Wikipedia:Intentionally permanent red link
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Every so often, someone has tried, apparently in good faith, to create an article at red link or the weather in London, or make them redirects (e.g. to Wikipedia:Red link or Climate of London). These get deleted because the two phrases have been (as of mid-July 2006) regularly used as examples of intentionally permanent red links (like this one, hereinafter called IPRLs). Others dispute these deletions because they think people who enter the search terms or follow mistakenly created links need to be redirected. The result has been called one of Wikipedia's lamest edit wars. When this happens, there may be only three options, all undesirable:
- Not allow a potentially useful move to occur or redirect to be created;
- Alter the effect of (a) discussion comment(s) or Wikipedia-namespace page(s) by turning the links blue; or
- Alter the effect of (a) discussion comment(s) by retargeting the IPRLs (and possibly face the same trilemma with the new target later).
Such a link also stimulates vandals and experimenting newcomers to create the pages, making more work for the new pages patrol. (On previous MediaWiki versions [1.0-1.10], protecting the pages from recreation would have meant adding some nominal content and turning the links blue.) There are two ways you can help prevent this sort of silly drain on editors' time and energy.
Don't create IPRLs if you can avoid it
In many cases, when people argue on discussion pages and WP:AFD that an article is unencyclopedic or non-notable, they create such a link as an example of a similar article that will never exist. This disrupts Wikipedia: even if the title is well-chosen, it invites vandalism and/or misguided attempts at creation. If copied enough times, it might even clutter up Special:Wantedpages. Thus, Wikipedia:Don't disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point applies, as does Wikipedia:Only make links that are relevant to the context.
If you can, only use IPRLs for discussing red links; but even then, consider the following.
When you are discussing red links themselves (e.g. saying that an article contains too many red links), you may want to include an example of one. However, there are two reasons why this may not be useful:
- All but the most novice readers have seen red links before and know of their significance. (Even among the colour-blind and those who do not use graphical browsers, moderately experienced editors will know that they are called red links.)
- Wikipedia:Red link provides guidance about dealing with red links, and links to such pages as Wikipedia:WikiProject Red Link Recovery. The editing form opened by following a red link does not. Thus, a blue link to the former is a link to more information.
IPRLs and namespaces
- On the main, Image and Portal namespaces, never use IPRLs. These namespaces are for presentation to non-editor readers, so IPRLs make no sense given Wikipedia:Avoid self-references.
- On the User, Category and Template namespaces, and on all talk namespaces, use IPRLs as rarely as possible; link to Wikipedia:Red link instead.
- On the Help and Wikipedia namespaces, IPRLs may be justified; but even there, consider whether a link to Wikipedia:Red link would be more helpful.
Choose IPRL titles carefully
Many novice editors think Wikipedia is more inclusive than it is, and aren't familiar with Wikipedia's naming conventions. Hence, just because an article shouldn't be created doesn't mean it won't if linked to.
Choose IPRL titles that don't look like potential Web page subjects, i.e. are non-noun phrases of no particular significance. Instead of talking about a "red link," talk about a "red link (like this one)," except on pages referencing this specific edit war. (This change has already been made retroactively by NeonMerlin.) It is unlikely that anyone will attempt in good faith to write an article about "like this one," as they would about red links or the weather in London. Vandals may still attempt to do so, but even then, the lack of a suggestive title might be a deterrent. If people follow this guideline, then Red link can become a redirect to Wikipedia:Red link in case anyone goes looking for it. Even editors who aren't familiar with this guideline will notice that the link is no longer red, and will stop using it. If warring or vandalism continue, these redirects can be protected indefinitely to stop it once and for all, and we'll still have permanent examples of red links where we need them. The same can be true for the weather in London.
What types of phrases not to use
This guideline excludes the following phrases, which are likely to be perceived as potential article subjects and turned blue by well-meaning editors:
- Noun phrases such as “afternoon snack.”
- Phrases of some particular significance (even if they wouldn't quite pass Wikipedia:Notability):
- Well-known advertising slogans such as “I've fallen and I can't get up!”
- Any that would have an entry in a dictionary or specialized glossary, either in its current form or when converted to a noun. (Novices may not know that Wikipedia is not a dictionary.)
- Names in title case. This rule is weaker, as Wikipedia is not a crystal ball, but title-case phrases are more likely than lowercase phrases to be the titles of legitimate articles about works of authorship.
Start right now
Although the redirect at red link will probably not be allowed to exist until this guideline is adopted, you can implement it right now without requiring a guideline change. Just choose your links according to this guideline; once all old IPRLs have been disused for long enough, the admins may agree to let them turn blue even without a guideline. As of 2009, this had already happened for "The weather in London".