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For example, there are many answers that cite Wikipedia. An example is this recent answer where I quoted Wikipedia in the following manner:

The modern name has two parts: Plym and mouth. The element Plym is taken from the River Plym along which it traded with its parent settlement of Plympton, but its name (first recorded as Plymentun in c. 900) is considered to derive from the Old English word for 'plum tree', also ploumenn in Cornish, though the local civic association suggests an alternative derivation from the Celtic Pen-lyn-don ("fort at the head of a creek"). An alternative derivation is from Latin plumbum album 'British/white lead' -meaning tin - where plomm is also Cornish for lead.

Now, this is not exactly how the original text looks. The original Wikipedia article has footnotes referencing the source of the information in the passage; these footnotes are marked in-line with superscripted numerals in brackets that hyperlink to the bottom of the page. Like this:

The modern name has two parts: Plym and mouth. The element Plym is taken from the River Plym along which it traded with its parent settlement of Plympton, but its name (first recorded as Plymentun in c. 900) is considered to derive from the Old English word for 'plum tree',[1] also ploumenn in Cornish,[2] though the local civic association suggests an alternative derivation from the Celtic Pen-lyn-don ("fort at the head of a creek").[3] An alternative derivation is from Latin plumbum album 'British/white lead' -meaning tin - where plomm is also Cornish for lead.[4]
[...]

  1. Watts, Victor (2010). The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-names (1st paperback ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 475–6. ISBN 978-0-521-16855-7.
  2. http://www.howlsedhes.co.uk/cgi-bin/diskwe.pl
  3. "Plympton Castle". Plympton St Maurice Civic Association. Retrieved 2 December 2012.
  4. The ancient language and the dialect of Cornwall, Fred W.P. Jago 1882, Truro

As a matter of site policy on the format of quotations, do I need to, or should I, include the superscripted numerals? If I do, should I include the text of the footnote citations, or at least a link to them? Should I just avoid this problem by not posting extensive quotes from Wikipedia?


I'm currently looking up questions where the general issue has been discussed on the main site.

The following seem somewhat relevant:

(although the two above deal with in-line citation)

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If you want to acknowledge explicitly that you've omitted from your reproduction of the original text some footnotes that you don't want to cite in full, you can simply add, in brackets at the end of the first block quote above, "[citations omitted]."

But since you provide a link to the cited source anyway, it seems to me that retaining the footnote numbers that appear in the running text is needlessly punctilious. It's distracting, too, if you don't also include the footnotes themselves—and presumably the reason you didn't do that in the first place is that it adds a lot of clutter to your excerpt with very little benefit to most EL&U readers.

When I check someone's linked source and find that footnote markers have silently dropped out of the EL&U version of the quotation, I don't view that as a sign that the answerer is unreliable. To the contrary, I just think that he or she had the good sense not to include extraneous tertiary material. The important thing (to me) is that the content of the quotation be reproduced faithfully.

If a site policy does exist on this point, I'm unaware of it—and I've been innocently violating it for a long time. (I'm a longtime dropper of asterisks, daggers, and in-text footnote-number callouts.)

  • Thanks for the answer. I also have been doing this for a long time, not only in the example post (which is why I wanted to know what other people think). – herisson Nov 5 '15 at 3:07

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