Proposal talk:Move references out of article text

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I think this deserves real consideration. Joey the Mango 03:32, 20 August 2009 (UTC)

Reduce code complexity

This proposal is a great start for dropping one of the major barriers to entry - code complexity. We want people to use cited material when editing wikipedia, but these inline citations are quite complex and make it very difficult for the casual editor to use. Simply put, citing references is one of the most important parts of the editing process, yet it is one of the most difficult things to do in most wikipedia articles. In general, we suffer from a code complexity issue - too much relies on templates and too little relies on the simple toolbar above the editing window. This massively favors the serious wikipedia hobbyist or computer programmer at the expense of highly qualified experts in much needed fields who might have time to drop by wikipedia and add or correct information, but don't have time to learn how to write what's becoming a very complex code. --Aranae 03:28, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

I am not so sure. The current template for references is a bit finicky, but the "highly qualified experts in much needed fields" are very familiar with its components and won't have all that much difficulty. Likely they will have more trouble if a more circuitous route is adopted, with an extra template. It is the users who are unfamiliar with citing references who are having difficulties with citing references. Actually, the "highly qualified experts in much needed fields" are kept away by something else, namely the opinionated self-proclaimed 'experts', who will fight tooth-and-nail to keep information out of (and fiction in) Wikipedia, and this indeed is a "major barrier to entry". - Brya 10:13, 16 September 2009 (UTC)
Here [1] is a clear example of an expert whose contributions are much needed, well cited, but create nonsensical text because of a small error in using the references template. This user has a whole string of edits to this page that indicate a clear understanding of the scientific literature, but a minor mistake in the code created a mess. These are the only edits by this user; I certainly envision him/her leaving in disgust. The inline reference template is simply nonsensically complicated. You essentially have to learn to code a new computer language in order to cite references in wikipedia using this format and that's unacceptable. --Aranae 22:13, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
I am not sure what that example shows. In the first place this is a case of the cumbersome way to create references ("<ref name="anselli">{{cite journal | author=W. Bergmans & N. J. van Strien | date = 2004 | title=Systematic notes on a collection of bats from Malawi. I. Megachiroptera: Epomophorinae and Rousettinae (Mammalia, Chiroptera) | journal=Acta Chiropterologica | issue=6 (2) | pages=249-268}}</ref>" instead of the more straightforward version. I cannot blame anybody who does not understand something as weird as "<ref name="anselli">" which is there just to make things difficult. In the second place he was not left alone but quit only after a repeated interaction with you, so there is more than one element which may have made him quit? - Brya 13:08, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Ref name hack

I believe that there is a simple way to move references out of the main body of the text, and that is to use the 'ref-name' function to name the reference and provide its details in the references section, and then just use the appropriate reference tag in the main body of the text. This would improve readability and ease of editing the main body of the article, but risks excluding people who don't know how the ref name function works.

As for the addition of references by inexperienced users or those without a code-based background, I propose something similar in proposal to include standard and frequently-used templates in the editing toolbar; I also detail several ways of implementing this on the talk page. — Sasuke Sarutobi 22:27, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

I forgot to mention that this will need a little work, as currently every instance of the 'ref' tag, name or no name, leaves a citation point. Perhaps if the <references /> tag were expanded to wrap around the ref list as <references>...</references> or <reflist>...</reflist>? — Sasuke Sarutobi 00:24, 30 August 2009 (UTC)
Actually, the opposite will propably work better. Forbid the 'ref-name' function, which just creates a morass of inexplicable and superfluous code. Just simplify referencing. Arrange it so that the user would put in either "<ref>...</ref>" or "{{cite journal|...|...|...}}", never the redundant "<ref>{{cite journal|...|...|...}}</ref>". That would already help considerably. - Brya 06:01, 13 October 2009 (UTC)


Some proposals will have massive impact on end-users, including non-editors. Some will have minimal impact. What will be the impact of this proposal on our end-users? -- Philippe 00:13, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

I don´t see any impact on non-editors. The impact on editors will be high. Small edits will be easier to make. Edits with a reference will be getting more difficulty. --Goldzahn 08:37, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Move / rename

"Code" here is inaccurate term.

Proposal:Move references out of the code --> Proposal:Move references out of the text, or maybe Proposal:Move references out of article text.

The terms of course are reference tags, reference text, article text or body text. And of course a clear indication of why might be good too:

Proposal:Move references out of article text for ease of editing. -Stevertigo 02:15, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

I moved the proposal to Proposal:Move references out of article text
--Goldzahn 20:35, 4 September 2009 (UTC)


  • Leave the current system as is, use javascript to group references together for those editors that prefer to see the code that way. Or do as FCKeditor does and collapse all <special> tags using a visual icon so that there is no visual interruption --Alterego 04:13, 4 September 2009 (UTC)


In the body text:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.<ref name="refname1"/>

==== References ====

<ref name="refname1">This is a reference.</ref>

In the body text

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.[1]


  1. This is a reference.

Source: w:Help:Footnotes#List-defined_references

--Goldzahn 06:24, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

Simpler solution

There's a much simpler solution to having text cluttered with lots of long inline references. Editors could use a short referencing style -- <ref>Smith 2009, p. 1.</ref> followed by a full citation in a references section at the end. SlimVirgin1 13:12, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

That's possible and useful only for books and similar cited multiple times in the article. --Nemo 07:32, 3 October 2009 (UTC)