Wikipedia:Stub

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A stub is an article deemed too short to provide encyclopedic coverage of a subject. The objective of this page is to provide a general guide for dealing with stubs.

The first section, Basic information, contains information that is recommended for most users. The second section, Creating stub types, contains more specialized material.

NOTE: This page is NOT for proposing new stub articles. To do that, please visit Wikipedia:Articles for creation.

Basic information

A stub is an article containing only one or a few sentences of text that, although providing some useful information, is too short to provide encyclopedic coverage of a subject, and that is capable of expansion. Non-article pages, such as disambiguation pages, lists, categories, templates, talk pages, and redirects, are not regarded as stubs.

If a stub has little verifiable information, or if its subject has no apparent notability, it may be deleted or be merged into another relevant article.

While a "definition" may be enough to qualify an article as a stub, Wikipedia is not a dictionary. The distinction between dictionary and encyclopedia articles is best expressed by the use–mention distinction:

  • A dictionary article is about a word or phrase and will often have several different definitions for it
  • An encyclopedia article is about the subject denoted by the title but usually has only one definition (or in some cases, several definitions that are largely the same) but there may be several equivalent words (synonyms) or phrases for it.

Sizable articles are usually not considered stubs, even if they have significant problems or are noticeably incomplete. With these larger articles, a cleanup template is usually added instead of a stub template.

How big is too big?

Over the years, different editors have followed different rules of thumb to help them decide when an article is likely to be a stub. Editors may decide that an article with more than ten sentences is too big to be a stub or that articles with more than 250 words is too big to be a stub. Others follow the Did you know? standard of 1,500 characters in the main text. AutoWikiBrowser is frequently set to automatically remove stub tags from any article with more than 500 words.

There is no set size at which an article stops being a stub. While very short articles are very likely to be stubs, there are some subjects about which very little can be written. Conversely, there are subjects about which a lot could be written, and their articles may still be stubs even if they are a few paragraphs long. As such, it is impossible to state whether an article is a stub based solely on its length, and any decision on the article has to come down to an editor's best judgement (the user essay on the Croughton-London rule may be of use when trying to judge whether an article is a stub). Similarly, stub status usually depends on the length of prose text alone – lists, templates, images, and other such peripheral parts of an article are usually not considered when judging whether an article is a stub.

Ideal stub article

Shortcuts:

Any registered editor may start a stub article.

When you write a stub, bear in mind that it should contain enough information for other editors to expand upon it. The key is to provide adequate context—articles with little or no context usually end up being speedily deleted. Your initial research may be done either through books or reliable websites. You may also contribute knowledge acquired from other sources, but it is useful to conduct some research beforehand to ensure that your facts are accurate and unbiased. Use your own words: directly copying other sources without giving them credit is plagiarism, and may in some cases be a violation of copyright.

Begin by defining or describing your topic. Avoid fallacies of definition. Write clearly and informatively. State, for example, what a person is famous for, where a place is located and what it is known for, or the basic details of an event and when it happened.

Next, try to expand upon this basic definition. Internally link relevant words, so that users unfamiliar with the subject can understand what you have written. Avoid linking words needlessly; instead, consider which words may require further definition for a casual reader to understand the article. Lastly, a critical step: add sources for the information you have put into the stub; see citing sources for information on how to do so in Wikipedia.

Once you create and save the article, other editors will also be able to improve it.

How to mark an article as a stub

Shortcuts:

After writing a short article, or finding an unmarked stub, you should insert a stub template. Choose from among the templates listed at Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting/Stub types.

Per the manual of style, the stub template is placed at the end of the article, after the External links section, any navigation templates, and the category tags, so that the stub category will appear after all article content. It is usually desirable to leave two blank lines between the first stub template and whatever precedes it. As with all templates, stub templates are added by simply placing the name of the template in the text between double pairs of curly brackets (e.g., {{Wikipedia-stub}}). Stub templates are transcluded, not substituted.

