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Task Request: Change the default ref name produced by visual editor
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Description

Is it possible to change the default ref names that are produced when you "re-use" a citation in the visual editor? Just a place to add your name ref name would save time and be great for educational initiatives. The visual editor presently uses <ref name=":0"> or 1,2 etc. I switch between visual and code based editor tools in order to re-name references that are re-used. This can be frustrating for students as it adds another task and skill to simple wiki editing, and I often see skilled medical editors on Wikipedia spending a lot of time cleaning up reference names.
Thanks!

Event Timeline

JenOttawa created this task.Jul 6 2017, 2:28 AM
Restricted Application added a subscriber: Aklapper. · View Herald TranscriptJul 6 2017, 2:28 AM
Deskana added a subscriber: Deskana.

@JenOttawa Don't worry! You filed this task in the right place. Besides, it's super easy to change the tags on a task, so don't worry about that. :-)

The advantage of a numerical ordering system is its simplicity and that it's impossible for duplicates to be generated. Other methods, such as the one you're suggesting, are essentially hash functions which open up the possibility of duplicate reference names being created. To avoid duplicates, something like a numbering system would be needed on top of the hash function anyway, which means the end result isn't much different and you've increased the complexity of the system significantly. Any hash function used for references would also have to make a bunch of assumptions about the data, for example in your case the assumption that every reference has a last name or a year of publication. References are such a complex things that any assumption you make about a reference is almost certainly wrong in some subset of cases.

Given the above, if the reference names that are generated really bother you, think the simplest solution to this is to switch to the wikitext editor and change the reference name. Your changes are preserved when you switch to the wikitext editor, so this adds minimal effort to you as a user.

Deskana triaged this task as Low priority.Jul 13 2017, 5:00 PM
Deskana moved this task from To Triage to Freezer on the VisualEditor board.

These names bother a lot of people who spend their time cleaning up the mess left by others using visual editor, which is a waste of editor time and generates resentment of visual editor. Is it really that difficult to generate a meaningful name and then check that it is unique in that article?

Try suggesting a ref name based on the available parameters and requiring the editor to confirm that it is a reasonable choice or substitute their own choice. Start with "last1 year", add a, b c etc to disambiguate, use title if no author listed, then website, then ask editor, or just ask the editor to name it in the first place and disambiguate with a, b, c if necessary.

JenOttawa added a comment.EditedDec 7 2018, 2:39 PM

Thanks for the suggestion {{Ping|Pbsouthwood}} . It is my understanding that there is not a place in the visual editor to add in a ref name when re-using references. From what I can see it automatically designates references re-used with unique numbers. I was told by more experienced medical editors that the name+year of pub is preferred and notice that many people spend time correcting the numbers to this. Right now to add in a ref name when editing with visual editor, I manually switch to code based editing to complete the edit or do this in a separate minor edit. I made note of this as for someone who is used to editing Wikipedia, this is straightforward. For someone new to editing or for students, this can be more confusing and add to the list of technical things to learn. Thanks again,
Jenny
It looks like this will be resolved on the community wish list. This is great! https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Community_Wishlist_Survey_2019/Results

JenOttawa updated the task description. (Show Details)Dec 7 2018, 3:10 PM

Diberri's tool, which WikiProject Medicine used to use as its primary source, used to provide a ref name of pmid1234567 for citations it generated (from PMIDs).

Citations generated via the automagic citoid service will use a citation template, but manual citations and most explanatory footnotes (such as https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:External_links#cite_note-NotRef-5 ) will not.

Cirdan added a subscriber: Cirdan.Jun 6 2019, 2:56 PM
Cirdan added a comment.Jun 6 2019, 2:58 PM

This is closely related (and possibly a duplicate) of T92432