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Re: [O] Citation syntax: Underscore MUST(?) be allowed in cite keys?

From: Richard Lawrence
Subject: Re: [O] Citation syntax: Underscore MUST(?) be allowed in cite keys?
Date: Mon, 09 Mar 2015 09:05:10 -0700
User-agent: Notmuch/0.13.2 (http://notmuchmail.org) Emacs/23.4.1 (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu)

Hi Tom and all,

"Thomas S. Dye" <address@hidden> writes:

> Richard Lawrence <address@hidden> writes:
>>  But my opinion probably shouldn't count for much on this
>> point, because I don't use a citation manager myself (I use org-bibtex),
>> and I write my own keys.
> Oh my.  This is a lot to keep in your head as a bibliographic database
> grows.  The one I've created with my colleagues over the last two
> decades has more than 5,000 entries.

Yes, I realize this method probably isn't going to scale well in the
long run, but it's working for me for now.  The vast majority of my keys
are just the author's last name plus the year.  I just write a key like
that when I add something to my reading list, and fix the rare duplicate
cases as necessary.

(Just to explain why it makes sense to me to do it this way: I used to
work in a psychology lab, where I had to write a lot of little programs
to do data analysis.  The worst part of that job was always dealing with
malformed, missing, and otherwise-corrupt data captured by someone else.
Since then, my attitude has always been that it's much easier to correct
that data at the point where it's captured than figure out what to do
with it somewhere further down the processing pipeline, after the reason
*why* it is malformed has been lost.  In the context of this discussion,
that translates to: a work doesn't get a key in my reading list unless I
have complete citation information for it.  Sometimes I put items on my
reading list that I don't have citation data for yet, but I don't do
org-bibtex-create-in-current-entry on that item until I have the
citation data and can assign it a key.)

>> I don't disagree, but I think there is an empirical question that needs
>> to be answered here: within the keys people actually use, how many do
>> not conform to the syntax?  Of those that don't, do they represent
>> `normal' cases or not?
> A good friend of mine is a military historian who writes books
> describing how the Army habitually plans to fight the last war over
> again, then has to adapt hurriedly when the next war turns out to be
> different.  It strikes me that basing core features of the citation
> syntax on the software users happen to be using today is a bit like
> this--at some point the design of the system will prove unprepared for
> new developments.
> I think Vaidheeswaran C's example of a citation scraped off the internet
> with Zotero should carry a lot of weight.  This kind of thing is bound
> to happen more and more as authors increasingly harvest citation
> information on-line (my generation typically looks on this with horror,
> but we'll be swept aside).

That's a fair point.  

> I kind of like Rasmus' idea to make the citation insertion routines
> aware of punctuation and use a full citation where a shortcut would
> introduce ambiguities.

That would work for me.  Like Rasmus, I don't particularly like the idea
of letting the syntax of keys vary in the shortcut case and the full
citation case, but if the only difference is whether or not they can end
in clause-ending punctuation, maybe this is the least-bad option.

Another option would be to allow clause-ending punctuation in all keys,
but introduce some kind of optional syntax to express `this key ends
here'.  This could be used to disambiguate the key from any following
punctuation in those cases where this is needed.  Perhaps something like
'{}', since even LaTeX won't allow '}' at the end of a key, or maybe
just '\'.  Thus, in these examples:

  This is an in-text citation, as was shown by @Doe99{}. The next sentence.
  This is an in-text citation, as was shown by @Doe99\. The next sentence.

the key would be parsed as `Doe99', but in this example:

  This is an in-text citation, where @Doe???? is mentioned mid-sentence.

the key would be parsed as `Doe????'.

What do you think?  


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