Help talk:Cite errors

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Help:Cite errors:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:

    Semi-protected edit request on 11 January 2015[edit]

    I have no idea what other officers who may not have liked Gen Robinett called him, but he was widely known ONLY as Robbie. This should be corrected as it reflects badly on him. As his niece, I know this for a fact. I knew my uncle very well from infancy to his death in 1975.

    Choate152 (talk) 22:56, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

    Wrong page, see Talk:Paul McDonald Robinett, and that article is not semiprotected Cannolis (talk) 23:06, 11 January 2015 (UTC)

    Need help on Selena[edit]

    I don't understand the language used in the help page for the error, can anyone help me out? Best, .jonatalk 18:54, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

    After some scratching around, I've fixed one of the errors and have edited the help page to mention {{Certification Cite Ref}}. -- John of Reading (talk) 20:05, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

    What's changed?[edit]

    Why has the number of entries in Category:Pages with missing references list snowballed to over 100? Some of the pages on it, such as Ely_and_Littleport_riots_of_1816, haven't been edited for many months, but they now have a red "Cite error" message at the bottom: Noyster (talk), 10:23, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

    This is probably change to {{#tag:ref|...}} see Template talk:Refn#Refn references getting sent to the bottom of the page?. --Redrose64 (talk) 11:32, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

    DId someone break the template again?[edit]

    At Ahmed Zayat, which worked yesterday, I'm now getting the "Cite error: There are <ref group=lower-alpha> tags or {{efn}} templates on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist|group=lower-alpha}} template or {{notelist}} template (see the help page)." message... Montanabw (talk) 18:52, 26 May 2015 (UTC)

    This is because in this edit you added a {{efn}} without making sure that there was also a {{notelist}}. I've fixed it with this edit. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:08, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
    I did a {{notes}} the way I have done it for several years... and it worked yesterday... Montanabw(talk) 19:17, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
    There is no {{notes}} in the version where you added that {{efn}}, nor is there any evidence of one being added or removed in subsequent edits until my fix mentioned above. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:28, 26 May 2015 (UTC)
    Aw whoops, I've been going back and forth between that one and American Pharoah (which DID have the same problem but also has {{notes}}, I must have confused the two. Swore is twa there at some point, but maybe I had a brain fart, wouldn't be the first time... Sigh... Montanabw(talk) 03:02, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

    References colour[edit]

    You can't, for instance, format a reference with <ref style="color:red;">content</ref>, or give it an id. Why is this? For television series where the header row is coloured blue, references are basically invisible against them. Is there a way to colour references black/white? Alex|The|Whovian 16:02, 13 September 2015 (UTC)

    @AlexTheWhovian: The <ref>...</ref> tags look like HTML, but they aren't - they're a MediaWiki extension, see mw:Extension:Cite. You therefore cannot expect that <ref> would accept global HTML attributes like style=. Wrap it in a suitably-styled <span>...</span> element, as in <span style="background:white;"><ref>...</ref></span> Don't attempt to set color: - links should be left in their "natural" colours, blue for unvisited; purple for visited, etc. --Redrose64 (talk) 18:28, 13 September 2015 (UTC)

    CNET reference[edit]

    Why is the CNET reference broken and invoked but not defined and can someone please fix it? -- PK2 (talk) 08:22, 20 September 2015 (UTC)

    @PK2: I guess you mean on some article. Based on your contributions I guess it's Google Translate but at the time of your edit or before that I could find no cite errors. I then looked at your edits after posting here and found [1] which is broken because no reference has been defined with <ref name="CNET">...</ref>. I fixed that in [2] (diff to broken version). When you ask for help about something, please say where it is in a way that enables others to see the issue. PrimeHunter (talk) 09:25, 20 September 2015 (UTC)

    Thank you PrimeHunter. Is that how you fix the references? -- PK2 (talk) 12:58, 20 September 2015 (UTC)

    I'm not sure what you are asking. It's how to use a reference more than once by naming it. PrimeHunter (talk) 13:09, 20 September 2015 (UTC)

    Article contains nothing[edit]

    The article contains nothing. Please send it to Articles for deletion.Giantnut76 (talk) 11:37, 2 October 2015 (UTC)

    @Giantnut76: Which article are you referring to? PrimeHunter (talk) 12:01, 2 October 2015 (UTC)

    Targeted work.[edit]

    {{help needed}} Hi Admins/super users, can we exclude all except articles from this Cat, and place the help templates in the Cat blurb, for other backlog Cat's this also may apply as best practice, all old notice boards, draft etc should not be shown here, cheers The Original Filfi (talk) 22:55, 5 October 2015 (UTC)

