Policy for linking to specific revision of Wikipedia article

+12 votes

When I cite Wikipedia articles in WikiTree biographies, I've started using the Chicago style format from the "Cite this page" tool on Wikipedia. It looks like this:

Wikipedia contributors, "Alejandro García Padilla," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Alejandro_García_Padilla&oldid=706723611 (accessed April 15, 2016).

When you visit that link, a banner at the top of the page reads (I removed some extra bits here):
"This is an old revision of this page, as edited by Damián A. Fernández Beanato at 22:55, 24 February 2016. The present address (URL) is a permanent link to this revision, which may differ significantly from the current revision."

I notice that others simply cite the article using a URL like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alejandro_Garc%C3%ADa_Padilla​ which goes to the current revision of the article. When improving WikiTree profiles, some folks edit citations to change from the format above to this one.

I like to link to a specific revision of an article. Months (or days or minutes) later, the information I'm citing may have changed or been removed. This might be fine for statements like "Lucille Ball was a prominent television actor" but not for "there is some dispute whether this evidence proves that Stephen was the son of Frank."

What do you think? Should we prefer one format over the other, or use the two styles for different reasons?

in Policy and Style by Karen Lowe G2G6 Pilot (195k points)
edited by Karen Lowe
How do you grab your specific version??

Sir William, when viewing a Wikipedia article, I click the "Cite this page" link under Tools in the left sidebar. This shows seven different citation styles, and references the current revision. I've been choosing the Chicago style based on this note at http://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Sources_Style_Guide#.22Evidence_Explained.22_Styling

"On WikiTree the preferred style is the Evidence Explained format[1], based on the Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS)."

Screenshot alert! Filing in my to-do list right now. Thanks for this info Karen!
This is a good recommendation.

1 Answer

+3 votes

I can see reasons for choosing both methods.  If I am writing in a profile "For further information about Alejandro García Padilla, see the Wikipedia article," I would used the method that links to the current Wikipedia article. 

If I am using information in the Wikipedia article (without going to the specific source, which I SHOULD do), I would use the method that links to a specific version, because that info might be edited out in a later version.

This does bring up an interesting question about whether we should be using stable URL links when possible, but that is a different problem.

by Vic Watt G2G6 Pilot (361k points)
edited by Vic Watt

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