Kyoto Animation arson attack Wikipedia article update

Created by Steven Baltakatei Sandoval on 2021-06-07T07:03Z under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and last updated on 2021-06-07T08:21Z.


As I have several times before, I tidied up the references in the wikicode of the Kyoto Animation arson attack article on Wikipedia. I blogged about this earlier.

If I create an article from scratch or am present when an article is being initially formed, I try to store <ref> citation (a.k.a. "references") information as a list at the end of the article's wikicode instead of as in-line references spread throughout the body text. I find the task of verifying references easier if their fields (e.g. title=, url=, access-date=, publisher=) are organized in the wikicode with indentation; the indentation makes the information more human-readable. I hope my efforts to organize references this way helps future editors verify information more quickly.

The Wikipedia template I use to store references as a list is called {{Reflist}}; the template is described here.


I first learned about the arson attack back in 2019 when I was living in Mountain View, California. I have enjoyed Kyoto Animation's work (see this fan-made visual summary); the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya series in particular resonated with me when I was grappling with religion and the importance of grounding yourself with rational people. I felt very strongly that the events surrounding the violent murder of Kyoto Animation (a.k.a. "KyoAni") artists should be properly referenced on Wikipedia.

I remember tweeting to encourage people who had photos of the affected building to upload those photos; I remember there were no CC BY-SA photographs of the affected building. Someone named @Thibaut managed to see a photo by a Mike Hattsu who uploaded a photograph to Twitter of the studio years before the incident. This photograph was later uploaded to Wikimedia Commons here and has been used in the Wikipedia article about the incident. I am glad whenever people upload useful information to Wikimedia Commons since the default Creative Commons license helps editors like me collaborate to build useful articles on Wikipedia that can be shared freely.

Editing Notes

In the week after the incident I remember having to make quick short edits to the article; this was because many editors were making frequent changes to the wikicode of the article that conflicted with my reflist edits which span large portions of the code. In contrast, I was able to take my time and perform all the changes in a single edit today.

I also was amused to see that some people expanded on my use of the ISO 8601 (wiki) YYYYddmm date format in some reflist entries; for example, one reference is named nhk_20190718T2124+09_deathcount. This label communicates the following about the cited resource:

  1. The resource is an NHK publication (specifically this one).
  2. The resource is dated the 18th day of July in the year 2019 at 21:24 in the UTC+09 time zone (JST).
  3. The resource is about a number of people killed.

Although I would not have chosen such a verbose timestamp string (the purpose of the YYYYddmm string is to simply help differentiate multiple publications published at different times. The ISO 8601 timestamp permits ambiguity which is useful because often I do not want to think too much about the exact second an event starts or ends; often citing the day in which an event occurs is sufficiently precise.

Future Work

The next tasks I see that should be performed for the Kyoto Animation arson attack article are (lowest-hanging fruit first):

  • Add frequently missing reflist fields (e.g. date=, last=, first=, archive-url=, archive-date=, url-status=).
  • Reformat reflist fields to use consistent order.
  • Read sources and verify semantic content.

Special Thanks

I would like to thank the Internet Archive for saving snapshots of webpages that succumb to link rot. Please donate to them; I think they are currently the best of humanity's efforts to secure the past.