Find link needs a rewrite, the visual editor broke it

Posted on 15 Jun 2022 by Edward Betts

Find link is a tool that I wrote for adding links between articles in Wikipedia. Given an article title, find link will find other articles that include the entered article title but no link to the article. There is the option to edit the found articles and add the missing link.

For example, you might want to find missing links to the gig economy article.

I originally wrote the tool in 2008 when the MediaWiki software didn't have a rich-text editor. Wikipedia articles were edited by writing wiki markup in MediaWiki syntax. Since then MediaWiki has evolved and now has rich-text editing via the visual editor. Users don't need to know how to write wiki markup to modify an article.

Within MediaWiki there is a user preference to disable the visual editor and stick with editing via the original wiki markup.

Find link edits articles by taking the article text, adding the missing link, and sending the user to the changes view of the modified article on Wikipedia, if they're happy with the change they hit save. This only works with the original editor, it doesn't work with the visual editor.

English Wikipedia has had the visual editor enabled by default since 2016. For somebody to use find link they need to disable the visual editor in their Wikipedia preferences first.

Fixing this bug means quite a significant change to how the tool works.

My plan is to rewrite find link to save edits directly without needing to send the user to Wikipedia article edit change view page to make the edits. Users will authenticate with their Wikipedia account via OAuth and give permission for find link to edit articles on their behalf.

Some of my other tools use OAuth for editing OpenStreetMap and Wikidata, so I'm confident about using it to edit Wikipedia.

The source code for find link is on GitHub.

I'll post updates here as I make progress on the rewrite.

Tags: wikipedia, tools

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