Anthony DiPierro wrote:
On 12/6/05, Ray Saintonge <saintonge(a)telus.net>
Anthony DiPierro wrote:
Maybe complicated isn't what I'm looking
for. But consider the
following and whether or not you'd enjoy editing it by hand:
'''Roy [[cite:ISBN:123456789:p. 7|"Roy Orbison's middle name is
([[cite:ISBN:123456789:p.9|"He was born
in Foo, Bar on April 23 of 1936"|"[[April 23]], []"]] –
[[cite:ISBN:123456789:p.11|"He died that same year, on the 6th of
December"|"[[December 6]], []"]]),
[[cite:ISBN:123456789:p.13|"They called him "The Big
"The Big O""]], was ...
Interesting example! Correct bibliography should not override reality
checks. Saying that someone born in 1936 died in "that same year",
which also happens to be 1988 leads me to the conclusion that
1936=1988. :-) This may not have been Anthony's intention, but if
what we are trying to say becomes so obscured by citations this is an
omen of our future problems.
Well, yeah, that was intentional.
Great! I suspected that possibility, but couldn't be sure.
As I was performing the exercise I
thought about how not all references are going to be as neat and clean
as containing the exact statement in the original. What if the
reference has a big long paragraph starting with "In 1988, Orbison
began [blah blah whatever]" and ending with "He died that same year".
Do you quote the whole paragraph, do you use ellipsis (in hindsight I
guess that would be the best solution), do you just add  after
"that same year" (in which case why bother with the exact quote in the
first place)? It's not so cut and dry.
It needs to be adaptable to the different writing styles of different
I was thinking about this yesterday and I imagined some
things that could be done, such as scanning in the actual page itself
(it could be hosted on a separate site, with lots of access
restrictions, under fair use). But now we're talking even more of a
pipe dream than the original plan.
It will be interesting to watch how Google gets throught the courts with
its book search feature. If we're lucky the courts will give us some
valuable guidance on points that matter to us.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding how these cites would be
used, because that
was hell; it was even worse than I had thought before going through
the actual exercise.
I don't think wiki markup is the proper solution for this. And that
means significant redesign. Feel free to prove me wrong here, though,
and show us a working model which is just as easy to edit as
I think it's a great idea, I just think it's years ahead of its time
(and that assumes it's designed independently of Wikimedia, cramming
it through Wikimedia development processes would only hinder it).
Perhaps. When I asked my own question about what the rest of us can do
I was not interested in a lot of theoretical material about what library
scientists put into card catalogues. I was considering the point of
view of a normal Wikipedian (assuming such an animal exists) who is
about to write an article and who already has adequate references that
he is ready, willing and able to use. His problem is to find a
practical way to enter the citations in a way that will scale with the
proposed theoretical framework.
Well, I think a good starting point would be to simply put the
reference(s) in the comment field. Then someone or some software
could later go through those references and apply them to the
appropriate text (based on the diff). I go back and forth as to
whether or not it'd be a good idea to have a separate field for this
(and whether or not to require it to be filled out, at least for
Putting in a reference with every single edit is probably a good idea
(reverts of vandalism being at least one exception), but I can't even
force myself to do it, so I guess it's best kept as some elusive
target rather than a real requirement. It'd certainly slow down
editing, especially if you got carried away with it (fixing a spelling
error and referencing the page in the OED).
When I was doing more with Wikisource I raised the possibility of
synchronized side-by-side edit boxes. I had translations in mind at the
time, but it could work equally well for annotations and references.
For word references, I look forward to having Wiktionary fulfill that
function, but even with 106,000 entries we are still far from being
comprehensive enough to do that well.
Documenting is tedious business. With the meaning of words in
particular I find that people add meanings from their own memories, and
that can be far from accurate. That sphere also has an ongoing debate
between descriptivism and prescriptivism. It's easy to spend an hour
documenting a single word in simple cases. Common words can be far more
As much as we may want to see everything documented a reasonable balance
needs to be found that will still encourage contributors to go as far as
they want beyond minimum standards. We need to establish minimum
standards that can even vary with the type of article. Biographical
articles about living persons would certainly require a higher standard
than biographies of Pokémon characters.