Community Wishlist Survey 2019/Citations/VisualEditor: Allow references to be named

VisualEditor: Allow references to be named

  • Problem: One cannot enter a name for a reference in the VisualEditor. When references are used multiple times, VE automatically assigns ":0", ":1", etc. as names.
  • Who would benefit: Everyone using VE, everyone editing content containing references added using VE
  • Proposed solution: Allow editors to assign individual names to references when clicking on a reference in the VE
  • More comments: This is a resubmit of Community Wishlist Survey 2017/Editing/VisualEditor: Allow references to be named from last year which got a lot of votes but sadly not enough to get into the top 10. Since then, nothing more seems to have happened here.
  • Phabricator tickets: task T52568, task T92432
  • Proposer: SoWhy 15:19, 3 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]


  • I like this. These reference names are confusing to new editors, highly unmemorable, and cause problems including incorrect citations when people copy text between articles. It causes friction between manual editors and Visual-Editor-using editors. My BibTeX software makes auto-names which run "[surname of first author]_[year of publication]_[first word of title which is not the or A or some other very common word]". The second phab ticket suggests something similar. HLHJ (talk) 02:05, 10 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
    • Exactly. In addition to allowing editors to assign ref tags, the VE should suggest a Harvard style ref tag in the form of first authors last name + year of publication (i.e., "Smith_2017") appended by a, b, c, etc. if necessary to disambiguate. Boghog (talk) 07:21, 26 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • This would be useful, especially as some editors heavily use refname it may allow to achieve some consistency. What is more, this may be used as an e.g. description text when the references are finally moved to Meta. aegis maelstrom δ 09:27, 10 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • We need naming references to solve a problem we see facing our student editors (in the large Wikipedia Education program) and others moving material in from their sandboxes. Using VE they have references named ":0", ":1", etc. The target article often has existing references named ":0", ":1", etc. VE handles the conflict by renaming the incoming references. As students and other editors integrate their new pieces, the first batch will be renamed ":02", ":12", etc. VE will does not know that the next batch coming in should match, and will rename those ":03", ":13", etc. This confuses students and is nearly impossible to fix without learning how to use the source editor. StarryGrandma (talk) 01:59, 20 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • Allowing editors to specify the name for a named-ref is like asking if you prefer your poison in mint or cinnamon flavor, as the real problem is the use of named-refs. But if (as Boghog suggests) named-refs were done in a style compatible with {Harv} it would be lot easier to clean up when VE-using editors intrude into an article not using named-refs. A better approach would be to not use named-refs. ~ J. Johnson (talk) 00:08, 27 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
    That's a bizarre, incredibly extremist opinion of referencing. --Izno (talk) 00:36, 27 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
A comment full of inflated hyperbole, signifying nothing. ~ J. Johnson (talk) 23:34, 27 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]

The naming of references should automatically include a number and a word. This would help having many references named “0”, “1”, “2”, etc. Gleeanon409 (talk) 19:27, 28 October 2019 (UTC)[reply]