Automatically maintained citations with Wikidata and Cite Q

References are crucial in Wikipedia articles – if you can’t reference the information you add to an article then it will probably be quickly removed. However, they are also painful to manually assemble and manage, as they contain a lot of information in a structured form. There are various tools to create references, and bots that maintain them, but using structured data to manage them is much easier: enter Wikicite and Cite Q!

Wikicite is an initiative to develop open citations and linked bibliographic data. Over the last few years they have added millions of references to Wikidata (as part of WikiProject Source MetaData). These can be used in Wikipedias via the {{Cite Q}} template, which turns a Wikidata item into a citation. In its simplest form, the template takes a single parameter – the cited work’s QID on Wikidata – and supplies metadata from Wikidata, to the {{Citation}} template.

First introduced on the English Wikipedia in 2017, it has always been the intention that it should be a shared codebase, with multilingual features, available to all projects. Cite Q provides an alternative way to add citations, which will automatically be updated as the Wikidata item is updated, but it is focused on journal and book references, and is not intended to replace all references.

Wikicite pioneered eScholarships within the Wikimedia community earlier this year. This provided the opportunity and funding to bring five editors – Mike PeelPigsonthewingRexxSAdamant.pwn and Ederporto – together to work on the development of the module. Normally we would have met in person at a hackathon, but instead we met by Zoom to discuss, code and document, from our homes in Brazil, England, Germany and Spain.

We met together for four days in total – the first two were focused on code development, the third to share knowledge through a Wikidata Lab, and the fourth to close out remaining issues and feature requests. Some of the highlights include:

Further development work is planned, as documented on the template’s page on the English Wikipedia. Please try out the updated version of the template, and see if it works well for you. If you want help installing it on other language Wikipedias, or if you spot any bugs, please let us know!

We want to thank Wikicite for the eScholarship opportunity, and Liam Wyatt in particular for assistance throughout the process.