    @The Original Filfi: Are you referring to Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting? Category talk:Pages with incorrect ref formatting is one of four category talk pages redirecting here. PrimeHunter (talk) 23:16, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
    Hi @PrimeHunter:, yes (Category talk:Pages with incorrect ref formatting) I have been trying to keep on top of this Cat and occasionally bursts of indiscriminate work elsewhere.The Original Filfi (talk) 23:26, 5 October 2015 (UTC)
    If you're looking at namespaces to exclude, you might consider the list under "Notes" in Category:CS1_errors:_arXiv, which we developed for all of the CS1 errors generated by a group of citation templates. It works very well. – Jonesey95 (talk) 00:31, 6 October 2015 (UTC)

    ThisCite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name defined multiple times with different content[edit]

    This error is spawning along many pages after a recent software upgrade, but the related category doesn't seem to catch up with the new issue, is still around 200 pages and doesn't show some pages I've randomly seen, in it-wiki we still have more than 3,000 pages with this error. Is this problem discussed anywhere? Thanks for reply.--Demostene119 (talk) 19:52, 18 October 2015 (UTC)

    That error message doesn't add a tracking category, at least not at the English Wikipedia. Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting is for other errors. The search "name defined multiple times with different content" currently gives 120 results. That's probably far from all of them but you could try searching itwiki for the Italian equivalent if you want to at least find some of the affected articles there. PrimeHunter (talk) 20:44, 18 October 2015 (UTC)
    I created a feature request in Phabricator for this. It should have been done as part of the creation of the error message, but it was missed, I guess. Jonesey95 (talk) 04:49, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
    Some admin just needs to update MediaWiki:Cite error references duplicate key message with {{broken ref}} template:
    {{broken ref
    |msg=Invalid <code><ref></code> tag; name "$1" defined multiple times with different content
    And add subpage for this error (placing subpage name in |help=). --Edgars2007 (talk/contribs) 06:51, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
    I have created MediaWiki:Cite error references duplicate key and Help:Cite errors/Cite error references duplicate key. Affected pages are now added to Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting. In the Italian Wikipedia, it:MediaWiki:Cite error references duplicate key must be created and add pages to it:Categoria:Pagine con errori nell'uso delle note if you want to see them there. PrimeHunter (talk) 12:41, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
    Many tanks, I'll report it in it-wiki.Demostene119 (talk) 13:02, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
    @Demostene119: Sorry, it appears I was wrong. The Italian Wikipedia does things differently. it:MediaWiki:Cite error is also displayed for the error and it adds the category (the English MediaWiki:Cite error does not). I think the problem is instead that the link tables for the articles have not been updated since the error message was introduced. Some actions like a purge can rebuild the article itself and add new categories at the bottom without updating the corresponding category pages. A null edit (or any other edit) of the article would also update category pages. PrimeHunter (talk) 13:54, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
    Thanks PrimeHunter. – Jonesey95 (talk) 14:38, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
    The help link in the error message has stopped displaying. I have posted about it at Wikipedia:Village pump (technical)#Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting. PrimeHunter (talk) 13:10, 20 October 2015 (UTC)
    @PrimeHunter: Some cynical disruptive editing often gets by the bots and the frontline team, but filters into pages with incorrect formatting so doesn’t really slip through the net for long. However, I’m assuming that a filter has been triggered with the arrival of so many multiple defined reference error pages, which means those disruptive edits will probably now go unchecked.CV9933 (talk) 16:30, 20 October 2015 (UTC)
    It's a recent feature in the software to detect these errors, and the categorization of them was added yesterday with my creation of MediaWiki:Cite error references duplicate key. Thousands of articles which had this problem for a long time are now being added to Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting. I guess editors, maybe with bot assistance, will work through this new backlog at some time and bring the category down to a small number again. It would be possible to make a separate tracking category for this specific cite eror but I'm not sure we should do it. Category:Pages with citation errors currently only shows three different categories for cite errors. There are many more types of cite errors than that at [3]. PrimeHunter (talk) 16:50, 20 October 2015 (UTC)
    It is worth noting, for all who are reading this and care, that it typically takes weeks, or longer, for a new tracking category like this to "fill up" with articles. – Jonesey95 (talk) 00:32, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
    Also note that the 24,000-odd articles in this list currently contain a nonsense error message in the reflist. For instance, in 1984 Atlantic hurricane season we see:
    Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "TD1" defined multiple times with different content (see ) (see the ).
    : Noyster (talk), 08:45, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
    It's not nonsense, it's drawing attention to a problem. There are two refs named TD1, and the first is
    <ref name="TD1">{{cite web|url=|title=Tropical Depression Hits Florida Coast|date=June 13, 1984|accessdate=March 6, 2010|publisher=[[Philadelphia Daily News]]}}</ref>
    the second is
    <ref name="TD1">{{cite web|author=Associated Press|publisher=The Day|date=October 11, 1984|accessdate=January 22, 2010|title=Hurricane Josephine scaring mariners now|url=,2471264&dq=hurricane+josephine+1984&hl=en}}</ref>
    - these expand to
    respectively, which are clearly different. Either change the ref names, or alter the enclosed ref to be identical. --Redrose64 (talk) 09:28, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
    If you mean the missing "see" link to Help:Cite errors/Cite error references duplicate key make it nonsense then it's caused by a MediaWiki change which went live after my creation of MediaWiki:Cite error references duplicate key. It moved the error message next to the reference but the wikilink was stripped from the message in the new position. Yesterday I contacted the programmer who said he will look into it today. PrimeHunter (talk) 11:19, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
    Thanks, yes I did mean the two empty brackets at the end of the message and hope this can be fixed soon: Noyster (talk), 12:11, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
    The programmer has submitted a patch for the stripped wikilink in phab:T116149.[4] I don't know when it will be live, assuming it's approved. I have removed the first "(see )" which was a test of the issue.[5] Affected pages must be purged to see it's removed. The second "(see the )" could be removed temporarily in {{Broken ref/lang}} by testing whether {{{help}}} equals Cite error references duplicate key, and then restored later when the issue is fixed, but I haven't done that. PrimeHunter (talk) 12:26, 21 October 2015 (UTC)
    The fix has already been deployed. The error message now displays correctly on purged pages. PrimeHunter (talk) 18:33, 21 October 2015 (UTC)


