Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Hidden text

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WikiProject Policy and Guidelines    (Inactive)
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Emblem-important.svg See WP:PROPOSAL for Wikipedia's procedural policy on the creation of new guidelines and policies. See how to contribute to Wikipedia guidance for recommendations regarding the creation and updating of policy and guideline pages.


How is creating whitespace a bad use of comments? They can making things easier to read... Accelerometer T / C 21:36, 2 March 2012 (UTC)

I agree. In a project where I edit, we commonly have densely packed markup text in a standard table. Today, an outside editor inadvertently removed from many articles empty comments we often use as a row-break. Back in my old software days, readability/editability was always valued. Calling it "inappropriate" should be removed or at least re-thought, IMHO. --Chaswmsday (talk) 19:11, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
On 2nd thought, is this only talking about "whitespace" in the article, not in the markup? If so, that point needs to be clarified. --Chaswmsday (talk) 19:17, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Searching for hidden text?[edit]

Is there a way to search for comments in <!-- these --> ? They seem to be eluding the basic search and google searches, as they're not included in the rendered article... Eg. the phrase "please do not add an" is not found in a mainspace search, but it's definitely in numerous articles. Thanks. –Quiddity (talk) 01:03, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Drop a note on my talk page and I could run the AWB Database Scanner on my downloaded copy of the Wikipedia text. My current copy is from April, but I'll be downloading a new copy early next month. -- John of Reading (talk) 06:52, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

This is now obsolete[edit]

Hidden text is now officially obsolete. Users of WP:VisualEditor will never see it. Therefore it is impossible to embed important directions to all classes of editors in the wikitext. This is a sad state of affairs. The people who need to see hidden comments the most are the ones using VisualEditor. Elizium23 (talk) 16:20, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

This is a known bug (bugzilla:49603), and is being worked on. Announcements of doom are unwarranted! (I do agree that it's a critical bug, and hope it gets fixed a.s.a.p.) –Quiddity (talk) 19:17, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

Status of this page[edit]

This page is linked to by the {{main article}} template in Wikipedia:Manual of Style #Invisible comments, which makes it the detailed article for that section. The purpose of a detailed article is explained in Wikipedia:Summary style where it defines the use of Template:Main as "a template used at the start of a summary to point to the detailed article". There can be no doubt that this article contains the "fuller treatment of [a] major subtopic" of the MOS. As such, it is the same as any other sub-topic of MOS, i.e. a guideline enjoying community consensus, but admitting of occasional exceptions when good reason is provided. I've removed the inaccurate classification of this page as a "how-to". --RexxS (talk) 22:14, 17 August 2016 (UTC)

To get this to guideline/MoS status there is a process that this "help page" (that are a type of eassy) has not undergone. Being linked from the MOS or policy page doe not make one as well. Wold be best to tag the page so there is no confusion in the future (as to why it was tagged today after some problems)....perhaps {{Supplement}} would be better? Best not to mislead our editors by omission of the pages nature. Pls see WP:Essay#types for more information.--Moxy (talk) 01:08, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
Completely agree: This is not a "guideline" at present, and should be labeled in such a way so as not to mislead readers that it is. --IJBall (contribstalk) 12:16, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
WP:Essay itself is an essay, which says in its top box that WP:ESSAY "... is not one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines; where something is inconsistent with this essay, please defer to those." WP:Summary style is a guideline and should be respected; it takes precedence over the remarks in WP:ESSAY. The labelling of this help page as the "main" article for a section of the MOS has been done in the MOS itself at the opening of Wikipedia:Manual of Style #Invisible comments, where you can see "Main page: Help:Hidden text".
  1. Do you dispute that the template is there?
  2. Do you dispute that WP:SS applies to that template?
If you wish to dispute the validity of this page's status as a summary-style extension of the MOS, you're going to have to get consensus at WT:MOS to change that. --RexxS (talk) 12:19, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
I dispute that WP:SS in any way confers "guideline" status on this essay, yes. --IJBall (contribstalk) 12:27, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
So you take the position that although this page is the "fuller treatment of [a] major subtopic" of the MOS (per WP:SS), it has a lower status than the summary of this page in the MOS? That would imply, by your logic, that somehow, summarising this content elevates its status to that of a guideline, wouldn't it? --RexxS (talk) 12:47, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
See Moxy's multiple statements about this. Also, I would dispute the idea that it's a "summary" – it's actually an expansion beyond what's said at WP:COMMENT, and includes content beyond what is supported by WP:COMMENT. --IJBall (contribstalk) 12:58, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
The summary is at Wikipedia:Manual of Style #Invisible comments; did you not understand what WP:SS entails? The MOS contains the summary of this page; this page is the "fuller treatment" which is being summarised at MOS. It would be a glaring inconsistency if whatever is written here is not a guideline, but became a guideline automatically when summarised at the MOS. Don't you agree? --RexxS (talk) 13:22, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

