Wikipedia:Selection pages

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This essay, Wikipedia:Selection pages, describes the various selection pages that are used, along with article pages, in the wikipedia article namespace.

There are 8 major types of Wikipedia selection pages:

  • category pages – These are pages named with prefix "Category:..." that connect articles or other categories or pages into groups, often below 100 entries but many exceeding 10,000 articles.
  • disambiguation pages – These are pages that provide a listing of alternative titles that use the same wording, or some of the same words, in the title. Pages are tagged by {{disambig}}.
  • redirection pages – These are pages that provide an alternative title (or subtitle) for an article or some other page; they can also link to the inside of pages, and have category links (which also activate during editing when concealing the "#REDIRECT" on line 1).
  • surname pages – These are pages that provide a listing of various biographical articles that use the same surname (or family name) in the title. Pages are tagged by {{surname}}.
  • list pages – These are pages that present a formal list of titles for a specific topic; the list is sometimes presented in the form a rigidly formatted table, rather than a free-format list of titles.
  • table pages – These are pages that present a formalized set of titles in a wikitable, with specific columns defined for the page. Some people refer to table-pages as list-pages, but having a tabular structure. Some tables are sortable by the various columns.
  • navpages – A navpage is a page containing a complete navbox as a stand-alone page, rather than only being transcluded into an article. Because a navpage contains a full-page navbox, it could be larger than a typical navbox, and contain more article titles as wikilinks.
  • crosslink pages – These pages provide a listing of titles that are related to a specific topic, but do not present a formalized list, and do not require all the linked article titles to contain the same words, as in a disambiguation page. The effect is a "navbox meets a disambiguation page" where the page is not limited to a box-style format and the linked titles do not contain exactly the same words within them. A crosslink page can contain multiple sets of any article titles related to a specific topic. It is neither a single list, nor a boxified navpage, nor a disambiguation page restricted to same-word titles. Many crosslink pages exist as "invalid" disambiguation pages, in a frustrated effort to link other related articles, images, or other pages that do not match the same-word titles. Crosslink pages can be regarded as linking pages with the same ideas, rather than the same words.

Those are the major types of Wikipedia selection pages.

History of selection pages[edit]

The concept of disambiguation pages arose early within Wikipedia, due to the issue of "name collisions" when choosing article names. For example, the name "Mississippi" can refer to one of the U.S. states, the Mississippi River, the indigenous North American tribe, or one of various ship names, etc. A disambiguation page was an easy extension to allow readers to choose among the related articles.

The use of list-pages was a heavily debated issue, all during 2005–2006, due to the potential for numerous indiscriminate lists of information to be easily created for hundreds of subset combinations, such as "List of Austrian towns with left-handed, blue-eyed mayors". However, the benefits of using lists were recognized for quickly presenting related information, while avoiding the work of writing a separate Wikipedia article for every item in a list. Yet, it took months for many people to realize a list could avoid creating all of the spin-off articles, unless needed, such as with the page "List of African daisy diseases".

Meanwhile, lists were even rejected as parts of numerous articles, until the realization that lists inside an article could also reduce the proliferation of tiny spin-off articles for each item, such as listing the top hit recordings of a musician, the major roles of an actor, or listing most of the members of a ball team, rather than creating numerous, separate Wikipedia articles for each and every recording, film role, or team member.

Meanwhile, across the world, people translating articles into the other-language Wikipedias confirmed the fantastic speed revolution that keeping lists in articles were fostering. Lists were so many, many, many times easier and faster to translate into other languages, that it seemed that lists had been invented by the world's smartest man of all nations, of all periods in human history. By comparison, the prose text in articles became mired in the tedious translation of joined phrases and dependent sub-clauses, resulting in many translated articles becoming mostly the obvious lists of items, or the infoboxes, after a single introductory sentence in each article.

As of April 2009, many thousands of list-pages exist within the English Wikipedia.

[ This is a draft version to be expanded later. ]