Community Wishlist Survey 2017/Citations

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5 proposals, 116 contributors

Citation template for all language versions

  • Problem: The correct formatting of citations from scientific journals or other non-scientific web sources is still complicated and error-prone (at least in the non-English wikipedia versions).
    There is a wide variety of styles of citations. Some citations only include a raw http address, others are half-complete including a title, etc. Since many citations are inserted manually (by copy/paste), they are error-prone.
    Wikipedia should incorporate a kind of reference manager tool, i.e. a tool like Endnote, Reference Manager, Bookends, ... to facilitate the insertion of correct and well-formatted references from various sources.
  • Who would benefit: All editors (and readers).
  • Proposed solution: A unified Wikipedia reference manager tool (across all language versions) would facilitate correct and complete referencing. This Wikipedia reference tool should be able to retrieve from the doi, JSTOR or PubMed, etc. ID the full citation (authors, title, journal) of an article and should insert it in the desired format in the articles' text. Ideally (maybe in a second step) it should also allow for searches of databases (like PubMed).
    The same kind of referencing should also be possible for sources from web sites of large newspapers or news websites (The New York Times, BBC News, etc.). E.g., by inserting the web address of the article from the web site the reference manager should transform this into a full and complete citation (author, title, date, newspaper, ...).
  • More comments:
  • Phabricator tickets:


Does this translate as "Make reftoolbar available and uniform accross all wikis ?" —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 12:18, 9 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

I believe it does, and if so, it would be very useful. A Den Jentyl Ettien Avel Dysklyver (talk) 16:36, 9 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Does reftoolbar include a tool that automatically completes and formats references when one enters dois or PubMed IDs or web adresses from, e.g., the BBC? I so, it would really be very useful. --Furfur (talk) 10:43, 12 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Yes it does. Just look for the Loupe icon inside the ref toolbar dialogs, as described in its instructions. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 09:57, 13 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

The reftoolbar is indeed very useful. But the problem is that it must be adapted to local citation templates. And they are definitely NOT uniform across all wikis. So this probably needs to be on opt-in basis, where the local project asks and maintainers/developers will help to adapt the gadget to the local environment. --Vachovec1 (talk) 00:22, 14 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

VisualEditor (and the VE-based new wikitext editor) has a citation template editor which does all the things you mention, and can be enabled in any wiki by editing a few MediaWiki pages (and having citation templates that have a compatible parameter structure with the ones on enwiki). That should probably be backported into the older editors.

Having compatible cite templates can be a significant burden for small wikis (the enwiki ones are scary complex); Communit Tech has been working on global templates which would solve that problem. --Tgr (WMF) (talk) 06:32, 18 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Citation databases are generally run by publishers, whose interests don't always align with Wikipedia's. For instance, CrossRef (the database used by all the doi lookup tools I know of) will always give the publisher's page, even if the page is paywalled and there is an open-access copy of an article, say in a repository or on the author's website. And publisher citation databases (and in some cases publisher websites) are not always as good as they might be at indicating what open license, if any, an article is under, although they may tell you correctly who holds the copyright. There is also currently a effort by some publishers to make it convention that abstracts can no longer be included in openly-available bibliographic data under fair use. Historically, abstracts were included in library catalogues so that you could guess whether you wanted to order the article, and until recently scrapers generally include it. But now, if you download citation information via CrossRef, the abstract is missing. Abstracts are full of useful searchable metadata.

For these reasons and others Wikidata:WikiProject Source MetaData was started. It is not language-specific. We have database scalability problems with Wikidata, but eventually this Wikimedia source metadata database will make a major contribution to this problem, and many off-wiki ones as well. HLHJ (talk) 03:48, 8 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]


Citations translations

  • Problem: The citations translation takes long time, but all fields are standards and could be easy translated by bot
  • Who would benefit: All user wiki doing translations of wiki articles
  • Proposed solution: Create a link in edit menu with automatic translation of citations.
  • More comments:
  • Phabricator tickets:


  1. Interesting idea indeed. By "fields are standard", do you mean across templates of misc. linguistic versions @SA RS BRASIL:? Does the proposal cover translating template names and parameter names, or come with deployment of a standardised version after a review of what is covered by all related templates? I think that for such a standardization, we are just missing the ability of cross-wiki template invocation, as TemplateDate already cover some I18n features. Really great proposal anyway, thank you. --Psychoslave (talk) 15:14, 9 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Hi, The fields are standards mean the fields of Cite a book ex. Author, Publisher, Date, page etc.. are the same in English, Portuguese, Spanish and others. If we add a addicional fileld like "citation_language" ex ( EN, PT, FR) and there is a table with standards translations an aplication could translate the citations easily @Psychoslave:.--SA RS BRASIL (talk) 17:34, 9 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Isn't this already the case, for example <code><ref>{{cite web|url=|title= Chinese coins – 中國錢幣 |date=16 november 2016|accessdate=1 november 2017|work= Gary Ashkenazy / גארי אשכנזי (Primaltrek – a journey through Chinese culture)|language=en}}</ref></code> already renders as "↑ (en) Chinese coins – 中國錢幣. Gary Ashkenazy / גארי אשכנזי (Primaltrek – a journey through Chinese culture) (16 november 2016). Geraadpleegd op 1 november 2017" completely in Dutch. --Donald Trung (Talk 🤳🏻) (My global lock 😒🌏🔒) (My global unlock 😄🌏🔓) 15:11, 10 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
The same for books 📚, but not with "Citation" which isn't universal, I think that this might be an optional issue that isn't universally implemented (but should). --Donald Trung (Talk 🤳🏻) (My global lock 😒🌏🔒) (My global unlock 😄🌏🔓) 15:13, 10 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Are you talking about translation from one wiki to another with ContentTranslation? Or translation on multilingual wikis via Translate? Normal editor (VE or text) where you dump an article from another wiki for translation? --Tgr (WMF) (talk) 06:16, 18 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Related: WikiCite is an initiative to move citation data into Wikidata so it can be reused across languages. --Tgr (WMF) (talk) 06:18, 18 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Strong endorsement. Citations are one area we are struggling with at the University of Edinburgh when translating using the Content Translation tool, particularly where the shortened footnote (using the sfn template) is being used as we have three students translating from English to Chinese, English to Japanese, English to French where the citations are all over the place and having to be replaced one at a time. Dublin University and Aberystwyth University are doing Wiki Translation work so this would be 3 universities, at least, who would like to see the translation of citation templates imrpoved so that the students focus more on the translation more than the formatting. Stinglehammer (talk) 17:55, 20 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I wonder if it would be easier to regenerate (parts of) the citation from national databases. Anyhow I believe the ContentTranslation-people already have some ideas? I'll rather wait to see their solution I guess… — Jeblad 22:53, 10 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]


Bring back autopopulation of citation template from a PMID

  • Problem: When you want to cite an article indexed in PubMed and you have to waste time manually typing/pasting the bibliographic field values into the template parameters (in w:Template:Citation or w:Template:Cite journal) because you can't just paste the PMID and let a bot take care of autopopulating them. This puts MediaWiki behind best-in-class tools such as Mendeley and Zotero. There used to be a bot that would come around and fill in a substitution after your edit if you called it with a certain template call. That bot went away.
  • Who would benefit: Anyone who frequently cites from PMIDs, meaning anyone who edits in topics related to medicine, biology, physiology, nursing, and other important fields.
  • Proposed solution: Bring back (a reincarnation of) the bot that did this task.
  • More comments:
  • Phabricator tickets:


Autofill is also present in the ref tool bar[1]

It works for PMID, DOI, and url. There is one that works for ISBN for books. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:50, 13 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Are any of these tools available to smaller projects? If not (at least I can't access them at :slwiki), effort should be made to implement them globally and not make people rely on external hacks such as the Wikipedia citation tool for Google Books. True, it would mostly benefit experienced editors at the start, but it would greatly facilitate newbies' learning to add proper citations as well. — Yerpo Eh? 06:22, 17 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Citoid can be implemented EVERYWHERE. It is quite easy and you don't need permissions from Meta or this kind of things. -Theklan (talk) 18:29, 1 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]

VisualEditor (and the new VE-based wikitext editor that's currently a beta feature) actually uses Zotero internally to generate citation templates from URLs and common identifiers (PMID, ISBN etc) - see help. To use it in a wiki, you need cite templates which have the same basic parameter types as the enwiki one, and you need to go through some simple configuration steps.

