Wikiquote talk:Quotability

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Good start, but loose ends


BD has made a good start, but there are still quite a few loose ends.

  • We have enough problems with "notable", let alone "very notable, moderately notable, barely notable. We often use the criterion that there is a WP article. We can't say that there is very, moderately or barely an article. (We could say "is the article a stub", but that seems a poor guide.) This could be important if there is a BLP issue - the quote is justifiable if the person is famous; he's famous in Britain but not America.
  • Do we mean notable or famous? There are plenty of people who are notable without being famous, such as (at least in England) top judges and civil servants, Oxford professors, some top businessmen. And people may be much more famous in some countries than others.
  • Narrow and mundane: there's a new article hippopotamus, which is not far from porcupine but most of the quotes there (I declare an interest) are high quality and by people notable by any standard. Would a collection of that standard about porcupines be acceptable?
  • Do we distinguish between quotes by and about the subject: would we demand the same standard for a quote by Tchaikovsky about Brahms in the Tchaikovsky article as in the Brahms article? Again, this could make a difference in BLP cases.
  • "It may be a very difficult and very subjective determination to say that one quote is "quotable" while another is not." Having been thinking about this for close to a year, I'm convinced that it's impossible to get agreement, even among friends (and I hope all the regulars are friends).
  • Notability of person: suppose there is a famous quote that is generally accepted as originating from an otherwise little-known person. Would we refuse to have an article about that person? Could we argue that the quote suffices to make the person notable for our purposes?

So well done BD2412, and I hope we can sort out my points.--Poetlister 17:57, 20 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

    • That's quite a bit of food for thought. I am thinking of notability in terms of fame more than impact or influence. With respect to the level of notability, I can't enunciate a clear test (perhaps someone else can do a better job with that), but there are certainly people who are highly notable in an almost universal sense of both fame and impact (Mahatma Gandhi, George Washington, Simon Bolivar), and there are, on the other hand, people of limited notability (Kathy Griffin, Thomas Gold, Dan Gable). Among the people of limited notability, some are at least noted for what they say (e.g. Griffin) or write, as opposed to mathematical or athletic ability.
    • With regard to the narrow and mundane, I would have no objection to an article on porcupines if there were a collection of particularly clever or meaningful quotes (I suspect there are). The hippopotamus entry is an example of that - not a grand theme, but the quotes are good. However, a quote by Dan Gable expressing his opinion on porcupines in terms that are not particularly clever or meaningful would not gain entry (under either the person or the theme). A much better argument could be made for the same observation coming from Gandhi. The point of this portion of the proposal is that a quote on a broader subject is more likely to be sufficiently quotable to merit inclusion on a person's page.
    • Regarding the quotes by versus about the subject being on the author's page versus the subject's page, I think each evaluation has to be done independently. There may be circumstances where, for example, Shakespeare says something about porcupines which is just not worth mentioning in the Shakespeare page, but which could be included in the page on porcupines simply because it's a quote on porcupines coming from Shakespeare. The same applies to a quote on Brahms coming from Tchaikovsky - maybe it belongs on one page but not the other. For example, if Tchaikovsky names seven or eight major influences (or composers he thinks are over-rated), and Brahms is among them, it's not really so much "about" Brahms. Conversely, if Tchaikovsky said something pointed about Brahms, it may deserve to go on the Brahms page, but may for some reason not belong on the Tchaikovsky page. Of course, both Brahms and Tchaikovsky are highly notable (in my book, at least), so it's a different level of inquiry than if Dan Gable had something to say about Thomas Gold.
    • Now, about the "single quote" making one notable for our purposes, my mind instantly flashes to "Don't tase me, bro!". On the other hand, there are people like William Pitt (ship-builder), whose single work is recollected in volumes down through the ages, which is where the test of time comes in, and perhaps examination of the quality of the quote itself. I know there will be qualms about weighing the quality of a quote, and I think that's just sort of a gut-check thing that we have to do. Certainly there is no quality to "Don't tase me, bro!" other than the freak incidence of it being bandied about in the national consciousness for a few weeks.
    • I don't know if that is helpful, but I'll keep working on language to address these. Cheers! BD2412 T 19:36, 20 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

The Tchaikovsky quotation I was thinking of is "I have played over the music of that scoundrel Brahms. What a giftless bastard!" [1] (Possibly not a reliable source, but I can source it better. That link gives two equally unflattering comments from G. B. Shaw, undoubtedly a notable person.) Something with actual BLP implications is Beecham's comment on Stockhausen, who was still alive when I added it to both articles.[2] [3] Given that it is by a notable person about another one and is snappy and memorable, could we exclude it? --Poetlister 12:23, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

  • What I'm really aiming for with some of those restrictions is to avoid the Chip Berlett type of controversy which we've had raging this past week. Hence, living person of minor notability makes a run-of-the-mill criticism of other living person of minor notability = no include. City councilman Joe Schmo says something biting and nasty about his least favorite 2008 presidential (or congressional) candidate, it doesn't come in. But deceased famous composer happened to say something cleverly insulting about other deceased famous composer? Include as you wish! And as for living famous composer versus living famous composer (I'd require someone to be ten years dead to get out of the recentism hurdle) it depends how noteworthy each is, and how witty and original the quote. BD2412 T 12:39, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

Of course, the elephant in the room, Mr. Berlet. But is he of minor notability? What would happen if you moved to delete his WP article on the grounds of limited notability? Any number of people would come along and say that he's extremely notable. I think that quote by Tchaikovsky about Brahms is just obnoxious, not cleverly anything. And in his own circle, Thomas Gold is very notable indeed; see how relative notability is?--Cato 22:35, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

  • I think there has to be a difference between notability for encyclopedic purposes and notability for quote compendium purposes - perhaps it is best expressed as notability derived from what the subject has said rather than what the subject has done, or even for the subject's mundanely expressed views. Now, granted, if Thomas Gold says something that strikes us as a particularly good comment, we should include it, especially if he's talking about something in the field for which he is an authority. But if Thomas Gold expresses his opinion that Brahms is a poor composer (or a great one), there is much less interest to be derived therefrom (much like the example of the greengrocer versus the pro golfer panning televised golf above) - unless, of course, Gold's criticism is unusually eloquent. BD2412 T 00:48, 22 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

Not very manageable: lack of structure


I'd suggest to split this into chunks, e.g. paragraphs with specific topics, to make the discussion possible.

Absolutism vs relativism


Quotability, notability, neutrality are all absolutist concepts. They assume a universal reality, shared by and imposed on everybody. This is a metaphysical, dubious, and anachronistic assumption. What makes it popular is that once you take something for universally obvious (common sense etc.), you don't need anymore to maintain or take any care of its context of relevance. This is why the relativistic approach is more scientific, more honest, and more responsible. So, there should be different criteria for quotability in different contexts, for different uses. Not only one common sense criterion that quotes must be this or that (funny, short, famous, whatever). Marc Girod 09:33, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

  • That's why I've tried to frame everything as factors, rather than elements. Each factor is a possible weight on one end of the scale or the other, which allows for different factors to come to the fore depending on the context. BD2412 T 12:41, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
    • Also would this be only for non-fiction quotes. I do believe there should be a different criteria for non-fiction vs. fictional quotes. Many of the criteria outlined by BD2412 does not make sense in a fictional context. With that said I do like that there is some tackling of, in my opinion, excessive use of WQ for religious, political or ideological attack pages. Yes, the world isn't all fluffy bunnies and yes, I under stand that not everyone is going to garner a perfect balance of positive or negative quotations from or about them. However, whenever a page is universally negative about an active topic (be it an ancient one such as Islam or a recent one such as Rush Limbaugh) then there should be some brakes applied to err on the side of propriety. I do not deny that the topics are notable and relevant but at some point in the negative commentary it just has to be said enough is enough. Also, just to head off a possible line of attack by future commentators, do not make the mistake of thinking I chose those two topics for any reason other than the one I stated. Do the research first. -- Greyed 21:24, 22 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
      • By fictional quotes I take it you mean quotes from movies/TV shows? I'll bite on that - there is no such thing as a fictional quote. Those quotes are different from the norm only in that the author is a screenwriter, and we only see them as they are being uttered by actors portraying fictional characters. Think about how we class Shakespeare and other ancient playwrights. However, it is easier to put all the quotes from The Simpsons, for example, on a page for that show, rather than tracking down the particular screenwriter responsible for each particular line. If we had entries on the individual screenwriters, we would have to have some basis to evaluate their writings to determine which of the thousands of lines they write merit an entry here. BD2412 T 21:32, 22 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
        • Yes, quotes from works of fiction though I disagree with your distinction. -- Greyed 21:39, 22 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
          • Sorry for being elusive - yes, this proposal is only directed towards the propriety of including entries on actual persons, and including quotes that are by (or about) such persons. I do not propose to enter into the thicket of determining which novels, films, or TV shows are "quotable", or what lines from these sources merit inclusion. Should there be a disclaimer to this effect to the page? BD2412 T 19:10, 24 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
            • The more we deal with the different issues the more I think they should be separate projects (tongue firmly in cheek on that statement). But, yes, better to be clear when it comes to matters of policy than vague. -- Greyed 19:20, 24 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
          • If "this proposal is only directed towards the propriety of including entries on actual persons", shouldn't we change the name? The current one suggests that the proposal is to do with quotability, not protecting vociferous living people.--Cato 23:07, 24 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
            • Two things on that. First, it is not aimed solely at "living" people, but to people, generally, living or dead. Living people just get more scrutiny, but even someone who died a thousand years ago must be sufficiently notable and quotable to merit an entry (although the very fact their quotes are still known after a thousand years weighs heavily in favor of inclusion). Second, we do need a policy of some kind for determining whether a particular book, film, or TV show is at all "quotable", and for determining what excerpts from such a work merit inclusion. When we do put down the guidelines for these purposes, they should make up another section of this page. BD2412 T 23:59, 24 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

Criterion of quoting frequency


Instead of trying to predict a hypothetical future, with a concept of quotability, one would like to measure how often quotes are quoted. For that, one needs to first represent them, at a meaningful grain. One should not attempt to anticipate other people's needs to pick some quotes, but maybe expose dynamically the most quoted sentences, or the ones quoted from certain points of view. Decouple the maintenance from the presentation. Marc Girod 09:47, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

  • If you mean that oft-quoted phrases are more likely "quotable", I definitely agree. BD2412 T 12:43, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
    • I mean that "quotable" should be based on "quoted", meaning that it shouldn't drive whether it is acceptable or not to WikiQuote: everything should be, so that it might get quoted, out of which one might decide whether it becomes quotable, which could be taken into consideration for presentation purposes. Marc Girod 13:40, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
      • We should include everything that is potentially quotable to see what sticks? If a quote worth quoting is already published somewhere, it will get out without our prodding (and besides would we not still have to separate out all the inane stuff that will never be worth quoting?) BD2412 T 17:08, 21 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
        • You got my point. And that's right, I don't mean to proactively generate all the possible sequences of characters to see which ones make enough of sense to get quoted. Just to rely ultimately upon inertia and laziness, and possibly spam filters or the like, to limit the amount of data. Marc Girod 15:33, 22 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
        • For recent non-fiction, no. I think that a certain amount of caution need be applied. For recent fiction, yes, I say there should be a certain amount of spaghettism. The reason being is that in the case of fiction what becomes timeless, what catches the fancy of the culture is based on a whim. When the non-fiction is recent what is timeless and what is not is hard to judge. Throw it up there and review it as time passes. After a while the stuff that didn't catch the whim will become apparent and be removed. Note that isn't to say that the inane cannot be distinguished from potentially good. The inane should be culled with extreme prejudice. As for non-fiction I prefer a tad more caution because of the tendency for people to push agendas or use WQ as attack pages. "Well, it was said last week, here's the cite!" We don't know if it is relevant and won't know for a few years. It could catch the whims, it could fall to the wayside. But since there is the potential for harm caution and reservation should prevail. -- Greyed 21:31, 22 January 2008 (UTC)Reply



OK, I've compiled porcupine with some help from Kalki.--Poetlister 14:47, 29 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

That's a good collection. :-) BD2412 T 16:17, 29 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
In reflection, that's exactly the kind of entry I'd like this policy to encourage. How can we improve the policy to make clear what we are aiming for? BD2412 T 21:32, 29 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
Careful - next we'll have articles on lunch meat and that new car smell. Seriously, we could say something along the lines of "Editors are encouraged to pick any topic and construct an article about it that includes high quality quotes from notable people." That still fails to define high quality quotes, of course.--Cato 22:49, 29 January 2008 (UTC)Reply
Therein lies the rub. I'm not at all concerned (at this point) with defining what makes a good theme for an article; I am, however, entirely concerned with what makes a person worthy of having their own article, or worthy of having anything they have said recorded for posterity - and if the person is not inherently notable, what makes a quote inherently worthy of such recordation. While we may well have broad standards for inclusion, a glance at the mountains of garbage that have been swept out via AfD shows that standards do exist. The question, then, is how to articulate them! BD2412 T 22:55, 29 January 2008 (UTC)Reply

Quotes by scientists


Here's an interesting example someone's just added [4]. It's very famous for its content, not for the resonance of the words.--Poetlister 19:15, 10 February 2008 (UTC)Reply

I love this draft generally. It looks me clear. However on this point I am bit unclear. "poets, writers and other literature" vs "scientists" - well both examples are clear, but how about philosophers? That is my questions. Some of their sayings are very known (like "God is dead" by Nietsche or "Monades have no window" by Leibniz) but there are also not known perhaps for the ordinary readership but very significant in the history of ideas and known among scholarly world (at least so I understand) like "Ich nenne eine Erkentniss transcendental, sofern ... (omitted, and sorry I have no English copy right now)" by Kant for example. And it may be the case of other humanities. They are fairly included thanks to significance of their content as well as other scientists? --Aphaia 23:28, 10 February 2008 (UTC)Reply
Let me clarify my thought process on this. People who are trying to say or write something that is memorable for the quality of the words used are simply more likely to say something "quotable" than people trying to convey a scientific or technical concept. If the non-technical concept is blase or well-worn (e.g. the 8,000th love poem), then we look to the quality of the words alone. If the technical concept is sufficiently important, than the words used by the originator will derive their importance from the concept itself. BD2412 T 02:39, 11 February 2008 (UTC)Reply

I appreciate that a dichotomy between science ant literature is artificially oversimplified. Philosophy is usually nearer science, but not always.--Poetlister 21:10, 11 February 2008 (UTC)Reply

I see. And I think I can understand the benefit to keep this document as concise as we can. Details may come later people become familiar with the project. --Aphaia 19:23, 12 February 2008 (UTC)Reply
I think the important dichotomy here is not so much the specific fields at issue but whether the authors coming from those fields are likely to be aiming to turn a memorable phrase. Philosophers, maybe more so than physicists. BD2412 T 01:28, 13 February 2008 (UTC)Reply

Age of the author as a factor?


Should we give greater weight to quotes made at an older age, when time has had the opportunity to let wisdom sink in? I ask because we are routinely skeptical (with good reason) when we see an entry added for someone born in, say, 1983. I think quotes uttered at a younger age should face stricter scrutiny for entry. BD2412 T 15:25, 3 March 2008 (UTC)Reply

I don't know that it should be used as a direct qualifier, but it often comes into play indirectly - when someone is young, it is much less likely that he or she has done or said something something notable. But there just may be the odd young person who does something or says something that is noteworthy. I wouldn't want to automatically exclude anyone just because he or she is young, but rather because they are obscure. ~ UDScott 15:33, 3 March 2008 (UTC)Reply
Well, none of these are automatic exclusions, they are just weights on one end of the scale or the other. I would bet that William Shakespeare didn't have much worth quoting to say before he hit his mid-twenties. BD2412 T 17:29, 3 March 2008 (UTC)Reply
Keats was writing highly quotable stuff in his teens, and Lewis Carroll's early stuff is not without merit. Wordsworth wrote precious little worth quoting in the last 30 years of his life. Let's just treat each case on its merits.--Poetlister 13:02, 4 March 2008 (UTC)Reply

Some observations


As a newcomer (prospective member really) I have a few observations on these evolving standards. I offer them for your consideration as potentially useful suggestions, and also to gauge whether Wikiquote's evolving mission fits my own interests.

