Wikipedia:Controlling search engine indexing

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There are a variety of ways in which Wikipedia attempts to control search engine indexing, commonly termed "noindexing" on Wikipedia, as the default position is that pages are indexed. All of the methods rely on using the noindex HTML meta tag, which tells search engines not to index certain pages. Respecting the tag, especially in terms of removing already indexed content, is up to the individual search engine, and in theory the tag may be ignored entirely.

The control methods are:

  1. Controlling an entire namespace, via MediaWiki software settings
  2. Controlling classes of pages, via MediaWiki:Robots.txt (Wikipedia's Robots.txt file)
  3. Controlling individual pages by adding the __NOINDEX__ magic word into them, either directly or using the {{NOINDEX}} template.
  4. Controlling pages by adding the __NOINDEX__ magic word into standard templates used in certain situations.

Namespace and robots.txt[edit]

Namespace control[edit]

On English Wikipedia the entire User talk: namespace, Draft: and Draft talk: namespaces are automatically noindexed via a software setting.[1]

At the same time, __NOINDEX__ and __INDEX__ are disabled in article space, the Draft namespace, and the Draft talk namespace; they have no effect there.[2]

Robots.txt noindexing[edit]

MediaWiki:Robots.txt forbids analytic tools to visit sensitive or potentially sensitive types of page, primarily in the Wikipedia namespace - for example deletion debates. A side effect of not visiting is normally that a page cannot be indexed. Where possible, you should in addition use __NOINDEX__ for those pages.

NOINDEX magic word[edit]


Individual pages[edit]

Individual pages can be noindexed by adding the __NOINDEX__ magic word into that page, either directly or using the {{NOINDEX}} template. However, __NOINDEX__ is disabled in article space and consequently has no effect there. Therefore this list of articles containing NOINDEX should be empty (although it does little harm if it is not). Pages with the keyword are listed in Category:Noindexed pages.[3]

Standard template noindexing[edit]

Some standard templates include the __NOINDEX__ keyword, thereby noindexing pages to which the templates are applied. Such templates should be listed in Category:Wikipedia templates which apply NOINDEX.

Biographies of Living Persons talkpage noindexing[edit]

The templates {{BLP}} and {{BLP others}} include the {{NOINDEX}} parameter. The {{BLP}} template is added automatically by the {{WikiProject Biography}} talkpage template, if given the parameter |living=yes; see the documentation of that template for more details. Pages using these templates are automatically categorised in Category:Biography articles of living people.

Other templates[edit]

These templates include {{NOINDEX}} together with a relevant message:

See also Category:Wikipedia templates which apply NOINDEX.

  • {{Uw-userspacenoindex}} provides a user warning message for inappropriate use of userspace which required noindexing.

INDEX magic word[edit]

Individual pages[edit]

Individual pages can override namespace noindexing by adding the __INDEX__ magic word into that page, either directly or using the {{INDEX}} template. Such pages appear in Category:Indexed pages. However, INDEX does not override noindexing via MediaWiki:Robots.txt.[4]

Nofollow HTML attribute[edit]

Main article: Meta:nofollow

Since 2007, all links to other websites from English Wikipedia have the nofollow HTML attribute set.[5] This means that on pages that are indexed by search engines, any links found by a search engine on those pages should not influence the link target's ranking in the search engine's index.

Past discussions[edit]

Namespace discussions[edit]

Individual template discussions[edit]

Current issues[edit]


  1. ^ This is $wgNamespaceRobotPolicies. See Wikimedia's $wgNamespaceRobotPolicies setting for enwiki
  2. ^ This is controlled by the MediaWiki software setting $wgExemptFromUserRobotsControl. On other projects, the exempt namespaces are the same as $wgContentNamespaces, which is set to main space on almost all Wikimedia projects – see here and here.
  3. ^ The listing is done by MediaWiki tracking the keyword. The category name is determined by MediaWiki:Noindex-category.
  4. ^ It does override mw:Manual:$wgArticleRobotPolicies, but on English Wikipedia this is only used for two pages anyway: Wikimedia's $wgArticleRobotPolicies setting for enwiki
  5. ^ Controlled by $wgNoFollowLinks, set to true in Wikimedia's settings file