Wikipedia:Banner standardisation

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A banner is a type of template that a WikiProject uses to indicate an article is within the scope of that project. In the past, our collection of WikiProject banners varied widely in nomenclature. Starting in mid 2008, a two-year push towards the most common form was commenced. With the final standardisation drive in mid 2010, a standard now exists in over 99% of WikiProject banners.

Standardisation assists editors who add project banners to new or untagged articles as well as makes things easier for bots and scripts that work with project banners, or editors trying to identify banner templates in the editing window. As such, it is encouraged that future banners use the standard Template:WikiProject Project form.

Advantages of standardisation[edit]

Syntax Frequency
2008 2010a 2010b
WikiProject_ 544 977 1251
WP 148 71 2
WikiProject 51 4 0
WP_ 39 28 0
Wikiproject_ 16 0 0
Wikiproject 11 0 0
Wp 6 1 0
Wp_ 0 0 0
Other 314 99 2
???WikiProject 19 1
???(p/P)roject 68 0
Project??? 12 0
Total 1129 1279 1256

Consistency[edit]

The most popular convention is {{WikiProject Foo}}. Consistency helps to reduce confusion and allows editors to easily identify WikiProject banners when in the editing window.

Future use of templates[edit]

A substantial minority of project banners used template names (like {{Lacrosse}}, {{Woodworking}}, {{Bodybuilding}}, etc) which are often used for article-space navigational templates (compare {{Martial arts}}, {{Australia}}, {{Photography}}, for instance). Although moving the templates does not immediately free up these titles, it makes them more accessible (there is a psychological difference between claiming a redirect and claiming an existing template). By discouraging future WikiProjects from taking template names like these, it also reduces the likelihood of naming conflicts in the future. Of course, unless and until an alternative use for the title arises, something like {{Physics}} would remains a redirect to Template:WikiProject Physics.

Coding bots[edit]

A number of bots and scripts are used on Wikipedia to analyse and manipulate data from WikiProject banners. It would be significantly easier to code such processes if all wikiProject banners used a standardised naming convention. For instance, scripts like Mediawiki:Gadget-metadata.js or applications like Igor could be simplified, or expanded with more powerful/reliable functionality, if the banners they analyse could be relied upon to follow a standard form. Similarly, bots which automatically tag large numbers of articles could be made more resource-efficient and server-friendly; it would also make much easier the difficult programming task of working out where amongst the templates at the top of article talk pages a new banner should be placed, if the block of WikiProject banners could be easily identified. By the same token, a bot can automatically add a {{WikiProjectBannerShell}} if banners are identifiable.

This is of particular relevance when the analysis is done not on the live pages but on a recent database dump. Here, the full wikitext of pages is not available, but only the various data tables which link pages together. By analysing the templatelinks table, the list of templates used on a page can be found very quickly and efficiently. Hopefully the advantages of being able to rely on wikiproject banners appearing in this table with a consistent naming convention is obvious: determining whether or not a template is a project banner otherwise is time-consuming, involving analysing the categorylinks table.

A standardized naming convention for banners also simplifies the mechanisms by which automated processes connect a banner with its corresponding wikiproject. This standardisation process (described below) will require a script to analyse links on the banner page, the categories the banner is in, and other pages in those categories, and may still require human intervention to determine the correct link. If it were convention that the wikiProject could be found simply by replacing "Template:" by "Wikipedia:" in the template name, these processes would be immensely simplified and have a reduced error-rate.

Ease of tagging[edit]

There are many articles which have not been identified as being of interest to one of Wikipedia's many WikiProjects. There are a significant number of editors who perform the invaluable task of patrolling Special:Newpages and Special:Random to find untagged articles, to which they add appropriate project banners, with assessments if appropriate. These editors are usually not familiar with the unusual titles used for some project banners, and need a standardised naming convention.

This issue can also be adequately addressed by the proper use of redirects: WikiProjects with names that don't match the form described here are encouraged to create or maintain the Template:WikiProject Project redirect.

Impact on WikiProjects[edit]

Even if banners are moved to a standard form, WikiProjects will still be able to use their old tags on talk pages; all the existing template calls on talk pages will continue to display normally. Shortcuts used for convenience (like {{WPBIO}} in place of {{WikiProject Biography}}, or {{WPMCB}} in place of {{WikiProject Molecular and Cellular Biology}}) will continue to function, and there is no need to deprecate the use of such redirects (nor is it recommended to edit pages with the sole purpose of bypassing a perfectly functional redirect).

Technical considerations[edit]

Voice of All, a mediawiki developer, has indicated that moving templates does not add pages to the job queue; so moving a banner will not force all the pages on which it is used to be recached. It has also been confirmed that the additional server load of having to process those extra redirects is negligible in comparison to the resources required to actually expand the template when the page is displayed. In short, standardisation has little or no impact on the servers or on the functionality of the templates.

For templates which use the meta template {{WPBannerMeta}}, the BANNER_NAME parameter specifies the full page name of the template. Therefore this will need to be updated when a banner template is moved. However it may be useful to note that this parameter may be omitted when the template is at its standardised location, i.e. "Template:WikiProject <PROJECT>"

Please be sure to check for double redirects when moving a template!