User:CarrieVS/THINK before you link

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Creating wikilinks is extremely easy. You just place [[ and ]] round the outside of the word you want to link, and Robert is the brother of your parent. This simplicity of formatting has worked beautifully in encouraging editors to add links. Unfortunately, the same ease and simplicity has been known to dupe editors into forgetting that many words and phrases are used in a whole variety of different senses. Thankfully, your computer has magical telepathic powers, so it knows exactly what you meant and can direct the link to the appropriate article, so readers won't be confused or mislead by links to the wrong thing and other editors won't have to give up their time and effort to correct your mistakes.

However, you may wish direct your link to the right place by yourself.

Tutorial[edit]

After making your changes in the edit window, do not press 'Save page'. Instead, press 'Show preview'. Even for simple changes, you should always use preview if you have created a link, unless to a page you are already familiar with and sure of the title.

Links appear in one of three colours: red, for pages that do not exist; light blue, for pages you have not visited; and dark blue, for pages that you have visited. All links in the preview should be dark blue before you save your changes.

THINKing before linking is as simple as that: preview, and follow each link to visit the page to make sure it is the one you wanted.

Troubleshooting[edit]

Of course, sometimes more work is necessary to create a correct link than to just THINK before you link. This is usually because your original link is incorrect and is exactly the reason you needed to THINK, and all it means is that you will have to THINK some more. Do not panic! Just read the rest of this section.



If the link appears in red, you have tried to link to a page that does not exist. This could be because you accidentally misspelled the page title, because no article exists with that exact title - but there may still be one about the subject, under a different title, or a broader article covering the subject. Or the subject may not be covered at all.

  • Try the suggestions here.


If the link is to the wrong article, check for hatnotes or 'See also' entries linking to other uses of the term or a disambiguation page. If it's on a similar topic, especially a broader topic that might cover the one you want, also look for a section covering your topic. It might have a 'Main article:...' link, or you could link to the section.

  • Still nothing? Try the suggestions for a red link.


If the link is to a disambiguation page, it's not ok to leave it like that, unless the ambiguity of the term is what you are discussing - e.g. in a 'for other uses...' hatnote or a 'See also' section. In this case, the link should be to 'pagename (disambiguation)', which should be a redirect if the page name isn't in that form.

  • For tips on finding the right article from a disambiguation page, see here.


If you find that hard, go back to that page, and look at the 'To do' list - especially at the start of the month. The numbers of links are just the ones from article namespace, and many of the ones in other namespaces will also need disambiguating, so there's actually a lot more than that. And the people who work to sort out those mistakes don't know what you were thinking when you created the link (if indeed you were[1]), so it will be much harder for us than for you. You try figuring out whether 'clathrin-binding motif' means sequence motif or structural motif, without a grounding in molecular biology[2].

Now go and do your own dirty work.


If all but one of the articles you can find definitely aren't the right one, great! You only have one more to work out. Off you go.

Don't just link to it. No really. Not ever. Ever. No, not even then. Linking to an article that might be right is much worse than linking to a disambiguation page or even an obviously wrong article. If it's wrong, chances are a reader won't know it is wrong, and will be mislead. And that's terrible.


If you really can't work out where it should go, consider unlinking it. Not everything needs linking, especially the dictionary definition of a word, unless it is obscure. This is not the Simple English Wikipedia, so you should assume that readers will know most words - if someone doesn't, they can look it up in a dictionary themselves.

Or, if you feel it is important for readers to understand the term, and you really, really can't work out which page to link to, you could leave a message on the talk page, in the hope that someone else will work it out, or, if you really must, leave a link to a disambiguation page, with a disambiguation needed tag - and you may want to leave a note on the talk page as well.


If you have already saved your changes

...don't panic. You can THINK after you link as well.




  1. ^ The edit that prompted this essay
  2. ^ If you do have a grounding in molecular biology, did I get it right?