Two-way citations in MediaWiki

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There has been some discussions on bibliographies and citations in wikis. Recently, wikimedian Samuel Klein wrote an entry on the Wiki research mailing list pointing to Wikimedia proposals WikiTextrose and Wikicite.

There is a general problem with citations: To cite the Wikicite page “[a] fact is only as reliable as the ability to source that fact, and the ability to weigh carefully that source”*. Think of the following sentence with Niels Bohr awfully miscited:

John Wayne is probably the best Flamenco dancer in the World (Bohr, 1913).

Although the MediaWiki software has an extension to structure footnotes on the individual wiki page, there is really no technical help to ensure that the stated fact is supported by the source. And we usually cannot go the to “(Bohr, 1913)” Wikipedia page and check which other wiki pages use (Bohr, 1913) as s source.

It is, however, possible to some extent to get MediaWiki to use more structured citations. In my Brede Wiki I make wiki pages for each primary sources, in my case, mostly scientific articles. Furthermore, the cite journal template in the Brede Wiki will automatically make wiki links based on the title parameter. So when I write “An early human brain mapping study with positron emission tomography found that the temporoparietal area was involved in spatial attention,[1]” on a page and the citation uses the cite journal template I get a wiki link to “A PET study of visuospatial attention”. With the “What links here” link on that page it is possible to see the citations, ??? although not in particularly detail. At least it will allow us to go both ways in the citations.

WikiTextrose and Wikicite goes further in a attempt to ensure that facts are cited, ??? and cited correctly.

The syntax suggested by WikiTextrose for a structured citations looks like this:

[[cite:isbn:067943593X:p11|”In the Second Century of the Christian Era, the empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth and most civilized portion of mankind.”| Gibbon describes the Roman empire at the time of the Antonines in very favorable terms.]]

Wikicite suggest a wiki syntax extension with “++fn”, e.g.,

Columbus was most likely Genoese++fn, although ++some historians claim he could have been born in other places, from the Crown of Aragon to the Kingdoms of Galicia or Portugal++fn, or in the Greek island of Chios++fn among others.

With a form interface Wikicite editors should then add the bibliographic details for each ‘fn’ instance. With an extra tool it would be possible to perform an article review on the citations, see the Wikicite review mockup.

Instead of having the bibliographic entries of the sources on the wiki itself, e.g., on Wikipedia, proposers suggest Wikicat as a bibliographic catalog used to support Wikicite and WikiTextrose.

I have been thinking if it would be possible to do more precise two-way citations with MediaWiki and the Semantic MediaWiki extension, and I have come up with the following scheme:

On a page with a primary source, here Scientific citations in Wikipedia, we added the bibligraphic details in an infobox-like template as well as the “facts” of the article within “fact” templates:

| title = Scientific citations in Wikipedia
| author1 = Finn ??rup Nielsen
| journal = First Monday
| volume = 3
| pages = 26
| year = 2009

== Facts ==
{{fact|Wikipedia uses scientific citations}}
{{fact|Scientific citations in Wikipedia shows some correlation with ordinary scientific citations}}

On a page that uses one of the facts we write, e.g.,

{{cite|Wikipedia uses scientific citations}}

== References ==

The fact template uses semantic markup and a semantic query

# {{{1}}} [[fact::{{{1}}}| ]] (citations: {{#ask: [[Cite::{{{1}}}]] | format=list }})

The paper template uses here only semantic markup, e.g.,

[[title::{{{title}}}]] is authored by [[has author::{{{author1}}}]] and published in [[{{{journal}}}]] in [[has publication year::{{{year}}}]].

The cite template makes use of the semantic search and query:

[[Cite::{{{1}}}]]{{#tag:ref | {{#ask: [[Fact::{{{1}}}]] | ?has author | mainlabel=- | format=list | headers=hide }} ({{#ask: [[Fact::{{{1}}}]] | ?has publication year | mainlabel=- | format=list | headers=hide }}) {{#ask: [[Fact::{{{1}}}]] }} }}.

This last template uses the somewhat obscure “#tag:ref” construct since template parameters in the standard application of the <ref> tag doesn’t work.


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