The Zotero part is separate from the rest of VisualEditor and could probably be easily backported into the other editors as well. --Tgr (WMF) (talk) 06:39, 18 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

that would be quite helpful. DGG (talk) 02:04, 20 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Cite button in source editing mode is already available. You should go to Special:Preferences#mw-prefsection-betafeatures, activate "New wikitext mode". I did not know that and I get to know this feature today. Is this what @Quercus solaris: proposed? --Snek01 (talk) 19:29, 23 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Wow, thanks so much for the tip, @Snek01:. I just tried it and it is awesome! I am glad I interacted at this page. I am not very informed on all the latest developments, but just talking to you folks here has improved my knowledge. Quercus solaris (talk) 22:57, 23 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]


Allow readers / editors to see the citation style they like

  • Problem: Different people prefer different citation styles both within WM markup and within articles.
  • Who would benefit: Readers
  • Proposed solution: Allow people to select between certain options and then arrange the refs as much as possible to consistently fit that option.

This would be a gadget that people could turn on if they wish.


Reformatting wikitext like that seems like it would be very prone to creating dirty diffs. Anomie (talk) 14:47, 14 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
Would not change the underlying mediawiki markup. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 15:36, 14 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
@Doc James: ehm.. you mean it would just create a different presentation of the wikicode for each and every person ? But things like line breaks have meaning inside wikicode, we can't just arbitrarily remove and add them and expect the same kind of output to appear... I don't see how that would work. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 13:19, 15 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
First step could be adjusting what readers see. This would simple require taking the individual elements of a reference and rearranging the other to a persons preference.
With respect to mediawiki markup line breaks within cite journal templates do not affect the final output
"<ref name=Review08>{{cite journal |vauthors=Chen LX, Schumacher HR |title=Gout: an evidence-based review |journal=J Clin Rheumatol |volume=14 |issue=5 Suppl |pages=S55–62 |date=October 2008 |pmid=18830092 |doi=10.1097/RHU.0b013e3181896921 |url=}}</ref>"
<ref name=Review08>
{{cite journal
|vauthors=Chen LX, Schumacher HR
|title=Gout: an evidence-based review
|journal=J Clin Rheumatol
|volume=14 |issue=5 Suppl
|date=October 2008
Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 14:20, 15 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
You seem to be missing the point. So, say that MediaWiki does reformat the first bit of wikitext into the second to display to someone based on their preference. Then, on save, it has to transform it back. But if there was a different reference that was already formatted like the second fragment, it has to be sure not to transform that one back. That's a hard problem even when you're able to include a ton of metadata in the "wikitext" like VisualEditor and Parsoid do; it's probably impossible to do sanely for plain textarea-based wikitext editor where metadata can't be transparently kept while things are being edited.
After that's ruled out, your proposal is left with just the reader-oriented bits. Moving the reference marker with respect to punctuation seems so trivial that we really shouldn't fragment the parser cache for it; someone could probably write a gadget to do it via JavaScript, although the user experience might be somewhat poor as the article would load one way and then be adjusted after it fully loads. The "Vancouver style" thing, as far as I can tell, is what the Cite extension already does; converting to any other style would require all <ref> tags be edited to include more metadata, or would be very specific to each wiki's citation templates (and do nothing if someone didn't use those templates for an article). Anomie (talk) 14:37, 15 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I don't understand how this proposal would benefit readers because readers don't look at wikicode. Editors look at wikicode while editing but readers who aren't editing wouldn't be doing that. I'm confused. Ca2james (talk) 05:09, 18 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
This proposal suggests two things 1) adjusting the mediawiki markup that editors see 2) adjusting the reference style that readers see. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 05:45, 18 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Indeed the futuristic solution for this is m:WikiCite - global citation data via Wikidata. Part of that project is coming up with a standard data structure for citations, and once that's worked out, it's easy to implement a local non-Wikidata-based version as well, by making ref tags (or a new type of citation tag) take more arguments like Anomie says, and have the software do the citation formatting.