After doing further research, I think we have an inconsistency. I am wrong to insist that this page is a guideline, because WP:Policies and guidelines #Role defines "policies", "guidelines", "essays", and "other pages". Help pages are included in the last group. As a result, this page is in a sort of limbo as far as its status goes. To resolve that, I'll open an RfC asking for it to be re-classified as guidance. --RexxS (talk) 14:20, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

You may find that the essay gets picked apart and nothing may get a better response if you propose a paragraph to be added to the MoS or similar place. I have seen proposals of this nature cause endless debates and nothing happens in the end. That said it may do just fine with some minor input. -- Moxy (talk) 19:55, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

RfC on status of this page[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The consensus is to elevate this page to guideline status on the basis that it accurately describes community expectations regarding the use of hidden text, with the exception of the line Asking for others who may edit the page to make certain improvements under the "Appropriate uses" section. The rough consensus is that this particular line should not remain as it currently reads; more discussion is needed to solidify exactly what, if anything, should replace it, so it should be removed for now.
A major source of debate in this discussion was actually not whether to make this page a guideline, but where the page should be located once it is a guideline. Several editors argue that the page should be moved to the Wikipedia namespace (i.e. at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Hidden text). Other editors are "okay" with the guideline remaining the Help namespace, and some argue that moving the guideline to a different namespace is not procedurally mandatory. However, there do not seem to be much direct opposition to moving to the Wikipedia namespace, i.e. arguing that it would necessarily be detrimental to move it to the Wikipedia namespace. Therefore, there is a rough consensus in favor of moving this page to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Hidden text. Mz7 (talk) 23:45, 23 September 2016 (UTC)

Should this page be classified as a guidance page? --RexxS (talk) 14:23, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

This page contains mostly guidance on the appropriate and inappropriate uses of hidden text in article pages. it has remained stable for most of its existence (since march 2009), and offers sensible and useful guidance that I believe to enjoy broad community consensus. From that position alone, it is worthy of official guideline status.

There is a further issue, however. Wikipedia:Manual of Style #Invisible comments designates this page as its {{main article}}, and has done since February 2010 when Quiddity added the template. Wikipedia:Summary style indicates that the template links the "fuller treatment of a major subtopic" (i.e. this page) from its summary in a section of the parent page (i.e. the Manual of Style).

It would seem that the content of this page is expected to be summarised at Wikipedia:Manual of Style #Invisible comments, and it would follow that this page is an extension of the MOS, in a similar way to which the subpages of the MOS are. In fact many of the MOS subpages were stand-alone pages before a re-organisation moved them to their present locations. If this page were not a guideline, then changes to this page could legimately be summarised in Wikipedia:Manual of Style #Invisible comments and become guidelines. That seems to be a loophole, that I don't believe exists anywhere else.

If this proposal is accepted, I would suggest that the page be moved from Help: namespace to a sub-page of the MOS, where it can perform its function of providing detail to the necessarily brief summary in the MOS.

Notifications made at: Village pump (policy), Village pump (proposals), WikiProject Manual of Style, Manual of Style.

May I politely request that the support and oppose sections be confined to comments on the proposal by individual editors and that threaded discussion be reserved for the discussion section, please? --RexxS (talk) 14:24, 18 August 2016 (UTC)


  • Support as proposer. --RexxS (talk) 14:24, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support. Use of hidden messages to mark quasi-ownership over articles has gotten out of hands. The chilling effect of these intimidating all-caps directives is vastly underestimated. We need an official guideline to clarify what goes and what doesn't. --bender235 (talk) 17:06, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support --Mark viking (talk) 20:53, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support – When this is the "encyclopedia that anyone can edit", we shouldn't be having hidden directives not to make certain edits being added to articles without consensus. There is no way to reconcile that practice with WP:BOLD. This is a well overdue proposal. Graham (talk) 02:28, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
I should also note that my preference, if it becomes a guideline, is to move it into the Wikipedia namespace, but I could tolerate it where it is. Graham (talk) 18:53, 27 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support – Hidden text is a valuable tool when used properly. The article's examples of appropriate and inappropriate usage deserve to become an official WP guideline. — JFG talk 12:07, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support - There is a distinct conceptual difference between help and guidance. Help pages should be of a "technical" nature. For example, they should explain how to code a hidden comment, but not when to do so, or what kind of hidden comments are acceptable. The latter is in the domain of guideline or, if there is insufficient consensus, essay.
    Similarly, the use of colons for indentation could be explained in the Help namespace, but Help:Using talk pages#Indentation, which provides guidance on effective use of indentation, should be moved to Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#Technical and format standards. (It seems likely that the reason few editors indent correctly is because the only guidance on that is hidden away in the Help namespace. There is a link from the guideline, but that's easily missed, and the small amount of space devoted to threading in the guideline suggests that it's unimportant, almost trivial.)
    Editors who understand and respect WP:OWN (and certain other editing principles) don't need this page, but I can see the need to be more explicit for the benefit of many who don't get it. Too many of these comments are the equivalent of the preposterous edit summary, "Do not revert this edit". ―Mandruss  23:56, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support - Per JFG. — TransporterMan (TALK) 23:28, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support - Part of me says "no more guidelines" but this has been around for eaons, and is fine as a guideline. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 21:08, 24 August 2016 (UTC).
    • Oh and I am perfectly OK with Help: pages being tagged as guidelines or policy. Indeed that might be a better place for them. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 21:10, 24 August 2016 (UTC).
  • Support making this a guideline per Rexx's initial comments. I am neutral regarding the location of the page. Thryduulf (talk) 19:39, 25 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support - I think it's quite useful. Wondering if it can be renamed to just Hidden text? Atsme📞📧 16:45, 1 September 2016 (UTC)
  • Suppoer per Rexx. Iazyges (talk) 04:28, 7 September 2016 (UTC)
  • Conditional support, if page is moved to "Wikipedia:" namespace. Help pages are not guidelines, or vice versa. A "stub" guideline already exists in WP:MOS as MOS:COMMENT, but is clearly just a summary of this page. This is odd, and anything MoS summarizes in this way should be part of MoS, ergo this page should be moved to WP:Manual of Style/Hidden text. If there is some key material in what is presently Help:Hidden text that should be integrated into the main-MoS section, then we should do that. It is important that there be no WP:POVFORK in our guidelines. It is also important that we do not have some aberrant case of a lone guideline outside the WP namespace, or a) many editors will not take it seriously as a guideline or even be able to find it, and b) leaving it here would encourage people to try to make all sorts of random Help-namespace pages into guidelines.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:50, 11 September 2016 (UTC)


  • Oppose – I think Moxy's approach is best. --IJBall (contribstalk) 14:41, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
WP:NOREASON? Graham (talk) 02:31, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
No. It's the same as "per Moxy", which means "fully agree with Moxy and have nothing to add." In such a case it's pointless to require one to restate the exact same argument in different words. That said, it would help if there were actually a Moxy !vote in this RfC, as it's otherwise not easily understood what "Moxy's approach" refers to. ―Mandruss  00:09, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
I believe they are referring to this post that is happening at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#‎Invisible comments. I dont normal "vote" on policies and such ....but as for a position on this page.... its sound advice and you can mark me down as Support. I see one problem will bring it up below.-- Moxy (talk) 23:39, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
  • OpposeProcedural policy favors "direct, concise writing" (which MOS:COMMENT is) over "rambling examples" (which Help:Hidden text appears to be). It further suggests using "links to other pages [] for further clarification" which the link to this help page satisfies. If mos:comment is deficient (within the context of this procedural policy), suggest improvements to the guideline itself, via its talk page, instead of maneuvering to usurp its status unto a page previously used for complementary clarification.--John Cline (talk) 11:18, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
    • This would actually be one of MoS's more concise pages, actually, if moved to become one.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:50, 11 September 2016 (UTC)
SMcCandlish, regarding this edit, what if the consensus was formed at WP:ANI or some part of the WP:Village pump? WP:ANI isn't WP:Dispute resolution, but some editing disputes are handled there. And like WP:ANI, WP:Village pump can pull in many members of the community. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 05:44, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
ANI is a disciplinary venue for problematic user behavior; any decision it came to would be about specific disputing parties, and couldn't freeze an article's content forever. A decision at VP, that clearly did represent a site-wide consensus, would probably call for adjusting the rule in question to arrive at a clarification addressing whatever the particular kind of case is (e.g., to touch on another matter under discussion on this page, "USA" can be used in sporting contexts as a symbol, since it's conventional to use IOC, FIFA, etc., codes in such contexts). RfCs, here or at VP, or at article talk, are how we arrive at a lot of MoS clarifications; this greatly contributes to MoS's length, at least on its topical subpages, but it seems to work – it is the most practical way to address the "one size does not fit all" issue.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:48, 13 September 2016 (UTC)
SMcCandlish, thanks for explaining your thoughts on that part of the page's wording. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 03:21, 16 September 2016 (UTC)


  • Genuine question here – is there any "rule" about policies and guidelines having to be in "Wikipedia-space"? Are there examples of policies or guidelines being in other "spaces" such as Help-space? --IJBall (contribstalk) 14:43, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
    • Yes, there's a policy that seems to prevent them being in many places, including the Help: namespace, WP:Policies and guidelines #Role: Other pages that can be found in the Wikipedia: namespace include community process pages (which facilitate application of the policies and guidelines), historical pages, ... WikiProject pages, or help pages (also found in the Help namespace), community discussion pages and noticeboards. These pages are not policies or guidelines, although they may contain valuable advice or information. I read that to say that help pages can't be policy or guideline pages. Wikipedia:List of policies and guidelines is a full list; there is one example outside the Wikipedia: namespace, namely TaxoBox Documentation, which is in the Template: namespace. HTH --RexxS (talk) 15:24, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
      • As I understand the quoted passage, "These pages" refers to "Other pages that can be found in the Wikipedia: namespace", to dispel the notion that everything in the Wikipedia namespace is a policy or guideline. As a matter of practicality, it would be helpful to ensure that any guidance pages can be easily found by linking to them from appropriate parent pages. In the case of templates, it is natural to expect guidance in its documentation page. I'm not certain what would be the best approach in this case, though. isaacl (talk) 18:50, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
      • RexxS, the inference you drew is invalid. When we last worked on that section, there was no desire to state that policies and guidelines could not be placed in any particular namespace. It was merely expedient, as a practical matter, to note that none of the officially tagged pages were anywhere else at that moment but that 99% of what's in that namespace isn't an official policy or guideline. There is also no intention to say that a Help: page is at all "lesser than" any official policy or guideline, especially since the main contents for the Help: namespace (i.e., the contents about how to do things, not the disputed sentence) are absolutely binding, far more than any policy such as NPOV, because they're enforced instantly in software. There's no sense at all in saying that a help page is "just an essay" and then thinking that you can ignore it most of what it says (i.e., the parts about how wikitext works).
        Also, I invite you all to read Wikipedia:The difference between policies, guidelines and essays, which exists because I (and other regulars at WP:POLICY) got tired of explaining that "just an essay" doesn't mean unimportant. You may also want to read everything that Jimmy Wales has ever said about the British Constitution system: if a page, or even a sentence, accurately describes current practice, then it's every bit as important, helpful, and (if relevant) binding as the same information on a page that says "policy" at the top. What matters are the principles, not the official status of the page. (Whether this particular principle – the one against pre-emptively telling people not to make edits you dislike when the guideline says that there is no official preference) belongs here or at one of the other relevant "official" pages is a separate question.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:00, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
        • @WhatamIdoing: You're preaching to the choir. Unfortunately I am regularly faced with editors who tell me that Help:Hidden text is just an essay and can be ignored at will - see the third comment at Talk:Gustav Holst #Oppose removal for a current example. Please explain how your analysis of the authority of Help pages stands up against those sort of comments, because I'm sick of struggling with editors who refuse to recognise any written consensus if they find it inconvenient, unless its official policy. --RexxS (talk) 01:16, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
          • I think you will find some editors dont care even if it was policy. Some essays hold great weight like Wikipedia:BOLD, revert, discuss cycle and Wikipedia:Tendentious editing and some guidelines are ignored like WP:ADVICEPAGE. It all depends on the commonsense level of who you are dealing with. -- Moxy (talk) 10:53, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
          • I would not be surprised if the same editors who say help pages are "just an essay" have previously complained that editors "violated" BRD and supported blocks on grounds of essays such as TE. We may need to talk about addressing this in WP:POLICY again (it's hard). WhatamIdoing (talk) 11:19, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I have also put the point to Arbcom as part of their discussion. As they have to make a decision based on what is here, they need to clarify the status of the 'law' relating to their judgement. (And yes, I know it's not a 'law' per se, but you know what I mean). – SchroCat (talk) 18:01, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment: I haven't voted yet, but I don't see an issue with making this a guideline. That stated, it is a help page, not an essay, and I also don't see the need to alter it from being a help page. Flyer22 Reborn (talk) 00:18, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
    • The problem lies in the lack of clarity over whether Help pages carry any authority in reaching decisions, and clarifying that would remove much argument from some debates. I hope SchroCat won't mind me drawing your attention to his request for exactly that clarification from ArbCom (paragraph 'Comment'). --RexxS (talk) 01:28, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
      • As long as the steps for establishing consensus support for a guideline have been completed successfully, the resulting guideline can be documented in whatever location is deemed most convenient. Although this could be as a page in the Help namespace, because help pages are often documenting steps dictated by the MediaWiki software, or are providing examples of suggested practices rather than proscribing a specific method, it may be simpler to extract any included guideline to a separate page in a different namespace. isaacl (talk) 15:52, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
  • I don't have strong opinions on whether this should be a guideline or not. However, I do strongly feel that whether accepted or not, it should be in a different namespace (most likely Wikipedia:). The Help: namespace serves mostly to explain the functionality of the MediaWiki software, i.e. how to do a certain task, and doesn't confirm itself as much with when you should do that task; much of the namespace is in fact copied from MediaWikiWiki, which tries to give information that's relevant for all wikis running MediaWiki whether they have anything else to do with Wikipedia/Wikimedia or not. This page is clearly mostly about discussing when to use hidden text, rather than explaining how to produce hidden text (especially as there's more than one way, and this page only discusses one of them, and thus doesn't serve the role of a help page well). I came to this talk page to suggest a rename, but seeing that there's an RFC here it makes more sense to add a comment to it rather than trying to start a parallel discussion. --ais523 09:42, 9 September 2016 (UTC)

Wish list issue[edit]

  • As a guideline I think its best we dont tell people to create a "wish list" as implied with "Asking for others who may edit the page to make certain improvements. There are certain templates that can be used to accomplish this too." I think we should encourage people to use a template over hidden message in this case. -- Moxy (talk) 23:43, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
    Good point. And it might be worth mentioning {{to do}} as an alternative too. Graham (talk) 23:47, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
    Yes, that needs to be addressed. It's capable of being read in different ways. I read it to be referring to hidden comments like this one in Jane Austen #19th century: "<!--which critic said this? (Awadewit) Not Duffy, and I don't have Watt or MacDonagh handy right now to check. Let's note for later (Simmaren)-->" and I certainly would consider that a valid use. Perhaps the guidance should discourage hidden text when a relevant template is available and is therefore preferred? Maybe that's something that should be in the Inappropriate section along the lines of "Don't use hidden text as a substitute for templates such as {{clarify}} in-line or {{todo}} on the talk page"? Should the line in question say something more like "Asking for others who are editing the page to make particular improvements; this is useful when several editors are working together to improve an article"? What do others think? --RexxS (talk) 12:41, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
    Personally I disagree with including comments such as these within the text. I prefer that discussion of passages be placed on the accompanying talk page where it is readily visible without having to edit the article, and the full range of wikitext markup can be used. isaacl (talk) 16:02, 21 August 2016 (UTC)
    I sympathise, but it is certainly the case that some talk pages archive and break this sort of stuff. It's the sort of thing that we don;t do very well, along with building resources for writing articles - such a extended reference lists. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 21:03, 24 August 2016 (UTC).

Direct writing[edit]

  • In response to the oppose by John Cline: Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines #Content actually says "Be as concise as possible—but no more concise ... Direct, concise writing may be more clear than rambling examples". It may indeed, but concise examples may be clearer than rambling writing, so what's your point? The section of MOS you're so keen to draw our attention to, MOS:COMMENT itself has 3 lines of guidance and 3 lines of examples. It's common practice in all MOS pages to use examples - look at MOS:ACCESS; it's full of them - because we all know that examples are often the most effective way of providing advice. If you've got any beef with the conciseness of this help page, let's hear it, but wikilawyering about the finer points of presentation is no rationale at all. --RexxS (talk) 12:09, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
My only point is that I oppose elevating this page to a guideline believing it is better suited as it currently exists, nothing more.--John Cline (talk) 13:56, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
So your opposition is based on your belief, nothing more? Fair enough. --RexxS (talk) 17:40, 20 August 2016 (UTC)
No, I disagree with your interpretation of my opposition. My comment in this sub-thread directly answers the only question you asked of me: "so what's your point? The rest of your comment, befor it and after, interjects your belief, of which I do not acquiesce! Also fair enough.--John Cline (talk) 18:47, 20 August 2016 (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.

Creating whitespace an inappropriate use?[edit]

Why is "Creating whitespace" listed in the "Inappropriate uses" section? Unless I'm missing something, it's perfectly appropriate to do that in long lists to leave visual spacing between items to make the wikicode easier to read which can't be done without comment tags due to WP:LISTGAP. – nyuszika7h (talk) 19:12, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

It's often simpler to use an extra bullet/indent marker with a blank line to achieve the same result (as I've done here). Nevertheless, in templates sometimes hidden comments enclosing the newline are the only way to split content onto a new line for readability. I suspect that the original intention of the guidance was "Don't use hidden text to create copious amounts of whitespace". If others agree, it would be sensible to qualify the current text. --RexxS (talk) 01:37, 19 August 2016 (UTC)
I agree. I think the initial use was actually labelling the white-space - usually before stub templates or navboxes. This was never that successful, as the comments tended to get sorted to the top of the categories anyway. Navboxes no longer need the white-space and stub templates have it inserted by stubbers, AWB and some bots. All the best: Rich Farmbrough, 21:00, 24 August 2016 (UTC).
MoS is not about template code formatting, anyway. This is about what people do inside article content. I agree that there's no reason for this page to prohibit the use of comments to introduce whitespace in the code of articles where people need it, yet that we don't want people doing this excessively, and also that the early reasons for doing it non-excessively for some specific template-spacing reasons are now obsolete. I'm skeptical that people are doing it excessively, though. When has anyone run into this, and found it to be a problem? I suspect that the entire "creating whitespace" rule can safely be deleted.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:17, 16 September 2016 (UTC)
Since there seems to be doubt as to whether the line is truly necessary, I've gone ahead and removed it for now. If this becomes a problem, we can reinsert it in the future. (I have no problem with qualifying it as RexxS suggested, if removing it is not the best option.) Mz7 (talk) 00:13, 24 September 2016 (UTC)

Odd search result[edit]

When I enter "Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Hidden text" to the search box in the mobile interface, but don't press the search button, a description appears under the search suggestion, saying "Herobrine". I don't know how to remove or change the description, but someone definitely should remove it, since "Herobrine" has nothing to do with the subject of this page. Not a very active user (talk) 09:22, 26 April 2018 (UTC)

Good catch, Not a very active user! An IP vandalised the Wikidata entry, Help:Hidden text (Q8615031) in September 2014. I've now fixed that on Wikidata. Another reason to support WP:WikiProject Short descriptions. --RexxS (talk) 10:55, 26 April 2018 (UTC)

Do these guidelines cover edit notices?[edit]

Do these guidelines cover the text in edit notices? In particular, does Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Hidden text#Inappropriate uses for hidden text apply to text used in edit notices? If not, can anyone link the relevant guidelines that do? Thank you.--John Cline (talk) 08:28, 27 June 2018 (UTC)

Protecting consensus in active, controversial articles[edit]

I propose that an appropriate use be added such that hidden text is allowed to remind editors that modification of consensus text has been debated numerous times and should not be modified without new consensus. This is common in many controversial articles (e.g. articles under discretionary sanctions) and it would be better if one wouldn’t have to use WP:IAR to add hidden text in such cases. Apologies is this has been argued. O3000 (talk) 01:28, 22 December 2018 (UTC)

Wouldn't that directly contradict the existing text?

Inappropriate uses for hidden text

Telling others not to perform certain edits to a page, unless there is an existing guideline or policy against that edit.

When it is a mere local consensus that a certain edit should not be performed, the hidden text should be worded more softly to suggest to the editor to consult the talk page (or archive page if appropriate) for the current consensus prior to making the edit. Since consensus can change, it is inappropriate to use hidden text to try to prohibit making a certain edit merely because it would conflict with an existing consensus.

It's quite common to see hidden text pointing to an archived discussion which established the current consensus on a particular issue (usually the absence of an infobox) and advising editors to consult that discussion before making an edit, but I think it would be most inappropriate to use hidden text to forbid a particular edit (unless that was specifically covered in the section Appropriate uses for hidden text). That's not how our processes are supposed to work. --RexxS (talk) 12:23, 22 December 2018 (UTC)
Thing is, hidden text is used this way in many instances. An example would be the current status field in the The Pirate Bay infobox. Even with the hidden text telling editors not to change the field, it has been changed scores of times to offline because the site is so rocky and often appears offline when it isn't. There are several uses in the Donald Trump article insisting on no change without new consensus as new editors very often change the text without reading the lengthy discussions and TP FAQ. I was looking for a way to include this as an exception on this page. And yes, the hidden text should be worded reasonably. O3000 (talk) 12:45, 22 December 2018 (UTC)
Indeed, Objective3000, those two are somewhat reasonable uses of hidden text. I would have thought that the Pirate Bay use was already covered by "Providing information to assist other editors in preventing a common mistake", although I'd have written the hidden text more like "The Pirate Bay site is often subject to outages, and may appear offline, so you are advised to consult the talk page and its archives before altering the status to offline". I can't find where the consensus is for "unless an outage covers a period of at least 24 hours and is covered in reliable sources" and it's not a policy that I'm aware of, so I think it's currently a little too strong.
The question of discretionary sections is worth thinking about, possibly as a supplement to "Reminding others of Wikipedia policies where they have been frequently broken". Perhaps there should be a specific reference in this guideline to notifying editors about particular provisions of Arbitration Committee decisions, such as may apply to articles such as Donald Trump. Having said that, I don't agree that the present discretionary sanctions give any editor the right to prohibit other editors from changing text. I can only see 1RR DS and local consensus, although I'm sympathetic to regular editors of the article who have clearly become frustrated with drive-by changes to a high-profile article. I don't want to upset the apple-cart on a flammable article, but I disagree that what might be considered an IAR use of hidden text there should represent a precedent for use in all articles. --RexxS (talk) 13:53, 22 December 2018 (UTC)
Yes, the text usually starts out as politely stated advice. Then it gets stronger and stronger as it is ignored.:) O3000 (talk) 14:13, 22 December 2018 (UTC)