From BIONICLEsector01

In Defense of Citations

BS01 went entirely without citations for years. Historically, this has always been one of its greatest weaknesses. I've been testing a new citation idea of mine on pages such as this one and my Shadow Takanuva sandbox, and I remain more convinced of its necessity than ever. Here's why.

1. Since editors have historically not been held responsible for citing their sources, the veracity of any information they add can be obscured or overlooked. It's the reason why, until my recent edits, this page stated that "Upon discovering the Agori [in the illusion] to be his lover, who was killed by the plague, he briefly began believing in the reality". This is absolutely not true; there is nothing written in Sahmad's Tale to support that statement. Yet it slipped past BS01's quality control, because everyone assumed, "Oh, that information must be from the latest chapter of the story, it's probably fine". However, broadening the use of citations will make it harder for false information to slip onto the wiki, and I know how much the staff and veteran editors hate the addition of incorrect information.

What's more, retroactively tracking down and citing the sources on old pages will highlight any pieces of information that can't be easily traced to a legitimate source. For example, the Tobduk page states that, after killing Kojol on Xia, Tobduk "later traveled to Xia and recovered the virus for future use". This is a logical assumption, but, after intensively reviewing the sources that feature Tobduk, I can find no storyline evidence for this detail. In most cases, information with "hard-to-find" sources probably comes from the Official Greg Dialogue, which would, by Dorek's definition, necessitate a citation. However, without going back to add citations to the page in the first place, it is very difficult to catch slip-ups such as this. Citing official storyline sources highlights information that does not come from such sources, and alerts us to the need to track down its actual source.

2. The Appearances section, while useful for other purposes, is not sufficient as a citation list. One reason is elaborated on in #2, but another reason is that there is no visible or understandable link between the Appearances section and the rest of the page. Information in the sections on Biography/History, Landscape, Abilities and Traits, etc. is assumed to come from one of the official sources listed in the Appearances, but there is no way for a casual reader to know which information comes from which source. Expanding the citation system would solve this problem by linking each piece of information to its source(s), allowing curious readers to investigate when and where the information was officially released. (Keeping track of the release dates of the information, for example, allows curious readers to correlate the page's information with the real world's timeline; for example, the Shadow Takanuva were introduced in November of 2008, and their last appearance was in May of 2010.) Uninterested readers, meanwhile, can simply overlook the citations. After all, when people read Wikipedia articles, they are not often distracted by the numerous citations on the page; rather, they simply understand that there is a source for the information (which leads into point #3).

Additionally, the Appearances section would not be rendered redundant by expanded citations; far from it. With Dorek's new format, the Appearances section helps organize official storyline sources by media type and by publication date. While the citations do include the publication dates of sources, they do not do so in any chronological order, so the Appearances section is necessary for keeping the sources ordered correctly. Additionally, the Appearances section includes important details on the context of a source, such as whether the information on the page came from a flashback sequence, from an alternate universe, or if the appearance was entirely non-canon. Note that, without the Appearances section, there would be no record of a character's non-canon appearances whatsoever!

3. Having a comprehensive citation system makes BS01 more trustworthy and reputable. If we want to be regarded as "the largest and most up-to-date database of BIONICLE information in the world", we need evidence to back up that claim. Citing each distinct piece of information promises readers that, yes, this information is summarized from an official BIONICLE source and is reputable, instead of being simply hearsay or conjecture. Wikipedia, although not recommended for its coverage of subjective or controversial subjects, uses a comprehensive system of citations. While not everything on that wiki is to be trusted, citations on a page signals to the reader that the cited information comes from a valid source, and reaffirms the reader's confidence in the wiki. It's unprofessional to not properly cite our sources, and while nobody is claiming that all of our editors are professionals, we ought to hold ourselves to professional standards if we want BS01 to really be the best at what it does. Otherwise, how are we better than The BIONICLE Wiki? A fancier skin doesn't mean anything if we don't hold ourselves accountable for the validity of our information. Only proper citation can secure our reputation as the most up-to-date and accurate database of BIONICLE information in the world.

In summation, proper citation is a must for any wiki that wants to control the quality of its information and to be taken seriously by its readers. Citing storyline sources is not redundant with the Appearances section, but complements it and works with it to form a comprehensive record of a character's appearances both in the story and in the real world. Citations make the wiki's information more credible to readers by promising that the information came from official sources. Requiring citations for new information holds BS01's editors to a higher standard and ensures more accurate information in the future, and the mere act of adding citations calls editors' attention to information that may have slipped past BS01's quality control in the past. We need to expand our citation system drastically in order to become more credible and reinforce our reputation as the most accurate BIONICLE database in the world. Going forwards into 2015, we need regulations to control the validity of new information, and requiring citations for all new information is a huge step in the right direction. Expanding our citations system has no detractors and no particular obstacles, but promises many important improvements to our accuracy and to our reputation. Expanding citations is the only logical choice for both validating our past and securing our future. --Angel Bob (talk) 03:03, 16 October 2014 (CEST)