As for the markup part, seems like you want a visual editor for wikitext? :-) --Tgr (WMF) (talk) 06:46, 18 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

  • one of the problems with m:WikiCite is the lack of a single accepted format--different subjects (and users at different levels) have different requirements. But it does not have to be individually variable--there are a few standard reference formats. Most journal databases provide the ability to download in a range of the usual possibilities, and the various citation managers have very great flexibility. DGG (talk) 02:03, 20 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
A related problem are those bots that come along and change the references. So unless there is some agreement on a standard format, all those bots may have to be retrained. There is one bot that follows me around archiving live links to articles. Then other editors come behind me and reformat references also. Best Regards, Barbara (WVS) (talk) 06:52, 20 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • Lack of common format is not problematic at all - common data structure is what's important. Once you have that, you can just make a separate formatter for each format, and use a template parameter / user preference / whatever to select the right one. (There is also a standard way to autogenerate the format.) Currently different citation templates have different data structures, and different wikis have different sets of templates -- that is a problem. --Tgr (WMF) (talk) 03:30, 20 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

@Doc James: I don't think adjusting the mediawiki markup that editors see is going to be feasible (per Anomie) as this would cause lots of problems. Adjusting the citation style that readers see (for example, switching to Vancouver style) would be feasible though. Would you be willing to re-scope this proposal to just cover the displayed citation style? Kaldari (talk) 18:28, 20 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]

Thanks Kaldari. Will do as I have time. Might be best to leave this until WD is ready, so maybe simple best to withdraw it all together. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 19:18, 20 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • Interesting in theory, but needs more work. And this was a poor example because: A) We should not be using the awful, metadata-mangling, barely readable |vauthors style if the whole point is to be producing generic, reformattable-on-the-fly citations; it would be coded as |last1=Chen|first1=L. X.|last2=Schumacher|first2=H. R. (at en.wikipedia, anyway), then munged into that "Chen LX, Schumacher HR" output for someone who demanded Vancouver style citations as what they see. B) We should not ever be using something like |journal=J Clin Rheumatol because these abbreviations are meaningless and confusing to non-expert readers, i.e. the people our citations are for. Always give the full name of the journal, and link it on first occurrence if the journal is notable and we have an article on it.

    That said, yes we need to do something like this. w:en:WP:CITEVAR really needs to die. We should have a single citation format at the code level, and customized output.

    This can probably be done on-wiki with a combination of better Lua coding in the citation templates, a new Javascript-based gadget that does stuff with it, and after it's shown to work at a change in w:en:WP:CITE guidelines to consistently use templated citations (or to just write untemplated ones but get out of the way of those who convert them to templated). And similar changes at other wikis.

    We can do a similar thing some day in providing auto-"translation" to particular dialects (at en.WP, I mean w:en:MOS:ENGVARs), e.g. with markup like {{eng|US=tire|GB=tyre}} and various defaults set (e.g. IE, AU, NZ, etc. would default to GB unless overridden, and whatever). And we can do this for other things, e.g. {{vern|bald eagle|IOC=Bald Eagle|...}} for different capitalization conventions for vernacular names of species in different subfields of biology; default to lowercase per w:en:MOS:LIFE, have a gadget for fans of IOC or whatever other standards to get case conversion exactly as they like it (e.g. capitalization after a hyphen varies by "authority").
     — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:24, 4 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]


Develop precision of citation by showing which text span the ref applies to

  • Problem: When citing a ref, you cannot show which span of article text the citation supports, as there is no method of markup yet available for this. We have the evil doppelgänger at w:Template:Citation needed span, but we do not have the good-guy version (like "Template:Citation span" or some such).
  • Who would benefit: Anyone who needs to show that their ref citation applies only to a certain part of the sentence.
  • Proposed solution: Provide a "Template:Citation span". It would not have to always be used; just when indication of span is needed.
  • More comments:


