wikiHow:Policy Proposals/Sources and Citations/Archive


  1. Aye! --Tderouin 17:45, 10 April 2007 (GMT)
  2. Absolutely --Sondra C 04:16, 11 April 2007 (GMT)
  3. Hear Hear--Richard 08:05, 11 April 2007
  4. Support --Versageek 22:09, 11 April 2007 (GMT)
  5. With Reservation. --Chris D 22:36, 11 April 2007 (GMT)


  1. See "Concerns ..." below. Finell 21:49, 11 April 2007 (GMT)
  2. People could edit and still add spam links and it prevents people who add good links from adding them and weeding out the spam. I think we just need to be more diligent with checking external links and deleting them before we implement this measure. Elocina 22:35, 11 April 2007 (GMT)
  3. See per Finell's concerns great points! Stargirl 23:04, 11 April 2007 (GMT)
  4. I am for this, though I have enough concerns to counter my want of this: concerns below. Josh W. 00:40, 13 April 2007 (GMT)

EditConcerns with the proposal

I am an active Wikipedia editor and sympathize with the goals of this proposal. However, I have concerns.

  1. wikiHow is not Wikipedia. Sources should be required for, and original research banned from, Wikipedia. wikiHow, on the other hand, is intended as a place where individuals can share their own know-how. Original (i.e., unsourced) contributions are welcome, and many contributors are attracted to participation here for that very reason. wikiHow is not supposed to be authoritative, in that anyone can contribute anything (although subject to editing by others) without authoritative (reliable) sources; eHow, on the other hand, can claim to be authoritative because it is supposedly written by "experts". Editing out spam is a chore, but shouldn't change the fundamental nature of the wikiHow project (just as Wikipedia deals with widespread vandalism through vigilant editing, without putting up roadblocks to contributing and vandalizing). I DO agree that contributors who consulted source material should be encouraged to cite it and, if it is on the Internet, hyperlink it.

    Just to clarify, this proposal does not require citing sources. Editors would still be welcome to add their own unsourced know-how. But when external sources are used on articles (and they frequently are), we will encourage people to list sources. --Jack H 00:37, 12 April 2007 (GMT)

  2. External Web links and sources are not the same. Sources are authoritative support for the article in any medium. An external link is to an Internet resource only and can be anything that might be of use to the reader. If you want to have separate sections for both, that would be a good idea (but don't expect too much in the way of solid authority). Also, if you change the section heading from "External Links" to "Sources and citations," the spam links will just become spam sources, which is not an improvement.
This is true, but I think we all need to keep wikiHow's mission in mind: Our goal is to be the largest, highest quality how-to manual. Becoming a website full of potentially useful or useless links to other sites in not our goal. Becoming a link farm is specifically what wikiHow is not. We shouldn't try to be a place that hosts links, because we will fail at this mission. Google does a better job of this. So do About.com or Wikipedia. We fail because our pages are edited differently than Wikipedia. Here we have less people watching pages...but a larger focus on RC patrol. RC patrollers don't always spend time to look at every link and are not well enough versed in the subject to pick correctly on every link. Therefore, we consistently fall victim to subtle spammers. This is a war we won't win and we shouldn't risk our mission to become something we are not.--Jack H 18:30, 12 April 2007 (GMT)
Regarding old spam ex links:If this change proves successful, we can at some future point work to root out all the old spam links created before this policy. We could also try this from day 1, but since we are not 100% certain this policy will work as intended, I suggest we do it later. But this is a solvable problem. --Jack H 18:30, 12 April 2007 (GMT)
  1. Adding sources or links should be encouraged. Sources and links can be very useful contributions by themselves. Also, requiring a content edit in order to add a link will not deter spammers: they will simply make a useless content edit to go with their spam links. On Wikipedia, there are squadrons of spammers (they call themselves PR agents) who write and edit lengthy articles to promote their client's corporate image, products, and personnel.
I don't think this is as simple as suggested here. This will deter most spammers. The vast majority will not take the time to actually make real edits and will therefore spend their time spamming some other site. I would think this will take care of 80% of the subtle spam we get today. For the 20% of spammers who do want to put enough time in to make real edits...well then this system will force them to help wikiHow rather than harming it. WikiHow is not Wikipedia, we don't have NPOV and we welcome companies to write about how to use their products as long as they follow our brand name guidelines. When editors don't follow these guidelines, they stick out like a sore thumb and are easy for any RC patroller to catch. Thus helpful edits for example written by someone at Microsoft public relations about how to use MS Word will be valuable and kept. Edits on how to write that say "Buy Microsfot Word because it is so much better than Open Office" will be seen as spam and easily reverted. --Jack H 18:30, 12 April 2007 (GMT)
  1. Hyperlinks help the reader. Re #4 of the proposal, hyperlinks are what make the Web a web, what make the Web so easy for people to use and navigate, and are encouraged throughout the Wiki world. Spam should be edited out, period, not just made harder to follow by being in plain text rather than hyperlinks. Indeed, it will be easier for patrollers to edit out spam links if they stand out as hyperlinks than if they are inconspicuously formatted as ordinary text.
I think what we are proposing here is similar in goal to what is practiced at WP. On WP I believe most editors prefer to remove external links from the actual article and force them to the ex links section. Right? We are saying that if you need to mention a .com in the actual article, the best practice is to not link it, but you can link it if it really helps the reader as it does with software downloads for example. --Jack H 18:30, 12 April 2007 (GMT)

Finell 22:20, 11 April 2007 (GMT); revised 17:28, 12 April 2007 (GMT)

  1. I don't think that non-source-or-citation external links should be non-hyperlinked. I think it makes more sense and is, in the end, much easier for the user if all external links are clickable. What would it accomplish to remove their clickability? It would only make it harder on everyone, editors and readers alike. Josh W.
  2. Though I support this policy, I am against the automatic reversion of external link additions when unaccompanied by an article edit. Other than the fact that it might make it easier to keep the spam and low quality links out, isn't it possible that a good-faith editor will add a useful link and then, because of the systematic deletion of links when unaccompanied by article edits, it will be deleted? Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I think I better solution might be to check links before o.k.-ing them. When RC patrollers come across an article with only the addition of an external link, they should check the link for validity (via a separate browser tab/window, or the Cooliris program Axiom recommended in the forums). We should prevent edits because we don't want to go through the trouble of checking the links. Josh W.
  3. I like the idea of replacing the external links section, but usually, articles are more helpful with external links that weren't necessarily sources for the article content, and aren't citations either. I think a sources and citations section (SCS) could work in conjunction with the external links section (ELS). The SCS would, of course, be placed above the ELS. The ELS would simply act as a supplement to the SCS. For example, the Solve a Sudoku article (a former FA and SA), includes links to different sudoku puzzle sites, leagues, solvers, etc. that didn't necessarily have any information that would be considered a source (and therefore bears no need for citation). While I do think links should be sifted through to find the best and most helpful, I don't think we should only link to article sources. Again, I may be misunderstanding. Is the SCS meant to contain supplemental links as well as the actual sources for the article? If so, the name is a tad misleading—the definition of "source" is nonambiguous as far as I'm concerned. Josh W.

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