Stub templates have two parts: a short message noting the stub's topic and encouraging editors to expand it, and a category link, which places the article in a stub category alongside other stubs on the same topic. The naming for stub templates is usually topic-stub; a list of these templates may be found here. You need not learn all the templates—even simply adding {{stub}} helps (see this essay for more information). The more accurately an article is tagged, however, the less work it is for other sorters later, and the more useful it is for editors looking for articles to expand.

If an article overlaps several stub categories, more than one template may be used, but it is strongly recommended that only those relating to the subject's main notability be used. A limit of three or, if really necessary, four stub templates is advised.

Stub-related activities are centralised at Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting (shortcut Wikipedia:WSS). This project should be your main reference for stub information, and is where new stub types should be proposed for discussion prior to creation.

Removing stub status

Shortcut:

Once a stub has been properly expanded and becomes a larger article, any editor may remove its stub template. No administrator action or formal permission is needed. Stub templates are usually located at the bottom of the page, and usually have a name like {{something-stub}} if you are using the classic wikitext editor rather than VisualEditor.

Many articles still marked as stubs have in fact been expanded beyond what is regarded as stub size. If an article is too large to be considered a stub but still needs expansion, the stub template may be removed and appropriate {{expand section}} templates may be added (no article should contain both a stub template and an expand template).

Be bold in removing stub tags that are clearly no longer applicable.

Locating stubs

Creating stub types

Please propose new stub types at WikiProject Stub sorting/Proposals so that they may be discussed before creating them.

In general, a stub type consists of a stub template and a dedicated stub category, although "upmerged" templates are also occasionally created which feed into more general stub categories.

If you identify a group of stub articles that do not fit an existing stub type, or if an existing stub category is growing very large, you can propose the creation of a new stub type which is debated at Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting/Proposals.

Example

An example of a stub template is {{Writer-stub}}, which produces:

The stub category, Category:Writer stubs, lists all articles containing the {{Writer-stub}} template.

Guidelines

Several guidelines are used to decide whether a new stub type is useful. These include the following:

  1. Is there a stub type for this topic already? (Check Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting/Stub types.)
  2. Will the new type be well-defined? (Stub categories are a tool used by editors to expand articles. Good topic definition makes stubs easier to sort accurately.)
  3. Does the new stub type cover ground not covered by other type, or create a well-defined subtype that does?
  4. Will there be a significant number of existing stubs in this category? (Ideally, a newly created stub type has 100–300 articles. In general, any new stub category should have a minimum of 60 articles. This threshold is modified in the case of the main stub category used by a WikiProject.)
  5. Would your new stub type overlap with other stub types? (Stub types form a hierarchy and as such are usually split in specific ways. Compare other stub splits at Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting/Stub types.)
  6. If you are breaking a subtype out of an existing type, will the new creation reduce the size of the parent by a significant amount? (This is not an absolute necessity, but is often a catalyst for the creation of stub categories. Stub categories containing over 800 articles are typically considered to be "over-sized", and in need of such sub-types.)

If you think you have satisfied these guidelines, it is highly recommended that you propose the new stub type at stub type proposals page. This allows for debate on matters relating to the stub type that may not have occurred to the proposer, and also allows for objections if the split does not satisfy stub guidelines. If there are no objections within five days, you may create the new stub type.

New stub templates

Once the creation of a new stub type has been discussed at Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting/Proposals and agreed upon, a template can be created. The name of this should follow the stub type naming conventions, and will usually be decided during the discussion process.

All stub templates should link to a stub category. This may be a category specific to the topic of the template, or the template might be "upmerged" to one or more less specific categories – for example, a template for Andorran history might link to a stub category for European history and a general Andorran stub category. This is often thought to be desirable when a stub type is proposed in anticipation of future use, but is not currently over the size threshold; or where an existing stub type has a finite number of well-defined subdivisions, with some numerically viable as subtypes, and others not.

