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In the 5e part of this site there's a heavy emphasis on rules quotes. What is the clearest way to quote rules?

Option 1 (link then quote)

https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/basic-rules/races#KindandCurious

Halflings are an affable and cheerful people.

Option 2 (quote then link)

Halflings are an affable and cheerful people.

https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/basic-rules/races#KindandCurious

Option 2b (quote then link with superscript)

Halflings are an affable and cheerful people.

https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/basic-rules/races#KindandCurious

Option 3 (quote with link inside)

Halflings are an affable and cheerful people.

https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/basic-rules/races#KindandCurious

Option 3b (quote with link inside with superscript)

Halflings are an affable and cheerful people.

https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/basic-rules/races#KindandCurious

Option 4 (link first with chapter/section/subsection)

Basic Rules, Chapter 2 Races: Halfling: Kind and Curious

Halflings are an affable and cheerful people.

Option 4 (quote first then link with chapter/section/subsection)

Halflings are an affable and cheerful people.

Basic Rules, Chapter 2 Races: Halfling: Kind and Curious

Option ???

Something else; open to suggestions how to clearly show the provenance of the quote.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Making this post made it clear that some of these are undesirable. SE obviously has many problem with the WYSIWYG editor, and using options 2b/3/3b all break the links once you hit post. At bare minimum I'd like the links to be formatted like links and be clickable. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 3:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited this post to add a space after the > in option #3 so that the editor automatically renders the URL as a link rather than just as text. (Without the space, >https://www.dndbeyond.com/sources/basic-rules/races#KindandCurious was not being rendered as a link, though the preview below the editor makes it look like it would be a link.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 4:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ (I've made a slight edit to the title to make it clear that your question has to do with how to format the links alongside the rules quotes - not just how to format the quotes themselves. Feel free to edit if needed to better reflect your intended question.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 5:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Thanks, following your example I was able to make changes to the superscript example by adding whitespace between the mark-up and the link, which causes them to format correctly! Difficulties in formatting associated with these options still makes them less than ideal. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 5:26
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Related on Is there a style guide for posts? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 14:22

2 Answers 2

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What I do

Let's say I want to quote the Actions in Combat section of the PHB, I will do this:


As we can see from the "Actions in Combat" section (PHB, page 182):

Quote goes here


Why I do it

  1. The quote is introduced and makes sense in the context of the answer. The reader does not have to wonder whether or what you are quoting.
  2. The link itself is clear and sticks out with coloring, quotation marks, and capitalization. It also is not in the clunky and difficult-to-read (especially difficult for screen readers) https:// format.
  3. The only thing being put in blockquotes are actual quotes.
  4. The physical reference can be provided near the link itself.
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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Yep, this is how I tend to format links as well. It appropriately contextualizes the link and introduces the quote; even if the content on the linked page is moved or deleted, it's easy to understand what is being quoted and where it's being quoted from. (And, as you say, it makes it so the only content in the blockquote formatting is the actual quote itself.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 4:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ (I've also added horizontal rules around your example to set it apart from the rest of your answer - for others' reference, the horizontal rules themselves are not intended to be part of showing "what [you] do" when linking to cited/quoted content.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 5:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is what I used to do, but I'm sceptical of it for several reasons. Does "introducing" the quote actually add clarity or is it just boilerplate? Do you actually save space compared to a url (I think you can easily ignore a full url, but a sentence like that needs to be read because you can't be sure it doesn't contain some details)? Is it more clear to hide the url than display it? Especially with shorter titles like skills it can easily be missed - a URL can't be. Hope you can see where I'm coming from! \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 5:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ “Does "introducing" the quote actually add clarity or is it just boilerplate?” It adds clarity by contextualizing the quote and telling me where to find it, which is pretty standard fare for quoting something in any medium. “Do you actually save space compared to a url?” Saving space is not a priori desirable; we aren’t trying to save space for space-saving’s sake. “Is it more clear to hide the url than display it?” Abundantly so. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 7:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov The difference is that book titles are not self-referencing. A URL is an address to the resources. I feel that a link next to a quote can be contextually understood to be the source of the quote. I think this is fairly common not only in forums but news sites for example. I mention space saving and cognitive load (ability to skip) as a direct reply to Exempt-Medic who lists them as benefits when I think the opposite is true. I think we (at least Exempt-Medic and I) agree on what is good, but not which method has the good characteristics. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 0:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Non-humanPerson Linking to a web source of printed content is of secondary concern. Links go dead. Books do not. We should be identifying print sources when we are referencing print sources. If the print source has a legal and accessible web source, that’s nice, include it, but it should never serve as a replacement for identifying the printed source. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 0:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov The problem is the print sources are often inconsistent or out of date, paywalled and less accessible to both askers and answerers. Cheap, easy, free, fast, accessible methods are my priority because it reduces barriers to entry and the amount of work needed to be done by everyone involved. I'm sure you know how annoying it is to flick through your books to find 4 or 5 different pages (and them trying to read all at once) compared to dndbeyond where it takes you seconds to look at or grab links. Compounded over thousands of Q&As this is significant. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 0:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Non-humanPerson I’m confused about what you want here. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 0:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov Sorry, let me try and say it more clearly for you. D&D Beyond basic rules are freely available to everyone, easily accessible, easily referenceable, and easily readable. I think we can agree on that, right? I know you use D&D Beyond in all your answers, likely because it is so vastly superior that it's not worth the struggle of using paper books. So I think we agree abstractly a paper source is nice because it doesn't change, but in practical terms it's horrible for everyone involved. Paper sources are a last resort not the first port of call. Is that clear? \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 0:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just because I don’t generally include page numbers does not mean I’m not identifying the location in the print source. I usually try to reference section headers, sub chapters, and other organizational information found in the text that tells where to look. There are exactly zero advantages to omitting information guiding readers to the location of printed information you quote. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 0:30
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Options 1-3 miss the point.

