Backlinks not appearing consistently in graphs or "Linked mentions"

I love Obsidian, but I’m at my wits’ end over a series of systematic bugs, possibly related (I’m on macOS 10.15.6 on a 5K iMac).

The larger chaos:

Backlinks are regularly missing; the outline view is empty on some files that definitely have multiple headings, a couple of files that are full of text (visible in edit mode and other Markdown apps) but blank in preview mode, and (SEE BELOW) clicking “Link” on unlinked mentions will often duplicate the Wiki-linking giving me this: [[[[Link]]]].

I’m getting this repeatedly over the past few days…

  • in 0.8.2 and in the insider view of 0.8.4;
  • with and without custom css
  • after waiting plenty of time for the vault to refresh
  • after multiple restarts of Obsidian
  • after rebooting the computer
  • after fresh-installing Obsidian
  • after running CleanMyMac to remove cruft
  • after purging the “cache”
  • on my main machine and my laptop
  • on multiple accounts on the same machine
  • after moving all the files out of folders into one fresh flat vault.

I’m sure I’m to blame for somehow corrupting the vault or the files by reorganizing things in the Finder, or creating folders and subfolders. But I’ve now spent hours and hours trying to troubleshoot on my own and I’d really appreciate some help.

So let me focus on one puzzling bug (in the screen shot):

  • There is a page entitled “Normative concerns about autonomy gaps - inequality”.
  • I’ve included a Wiki-link to that page on another page entitled “vulnerability”.
  • But that link to “vulnerability” is not showing up on the local graph for the “Normative concerns…” page
  • It does show up as an “Unlinked mention” in the “vulnerability folder” – where you can see that there are already double-brackets around the title of the “Normative concerns…” page.
  • If I clink on “LINK” to add the link, then it adds another set of double-brackets, giving me this: [[[[Normative concerns about autonomy gaps - inequality]]]] – which also generates a new page with a square bracket only at the beginning, [Normative concerns about autonomy gaps - inequality

Sometimes I can clean up the double-wiki-linking and get it working, but it seems to keep cropping up later. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Thanks for the report. Can you reach out in chat on discord and send me copy of your vault to figure out this problem?

Aye, this one’s a puzzle. I couldn’t repro in a bug testing vault, so I suspect we’d need to investigate the whole vault to figure it out.

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If I had to guess, I would say there is some weird whitespace in the wiki-link or in the filename.

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Ah, good theory. The main concern is how common the issue seems to be:

Given that it persists beyond all the things the OP’s tried, and that no one else has reported similarly invasive behaviour, it must be something in the notes themselves. @AutonomyGaps I wonder if it’s possible that you have some odd whitespace characters showing up somehow? Not sure what would cause that, some text expansion or language encoding issue maybe?

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Thanks for the concern. Any ideas for how to search for white-space characters? (I’ve just sent the vault to WhiteNoise via Discord.)

Seems to be an issue with bad footnote syntax causing the entire indexing thread to crash, which in turn causes everything from backlinks to graph nodes to not properly compute.

I’ve added additional safeguards which should prevent this from happening once 0.8.5 gets released. This won’t fix the footnotes however, so they’ll look a bit weird.


Thanks so much for getting to the bottom of this and helping me out! Terrific support.


I’m not sure where this belongs but I’m having a terrible time creating back links using [[ ]]. When typing the first two brackets the Popup appears with the suggestions. I type out the first few digits of the dated title (20200820…) find the appropriate file select enter and the blue text appears in the Note. Placing the cursor over the blue text results in a ‘box’ appearing indicating that the file has NOT been created Yet (although it was created AND appeared in the suggestions). If I select yes (create) then I have TWO (2) notes with identical titles, (1, the original) with data and the (2nd) BLANK. Any idea what’s happening? And one more question: 2 days ago this was happening, yesterday it wasn’t and today IT’s BACK. All on latest Obsidian ‘beta’ release

MACMini with latest release version.

Thanks in advance.

Do you mind creating a new thread in #bug-reports for this? Please follow the template that appears with a new draft, but feel free to copy and paste from this post to fill it in.

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Done! Hope there’s enough info provided.

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This bug was handled in 0.8.5. Not yet released.

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I noticed this problem recently and I’m on v0.8.11 :-/

For one of my vaults, local graph dos not show backlinks to the central note, which is problematic.

Can we see anywhere where the indexing thread is crashing ? If that is still the problem ? (Backlink shows as a “linked mention”, just not on the local graph).

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