The current project for this is Wikicite.

For the <references/> tag, see the mediawiki extension Cite/Cite.php.
See also Wikipedia Help:Footnotes and Wikipedia:Footnotes.
It is important to note that the wiki site should have the extension Cite/Cite.php implemented to have the <ref> and <references/> tags rendered. Extensions like Cite/Cite.php are installed after installing MediaWiki.

From a discussion about rel=nofollow and dealing with external links:

jwales wrote:

> Wikipedia provides an enormously high value set of hints to search
> engines to help them find sites that don't suck.  

In the longer term, we should start treating external links, and other bibliography entries and references, like first-class citizens -- with their own discussion pages, watchlist entries, and attributes.

A reference is a lot more than just another sentence in a 10k article. It forms part of the core of a good encyclopedia -- doubly so for one which prides itself on not hand-picking its editors.

References should:

  • have histories,
  • become more precise over time
    • which edition of that book? should it be updated when a new edition comes out?
    • on what date was that website visited? [and where's the permalink to it via the Internet Archive]?
  • have commentary
    • what do other people say about this reference?
    • is this advertising? zealotry? spam?
  • give off a strong signal when added, modified, or deleted. (Addition of a reference is quite different from addition of other content.)
  • update across articles, if possible. When a link changes (as most of the web does), all uses of that reference should change as well.

Of course often you need to disambiguate apparently-similar refs as you get more precise. And you need to allow people to add links quickly, without worrying about all this "good style".

Perhaps we could design a system where there is a 'right' way to insert or call an external URL, and an 'easy' way. Then a URL that is just pasted in would have ref=nofollow, but one which is called correctly (and has its own discussion space and history somewhere) would not. 21:08, 7 Mar 2005 (UTC)