Help:Archiving a talk page

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For Wikipedia's historical archive, see Wikipedia:Historical archive. For help on archiving web pages, see Wikipedia:Using WebCite.

It is customary to periodically archive old discussions on a talk page when that page becomes too large. Bulky talk pages may be hard to navigate, contain obsolete discussion, or become a burden for users with slow Internet connections or computers. Notices are placed at the beginning of the talk page to inform all editors of an archive.

Regular articles are not archived because previous versions may be seen in the history tab; the practice of archiving is particular to talk pages and noticeboards, which often swell to great length. Archiving one's own user talk page is optional; some users simply blank the page, as the history is kept available for future reference, but this is not considered the best practice (as it makes things more difficult to find and link). For this specific case, the use of "permalinks" can provide an easy way to display an archived view of a talk page at a given moment, though there's no control on thread organization or presentation.

The talk page guidelines suggest archiving when the talk page exceeds 75 KB or has more than 10 main topics. However, when to archive, and what may be the optimal length for a talk page, are subjective decisions that should be adapted to each case. For example, ongoing discussions and nearby sections they reference should generally be kept intact.

There may be circumstances where it would be useful to keep older discussions present on a talk page, to avoid the same issues being repeatedly raised. However, this situation can be better addressed by use of the {{FAQ}} template.

Subpage archive method[edit]

The preferred method for archiving a talk page is to copy the older content to a series of subpages. This can be performed either by hand or automatically by a bot.

There are two common methods of naming archive pages. The most common, and easiest, is sequentially numbered archives. Archive pages should be named as follows: take the name of the talk page, and add "/Archive #", where "#" is the number of the archive. Note that the word Archive has a capital A, there is a space before the number, and there are no leading zeros. Templates like {{Archive list}} rely on this naming convention to automatically find the archive pages.

For example:

  • The 20th archive of Talk:Earth would be named Talk:Earth/Archive 20
  • The first archive of User talk:Example user would be named User talk:Example user/Archive 1

The second common method of naming archive pages is by year and month. With this method archive pages are typically named Talk:YourPage/Archives/2013/June, Talk:YourPage/Archives/2013/July, etc. Some things are more complex with this method of naming. When using this naming scheme the subpages should use /Archives/ not /Archive/ as some of the navigation templates rely on Archives being plural.

Remember to use the correct namespace – the part before the colon (:) – when archiving your own user talk page. It should start with "User talk:", not "Talk:".

Cut and paste procedure[edit]

Step-by-step procedure[edit]

  1. Click on the Edit source tab for the talk page you wish to archive.
  2. In the edit box, highlight all the text you want to archive, right-click (Windows/Linux) or control-click (Mac) and then select cut (also Ctrl+X, Cmd+X for Mac). The text will then be copied to your clipboard. Note that any WikiProject header templates should remain on the main talk page and should not be cut and pasted to an archive page.
  3. While still in the edit window, make a link to the archive name you plan on creating – you can link directly to a subpage by putting a slash (/) in front of it.
    • If you're making a topical archive, use the name of the topic, for example [[/Place of birth debate]].
    • If you're just archiving old discussion, use the next available number; so if the last archive page was Archive 3, call it [[/Archive 4]].
    • If there are no archives yet, call it [[/Archive 1]].
    • Archive links can be conveniently placed in an archive template (How to do this is described in the archive box section below)
  4. Click Save page. (It's helpful to include an Edit summary like "Archiving old material".) You should now have a page of recent discussion with a red link to your archive at the top.
  5. Open the newly created subpage by clicking the red link. Paste the old discussions from your clipboard into the edit box.
  6. Add {{Talk archive}} to the top and bottom of the page. This adds a notice explaining that the page is an archive, and links back to the main talk page.
  7. If this is a numbered archive, you can add a navigation template to make it easier to navigate through to other numbered archives. See the section navigation templates below.
  8. Save page. You have now created an archive.

Options[edit]

There are many options for customizing how and when archives are created, and how they are navigated. Some of the more popular ones are detailed below.

Automated archival[edit]

ClueBot III and lowercase sigmabot III can automatically create cut-and-paste archives for any discussion page (one that has "talk" in the namespace), by moving sections to a subpage when the section has received no comments for a specified period of time. Both bots can archive sections into simple sequentially numbered archives (e.g. YourPage/Archive 1, YourPage/Archive 2, ...), or archive according to date (e.g. YourPage/Archives/2013/June, YourPage/Archives/2013/July, ...). See the MiszaBot / lowercase sigmabot III page and the ClueBot III page for detailed instructions on setting up these bots. The examples below are also available for use. All of the examples here are intended for you to be able to copy them while viewing this page and paste them into the edit box on your target page without requiring any modification to have a working configuration.

ClueBot III also creates an index of your archives. Lowercase sigmabot III requires the use of an additional bot which has also commonly been used with ClueBot III. See #Archive indexing for more information.

ClueBot III can take several days between the time the configuration template is first placed on a page and when archiving begins (example of 4 day delay). Lowercase sigmabot III typically begins archiving new pages the first time the bot runs after the configuration template is placed on the page. Lowercase sigmabot III typically begins runs at 0 UTC daily.

Note: Make sure to establish consensus before setting up lowercase sigmabot III or ClueBot III on a talk page other than your user talk page.

Example configurations to set up automatic archival of an article talk page or user talk page (you can add one of the following near the top of the page):

Sequentially numbered archives
lowercase sigmabot III ClueBot III
{{User:MiszaBot/config
| algo=old(90d)
| archive={{SUBST:FULLPAGENAME}}/Archive %(counter)d
| counter=1
| maxarchivesize=100K
| archiveheader={{Automatic archive navigator}}
| minthreadsleft=4
| minthreadstoarchive=1
}}
{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveThis
| age=2160
| archiveprefix={{SUBST:FULLPAGENAME}}/Archive
| numberstart=1
| maxarchsize=100000
| header={{Automatic archive navigator}}
| minkeepthreads=4
| minarchthreads=1
| format= %%i
}}
Both of the above examples will create archive pages, as needed, starting with YourPage/Archive 1 and continuing with YourPage/Archive 2, etc., when the current archive page grows to more than 100,000 bytes. Only sections with dates that are older than 90 days (2,160 hours) will be archived.
Archives by year/month
lowercase sigmabot III ClueBot III

Note: In this configuration lowercase sigmabot III (lcSB3) puts threads into archives based on the last date in each thread. Here is an example of lcSB3 splitting an archiving task of 185 threads into 54 YYYY/Month based archives.

Note:Each time ClueBot III runs it places threads in a single archive which is the YYYY/Month of (NOW - age). If you are starting archiving with a backlog this will result in a single file with all of your old threads older than age. ClueBot III does not appear to run every single day. Thus, even once archiving has been running for a while, some threads may end up in an archive that is one month later than when they last were edited.

{{User:MiszaBot/config
| algo=old(90d)
| archive={{SUBST:FULLPAGENAME}}/Archives/%(year)d/%(monthname)s
| minthreadsleft=4
| minthreadstoarchive=1
}}
{{User:ClueBot III/ArchiveThis
| age=2160
| archiveprefix={{SUBST:FULLPAGENAME}}/Archives/
| minkeepthreads=4
| minarchthreads=1
| format=Y/F
}}
Both of the above examples will create archive pages, as needed, with names similar to YourPage/Archives/June, YourPage/Archives/July, etc. Only sections with dates that are older than 90 days (2,160 hours) will be archived.

Note that the configuration template for lowercase sigmabot III is still named {{User:MiszaBot/config}} even though the original bots, MiszaBot I, MiszaBot II, and MiszaBot III, are no longer active.

Navigation templates[edit]

If the archive page is a numbered archive page ("Archive #" where # is the number of the archive), you can add a navigation template to make it easier to navigate through to other numbered archives.

  • {{Archive navigation}} needs the archive number as a parameter – for example {{Archive navigation|3}} on Archive 3.
  • {{Archive nav}} similar to the above, but a dynamic list of links, – for example {{Archive nav|33}} on Archive 33.
  • {{Talk archive navigation}}, adds navigation features to the standard notice.
  • {{Talk header}} contains an automatically appearing archive list and archive search box, if numbered archives exist (e.g. /Archive 1, /Archive 2, ...)

