Last modified: 2013-05-01 13:28:04 UTC
When the reference number is adjacent to a word the directionality of which is different from the rest of the pages, this may cause wrong rendering. This can be manually solved by using RLM or LRM characters, but people may forget to use them and they are hard to use in general.
An easy, though partial, solution would be to apply bidirectional isolation to the reference number. This is possible in modern versions of Gecko and Webkit (Mozilla, Chrome and probably Safari) using HTML5 and CSS3 syntax. See bug 31817 for a discussion of the HTML5 solution and the URL for a demonstration of the problem and of several possible solutions.
It would be partial, because IE doesn't yet support these HTML5 and CSS3 features, but it will at least assure correct rendering of articles in which the editors forgot to use LRM or RLM for people who read them in modern browsers.
(An even better solution would be to apply bidi isolation to words with different directionality. It is more correct logically, because the words are causing the trouble and the reference numbers have the directionality of the content language, but currently that solution is complicated to implement practically.)
Assigning to myself.
Another comment: Automatically adding a dirmark before and after the reference number can solve the display problem, but it will only work in one direction, as the URL demonstrates.
Related URL: https://gerrit.wikimedia.org/r/61634 (Gerrit Change If85efe5ff1e0a3c57ee2523656702db89df07145)