WMDE Technical Wishes/Reusing references

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Call for participation: How are you using references?

In January and February, our team wants to look over the shoulders of some Wikimedians to understand how they are currently using and reusing references. This will include testing an early version of a feature we’re working on, on a test server. Sessions will take roughly one hour. Compensation is available. More information can be found on this link.

If you are interested, please sign up here.

Please note that most likely, we won’t be able to have sessions with everyone who is interested. Our UX researcher will try to create a good balance of wiki contributors, e.g. in terms of wiki experience, tech experience, editing preferences, gender, disability and more. If you’re a fit, she will reach out to you to schedule an appointment.

Thanks a lot in advance. --Thereza Mengs (WMDE) (talk) 07:53, 9 January 2024 (UTC)Reply[reply]

About this focus area[edit]

If you’ve ever tried to reuse a reference, you have probably noticed how hard it can be. This project aims to make reusing references within an article easier.

In the 2022 Technical Wishes survey on German Wikipedia, community members selected “make reusing references easier” as the next focus area for Wikimedia Deutschland’s Technical Wishes team. This means: The team is spending roughly two years on research and problem-solving on this topic. This page is for documentation of research and development progress. Comments and questions are welcome on the talk page!

The original plan was to start work on this focus area shortly after the survey in February 2022 and to end it towards the end of 2023. But due to several longer, unplanned absences in key roles in the Technical Wishes team, we are currently significantly behind schedule. The current plan is to be working on this focus area until mid-2024.

Focus: Reusing references within an article[edit]

Through the helpful input from community members and our own research, we found many problems in different workflows around reusing references: problems with reusing them from external sources, from another wiki, from another article, or from within the same article. We want to focus on one of these areas, so we can effectively get more work done in the timeframe that we have for this project. The area we are focusing on is reusing references within the same article. Our research has shown that this is where most problems are. Focusing on this area, we’ll also be able to tackle the wish that was brought up the most: reusing a reference with different details (e.g. a different page number) on the same article. Our team has worked on this project before, but could not finish it. We will now pick this work up again. We are hopeful that the focus on reusing references within an article will give us enough time to address several other problems as well.


Confirmed projects[edit]

Project On some wikis On all wikis
Extending references

Reusing a reference with different details (e.g. page number) in wikitext and VisualEditor

  In development
  In development
Bug fixes

More projects will be added to this list.

More to be added[edit]

There are many problems in this focus area. To add more of them to the list above, we will proceed as follows:

  • We conduct research into which problems are most impactful for the wikis and investigate the feasibility of solving them. Here is the list of problems that are currently being investigated.
  • Problems that, if solved, are expected to result in a big improvement for community members are added to the list of confirmed projects with priority as long as they are also reasonably feasible.
  • Depending on the size of the confirmed project(s), we conduct investigations into more problems and add more projects to the list our team will work on.

Currently under investigation[edit]

  • VisualEditor: Reusing references doesn’t (fully) work when the reference is in an image caption or a template. (T334074)
  • VisualEditor: Footnote numbering sometimes doesn't match the numbers in the reference list (T334075)
  • 2017 wikitext editor: The “reuse reference” tab is disabled. (T334076)
  • Named references are given an automatic numeric name in VE, and this name says nothing about the content of the citation. This is confusing to people editing in wikitext. (T334073)