  1. Quality - The preamble to Wikiquote is a fine statement of intent with bearing on quality. Notwithstanding that it is indeed very difficult to be prescriptive about something so subjective, I think the present "witty, pithy, wise, eloquent, or poignant" is a fine beginning that ought to be expanded and given greater prominence.
  2. Structure - I think the general characterization of quality ought not be structurally subordinate to "by or about." Where specific sections make qualifications or exceptions they should be relative to a main section. That said, "who said it" is indeed a major determinant, especially when it is seminal, insightful, or even surprising.
  3. A "smell test" - Quotations by their very nature are taken out of context. It would be wise to point this out in the policy because so much remarkably unremarkable material is apparently added without considering whether "you had to be there."
  4. Memorialization - The presumption that every theatrical release contains memorable dialog is correct in the sense that those who saw it may well remember, particularly where it is reminiscent of a plot point or character trait, but many productions really have nothing that passes the you had to be there test. The Wikiquote community may have a purpose in memorializing such lines, but I would apply another smell test: "Would a reviewer quote this as an indication of merit in the work?"
  5. Verifiability - I fully endorse the draft policy. Were a quote not sourced nor reliably attributed, I should look the fool to use it.

Being a newcomer, I am not so bold as to step on the community's policy draft. I may offer more substantive contribution if there is compatibility between my inclinations and the trend of community consensus. ~ Ningauble 22:14, 13 September 2008 (UTC)Reply

  • Very good points, especially regarding the 'smell test' and memorialization. A quote from a film should, generally, stand on its own, with little need for exposition. An exception might be a particularly famous or oft-quoted line. Someone who is totally unfamiliar with Casablanca might draw a blank if told, "Here's looking at you, kid", but the quote is still culturally significant. Other quotes, even from the same film, may not be. BD2412 T 02:36, 15 September 2008 (UTC)Reply
BD2412 did a great service by getting this guideline started, and it is already a valuable resource. However (surely you knew there was going to be a however here), I still believe that much of what is currently covered under Quotes by or about individuals should be hoisted into the lede and/or a first section about what makes a particular choice of words quotable.
I think the current guidance for Quotes from specific forms of media under-prescribes because the best bits of guidance about what makes a quote quotable are found in a section that applies to persons, and expressly not to works. Aside from some generalizations about expectations for various media and genre, the only real guidance here is to try to discern memorability. Someone who is very interested in a work may find every bit of it memorable (even for reasons that have little to do with the words themselves). Without some relatively more objective guidance for looking at the words from a perspective beyond the context of the work, applying this guideline to remove indiscriminate contributions must at times seem like arbitrary discrimination.
I also think the guidance on media over-generalizes, or rather, over-emphasizes generalities. It is worth noting general expectations for different media and genre, but exceptions abound (in both directions) and the important issue is discerning what makes something quotably exceptional.
(As an aside: McLuhan may overstate the case that "the medium is the message", but his ideas give some insight into problems we face with audio-visual media and interactive media. For some contributors, it seems that the message of the medium so dominates their perception that they fail to appreciate what is lost when words are not only re-contextualized outside the work but re-mediated as text.)
Speaking of over-generalizing, the foregoing remarks may or may not be constructive criticisms but they are certainly not constructing alternatives. I will draft some suggestions for the lede and primary section. ~ Ningauble 20:06, 11 August 2009 (UTC)Reply
Fantastically said, Ningauble: "For some contributors, it seems that the message of the medium so dominates their perception that they fail to appreciate what is lost when words are not only re-contextualized outside the work but re-mediated as text." This is a huge difficulty with quotability that's here at Wikiquote. If this could be incorporated into the guideline somehow, I believe it would be fruitful; it's so concisely said that it may jar some contributors into understanding. However, it would have to be slightly reworded (i.e., remove the "for some contributors" and make it more objective, so it doesn't sound slightly derisive). Peace and Passion ("I'm listening....") 20:34, 11 August 2009 (UTC)Reply
Perhaps this needs to be divided into two different policy initiatives then. The basic premise of the page should be, what is it that makes an individual quote quotable irrespective of the media in which it appears. The question of whether a particular movie, book, or theme is deserving of a page could be a matter for a different policy discussion. BD2412 T 20:29, 12 August 2009 (UTC)Reply
If guidance on quotability of quotes is effective[conjecture] then determining what merits a standalone page almost[weasel words] takes care of itself. Some caveats about different media and genres, perhaps less extensive than what was recently removed (yikes!), could be useful here.~ Ningauble 18:02, 13 August 2009 (UTC)Reply
Something along the lines of recognizing that a quote from a popular film in wide release may be more quotable than the same from an obscure webcomic? BD2412 T 22:14, 13 August 2009 (UTC)Reply

Limited Quotes


Where does it say that Unit quotes are not allowed and what makes Star Wars The Clone Wars limited to only a few quotes?(Dennys 17:54, 13 May 2009 (UTC))Reply

I think you are looking for Wikiquote:Limits on quotations. Cheers! BD2412 T 05:51, 14 May 2009 (UTC)Reply

Length of quotes


Can we please (I'd be bold, but I'm a little scared of touching a guideline) put a fairly strongly worded sentiment in the section "Length of quotes" against having whole scene transcriptions in film articles, and huge chunks of dialogue?

