Community Wishlist Survey 2021/Citations/Tool for separating the references from the body text

Tool for separating the references from the body text

  • Problem: Most often bibliographic references are directly mixed within the text and the code of the page. This considerably clutters the code of the page and makes difficult to locate the exact place where to do the needed additions or modifications directly in the page code, especially for long sections. This is a long problem affecting most of Wikipedia pages since the beginning. Even if some skilled contributors try to use Harvard name and date style and tricks with notes to locate all their references in the reference list at the end of the page, afterwards other contributors will directly insert their references in the body text of the page and the maintenance of the code becomes extremely tedious and a never-ending story.
  • Who would benefit: All contributors for an improved experience of editing the page code without being perturbed by the full references directly embedded in the code.
  • Proposed solution: To adopt the same approach that in all the references management programs (End Note, Reference Manager, Pro Cite, Zotero, Mendeley, ...). By clearly separating the in line citation in the text (with the reference name or ID only present in the text where the citation has to appear in the text) from the references data or code stored apart at the end of the page in the section reference. An interesting alternative is given in another proposal: it is to store the references directly in Wikidata as metadata for the page. Then an advantage is the centralization of all the references in one single place where the different Wikipedia sites could store, share, translate and discover all the common references.
  • More comments: Bots could be developed to assist for the migration of the references data or code at the end of each page in the references section or even better in one central place in Wikidata. I realize not to be the first for wishing such a feature. I already read this suggestion on different Talk pages and it is also probably discussed and advised in Wikipedia help pages and references templates since a long time. So, sorry to likely reinvent the warm water, but I think it is worth to insist once again on this never resolved issue in Wikipedia. I also realize the considerable technical challenge, or work, this could imply, but the question is certainly worth to be addressed once again and to find and implement a real solution. This will represent a real improvement in the code of each page. Aim: a cleaner and more accessible page code.
  • Phabricator tickets:
  • Proposer: Shinkolobwe (talk) 19:25, 24 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


@JAn Dudík and Jvs: Thank you for this information. I had a quick look at the proposed link with automatic translation from the Czech language to English, but I could not immediately find on the page a specialized function to directly do this job. I did not try to use the script too. So, I cannot presently assess if this tool is sufficient for solving the problems to be addressed but it could be a good first start. Thank you. Shinkolobwe (talk) 11:56, 25 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply] JAn Dudík (talk) 20:35, 25 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I'm not completely sure if this is what you are looking for, but if you need a tool to assist in moving inline citations into a references section in order to change them into so called list-defined references (framed by <reference></reference> or wrappers like Template:Reflist), in the English Wikipedia this tool might be helpful (to be added to your common.js):
If you are looking for ways to pull citations defined at Wikidata into Wikipedia, the English Wikipedia has an (still experimental) implementation for this named Template:cite Q.
--Matthiaspaul (talk) 17:36, 25 November 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
hmmm seems like a solution; but i'd need to use it first to see if it fits. BTW this need more advertisement, never saw this before on the citation and reference help pages. TRANSviada (talk) 18:47, 8 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • This working well would be conditional on some easy way to expand (without needing to jump to and from paragraph to bottom of source text) - either all refs or individual refs. 20:44, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • FYI: w:Help:List-defined references.--BoldLuis (talk) 13:29, 11 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • I agree that systematically using list-defined references with the reflist template is the cleanest way to introduce references in a page without cluttering the wiki code. However, too many contributors do not use, or do not know, this way to proceed. So, even if a page was first created with a clean references system from the beginning, it rapidly evolves to a less ordered situation and the entropy in the wiki code increases. Most of the pages of Wikipedia are affected because there exist many ways to introduce the references and that their direct insertion in the text of the wiki code is still the preferred, or the most popular, option today. What is lacking is an uniform and systematic approach for inserting the references (with a template or as a simple text, it is not the problem) at the end of the page, below the wiki code. Implementing a feature in the visual editor (VE) to do that is a very first necessary, but also a mandatory, step. But a reliable and robust tool to progressively clean the wiki code of the existing pages automatically (a bot), manually (a script in the user preferences) or semi-automatically (a piloted bot) would be welcome. Anyway, it also requires both a change in editing habits for those directly editing the code, and also a change in the visual editor. Without a change in the visual editor it will not be possible to improve the situation. The very first objective is to have a clean wiki code on the page and a tool to clean the code in a reliable way. The centralized management of references on Wikipedia or Wikidata is still another question. It will be better to adopt a stepwise approach than to reject a too ambitious proposal. Modest improvements, step by step, would already have a high added value. Shinkolobwe (talk) 11:37, 17 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]


