Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Citations/Dealing with unsourced additions - "citation needed" button

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Random proposal◄ Citations  The survey has concluded. Here are the results!

Dealing with unsourced additions - "citation needed" button

  • Problem: There are many edits by new or unregistered users that add unsourced content. Recent changes patrollers (on at least en.wp) have a bias towards action, and thus often address these edits by reverting, which is not optimal when the content could potentially be cited.
  • Who would benefit: New users who would be put off when their accurate (to them) edit is unceremoniously reverted.
  • Proposed solution: Add a new action for recent changes patrollers to add a "citation needed" template after the added content. Other inline cleanup templates could be added as options. Another option: an inline "add a citation" menu (VisualEditor-style) so editors who search for sources can easily add them. We would have to put this in Huggle and other countervandalism tools to reach as many users as possible with this feature.
  • More comments: I think this is a very important feature, and will work on it myself if it is not taken. This idea isn't mine - it came out of a discussion between Pharos, Legoktm, and I during WikiConference North America 2018.
  • Phabricator tickets:


Maybe such a function should also encompass the ability to quickly add citations. Otherwise we might see a lot of reviewers adding "cn" tags when they could just as easily add citations. Jo-Jo Eumerus (talk, contributions) 09:34, 2 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Absolutely. In my mind, I'd rather have another "cn" tag than a new editor turned away, hence the proposal. If this has a chance of passing, and before I start working on the tool, I'll definitely have an en.wp RfC, to see if the community agrees. Enterprisey (talk) 18:05, 2 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Very much favor something, anything that makes it easier to mark where citations are needed and/or add citations. Just now I had to open pieces of an article to remind myself how the syntax for [citation needed] worked. Also, anything that would make laying out a citation a little easier. Presently, we have two or three different formats competing, often in the same article. Lawikitejana (talk) 08:06, 4 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Yes, please make it as easy to tag as to rvv! It's intrinsically faster to tag than to good-faith-revert (since that should really have a custom comment). Editing tools like Huggle and Twinkle should enable fast inline tagging.
Tagging edits rather than reverting them has been shown to train and retain new editors.[1] We need such editing tools to fight our declining editor numbers. HLHJ (talk) 21:55, 17 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Shouldn't this wish be listed in the Patrollers category? --Dvorapa (talk) 17:40, 18 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]

I know we had a community decision not to poke knives into toasters, but I want to get the toast out! -HLHJ

Give a new button will not solve this problem, since patrollers will have to place the template where the citation(s) are needed. Revert is easier would say the knight on top of their castle, facing vandals. You will solve that issue by taking a community decision that would change the (bad) revert-only behaviour. Trizek from FR 10:36, 19 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]

Many uncited edits areadd one or two sentences, or a sentence clause, or a few words. I think a button to add a {{citation needed}} or {{cn}} to the end of the edit in question should be possible.
Let's continue with metaphor, Trizek :). Evidence suggests that if you want hospital staff to wash their hands more frequently, putting alcohol handsanitizer in easy-to-use dispensers exactly where they need it is more effective than lecturing them about how not washing causes hospital-acquired infections.[2] It's not that the hospital staff don't care about patients, or don't know that dirty hands kill. It's not that users of semi-automated tools don't care about newbies, or don't know that reverting instead of tagging good-faith edits hurts retention.
Most people know that you shouldn't poke a knife into a toaster to extract the toast, but have probably done it anyway. They were focussed on getting the toast out; the toolusers are focussed on getting the vandalism out. A community decision not to poke knives into toasters is a good thing, but insufficient. It might be more effective to show everyone how to wiggle the lever to bounce the toast out of the slot, catching it by pinching it with the other hand as it emerges (which is usually easier than fishing it out with a knife). Getting toast out of toasters is a legitimate goal; this is a proposal for a toaster redesign, because the bounce-the-lever trick does not work with our current toasters. Multiple changes to toaster design[3][4] may be needed before we come up with one that makes vandalism toast and does not burn the newbies' fingers. HLHJ (talk) 04:36, 20 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
The toaster metaphor is a good illustration, HLHJ. :) However, I understand this proposal as putting a sticker on the toaster saying "don't put a knife in it" (or ask people to wash their hands, for the hospital methaphor). And the issue is that most people don't know what a knife (or a bacteria) is! Citation needed? "Yeah, I'll put a link to a Google query, or just say that I've heard it from grand-pa." I think that asking for in-context explanations (like on those mockups) would be a better gain than adding a simple button (that can be made by the community?).
The sticker has a link to know more about it. But the page is not that great: Wikipedia:Citation needed is mostly about when and how to use the template (which is supposed to be used carefully; it is matching the purpose of the button?). :/ Reading that page would not help a newcomer, I'm afraid. It was the case on my home wiki, where we have decided to change that page. The French one is now a short explanation of the purpose of {{cn}}, and editors are invited to make the change following a tutorial. I think refreshing the tutorial before designing the sticker would be a nice effort to make. :) Trizek from FR 10:14, 20 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks, Trizek. In the old days of 2007, the content of the english Wikipedia:Citation needed was aimed at newbies seeing a "citation needed" tag (like the French one you linked to); now it is mostly aimed at editors inserting it. Wikipedia:Citation needed#If your work has been tagged does give a newbie a pretty good quick guide, but it was in a little paragraph down at the end. I've now improved this. I think an interactive tutorial like that suggested at those mockups would be a good thing to link to from that page; tutorials are much less annoying if one finds them while looking to learn that information than as popups when one is trying to do something else.
In my metaphor, the toaster user is an experienced editor using a semi-automated tool (not a noob who doesn't know what a reliable source is). A sticker would be a notice telling toolusers not to revert newbies needlessly but teach them to fix their edits (the average tooluser probably already knows they shouldn't revert newbies needlessly, same as a nurse knows he should wash his hands). A "CN" (or other inline cleanup template) button makes it easier for toolusers to actually do what they want to do, defend the encyclopedia from poor-quality content without needlessly discouraging a newbie (who could become an ally).
"Hit-an-run" tagging seems preferable to reverting, though tool interfaces that made it easy to add a citation or rephrase for neutrality without leaving the interface might be better still. Drag-and-dropping inline citation templates into the article text might also be a pretty slick interface. We could call it Taggle :). Automated tools also have the major advantage that they are fast; if a statement gets tagged while the new user is still around, they are much more likely to see it and add a citation. This suggestion might actually decrease our CN backlog, if it trains a bunch of new users to fix CNs.
My basic reason for thinking that this will increase editor retention is that it will make the new-user experience more like it was in the days when many more new users stuck around. Instead of being instantly reverted, they will instantly have their edits criticized, with a hyperlinked tag that leads them to info on how to fix. It would always be good to do a randomized test, tho. HLHJ (talk) 01:43, 21 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks HLHJ! We are actually seeing things the same way.
Your drag and drop idea is nice, I like it (however the name you suggest sounds for French hears as not really friendly :D). And +1 to randomized tests. I should have suggested that as a wish...
Trizek from FR 10:53, 21 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
LOL. Then maybe we could call it Muzzle instead, Trizek ("Muzzle it!" being a colloquial translation)? Glad I misunderstoood you and not the other way round. Not sure if randomized tests could be an independent wish, an infrastructure for using them in many cases, maybe? HLHJ (talk) 05:16, 22 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]