Whole scenes from movies, or large chunks of dialogue from them are rarely quotable. While they may seem "exciting" or "readable," they are nonetheless not quotable, and really provide only a method for fans of the film to vicariously re-live watching it. When including dialogue from a film, it is often possible to take out one character's statement as a quote of its own; if this is possible, it is preferred. Often, if this isn't possible, the interchange lacks significant quotability. A pop-culture example of this is from Gone with the Wind:
Scarlett: No! I only know that I love you.
Rhett: That's your misfortune.
Scarlett: Oh, Rhett! Rhett! Rhett, Rhett! Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?
Rhett: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
Of this scene, much dialogue could be included, but the only piece of it that has really entered the pop-culture lexicon is "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Dialogue only ought be included when the interchange is quotable, terse, and/or pithy on its own (as well as understandable):
For example,
Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?
Morpheus: You've never used them before.
is meaningful, sharp, understandable, and even beyond that, has some "philosophical" quotability. Its delivery necessitates the use of dialogue.
Plot revelations and other story-related statements are typically not quoteworthy for the general Wikiquote audience unless the words themselves mean something outside of the immediate context. Dialogue sections often stem from this: remember, we collect words that stand on their own, not just important plot points from stories. One exception to this is if some particular interchange in a film became exherently famous; thus, while it may not be quotable in the traditional sense, it is still significant (and therefore quotable, as it has been oft quoted). Such dialogue can come from frequent media usage, references in other sources, or even from a piece of material that is often parodied. An example of this is Kirk's exclamation "Khhhhaaaaaaaan!!!" from Star Trek:The Wrath of Khan. While not quotable by any traditional standards, the exclamation has entered the pop-culture lexicon as a frequently alluded to and oft-parodied "quote."

PS: Credit where it's due: Part of this is taken from JeffQ's EDP

Peace and Passion ("I'm listening....") 23:00, 30 August 2009 (UTC)Reply
Thinking about it, maybe I'll just be bold.
Peace and Passion ("I'm listening....") 23:01, 30 August 2009 (UTC)Reply
I think it's an excellent addition. My concern is less about quotes from films and TV than about excerpts from speeches and lengthy essays and the like. (Go to Noam Chomsky and scroll maybe a quarter of the way down the page for an example of what concerns me). BD2412 T 00:59, 31 August 2009 (UTC)Reply
Wow; that's beastly! Those would be pages of printed material! When I have more time, I'll try and help you with this guideline. :) . . . Maybe we can split the "Length of Quotes" into two subsections, so we can separately address the issue you have, and the film issue (which is also serious!).
Peace and Passion ("I'm listening....") 03:07, 31 August 2009 (UTC)Reply



I am thinking of adding a section mandating originality of the quote with the author. That is to say, if subject "A" authors a clever quote, and this quote is recited or paraphrased by "B", then the quote does not belong on the page for "B" unless the paraphrasing actually changed the quality or import of the quote enough to constitute a separate act of authorship. BD2412 T 21:15, 23 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

Fine, I think current practice reflects an existing consensus to do this, except when quoting unoriginal usage or plagiarism in order to correctly attribute a widespread misattribution. (I recall a recent discussion in which someone argued, essentially, that "if he said it then it's a quote," regardless of originality. In that case there are many brilliant quotes that could be attributed to such persons as, e.g., yours truly – a position that makes no sense.) As with other aspects of quotability discussed above, I think this should apply to productions as well as to persons.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery(don't quote me on that) – let us not flatter the mere flatterers, especially those who flatter themselves by not giving credit where credit is due. ~ Ningauble 16:15, 24 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
I should mention that I was motivated to think of this by the discussion at Wikiquote:Votes for deletion/Dr. Leigh-Davis; one of the "quotes" asserted for the supposed subject was "I believe in me" - one that, of course, has been around for decades. Had the subject used "myself" instead of "me", this trivial change would have made no change in the import of the quote (and would probably have made it less interesting, to boot). There are also endless instances in films of video games of one character assuring the other that they will be defeated ("I will kill/crush/destroy/annihilate/eliminate/beat you"), all of which are so derivative that they can't reasonably be called original quotes. BD2412 T 19:49, 24 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
Speaking of video games, there are some articles such as Rome: Total War and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri that contain large numbers of quotes attributable to historical figures. I don't think quoting re-quoters like this is appropriate,[5] but there appears to be some dissent.[6] The same thing happens to a lesser degree in film and television articles, usually without attribution. I appreciate that such quotes contribute to the interest of these works, but it is not really Wikiquote's purpose to exhibit such qualities. Associating famous quotes, which are widely repeated by definition, with works or persons that repeat them runs counter to the core principles of traditional compendia of quotations.

This is separate from the more subjective issue raised by BD2412 about things that are too ordinary to be called original quotes (which is the bane of so many articles), and is an issue on which I think we can and should draw a bright line. ~ Ningauble 14:44, 26 October 2011 (UTC)Reply

I am still dubious about that. If a game features a quote-spouting famous historic figure as a character, or provides a quote from such a figure, the quote is still original to the historical figure, not to the game. BD2412 T 16:13, 26 October 2011 (UTC)Reply
Re-reading my previous post I see that it could be taken as somewhat equivocal, but that was not my intent. I meant that although the quotes add value to the games, "quoting" the games quoting others does not add value to Wikiquote. While the question of just how original something is can sometimes be debatably subjective, in these cases the answer is incontestably objective: not original at all. These quotes do not belong in articles about the games. ~ Ningauble 16:33, 27 October 2011 (UTC)Reply
I apologize, I misread your intent. I think we all agree, then, that where a work merely repeats a quote, that quote should not be included on the page for that work. BD2412 T 18:58, 27 October 2011 (UTC)Reply

Tweets, blogs, chatrooms, &c.


