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As it is the goal of BattleTechWiki to enable each Reader to find the original source for any fact found within an article, the proper citation of sources is critical and highly encouraged. This policy explains how to properly cite facts, provide references and list sources.
The method in which BattleTechWiki utilizes reference and bibliography sections differs somewhat from their application in the scholarly world.
Real World Uses
In scholarship, a reference may be a citation of a text that has been used in the creation of a piece of work such as an essay, report, or oration. Its primary purpose is to allow people who read such work to examine the author's sources, either for validity or to learn more about the subject. Such items are often listed at the end of an article or book in a section marked "Bibliography" or "References". A bibliographical section often contains works not cited by the author, but used as background reading or listed as potentially useful to the reader. A reference section contains all of the works and only those works cited by the author(s) in the main text.
On the BattleTechWiki project, references are used to collect both citations and notes relating to the presented text within an article, and displaying them in one on-page location, through linked shortcuts represented as superscripted numbers (ex: ). The location of these citations and notes are collected in the References section, generally located below subject-relevant material and above the Bibliography section.
The Bibliography section is used to list all known official sources of information regarding the article's subject, whether or not that source was used to develop the article. While the intention of BTW is to include all BattleTech information, it is understood that the task is daunting. The first step is always to provide information for follow-on Editors to seek out additional data to be included.
See Also sections are sometimes included within articles to point to other BattleTechWiki articles that relate in some form to the current one, providing more details on a subject than what is covered in the original. While they may be linked to within the text of the article, the articles listed within the See Also section have more than just a passing relationship to the original article (such as BattleMech does to Mad Cat), but one that is so closely tied that it may provide additional perspective (as Erdelmaine Randis does to Randis IV).
See Also sections, when used, are located below subject-relevant material, after a Notes section (if present) and before the References section.
Less commonly used than even See Also sections, External Links provide similar additional information on the related subject, but from an external source. The external source may or may not be official or canon, but it intended to provide more detail than the article either currently does or the official sources allow. It must be noted that while external links are vetted for appropriateness to the subject, their inclusion within articles does not indicate canonicity, officiality, or even thoroughness, but simply another source of potential information.
External Links sections, when used, are located below subject-relevant material, after the Notes and See Also sections (if present) and before the References section.
References are most probably one of the greatest points of value BattleTechWiki can provide a reader, as well as other Editors. As such, the greater the detail, the better the value. At the bare minimum, a reference provides the complete source from which the stated information comes.
While that does help readers, and follow-on Editors seeking to improve the article, narrow down the source from the hundreds of sources available to be researched, it still requires the verifier to spend additional time seeking out the specific references needed, which presumably the initial Editor had already done. Therefore, a reference with a title, a page number and a section heading would be geometrically more valuable.
Strategic Operations, pp. 41, "Moving Cargo"
Some Editors go even a step further, providing perspective that otherwise didn't fit into either the character of the article, but helps to explain the information further, or helps to link the information in a way that would otherwise be awkward in the text.
Strategic Operations, pp. 41, "Moving Cargo": This explains how maneuvering cargo in zero-G is more difficult than when attempted without specialized maneuvering devices
References do not require data on the author, date of publication, or publisher name & data, for that material is already centrally provided in the article written for the source itself. Wikilinks are also not used within references, for they are centrally located in the Bibliography section.
A type of reference to be avoided, but still rather common with older articles, are the manually-provided references directly written into the references section of the article. Many times, these are simply wikilinks to articles on sources, but sometimes they provide page numbers. Whenever possible, these references should be properly referenced into the text of the article and then deleted from the References section. Manually-provided references are not to be added to articles.
So, in summary, a complete references provides (in order): title, page(s), section heading: notes. Other forms of references are provided below (in XXXXXX).
Sometimes an Editor seeks to expand on a subject, without having to tie it into a source reference. This can be handles in one of two ways. The preferred method is using the reference code to 'hide' the material from the initial read-through, but linking to the expansion of material in the references section. In that case, the additional text is written in the same manner as the text to which it is tied (i.e., there is no mandated format, as there are for source references).
The second method is with a Notes section. This is located (when present) below subject-relevant material, but above any See Also, External Links or References sections. Though possibly similar to the discouraged Trivia sections on Wikipedia, Notes sections are a good way to step "out" of the in-universe character prevalent with most articles and provide background or additional information in a way that both highlights its existence better than the reference method and allows the reader to transition clearly from the in-universe to the real world material.
There are three types of codes used to display citations of references. The primary code is
<ref> </ref> , with the citation provided in the spaces between the > and <.
<ref> ''Strategic Operations'', pp. 41, "Moving Cargo" </ref>
</references> is what displays every citation using the reference in the article text. This code is emplaced directly under the References section heading (==References==), before any manually-provided citations.
Becoming more commonly used than in the past, the code
<ref name=> </ref> is used to group the same citation together, when it is used multiple times in an article. It is only appropriate when the source title, page numbers and headings are identical each time they are cited. When used, the citations are listed on one line in the References section (see the Brotherhood_of_Randis#References Brotherhood of Randis' References section for an example), with individual internal links back to each use in the text.
To use the ref name code, provide the code an appropriate name in the citation's first use, after the equal sign in the
<ref name=> code. Remember to close it out with the
</ref> code. Then, in following citations, use the
<ref name=/> code, with the name previously selected after the equal sign. Remember to include the slash (/) after the name in the code. No closing (
</ref>) code is necessary.