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Wikicite (pre-Wikidata)

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Examples of some of new tags Wikimedians might be able to use if Wikicite is accepted as a new Wikimedia project.
For the most recent Wikidata-based proposal, see Wikidata:WikiProject Source MetaData and WikiCite. This page is about a legacy proposal predating Wikidata, to store information and metadata about all sources in wiki pages. For a specific implementation of part of this proposal, see WikiScholar.

Wikicite was a 2011 proposal (predating Wikidata) for a Wikimedia project that provides 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 makes extensive use of citations, frequently through the use of citation templates. Most of the time, these citations are 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 will make Wikicite an important complement to existing Wikimedia activity, address a series of difficulties in existing Wikimedia projects around references, and provide an avenue to involve contributors in the project.

This proposal replaced Wikicite (2006 proposal), which was moved to make room for this proposal.

As of 2016, the discussion shifted to Wikidata as the potential host of bibliographic and citation data to serve all Wikimedia projects.

The problem[edit]

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 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[edit]

A repository of sources[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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]


  1. Benjamin Mako Hill
  2. David Weinberger (Harvard Library Lab)
  3. Rufus Pollock (Open Knowledge Foundation)
  4. Brian Mingus (and his Colorado research lab)
  5. Sam Klein
  7. Jtneill
  8. KYPark (would-be guide to wikiversity: 2010/Reagle and the like cites I designed and edited)
  9. David Smith (Computer Science, University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
  10. Daniel Mietchen - WiR/OS (talk)
  11. Klortho (talk) 00:25, 5 November 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  12. Peaceray (talk) 02:41, 30 March 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  13. Mvolz (talk) 09:00, 20 July 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  14. Alexmar983 (talk) 18:24, 15 October 2014 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Pintoch (talk) 23:53, 28 February 2016 (UTC)[reply]
  16. Peaceray (talk)
  17. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 12:28, 29 April 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Related projects[edit]

and historical discussion

Over the last six years, there have been a number of proposals for new Wikimedia projects and for technological changes to Mediawiki that would provide spaces for summaries, metadata, and discussion of references cited in Wikipedia articles and in other Wikimedia projects. These proposals include:

Outside of Wikimedia, AcaWiki is a non-Wikimedia CC BY-licensed wiki that hosts summaries of scholarly articles along with metadata on scholarly works. As of 2016-01, AcaWiki hosted about 1400 summaries, but a substantial community failed to materialize.[1]

Other related Wikimedia projects whose goals would be served by a new project proving information citations include:

Non-Wikimedia projects include:

Interested people[edit]

others from past Wikicite interest
others from the English Wikipedia project
  1. user:Ellen Dana Nagler 19:25, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  2. user:ShaunMacPherson 21:26, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC) Anything that helps to organize and document data and sources Wikipedia uses can only help it become a more credible repository of information.
  3. I am happy to contribute to this project :). user:Paul Wilson 13:30, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  4. A long-needed project. user:172 21:59, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  5. I'll just put my name here without asking anybody. I find it increasingly difficult to write anything useful in WP, without the capability of directing readers to specific parts of referenced papers or books, with helpful or critical comments. (I am prepared to give lots of examples). The Wikicite facility is sorely needed. user:CSTAR 20:56, 12 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  6. user:Doradus 21:46, Feb 25, 2005 (UTC)
  7. user:David Gerard 21:42, 13 Mar 2005 (UTC)
  8. user:Kathleen Let me know how I can help.
  9. user:SEWilco: Starting my efforts with existing Footnote/References issues. (SEWilco 6 July 2005 06:15 (UTC))
  10. persathion I have juste done a proposition on the same subject on the french wikipedia (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilisateur:Mathias.peron/Projet-bib). Differences exist and I will wait from first feedbacks to speak about on meta user:Mathias.Peron 10:12, 8 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  11. In a couple of month (if everything goes well :-), there will be a Romanian Union Catalogue which will be open to anyone to contribute bibliographic data, in a (refined) XML format (but convenient wizzards will be provided). The tender for the (open source) software for the catalogue is days ahead. This repository could be a suitable host for the Wikicite. --user:Dan Matei 20:26, 18 September 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  12. I support anything that helps to promote a scholarly approach to providing good sources for Wikipedia content. Maybe the proposed Wikiversity project will help such efforts. --user:JWSchmidt 22:23, 15 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  13. This would be great, and I'm interested in helping development. Meanwhile I'm working towards a combined citation template, starting with cite book. ··user:gracefool |☺ 00:00, 17 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  14. I seem to be spending most of my time right now adding and fixing various citation templates. —user:Phil | Talk 16:30, 21 February 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  15. Standardization is woefully lacking, esp. in the format for hyperlinking citations to references. user:Ling.Nut (talk · contribs)
  16. This will improve citing, and make it easier-but only once the immense work of setting up the apparatus is done, and all the questions of what source is appropriate when are answered. In the meantime, I'm working on practical problems, and interested in modest goals. user:DGG (talk) 05:17, 7 July 2007 (UTC)[reply]
  17. I'm in. —user:Bender235 (talk) 19:19, 2 June 2008 (UTC)[reply]
  18. Please keep me in the loop. It's unclear to me what I can do, if anything, at this stage, though. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 11:51, 4 January 2013 (UTC)[reply]
  1. Kosboot (talk) 12:29, 21 April 2016 (UTC)[reply]
Other projects

Discussion of the possibility of becoming or merging into a Wikimedia project has been discussed on the AcaWiki mailing lists. Feedback has been universally in support of migration to status as a Wikimedia project.