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Wikimedia Fellowships/Project Ideas/InCite

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The broad goal of this project is to evolve a policy for promoting the use of alternate modes of citation across Wikimedia projects, in order to broaden the base of knowledge that Wikipedia is able to tap into for sourcing information, as we believe that it requires a greater variety of citation media and techniques to fully and effectively capture the sum of human knowledge.

Scope of the project


The scope of the project would be to conduct and curate a conversation (hosted on Meta) about citations on Wikimedia in general, and then synthesise a set of policy recommendations thereafter. Owing to the fact that the ultimate goal is to increase editorship tendencies in those who may be stifled by the current limiting citation policies, the authors intend to advertise for, and provoke input from "would be" Wikimedians as well as current Wikimedians alike. This conversation is warranted by a number of existing activities that have been conducted or proposed, and others that have been informally discussed but not proposed. These are detailed in the subsequent section.

Existing concerns and available data


Wikipedia's policies on verifiability and reliable sources are based on certain conceptions of the authenticity of knowledge and forms of its creation and dissemination. However, several of these conceptions are themselves questionable, as they tend to exclude contributions of certain kinds.

As recognised by the foundation itself, Wikipedia has been nurtured since birth by a very marginal demographic in a global sense. As such the policies regarding citation reflect the biases of their founders. In particular, the authority which Wikipedia believes is the same dogma of modern academia. This has come to mean that other recognised forms of authority in different cultures have been suppressed. For example, oral citations are not allowable, but recent research from the Oral Citations project has demonstrated the concept of its place as a viable complement to Wikipedia's existing methods of citation.

Likewise, it is critical to broaden perspectives and evolve methods for citing newer, dynamic sources of (often collectively produced, open-source) information such as blogs and social networks. The reasons for this are multifaceted as chronicled by a recent project on understanding sources. The benefits of admitting these types of citations become particularly significant in politically sensitive arenas where citations currently recognised by Wikipedia are suppressed or severely tainted by ideological or other colour. In fact a move in this direction would represent a descriptive rather than prescriptive shift, as these sorts of practices are already present and wanted by the community in some projects and languages. There has also been other significant fieldwork in progress as part of the WikiScholar project.

Similarly, there exist extensive archives of textual and non-textual content, such as corporate archives in Europe and oral histories in USA and Israel, which are unusable in their existing form as they constitute primary sources which Wikipedia's policy at present discourages. A method of putting this extensive wealth of information to use remains to be evolved.

What we seek to do


What this project seeks to do is to engage in a conversation with all these experiences from the field on the issues as well as solutions they have documented. Another conversation that is sought to be had is with both a small group of people driving concerns (expressed and to be expressed) as well as a broader group of people on how we can make solutions to these concerns happen. This would cover, for example, both what people think of the idea of oral citations, as well as suggestions for its implementation, including safeguards, procedures, etc. that the community would like to see.

The conversation that we would aim for is one that includes as many people as possible across the period of work (six months), and spanning projects and languages. At the end of the conversation, a report will be prepared that sensitively combines perspectives, concerns and proposed solutions and integrates them into a a set of recommended and customisable guidelines that is implementable as policy across projects and languages. As this would primarily be based on input provided by the community, we hope that the final result will not only reflect great community consensus on the issue but also flexibly meld to the needs of each specific Wikimedia project.




  1. Increased participation - as the Oral Citations project has demonstrated, a significant obstacle that exists for editors is the lack of sufficient published material to use as a source of information, while the same information may be available in non-published, and thus unrecognized, forms. By evolving a policy that allows authoritative citations in more mediums, the project hopes to increase participation and contribution across languages, cultures, sexes, and other biases inherent in the secondary-source publishing paradigm.
  1. Improving quality - the scope of quality content being added on Wikipedia is also restricted by the sum of published knowledge available on the same. Issues exist in circumstances where this information is either unavailable or incomplete in terms of epistemology and/or perspective. By providing a model for incorporation of a greater plethora of sources, the project hopes to improve the quality of knowledge available on Wikipedia.

Deliverables and outcomes


The first phase of the project would involve having a community discussion on Meta, curated by the two authors where we will seek opinions from (a) those involved in the earlier projects to diversify citation methods, (b) the community as a whole, (c) focus groups of would-be editors if it weren't for current policy, and (d) expert academics on their thoughts and suggestions about alternate forms of citation.

The second phase will involve us preparing a report on (i) the conclusions of earlier projects; (ii) the results of the community dicsussions on the same; and (iii) a model of implementation that seeks to effectively combine (i) & (ii). The report would then form a base guideline from which any Wikimedia project could "roll their own" policy.



The project is broad-based and seeks to engage with as many members of the community as possible, and its outcomes are also directed towards a broad policy-based implementation on Wikipedia across languages. Its service is to the majority of the world population that does not even currently edit because of the existence of systemic prejudices outlined earlier in respect of published information.



The next step after the conclusion of the project would be for individual language communities to evolve localised adaptations of the policy recommendations made. The project will also lay the groundwork for an inbuilt mechanism to record the attempts and successes of all adopters.



The project is scalable across languages and is designed to have cross-language impact and implementability. The project is ideally suited to be scalable in that it abstracts the problem of citation, and solves it in an equal abstracted and general way which individual Wikimedia projects may use as their own.



A report will be submitted at the end of the project outlining a policy proposal which could be adapted and implemented by communities in different languages. In addition, statistical measurements will be collected and presented, such as the correlation between the metric of the "article rating tool" among articles which use the new generational of citations.

Submitted by


This is a joint submission by Max Klein and SBC-YPR. We have also jointly applied for a fellowship to undertake this project.



This section is for endorsements by Wikimedia community volunteers. Please note that this is not a debate, vote, or poll, but is rather a space for volunteers to describe in detail why they think a project idea is of value. If you have concerns or questions rather than an endorsement to make, please use the idea Talk page. Endorsements by volunteers willing to work in collaboration with a fellowship recipient on a project are highly encouraged.

I am excited by this project proposal and wish to help in any way I can. I previously worked on the idea of oral citations and I believe that the problems expressed around citations overall are both real and urgent. I believe that there is strength on looking at citations overall and not just one issue or the other in particular, and I hope many new (and previously unheard of) ideas for reinvention emerge through the process, if this project proposal is successful. aprabhala 05:15, 18 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Achal called my attention to this, and I agree with him about the potential of this proposal. I left some suggestions on the talk page, but already hope for its success and look forward to contribute. --Solstag 00:19, 19 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Wonderful idea to use the fellowship to dive into these issues deeply. I think this is an important, worthwhile project, especially if it seeks to collaborate with existing initiatives as it seems it does.--Hfordsa 17:48, 19 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

I have deep methodological concerns about the use of oral citations on wikipedia, which I may or may not have voiced (unsolicited) to Max in person. However I feel the best way to handle these concerns would be to support a proposal like this and broaden the discussion of oral citations in general. Protonk 01:16, 20 January 2012 (UTC)[reply]

I am supportive of finding ways to incorporate knowledge that has been subject to verification systems other than the Western dominated bourgeois scholarly knowledge system, or the Western dominated bourgeois press. I agree with the authors about the urgency and benefits of integrating broader knowledges subject to verification. I disagree with them strongly about incorporating knowledges that have not been externally verified. However, I could only endorse a project in this area that was based around scoping the domain and potential limited pilot projects. Such scoping and pilot work does not appear to have been conducted here. This means that this project has a high risk of adverse consequences and project failure as currently written. As such I'd suggest a rewrite from scratch. See talk for critical details. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:13, 1 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]

I cannot support any expansion of citation forms the result of which would be to greatly increase the ability of political activists to use self-published citations to challenge accepted authority. Binksternet (talk) 16:53, 1 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]

With all due regard to the proposers of the project, I think this is a dangerous idea. We have already spent a considerable amount of resources on the "Oral citations" project and their effectiveness (or lack thereof). The project has also been amply discussed across various forums. If the individuals above wish to conduct newer experiments around organization of knowledge, they should consider forking. Wikipedia is not a place to right the wrongs. We are conservative as a project, and this is so for a reason - because we are an encyclopedia. Our project is successful because we do not publish original research. A discussion around projects such as these should take place not here, but the English Wikipedia, where editors who actually spend considerable time and energies building an encyclopedia will get a chance to reflect on the nature of such projects. Sorry for being so critical, but I think this had to be said. — Nearly Headless Nick {C} 20:16, 1 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]

Early March Proposal Update


Preamble to the Update


This update represents a response to some of the recommendations received in regards to improving the project.

Why not volunteer effort alone?


The conversation is already happening but it’s fragmented, informal and not consensus seeking, characteristics that doom the talk into perpetual argument otherwise. There are at least three current public discussions in this sphere:

Talk:Wikimedia Fellowships/Project Ideas/InCite#No



In order to create a more actionable plan several deliverables are offered. Foremost of which is the enshrinement of the discussion into what will be known as ‘’The InCite sessions.’’ The InCite sessions will be 7 sequential, fortnightly debates hosted and curated publicly on Meta. Their objective is to section the overwhelmingly large controversy into smaller serious and constructive focus sessions ground in specific articles as examples. Every Tuesday a 10 minute podcast will be released catching up readers/listeners and summarizing the debate upto the present. The podcast will be entertainingly voice-act for each writer for engagement. This format has benefit for two reasons: firstly, it allows an accessible way for outsiders to easily contribute without the massive overhead of reading thousands of words. Secondly, and somewhat subtly it reflects the idea that information not record through text has different properties that need to be—although aren’t typically—on-Wiki. Finally a shorter 5 minute, and (indepth cousin) hour-long analysis podcasts will be produced that give informative recapitulation and advice on how to proceed. These final reports will be stand-alone listenable documents which will be shopped to journals and web publishers to gain visibility for InCite. The advice given in the podcast, cannot be predicted in advance because it relies on the content of the debate, of which the authors take a neutral stance. However further preservation and sustainability will be delivered by way of a Rubric infographic to be created (think Commons license infographic) on agreements found across the 7 dimensions/InCite sessions. This will be a lasting education tool that the authors will advocated to be integrated and displayed with all new citation templates that are created. Naturally everyone will not agree—even consensus does not imply total agreement—but the trick is to recognize that the business of repeated argument is an unnecessary strain. That is the need for the most-frequent deletionist and defense rationale templates that will be created. Let us make placeholders of arguments for each positions that occur most often so that future debates in articles will be less frictional, and more a mechanical, card-playing game than the reinvention of the wheel that comes with so many conflicts. Of course these templates and rubrics will be developed transparently on-wiki, and will be left for editing to avoid the ominous feel of foundation polemically furthering an agenda. The tasks is simply the initially high impetus required to overcome the inertia and endless debate that would ensue without such measures.



The following 10 Metrics and projections will be used to personally judge the most difficult section of the project—the actual discussions.

Metric Projection
Participants 100
~of whom are involved in topics but never edited before 20
Word count per dimension debate 3000
Points of consensus per dimension 1
Advertisments to external communties 25
~of whom are not primarily online 10
Minutes of podcast audio analysis 200 = 140 (weekly) + 60 (final report)
Podcast downloads per episode 1000
Wiki projects adopting Rubric 5
~Analogous Defense/ Deletion templates created 7



Total: 26 weeks, ~6 months.

Weeks Activity
1-2 Researching further articles and partcipants
3-4 Advertising around wikis and the web in general with regards to the articles chosen.
5-6 Discussion Opens: Dimension 1
7-8 Discussion, podcasting on Dimension 2
9-10 Discussion, podcasting on Dimension 3
11-12 Discussion, podcasting on Dimension 4
13-14 Discussion, podcasting on Dimension 5
15-16 Discussion, podcasting on Dimension 6
17-18 Discussion, podcasting on Dimension 7
19-20 Analysis and reflection.
21-22 Creation of rubric and deletionists/defense templates.
23-24 Creation of final audio reports
25-26 Advertisement and advocacy of final report and rubric on Wiki and to administrators. Shopping the audio report to journals and blogs, and other publishers.


  1. What level of review should acceptable alternate citations require? No review, crowdsourced review (WikiNews first), professional review only?
  2. What level of Conflict of Interest protection should be enacted? Should those who’s livelihood or political careers are in question be disqualified?
  3. Does the absence of traditional sources influence the acceptability of an alternative citation? Should there be any trumping rules if auxiliary or competing sources are found?
  4. Does the language of the alternative citation influence it’s acceptability? What consideration should be given to Cultural Imperialism.
  5. Should Wikimedia act as publisher? Or should the alternative citations be hosted at other institutions?
  6. Should an alternative citation be able to confer notability as well as authority?
  7. How should discussion around individual alternative citations occur? Does this necessitate the abstraction of citation as an object (i.e. a citation wiki)?



These are the result of cursory investigation and mentions in the current literature and ongoing discussions. More articles will be found upon funding by following up with those already fruitful leads, and the trawling of WP:RS/N. Leading numbers correspond to dimension for which they will serve as examples.

  • (6) Makmende’s struggle to be recognized.
  • (3) (7) (4) Italian Proverbs on Wikiquote
  • (2) (3) (4) Chinese fisherman vs. Modernity
    • wing****@****.de e Mountain, the first ever editor on zh-wp, and still active until today, told me the following story one day (it was before the Oral Citation project but I remembered the story very well): He came from the coast of Shandong, and his father told him that earlier there was a local tradition where people went early morning to the coast to catch crabs or mollusks (one of them). They used to use a special technique to catch the animals. But meanwhile no one is using this technique anymore, not only because there are now plenty of crabs or mollusks on the market from the hydroculture, but also because the coast which was wild earlier are now all urbanized, with oil terminals and harbors and those
  • (1) The truth about blueberry wine.
    • Jussi-Ville Heiskanen cim***@****.**m

Best example is blueberry wine. It got merged in with fruit wine. Truth is blueberry

  • (5) (3) (4) Brasilian cultures (via Ca***o)