  • I oppose, this is not a problem. G41rn8 (talk) 17:47, 9 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • This is something you can do in wikitext right now. {{sofixit}}. MER-C (talk) 06:44, 11 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
    I've just added an ancient task which would seem to suggest that statement is not entirely true. --Izno (talk) 21:27, 13 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • Can already be done by placing the reference to show which phase the cite support by placing the cite or cite needed after the phase. Example: "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,/cite needed/ consectetur adipisicing elit,/ref/ sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua./ref1/" Although a paragraph and list source might be more useful as some might not assume that a source is for the whole paragraph or list. --Spshu (talk) 20:36, 11 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • User:Anthonyhcole knows a lot about this problem. Whatamidoing (WMF) (talk) 21:29, 15 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • I strongly support this proposal. See the stub en:Trevor Jamieson for an inadequate solution to this problem using Template:ref supports2. On a laptop or desktop (using the default “desktop mode”) hover your mouse pointer over a footnote marker ([3]) and the supported text is displayed in a tooltip. Inadequate because it doesn’t work for blind people using a screen reader and it doesn’t work for anyone on a phone or tablet, but it’s all we have for this problem at the moment. —Anthonyhcole (talk) 07:49, 16 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • This is easy to do in a mediocre way (just copy what the citation needed template does) but very hard to do well. The underlying problem is that HTML is a balanced language, for two spans either one must contain the other, or they mustn't overlap at all. (Like braces: [ ( ) ], ( [ ] ), [ ] ( ) are all valid but ( [ ) ] is not.) With citations, though, it's not unusual for two references to have partially overlapping supported texts. Also, they would quickly turn the wikitext even more unreadable then it already is.
This feature (being able to mark sections of a document in a way that's fairly independent of document strucutre) is called annotation; there are technologies to do it (there is even a web standard now) but usually they either store the extra information somewhere outside and have a hard time persisting the annotations when the document is edited, or require rich text editing to keep the document readable.
(Personally I would evolve citations in a different direction: add a "sources" tab next to "article and talk", which would list the references in the document, with various extra data like quotes and editorial summary about what the source claims - which is much like annotating the supported part of the article, except the tab could contain references that aren't in the article, so it would be easy to provide more information to the skeptical reader without worrying about keeping the article readable / keeping a consistent narrative / waging POV battles. Just a crazy thought :) --Tgr (WMF) (talk) 07:19, 18 November 2017 (UTC)[reply]
I love your parenthetical idea, Tgr. Please include me if you ever need support when pitching this. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 05:01, 10 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • I agree that a meaningful implementation of this would make the wikicode unreadable, though of course I would like to see some work done on it as it's a step in the direction of a more properly hyperlinked world of texts. On a practical note, there are handy alternative ways to do the same job; what I tend to do is add a postscript at the end of each reference, briefly indicating the part of the statement that it's used to support (an example of one of the ways to do that is at en:Hindko#cite_note-3). Uanfala (talk) 01:31, 2 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • Strongly support. Would it be possible to make it so that the article text supported by a reference is highlighted (like this yellow) when that reference number is hovered over? To make the wikicode still readable, could it be done by just creating two extra fields for the reference coding, to give start position of highlight (compared to reference's position) and end position of highlight, e.g. 30 and 0 for 30 characters back from here, up to 0 characters back from here??? Mmitchell10 (talk) 10:57, 9 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]
  • This is one of those ideas that seems so easy to do (Hey, we even have a standard!) but are quite much harder than it seems. Annotation is rather easy. What we actually annotate is quite much harder. What the annotation actually imply is very much harder. In some cases (quite often) the referenced source in the annotation are misrepresented, or even falsely quoted, and what shall we do then? Sometimes it can be detected by looking at the context, and flagging text that is reused in a context where the sentiment changes. Sometimes it can be detected by checking and counting negations. Yes, this is very error prone. — Jeblad 22:12, 10 December 2017 (UTC)[reply]