User:Alan Liefting/Redirects are costly

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For the corollary, see Wikipedia:Redirects are cheap.

Because of the vagaries of the English language, and the multitude of topics that don't have an actual page there is a need for redirects. These redirects are handy pages that allow readers and editors to quickly get to a page that they are trying to find. But there are some redirects that can be more of a burden than a boon to Wikipedia.

According to WP:RFD:

"... deleting redirects is cheap since the deletion coding takes up minimal disk space and use very little bandwidth. There is no harm in deleting problematic redirects"

Editors wanting to either keep or delete a redirect must weigh up the trade-offs. It is obviously in a lot of cases as to whether deletion or retention is the correct option so we have to decide on the ones in the middle - the grey area that is discussed endlessly at WP:RFD.

Since server space and bandwidth is not an argument for deleting or retaining a redirect we have to give other reasons. One very good reason to summarily delete a redirect is the maintenance burden that is placed on editors - who are virtually all here on a voluntary basis. The mere fact that a redirect is listed and discussed at the redirects for discussion page is a burden, then - and more importantly, if a redirect is retained it remains a burden on the Wikipedia community forever, or until it is finally deleted. This is because every page present on Wikipedia is subjected to scrutiny by editors, and is also open to vandalism. Vandalism can be done by the actual creation of a page that would otherwise have been considered as a redirect but this is not an argument for creating a redirect since the new page patrollers are likely to pick it up and have it deleted.

One reason for retaining a redirect is that it is linked to from outside Wikipedia. This is likely to happen if a redirect has been on Wikipedia for some time and editors of other websites have used either the original page name prior to a page move or have themselves used the redirect page name for other reasons. This is not necessarily a reason for keeping a redirect but it the incoming hits are very large it would only be fair to keep it. However, "very large" is of course a subjective term.

A redirect having other wikipages linked to it is not a reason for keeping it. These links can easily be updated either manually or with the use of automated or semi-automated bots.

Reducing the maintenance burden that is placed on the shoulders of Wikipedians is important. There is a huge backlog of tasks that need attention and Wikipedia is forever growing. This means that there are evermore existing articles need the attention of editors and we have no inkling of whether there will be a large enough pool of editors in the future.

Finally, it may be as simple as a fractious, divisive discussion of a redirect that is the straw that breaks the back of an overworked experienced editor, making them leave Wikipedia, taking their valuable time and experience with them.


Some unneeded redirects

There is no need to redirect from:

  • obscure terms
  • implausible typos
  • article titles that have both a name and an abbreviation
  • topics that can easily be found with a search

This is but a short list and there are many more reasons for deletion.


See also[edit]