Each of those options fails to direct a reader how to find the rule quoted apart from following your link. If I've got the PHB in front of me, there's nothing in those "citations" that tells me how to find the cited text. If D&D Beyond reorganizes, there's no pointers as to how I'd find that text at a new address.

Plenty of us are still playing RPGs that are decades old. (I'm running a game for my son and his friends right now in a system written before I was born!) D&D Beyond is convenient, but I'm not sanguine on the likelihood of its links being stable for 30 more years. So we should at least be citing "chapter and verse" on rules-quotes, if not page numbers. (See also Stance on using D&D Beyond for references?, esp. its second answer.)

Option 4 is alright, but Exempt-Medic's answer improves it.

(Go upvote that one.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Re; D&D Beyond. If WotC gets rid of their official resources then we are still left with the URL and the quote. If this does happen, which I guess it eventually will happen in 30, 50, 100 more years, then you're right we will have to look at the rules where it says "races#kindandcurious" and figure out what part of the rules that is from. Obviously it doesn't take Sherlock to deduce where to look in the rules, but it is more work. Is it worth the trade-off for a payoff in howevermany years? That is a much more difficult question, but I feel site users today need to be prioritised. \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 5:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't understand what tradeoff you're describing. Are you saying it's more burdensome to build a habit of writing "the Halfling race's description, at 'Kind and Curious,' has you covered: $rulequote" versus "$url has you covered: $rulequote"? And that is the burden that needs to be weighed against the benefit to (a) whoever now who uses physical resources over digital, and (b) whoever in the future would be stranded by WotC? (On that point: ask those for whom 4e was their favorite edition which end of your "30, 50, 100 years" spectrum they'd lay their money on....) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 12:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Gotta side with nitsua on this one, 10 years from now WotC will have a new edition out and all of their 5e links will be dead. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage Mod
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 In part yes, you're right it is more work for the answerers (although the exaggeration is not necessary), but also URLs are clearer, require less cognitive load to parse or ignore, and have less noise. Be aware some of those "benefits" could be imagined, a. for example is not true in the case of free online resources (presumably someone who is accessing rpg.se has internet access), and b. is a much smaller number of users than users who use the site right now (and they will only be "stranded" if they can't figure out where to look from the url). \$\endgroup\$
    – user73918
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 0:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ I wasn't trying to exaggerate anything, and I'm sorry it came across that way. I disagree that URLs are clearer and require less cognitive load, but I suspect that's down to personal reading style... I find them jarring when I hit them in text and that it feels like a mechanical code-switching switch has to CLUNK back and forth when I enter and exit the URL. But I wouldn't be surprised if others feel that underlined links that hide the URL tantalizingly scream in their reader-brains "there's something hidden here, you won't know what it is if you don't look, haha!" \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 0:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that section titles and page numbers are useful, and including them as well as the link is the ideal citation. But so long as the quoted passage is relevant, link decay is an inconvenience but not a barrier. Simply doing a word-search on unique phrases will recover the section in question, often faster than trying to look it up by section and page would. The older the resource, the more likely someone is looking at in a digital format that can be searched. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 19:04

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