Artifact: The World Needs Citations


Credit:Designed for a more social life and peak oil is now, Flickr user bekathwia; crime-free neighborhood, Flickr user mmechtley

Wikipedia's detractors criticize the online, user-written, constantly changing encyclopedia's sometimes dubious sourcing, which they say makes it unreliable. Wikipedia's defenders counter that the site's mutable, fluid nature engenders a valuable skepticism toward all manner of too-trusted authorities. Nothing conveys Wikipedia's openness to revision quite like "[citation needed]," the bracketed phrase sprinkled throughout its pixellated scrolls.

Now some sourcing enthusiasts have liberated the "[citation needed]" tag from its cyber origins. Blogger Matt Mechtley began by printing up 250 stickers and handing them out to friends. Irked, perhaps, by the lack of fact-checking rigor on billboards and bathroom stalls, they have splashed the stickers across advertisements and noncommercial public pronouncements. "In true wiki fashion," Mechtley writes, "the final placement of the stickers is a collaborative effort, now distributed and anonymous."

The caveat lector guerrilla campaign is chronicled online, where the dubious claims of cell phone marketers and placard-wielding politicians are treated with equal suspicion. You can check this article's sourcing, and print up some citation-hungry stickers for yourself, at Mechtley's blog,

NEXT: Whither the Earth's Temperature Now?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Ok, that’s just too awesome

  2. Heroic!

    Simon Jester for the wiki-age.

  3. Yeah, I have to admit, I really like it. Time to go bombing again.

  4. We’d have to slap these stickers on the foreheads of Obama, Clinton, and McCain to have any real impact. Actually, over their mouths would be better.

  5. See also:

  6. Yeah, this is a great idea…another cool idea would be to add this tag to videos of politicians speaking…like a YouTube remix of, say, Bush’s state of the union or one of the Democrats’ NAFTA bashing.

  7. Now this is civil disobedience I can get behind!

  8. nice. the guy has a couple of other fun little things on his blog:

    i like the breathalyzer-pong hack. the best ideas are simple ones ­čÖé

  9. Am I supposed to print up another sticker with the citation on it when I find it, and put it underneath? I don’t get it.

  10. Kerry, aren’t you going to announce your appearance on “Red Eye” tonight?

  11. I love it! I can’t count the times when people say things, especially at blogs, without any proof what so ever. I just want to scream, WHERE DID YOU GET THAT! I love Wiki.

    And Russ; as to Clinton, Obama, and McCain, please remember that most of what they are promising is under the control of our 634 members of Congress. If you buy into the idea that the country is in trouble [citation needed] then you have to vote for Obama. He is the least to blame. On the other hand if you believe, like I do, that the country and the world is better off today than it has ever been before then vote for McCain. Citations; GNP up, Stocks pretty good, race and gender-just look at the candidates, no recession, winning the war. Shall I go on?

  12. “Inflation is everywhere and always a monetary phenomenon, in the sense that it cannot occur without a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.” –Milton Friedman, Encyclopedia Britannica article on “Money”

    See this UK Telegraph article.

    On the other hand, speaking before the Senate Banking Committee on Feb 28, Fed Chief “Bernanke told lawmakers the Fed anticipates inflation will slow, in part because of “sluggish” economic growth and rising unemployment.”

    Hey Ben: [citation needed]

    (I remember the 1970s.)

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.