From Retro CDN
The publicly editable nature of a wiki means it is very easy to insert false truths into a page, either unintentionally or by acts of vandalism. With its many thousands of active editors, this is a huge concern for Wikipedia, to the point where it is widely accepted that it is not always good as a primary source of information. It does, however, have internal ways of mitigating these concerns, either with the use of bots, or by temporarily restricting access to certain content.
The Retro wikis are much smaller, but while they are still largely moderated by hand, it is possible for inaccurate information to seep though. While we are relatively confident that most of our content is correct, we have adopted Wikipedia's policy of encouraging references to material to back up a potentially disputed claim.
Where we deviate from Wikipedia is how we obtain references. The Retro wikis pride themselves in being able to keep as much referencing material in-house as possible - that is to say, we try not to rely on third-party websites, or other sources of material that depend on others for their continued upkeep. By keeping referencing material on our server, we can help ensure that the reference exists as long as the wiki does.
Our system saves significant amounts of time spent maintaining links and fact checking. While a Wikipedia approach to verifying a fact would be "go read this book", the Retro approach would be to host the book in its entirety, directly referencing the page without the user needing to research the book's origins or current availability.
It is our desire to back up as many facts with references as possible. Dubious information not backed up by a creditable source may be challenged by other users and removed from the wiki.
The Retro wikis maintain three, easy to use templates:
For external references (which we try to avoid where possible).
For internal references, i.e. directly referencing a page hosted on one of our wikis.
For internal file references. This is much the same as above, but supports more PDF controls so as to reference specific pages.
In all three cases, the first argument is a link to the content. We do not encourage long-winded explanations of what the material is (i.e. authors, dates, ISBN numbers) in the reference template - this should be self explanatory, or described elsewhere on the wiki to ease editing for other users (leaving the possibility of automating processes at a later date).
At the bottom of each page, references need to be collected to ensure they are formatted correctly. This is achieved by typing:
This creates a subheading and list of references. You only need to do this once per page, and it will be updated automatically.
For a good example of how references can be used in an article, see Sega Retro's history of the Sega Saturn. Here, dozens of sources of information are referenced, from magazines, to copies of press releases, to archives of websites.
Each of the wikis has their own set of referencable material, however from a classic video games perspective, our primary source of knowledge is our library of shared magazine scans. Retro CDN partly serves as shared content between multiple wikis, so is the home to the most third-party information.
If it is possible to house mirrors of the information on our wikis, we highly recommend that you do so.
When not to bother with referencing
Always try to reference facts, particularly when new information comes to light. What may seem obvious to you may not be to others - if there's a way to prove a fact, please take steps to do so. Do not assume something is common knowledge - our wikis strive to be repositories of common knowledge. They are the common knowledge you're talking about - if a fact isn't on the wiki, it's not common knowledge!
It is also extremely important that references are reliable. Getting your friend to say something is true on your behalf is probably not a good reference. This is of course can lead to tricky situations - references that contradict other references is a common occurrence with wikis, but just like any academic material that encounters similar problems, solutions will be found eventually (usually by finding more references!).
While we stress the need for referencing facts, it would be wrong to suggest they are needed for every sentence. For example:
- "Sonic the Hedgehog is a blue, anthropomorphic, fictional hedgehog"
Four facts exist in this example that are not worth referencing (given that an image will likely be provided):
- Sonic the Hedgehog is clearly a hedgehog. It's in the name, and he looks a bit like one.
- Sonic the Hedgehog is clearly blue. You can see that (and if you're colour-blind, can safely assume this is the case).
- Sonic the Hedgehog is anthropomorphic. Virtually every image has the character exhibiting human-like traits (such as standing on two legs).
- Sonic the Hedgehog is fictional. You will not find him in real life.
However other facts, such as the character's fictional age, official heights and weights and history are not as obvious. These facts should be referenced.
"But I can't prove this"
Sometimes you don't need to, other times you do. Seek an article's talk page and you might be able to gain assistance.
While we will often give users the benefit of the doubt, it is encouraged that non-referenced statements are challenged to ensure the wiki is telling as much truth as possible. Don't let yourself be mistaken for a wiki vandal!
Bad reference material
While all external references (i.e. links to other websites) are always risky due to the reliance on external servers (though often the Internet Archive can get around this issue), some links are inappropriate for the Retro wikis. These include:
- Other wikis that have not properly sourced their content
- Online databases maintained by the public that have not sourced their content (Mobygames, GameFAQs)
- Websites set up by fans which have no reliable sources of their own
Essentially, if the site in question has no reliable source, do not reference it. Wikis referencing other wikis have the potential to perpetuate lies - if someone makes up a fact on Wikipedia and we reference that fact, we are just as wrong.
If one of these websites does have a reliable source, we too should be pointing to that source, i.e. cutting out the middle-man. As such, there is little-to-no reason to ever reference another wiki (outside the Retro family).
Pages on the same wiki are not references either - use an internal link.
A Wikipedia policy, and frequent source of amusement, is to mark unreferenced statements with  (or similar) to specifically identify dubious content. On the Retro wikis, we do not believe in this policy - we believe that unreferenced statements, by their very nature, are potentially dubious (i.e. there is no point in marking them as such - of course a citation is preferable), but we also understand that typing a sentence is significantly easier for ordinary users to achieve than digging through the archives and learning how wikitext works.
It is up to the community to work together to improve pages. Some people are happier finding knowledge than wiki maintenance - the work should be shared where possible. While it is encouraged that active users learn how to use the wiki to its fullest, there is no crime in ignorance, and as long as you are willing to be enlightened, we are not immediately concerned if a reference is not included. But do try to include one anyway - not everyone is as forgiving.
We believe that the time and effort to construct and implement  and other types of templates is better spent attempting to verify the facts on behalf of others. If you encounter a statement you're unsure about, either find a reference (to either support or contradict what is said), discuss on the talk page, or accept its dubious nature. Don't waste your time (and ours) highlighting how something sucks - do something constructive about it!