Wikipedia:Alternatives to the "Expand" template

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The purpose of a cleanup template message (see Wikipedia:Template messages/Cleanup) is to alert other editors that an article has a problem that needs addressing. Some of them address specific issues, such as a lack of references, a promotional tone, an intro that's too short or too long. Others are fairly vague — "may need copy-editing," "may need reorganization," etc. Whatever the case, most of them at least address a particular issue that can easily be discerned by other editors.

One of the cleanup templates, the now-deprecated {{expand}}, stated the obvious — if an article is featured-article or at least good-article quality, then it's most likely written out as fully as possible.[1] Far too often, {{expand}} was just slapped on willy-nilly because someone notices that the article's a little short. What's more, the second sentence of the template almost always gets ignored: "Further information might be found on the talk page." Well, yes, that is the place where the content of the article is supposed to be discussed. Again, the template is only stating the obvious — that is, whenever the person that adds the template decides to address the expansion on the talk page.

What's more, the {{expand}} template originated from a now-obsolete portion of the project: Wikipedia:Requests for expansion, which dated back to 2003 if not earlier.[2] In November 2008, the backlog at Requests for expansion was only piling up higher and higher without anyone seeming to take care of it, and as a result, the project was tagged as inactive. Not that the backlog has gone down, either; Category:Articles to be expanded is closing in on 100,000 articles.

There are more useful templates that can indicate that a section of an article is underdeveloped. In fact, some of them are even cousins of {{expand}}. One is {{Expand section}}; while not too much of an improvement, it at least narrows the problem down to a specific section. This template also allows the tagger to add a brief explanation of what needs expansion in that section, something that {{Expand}} did not.

For a myriad of reasons, including the points stated above, the "Expand" template was finally deleted in January 2011 (three weeks after this was written) after a very long Templates for Discussion and an even longer deletion review.[3]

In short, there are far better ways to say "hey, this article needs more information". Find a more specific template. Notify an experienced user and/or a WikiProject. Be bold and take up the expansion yourself.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ From Wikipedia:Featured article criteria: "A featured article[…]neglects no major facts or details and places the subject in context[.]"
  2. ^ The earliest preserved edit is dated 4 April 2004, but that diff shows that it existed since at least July 2003.
  3. ^ TFD came to a consensus of "delete". Due to the heavy amount of transclusions, the template was placed in the holding cell and taken to DRV before many instances of it could be removed.