Usage of wikipedia

+13 votes

I recall Wikipedia articles are to be cited. Personally, I have been using APA because that is what I have had to use with study over the years. If I remember correctly, WikiTree asks for Chicago?

I see pages using [[Wikipedia: EnterAPageNameForExample]] instead of citing. 

I have two concerns:

  1. People copy and pasting entire Wikipedia articles into biographies
  2. People replacing citations with the [[Wikipedia]] variation
in Policy and Style by Richard Shelley G2G6 Pilot (252k points)
retagged by Richard Shelley
People should use full citations, but a lot of people don't understand how to do that, so they just put a link.  Feel free to fix those when you see them.

[[Wikipedia: EnterAPageNameForExample]] is the correct form for creating a Wikipedia link.

But is it correct for someone to replace a citation for a link?
Yes it is, if the link is a 'See Also'.  I would never use Wikipedia as a *source*.

Then the question is why is it asked of us to cite the article if it is "preferred" that we instead use a link?

Where are you seeing this instruction?

According to that page (from a citation standpoint), it recommends using:

Wikipedia contributors. "[ George Washington]." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 1 Jan 2016.

So it's both a citation and a link. In theory, you could replace the [https://...] with the [[Wikipedia:pagename]] version, or any other reasonable facsimilie, but a good internet citation should always include the link as well as the reference. It's much easier to just throw the link into the page and let everyone assume, but if we're aiming for a higher standard, then we should encourage ourselves and others to both cite and link.

Indeed, which is why I had included the comment that I personally have been using APA because of the last number of years studying while acknowledging the request for the Chicago format.

I'm confused over the motive for stripping the citation and leaving the link. But what annoys me is no comments have been left in the change logs. Growing urge to file an MIR

5 Answers

+13 votes
by Joe Farler G2G6 Pilot (154k points)

I am very well aware of how to cite, considering there is a clearly labeled "cite this page"

Good.  Others may not be aware. I was not, because I don't use Wikipedia as a source.
+16 votes


"The ideal citation format on WikiTree is Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS), generally following Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained. But don't get hung up on this..."

On the other hand, if the complete text of a citation is


then that is going too far in the wrong direction. But there are many worse examples on Wikitree. There are lots of pages with zero sources — totally blank. There are tons of pages with "family records" and "" as the entire list of sources — with no specific source and no actual citation. At least the Wikipedia link lets you know clearly where it came from, and someone can go through and fix up the citation later if they wish. When someone creates a bunch of profiles, just writes "family records," and then disappears from WikiTree forever, and when those profiles are just a bunch of conflated piles of genealogical information rather than representing real, individual people, there's not much you can do as a detective to puzzle out what individuals that information pertained to.

Re: your two concerns:

1. Copy-and-paste is officially prohibited "as a general rule" by Wikitree policy. The observation that people have done it and it is not good has been discussed on G2G before.

2. People should not be replacing full citations with just a link. If you see someone doing this, send them a message and inform them.

by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (313k points)

I do not use Wikipedia as a source, so in my opinion it does not need a citation.  I use it as a 'See Also', in which case it merely needs a link.

I would not send someone a message for doing it.

Your "it" seems to refer to citing Wikipedia. I made no judgment at all about whether it is worthwhile citing Wikipedia, so I don't think your comment applies.

My response was about replacing a perfectly valid, well-written, existing citation with a link. I don't appreciate it when people come around profiles I manage and remove the work I put in with no apparent reason or obvious improvement. I believe such behavior warrants a PM to the individual.
A source is simply the place you got your information from. While Wikipedia might not be the greatest source, it is indeed a source, as much as an Ancestry Family Tree, a FamilySearch profile, or rootsweb page. All may be in the category of less than helpful towards proving genealogical data, but they do prove where you got your information from.

As it relates to citations, I put them in the same category. If someone puts in the biography "he was born x date in x place, lived x places on x dates, married so-and-so, had x children, and died x date x place." and then in the sources does a bullet list of sources including Wikipedia, then it would be presumed that somewhere in that pile of sources should be found where that information came from. That's not bad (it's better than "Family Records"), but adding <ref> tags and showing which source produced which bits of data is better, even if some of it came from Wikipedia. Even better (if you're using Wikipedia) is to look where "THEIR" data came from in the sources at the bottom of their page, and cite the original information.

But I see so few who actually use citations as it's so much simpler to just drop a link and leave it at that. Again, I'd regard that as a premium profile if they actually incorporated a full citation including a link and made it very clear where all their information originated.
And just to agree with you Barry - we should be going forwards with enhancing profiles, not backwards. If the profile is at level 1 (pile of sources) and someone goes to level 2 (ref tags) and then someone takes it to level 3 (full citations), then I would be a little irritated if someone started stripping them out later. I would hope that doesn't happen frequently.
+15 votes

I have long been of the opinion that, if the output of the Wikipedia template isn't in proper Evidence Explained format, then the solution is to fix the template, rather than making people redo what must be thousands of links by now.

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (714k points)
+13 votes

I am primarily a Wikipedia contributor, and only have at most a couple of hundred Wikitree profiles for relatives. A lot of these are from importing data from when I first started on Wikitree, but they are gradually improving. I try to follow much the same standard for citing sources on Wikitree as on Wikipedia. Wikipedia provides a lot of citation templates that don't appear to be replicated here, so my citations may not be quite as consistent format.

The precise definition of preferred sources can be different too. Wikitree prefers to use the primary documents (birth, death records etc). Wikipedia prefers to cite the newspaper obituary, or a book on the life of the subject.

One of the great online resources in Australia is Trove, run by the National Library of Australia. It has the library book index and online OCR scans of old newspapers. The citations page includes formal citation in a number of common formats, including a cut-and-paste Wikipedia {{cite news}} template for the newspaper articles. As that template is not available here, I usually copy the APA citation as it is the easiest to read.

by Scott Davis G2G6 Mach 3 (39.6k points)
+4 votes
Here is the problem in a nutshell. The guidelines as set out in the Help page is different to that that is listed on the Notables page.

And that has led to the actions that caused this thread.
by Richard Shelley G2G6 Pilot (252k points)

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