Archive boxes[edit]

On regularly archived talk pages, it is useful to have an "archive box" template. Common usage is to place the archive box below other header templates and before the first section heading so that the box appears to the right of the table of contents. If the page already has a manual archive box, add the link to the new archive page to it. If there is no archive box yet, you may want to set one up. If you have a very large number of archives (such as Talk:Main Page) you may want to see how that page uses a separate subpage to list the archives.

generates a floating box for archive links. It has a significant number of options. The auto option causes the box to automatically find your archive page list. If auto=yes or auto=short the links are shown as "1, 2, 3". If auto=long the links are shown as "Archive 1, Archive 2, Archive 3"). There are also options which show a search field, permit the box to collapse/expand, start the box collapsed/expanded, etc. Both the arguments and functionality are a superset of {{Archive box}} (below) as {{Archive box}} calls {{Archives}}. The code used to generate the example to the right is:
{{Archives |auto=yes |search=yes |title=[[Help:Archiving a talk page|Archives]] ([[{{#titleparts:{{TALKPAGENAME}}|1}}/Archive index|index]]) |bot=ClueBot III |age=90 }}
generates a floating box for archive links. It calls {{Archives}} (above) with some parameters non-existent or renamed. As with {{Archives}}, if you want to specify explicit archive links just place your link(s) as a parameter, for example {{Archive box|[[/Archive 1]]}} as the first unnamed parameter. Multiple archives can be named, linked and labeled in various ways. See the example archive box to the right. Provided the archives are in the precise format of "Archive numbered-sequence", the list can be generated automatically using {{Archive box | auto=yes }} or {{Archive box | auto=long }} (for details see Automatic links). Both the arguments and functionality of this template are very similar to {{Archives}}. The wiki code used for the example box is (for details see the template page):
{{Archive box |search=yes |title=[[Help:Archiving a talk page|Archives]] ([[{{#titleparts:{{TALKPAGENAME}}|1}}/Archive index|index]]) |bot=MiszaBot III |age=90 |[[/Old page|Old page]] <br/> [[/Archive 1|Archive 1]] <br/> [[/Archive 2|Archive 2]]}}
If you would rather have the archive pages found automatically the following code would be equivalent:
{{Archive box |auto=yes |search= yes |title=[[Help:Archiving a talk page|Archives]] ([[{{#titleparts:{{TALKPAGENAME}}|1}}/Archive index|index]]) |bot=MiszaBot III |age=90 |collapsible=yes|[[/Old page|Old page]]}}
Note that in the above example you still need the unnamed parameter |[[/Old page|Old page]] because that page does not have a name in a format which is automatically found.
There are a large number of options for both {{Archives}} and {{Archive box}}. The example to the right demonstrates the collapsible=yes option which provides the ability to be partially hidden. It is possible to start out in the hidden state with collapsed=yes. The automatically found numbered archive names can be shown as long names by using auto=long. If an archive box is displayed in a talk namespace it is usually displayed with the standard talk page color scheme. If it is displayed in a non-talk namespace it uses the standard color scheme for article space. The style option can be used to change the color scheme along with any other parameter specified in the string of CSS you assign.
is a visual modification of {{Archive box}}, which generates a collapsed box that can be opened with a click. It works with the same parameters as {{Archive box}}. See the example to the right. Detailed instructions are on the template page. This template is a bit redundant as the other templates support collapsible and collapsed forms through the use of collapsible=yes and collapsed=yes. The code for this example is:
{{Archive box collapsible|box-width=238px|
*[[/Archive. Old page|Old page]]
*[[/Archive 1|Archive 1]]
*[[/Archive 2|Archive 2]]}}

Automatic archive boxes for numbered archives[edit]

All of {{Archives}}, {{Archive box}} and {{Archive box collapsible}} can automatically list links to archives. Automatic archive detection is usually enabled using the auto parameter which can be set to any of: short, long, yes, or no. Automatic archive page detection is usually limited to numbered archives in the format /Archive 1, /Archive 2, etc.). Instructions are on the respective template pages.

One example is {{Archive box|auto=yes}}. It will automatically create an archive box of links to archive pages named /Archive 1, /Archive 2, etc. Archives with other names can be added within the first unnamed parameter.

Instead of an archive box, {{Archive banner}} displays a banner across the page. As with the archive box templates it can have links to the archives (automatic or manual), have an archive search box, be collapsible, etc.

Automatic archive boxes for year/month archives[edit]

Automatic archive boxes for Year/Month archives are a bit more complicated.