I do not think we should be including quotes from such places unless they are notably quoted in reliable sources outside the chattersphere.

I have no problem with contributor judgment, subject to consensus, in selecting quoteworthy passages from sufficiently notable works, lest we sacrifice a lot of good literary quotes and at least 90% of film and TV quotes (although the latter might be a good thing!). However, I think that, in general, if notability of the work is not demonstrable in reliable sources then quotability of the quote ought to be. Otherwise, we assume every public utterance of a notable person is inherently worth memorializing for posterity as long as it appeals to some nobody like me.

For tweets, blogs, chatrooms, and other such open venues, I believe the general idea is particularly applicable. Some examples of articles with this type of content are John Byrne, Luboš Motl, Yoko Ono, Quotes about Ron Paul, Rob Pike, David Shuster, Kevin Smith, and Linus Torvalds. I do not think we are in a position to judge whether these things would be quotable if they were quoted when we don't know who does quote them. All I can judge is whether I'd quote it or not. ~ Ningauble 17:36, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

I completely agree. A quote from a film or television show (and often even from a novel) has already passed several levels of writers, editors, or producers to get there in the first place, but a tweet or a blog post is just a person's brain splaying out onto the internet. As I have suggested in a few deletion discussions, the test is not whether "foo said 'X'", but whether someone would want to quote foo as having said 'X' in a decade or a century. At least a secondary source limitation on tweets, blogs, and the like requires a showing that someone with editorial judgment has deemed the quote to be worth reciting. BD2412 T 21:10, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
I strongly DISAGREE. I believe that in recent months far too few people, far more involved in narrowing the options available here, and in constructing "policies" to restrict and constrain others than most users actually are, are becoming far too authoritarian, dictatorial and absolutist as to what everyone else can or cannot enter onto the pages as significant and interesting quotes. Though often of strong and definite opinions as to how I myself should act or proceed, and what I prefer, beyond such minimal rules and strictures as are necessary to conform with legal mandates, I have always tended to advocate malleable guidelines rather than absolutist or restrictions upon people. I believe it is vital to the growth of this project, to place minimal constraints on the options available in expressing their preferences and contending about them in situations where necessary conflicts might arise, without a reliance upon or promotion such absolute constraints that are often treated as absolute mandates, when they actually are often devised by ONLY a very few people, seeking to make an absolute and permanent codification and sanctification of their own preferences, rather than allowing more organic growth and variations, in accord with a great diversity of tastes and tendencies. I truly hope that most people here are rightfully not strongly interested in paying a great deal of time or effort to the formation of rules and regulations to restrict others needlessly, because frankly I consider it an unhealthy disposition. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 21:44, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
There is an entire universe of content that we can and should bring into Wikiquote before we need to descend to the task of quoting tweets and blog posts that no one else has seen fit to quote. We have not even finished importing the few hundred remaining quotes from the 1919 edition of Bartlett's, nor the thousands of quotes (handily organized by topic, no less) in the 1922 edition of Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations, now being hosted for our benefit by Wikisource. BD2412 T 23:01, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
There is an entire universe of content that we can and should bring into Wikiquote before we need to descend to the task of making absolutist rules EXCLUDING much, such as ONLY a few people desire. Wikis were designed to allow MAXIMAL participation within general project guidelines — NOT maximal control and constraint on what could be added as determined by any particular preferences and assumptions of ONLY a few people. I obviously am averse to making absolute rules generally, but I am especially opposed to letting only a very few people make up rules that absolutely constrain what others can do, now and in the future. There is certainly room for a strong appeal to many people for more material — far more than there is an NEED apparent for more restrictive RULES than those which I frankly believe have already become far too prescriptive. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 23:40, 26 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
For once I have to agree with Kalki, at least in result if not in rhetoric. There's an entire new form of publication here -- one in which, notably for our purposes, quotation is extremely common -- and we would be ill advised to declare it off limits. I can certainly see the potential for abuse here, but I continue in my long-standing belief that Wikiquote should concern itself solely with the notability of the subject, not of the venue. Quotations that don't stand the test of time will eventually take care of themselves (or rather, our grandchildren will take care of them for us) after they have had the opportunity to be so tested. 121a0012 01:25, 27 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
We potentially open ourselves up to a flood of drivel that drowns out content of actual use to someone. Do we need to wait for a generation to decide that Lindsay Lohan tweeting that she failed her drug test, or Paris Hilton opining by Twiter that a handbag is "hot" does not merit inclusion? BD2412 T 15:34, 27 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
I think we can make decisions about those on the basis of their substance (or lack thereof), without prejudging the forum in which they appeared. Most tweets will fail substance tests (originality, distinctiveness, "pithiness") simply because the form doesn't allow much in the way of actual content, but there are enough Stephen Frys out there that we shouldn't be eager to completely write off the medium. (On the other hand, the two current candidates on that page don't seem particularly good examples either.) 121a0012 02:30, 29 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
The problem with directly quoting tweets and blogs is not just that the tend to lack substance, but that we are applying our own judgment as to their quoteworthiness with no affirmation from a third party. At least where CNN reports that Ashton Kutcher tweeted foo, we can point to the CNN article to support the contention that what Kutcher tweeted was deemed quoteworthy (or newsworthy) by CNN, and not merely by some fan of Kutcher who finds every one of his tweets to be profound. BD2412 T 20:15, 29 September 2010 (UTC)Reply
<edit conflict>
But there's the rub, on 121a0012's other hand. Who is going to remove them when some contributor evidently thought they were quoteworthy? We already have "quality of the quote" and "fame of the quote" in the guideline, but these are being trumped by notability of the author. Holding discussions to reach consensus on whether each individual bit of chatter is trivial would be a recipe for wasting a great deal of time on trivialities.

