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VisualEditor: Automatic naming scheme for references produces meaningless names like <ref name=":0">
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Description

Intention:
Re-use a reference.

Actual Results:
The ref naming scheme needs improvements so that humans can remember which ref name they want to re-use, especially if they are using the wikitext editor, where they will not have any of the possible hints that VisualEditor may provide.

Expected Results:
A system that is "xxx:0", where "xxx" is text simply copied out from the beginning of the named ref would be an improvement. We can assume that anything inside the ref is in a language that the editor is capable of coping with. We can exclude the names of templates and their parameters, as well as "http" (otherwise, bare URLs in refs will produce a lot of equally unfriendly <ref name=htt:n> names).

Reproducible: Always


Version: unspecified
Severity: enhancement

Details

Reference
bz57459

Event Timeline

bzimport raised the priority of this task from to Lowest.Nov 22 2014, 2:38 AM
bzimport set Reference to bz57459.

(In reply to comment #0)

The ref naming scheme needs improvements so that humans can remember which
ref name they want to re-use

Why?

This is an insane amount of work to do, won't work on wikis that do things in a different way (e.g. this might work for enwiki and frwiki but not dewiki or others), and will likely not actually result in what you want.

I'm hovering on WONTFIX, but will leave this as "Lowest" instead for now.

Why humans need to be able to remember the ref names:

Because actual humans actually have to be able to remember the ref name if they're going to re-use it. They cannot re-use the ref any other way.

This is true for everyone now, because VisualEditor is only showing (at most) the ref names when you try to re-use a ref, which means that anyone trying to re-use a ref currently needs to know whether the ref they want to re-use ref name :0, :1, :2, :3, :4, :5, etc.—sometimes through a dozen or more meaningless numbers.

This is true permanently for anyone not using VisualEditor, because there is no other way to re-use a ref in the wikitext editor except to manually type (or copy) the name of the ref.

I realize that any automagic system will have serious limitations, compared to prompting users for a human-created name (which VisualEditor ought to be doing). But a semi-random string of letters is actually easier for most people to remember than a purely incremental number. <ref name="sgd1"> and <ref name="iuo2"> are easier to keep straight than <ref name=":1"> and <ref name=":2">—and <ref name="usc1"> and <ref name="lee2">, when the ref's contents actually meantion USC and Lee, are even easier.

I don't understand how including some letters (taken from the ref's contents) in the ref name would fail to work anywhere, or at least would fail to work at any language that uses left-to-right typing (unless Arabic numbers are also typed right to left; I can imagine that combining RTL for letters with LTR for numbers would be irritating) and a non-IME/non-variant character set (which might also work just fine, but I don't know enough to have an opinion).

Speaking as an extensive editor, I just find the exist reference I want to re-use and manually copy the name; this is no extra work in VE. Clearly some people try to remember the name between uses, but given that random people write random names for references already…

  • This bug has been marked as a duplicate of bug 50568 ***
Neil_P._Quinn_WMF reopened this task as Open.May 16 2015, 12:18 AM
Neil_P._Quinn_WMF set Security to None.