User:Tony1/Build your linking skills

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High-quality linking is a skill like writing. Skilled wikilinking is central to achieving good articles on Wikipedia. It is only over the past few years that we have begun to realise the potential for refining wikilinking—how sophisticated decision-making is required to achieve a high standard of linking: what to link, what not to link, how and when to research more focused links, and how to integrate links smoothly into the text. In this respect, linking deserves attention just as does the prose in our articles. Please keep in mind two things:

  • your readers rely on you to guide them towards the best links;
  • it is highly likely that readers click on links much less than we think they do, especially if there is dense linking.

Overlinking. Generally, there has been an increasing realisation that overlinking damages the linking system through dilution of high-value links in the vicinity, and that sprinkling low-value links through a text degrades its professional appearance and undermines readers' confidence that links will take them somewhere relevant. Thus, there is a trade-off in linking, in which increased utility needs to be balanced against the disadvantages of diluting other links in the vicinity and of crowding the text with blue. While few editors would disagree that certain items should not be linked, and certain items should be linked, there is a grey area in the middle in which the decision to link or not link is an art rather than a laid-down, universally accepted decision.

Underlinking. We believe this is less of an issue than overlinking; it is nevertheless important to provide readers with links to target articles (or article-sections) that are likely to be focused, relevant and useful. This is particularly the case in highly technical topics, and topics that naturally refer to many closely related items, such as songs, albums, bands, artists and styles in popular music articles.

Four key tests. Applying these tests will help you to make decisions about linking:

  • Relevance: Is the link-target sufficiently relevant and useful to link? (See WP:LINK.)
  • Specificity: Does the link lead to the most focused appropriate target? (Search for daughter articles and sections at the proposed target article.)
  • Uniqueness: Is the linked topic reachable—directly or indirectly—through another link in the vicinity? (If so, consider not linking.)
  • WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get): Is the link-target clear and obvious to the reader? (See Wikipedia:Principle of least astonishment.)

The exercises: unfolding design. Each exercise below will present you with a portion of text in which you can improve the linking. They are designed to be done in your head, without typing. Each one unfolds in stages that you control: first, the problem text, then a hint to help you along; then a solution; and finally an explanation. The underlying syntax is provided in coloured text where necessary. Where an item has been linked or unlinked in a solution, it is underlined to show this. The examples are taken from existing Wikipedia articles, from which reference numbers have been removed to avoid clutter.

Pace yourself. Before attempting these exercises, we recommend acquaintance with WP:LINK, the style guide that contains advice about linking, internal and external. Feedback on how to improve the exercises is welcome on the talk page. You'll get the most out of the exercises by thinking carefully about each stage before clicking on the next one. These tasks are concentrated, so expect to stop when you've had enough, and plan to return to take up where you left off. "Distributed" practice (that is, spaced over time) will have a more powerful effect than attempting all of the exercises at once ("massed" practice). Monitor your performance for fatigue.

Self-help writing tutorials:

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Part I[edit]

Andy Warhol[edit]

Link to article


City of Manchester Stadium[edit]

Link to article


Lisa the Vegetarian[edit]

Link to article


Fatboy Slim[edit]

Link to article


Carabane[edit]

Link to article


Link tip. Red links can turn blue (when an article is started); blue links can turn red (when a target article is deleted); the wording of target section-titles can be changed without editors' realising the effect this may have on links that are anchored to it. Link maintenance is an important part of keeping our article standards high.

Among the most valuable editorial work performed by WPians is referred to as "gnoming"—useful incremental edits behind the scenes, tying up loose ends and making articles read more smoothly. We would be delighted if more people considered doing a little link-gnoming. It can be very satisfying to choose a category of articles you like and to work through them systematically. Gnoming can involve (1) clicking on some or most of the links to check that they're optimal; (2) looking out for over- and underlinking; and (3) applying the WYSIWYG test to pipes.

Part II[edit]

Greengage[edit]

Link to article


Donnchadh, Earl of Carrick[edit]

Link to article


Voting age[edit]

Link to article


Tasmania[edit]

Link to article


World War I[edit]

Link to article


Link tip: The two world wars that occurred during that brutal and chaotic century, the 20th, are so well-known that it is usually not necessary to link them. The exception may be in Military History articles.

Part III—Let's look at popular entertainers[edit]

John Denver[edit]

Link to article


Janis Joplin[edit]

Link to article

Bessie Smith[edit]

Link to article


Whoopi Goldberg[edit]

Link to article


Link tip. OK, here's the deal with popular culture articles: they typically need to link to the many items that refer to musical output (songs, tracks, albums), other musicians, and bands. It is therefore of great importance that common terms not be linked unless absolutely necessary, to avoid diluting these many valuable links. Unfortunately, articles on popular culture tend to indulge in the significant overlinking of trivial terms (I've seen "roses", "suicide", "divorce" and "high school" recently, which detracted from the useful links).

In popular culture articles, generally don't link these items:

  • American/US/U.S.; British/English/UK; Canada/Canadian; Ireland/Irish; Australia(n); New Zealand(er); France, Germany, Italy, Europe, China, India, Asia, etc.
  • New York (City); Los Angeles; London
  • actor/actress; comedian; singer(-songwriter); writer/author; film producer; record producer; television producer (and specify which, please); entrepreneur; businessman
  • guitar; bass guitar (don't abbreviate to "bass"); synthesizer; keyboard; drum (kit); percussion
  • film; cinema; television; radio; CD; DVD; documentary; theater/re
  • née (woman's surname before marriage); stage name; autobiography; divorce; libel; cancer; heart attack (or other common diseases)
  • game show; talk show; host
  • dates, decades, centuries
  • heroin; drug addiction; alcoholism; rape; homosexual

See also[edit]