No one is proposing to put these new media off limits, but I am striving for a way to make "who actually quotes this?" a more significant consideration when the quoted work is not itself notable. Perhaps "quoted in reliable sources outside the chattersphere" is too strong a requirement, but simply saying "nobody quotes your blog" is not going to cover things that are repeated only in a small, insular echo-chambers (not to mention puppet theatres).

Can we at least add some sort of wishy-washy indication that, even when the author is notable, fame of the quote is a particularly significant consideration for tweets, blog posts, chatroom messages, and other self-published sources that are not independently notable? ~ Ningauble 20:21, 29 September 2010 (UTC)Reply

TWIT: (noun) someone who "tweets" on Twitter™, e.g. ~ Ningauble 15:15, 14 November 2011 (UTC)Reply
I completely agree with your above proposition. Most quotes published go through some kind of filter, whether it be an editor or a journalist. Tweets and blogs are merely stuff someone said, without indicia of another finding that to be quoteworthy. BD2412 T 17:05, 14 November 2011 (UTC)Reply
I strongly DISAGREE. Assuming that a sufficiently notable person has "followers" to whom the "tweets" are published, and that some of these are significant commentaries of the notable person's opinions which such people might be interesting in quoting — I would NOT exclude these from clear sources of notable comments. I certainly don't promote extensive quotation of the common mundanities anyone might regularly reveal, but I don't believe many people other than trolls and the most cretinous of people would actually do that, and such can be contested directly — I do NOT believe in giving people further rules by which to exclude comments which might indeed be notable, quotable and profound, but originate in "tweets" on twitter or other forums — such quotes have been used, often ARE widely quoted, and can be contested without a prior blanket disapproval. ~ Kalki (talk · contributions) 17:33, 14 November 2011 (UTC) + tweaksReply
There is an illustrative example at Jack Thompson (attorney). This person is inarguably notable and, as stated in the article introduction, his views are cited in the media. Yet the article does not consist of such citations. Rather, it is a massive collection of chatroom banter and responses to blog comments. I strongly believe that we should not make it our business to document this sort of chatter, no matter how many people follow his discussions. Maybe I need a new catchphrase: "If it ain't quoted, it ain't quotable." ~ Ningauble (talk) 16:13, 10 July 2013 (UTC)Reply

NOTE: There is a discussion about blacklisting links to some of these quoted sites at Administrators' noticeboard#Blacklisted social networking sites[dead link]. ~ Ningauble (talk) 16:24, 18 December 2013 (UTC)Reply

Dead link? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 16:05, 19 November 2020 (UTC)Reply
The discussion has been archived to Wikiquote:Administrators' noticeboard/Archive/024#Blacklisted social networking sites. Cheers! BD2412 T 16:57, 19 November 2020 (UTC)Reply
Interesting old discussion which should probably be revisited in light of the President of the United States using it as his way of communicating with the American people. I shudder to think what will happen to the world when he claims his account has been hijacked, or accounts belonging to his adversaries get hijacked... Ottawahitech (talk) 08:09, 20 November 2020 (UTC)Reply

quotability for topical entries


This guideline is an excellent resource for pages about people, however it does not attempt to provide some quality control for quotation pages about topics. I have raised this omission at Wikiquote:Votes for deletion/Donkey punch. John Vandenberg 08:59, 14 February 2012 (UTC)Reply

