Wikipedia:Lists within articles
|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
Lists within articles are lists of facts or lists of links included in an article or appended to the end of an article.
Types of lists
Example of a list. Lists make one exception to policies and guidelines applicable to all main or article namespace pages: lists are self-referential by their very nature (the word "list" or "lists" in their titles refers to an entity on Wikipedia, not in the world-at-large), and therefore they are an exception to the Wikipedia:Avoid self-references guideline.
Lists within articles
Most Wikipedia articles should consist of prose, and not just a list of links. Prose allows the presentation of detail and clarification of context, while a list of links does not. Prose flows, like one person speaking to another, and is best suited to articles, because their purpose is to explain. Therefore, lists of links, which are most useful for browsing subject areas, should usually have their own entries: see Wikipedia:Lists (stand-alone lists) for detail. In an article, significant items should be mentioned naturally within the text rather than merely listed.
Advantages of lists
- Lists are good for exploratory browsing of Wikipedia, and provide a useful alternative to the cumbersome category system – lists are often more comprehensive because each is maintained from a centralized location (at the page itself). See the top end of the list hierarchy at Lists of topics, Lists of basic topics, List of overviews, and List of glossaries.
- Lists are much easier to build (fill) than categories, because entries can be gathered, cut and pasted in from searches and other sources. Brainstorming entries from one's personal education is much easier, because you don't have to hunt for the articles to place the tags on, you simply type the topics into the list.
- Lists can be embellished with annotations (further details). For example, a list of soccer world championship teams can include with each entry when each championship was won, who the champions defeated, who their coach was, etc.
- Lists can be referenced to justify the inclusion of listed articles.
- Lists can include items for which there are yet no articles (red links).
- List items can be sorted using a variety of methods. An article can appear several times or in different ways in the same list.
- Lists can be linked to specific sections of articles.
- Lists can include invisible links to discussion pages, so that clicking on "related changes" will include those (Format: [[Talk:Omphalology| ]]).
- Lists can be more easily edited by newbies who are less familiar with Wiki markup language.
- Images can be interspersed throughout a list.
- Lists can be formatted in many different ways, to improve the presentation of the contents of the list.
- Templates (such as navigation boxes) can be included as portions of a list.
Disadvantages of lists
- A lengthy list may make a Wikipedia article longer than its recommended size
- New users who are creating articles may be completely unaware of any related list which needs to be updated
- Lists, especially about careers, awards, or commercial products, are often targets for unsourced or self-promotional additions, including external linkspam.
Adding external links to an article or user page for the purpose of promoting a website or a product is not allowed, and is considered to be spam. Although the specific links may be allowed under some circumstances, repeatedly adding links will in most cases result in all of them being removed.
Adding links to online free videos that promote a site or product is not allowed [see exception below]. Often these videos have been uploaded in violation of their copyright which adds an additional reason for not linking to them. A video is a spamming video if:
- It has a banner plastered across the video giving you a website address to go to.
- It has links on the video page—the page that plays the video—that go to a commercial site or to another spamming video, even if it is only one link among many legitimate links. — [see exception below]
- It has text at this video page that would lead readers to a specific commercial site. For example, "book available at xyzBooks dot net" — [see exception below]
- It is a clone of a video that has been deleted. Here is how this typically happens: (1) A spammer post a video in violation of a copyright (2) the copyright holder (or other party) notifies the Video sharing service that the video is not authorized (3) the video sharing service reviews that claim (4) the video sharing service deletes the video (5) the spammer posts the video again. Note: The ID in the address for the video at the video sharing service changes when this happens.
- Exception: Generally, a video is not a spamming video if it is posted by the official site associated with the Wikipedia article. For example, if the Wikipedia article is on a movie named "xyzMovie" and the official site for the movie is "xyzMovie.com" then links or references to "xyzMovie.com" are legitimate for a video at a video sharing page—however, all other links at that video page still must also be legitimate. Some judgement is needed here. If the posted video just advertises a bunch of products associated with the movie, then it is a spamming video even though it is posted by the official site.
It is also important to avoid giving an opportunity to spammers. Sometimes, the way an article is phrased attracts spammers. For example,
- Social networking has flourished with websites such as Friendster and MySpace, ...
- Examples of detergents include Tide, ...
- The most notable MLM companies are Amway, ...
- Many people feel Dr. Pepper is the best tasting soft drink... (this is also weasel wording)
- Many blogs arose discussing this, see Some blog, ...
because it is far easier to add a link to the end of this sentence than to add encyclopedic content.