    We are getting questions at the help desk about this error message. Upon fixing one I noted that the natural way to do so, at least for me, is to copy the defined ref name, then use find while editing an article. However, the message places underscores for any spaces in the ref name, so you have to remove them when finding. PrimeHunter suggested a fix for this at the help desk post of adding {{#invoke:String|replace|$1|_| }} Any thoughts on implementing a fix like this?--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 11:48, 23 October 2015 (UTC)

    Some corrections really need to be done manually. If the same reference name has been used for two different citations sometimes you can just change the ref name in one of the instances. However where the abbreviated version of the ref name has also been used, it isn't always easy to figure out which citation the abbreviated name is referring to. here is an example with "ReferenceB", if you see whatI mean. CV9933 (talk) 17:24, 23 October 2015 (UTC)
    This should be fixed in mw:Extension:Cite, not here. I've created a Phabricator task for it at phab:T116532. — Mr. Stradivarius ♪ talk ♪ 13:29, 25 October 2015 (UTC)

    FYI, category change for "Cite error references duplicate key"[edit]

    The flood of these "duplicate key" errors is causing problems for AnomieBOT in fixing cite errors it actually can fix, so I am adjusting Template:Broken ref/cat to place this error into Category:Pages with duplicate reference names instead of Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting. Anomie 12:37, 26 October 2015 (UTC)

    Anarky and Blue's Clues[edit]

    Can anyone figure out why the above two articles are placed in Category:Pages with reference errors? Thanks. DrKay (talk) 19:57, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

    @DrKay: Both had a reference defined twice within the list-defined references: one proper definition, and one empty. -- John of Reading (talk) 20:09, 13 January 2016 (UTC)

    Spaces in Refnames...[edit]

    In the case of <ref name="abc def">XXX</ref> <ref name="abc def">YYY</ref>

    that the error message in the reflist is Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "abc_def" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).

    The actual reference name is "abc def", the error message has "abc_def". Is there any way to have the error message corrected so spaces aren't turned into underscores? (See as an actual example.

    I think this was filed as a bug on Phabricator. I don't remember where I saw a discussion about it, though. – Jonesey95 (talk) 22:22, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

    Hiding broken refs. Does it still make sense ?[edit]

    For a long time we have been hiding broken references on talk pages and a few more namespaces. The primary reason for this was that people were often copying fragments into a talk page in order to discuss them, but since there was no <references /> being copied in at the same time, these refs would all throw big ugly red errors and this was confusing, especially for new users. However, for a over a year now, we are automatically adding a references section (T68860). So most of these previously hidden errors would not actually occur anymore. Basically the only errors that are still being hidden, are pasted references that are part of a named group (without a <references /> for that group), or if they are totally different and valid errors. Perhaps it's time to stop hiding these broken refs ? —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 22:05, 12 February 2016 (UTC)

    Can you please give an example of a talk page where this is happening? – Jonesey95 (talk) 02:48, 13 February 2016 (UTC)