  •   Support for real after all these years with all these strict sourcing rules and wikipedia/mediawiki hasn't yet a proper reference management system. it's a mess with duplicated stuff everywhere. there should be a repository (wikidata) for creating entries for reference works. then being able to cite them on wikimedia projects like wikipedia. BTW why don't we open an issue on phabricator already since it seems no have none regarding this? TRANSviada (talk) 18:43, 8 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support --NGC 54 (talk / contribs) 19:38, 8 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Silver hr (talk) 21:03, 8 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Ponor (talk) 21:54, 8 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support A real references managing system would be great. — Jules Talk 22:57, 8 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support YFdyh000 (talk) 23:29, 8 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Hanif Al Husaini (talk) 00:44, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Abductive (talk) 00:46, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Lion-hearted85 (talk) 02:39, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support TrudiJ (talk) 04:38, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support This would make source editing so much easier and friendlier, and the possible Wikidata integration would be even better. {{u|Sdkb}}talk 04:57, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support There are also significant policy and culture issues to address if editors wanted to implement this kind of tool (at least in en) but it's work that desperately needs to happen and cannot happen if the technical foundation is missing or impossible to build. ElKevbo (talk) 05:52, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Stepet49 (talk) 07:12, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Tmv (talk) 07:36, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Samwalton9 (talk) 09:39, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support JAn Dudík (talk) 10:55, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Kpjas (talk) 11:01, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support MilkyDefer (talk) 12:54, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support as Wiki Projects develop on wide themes end up using the same references across different articles, a simple way to add them rather than manual edits Kaybeesquared (talk) 13:13, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Hb2007 (talk) 13:41, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Baltakatei (talk) 17:03, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support --Roly Williams (talk) 17:19, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Brilliant! Will save a lot of time. Mark D Worthen PsyD (talk) [he/his/him] 18:07, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support dwf² (talk) 22:50, 9 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Wholeheartedly support reference migration to Wikidata - Darwin Ahoy! 01:12, 10 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose This can mostly be achieved with en:Template:Cite Q, which already exists. NMaia (talk) 01:19, 10 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose Isn't this what list-defined references are for? Those are a lifesaver, and I use them whenever I write articles. I heard they don't work with VE, which should be fixed instead of making a new feature. JPxG (talk) 05:48, 10 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Libcub (talk) 18:45, 10 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose I oppose this for the same reason as JPxG. Fix VE so it supports list defined references. RedWolf (talk) 19:49, 10 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose. Fix Visual Editor (VE) fix, to use the list-defined references first. It could be proposed in the wishlist for Visual Editor (in the whislist Editing section). --BoldLuis (talk) 13:33, 11 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support RobbieIanMorrison (talk) 19:13, 11 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Yes, please! I’ve just started experimenting with {{cite Q}} to embed references from WikiData, and it is the way to go. What’s missing and will need more work is the wiring for the Visual Editor to edit reference data stored in WD, and a separate reference manager for WD.  Michael Z. 2020-12-11 22:24 z 22:24, 11 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Will solve a major problem fort he sort of article-revising I work on. DGG (talk) 00:57, 12 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Would make adding and maintaining references a bit less awful. Oh, DrPizza! (talk) 07:29, 12 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Helder 09:52, 12 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Trizek from FR 19:11, 12 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support TeKaBe (talk) 08:28, 13 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Error9312 (talk) 04:16, 14 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Sadads (talk) 11:45, 14 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose As noted above, there are already at least two project-level implementation of this (cs, en). So, this is something for project devs to collaborate on and propagate between projects, not a wheel for the MW devs to reinvent. They should remain focused on things that can only be resolved at the MW level.  — SMcCandlish ¢ >ʌⱷ҅ʌ<  05:31, 15 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Baum64 (talk) 11:57, 15 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Lasse Ramson (talk) 20:39, 15 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support This is one of the major issues that discourage me from editing big articles. Wading through huge blocks of references and body text all in one is such a PITA that often I just don't bother. There exists a user script called Reference Organizer that can move an article to use list-defined references, but it's buggy and unmaintained. An official tool should exist for doing this. (talk) 13:18, 16 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Put in wikidata. We often use the same references across different articles / projects, putting all references in wikidata would make it much easier to format or find citations. Ascax (talk) 15:34, 16 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support. I can't even imagine the scope of the work required to reformat existing wikis, and the extent of bugs and complaints, but it's certainly the thing to do. Retired electrician (talk) 20:49, 16 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Stephan Hense (talk) 22:49, 16 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Sticking references straight in the article text (with template hacks to create "structured" data) is amateur hour stuff. Michael Childs (talk) 02:01, 17 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Oppose Jdpipe (talk) 05:51, 17 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Kku (talk) 07:34, 17 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support I understand well the comments of those who oppose. Please, in case of doubt, read the discussion list to understand correctly the pursued objective: to have a clean code on the page. We can move progressively step by step with gradual improvements. Do not see that as an impossible task. We need a whole tribe to achieve this mammoth task after cutting it into small realistic slices. It will take time and patience but it first requires a change in the visual editor (VE), reliable tools to clean the code of the page, and a wide adoption. Shinkolobwe (talk) 11:57, 17 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support --Governor Sheng (talk) 15:07, 17 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Nashona (talk) 05:27, 18 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 06:05, 18 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Rzuwig 11:31, 18 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Reseletti (talk) 18:54, 18 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Astronommica (talk) 08:48, 19 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support 5910 C (talk) 21:55, 19 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support, strongly. I've used list-defined references only to see another editor tediously manually integrate them all into the text. I've tried a tool that rearranges the markup only in my own edit view, but that's useless for newcomers (and breaks paste-selection-by-middleclicking for me, so I don't use it). Cite Q looks really useful, my thanks to Matthiaspaul for telling me about it.

    I would very much appreciate a more streamlined, quicker-to-type version of this, with UI tools in the editing interfaces of each wiki for easily finding refs in Wikidata (especially those I've used recently) and pushing new-reference metadata into Wikidata. The UI tools are essential, and they are something that can only be resolved at the MW level (per SMcCandlish). If it's easy to use, it will rapidly become the default, and markup editing will be much less cluttered, encouraging contributions.

    I should not have to maintain a citation database for Wikipedia-editing use on my own computer. It duplicates the work on Wikidata, non-reusably. Wikidata should become my citation database, with the database on my computer reduced to, at most, a syncable partial mirror with custom annotations. HLHJ (talk) 00:04, 20 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  •   Support USI2020 (talk) 18:20, 20 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Support Move them into Wikidata and have Wikidata be the central repo for all citations across projects! Including for itself! Nicereddy (talk) 04:07, 21 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  •   Weak support per HLHJ, Shinkolobwe, et al., after initially being tending more towards neutral per JPxG, SMcCandlish, et al. —2d37 (talk) 10:16, 21 December 2020 (UTC)Reply[reply]