For example, If I say

WWI erupted in 1914 as response to the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo


In 1922 the League of Nations and the british separated transJordan from the rest of the territory of palestine under the British mandate, in in 1946 the Jordan Kingdom formed on that territory.

Those are well known and undisputed facts. A wikipedia article describing these events can be linked to easily, but even then, for some basic facts Wikipedia doesn't provide a source, or doesn't provide a source in the first place where the "claim" appears. For example: In the Wiki article for the six days war the first sentence describing the Israeli territorial gain is:

Within six days, Israel had won a decisive land war. Israeli forces had taken control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Without sources. There may be sources later in the article to those "claims", I didn't check.

Can we source well established historical facts just by sourcing the Wikipedia page talking about the issue, or even avoid sourcing at all; Especially, if later sources assume that what is described indeed happen?

  • Is this an issue? Has there been a situation where somebody refuses to provide a source for a seemingly known and undisputed fact even when challenged in the commments?
    – user5582
    Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 15:13
  • It isn't an issue (afaik), but I have "sourced" some of the non-disputed claims to Wikipedia, and I wanted to know If the community thinks that it meets our standards.
    – SIMEL
    Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 15:17

4 Answers 4


The relevant FAQ entry says:

The significant claims in an answer, especially the claim which most directly answers the question, must be backed up by a reference.

Note the word "significant". This was included to ensure that prosaic and well-known claims that no-one meaningfully disputes could be simply be stated.

Note, however, the definition of "significant" is going to vary. We've seen plenty of cases of what seems rather obvious to an answerer that doesn't seem obvious to others.

So, you should tend towards playing it safe, and round up when deciding what claims are significant enough to explicitly reference. (If challenged, you should, of course, be able to support even the insignificant claims.)

Further, your examples related to World War I might not be common knowledge to our younger audience. I would recommend linking to Wikipedia (or a similar summarising secondary source) to explain context to people, where the facts aren't really in dispute, but may be unfamiliar to some readers.


I think that such sources are not required, and a link to the Wiki page is well above and beyond of what is required. Especially since later sources talking about the subject will most probably either mention the "claim" or will be based upon it.

I put my answer, which expresses my opinion, but I leave it unanswered because I want to read other thoughts (if there are) on the issue.


How I think the site works

Every statement should have a source, unless it begins with something like "In my opinion" or something along those lines.

This helps to prevent original research, and opinion disguised as fact.

You don't need to include a reference on first answering the question for facts that you believe are well established, but if it's challenged (this is skeptics, after all), you should strive to provide a reference. For well-established fact, that should be easy. Otherwise, there's no way of knowing what is opinion and what is established fact.

Another way of saying this is, no, you don't need to provide citations for known undisputed historical facts, but as soon as they're disputed, you do.

How I approach this

I've tried to back up every sentence in my answers with a reference. Out of all my answers, I think there are only a couple of sentences that aren't supported by a reference.


If the question is "did Israel win the six day war?" then clearly sources are required for the "well-known" historical fact!

Who decides what is well known? And why would something well-known be necessarily correct? Surely all the claims we debunk are well-known because they are notable.

My take:

  1. References are required for all non-obvious statements of fact one makes.
  2. Non-obvious means: no one is disputing it (for example in the comments or in meta). The moment there is dispute, you need to reference.
  • 1
    "Did Israel win the Six-Day war" is a very complicated question, as it needs to define "win"; I've read several opinions that claim that in the long run Israel is in a worst situation because of the outcomes of that war, and so it "lost". But the question "Did Israel gained control over the west bank, Golan heights, the Gaza strip and the Sinai peninsula in the Six Day war?" should be closed as it shows no minimal effort or research has been done by the asker.
    – SIMEL
    Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 17:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .