Wikipedia:Orphan

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This page is about orphaned articles in general. For the related WikiProject, see WP:ORPHAN. For articles that need WikiProjects, see WP:ONW. For requests for oversight, see WP:RFO. For the office actions policy, see WP:OFFICE.

In the Wikipedia glossary, an orphan is defined as "an article with no links from other pages in the main article namespace". These pages can still be found by searching Wikipedia, but it is preferable that they can also be reachable by links from related pages; it is therefore helpful to add links from other suitable pages with similar and/or related information. De-orphaning articles is an important aspect of building the web.

What is an orphan?[edit]

There are several factors that can classify an article as an orphan:

  • Orphan: An article with no incoming links which meet the criteria for linking below
  • Isolated article: An article that cannot be reached via a series of links from the Main Page
  • Walled garden: A group of articles that link to each other, but have few or no links to them from other Wikipedia articles. In effect the entire group is orphaned. Theoretically, a walled garden could have numerous articles if they all link to each other but no others link to them.
  • Orphaned project page: A project page (starting with "Wikipedia:") with few or no links from other project pages. Essays are the most likely to be orphaned.
  • Orphaned image: An image not used in any article

What is the problem with an orphaned article?[edit]

Orphaned articles, since they have no links to them from other pages, are difficult to find, and are most likely to be found only by searching, or by chance. Because of this, few people know they exist, and therefore, they receive less readership and improvement from those who would be able to improve them.

In particular, if the topic is more obscure, this may make it difficult for many to locate. If not for links to a page, the only way such an article can be found is by a person who knows the topic entering it into Wikipedia or doing a web search, browsing a category in which it is contained, looking at the edit history of a contributor to the page, or having it show up by chance as a random article.

Criteria[edit]

An article is orphaned if no other articles link to it. It is recommended to only place the {{Orphan}} tag if the article has zero incoming links from other articles. Although a single, relevant incoming link is sufficient to remove the tag, three or more is ideal and will help ensure the article is reachable by readers.[1]

The following pages do not count toward the one incoming link:

On redirects[edit]

Neither soft nor hard redirects should normally be tagged as orphans.

On disambiguation pages[edit]

Disambiguation pages themselves should be orphaned. The only mainspace pages that should link to them are other disambiguation pages, and articles with hatnote links (via templates such as {{Other uses}}). Please do not place the {{Orphan}} template on disambiguation pages. See also Wikipedia:Disambiguation#Links to disambiguation pages.

On set indexes[edit]

Pages containing the templates {{Surname}}, {{Given name}}, {{SIA}}, and any other set indexes also should necessarily be orphaned, as incoming links should usually be amended to target one of the items listed. Please do not place the {{Orphan}} template on these pages either.

On multiple page lists[edit]

Sections of a long list (see Wikipedia:Naming conventions (long lists)), other than the first or entry section are not orphans as long as they are linked to from the entry section.

Others[edit]

See the section below titled #Articles that may be difficult to de-orphan.

Suggestions for how to de-orphan an article[edit]

Shortcut:

Step 1: Finding an orphaned article[edit]

Lists of orphaned articles can be found in the following places (in order of priority):

Step 2: Finding related articles[edit]

If the article has an {{Orphan}} tag, then you can follow the hyper-linked words "related topics", which will take you to Wikipedia search. This will produce any articles which mention the name or part of the name of the orphaned article.

If the page lists other names or has redirects, consider searching for those terms as well.

If this doesn't help, then a little more research is required. First, read the article. Then, follow some likely-looking outgoing links from the orphan to other articles, and do a Web-wide search for the article topic. Doing these will give you a much better idea of what it relates to. Not only will it probably give you information you can use to add meaningful links from other articles, but it will probably give you enough info to flesh out and improve the orphan itself. (This is, after all, the main purpose of Wikipedia.)

Step 3: Adding links[edit]

Be careful to check that the search results refer to the topic of this article, and not something else of the same name. When you find an appropriate parent, insert a meaningful link to the orphaned article.

Added link edit summary[edit]

When adding a link to an orphaned article, please use this edit summary:

Adding link to orphaned article, Wikiproject Orphanage: [[Wikipedia:ORPHAN|You can help!]]

Step 4: Remove orphan template[edit]

Once the article has one or more links that fit the criteria, remove the tag, if one is present. Make sure to update the edit summary to reflect the article has been de-orphaned.

De-orphan edit summary[edit]

You may use this edit summary:

Successfully de-orphaned! Wikiproject Orphanage: [[Wikipedia:ORPHAN|You can help!]]

Various ways to de-orphan[edit]

  • Check to see if there are articles about the same topic under a different name. If that is the case, it may be suitable to merge the orphaned page to the other, or vice versa. When the merge occurs, links from the other page may provide the de-orphaning.
  • Consider creating reasonable redirects to the article. (Some alternative titles may already have links to them, or searching for the alternative titles may suggest other appropriate links.) Redirects do not technically count as "articles" in de-orphaning, but do provide more ways a page can be found. The redirect may also previously exist as a red link on another page, thereby providing some linkage.
  • Place the article name in quotation marks and click search (if the article title is a single word, quotes are not needed). This will list all the articles containing the term. Examine each one, and determine if the term in these articles means the same as the orphaned article. If it does, add an internal link. If it does not, simply ignore it. The same word or phrase that is used in the title of an article may have multiple meanings.
  • If any related articles have a See also section, it is worth considering if the orphaned article may be listed there. However don't just add links there indiscriminately! Adding links to See also could be considered a quick 'easy way out' to de-orphaning an article, and may attract the wrong kind of attention from other editors if poor-quality or only tangentially-related articles are 'dumped' into the See also section of an article they worked hard on. They may be of mind to revert you and even accuse you of mindless link-spamming. So always keep overall quality in mind.
  • Check to see if there are any Lists of whatever subject the orphaned article is about, or disambiguation pages listing articles with similar titles. If it belongs, you can add it there (although disambiguation links do not count towards de-orphaning).
  • Search categories in which the article is contained and other similar categories for related articles. It may be worth listing the orphaned page in a see also section, or even adding new [appropriate] text (even a minute amount) to one or more of these articles in order to provide a link. These may include adding a new heading with a {{Main}} tag below the heading and possibly a brief description.
  • Identify one or more navboxes containing articles in a category common to the orphan. According to some editors, this is the very best way to de-orphan, for it provides dozens of instantaneous links if a navbox is available. To do this, find the navbox, and add the article where it best belongs. You can edit a navbox by either visiting its title (beginning with "template:") or navigating to a page containing it, and clicking the letter "e" at the top-left corner. Once you add the orphaned article to a navbox, add the navbox to that article. If no suitable navbox exists, and you have the skills to create one, you can create a new navbox for the orphan and other related articles.
Note: While adding a navbox is very effective in increasing the number of links to a page, it is important to assure that at least some of the articles within the navbox have links from articles outside of that navbox, otherwise you are left with a walled garden.

An article being an orphan is not in any way, shape, or form a criterion for deletion. At worst, an orphan is just an article created by a less experienced editor who does not understand that it is necessary to provide sources, links or even categories, or by a more experienced editor who simply cannot find any other pages that can link to the subject. Or it may be a relatively new article that the creator is planning to link from other pages, but has not identified other articles or otherwise carried out that task yet (a page generally should not be tagged as an orphan until it has been around for a little while). Being an orphan is not a reason to delete an article, only to fix whatever issues it has.

An orphan, especially if it has been created by a newbie, may need to be flagged with other article issue tags. See {{Multiple issues}} for a list of issues with which an article can be flagged.

What if I can't de-orphan it?[edit]

Shortcut:

It may be the case that some articles currently just cannot be de-orphaned. If this is the case then please do not try to 'force-fit' by adding unrelated links to articles where they don't belong just for the sake of de-orphaning. Always keep in mind that our primary goal is to improve the reader's experience, not satisfy the editor's indulgence in statistical achievements. Your priority when adding links should be to maintain article quality by adding relevant and useful links wherever possible.

Take a look on the article's talk page and see if there is a WikiProject message box. If not add an appropriate WikiProject template. This should bring the article to the attention of subject contributors who may be able to help de-orphan.

Some orphaned articles may not meet Wikipedia's notability guidelines. Appropriate action for such articles may include tagging the page with {{Notability}} or propose for deletion.

When you do encounter an article that you are unable to de-orphan, but still feel that it is possible to be de-orphaned, then add the date you tried to de-orphan it to the orphan tag using the att parameter. The "att" is an abbreviation for "attempt", as in "I attempted to de-orphan this article but failed". The rationale is that although you were unable to de-orphan the article, it is often the case that someone else may be successful. However, if you are certain the article is unlikely to ever be de-orphaned then simply remove the tag.

Using the att parameter[edit]

To use "att", update the {{Orphan}} tag with: |att={{subst:#time: F Y }}. If there are already other cleanup tags and they're within the {{Multiple issues}} template no special considerations are generally required. Some articles may still use the old multiple issues syntax. In this case you should take the opportunity to convert to the new syntax .

There are several benefits of using the de-orphan attempt (att) parameter. It is a placemarker for those trying to do initial de-orphaning (i.e., indicates that somebody tried it and when). Also, articles where de-orphaning was tried quite some time ago may be easier now (many articles become easier to de-orphan once more articles in related areas have been filled in). You can be sure you won't end up looking at the same orphaned article twice because once it's tagged with |att=August 2014 it gets removed from the category it's currently in (Category:Orphaned articles from August 2014) and gets placed into the attempted de-orphaned articles category (Category:Attempted de-orphan from August 2014). This category may be a place for those de-orphaners who want an extra challenge. Remember that only a single incoming link is required in order to completely remove the orphan tag, but any additional links will certainly help ensure the article is not isolated, so the attempted de-orphans category may also be a place to hold those articles where you feel there is potential for more incoming links.

Also, when placing the|att= parameter, it's unnecessary to remove the pre-existing |date= parameter, as they are two separate and distinct parameters that complement each other. Instead of replacing |date= with |att= simply place it in addition to it, e.g. {{Nowrap|{{Orphan}}}. This gives editors the added benefit of knowing when the orphan tag was first placed on the article. Note that this does not double-categorize it, the |att= takes precedence and, as was mentioned above, the article is moved to the attempted de-orphan category for that date, so you're not having to revisit the same article twice when browsing through the monthly orphaned articles category. However, the all-inclusive Category:All orphaned articles still remains regardless; this is purposeful and is needed to categorize the article as still being an orphan.

Attempted de-orphan edit summary[edit]

You may use this edit summary:

Attempted to de-orphan. Wikiproject Orphanage: [[Wikipedia:ORPHAN|You can help!]]

Articles that may be difficult to de-orphan[edit]

Shortcut:
  • Organisms/Taxonomic/Species articles: Unless they're part of a navbox, it's highly unlikely that these specialized subjects will be linked to from more than one other article (although note that this has no bearing on their notability). Given that there's such a huge number of these and that many of them are one or two line stubs, it does not help to improve Wikipedia by tagging every single one with an orphan tag, and in fact may be seen as disruptive by other users. Please focus on the ones where there's at least a chance of inter-wikilinking.
  • ... in popular culture, List of works by ...: Usually the only article that will ever link to these will be the "parent" page about the subject itself. Obviously it's not necessary to get multiple links for these. There are many other cases similar to this (ex. "Lists of ..." lists, "Index of ...", "Glossary of ..." etc.) and other navigational types of articles, where just using a little common sense goes a long way in ensuring Wikipedia remains an enjoyable experience for the reader as well as the editor.
  • Surname pages: These are a special case, some may be among those types of articles known as "set index" articles, whilst others are encyclopedic articles related to anthroponymy that may be easier to de-orphan. If it's possible to de-orphan these, great. If not, just remove the tag if it's there and don't worry about it.

Adding an article to the list[edit]

Although a bot or script is capable of regularly checking articles to see if they are orphaned, you can help too manually. When reading an article, you can check what other pages link to it by clicking "What links here" in the toolbox. You will then be provided with a list of pages that link to that article. If it meets the criteria, and you don't have the time or knowledge to de-orphan it right away, you can add the {{Orphan}} template to the top of the page, marking it as an orphan. If you use AWB when tagging, be sure to read the page "AWB and orphans".

Avoiding orphans from the start[edit]

When creating a new article, it is best to prevent them from being orphans from the beginning. Advice can be found at Wikipedia:Drawing attention to new pages. Finding possible links may be time-consuming. Don't worry if you cannot make all the necessary edits on the same day, as long as you keep your plans in mind!

Orphaned essays[edit]

Shortcut:

There are presently a lot of orphaned essays. An essay is defined as "orphaned" if none of the following types of pages link to it:

Deletion discussions, talk pages in any namespace, lists and directories in project space, and subpages do not count toward meeting the minimum.

An orphaned essay is much harder to find than an orphaned article because there are fewer alternative methods available than there are for articles.

An essay that is orphaned should be marked with the template {{Orphaned essay}} immediately below the {{Essay}} template. This will automatically place the essay in the category Orphaned Wikipedia essays.

The {{Orphaned essay}} tag and the criteria used for orphaned essays are completely separate from orphaned articles. Although the guidance on this page may still apply to orphaned essays, they should be considered less of a priority.

Listings[edit]

Templates[edit]

See Wikipedia:WikiProject Orphanage#Templates for more.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Note: Past discussion resulted in the change from three incoming links to one due to issues with increasing backlogs.

See also[edit]