Wikiquote:Limits on quotations

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Exquisite-kfind.png This page is a proposed Wikiquote policy, guideline, or process.
The proposal may still be in development, under discussion, or in the process of gathering consensus for adoption. References or links to this page should not describe it as "policy".


To maintain the quality of our pages and to reduce the potential for copyright violation, we must place a number of limits on quotations.

Wikiquote, consisting of the words of notable people, is prone by its very nature to exceed fair use. A great deal of vigilance by our community of editors will be needed to keep articles within advisable limits, all the more so because these limits have proven difficult to define and are subject to much interpretation.

A Wikiquote article is a collection of quotations by subject. Its structure is not as evident as that of a Wikipedia article, where information is arranged to make a clear and coherent narrative. It is an all too natural temptation for our editors to add and never subtract. Instead of working together on selecting quotations for articles, editors will tend to keep adding until the dialogue of a television show, for example, comes close to being duplicated. Some contributors, as we have seen, appear to believe that duplication is the very purpose of Wikiquote. An article then becomes a sort of clubhouse for fans; and no quote, however trite or trivial, is omitted. Without limitations on the choices of quotations, we will end up with useless and valueless pages. Decisions about quality are often subjective, but this can be no reason for claiming that decisions should therefore not be made.

The standard for good quotations is that they are memorable, significant, well-expressed and concise. See Wikiquote:Quotability for a guideline to the selection of quotations.

The following sections deal with the limits we impose on quotations. In addition to these guidelines, quotations are subject to trimming or removal on the basis of quality.

General[edit]

Copyright vs. public domain[edit]

Works in the public domain are defined, for the scope of our guidelines, as coming from one of three sources:

  1. Works having been published before 1923; or having been published before 1963 if and only if affirmative evidence can be provided that the copyright expired and was not renewed.
  2. Government publications as well as the speeches of public officials on matters of policy or of public concern. This includes campaign speeches, statements made during Congressional hearings, and the content of judicial opinions.
  3. Works for which affirmative evidence can be provided that the copyright owner has expressly released the work into the public domain.

Sourced vs. unsourced quotes[edit]

See Wikiquote:Sourcing for guidelines on sourced quotes. Unsourced quotes will be removed from all articles. Adding unsourced quotes to articles will be reverted. A newly created page consisting of unsourced quotes will be nominated for deletion or given a PROD tag. For an already existing page, unsourced quotes that fail to meet standards of quality will be deleted. Any remaining unsourced quotes will placed on the article's discussion page. If all of the quotes on an existing page are unsourced, the page will be nominated for deletion.

Length of quotes[edit]

Inappropriately lengthy quotes will be trimmed or discarded, with a maximum of 250 words per quote, absent a consensus that exceptional circumstances exist (such as Abraham Lincoln's 272 word Gettysburg Address).

Exceptions[edit]

If a page is considered by an editor to have an unusually large number of memorable quotes (e.g., some movie classics), an appeal can be made to the community to allow an exception to the guidelines. A forum will be created for editors to make the case for a quote or an article which exceeds the limits for number or length of quotations. Each discussion will be limited to a standard time and will be decided by community consensus. Articles will be tagged to inform readers when a discussion is taking place.

Types of articles[edit]

Films[edit]

Five quotes maximum per hour, i.e., about one quote every 12 minutes. Quotes not assigned to specific characters are discarded. Recommended maximum length of quotes: seven lines by one character, ten lines of dialogue. Taglines do not count towards the total number of quotes.

Television[edit]

The number of allowable quotes will be determined by the total minutes of a program. The length of a program includes its commercials, or, for ad-free networks such as PBS or BBC, includes the length of advertising were it to exist. The maximum allowable amounts will be: one quote for a show less than half an hour long; two quotes for half an hour; five quotes for an hour; seven quotes for an hour and a half; ten quotes for two hours; and fifteen quotes for three hours. Quotes not assigned to specific characters are discarded. Recommended maximum length of quotes: seven lines by one character, ten lines of dialogue.

Online video[edit]

Videos posted exclusively for online viewing are similar to television shows in regards to quotable material. The number of allowable quotes will be determined by the total minutes of a program. The maximum allowable amounts will be: one quote for a show less than half an hour long; two quotes for half an hour; five quotes for an hour; seven quotes for an hour and a half; ten quotes for two hours; and fifteen quotes for three hours. Quotes not assigned to specific characters are discarded. Recommended maximum length of quotes: seven lines by one character, ten lines of dialogue.

Characters[edit]

Pages consisting only of unsourced quotes are nominated for deletion. Maximum numbers of quotes per guidelines to movies, TV shows, books, etc.

Spoken-word (speeches, standup comedy, interviews, etc.)[edit]

Five quotes maximum for any work not in the public domain.

Electronic games[edit]

Three quotes maximum per game. Recommended maximum length of quotes: seven lines by one character, ten lines of dialogue.

Record albums[edit]

A maximum of five fairly brief quotes (i.e, an average of four lines of verse apiece) per album.

Books[edit]

A recommended maximum of five lines of prose or eight lines of poetry for every ten pages of a book not in the public domain. This is equal to about 1.25% of the total content of a book.

People[edit]

Maximum numbers of quotes per guidelines to books, speeches, interviews, etc.

Themes[edit]

A person's name alone is insufficient for sourcing a quote, as it is no proof of the quote being genuine. Reference to a collection of quotations on another website, which provides only the person's name as a source, is equally insufficient. If no source can be found for a quote, it should be transferred to the article's discussion page. A page with nothing but unsourced quotes should be nominated for deletion. Anonymous quotes should only be allowed if a source is provided to show their currency.