I agree. Most people who dislike BS01, dislike because they say that we have no sources from where the information came from. This seems like a good habit. Also, a lot of the times I read some articles, I want to where it came from. --Boidoh (talk) 03:08, 16 October 2014 (CEST)
That's an entirely anecdotal and subjective statement. No BIONICLE wikis have sources, so there's no reason BS01 would suffer in quality more than another. -- I AM THE DOREK do not truffle with me 03:53, 16 October 2014 (CEST)
Definitely with you on this one. I think the most common complaint people have voiced about citations is that they disrupt the flow of the page source and make editing the actual content harder. If we do end up going through with this (or even if we don't), we could use a system to shorten references so they aren't so big. It wouldn't be that hard to set up a Template:Ref so that, for example, {{Ref|LMB|500|M254291}} could return a ref for an LMB quote, or {{Ref|ST|7}} could return a ref for Sahmad's Tale Chapter 7. -- Morris the Mata Nui Cow (talk) 03:34, 16 October 2014 (CEST)
I agree that citations are important. They wouldn't be here if it wasn't for me, so that feeling should be pretty obvious =P. However, there's a fine line as to where it should be used. You're right in that a bit of potentially misleading information was there. That's something that should have been caught by the quality police, but it's also not necessarily something fixable by using citations in the manner described. I could have just as easily linked a Sahmad's Tale chapter at the end of that, which would have been as inaccurate and addtionally poorly corroborated, but the implication of "oh now it's cited so it's okay" is not something I'm comfortable. The only way to fix that kind of information is to actually have people checking the sources, which should happen irrespective of citations.
Which brings me to the main point of why I actually want to use citations: for information that would otherwise be unavailable to people that read the wiki. The great thing about the fact that you could check Sahmad's Tale to find the inconsistency is because we have the actual source. BS01 is an encyclopedia. We're not a primary story source, which have always been the best and most preferable method to actually experiencing the story. We don't want to substitute the books, or the comics, or the graphic novels, or anything; it's simply a place to collect the information that comes down. Citations are super useful in clarifying things, and I'll agree that there can be circumstances where a citation should be made available despite being in a primary story source; perhaps a sequence of events is out of order, perhaps a written or visual error caused some kind of confusion, or perhaps a secondary source not relevant to the page is responsible for clarifying something else.
Especially on the latter, is where I wanted the most use out of citations (barring OGD and LMB stuff). My favored example (that I keep forgetting to add shame on me) would be Mata Nui fighting Tuma. Here we have a venn diagram of how the events in TLR play out; Mata Nui knows how to exploit a weakness thanks to Ackar teaching him in the Reader book, and Tuma has a back injury dealt by the Baterra which happens in EotS. Neither of those are referenced in TLR, but are extraordinarily crucial in determining the outcome of the event. THIS is where I see the most use for story-based citations.
I understand that we don't have all story sources at our disposal, and I'm certainly for adding more (sources and citations) when relevant. However, there's a point where it gets to be overbearing, especially when you're citing the same source multiple times for the same information. When you add a cite on the end of every paragraph that all come from the same source (even the same chapter!) it's entirely pointless, since not only does it give the appearance that the information is coming from different places, but it's breaking things down to a point where readers should actually be using the source rather than the wiki anyway.
I'm hardly against citations, in short. But there is a time and a place for them, and overusage is just as bad as underusage, in my opinion. -- I AM THE DOREK do not truffle with me 03:53, 16 October 2014 (CEST)

I agree that some of the citations in my drafts can get a bit unwieldy, especially when several paragraphs in a row cite the same source (e.g. one chapter of a story serial). Perhaps we should follow a procedure in which, for every item of information on the page, the next citation - no matter how far down the page that citation may be - is the source from which the information comes. That way, even if multiple paragraphs all come from, say, Chapter 5 of Sahmad's Tale, there would only be one citation of that source.

Additionally, I should add that citations aren't only helpful for Biography; they also validate our summaries of the characters' personalities and powers in Abilities and Traits by allowing us to give examples of how Teridax (The Melding Alternate Universe) "disdains scheming and plotting", or how Sahmad "feels responsibility for other members of the Iron Tribe". --Angel Bob (talk) 14:12, 16 October 2014 (CEST)

I would rather boil that down to a single source, rather than chapters in a source. The latter makes more sense in the midst of things, while the serial is ongoing, but in totality it's a lot easier because we have the whole source. We wouldn't cite individual chapters of a book purely for the plot, or scene breaks in a movie. Noteworthy events that have repercussions not readily apparent, maybe, but again, if it's just a setup for something that happens in the actual story, I say keep reading.
Again, the "no duh" factor can come into play. Character evolution, like how Tahu matures from hothead into responsible but still arrogant warrior? Sure. Sahmad's feelings of responsibility? Debatable. It wasn't in his initial character bio, true, but that's because it was a trait being saved for exposition in the serial, and should be apparent by reading his story. AU Teridax I feel similarly about, since by definition he was going to have a different personality, and the quotes we have and his bio should reinforce that. But, again, debatable. -- I AM THE DOREK do not truffle with me 22:38, 16 October 2014 (CEST)

