Wikipedia:Cross-namespace redirects

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Cross-namespace redirects are redirects from one namespace to another. The term is most often applied to redirects from the main (article) namespace to the Wikipedia (project) namespace. There have been various debates over the use of cross-namespace redirects,[1] and the issue remains moderately controversial.

Currently, the general consensus seems to be that newly created cross-namespace redirects from the main (article) namespace to the Wikipedia (project) namespace should be deleted, that very old ones might retain their value for extra-Wikipedia links.

Latest relevant discussion: Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 112#RFC: On the controversy of the pseudo-namespace shortcuts

Overview of the debate[edit]

Many of these arguments concern mainly redirects from the article namespace to organisational namespaces, like Wikipedia or Template; they may not be as applicable to redirects to other content namespaces, like Category. Also, while redirect from Wikipedia namespace to, say, Template are technically cross-namespace, they do not break the division between encyclopaedic content and organisational side of the project, and therefore their existence does not generally raise objections.

Arguments for deleting CNRs[edit]

Related guidelines: Wikipedia:Avoid self-references, Wikipedia:Redirects#When should we delete a redirect? (reason #6), Wikipedia:Verbatim copying
  • CNRs are bad because they result in a person (reader) walking around a building (encyclopedia) and falling into the pipework (project space) because the builders (editors) thought cracks in the walls and floors would be useful for them to get around.
  • Namespaces were created for a reason, so that the encyclopedic content would be separate.[2] CNRs work against this.
  • The filters exist for a reason, to fine-tune search results. And some encyclopedic searches return a majority of Wikipedia pages because of all of the cross-namespace redirects; the user shouldn't have to filter through manually, that's what the filters are for.[3] Search filters should work, not return extraneous results.[4] (For example, searching the encyclopedia for a term "page update" (which is hardly a wikipedia specific term) will return CNRs as the first four results, and we should not be requiring readers to sift through non-encyclopedic background noise when they were explicitly searching the encyclopedia.[5]) For the reader who has deliberately unselected the box because they don't want Wikipedia results, it is unfair to return them anyway. With CNRs, a reader can choose to search Wikipedia by ticking the box, but they have no option not to do so. Without CNRs, readers wishing to search Wikipedia can do so, and those who do not want to can also do so. Thus, the existence of CNRs removes choice.[6]
  • Some mirrors duplicate the main article namespace but not the project namespace. Thus, cross-namespace redirects end up creating thousands of broken links on mirrors. Per Wikipedia:Self-references to avoid we should link to stuff outside of the article namespace with external links; see Wikipedia as an example.

Arguments for keeping CNRs[edit]

Related guideline: Wikipedia:Redirects#When should we delete a redirect? keep#5
  • For redirects which have been extensively used on Talk and User pages, the cost of orphaning the redirect is high.
  • Useful to some people. One purpose of WP is to explain obscure references.[7]
  • Many CNRs are very unlikely search terms when looking for articles anyway. If someone searches for "articles for deletion", it's only logical that he is looking for Wikipedia:Articles for deletion, and not for any encyclopedia article. This is essentially a counter-argument to the first argument for deleting CNRs.
  • Otherwise the newbie users for whom these redirects are useful would be left up the creek.[8] In most cases, users who type such names in the search box expect to be taken to its other-namespace target.[9]
    • Counter-argument: Newbies should learn how to use the namespace filter feature. They should be taught that encyclopaedic content and organisational matters are to be kept separate. Competence is required.
  • CNRs aid in accidental linking.[10]
    • Counter-argument: Accidental linking aided by cross-namespace redirects may actually be undesirable.[11] And as mentioned above, deliberate linking from an article to a title which happens to be a cross-namespace redirect to Wikipedia namespace is problematic from a neutrality standpoint.
  • They're easier to type.
    • Counter-argument: The combination of [[WP:]] namespace shortcuts, the {{t}} template and bookmarks (searchable in modern browsers simply by typing into the address bar) offers comparable convenience and does not defeat the content–metacontent distinction.
  • If they're acceptable, then Wikipedia requires no policy on cross-namespace redirects. Simplifying policy improves odds that newbies and policy non-wonks understand/follow policy.
    • Counter-argument: Cross-namespace redirects will always be unacceptable to some people based on the semi-technical reasons listed above. The current unregulated state of affairs results in endless discussions over a relatively insignificant matter; compromise policies (which what allowing some cross-namespace redirects, but not others would be) tend to be either vague and unhelpful or bizarrely over-specific (which is what the mentioned guideline advises against). A policy of "no new cross-namespace redirects are allowed" is unambiguous, simple to follow, encode in policy and enforce, and would settle the debates.
  • Often, the redirect is a holdover from before the creation of the alternate namespace version. The redirect may hold history of the page. (WP:R keep #1)
  • Redirects which are used exclusively on User, Talk and other project pages do not create confusion. Readers of the article-space only (whether at Wikipedia or through a mirror which only copies our article-space) are unlikely fall into this "pipework" because these "cracks" (or more accurately, "access ports") are only being left in the maintenance corridors.
    • Counter-argument: Because of auto-complete and the search function this is not completely true (redirects show up on the search page). Readers can still fall into the pipework.

Technical details[edit]

  • Currently the default search filter is set to main namespace only.
  • Wikipedia has many more readers than editors.
  • Currently, many disambiguation links have entries that point to the Wikipedia namespace, serving the same function as cross-namespace redirects.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ See debates regarding pages entitled "Redirect archives", "Votes for deletion" and several others.
  2. ^ based on this diff
  3. ^ based on this diff
  4. ^ based on this diff
  5. ^ based on this diff
  6. ^ based on this diff
  7. ^ based on this diff
  8. ^ based on this diff
  9. ^ based on this diff
  10. ^ based on this diff
  11. ^ Wikipedia:Redirects for discussion/Log/2014 August 31#Cite book