Adding a small image to the stub template (the "stub icon") is generally discouraged because it increases the strain on the Wikipedia servers but may be used, so long as the image must be public domain or have a free license – fair use images must not be used in templates. Stub icons should be small, preferably no more than about 40px in size.

The standard code for stub templates is found at: {{asbox}}. This template can be used (without substitution).

New stub categories

The name of the stub category should also have been decided during the proposal process and will also follow the naming guidelines.

The text of a stub category should contain a definition of what type of stubs are contained in it and an indication of what template is used to add stubs to it. The {{WPSS-cat}} template should also be placed on the category, to indicate that it has been created after debate at Wikipedia: WikiProject Stub sorting/Proposals. The new stub category should also be added to the Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting/Stub types list.

The new stub category should be correctly added into other categories. These should include at least three specific categories:

  • The analogous permanent category ("permcat")
  • At least one higher level ("parent") stub category
  • Category:Stub categories

Thus, for example, Category:France stubs, should be in an equivalent permcat (Category:France), parent stub category (Category:Europe stubs), and Category:Stub categories.

The creation of stub categories can be partially automated by using {{Stub category}} as follows:

{{Stub category|article=[[A]]|newstub=B|category=C}}

A: Insert the description of the category here.
B: Insert the name of the new stub template here.
C: Insert the name of an appropriate parent non-stub category.

In the example given above, the formatting would look like this:

{{Stub category|article=[[France]]|newstub=France-stub|category=France}} which would produce this:

This syntax also automatically adds the new category to Category:Stub categories, though parent stub categories and {{WPSS-cat}} still need to be added manually. It also automatically pipes the stub category with "Σ", so that appears at the end of the list of subcategories in non-stub category C. This effectively moves it away from navigation categories to place it alongside other editing- and cleanup-related categories.

If you have some doubts or comments regarding any part of the process, do not hesitate to address them at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Stub sorting.

Stubbing existing articles

Shortcut:

On occasion, an article may have significant problems that create opportunities to remove most of its content. This may be done in response to an article that is heavily biased, either for or against its subject; in response to an article that has some verifiable material but is otherwise full of original research, self-published, or primary sources; in response to an OTRS complaint; or a variety of other reasons.

If enough content is removed that all that remains is a stub, a stub template should be added to the article, if it does not already have one.

Stub types, WikiProjects, and Assessment templates

When a new WikiProject commences, one of the first things its creators often do is decide whether or not a specific stub type should be created for it. Often there is no real problem, as WikiProject topics frequently coincide with subjects of specific stub types. On other occasions, there will be no specific stub type, and thus a new type should be proposed.

Occasionally, a WikiProject will seek to have a stub type which runs contrary to the way stubs are normally split, and this can create conflict between that project and WikiProject Stub sorting, or, more importantly, between that one stub type and one or more other stub types. Even where there is an existing stub type, there may be conflict, as often the definition of a topic as used for stub sorting may not be identical to that used by its specific WikiProject. It should be remembered in cases like this that, while a specific WikiProject may be looking for a solution for its concerns, WikiProject Stub sorting is attempting to make a coherent and cohesive system that works for all editors. The system needs to be as compatible as possible with the needs of all WikiProjects, and also with the needs of casual editors who are not part of any WikiProject.

Assessment templates are a way around this problem, and more often than not a far more useful tool for WikiProjects. Assessment templates have several distinct advantages over stub types for WikiProjects. The templates are placed on article talk pages, where they are less likely to be seen as controversial (the placing of stub templates on controversial articles has frequently been a source of edit warring). They allow all articles within a topic area to be assessed and catalogued by a related project – not just stub articles. They allow an indication to be made of exactly what work needs to be done on an article. They also allow workgroups that are subgroups of WikiProjects to have their own specific templates that are better suited to their tasks.

Tools

Several tools are available for helping to locate and sort stubs. These include:

See also