I think I agree with you on this point, too. While citing each individual chapter gives the citations more accuracy with regard to the real-world release date, it also creates an imbalance in the list of citations and implies the serials gave out more information than the books when, in reality, both were usually around the same length. (I considered citing individual chapters of the books, but decided I was too lazy to do that.) So I'm willing to give up on that slight measure of accuracy if it's the prevailing sentiment. --Angel Bob (talk) 02:40, 17 October 2014 (CEST)

I'm sorry for not reading the whole discussion above before putting my opinion here, but I don't have the time to read that essay. Just wanted to stop by and point out that when I introduced the reference-system, it was meant to put references to stuff that wasn't in the main storyline like web serials, books, comics, movies, animations and everything else that is mentioned in the “Appearances”-section. I think it would be redundant to put a source twice on one page. --Fippede 20:16, 18 October 2014 (CEST)

Maybe if citations could be used only for stuff that isn't widely available online; like the books, encyclopedia, and what-not. Anybody can just click Sahmad's Tale and read about it, but not everyone owns the books. --Boidoh (talk) 20:41, 18 October 2014 (CEST)
@Fippe: More or less that is what I intended it for. There are some exceptions; if you look on HS01, where it was first put into place, the guidebook feature heavily, especially new information that was otherwise not mentioned anywhere else. However, a lot of that had to do with Hero Factory's floating timeline. If nothing else, BIONICLE has always been pretty rigid in terms of event sequences, and Greg has made a valiant effort in trying to balance the timeline with the needs of the story, and in large part, succeeded; I can't think of any supremely major timeline conflicts (Tarduk's RotGB adventures being the closest example) to speak of. Barring rare cases that I've mentioned above, I think references should be fairly conservative.
@Boidoh: The problem with citing books is that it's sort of self-defeating. If we claim to be the most accurate, but we tell people "if you don't believe us, check out this out-of-print book you'll never read!" then that's just drawing attention to the fact that the sources we have AREN'T available, and they're still taking our word for it anyway, as I mentioned above. This is compounded by the fact that nobody seems to be willing to add the specific quote to references (which is what I'm trying to get people to do :<), instead being content to just link to the source and let readers figure it out anyway. So that particular way meshes with the "generic overarching reference" Angel Bob is shooting for, but as I've made my case for, I'd rather they be used for the nitty gritty. -- I AM THE DOREK do not truffle with me 21:02, 18 October 2014 (CEST)

If it's books we're worried about, actually posted links to scanned copies of all the BIONICLE novels a few months ago, and I'm sure I could dig that up if you guys wanted me to. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the guides or early readers. I could scan in Rahi Beasts, Dark Hunters, and Mata Nui's Guide to Bara Magna if you provided a space, but those are all I have.

I'm not sure what you mean by adding the "specific quote" to references; I would assume that, after summarizing official information, citing the relevant source(s) would be sufficient, but I might be missing something. As for "generic overarching reference" vs. "used for the nitty-gritty"... couldn't it be both? I don't see any reason the two would have to contradict each other.

On an unrelated note, I think we should implement code that allows us to add [citation needed] in superscript to denote information that doesn't come from a directly traceable source. --Angel Bob (talk) 02:13, 19 October 2014 (CEST)

Was Raid on Vulcanus in those scans of the novels? I have all 3 series of the books, but the only novel left for me to read is that one. I decided to just buy it today...
Though isn't that illegal? BZP doesn't like when you post the links.--Boidoh (talk) 02:16, 19 October 2014 (CEST)
I have the majority of the books (2005 novels excepted), so that's not so much the issue; but yeah, it is technically illegal to post all of the books (BZP members have tried getting the rights in the past, but they're firmly with Scholastic), and not something I'd like to do.
When I talk about the quote, I mean like I have on Rocka's page on HS01 (I think it's unavailable now, but whatever). When citing, in addition to the page number, publication date, etc. of the source I'm using, I try and get the actual quote that refers to the info I'm adding; otherwise people have to go digging around, which not only defeats the point, as I said, but sometimes difficult if there's a lot of information in the source that you're trying to parse out (which in turn speaks to how we try and condense citing). If we're citing large passages, entire books, this becomes less likely to be the way it gets done.
And yeah, I need to get a "citation needed" template, but not sure where it would link to; either an edit link, the talkpage, or the ref help page. -- I AM THE DOREK do not truffle with me 02:30, 19 October 2014 (CEST)

Sooo, let me see if I can round up what we've agreed on so far:

  1. Citing storyline sources is acceptable in certain cases. (However, I'm not clear on what those cases are. Dorek, would you care to elaborate?)
  2. Citations might also be recommended when citing hard-to-find sources such as the books and comics, which are now out of print.
  3. We need a [citation needed] template to flag information that may not have come from a storyline source.

Is that accurate? --Angel Bob (talk) 23:14, 19 October 2014 (CEST)

  1. Yes, and I'll elaborate later =P.
  2. Only for the above cases. Citing them JUST because they're out of print draws attention to the fact that they're hard to source and verify. In that case, it boils down to "take our word for it" regardless.
  3. Yup. You can figure that one out if you want. [[Template:CN]] seems easiest.

-- I AM THE DOREK do not truffle with me 23:35, 19 October 2014 (CEST)