  • Support Support James Martindale (talk) 19:30, 16 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Tom Ja (talk) 19:50, 16 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support DonBarredora (talk) 23:48, 16 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Braveheidi (talk) 01:22, 17 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support yes, but hope it can be used wisely(I.e.unsourced negative statements on a BLP article should be reverted and not tagged for citations). Cohaf (talk) 01:32, 17 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Liuxinyu970226 (talk) 03:47, 17 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Acamicamacaraca (talk) 08:09, 17 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Kpgjhpjm (talk) 09:09, 17 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Libcub (talk) 10:33, 17 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support ديفيد عادل وهبة خليل 2 (talk) 10:54, 17 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Strong support Strong support This is an excellent suggestion. It seems likely[5] to increase editor retention and improve the quality of editing and content. HLHJ (talk) 21:55, 17 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Tim Landscheidt (talk) 00:26, 18 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support per HLHJBilorv (talk) 03:30, 18 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Hatchiko (talk) 05:12, 18 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Hydriz (talk) 14:11, 18 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Great idea! When dealing with unsourced but good-faith edits from new users, we need more of a scalpel than a machete. Maybe this is that scalpel. Bobnorwal (talk) 14:14, 18 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support SupportAmmarpad (talk) 19:18, 18 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Oppose Oppose I do feel that this isn't needed, the current system in place works just fine. Redactyll (talk) 19:47, 18 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Neutral Neutral This can be extended to additional formatting option "mark using template..." which puts selected text into choosen template. --Wargo (talk) 22:38, 18 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Good proposal. I wish it also included a way to communicate back to the user or post a message on their talk page that informed them about the expectation of a citation and the placement of the template. Blue Rasberry (talk) 00:16, 19 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
    This is an absolutely essential feature, and I hope it gets included when this gets implemented. Enterprisey (talk) 05:44, 19 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Reverting uncited edits is an easy knee jerk reaction often making the Wikipedia poorer. It's worsened by the citation process being too cumbersome. — 15:10, 19 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support ONUnicorn (talk) 16:14, 19 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support For stronger article quality and editor retention. Pharos (talk) 17:10, 19 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Sadads (talk) 17:55, 19 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support StringRay (talk) 21:59, 19 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Philk84 (talk) 14:02, 20 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Buster7 (talk) 15:04, 20 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support with a resounding all caps. The "current system in place works just fine" on paper. In reality the tendency of patrols is, as noted in the proposal, to simply revert current articles, or ASD new ones. I always thought this idea was very scorched-earth-like in practice. Lostinlodos (talk) 19:29, 20 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support CAPTAIN RAJU(T) 22:37, 20 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Novak Watchmen (talk) 00:14, 21 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Vulphere 04:53, 21 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Flo Beck (talk) 20:09, 22 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Hmxhmx 10:20, 24 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Tgr (talk) 09:16, 25 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support — AfroThundr (u · t · c) 02:00, 26 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support - FlightTime (open channel) 22:07, 26 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support PJTraill (talk) 23:41, 26 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Izno (talk) 01:16, 27 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support Daniel Case (talk) 02:37, 28 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support MartinThoma (talk) 06:16, 28 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Support Support MartinPoulter (talk) 11:10, 28 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]