- Note: There is discussion at en:User talk:Yair rand/ReferenceTooltips
This document is a work in progress. Comments are appreciated but this is not a final draft.
This document describes the behavior of a modified reference viewing system for Wikipedia. This document is a work in progress. Feedback is welcome on the talk page.
This feature is enabled by default on English Wikipedia; users can disable it by accessing the feature's options, which sets a cookie; logged-in users can disable it permanently in the "Gadgets" tab of Special:Preferences.
Currently, Wikimedia sites list all references at the bottom of the article. For large articles, especially those with many references, this is sub-optimal. Checking an article's references requires several traversals over the entire length of the article, during which time the reader will often lose their place.
This is a general usability feature. It is hypothesized that readers will be more likely to visit references if they are immediately accessible without having to traverse the entire page length.
Current Workflow 
In articles, a statement is referenced with a super-scripted, internal page link. Clicking on this link will take the user to the bottom of the page to the whole reference list. The specific reference is then highlighted. The user then clicks the link there and the referenced external link is opened.
Proposed user experience 
When the user hovers their mouse over the super-scripted citation link in an article, a hover will appear above that includes the reference footnote. The user can then move their mouse into the hover and click on the link(s) there to open the external references.
Clicking on the super-scripted reference link will behave as normal (the user will be brought to the reference list).
This feature may not be usable with tablets and other touch screen interfaces without eliminating the current "click takes you to the reference list" behavior.