- This project is waiting on the Wikidata project.
- For a specific implementation of part of this proposal, see WikiScholar. This page (Wikicite) is a general proposal to gather information and metadata about all sources.
Wikicite is a proposal for a Wikimedia project that provide a single page for every reference, citation, or source used in any page on any Wikimedia project. Wikicite would provide a page with metadata, summaries, important context, and information on relevance. The wiki would use talk pages to host discussion and debate on the reliability, quality, or limitations of sources.
Every existing Wikimedia project uses extensive use of citations, frequently through the use of citation templates. Most of the time, these citations displayed as text (i.e., for a printed book) or provided as hyperlinks to external websites. Wikicite would include a page on a new wiki for each of these references and citations in articles would point to the Wikicite page. The potential for close integration with existing Wikimedia projects make Wikicite an important complement to existing Wikimedia activity, will address a series of difficulties in existing Wikimedia projects around references, and provide an avenue to involve contributors in the project.
The problem 
There are pervasive limitations to current methods of citation and references, some of which are highlighted in their use on Wikimedia projects. Those addressed by this proposal:
- Many sources are either not available online or are only available behind paywalls which make them inaccessible to many readers and editors. Wikicite can provide access to freely licensed summaries of references.
- Although there are many guidelines on what constitutes a reliable sources within Wikimedia projects, there are currently few places to discuss the validity or reliability of particular sources. Wikicite would provide a neutral avenue for this.
- At the moment, any discussion of a source is currently fragmented between, and even within, Wikimedia projects. For example, if the reliability of a source is challenged, it will usually be on the talk page of a particular article using the source in questions. Consensus reached on a question related to a source on one page is unlikely to be discovered by other editors working elsewhere. Wikicite would provide a single place to discuss a citation across Wikimedia projects.
- For many topics and in many languages, there are few, if any, reliable printed sources. This is described in the oral citations research project. As a result, the only information on a topic may be through oral sources. Wikicite pages would offer a space to summarize and discuss the reliability or limitations of a particular reference or source.
- Citations of widely republished works should not need to specify a particular edition. Citations are often to an original quote, not necessarily in the language of publication. It should be possible to align a quote or citation in any language, and from any edition [where the edition did not significantly change the wording] in a way that can be aligned with all similar citations.
Proposed solution 
A repository of sources 
This should include all cited sources: be it a quoted person, a webpage, or a published work.
- Sources abstracted from a published edition get their own page. So "Hamlet" is one source, as is "Shakespeare's Tragedy of Hamlet" and "A new variorum edition of Shakespeare".
- Almost-identical sources may be clustered together, with redirects from each leaf-level source to one representing the group. The variorum itself comes in two editions, which would each have a page, one of them a redirect.
- Sources used in online journals, Wikipedia, and other references can be automatically added to the repository.
- Oral histories will be included, along with developing metadata standards for them.
A wiki with one page per source 
Each page would summarize information about that source.
- Each source will include structured metadata and a summary. Discussion pages will aggregate notes on a source's use in the literature and its reliability. Summaries will be developed by readers, based on existing abstracts where freely licensed. [cf. AcaWiki]
- Sources will show inbound links and citations. Citations will be grouped according to [editable] citation classification. Citations from dynamic documents will be associated with dates.
- Sources will be linked to an archival version, in case the original version is lost. Online sources will be archived via a webcache service [nod to Internet Archive service], with priority given to oft-cited pages.
A set of reference texts 
Reference texts would be gathered and used for citation alignment. Citers would be able to generate a cite for a quote without choosing an arbitrary edition or publication.
- Users wishing to cite a passage can search the reference text if known, or use the passage as a string that could be automatically resolved to a citation. Public domain texts can be searched directly. [working with current arbiters of reference texts]
- For in-copyright works, a citation server with access to the reference text can resolve other quotations. Libraries with significant digitized archives can collaborate to make this possible. Google Books offers an interim solution, which is for the moment gratis.
Automated tools and scripts 
Automatic inclusion and formatting of new data will be needed:
- For finding new citations, and checking on the persistence of citations in dynamic documents
- For aggregating metadata from different places about a source
- For helping aggregate or generate summaries of works
- For generating links to archival versions of a source
- For resolving a quote into a citation. Similarly for checking a document for similarity with other documents, or mapping it onto a reference text
[cf. currently available tools/libraries]
- Benjamin Mako Hill
- David Weinberger (Harvard Library Lab)
- Rufus Pollock (Open Knowledge Foundation)
- Brian Mingus (and his Colorado research lab)
- Sam Klein
- KYPark (would-be guide to wikiversity: 2010/Reagle and the like cites I designed and edited)
- David Smith (Computer Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
- Daniel Mietchen - WiR/OS (talk)