Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Linking

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Post-nominals[edit]

I have boldly removed the reference to post-nominals in WP:OVERLINK. The usual practice is (now) certainly to link them, per Template:Post-nominals. In any case, we should not expect the average reader to know what "PC" or "CC" might stand for. StAnselm (talk) 10:56, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

Unless a post-nominal is arcane or known only to a few, the practice is not to link them. Please restore the guideline. Tony (talk) 01:27, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
I can't imagine how anyone could know how much of the Wikipedia reading population knows each post-nominal. That being the case, what does one do with "known only to a few"? I'll confess to being ignorant about anything more obscure than PhD or OBE (and I didn't learn what OBE stood for until I was probably well over 30). ‑‑Mandruss  01:47, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
Well, sometimes we just have to make decisions as to what the readers would know, and thus what would be most helpful. Tony, if this is the practice, how do you explain, for example, the Ian Smith article? It is a featured article, and yet the postnominals are linked in both the lead and the infobox. This is also the case with David Lewis (politician), Neville Chamberlain, and Stanley Bruce, which are all featured articles. StAnselm (talk) 01:59, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
OBE is one of those that should be linked. A lot of people - even in Britain - think that it's Order of the British Empire. In fact, the O stands for Officer, and the full award is Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. --Redrose64 (talk) 11:47, 28 November 2014 (UTC)
OBE, probably yes. StAnselml, GCLM, ID, CC, QC—they're on the specialist/technical side. I'd link them, once. Tony (talk) 04:58, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
Well, what would be an example of a non-technical one, given that we don't use PhD as a postnominal anyway? StAnselm (talk) 05:06, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
In fact, now that I look at WP:POSTNOM, it explicitly encourages editors to wikilink. I really don't understand why this was included among the things not to link. StAnselm (talk) 05:16, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
  • St, that question was gurgling around in my mind, yes. Tony (talk) 13:53, 29 November 2014 (UTC)
Sorry for the late reply. I've been dead busy the past few days. Anyway, I oppose StAnselm's proposal. Pre- and post-nominals have been included ever since November 2012. Changing the prevailing consensus would definitely need discussion and achievement of new consensus before changing the guideline.
I also think that the process has started rolling on the wrong track here: the proposal is about "post-nominals", but the change included both pre- and post-nominals.
In my humble opinion, linking pre- and post-nominals is quite redundant. When it comes to pre-nominals, I don't think it's a good idea to link, e.g. [[Ph. D.]] [[Paul Krugman]] or [[Professor]] [Paul Krugman]]. For the sake of link specificity, linking directly to the subject would be a better idea. And post-nominals, I simply think that when it comes to more "bizarre" ones, it would be more advisable to write those open; that'd be better for the flow of the text, it would make the text more self-supported, and it for the reader it would save a lot of trouble. For example, instead of including a post-nominal such as "KBE" and wikilinking it, one could simply write it open as a "Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire". Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 19:37, 6 December 2014 (UTC)
Ph. D. isn't a pre-nom, it's a post-nom. That aside, I get the impression that what you would like at Winston Churchill is |honorific-suffix=Knight of the Order of the Garter, Member of the Order of Merit, Companion of Honour, Territorial Decoration, Deputy Lieutenant, Fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Academician written out in full and without any links at all. If so, Oppose as way too bloated and unhelpful. --Redrose64 (talk) 13:22, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
Aaah, it seems to be a Finnish speciality. According to pre-nominal letters: "In Finland, abbreviated academic titles can appear before or after the name (for example, FM Matti Meikäläinen or Matti Meikäläinen, FM)."
Oh boy... The British sure fancy their honorifics, don't they? I agree Redrose64, writing it out makes it quite bloated, but I don't think the current '''Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill''' {{postnominals|country=GBR|size=100%|sep=,|KG|OM|CH|TD|DL|FRS|RA}} is any better either. I mean, if the reader bumps into 7 different post-nominals in the very first sentence of the article, and he/she probably doesn't even have any clue what do they mean, I think it's like throwing a bucket of cold water onto him/her in the first instance. Besides, I don't know if those honorifics really are that central to the actual article.
Anyway, I'd suppose that Winston Churchill is kind of an extreme case? If the others have significantly smaller number of honorifics, the text of course won't be so bloated. And when it comes to writing it out, I think the upside is that the reader immediately gets the meaning and can decide for himself/herself whether he/she wants to know more or not. Or what would you like to suggest, Redrose64? =P Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 20:31, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
"The reader... probably doesn't even have any clue what do they mean" - and that is precisely why we wikilink. "Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire" is never written in full after a person's name in the British system. StAnselm (talk) 21:23, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
Anyway, I think pre-nominals are much the same issue as academic post-noms - WP:HONORIFIC says that "styles and honorifics should not be included in front of the name" so the issue of wikilinking is pretty much redundant. StAnselm (talk) 21:28, 8 December 2014 (UTC)
I understand your point StAnselm, but forcing the reader to go through seven different articles on post-nominals isn't a solution either. If we wouldn't "encrypt" these honorifics, the reader wouldn't have to go through all of those articles. After all, they are not really central to the subject at hand. Anyway, as said above, pre- and post-nominals have been included ever since November 2012, and changing the guideline would need a consensus. I'd like to suggest that the proposal is first discussed before any changes. =P Cheers! Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 19:11, 9 December 2014 (UTC)
I think linking unexpanded pre- and postnominals violates WP:EASTEREGG. Relegate them from the lede to a footnote, or part of a "Titles and styles" or "Awards" section. Margaret Thatcher#Styles and titles could do the job better than the opening does (Currently "Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS"). jnestorius(talk) 23:41, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
It's just like country-names: don't link the obvious ones (Dr, PhD, etc), but all of Thatcher's little baubles could do with a link. Tony (talk) 04:07, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Good point Jnestorius, you just expressed what I couldn't put into words clear enough earlier. Placing them into footnotes instead of linking is much more appropriate, and the readers can more easily follow what's going on. That's just one reason why the previous change is problematic. I restored the previous version that's been around ever since November 2012. Cheers! Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 19:48, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

Prefer anchor linking to section linking[edit]

A proposed reworking of Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Linking#Linking to sections of articles, based on an orphan comment by @Altenmann: from January 2014 (see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Linking/Archive 16#Section links)

If I want to link to [[Foo#Bar]] then I don't think <!-- the article WP:LINK links here --> is ever optimal. If it's likely a once-off link, just linking [[Foo#Bar]] may suffice, with no edit to Foo. Otherwise I suggest best practice should be:

  1. Add Bar of foo as #REDIRECT [[Foo#Bar]]{{R to section}}{{R with possibilities}}
  2. Edit Foo to change ==Bar== to ==Bar=={{anchor|Bar}}<!-- [[Bar of foo]] redirects here -->
  3. Link to [[Bar of foo]]

Advantages:

  • Linking to an anchor is better than linking to a heading, because the heading text may be changed, breaking all the incoming links. The current MOS is too diffident about this point.
  • Specifying the redirect once you have added it is useful
    • in case later another editor also wants to link to [[Foo#Bar]]; they can also link to [[bar of foo]] rather than, e.g. creating Fooian bar as another redirect.

jnestorius(talk) 16:24, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Editor not seeing the benefit of WP:NOTBROKEN[edit]

At the Suicide among LGBT youth article, I reverted EChastain and cited the WP:NOTBROKEN guideline. Despite this, EChastain reverted me, stating, "avoiding clunky redirect is better (using Pipe trick)." I reverted again, adding. "No, it isn't, and WP:Edit warring over a clear guideline (WP:NOTBROKEN) is silly. Follow the guidelines, with few exceptions. And this is not one of those few exceptions; not a WP:Ignore all rules case in the least. Redirects like this help readers. If you don't know why, then ask at WP:Manual of Style. Or I will so that you are educated on it." EChastain reverted yet again, stating, "how does it help readers? just your presumption - readers don't tell you what they experience - please provide proof." Apparently, EChastain thinks that the WP:NOTBROKEN guideline exists just to exist and has no valid reason for existing. Either that, either the guideline is not fully clear on why it's beneficial, or EChastain was reverting simply because of the heated words that I recently left on the EChastain talk page. Will anyone else watching the Manual of Style/Linking talk page explain to EChastain why the WP:NOTBROKEN guideline helps readers? To briefly answer EChastain, it helps readers because not bypassing the redirect automatically lets them know that they are most likely at the right article; when they see the tell-tale sign, at the top of the article, that the term was redirected to the article in question, they know that they are most likely at the correct article, and that there is no article specifically for that term. Flyer22 (talk) 22:54, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

I also alerted editors of WP:Manual of Style to this discussion. Flyer22 (talk) 23:01, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

Correction: EChastain didn't revert back to the WP:NOTBROKEN violation a second time; that edit was rather a revert of my WP:Dummy edit; therefore, I struck through that part above. Flyer22 (talk) 23:07, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

As a reader I didn't see the benefit at all. In fact, it was confusing. As an editor I can at least figure out what's going on. Don't know how Flyer22 knows what the anonymous reader experiences. She's been here too long to know what's like to have wiki jump around for unnecessary redirects. EChastain (talk) 23:21, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
Is there a particular reason why the text should speak about LGBTQQ instead of LGBT? I mean, since the link is taking one to LGBT article, is it possible to use that abbreviation in the text as well? =P Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 19:55, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
The particular pipe mentioned first, [[LGBT|LGBTQQ]], confuses both readers (at least with popups[note 1] or link display on mouseover[note 2]) and editors. If you're going to avoid the redirect, use [[LGBT]]QQ, although I believe [[LGBTQQ]] is more understandable yet.
Of course, it would be nice to know how readers generally see it. But, considering the mistakes the Foundation has made interpreting their surveys, I don't see any hope of a reasonably-well-sampled survey occuring. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 05:26, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
EChastain, these redirects aren't "unnecessary" as you put it, and this guideline exists for a solid reason. Dustin (talk) 06:18, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
  1. ^ Wikipedia:Tools/Navigation popups, the gadget or script
  2. ^ Many browsers have an option to display the URL on mouseover

Nitpick: this isn't the pipe trick. --NE2 13:32, 30 December 2014 (UTC)

Lists of shipwrecks[edit]

There is a discussion taking place re overlinking in various lists of shipwrecks. Please feel free to contribute at WT:SHIPWRECK. Mjroots (talk) 08:01, 14 January 2015 (UTC)

Comment requested on link related template[edit]

Please comment at Template talk:interlanguage link#A significant flaw on how a possible problem with this template should be addressed. Oiyarbepsy (talk) 15:35, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

RfC: linking pre- and post-nominals[edit]

There is clear consensus to exclude. Drmies (talk) 21:14, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Should the phrase "and pre- and post-nominals;" be included in the section "What generally should not be linked"? 19:48, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

  • Exclude. As it stands, this guideline conflicts with WP:POSTNOM, which explicitly encourages postnominals to be linked. The current practice is certainly to link to postnominals, as evidenced by Template:Post-nominals, and numerous featured articles such as Stanley Bruce. Note also that we don't include academic titles like PhD anyway, so the issue of linking them is moot. As for pre-nominals, a similar situation exists - WP:HONORIFIC says "in general, styles and honorifics should not be included in front of the name". StAnselm (talk) 19:55, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
    • Although we do include pre-titles such as "Sir" and "Dame". These should be bolded but not linked. -- Necrothesp (talk) 11:59, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Exclude from that and include in WP:UNDERLINK, third bullet. See my comment at #Post-nominals above. --Redrose64 (talk) 20:14, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Include It seems that there's been launched a new thread about "Pre- and post-nominals". I am a bit surprised, since only five editors commented the last thread, and now there's been launched a new one already.
Anyway, I partly agree with RedRose64: writing out the pre-/post-nominals could make the text somewhat bloated. However, I also concur with jnestorius: unexpanded pre- and post-nominals would violate WP:EASTEREGG. I've also tried to illustrate the very same point by myself: for example, in the Winston Churchill article, the reader will bump into seven different post-nominals in the very first sentence, and he/she would have to click every single one to know what's going on.
Therefore, I do support jnestorious's view, according to which footnotes would be a better solution. Mere linking will result to the W:EASTEREGG, and writing terms out can surely bloat the text.
A small sample from an article that currently implements the linking of pre- and post-nominals:

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill KGOMCHTDDLFRSRA (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.

Happy clicking! ;-) Cheers! Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 21:34, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
I posted a request at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Requests for closure and was advised to start an RfC. I'm still not totally sure what you're proposing: do you mean, "Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill KG1 OM2 CH3 TD4 DL5 FRS6 RA7 (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British politician..."? In any case, I don't think this is what WP:EASTEREGG is talking about at all - if you click on an acronym, surely you'd expect a page that explained it. It is totally reasonable that the postnominal goes to the award page. StAnselm (talk) 21:51, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
Oh, they advised to start an RfC. Very well then. Cheers! Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 22:57, 23 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Coming here having just seen a mention of this RfC at another page. It seems to me entirely right to link these items, assuming we're going to include them. Linking is common practice from what I've seen. Many readers (particularly non-Commonwealth) are likely not to know what they mean. If you do know what they mean, the link won't disturb or distract you, you just ignore it (unlike footnotes, which are a slight distraction). As pointed out above, it's not a case of Easter eggs at all. Can't think of any reason why anyone would want not to link them. W. P. Uzer (talk) 08:59, 24 January 2015 (UTC)
  • I think they should be linked and unexpanded (does that mean I should say exclude?). However (and this RFC is not the place to discuss the idea but I'd like to leave it for people to ponder) could the {{Post-nominals}} template produce a "hover" like {{IPAc-en}} does so well? For example /ˌæləˈbæmə/ Thincat (talk) 15:29, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
    Surely it does that already? {{Post-nominals|MC|DSO}}MC DSO and when I hover over those links the first one shows "Military Cross", the second "Distinguished Service Order". --Redrose64 (talk) 17:58, 25 January 2015 (UTC)
Not for me. How weird. I am using beta hovercards so I get what you say but with IPAc-en I also get a second box with a one-line description of the phoneme. However, you're right, now I've turned off hovercards I do see a one-line box from post-nominals. Thincat (talk) 08:41, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Exclude: exactly the kind of thing I'd expect to be linked. Curly Turkey ¡gobble! 01:34, 3 February 2015 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Nutshell?[edit]

I have personally thought this article a little too long, and that some editors might just want a snappy summary of the page. Because of this, I have tried to make a "nutshell" summary several times, but rejecting each attempt. I was wondering if some editors could come over here and we could help each other figure out how to make an adequate summarization? If one shouldn't be made, please give me a good reason why. Thanks. Thatguytestw (talk) 14:49, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

What do you mean exactly? The current introduction seems to be as good a summary as any. You mean some kind of bulleted list of highlights? W. P. Uzer (talk) 20:47, 30 January 2015 (UTC)
You can’t really sum up something like this in a {{nutshell}}, for the same reason WP:MOS doesn’t have one. It’s a collection of best practices, not an overall piece. —174.141.182.82 (talk) 10:19, 11 February 2015 (UTC)

Should Wikiquote have its users place bolding and wikilinking within quotations?[edit]

Relax duplicate linking rule[edit]

Many editors feel that the rule about duplicate links is too strict as currently written:

Generally, a link should appear only once in an article, but if helpful for readers, links may be repeated in infoboxes, tables, image captions, footnotes, hatnotes, and at the first occurrence after the lead. Duplicate links in an article can be identified by using a tool that can be found at User:Ucucha/duplinks.

I would like to poll the attitudes of the MOS community on this topic, so that I can draft a suitable proposal to change this rule. --Slashme (talk) 21:24, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

Notes: I've canvassed both proponents and opponents of duplicate links, from the discussions that I found in the archives. It's possible to support or oppose more than one of the options below, as I have done.

General question[edit]

A strict interpretation of this rule implies that a link to an obscure term that appears in section 19 of a long article should be removed if it occurs in section 2 as well. If you support this interpretation, please explain why.

Support status quo:

  • I think the actual cost of this is minimal, but I feel that most articles are more threatened by overlinking (where multiple low value links create a sea of blue, making it harder to identify valuable links) than by underlinking. The "rule", such as it is, can already be interpreted to include extra links in situations where this will be helpful to a reader, but to relax it or delete it would be to encourage the continuation or worsening of overlinking. --John (talk) 21:44, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
Comment: the current rule as written does not allow a term to be linked twice in the text of an article (excluding the lead section).--Slashme (talk) 22:12, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Ditto John, and see my fuller response under the When far enough apart option. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 23:27, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I feel the current rule is loose enough to allow for exceptions where truly warranted, but in my experience, as John noted, overlinking is a far more prevalent problem than underlinking. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:13, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Ditto John. Hchc2009 (talk) 08:41, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I think the current guideline is already relaxed enough and leaves room for personal discretion. It does indeed allow for links to be repeated in some circumstances. As the current guideline begins, "Generally..." Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 11:12, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I have been invited to participate in this discussion on my user talk page, presumably because of my participation in prior discussions on point. My current thinking is succinctly embodied by Jayaguru immediately above. I think the current phrasing already permits editors to use a modicum of common sense and to resolve particular instances of repeated links to key topics in very long articles by compromise and article-level consensus. Given that over-linking is a far bigger problem than under-linking, IMO, I suggest we leave the current guideline as is. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 14:23, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • It is disingenuous to argue that the existing language "can already be interpreted to include extra links...", and (comment below) that "[t]he existing guidance already allows for this", as this is at variance with the practice of some editors (and I believe the duplinks tool) of removing all duplicate links on sight, without discussion, which they justify on a strict interpretation of the existing language. Strictly speaking, the last paragraph at WP:OVERLINK does say "only once' per article", the "generally" and "common sense" qualifications rarely allowing any exceptions with those who a fear a sea of blue. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:30, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • It not only is disingenuous, it is illogical. Suppose we assumed that we had only honest editors who never interfered with the the proper function of articles that depended on links (this you understand is purely hypothetical) then what we have is a set of debatable rules based on the personal aesthetic tastes of a few people, for controlling the functional design of didactic articles??? This puts the editor or author into the position of looking guiltily over his shoulder and thinking up his justifications every time he stretched the envelope, never knowing when someone who does not understand his links might come and remove them without notice, and start a fight at an advantage if he corrects the mutilation.
    The style guidelines should be to support production of superior products, not for permitting them to be extruded painfully through a picket of stonewallers who, let it be said in case you haven't noticed, do not hesitate to interfere, and do not hesitate to do it on a basis of Zero linking as one of them asserted elsewhere on this page.
    When the rules are based on counting links rather than on the function of links, then you should not have to ask what is wrong; the system is wrong. It is nonsense to argue that the flexibility is adequate, because that flexibility does not extend as far as the functional requirement, but as far as the whim of a luddite who not only wishes to control what HE sees in an article, but what anyone else is permitted to see as well.
    Furthermore note that dirtlawyer and Jayaguru-Shishya are typical in stating flatly that the flexibility is "sufficient" -- a quantitative assertion, please note. And who determines the quantity? Not their opposition! And who justifies the argument for that quantity? Nobody. The closest we have got to a quantitative argument is that if we have two links on a page the thin end of the wall of blue will nip us all in the bud.
    And when they have finished asserting that the flexibility is adequate and have gone back to their own affairs and the old guard have continued with their old habits uninterruptedly, where are they to protest the inflexibility? Certainly nowhere that they can do WP or anyone else a scrap of good.
    Where is the integrity, let alone the flexibility then? JonRichfield (talk) 19:18, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
  • In my opinion, the rule should be left as it stands. In fact, "rule" isn't the correct word, as others have pointed out; it's a guideline which is somewhat strongly encouraged. Sure, an overly-literal reading of it could be detrimental to some articles, but the responsibility for that lies with the reader.-RHM22 (talk) 22:58, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
Not merely could, but actually is detrimental. The underlying problem that drives all this that some editors do take a strict interpretaton of this "guideline" as if were an absolute rule. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:21, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I understand that, but that's the fault of the editors who misread it, and not the policy, which begins with "[g]enerally." I agree with the others who suggest above that articles are more often harmed by an overabundance of links than a lack thereof.-RHM22 (talk) 23:38, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I am sorry to hear that some editors are acting against the guideline we have. However, like RHM22 well put it[1]: "that's the fault of the the editors who misread it". In such cases, I think the issue should be first taken to administrative attention by dispute resolution or an administrative noticeboard instead of attempting to change the established WP guidelines straight away. As I have strongly understood, the phrasing of the guideline is not the problem itself, but the misreading of the guideline by some editors. Therefore, the right way to handle this problem would be to bring the guideline violations to administrative attention, and then to impose sanctions for these sanction if seen necessary. Has there been a case about aggressive misreading of the policy on hand, could one please bring it to our attention since it'd the most helpful! Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 21:05, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
This gets back to my comment above about disingenuousness. You claim that "generally" ameliorates the black-letter text that says "only once", and shift blame for any problems that ensue on editors who "misread" the text. I say the bolded "once" beats the snot out of "generally", and that editors who take a strict view of "once" are supported by the actual, literal, and least interpreted meaning of the text.
However, the underlying problem here is not how this "guideline" should be interpreted, it is this bogeyman of "overlinking". Until we deal with that there will be no progress on this issue. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:03, 26 February 2015 (UTC)


Relax somewhat:

  • An over-strict interpretation of this rule gives the situation where readers need to hunt for the first occurrence of an obscure or technical term, or else use the search box, instead of having a convenient link to the article. The cost of having something linked two or three times in an article is far outweighed by the benefits. --Slashme (talk) 21:24, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Maybe change "Generally" to something more instructive. Perhaps something along the lines of "Unless separated by a substantial amount of text." Regardless, we should put a period after "in an article" and remove the "But" following the period. In fact, I may just boldly do that last suggestion. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 00:21, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • The rule is written on the assumption that articles are read as though they are novels - that is we start at the lead and go through in the exact order to the end as though this were a pleasant read. An encyclopedia, however, is a reference tool - sections allow readers to go just to those sections which matter to them. Readers may go straight to the section they require, missing out the lead, and the section where the term is first linked. We have redirects and anchors which go straight to sections, missing out on previous links in the article. Each section needs to be treated for what it is, an independent section that readers are highly likely to read independently of the rest of the article. SilkTork ✔Tea time 07:14, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I strongly favor relaxation, but it seems futile to argue for it. Based on prior history (e.g., see Archive 16) this proposal will not get anywhere without dealing with the main concern of the opposers: overlinking. Part of that concern is this fear of immediate inundation in a sea of blue. if any link should appear in an article twice. I find this fear to be absurd, but that is beside the point. The point is that as long as they adhere to that fear we will not get anywhere.
I suspect this sensitivity to overlinking arose from the WP:Overlink crisis of 2007-2011, when "many thousands of articles" were loaded up with navboxes and infoboxes that in turn accumulated hundreds of links. So perhaps it is about time for some of you folks to WAKE UP and note: 1) the overlink crisis is long over; 2) there are three orders of magnitude difference between a single duplication of a link, and the thousands of links some articles had back then; 3) neither retaining nor relaxing the "only once" rule has any affect on that kind of massive linking because it exempts infoboxes and such. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:36, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I also strongly favor relaxation. I am a new editor (Oct. 2014) and I was really surprised when told I can only link to another page once. This shocked me because for lengthy articles this seemed really counter-intuitive. It was good to know that I am not meant to link every time this word occurred (this is what I thought at first!), but about once per visible page would be fine in my view, or once per section if people prefer that. - I often don't read an article from start to finish but I use the table of contents to jump straight to the section that I am interested in. What I also do now is to insert this, for example:
    Further information: compost
    which is in a way a blue link to another page but a more prominent one which I can place at the beginning of a section if it is appropriate. EvM-Susana (talk) 22:54, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Per SilkTork - in longer articles, especially, multiple links to obscure or precise terminology would provide a useful resource to readers. Perhaps relax the "per article" rule to a "per major section" rule. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 03:24, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • There is nothing worse than having to hunt for a link that appeared earlier in an article, especially if linking the term would make more sense in the current instance than in the first. Linking should anticipate readers, not Wikipedia guidelines. Betty Logan (talk) 07:39, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • The first thought I had reading the question was precisely what SilkTork stated! I will add that this is especially important in articles dealing with long articles and technical subjects. After noticing a comment further down this discussion, I will add that people who follow a wikilink to a specific section of an article will have to hunt through the previous sections of the article to find an appropriate wikilink. Another problem would be if the first link is piped, obscuring what the reader is looking for. AHeneen (talk) 08:30, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Relax the rule - why don't we just leave this up to an editor's discretion (as we do for example with choosing British/American English)? Sometimes linking more than once is appropriate, overlinking can be annoying. Editors in my experience are generally smart enough to make up their own minds without a prescriptive rule.--Jackyd101 (talk) 17:52, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Comment:

To point out a few misunderstanding related to this RfC (in a chronological order):

  • Slashme[2]: You said that the current guideline dows not allow a term to be linked twice in the text of an article excluding the lead section. This is not true. As explained by many users, a term indeed may be linked more than once in the article (excluding the lead section, of course).
    • The guideline actually doesn't allow double linking as currently written: let's parse the text:
Generally, a link should appear only once in an article, (general rule)
but if helpful for readers, links may be repeated (exception, valid when?)
in infoboxes, tables, image captions, footnotes, hatnotes, and at the first occurrence after the lead. (exception is limited to these cases)
So if I understand you correctly, you interpret that sentence to be equivalent to the following:
Generally, a link should appear only once in an article, but may be repeated if helpful to readers, for example in infoboxes, tables, image captions, footnotes, hatnotes, and at the first occurrence after the lead.
@Jayaguru-Shishya: Would you be comfortable with this wording (without the bolding of "for example", of course)? --Slashme (talk) 21:05, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • J. Johnson (#1)[3]: You said that the duplicate links tools do remove all duplicate links on sight without discussion. This isn't true either. Actually, the Ucucha script only highlights the duplicate links. All the removals must be done manually, though. And that's where every editor using the tool is responsible for using personal discretion rather than removing the highlighted links blindly.
  • SilkTork[4]: I agree with Tony1. The WP articles are structured so that the text unfolds in a logical and sequential manner. Well said. Also, talking from my personal experience, there are lots of articles where the same terms have been redundantly linked all over and over again.
    • I don't think that that is a clear case of a misconception that you are correcting, but rather a difference of opinion. Wikipedia is full of links to article sections because, for example, someone might need to be referred to the history of Germany or the geography of Germany for a better understanding of a certain point, without needing an introduction to the country. --Slashme (talk) 21:12, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • J. Johnson (#2)[5]: Many of the links are already apearing twice, or even more. That's perfectly in line with the current guideline, and there's nothing wrong with that. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding over what's being voted here, I think.
  • EvM-Susana[6]: You said that you were "really surprised when told" that you can only link another page once. I am sorry to hear that, but that's not actually how it is: You can indeed link to a page more than once.
  • JonRichfield (#1)[7]: I think the problem concerning the excessive usage of technical terms is already covered by Wikipedia:Make technical articles understandable, according to which we should strive "to make each part of every article as understandable as possible to the widest audience of readers". This is also consistent with WP:LINKSTYLE on "nested links".
  • JonRichfield (#2)[8]: "Furthermore note that dirtlawyer and Jayaguru-Shishya are typical in stating flatly that the flexibility is "sufficient" -- a quantitative assertion, please note." Actually, that's a qualitative assertion; it emphasizes users' personal discretion, and the current guideline doesn't have any fixed quantitative rule even. Just to correct the misunderstanding. Cheers! 20:50, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Once per section[edit]

Since 2006 there have been proposals to allow linking once per section, proposed in July and November 2006 (unanimously supported both times), and again in 2013 and 2014 (no consensus).

Support:

  • If this is approved, it must be made clear that it is not required to link once per section, but allowed in long articles. This is a reasonable way to relax the strict rule described above, and solves the problem that one can be linked to a section of an article, and will therefore not have seen previous links. --Slashme (talk) 21:24, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, of course, it's quite bizarre that such a rule (as opposed to a set of general suggestions) should exist, and even worse if people are thoughtlessly enforcing it, as seems sometimes to happen with Wikipedia's rules. W. P. Uzer (talk) 21:37, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, this is sensible, for the reasons given. Andrew D. (talk) 22:14, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Each section needs to be treated for what it is, an independent section that readers are highly likely to read independently of the rest of the article. SilkTork ✔Tea time 07:14, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I made a similar suggestion a while back, with allowance for more than once per section for very long sections. This has to be tempered though. The real goal s not a link every so often or per section, it is to make links as meaningful and convenient as possible. Those tow needs conflict sometimes. So links=good except where it results in a link density that is too high in the article, in a section, or in a particular run of text separate from its section structure. To me, this means there should be an overall statement of goals, with any other "rules" (guidelines) being subordinate to that statement. Dovid (talk) 16:57, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
  • For long-ish articles only. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 03:27, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • We should permit with a caveat i.e we shouldn't blindly link a term once in each section, but I can imagine a scenario where we link the first occurrence in an article for those that read from "start to finish" and maybe any section where the term is "context relevant" and might be sought by someone who has jumped straight to that section. Betty Logan (talk) 07:32, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Support unless and until someone shows me real objective evidence that it would harm readability or usefulness, as in something vaguely resembling a scientific study. Here at Wikipedia, unsubstantiated statements of fact are also known as opinions. I've seen too many links removed on the basis of the current language to put much stock in the "it already leaves room for discretion" argument. I try to live in the real world, and I think our guidelines should live in it, too. ―Mandruss  08:55, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Oppose:

  • The existing guidance already allows for this and this proposal is based on a misreading of the existing guidance. To relax the guidance would encourage currently overlinked articles to stay bad or to become worse. The status quo is just fine in this instance. --John (talk) 21:46, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
    • I'm reading it exactly the same way as the proposer, i.e. that the list of exceptions is a closed list, and thus we have an apparent (and ridiculous) prohibition on the use of repeat links anywhere else than the places listed. If the list is not supposed to be closed, then something should be added to indicate as much. W. P. Uzer (talk) 21:51, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Ditto John, and see my fuller response under the When far enough apart option. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 23:27, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Let's not replace one rule that isn't working with another that won't work. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 00:23, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Per my statement above and per John. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:13, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Ditto John. Hchc2009 (talk) 08:41, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I think the current guideline is already relaxed enough and leaves room for personal discretion. It does indeed allow for links to be repeated in some circumstances. As the current guideline begins, "Generally..." Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 11:12, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • While I am receptive to applying common sense to repeated links to the same topic in the main body sections of a very long article, I am also mindful of the mindless over-linking that often occurs in relatively short articles of a few hundred words, where the same topic is often linked in an infobox, one or more tables, a navbox, the lead, and then each of four or five brief one- to three-sentence sections. Again, I view the problem of over-linking in the typical Wikipedia article as a far more relevant concern than that of under-linking. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 15:00, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Perhaps you would provide us an example or two of "mindless over-linking that often occurs in relatively short articles of a few hundred words", so we could see just what the real problems are? Keep in mind that tables, infoboxes, etc., are entirely irrelevant here, as the current rule exempts them. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:47, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
JJ, see my comment below. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 18:02, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Comment:

  • We should probably state explicitly whether (for the purpose of "once per section") a "section" means only the top level, ie (defined per MOS:SECTIONS) ==Section==, or whether it is intended to include sub-sections eg ===Sub-section===. Some articles may have many small sub-sections, so we may want to limit duplicated links to once per top-level section. Mitch Ames (talk) 07:27, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • By overlinking, we'd lose the opportunity to display intelligently selected and rationed links to readers. Jayaguru-Shishya (talk)
  • I want to read and discuss the proposed language for any "relaxation" of the present guideline; propose it, and then let's discuss it. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 15:00, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
"When far enough apart" is not the kind of statment one can support or oppose. More appropriate would be discussions of how frequently constitutes "far enough", such as "once per section" (like the section above), or per "20,000 words" (below), or even no definite rule. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:24, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
JJ, I edit a lot of American football sports bio articles, many of which consist an overly long infobox, a lead, one or two sentences about the athlete's college career, a sentence about his NFL Draft outcome, and another two or three sentences about his pro career. Links to common words and phrases like National Football League/NFL, team names, positions, touchdown, quarterback sack, tackle, etc., are often repeated in every one of the lead and three or four very short sections. In my experience, this happens in many different sports articles, but it certainly is not a sports-only problem. I keep about 1,000 of 20,000+ such NFL bio articles on my watch list; given human time constraints, it's impossible to track them all, let alone fix the over-linking in all of them. So, you do what you can, and you try to educate other editors through WikiProject discussions and the BRD process. If you really want links, I can start digging out examples. FYI, in my six years on-wiki, I've gone from linking virtually every meaningful term in articles, to being something of a link minimalist. I really believe that it is better to emphasize 25 meaningful and relevant links in a Good Article rather than three times that number which include commonly understood terms as well as those that are not really central to an understanding of the article topic. Of course, that requires a command of the subject material and some measure of editorial judgment in prioritizing what gets linked. I am sympathetic, but I am unwilling to further qualify the general rule without specific language to review. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 18:02, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
Please link to a specific example to review, so that the rest of us can what you are talking about. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:22, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

When far enough apart[edit]

A common suggestion is to allow duplicate links where the term is far from a previous occurrence, for example in this proposal. This addresses the basic issue that we face as readers, namely that one can see a term after reading two pages of an article, and have no idea where it was linked above. The question then becomes how frequently one can link. If this position gets significant support, we can draft some options.

  • There used to be a long-standing bullet point "where the later occurrence is a long way from the first". This was removed on 27 November 2011 by User:Maunus; subsequent edits restored some parts of that radical cut. Maunus' edit summary refers to this RFC which he closed against consensus. Should we simply restore the previous bullet points? I think that would reflect common practice. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 05:35, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

Support:

  • It's hard to make a fixed rule in this case, but I'd say that anything that is more than 20 000 words away is sufficiently distant. The question remains whether we need a hard rule, though. --Slashme (talk) 21:24, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Did you really mean 20,000 words...? We shouldn't really be producing 20,000 word articles anyway under WP:TOOBIG, let alone articles in which links are frequently 20,000 words apart. Hchc2009 (talk) 21:43, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, User:Hchc2009 - that was in fact a typo! But I didn't mean it as a serious suggestion anyway, just an example of how one might frame a rule. --Slashme (talk) 17:14, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
Oh? I thought it was a subtle point. I.e., if 20,000 words is not sufficient distance, then how about 40,000 words? Is there any "distance" sufficient to permit replication of a link? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:19, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
That's a very good point to raise, but it's not exactly the point that I was making :-] --Slashme (talk) 08:24, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes, obviously, and there should certainly not be any hard rule. It's rather disturbing that we appear to have developed "legislation" in matters like this. Editors' judgment should be trusted.W. P. Uzer (talk) 21:37, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Generally, this would be roughly once per section. This is rather vague, and sure, there can be dispute about it. I suggest banning anyone who edit wars over this. I think that'll be a win-win situation. Martijn Hoekstra (talk) 21:52, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Links seem cheap and so we should be quite flexible in accommodating this where it seems helpful. Readers should never be required to hunt for a link. Andrew D. (talk) 22:17, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Supporting on the basis that this is what policy does imply (acknowledging John's point below), but more formalization as to describe "far enough" should be considered. As well as the aspect of how links in infoboxes and tables affect this. --MASEM (t) 23:59, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • More guidance is good. Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 00:23, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Duplicate links, when far enough apart in the article text, are permitted if needed, is sort of the idea I would prefer, and what even the opposers below say they want. Once per section is a MAXIMUM, that should hardly ever (never?) occur. Once per article body is the goal, but I would like to see it broken frequently for odd and little-used terms and long articles. I do not agree that the language we have (below, from WP:REPEATLINK) is crystal clear. If our policy is that once per article is the general goal (to avoid the dread sea of blue), however duplicate links to the same term in the body, for odd words, are permitted in certain dire situations, then repeat that caveat right after the controlling paragraph below. Those people here saying it's already clear, are wrong, or else we wouldn't be having this long discussion. It's not clear until you put ALL the exceptions right where the reader needs to see them, which is not the case here. SBHarris 02:05, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree with Sbharris. SilkTork ✔Tea time 07:14, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I agree with the principal of "permitted when far enough apart". As has been mentioned by others, readers do not necessarily read entire articles, from the top, and nor should they have to. We probably need some specific guideline about what is "far enough" (editors will probably disagree over it otherwise), but I have no suggestions for now. Mitch Ames (talk) 07:53, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I made a similar proposal some time ago. I believe my suggestion was some approximation of 1x-2x per printed page for long sections. Dovid (talk) 16:53, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I propose that no more is demanded than a rule of thumb,and that apart from the current "captions, sections, tables etc", we should aim for about a page apart, so that one is likely to find just one hideous blue link per page. I also reckon that the whole thing could be averted by a change in technology, but that has been shouted down repeatedly by link-haters in the past. JonRichfield (talk) 07:55, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
  • The bold text suggested above by Sbharris seems right to me. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:05, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Definitely. I feel like objections to this are rooted in the desire for wikipedia to be "proper" and look nice, at the expense of being as useful to our readers as possible (which is obviously more important). Links that aren't very relevant shouldn't need to be duplicated, and I agree that there should be a reasonable gap, but useful/relevant links should be duplicated after a while. We don't know which section of an article a reader may be looking at, e.g. they may jump straight to a "Legacy" section, where there won't be any links to that individual's important works because they will have been linked earlier in the article. The reader would have to scroll around looking for the link, which isn't right. And I disagree that the current wording is flexible enough as people are always removing/telling others to remove any duplicate links. --Loeba (talk) 21:50, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I like Sbharris's choice. While I think "once per section" would still be a useful guideline, it's a distant second choice to this. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 03:30, 27 February 2015 (UTC)

Oppose:

  • The existing guidance already allows for this and this proposal is based on a misreading of the existing guidance. To relax the guidance would encourage currently overlinked articles to stay bad or to become worse. The status quo is just fine in this instance. --John (talk) 21:46, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
The current text is "if helpful for readers, links may be repeated in infoboxes, tables, image captions, footnotes, hatnotes, and at the first occurrence after the lead". This does not allow links to be repeated in the body of an article, no matter how far apart. --Slashme (talk) 22:14, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Slashme, the current guideline is just that, and per the heading does allow for "common sense" and "occasional exceptions". I'm with John on this matter. As a FAC coordinator, one of the last checks I make on an article before promoting to FA is a duplink check using Ucucha's script. If the article is detailed and the links are some distance apart, I've always given the main editors some discretion. What I think we do want to avoid is a sea of blue, and the status quo helps us achieve that while still permitting some duplicates if they can be justified. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 23:14, 21 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree with Ian - exceptions can be made, but what we already have seems a good general rule. Nikkimaria (talk) 02:13, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Ditto John. Hchc2009 (talk) 08:41, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I think the current guideline is already relaxed enough and leaves room for personal discretion. It does indeed allow for links to be repeated in some circumstances. As the current guideline begins, "Generally..." Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 11:12, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
    • @Jayaguru-Shishya, John, Nikkimaria, Hchc2009, Ian Rose: if I understand you properly, you do not say that a link to an obscure term should be removed from a paragraph at the bottom of a long article simply because it occurs near the top, but you all believe that the current wording makes this clear. I don't think this it does: the list of exceptions to the rule only includes non-body-text examples. --Slashme (talk) 12:47, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
      • Yes, the word "Generally" right at the start already implies this. --John (talk) 13:07, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
        • It actually doesn't: let's parse the current guideline:
Generally, a link should appear only once in an article, (general rule)
but if helpful for readers, links may be repeated (exception, valid when?)
in infoboxes, tables, image captions, footnotes, hatnotes, and at the first occurrence after the lead. (exception is limited to these cases)
So if I understand you correctly, you interpret that sentence to be equivalent to the following:
Generally, a link should appear only once in an article, but may be repeated if helpful to readers, for example in infoboxes, tables, image captions, footnotes, hatnotes, and at the first occurrence after the lead.
@Jayaguru-Shishya, John, Nikkimaria, Hchc2009, Ian Rose: Would you be comfortable with this wording (without the bolding of "for example", of course)? --Slashme (talk) 18:44, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Comfortable invocation of the "sea-of-blue" catch-phrase comes easily, much as the Aussies used to speak of the"yellow peril" and the NATO nations of the "red peril", but it is no substitute for practicality or responsibility. In reality "sea of blue" so far amounts to what? An article in blue punctuated with the occasional redlink or conjunction? I have never seen such, and correcting one if we found it would be trivial, probably even leading to grounding someone on the grounds of disruptive editing. What I certainly HAVE seen are articles full of obscure terminology with linked terms that occur less than once per page. I have seen sea-of-blue nazis removing links close to each other, where the linked word happened to be the same, but the articles linked to were different. I have seen editors virtuously removing links to commonplace words in ignorance of the fact that they did not refer to commonplace concepts. I have seen links removed because of the "everyone-knows-that" syndrome when what they mean is that the local usage is familiar in his town, his discipline, his patois, or even in his personal youth, but where it is not easy for others to guess what he is on about. The function of links at a density of at least one per screenful per linkworthy concept is a real and daily re-confirmed service to the reader who needs guidance, whether he is familiar with the subject or not, and who might have entered the article in the middle for reasons good, bad, or indifferent. As against that we are to be concerned with the convenience of what? A minority of people who dislike blue??? How much more of a service to our readers is it for a blue-hater to be spared skipping a visible link than for a reader who needs a link to be sent searching for one in the hope that there might be one somewhere, or to abandon an article in which he is lost in terminology without any hint that a given term could easily have been found if he had only known where to find a link? The very principle of confining a sound practice and requiring editors to go out of their way to justify links that the majority of readers at worst don't mind, and that readers in search of support actively need (the ones we write for -- remember them?) just to gratify the personal tastes of the blue-haters is wrong-headed. If as a matter of taste some people would like to see less blue, but still would condescend to permit the occasional link, then there are technological alternatives that they could agitate for to hide the blue and extend the linkage function instead of demanding the retention of guidelines that militate against practicality on the grounds that if the editors only would spend extra effort working round them, then maybe no one will descend on their work and devalue it. Similarly if naive readers only would repeatedly interrupt their reading to check for whether there is a link somewhere that might help them, then maybe they wouldn't need links anyway. And neither would we, right? It is no good speaking of benignly flexible guidelines when in the next breath one mentions duplication detectors; that bespeaks a destructive misunderstanding of function when constructive alternatives could achieve more for the same effort. "Allowing for common sense" is when you find some real sea of blue and correct matters, not when you grudgingly admit that an editor might have a point in stretching a "guideline" that wikilawyers are happy to use in justifying their habitual disruption. JonRichfield (talk) 12:43, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes. Lengthy, but I fully concur. It is a bit of a farce to claim that the rule is permissive, when in actuality some editors use it non-permissively. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:58, 22 February 2015 (UTC)
Strong oppose. I don't agree with Silk Tort's contrast with reading a novel. Of course it's not the same as reading a novel, but WP articles are structured in the standard way, on the basis that the text unfolds logically and sequentially. In the minority instance where someone parachutes in via a section link, they can expect to encounter terms, concepts, ideas, information that are dependent on the previous text—whether by glossing, expansion, or unfolding context. Same for acronyms and initialisms: should we start expanding them several times during an article, just in case someone has forgotten? Well no—a reader might have to revisit the previous text if they forget. Reps of "National Science Foundation (NSF)" would be irritating to many readers.

Once you start giving the green light to multiple linkings of the same item in an article, there will be no end to it. People will argue about what constitutes "enough distance", for example. If you want a link to something that is unlinked, either scroll up till you find it (which you probably should do anyway) or type it into the search box.

Please protect our linking system from dilution by repetition: the more blue patchiness, the less "selective" value each link has. That's basic reading psychology. Tony (talk) 06:51, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Strongly oppose Strong oppose. There is no merit to "strongly opposing" (if that expresses passion). Passion is no substitute for logic,and logic in this case says that the interests of the reader who needs it most come first, and that if what the reader who needs it most is irksome to passionate parties, then the latter are the ones who should make the concessions (if we could call that a concession at all). If their aesthetic preferences cannot be satisfied by the current system,then the proper course is to request an option that will suit them, while permitting busy researchers and novices to make the best of the available tools most effectively. Telling users not to follow links into the middle of articles, or to scroll up and down until with any luck they find the link they want and trust that it does in fact link to the intended concept as the word that they had found unlinked, is the sheerest arrogance. Who on Earth has the right to tell people how to do their research, or more precisely, to do without it because you don't like the way links look? To demand that readers read entire articles because notionally "articles are structured in the standard way, on the basis that the text unfolds logically and sequentially" is a travesty. They might sometimes, and it might be nice if they did so more often, but to conclude that only lesser life forms might need to read limited sections in contexts different from those intended by the authors cannot have much sense of the nature of research -- or of browsing. The function of the encyclopaedia trumps personal tastes, and again I repeat, to impose one's personal tastes at the cost of function is unethical as well as illogical. And as for the slippery slope into the thin end of the wedge of solid blue, that argument is an embarrassment. JonRichfield (talk) 19:52, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
Editors who refer to a "sea of blue" are reminded that we have specific WP:SEAOFBLUE, aka WP:Sea of blue, which (so far as I can tell from its location) applies only to "links next to each other so that they look like a single link". This is quite distinct from WP:OVERLINKING: "an excessive number of links". Some of the contexts in which participants here have used the term "sea of blue" suggests that they are referring to "too many links" (WP:OVERLINKING), rather than "links next to each other so that they look like a single link" (WP:SEAOFBLUE). One could reasonably favour either one of those policies while disagreeing with the other, so it might be helpful to the discussion if participants are clear about which of those two distinct concepts they refer to. Mitch Ames (talk) 12:27, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
Thank you Mitch Ames, I was one of those you described and unaware of the distinction. FWIW the substance of my objection, plus the bulk of the controversy concerns fuzzy thinking about "overlinking", with "sea-of-blue" as in essence a term of abuse handy for those opposed to reform, but shorn of any basis for rational argument. The real sea-of-blue problem is not a major issue anyway, as no serious editor to my knowledge approves confusing concatenation of links. That guideline as I see it is more of a heads-up than a prescription anyway. The guideline also recognises that concatenated links are very hard to avoid in some technically dense topics. We might think about an appropriate tool for dealing with such situations, but then, they are not very common, are they, though I certainly have encountered situations of the type in my own writing. JonRichfield (talk) 07:55, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
"Once you start giving the green light to multiple linkings of the same item in an article, there will be no end to it"? Bullshit. If we allowed a single instance of link in each section, there would be no more links than sections, and there is the end of it. There is no slippery slope. "No end of it" is totally bogus.
Ohc: If "less is more", why don't we go for zero instances? (Haven't we had this discussion before?) ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:45, 23 February 2015 (UTC)
"Zero instances" is actually what we practice. We don't go linking every single word, although this is a technical possibility; we don't link every occurrence of every less common word. We link only to articles that are relevant to aid and guide readers, without causing them to leave the article prematurely, before they have understood what they came to understand. In fact, when editors link, we carefully ration linkings of those words within an article.

I think that the currently guideline is well-balanced – it is sufficiently firm, yet leaves sufficient leeway for the editor to link as required. And I don't feel that we need for it to get more prescriptive because the general frequency of linking is deemed insufficient by some editors. -- Ohc ¡digame! 03:09, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

OHc: you have misunderstood what I said. The current language says that a link — not a duplicate link, just a link — should occur ("generally)" "only once". By your "less is more" criterion zero instances of any link should be better. And indeed, simply eliminating ALL links certainly would put an end to all overlinking and sea of blue problems. If you reallly want to go with such an inane criterion you should apply it consistently ("down will all links!"), not just in special cases. Another thing: you misstate the proposal. Your mention of "linking every single word", and "every occurrence of every less common word", is more bullshit (more precisely, those are straw man arguments), because the proposal has nothing to do with those. Please stay on topic. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 23:29, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
I actually want the rule to be slightly less prescriptive, not more: my problem is not that the current frequency of linking is insufficient, but that some editors interpret this rule strictly as it is written, namely as a complete ban on linking a word more than once in the body text, and I would like the rule to reflect what I see as the consensus in good articles and in this discussion, namely that duplicate links in distant parts of a long article are helpful to readers, and should be allowed. --Slashme (talk) 07:52, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
However proper it may sound to claim that "We link only to articles that are relevant to aid and guide readers, without causing them to leave the article prematurely, before they have understood what they came to understand", that is unrealistic and patronising. Our job is to make sure that the readers have the tools they need to discover what they wish to know and are assisted to find and use those tools. It is not to penalise them for wanting to know anything but what authors and editors decide that they should know,and in the sequence and context that they should know it. For a reader to wish to know what an unfamiliar word or usage might mean in context, instead of waiting till he has read uncomprehendingly from the beginning, is entirely reasonable and practical; some of us may remember having actually paused in reading a paper book to consult a paper dictionary or a paper encyclopaedia for clarification on anything on spelling or the meaning or usage of a word or on any matter of technical fact, history,or opinion. Who is to claim that such practice is in any way pernicious or undesirable because it detracts from the benefits accruing from reading the book in the manner that the author had intended?
Nor does it support that "Zero instances" is actually what we practice. It might be what Ohconfucius would prefer, but in practice we link-heads are spared the occasional link as a sop no doubt, and that is different from zero instances; note that in spite of the apparent triviality of the point, if partisans insist on appealing to the concept, it becomes necessary to refute it.
Then again we are reassured that "In fact, when editors link, we carefully ration linkings of those words within an article." Pardon those of us who thought we were editors and thought that we were doing nothing less, but there would seem to be room for debate on our delusion, given that this squabbling about the concept has continued for years, with the same team stonewalling constructive practices, constructive discussion, and constructive technology, without the slightest material justification.
For example: "I think that the currently guideline is well-balanced – it is sufficiently firm, yet leaves sufficient leeway for the editor to link as required. And I don't feel that we need for it to get more prescriptive because the general frequency of linking is deemed insufficient by some editors." Someone is of the personal opinion that everything is hunky dory, so nothing must be adjusted even if other users have repeatedly demonstrated that improvement is desirable, even though someone else passionately pleads with us to "protect our linking system from dilution by repetition: the more blue patchiness, the less "selective" value each link has. That's basic reading psychology" and asserts "In the minority instance where someone parachutes in via a section link, they can expect to encounter terms, concepts, ideas, information that are dependent on the previous text—whether by glossing, expansion, or unfolding context".
"Minority instances" is an unsupported opinion in the first place; when did that participant, or anyone else quantify the instances? Secondly, how small must that minority be to matter? I am likely to read several thousands of words before having to refer to a dictionary or encyclopaedia (or a link) even once, even in a long article; does it follow that the dynamic function reference function is only a several-thousandth as important as the rest of the material?
And if the linked reference drops me into the middle of a twenty-page article (or a two-page article FTM) then I must go back to the start and read an extra few thousand words of no relevance when reading just a few dozen plus a click or two would completely satisfy my needs without wasting my time and dividing my attention?
And "reading psychology"???? Someone had better go back and learn a bit about reading psychology before making such claims in public. The "dilution" effect is over-use of a particular format, punctuation, cliched text or expression, or other demands on a reader's patience, emotions or attention, it has nothing to do with links, which are no more "dilution" of the text than necessary paging up or down might be. He would not, I hope, urge that we chop up our articles into single-page slices to render routine paging unnecessary.
Am I alone in smelling red herring in "I think that the currently guideline is well-balanced – it is sufficiently firm, yet leaves sufficient leeway for the editor to link as required. And I don't feel that we need for it to get more prescriptive because the general frequency of linking is deemed insufficient by some editors." Veeerrry subtle. Great courtroom tactics. The prescription is all on the other side. Persons agitating for more constructive linking practices are NOT the ones requesting prescription, they are the ones wanting more constructive freedom for competent editing aimed at assisting users in need of assistance. It is the blue-sea bigots who use the guidelines as a basis for wikilawywering. "The guideline says... so do it MY way, even if I don't know what you are talking about and don't care!" JonRichfield (talk) 07:32, 24 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes, lots of red herrings. Also straw man arguments, non sequiturs, and entrenched emotionalism, all of which impede rational consideration. To make any headway in this I think is is necessary to first identify the arguments and sentiments in opposition, reject the spurious ones, and then we can see what remaining objections merit consideration. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:44, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

My proposal[edit]

Current text:

Generally, a link should appear only once in an article, but if helpful for readers, links may be repeated in infoboxes, tables, image captions, footnotes, hatnotes, and at the first occurrence after the lead.

My proposed text, with the change in bold:

Generally, a link should appear only once in an article, but if helpful for readers, links may be repeated, for example in infoboxes, tables, image captions, footnotes, hatnotes, and at the first occurrence after the lead. [Slashme's edit]

Alerted WikiProjects and other related pages to this discussion[edit]

As seen, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, I alerted WP:Med, WP:Film, WP:TV, WP:LGBT, Wikipedia talk:Good articles, Wikipedia talk:Good article nominations, Wikipedia talk:Featured articles, Wikipedia talk:Featured article candidates and Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style to this discussion. I alerted those WikiProjects because those are the main WikiProjects I am involved with these days, and I alerted those other pages for obvious reasons. Flyer22 (talk) 21:36, 26 February 2015 (UTC)

Comments please on avoidable links[edit]

The section "General points on linking style" seems to me to include one or two questionable points, and to urge at least one pernicious principle. Observe the following points in particular:

  • Do not unnecessarily make a reader chase links: if a highly technical term can be simply explained with very few words, do so.
  • Don't assume that readers will be able to access a link at all; remember that it is not always possible. For example, a reader might be working from a printed copy of an article without access to facilities for following links.

And the following one is closely related:

  • Do use a link wherever appropriate, but as far as possible do not force a reader to use that link to understand the sentence, especially if this requires going into nested links

Those recommendations have merit and sound very good in general, but in the wrong context or comprehension they bear Danaan gifts. When "... a highly technical term can be simply explained with very few words..." out of context, or by an author or editor who knows everything except for how little he knows, or actually well-informed, but who fails to realise his own inability to convey the necessary point to the readers who need it most, and how dismally his shortcomings in the name of WP will depress informed readers, then really, it would have been better to rely on more linkage and less generous explanation to the reader.

More importantly, there is one principle that should be observed closely, even obsessively, in any encyclopaedic structure, and which these guideline points violate, sometimes venially, more often mortally:

  • Thou shalt avoid duplication of data in independently places and contexts
  • Thou shalt particularly avoid duplication of explication in independent places and contexts

Every time an editor helpfully avoids a link, either for fancied user convenience, or because he had neglected to check whether a relevant linkable article might be available, he creates items that, if condensed:

  • Might mislead innocent readers into thinking that no other guidance on the topic might be available
  • Might mislead innocent readers into thinking that no other, more advanced material on the topic might be available or necessary (the principle of "a little knowledge")

and in any case demand:

  • consistent checking of accuracy and authoritativeness wherever the same point is casually included; many an author or editor blithely includes throw-away wisdom of the type: "member of the Hemimetabola (insects that do not have a complete metabolism)" where he mercifully omits links to "Hemimetabola", "metabolism", or "incomplete metamorphosis". Any competent biologist encountering that sort of rubbish is at hazard of an aneurism and any reasonable editor might want to know why the parenthetic material was included at all, if it shows no sign of relevance to the topic, accurate or not. Unfortunately, in a work of millions of items it could be years before anyone notices the faux pas, and in the mean time it winds up in published books and google searches (the latter commonly within seconds, and I mean that LITERALLY!). What does that sort of thing do for our name, our respect, or (I hope) our pride in our work and our role?
  • continued maintenance of consistency of such items with each other; consider where one main article (or a few on the same topic sometimes) might contain (let us hope) flawless information and exposition, but the basic facts or received wisdom might change. For example, "The Mantophasmatodea are the first new order of insects to be discovered since..." might need updating to perhaps: "Originally hailed as the first new order of insects to be discovered in recent decades, the Mantophasmatodea now are classed as the family Mantophasmatidae..." That might not sound terribly shocking, given the obscurity of the topic and accordingly the few articles that refer to it, but already there are rumblings about the status of the order Coleoptera as well. Changes there could affect thousands of articles that otherwise would have remained unaffected, if only their authors had used linking effectively. In case that sounds too academic to matter (in which case shame on you!) consider the likes of "...which never exhibits antibiotic resistance..." or "...is easily treated by..."
  • continued updating in all the places where the items might occur. Consequent on the previous point, it is too great an unprofitable burden to be justified for the sake of reducing properly conceived links. There are other ways of assisting readers of hard copy, and if there were not, WP has more realistic objectives to attend to than merely being all things to all readers.
  • that any gratuitous remarks on tangential material should be carefully chosen and phrased to minimise the scope for future required changes, and tolerated only when it would impoverish the theme to omit them; in such cases there should be links to relevant main articles so that readers need not rely on second-hand versions. Less avoidable subject matter that is of immediate significance to the article but has its own main article, obviously couldn't reasonably be omitted but as far as possible should refer to the material in the main article by suitable links, and if necessary by "see main article" links. JonRichfield (talk) 13:52, 24 February 2015 (UTC)

Nested links[edit]

WP:LINKSTYLE currently includes this:

As far as practical, avoid nesting links, a nested link meaning one that goes to a page where another technical term needs linking in turn. In particular avoid deeply nested links, i.e. where an already nested link goes in turn to a page that link to yet another technical term, and so on.

The wording was recently changed but the previous version had much the same problem, namely that it's completely impractical.

Wikipedia is intended to have links from one page to another, and "technical subjects might demand a higher density of links". Any link to a technical page is almost guaranteed to go to "a page where another technical term needs linking in turn", and so on as "deeply" as the reader wants to go. I suggest that paragraph should simply be deleted, although perhaps someone can come up with different wording this is both achievable and useful. Mitch Ames (talk) 12:17, 25 February 2015 (UTC)

Whatever the text means, it needs copy-editing for clarity. I have trouble understanding it. Tony (talk) 13:20, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I recently edited that text and carefully avoided changing its sense, especially because of the sensitivity of the topic. However, I would have NO objection to its complete deletion and leaving the practice to the good sense of the editors. Some topics, often highly technical topics) simply need nested links because the subject matter includes nested concepts. To leave them unlinked would do the reader no favours. JonRichfield (talk) 16:55, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
In most cases a simple explanation of what the term means is more helpful. Some readers may be reading the article in a printed form in which no links will work. The sort of overlinking you advocate is intellectually lazy and counter to the principles on which we work. --John (talk) 21:17, 25 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree with John. I have also been arguing earlier that merely linking to a term when it'd be possible to write out the meaning, not just it'd make a great disservice for the editor, but also distract the reader to a lot of irrelevant text as well. Jayaguru-Shishya (talk) 21:12, 27 February 2015 (UTC)
I assume that what it's supposed to mean is avoid the following situation: "term1" is wikilinked to an article which in its explanation of "term1" requires an understanding of "term2" which is not explained but wikilinked. It certainly needs copy-editing if this is indeed what is meant. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:51, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
John, if you are referring to what I wrote, kindly restrict yourself to honesty and courtesy. I said nothing in favour of four-letter words such as overlinking, nor intellectual sloth, either here or anywhere else. If OTOH, you referred to what other persons said, it would save a lot of friction if you particularised your targets and justified your claims concerning 'principles on which "we" work'. JonRichfield (talk) 19:53, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
The view that "in most cases a simple explanation of what the term means is more helpful", as urged in the MOS, is in my view pernicious. It makes sense only in trivial cases, such as where a few words of truism will do instead of a link, and where the insertion won't spoil the flow and comprehension, and is thoroughly and stably irrefutable and unobjectionable. Elsewhere, to explain what otherwise would be conveniently linkable is a temptation to bulk out the text with redundant duplicated material that might need changing, and creates a long-term problem of synchronised maintenance of articles that instead should have been linked. It is a standing invitation to a mess and if it doesn't offend the reader by explaining what needed no explanation, and that in the form of a link could have been skipped, it at least commonly wastes time and space. I strongly urge that in all practical circumstances links be used. This is more important than the question of whether a link could work in printed material, where unnecessary redundancy could waste vast tonnages of paper. Wikipedia material on occasion might well be printed and used as hard copy, but the medium was not primarily designed with that in mind and it accordingly would be improper to cripple its computer-and-comms functions to accommodate the shortcomings of static media. JonRichfield (talk) 19:53, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Your opinions are welcomed of course, but good writing would dictate explaining terms rather than just lazily wikilinking them. A certain degree of redundancy is desirable as in all communication to assist understanding. The two are not mutually exclusive of course, and long-standing practice here supports an appropriate degree of linking and an appropriate level of explanation of technical terms. --John (talk) 20:12, 26 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes. This is not an either-or debate. Clearly one would rather have a word in parenthesis sometimes if that will do -- diaphoresis (sweating)-- and even a short explanatory clause if that will save somebody from doing the inevitable click. On the other hand, WP is explicitly a hyperlinked text, and there is real magic in that. It took us humans a long time to do this! This magic should be used to the max, instead of considered a redundancy merely because it might not show up in other media.

I also want to go on record that I explicitly reject the idea that more links are not useful in technical subjects because they lead to yet more links and you never come back up to the level of ordinary secondary school lay English that most of WP is (supposed to be) written in. Clearly, this kind of understanding is possible in most (though perhaps not all) cases. If for no other reason, that links often lead to articles which begin with leads/ledes written in very simple terms, before descending back down again into jargon (I've spent a lot of time on WP making sure that is true-- but most of this remains yet undone).

The whole argument there reminds me of the comic sophist assertion that dictionaries are not really useful because they are circular, as no entry consists of anything but words that need to be looked up themselves. But dictionaries ARE useful, so long as you independently know a FEW concepts (just a few meanings outside the text). The only dictionary not useful is one in a language where you know not a single word. Anything else can be expanded, like getting a clue and key (clue and key are the same root!) to reading ancient Egyptian from just one inscription on a Rosetta Stone. Then going on, until you've mastered it all. WP is easier. From the whining here, you'd think we'd been producing nothing but crap in Linear A. Sheesh. SBHarris 06:25, 27 February 2015 (UTC)