The most common method is by using the {{Archives by months}} template to generate links to your existing archives. It produces a live link for each existing archive month within a year. It is commonly used in something similar to:
{{Archive box |search=yes |collapsible=yes |
bot=ClueBot III |age=90 |
title=[[Help:Archiving a talk page|Archives]]<!--
--> ([[{{#titleparts:{{TALKPAGENAME}}|1}}/Archive index|index]])| 
{{Nowrap|'''2004''': {{Archives by months|2004}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2005''': {{Archives by months|2005}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2006''': {{Archives by months|2006}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2007''': {{Archives by months|2007}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2008''': {{Archives by months|2008}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2009''': {{Archives by months|2009}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2010''': {{Archives by months|2010}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2011''': {{Archives by months|2011}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2012''': {{Archives by months|2012}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2013''': {{Archives by months|2013}}}}
{{Nowrap|'''2014''': {{Archives by months|2014}}}}
}} 

The above code produces the archive box to the above right. The example here has no month names which are links because there are no archive files for this page. You can, of course, delete the lines for the years you don't want.

The default for the {{Archives by months}} template is that archive page names are in the format YourPage/Archives/2013/June, YourPage/Archives/2013/July, etc. However, {{Archives by months}} allows you to specify various naming conventions for your archives. Archives can have an arbitrary prefix by using the archprefix parameter (e.g. archprefix=Archive/ instead of Archives/). Months can be in four formats: A) the default uses January, February, March, etc.; B) abbrev3=yes months are Jan, Feb, Mar, etc.; C) numbers=yes months are 1, 2, 3, ... 12; D) numbers0=yes months are 01, 02, 03, ... 12.

If you are using ClueBot III, it has a couple of additional options for creating an archive box. These involve the use of either the archivebox or the index parameters. See the ClueBot III page for more information.

Archive indexing[edit]

Having an archive index makes finding old discussions on a given topic easier, particularly in pages with many archives, or when the archives are of considerable size. An archive index, when one exists, is typically stored on the page Talk:YourPage/Archive index. While it is possible to generate an index by hand, the /Archive index page is normally generated automatically. There are two bots which automatically create indexes: Legobot and User:ClueBot III.

Legobot, formerly HBC Archive Indexerbot, can create an archive index page based on a set of archives. See the bot's instructions for details on how to set up archive indexing. Legobot generated archive indexes are the most commonly available type of index. To set up Legobot archiving you need to place:
<!-- Legobot can blank this -->
onto your Talk:YourPage/Archive index page. The following is a Legobot configuration that works with numbered archives which you can place on the page you are archiving:

Example Legobot configurations
Numbered archives Archives/Year/Month
{{User:HBC Archive Indexerbot/OptIn
|target=/Archive index
|mask=/Archive <#>
|leading_zeros=0
|indexhere=yes
}}
{{User:HBC Archive Indexerbot/OptIn
|target=/Archive index
|mask=/Archives/<year>/<month>
|indexhere=yes
}}

User:ClueBot III automatically creates an archive index when archiving. ClueBot III stores the archive indexes it creates on unique pages in its user space. The archive index for the page you are archiving can be transcluded onto your Talk:YourPage/Archive index page by putting the following text in that page:
{{User:ClueBot III/Master Detailed Indices/{{NAMESPACE}}: {{BASEPAGENAME}}}}

Archive searching[edit]

If there are several archives, it is easy to search them all at once using the optional search parameter prefix. For example, suppose we want to begin a discussion about adding a security section to the Linux article. Before bringing up the topic we can do the following search: security prefix:Talk:Linux/. This will look in all the subpages of the Linux article in its Talk namespace.

The templates {{Archives}}, {{Archive box}}, and {{Talk header}} have a parameter search=yes which provides a helpful search box on the talk page to automate searching, as do independent search templates such as {{search archives}}. It is recommended that when a page is archived, such a template be put on the surviving talk page to simplify access to past discussions.

Continuing discussions[edit]

It is difficult to say exactly when a discussion "ends" and when it is continuing. Given that archived discussions are immutable, archiving a discussion effectively ends that particular discussion. When reopening a discussion is desired, links to archived discussions can be provided in the new discussion thread.

Example Pages[edit]

Here are actual discussion pages on Wikipedia where you can study the code to see how archive pages were created.

  • Talk:Psychokinesis has a simple archive box with a search field.
  • Talk:Jesus has a mixture of numbered and topical archives. It also includes a summary of recently archived discussions.
  • Talk:Main Page has many numbered archives. The archives are listed on a separate subpage and transcluded.

Other procedures for archiving[edit]

These procedures were once considered equal options with the procedure described above. Over time both methods fell out of use and are generally not used. Note that if you have used the page move procedure those pages do not qualify for speedy deletion by user request.

See also[edit]