  • Actually, the guideline does address entries on subjects in the section on "notability of the subject", noting that a narrow or obscure subject can be included if there are highly notable quotes on that subject. This section can be expanded and made to more clearly state that it applies to the existence of articles on a subject. BD2412 T 14:22, 14 February 2012 (UTC)Reply
    Sort of, but not really. As I mentioned previously, everything here is subordinate to the heading of "Quotes by or about individuals". This does not really cover quotations from fictions and collective works, such as are exemplified in the above linked case in point. I doubt that John's suggestion in that VfD for a separate section about topical pages (a.k.a "Themes") is the best approach. I still feel that most of the criteria of quotability should apply to all quotes, and that the number of criteria needing special attention with respect to personal source and subject are relatively few. ~ Ningauble 17:30, 14 February 2012 (UTC)Reply
    I agree that much of this quideline is applicable for themes as well. It is great that this guideline has been developed for people (esp. BLPs). Now we just need to agree on which parts are general, and then have a section for the aspects which are specific to people. John Vandenberg 07:50, 15 February 2012 (UTC)Reply
    I would like to know some clear reason why the ENTIRE discussion below this one, some of which was admittedly tangential, and occured a few hours ago, was suddenly marked as ARCHIVAL, and CLOSED, and treated AS IF it were ALL merely "tangential." I do not consider the statement (slightly revised for clarity), that : "My general view regarding "official rules" is that though a few simple ones, (ALWAYS explicitly provisional and open to discussion and revision), are usually necessary in most groups, the growth of MANY of them and thier devolution into MANDATED strictures, USUALLY serves the more clever of the DEVIOIUS, DECEITFUL, and MALICIOUS far more than the genuine interests of the weakest or strongest of the honorably honest and benevolent" was "merely tangential", but rather one quite central and CRUCIAL to the understanding of my opposition to the extension and creation of this and many other rules that arise within ANY group of people, over ANY amount of time, with ANY amount of force or provisionality or PRESUMPTION. ~ Kalki·· 08:33, 15 February 2012 (UTC) } tweaks +Reply
    P.S.: I actually consider the URGE to suppress information (which can be EXPECTED in response to MANY natural reactions of revulsion to THIS particular topic around which this discussion arose), to serve QUITE well the desire or aims of those who would like MORE restrictions GENERALLY, even on far more innocuous topics. I doubt that anyone involved is quite so clever as to have intended this to be a consequence of this discussion, but I can think that at least a couple of people, of DIVERSE views generally, might be somewhat pleased if that was the result of it — which I SINCERELY believe would be detrimental to the long term health of the project as a whole. ~ Kalki·· 08:44, 15 February 2012 (UTC) + tweaksReply
    Your comments below and immediately above are meta comments, voicing your general opposition to guidelines and casting aspersions against people on believe they are necessary and wish to expand them. I hate to break this news to you, but there is already a guideline here, and it is already quite detailed. Consequently, you are wasting your breath, and moreover you are hurting my eyes with your excessive use of bold, upper-case and symbols. John Vandenberg 15:17, 15 February 2012 (UTC)Reply
    Bear in mind that the subject of this thread concerns distinguishing between types of entries. Apart from the ad hominem remarks (which are entirely off-topic) the side discussion was digressive in two respects. Firstly, it delved into details of a case in point that do not have bearing on the question, such as whether a particular author is notable. This would be more appropriate at the vote on that case. Secondly, it included disquisitions on the nature and use of rules generally, without reference to the specific issue under discussion. To the extent this may relate to whether any guidance on quotability is appropriate, one might raise that question in a separate thread. I hope this clarifies why the entire discussion below was deemed tangential. ~ Ningauble 17:45, 15 February 2012 (UTC)Reply
  • I may take a stab at creating a separate draft for discussion by refactoring material in the existing article with respect to general relevance vs. relevance to persons. I might even do it in a day or two, rather than the two and a half years since I last said I would. ~ Ningauble 17:45, 15 February 2012 (UTC)Reply
    • I'd like to propose that such a draft should incorporate the proposition that I made in the VfD, that: there are many things which meet Wikipedia's notability criteria that are too narrow to justify quotation pages. There might be a handful of quotes to be assembled on Mink Cove, Nova Scotia, Victorian Railways R class, and Haplochromis, but it is unlikely that there are any notable quotes, and if there are they can almost certainly be fit into Canada, Trains and Fish. Cheers! BD2412 T 18:34, 15 February 2012 (UTC)Reply
      • That is a good point, and has come up in several cases. However, I want to avoid introducing too many changes of substance into a single proposal.

        Also, as discussed previously, suitability of page topics and quotability of individual statements are related but distinct issues. They need to be clearly distinguished, lest users conflate organizational issues with inclusion criteria (i.e. "it must be quotable because it's about an acceptable topic," and the converse, "it deserves a dedicated page because something quotable relates to it"). ~ Ningauble 19:31, 15 February 2012 (UTC)Reply

Tangental discussion about donkey punch


Merging in WQ:LOQ


I noticed we have a proposed guideline on placing limits on the number of quotes from non-PD works we can put on a page on Wikiquote. While it has been flashed around as "policy", the reason why I think people aren't following it and cramming too many quotes into one page, is because people aren't following Quotability. I actually think we should merge this with the Limits on Quotation guideline to make one, firm set of rules on what should be placed in a page on Wikiquote. Gloss over the legal aspects, and focus on ensuring that we only focus on the best quotes.

How do you think we should go about this? ViperSnake151 (talk) 20:08, 20 May 2012 (UTC)Reply

I have commented about a draft merger on its talk page. ~ Ningauble (talk) 18:00, 23 May 2012 (UTC)Reply

Reorganization offer


The introduction to this article says "This guideline addresses the notability and quality of quotes" without limitation. The first two sentences of the body say "The tests set forth below are directed only towards the propriety of including entries on actual persons, and including quotes that are by (or about) such persons. They are not intended to address the quotability of novels, films, or television shows, for which other criteria apply." Yet some of the text seems to have general applicability. Does anyone object to me starting to slowly reorganize this content to bring the body more in line with the introduction? (Each incremental change should be easily revertable.) Butwhatdoiknow (talk)

Hearing no objection .... Butwhatdoiknow (talk)

Should this page be policy?


See discussion at [8]. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 16:07, 2 May 2019 (UTC)Reply

No objection so far. Speak now or forever* hold your peace. (*Well, maybe "forever" is a little strong.) Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 06:00, 2 June 2019 (UTC)Reply
@Butwhatdoiknow: This page has had a grand total of 7 pageviews since October 29. I would say this is not a good communication tool for the wikiquote community. Just my $.02 Ottawahitech (talk) 08:00, 20 November 2020 (UTC)Reply
Thanks. I suspect there were more page views in May and June 2019 when I made these two posts. And, if my memory serves me right (it may not), I also posted something on the Village Post at that time. Regardless, the decision was made somewhere last summer to leave this page as a guideline for now. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 15:51, 20 November 2020 (UTC)Reply

Change in the intro


The intro has been changed from:

6. Has the quote stood the test of time?


6.Is the quote independently well known? Has it withstood, or is it likely to withstand, the test of time?

The good thing is that this change acknowledges the fact that some quotes are freshly minted, not historical quotes. But who can accurately predict if a quote is likely to withstand the test of time? Ottawahitech (talk) 18:34, 31 January 2021 (UTC)Reply

The guideline elaborates here: Wikiquote:Quotability#Endurance. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 23:15, 31 January 2021 (UTC)Reply