Citing sources, for once!

[FONT=Century Gothic]This is the first time I have found any source citations anywhere in this whole enterprise.

Many times, I really want to cite SD, but it’s hard to be taken seriously if my main source is “a guy named Cecil Adams, who claims to know everything. And his minions.” :dubious:

Maybe** I ** trust you guys, but how can I possibly assure my skeptical brother, for instance, that my source is a reputable one? It’s not even “a real person” for gods sake.

(Please please limit your indignant retorts. It’s nice to have a cult of SD’ers & all, but I am seriously annoyed. I don’t feel like reading endless posts challenging my definitions of “real” and “person.” )

There is no indication of any reference sources in the FAQ’s or in the forums, as far as I can tell. Although the search function is pretty dysfunctional so maybe I missed something.

I especially wanted to use the info in the AWOL Bush column,

BTW, is it Ceecil or Cessill (the brits would say it that way!)?


As a guest contributor, I can say that my columns list my sources, as do many others. Our columns must stand up to greater scrutiny than The Perfect Master’s[sub]TM[/sub], so personally, I enjoy listing my sources.

Saves having someone pop into this forum and call me out, saying CITE???

And I say SEE-sill, but then again, I’m one of those Kalifornians.


Cecil’s columns are distributed through newspapers (usually, altenative newspapers) and so he is only allowed a certain number of words (or column inches, however it works). Thus, especially in the earlier days, before the internet (B.I.), he preferred providing information and wit rather than cites – especially when, as in most columns, there are numerous such. Nowadays, anno interneti, he does sometimes provide cites, or sites, or enough information that a diligent on-line search would get you there, especially if there’s only one or two. But he’s still limited in words/space, and most readers would rather not have a significant proportion of the column wasted in providing bibliographies.

Besides, Cecil himself usually doesn’t give cites, that’s often up to Ed Zotti to research and fact-check.

Staff Reports in the early days (when they were called “Mailbag”) sometimes did and sometimes didn’t provide cites, but nowadays almost all of them do.

So, the “absence of cites” depends pretty much on the dates of the columns or staff reports.

Then I guess you don’t read my Staff Reports at all. I apologize if the subjects were so boring for you that you didn’t click on them, but perhaps a couple of upcoming ones will be of greater interest.

I have nine sources cited here:

Six here:

Four here:

Four here:

…and these are all just in the last couple of months. I’m not going to dig up all of them but IIRC I have sources cited in every Staff Report I’ve done since last year.

Rico, CK, Una, et al.,

Beautiful, beautiful! I stand corrected. Many thanks to those of you who do cite regularly. My apologies to Una whose answers I actually had read before, but before I started searching for references. (None of the ones I checked after that point contained them until the one above.)

I can see why Cecil (I kinda like the way Maggie Smith would say it, Sessill) (although I naturally would say Seesil) chooses not to include references, but it would be nice to have some available to look up at times.

In fact I come up against this issue every time I argue w/my brother: he’s very skeptical of my sources, which is only fair, but I can’t remember where I read everything. I can barely hold onto the facts themselves.

Anyway, if I want some references for one of Cecil’s columns, should I search through the posts connected to it?

Also, any suggestions as to how to explain that Cecil is a credible source? Tell him that you guys have solid citations and you respect Cecil, so he probably has his facts straight?

many thanks,


quote: …and these are all just in the last couple of months. I’m not going to dig up all of them but IIRC I have sources cited in every Staff Report I’ve done since last year.
what’s that mean? IIRC?

If I Recall Correctly.

He pronounces it “See-sil”, accent on the first syllable.

And, yeah, he’s pretty much an authority on his own.

Yanno, I’ve actually used a couple Straight Dope columns in various academic papers. One was about, um, washing one’s hands after using the bathroom, and the other was about snuff films. Don’t ask.

That said, I tend to cite everything because I’m currently a student. My university’s student handbook devotes pages to academic dishonesty and every professor I’ve had so far spells it out again in detail. Suffice it to say, Very Bad Things happen to students who don’t cite sources, and I’ve made it a habit to cite, mostly because I don’t want Very Bad Things to happen to me.


Congratulations, MsRobyn, on being promoted to the SDSAB!! Airman must be so proud of you!

Great article, MsRobyn!

Is guest contributor a tryout for the SDSAB?

I think there’s some confusion here. As far as I’m aware, MsRobyn hasn’t written any Guest Contributions–though I’ve no doubt she could, and do well at it, too. Those two articles she linked to are both Cecil columns, and I’m pretty sure she was talking about citing sources in her own work for school, not for SD articles.

She wrote the one on the front page today:

Ah, the confusion was mine, then. Excellent work, MsRobyn!

First, congrats, MsRobyn, on an outstanding Report!


Well, sort of yes, and sort of no. We have had some guest contributors who decided they enjoyed it, it was fun, and they passed the initiation exam, and became members of the SDSAB. Q.E.D. and Una Persson were both so situated.

We’ve other guest contributors who decided they weren’t really interested who have not continued on the long trail to SDSAB, but still make guest contributions from time to time.

I didn’t link to those; they were added later. My cites are at the botton of the page.

I’m not on the SDSAB yet, but I’m plugging away at it.

Thanks for the compliments, guys. :slight_smile: