena"). Punctuation works around them. That's mentioned at the above Wikipedia link with "A citation is placed wherever appropriate in or after the sentence. If it is at the end of a sentence, it is placed before the period, but a citation for an entire block quote immediately follows the period at the end of the block since the citation is not an actual part of the quotation itself." (We don't do block quotes, of course). It's also recommended for Wikipedia's style guide, at Wikipedia:Parenthetical referencing, with "The parentheses close before the period marking the end of the sentence, as in the fake example at the end of this sentence (Jones 2005)." This is also used in university and scientific journal style guides, as here and here.
However, just about every article here places the citation after the full stop, as here. (TOS episode: "Arena") As I see it, this doesn't adequately join the reference to the text, it just kind of floats there independently. In the middle of a paragraph, it appears more related to the next sentence. There's also a risk of new information or heavy editing separating the citation from the text it references, leaving unreferenced or falsely referenced material behind.
Lately, I've taken to using the correct in-sentence citation style, i.e., (TOS episode: "Arena"). I was hoping it would catch on or prompt some thought about it. However, folks keep changing them back, so I guess not. So, discussion time. What do people think about referencing styles? I really recommend other editors place citations before punctuation, not to go changing everything but just to keep it in mind when editing or making new articles. -- BadCatMan 07:57, March 25, 2012 (UTC)
- Our current standard is to use the style that you have not been using. Even if you want to start a discussion to change it, it's not an excuse for you to abandon our style policy - keep formatting articles in the current fashion, please.
- In terms of your suggested change, all I really have to say is that it sounds like a lot of work for virtually no improvement. We use the style that Memory Alpha has been using, for the ease of crossover editors and admins. The style works, regardless of your attempts to make it sound "incorrect". This site style has been decided by user consensus, and as I said, it works. Changing it on the basis of other institutions' style guides doesn't interest me at all. -- Captain MKB 08:04, March 25, 2012 (UTC)
There's nothing in Memory Beta:Style or Memory Beta:Cite your sources restricting such a thing, so I'm entirely allowed to use correct punctuation and a style used by respected universities and journals, and Wikipedia, instead of what is essentially a bad habit widespread across Wikia and nowhere else of importance.
The placement of a full stop or a comma after instead of before a citation is not much work at all. I'm not proposing a big project to change all the articles, and I don't care enough about it to edit an article solely to fix this. I'm just explaining the style and encouraging editors to use it correctly in future. -- BadCatMan 08:57, March 25, 2012 (UTC)
- The problem with doing this on some articles is that things end up in an inconsistent state, and people will continue to revert them... unless it is done as a site-wide change. -- sulfur 12:26, March 25, 2012 (UTC)
That's true, but I think Captain MKB's the only one changing/reverting them, IIRC. They just haven't lasted long enough to be seen by regular users. Perhaps if this style was given a chance to exist in the wild, to compete on equal basis, then we can see which one survives (the correct one, I hope). I've always understood wikis to be environments in which new ideas can be introduced, allowed to compete and evolve, and be adopted if found to be more useful/accurate than earlier concepts. As inconsistencies go, this is the most minor. -- BadCatMan 11:45, March 26, 2012 (UTC)
- The more I look at this and think about it, the more I wonder if doing a mixture of citation styles is a better idea. On various articles about the Orions (including Orion, which is a good example), the reference style citation is used. This might be a better approach for articles that have more than one citation required in them. For articles that are only cited to one particular reference, sticking with the single standard parenthetical citation style would work just fine. Thoughts?
- And that parenthetical style would be the one previously agreed on here at MB, not the suggestion above, unless more people partake in said discussion and consensus dictates otherwise. -- sulfur 15:12, May 1, 2012 (UTC)
- I only did footnote referencing on Orion and Orion history because the articles became so overwhelmingly long and detailed I needed to condense them, else half the article would be blue, twice as long, and hard to read. (I've probably written some of the biggest articles here.)
- We already have a mixture of referencing styles in use here. Timeline articles (e.g., 2364) use footnotes. A number of single-source articles just mention the source in a separate section at the end of the article. Most, of course, use in-line referencing (a few even with outside-punctuation before I got on to it e.g., Data, Tasha Yar). We don't have uniformity, and I don't think we need uniformity.
- Footnote referencing is quite common in other wikias. I've learned to use and love it through brutal experience (voila!). However, I wouldn't recommend it for general use here, as the code and bug-checking is a pain and unforgiving to new users. In franchises where the source material may often contradict, be not-quite-canonical, or otherwise divisive, such as here in Star Trek, it may be more useful to the reader to be able to tell at a glance the source of any piece of information, which superscripted numbers don't immediately provide. In-line citations are better for this, I think. (Yes, that does contradict what I did with the Orion articles, but a different problem arose.)
- But, generally, the most appropriate system for each article is best, IMO. -- BadCatMan 13:10, May 11, 2012 (UTC)
Something I've noticed in a recent clean-up is that MB tends not to have any references at all in the infoboxes, since there's just not enough room for them and they'd become very obtrusive. But an unsourced birth date, population, rank or whatever can slip in there and be difficult to confirm, challenge or check against the main article. See Talk:United Federation of Planets#Unsourced for an example.
A recently developed policy at the Forgotten Realms Wiki (here, from here) was to use footnote referencing within the infobox. That little superscript number is much more discreet. This allows easy and clean citations for individual facts. Of course, FRW uses footnote referencing as standard. That could be quite useful here, at least in articles that have a lot of conflicting sources or about things that evolve through time. For example, the population of the Federation. -- BadCatMan 08:19, July 5, 2012 (UTC)
- I don't mind that idea at all. Personally, I believe that anything in the infobox should also be found in the main article contents. The infobox should be simply that, a brief informational summary of things in the article. -- sulfur 12:57, July 5, 2012 (UTC)