There are many sites that contain hebrew texts for free, such as http://he.wikisource.org, http://mechon-mamre.org and http://hebrewbooks.org. Yet it is often inconvenient to go to the sites to access the texts. Would there be some way that one could just refer to the texts, and they would automatically become links? What about having a built-in search of basic Torah texts?
Update: I edited my post to be a little more clear...
From a technical standpoint:
Unless we introduce something in markdown to specifically "tag" stuff as a reference, it'll be a real pain. Not saying impossible, just saying very difficult to implement properly.
Suppose we decide to go with
[ref:SeferName (numerical:hierarchy:of:identifiers)], which is a great idea (thanks @msh210). We would need a script that magically:
- Identifies SeferName in a standardized way (think: MishnahBerurah, MishnaBrura, MB.....)
- Associates URL with SeferName
- Figures out correct hierarchy of identifiers with said SeferName
- Figures out correct URL (or in case of PDF's page numbers) of said Hierarchy
- Oh, and maybe page numbers and paragraphs too?
Obviously, this would require having a reference database, as mentioned in the comments.
I have no problem creating such a database. But it would require a bit of a learning curve: both in terms of filling the database with entries (anyone else volunteer?), and in terms of usage. It would also have to be super-carefully though out and highly standardized. Something to be discussed thoroughly...
And convincing SE to implement it afterwards... Well, that's something we would have to discuss with them. If anything we can create a userscript (for editors) that'll do it, but....
And the benefit is?
The real question is what do we gain? Obviously having this makes life easier for editors, but does it have any other benefits?
Essentially, the best way to reference is by providing all the info about the location in the sefer in plaintext and letting the future user look it up either in print or online. This does provide a shortcut, but at what expense?
From an implementation standpoint:
Which site should we use? You pointed out three. Wikitext probably has the most potential for staying around for years to come ($$$), and already sort of has a referencing type system (where names of Seforim and numbers are all included in the URL in a uniform way).
On the other hand, HebrewBooks has the largest selection (no doubt), but uses cryptic "Id"-like numbers for all it's seforim. Which goes back to what we said above about the database.
I think the most practical solution for now would be to simply refer to the text, if you're feeling particularly lazy or are in a rush. Ideally someone else will come around and edit in the link.
As for a more long-term solution. Working on a database that will take care of all problems discussed, in a reasonable, permanent, standardized, backward-compatible, and future-proof fashion.