// apologies for cross-posting


A new type of preview will soon be part of the MediaWiki software: Reference Previews.[1] This feature shows you a reference in a small pop-up when you hover over the reference number in square brackets. This way, you can look up a reference without jumping down to the bottom of the page.

What’s more is that Reference Previews can offer a quicker way to evaluate the trustworthiness of the cited source by displaying the reference type (book, web, news, journal, note) in the pop-up’s header. Thus, they can help increase trust in the article itself. These types can be applied by using citation templates, or by manually entering a class into the ref tag.

Reference Previews will be combined with Page Previews[2], a feature showing previews for linked articles. Both perform essentially the same function: previewing content before deciding to dig deeper, and easily providing more information while reading. Because of their similarities in design and behavior, both Page Previews and Reference Previews will be controlled by a single user setting. This means, all users who currently have Page Previews activated, will also get Reference Previews. Also, all readers, anonymous contributors and new users will see Reference Previews per default if they haven’t disabled Page Previews. 

On several wikis, the Navigation-Popups gadget and the Reference Tooltips gadget already offer previews for references. If you want to use them instead, you can: If you have one of these gadgets enabled, you’ll see them instead of Reference Previews. Although these gadgets exist, this feature was built into a MediaWiki extension in order to make it available for all Wikipedias, just as Page Previews is.

The original request for this came from the Technical Wishes survey on German Wikipedia in 2017, where it was the number 1 wish. The Technical Wishes team from Wikimedia Germany has been working on it in cooperation with the WMF’s Reading Web team. Reference Previews have been a beta feature for several months on all Wikipedias and some other wikis, with more than 830,000 beta testers. During the beta phase, lots of feedback was collected, and several changes were made as a result.[3] Now, we plan to deploy it to a first group of wikis as a default feature on March 17. We’re still looking for wikis who want to have the default feature early, so if you’re interested, please let us know! [4] [5]

More information about this feature, including frequently asked questions, can be found on its project page on Meta. [1] A big thanks to everyone who contributed to this development, by voting, testing, giving feedback or else. Comments and questions are welcome on this talk page. [4]



[1] Reference Previews: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WMDE_Technical_Wishes/ReferencePreviews
[2] Page Previews: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Page_Previews
[3] Changes during the beta phase: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WMDE_Technical_Wishes/ReferencePreviews#Beta_phase
[4] talk page: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:WMDE_Technical_Wishes/ReferencePreviews
[5] Phab: https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T271206

Johanna Strodt
Project manager community communications Technical Wishes

Wikimedia Deutschland e. V. | Tempelhofer Ufer 23-24 | 10963 Berlin

Tel. (030) 219 158 26-0



Unsere Vision ist eine Welt, in der alle Menschen am Wissen der Menschheit teilhaben, es nutzen und mehren können. Helfen Sie uns dabei!


Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. Help us to achieve our vision!



Wikimedia Deutschland – Gesellschaft zur Förderung Freien Wissens e. V. Eingetragen im Vereinsregister des Amtsgerichts Berlin-Charlottenburg unter der Nummer 23855 B. Als gemeinnützig anerkannt durch das Finanzamt für Körperschaften I Berlin, Steuernummer 27/029/42207.