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reFill (formerly Reflinks) is a tool that expands bare URL references semi-automatically, hosted on Toolforge. It adds information (page title, work/website, author and publication date, if metadata is included) to bare URL references, and does additional fixes as well (e.g. combining duplicated references). The tool is written in Python and licensed under Simplified BSD License. The tool is an open-source replacement of Dispenser's Reflinks. The source code is available on GitHub. The templates created automatically by the tool need to be reviewed to ensure that they are accurate, as they are often not.

<ref>{{cite web|url= |title=Example Domain|publisher=}}</ref>

reFill converts bare references (red) into more complete ones (green)

Usage edit

Tagging bare URLs for cleanup edit

If there is a particular article which contains bare URLs in the references, like this one,[1] and you would like to request a Wikipedian that already has reFill installed (and is familiar with how it works) to help you fix the problem:


  1. Open the article in question in your browser
  2. Click the 'edit' button
  3. Paste the following line into the very top of the article:
            {{Cleanup bare URLs}}
  4. Click the 'preview' button to verify that your change did not interfere with any other parts of the article
  5. Click the 'save' button

This will display a visible message (the text of which is shown at the top of Template:Cleanup bare URLs) at the top of the Wikipedia article, and will also add the article to a hidden category which requests that a Wikipedian experienced with reFill, apply it to the bare URLs in that article. As of January 2023 there were over 88,000 articles tagged as needing such attention from a volunteer, so don't hold your breath!

To use reFill yourself edit

Options edit

  • Use plain formatting instead of {{cite web}}: If selected, the tool will fill out bare references in plain CS1 format instead of {{cite web}}. All available metadata is included.
  • Do not remove link rot tags: If selected, the tool will not remove any link rot tags from the source, even if no bare references are skipped.
  • Add blank metadata fields when the information is unavailable If selected, the tool will insert blank |author= and/or |date= for filling in manually, when the corresponding metadata is unavailable.
  • Do not add access dates: If selected, access dates will be omitted from the result.
  • Use the base domain name as work when this information cannot be parsed: If selected, the base domain of the link will be used in the |website= field if the website does not supply its name in embedded metadata.

Toolbox link edit

Insert this code into your common.js:

mw.loader.load( "" );

Bookmarklet edit


API edit

An API is available, enabling user script and bot developers to take advantage of the APIs exposed by reFill to complete bare references programmatically.

Frequently asked questions edit

Q1: Why is there an empty |publisher=?
A1: There isn't any reliable way to parse that field, and an empty one is intentionally left when |work= cannot be parsed. Please fill it in manually.
Q3: How can I run my own reFill instance for testing?
A3: reFill has zero Toolforge dependency, and can be easily installed. For Linux users, see and for Windows users, see Wikipedia:Refill/Windows.
Q4: Can you add support for other Wikipedias?
A4: Yes! Just add a request on the talk page.[verification needed] Try using as well.
Q5: How to find articles which can be improved using reFill?
Q6: It's not working right now! What alternatives can I use while you're fixing it?
A6: The citoid service in the visual editor provides a "Convert" button. You can also use Diberri's tool and similar scripts to generate citation templates, which you can paste into articles. You can also use reflinks This tool has the advantage of marking some (though not all) dead links with the proper template.

Health warning edit

ReFill is not perfect, and never will be. You are responsible for every edit that ReFill 2 suggests so you must take the time to inspect every citation that this tool creates and fix anything that isn't quite right. Do not make work for other editors to clean up. Some publications misuse the HTML metadata tags that ReFill extracts such as:

  • the author name (first= and last=) containing the name of the publication e.g. first=Deutsche|last=Welle ( representing Deutsche Welle, rather than the author's name, or first=Editorial|last=team
  • the title including metadata elements that shouldn't be in the title, e.g. Kosovo MPs elect lawyer Vjosa Osmani as president &amp;#124; DW &amp;#124; 04.04.2021 – the title here is "Kosovo MPs elect lawyer Vjosa Osmani as president" and the text that follows it – such as the article's date – should be stripped out and a date= element added if not already present.

You'll need to remove these issues yourself.

ReFill extracts the date from the date meta tag. On some web pages there isn't such a meta tag, but the date can easily be found at the top of the body of the page. ReFill will not find it, but you can add it manually.

How it works edit

ReFill2 is based on Citoid which is maintained by the Wikimedia Foundation. Citoid depends on technology called Zotero, which is the bit that actually extracts metadata from web pages. Zotero uses hundreds of 'translators' which contain JavaScript code that knows how to extract useful metadata from different layouts of web page, particularly academic resources. Wikipedia:Citing sources with Zotero explains how to use Zotero yourself, enabling you to get closer to how the metadata is extracted.

This is the same way that the 'Cite' button on the toolbar of Wikipedia's visual editor works.

Known issues edit

When ReFill encounters a bare URL which is an archive site, such as in this example:

  • it writes the archive URL to the deprecated archiveurl parameter rather than the newer archive-url parameter
  • adds the discontinued deadurl=y rather than the current url-status=dead parameter
  • does not add the mandatory archive-date parameter

You will need to fix such references yourself manually to avoid an error showing in red in the references section. If your edit results in such an error, please fix it. The archive date can be found embedded in Wayback Machine links.[a]

If using an editor that supports global replace, archiveurl can be globally replaced by archive-url and deadurl=y by url-status=dead.

When combining duplicate references, if one of them is already named, pointers to that name's reference are not updated when the name is changed.

CAPTCHA pages should be ignored.[1]

Reporting problems edit

If the tool is stuck displaying "waiting for an available worker", use this link to raise a report to get it restarted. You will need to register for a Phabricator account, which you will be able to link to your Wikipedia account. Fill in the description field and hit the "Create New Task" button.

If you have found a bug or want extra features, please either:


Contributing edit

Having no Wikimedia Cloud Services dependency, reFill can be installed on your own computer so that you can work on it. To contribute to reFill, create a fork on reFill's GitHub repository, make your changes and submit a pull request. Note that refill on toolforge uses the labs-stable branch. Thank you for your contributions!

Volunteers are needed to help support and maintain reFill. If you are a software developer with experience in Python, Celery and Node.js and you are willing to help to any extent then please leave a message.

To translate the tool, please head over to

See also edit

Userbox edit


 This user uses reFill to expand bare references.

Notes edit

  1. ^ The date appears after the fourth slash in the form YYYYMMDD, i.e. an url like: ...// has an archive date of 2009-07-19.

References edit

External links edit