Wikipedia:Redirect

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A redirect is a page which has no content itself, but sends the reader to another page, usually an article or section of an article. For example, if you type "UK" in the search box, or follow the wikilink UK, you will be taken to the article United Kingdom, with a note at the top of the page: "(Redirected from UK)". This is because the page UK contains the wikitext #REDIRECT [[United Kingdom]], which defines it as a redirect page and indicates the target article. It is also possible to redirect to a specific section of the target page, using the #REDIRECT [[Page name#Section title]] syntax.

This page contains guidance on the proper use of redirects on Wikipedia. For technical help relating to how redirects work, see Help:Redirect. Other relevant pages are Wikipedia:Double redirects, Wikipedia:Hatnote#Redirect and WikiProject Redirect.

A screenshot of Wikipedia showing a redirect from Pichilemo to Pichilemu.

Purposes of redirects[edit]

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Reasons for creating and maintaining redirects include:

There are redirect templates to explain the reason for a redirect.

Note that redirects to other Wikimedia projects, other websites, or special pages do not work. These should be avoided or replaced with a {{soft redirect}} template. Soft redirects are also used in category space (using the {{category redirect}} template).

How to make a redirect[edit]

To create a basic redirect manually, set #REDIRECT [[target page name here]] as the only body text of the page. For instance, if you were redirecting from "UK" to "United Kingdom", this would be the entire body of the "UK" page:

#REDIRECT [[United Kingdom]]

Redirects can also be automatically created when you move (rename) an existing page.

How to edit a redirect or convert it into an article[edit]

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Sometimes an existing redirect should really be handled by a full article, per Category:Redirects with possibilities. For example, the name of a notable musician (who does not yet have an article) may instead be a redirect to an existing article about a band of which the musician is a member. In this case you may edit the redirect to make it into an article. Also, if an existing redirect points to the wrong page, you may edit the redirect to point to a different page.

If you want to edit a redirect page you must use a special technique in order to get to the redirect page itself. This is because when you try to go straight to the redirect page and edit it, the redirect page will automatically redirect you to its target page (because this is what a redirect page is meant to do). Below is an example of why you might need to go to a redirect page itself (to do a small edit) and how to actually get there.

For example, say Trygve Halvdan Lie did not have his own article, and so this link was a redirect to the page Secretary-General of the United Nations. If, later on, the page Trygve Lie was created as a biography, the page Trygve Halvdan Lie should be changed to redirect to Trygve Lie per WP:COMMONNAME. To do this, go to the redirect page by clicking the redirect note on the target page, which in this case would read "(Redirected from Trygve Halvdan Lie)". Once there, you may click the "Edit" tab, and change the page from #REDIRECT [[Secretary-General of the United Nations]] to #REDIRECT [[Trygve Lie]].

Targeted and untargeted redirects[edit]

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Most redirects are untargeted, i.e. they lead simply to a page, not to any specific section of the page. This is usually done when there is more than one possible name under which an article might be sought (for example, Cellphone redirects to the article Mobile phone). For deciding which should be the actual title of the article, see Article titles.

It is also possible to create a targeted redirect, i.e. a redirect to a particular point on the target page—either a section header or an anchor. For example, Malia Obama redirects to Family of Barack Obama#Malia and Sasha Obama. Therefore, entering "Malia Obama" will bring the searcher straight to that section of the article Family of Barack Obama which deals with "Malia and Sasha Obama".

Consider that when the target page is displayed, it is likely that the top of the page will not be shown, so the user may not see the helpful "(redirected from... )" text unless they know to scroll back to the top. This is less likely to cause confusion if the redirect is to a heading with the same name as the redirect.

The text given in the link on a targeted redirect page must exactly match the target section heading or anchor text, including capitalization. (In the absence of a match, the reader will simply be taken to the top of the target page.) It is often helpful to leave a hidden comment in the target text, to inform other editors that a section title is linked, so that if the title is altered, the redirect can be changed. For example:

 ==Vaccine overload==
 <!-- linked from redirect [[Vaccine overload]] -->

To ensure that a redirect will not break if a section title gets altered, or to create a redirect to a point on the page other than a section heading, create an explicit target anchor in the page, e.g., by using the {{anchor}} template. The anchor text will not be visible (unless the {{visible anchor}} template is used), but it will serve as a permanent marker of that place on the page. Editors should generally not remove or alter such anchors without checking all incoming links and redirects.

For example, in the Google search article, the text {{anchor|calculator}} is placed at the point where Google Calculator is described. The title Google Calculator can then be redirected to Google search#calculator.

Warning[edit]

  1. Don't give an anchor the same name as a section heading – this creates invalid code, as anchor names must be unique.
  2. Be careful with anchor capitalization – section redirects are case-sensitive in standards-compliant browsers.

Double redirects[edit]

The software will not follow chains of more than one redirect – this is called a double redirect. A redirect should not be left pointing to another redirect page.

Double redirects often arise after a page is moved (renamed) – after moving a page, check whether there are any redirects to the old title (using the link on the move result page, or using "What links here"), and change them to redirect straight to the new title. (Double redirects are usually fixed by a bot after some time.)

Linking to a redirect[edit]

You can link to a redirect page just as you can link to an article page by placing the redirect page name within a set of double brackets, such as:

[[Redirect page name]]

replacing Redirect page name with the name of the redirect page to link. To link to a redirect page without following the underlying redirect, use:

{{noredirect|Redirect page name}}

replacing Redirect page name with the name of the redirect page to link. Clicking on a noredirect link will send the reader to the redirect page rather than the final redirect destination.

Categorizing redirect pages[edit]

Most redirect pages are not placed in article categories. There are three types of redirect categorization that are helpful and useful:

  • Maintenance categories are in use for particular types of redirects, such as Category:Redirects from initialisms, in which a redirect page may be sorted using the {{R from initialism}} template. See Wikipedia:Template messages/Redirect pages for a full alphabetical list of these templates. A brief functional list of redirect category (Rcat) templates is found at {{R template index}}.
  • Sometimes a redirect is placed in an article category because the form of the redirected title is more appropriate to the context of that category, e.g. Shirley Temple Black. (Redirects appear in italics in category listings.)
  • Discussion pages. If a discussion/talk page exists for a redirect, please ensure (1) that the talk page's projects are all tagged with the "class=Redirect" parameter and (2) that the talk page is tagged at the TOP with the {{talk page of redirect}} template. If the discussion page is a redirect, then it can also be tagged with appropriate Rcats.

Redirects from moves[edit]

When a page is renamed/moved, a redirect that is titled with the replaced pagename is created and is automatically tagged with the {{R from move}} template. This sorts the redirect into Category:Redirects from moves.

When should we delete a redirect?[edit]

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To delete a redirect without replacing it with a new article, list it on redirects for discussion. See the deletion policy for details on how to nominate pages for deletion.

Listing is not necessary if you just want to replace a redirect with an article, or change where it points: see these instructions for help doing this. If you want to swap a redirect and an article, but are not able to move the article to the location of the redirect please use Wikipedia:Requested moves to request help from an admin in doing that.

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The major reasons why deletion of redirects is harmful are:

  • a redirect may contain nontrivial edit history;
  • if a redirect is reasonably old (or a redirect is created as a result of moving a page that has been there for quite some time), then it is quite possible that its deletion will break links in old, historical versions of some other articles—such an event is very difficult to envision and even detect.

Note that there could exist (for example), links to the URL "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attorneygate" anywhere on the internet. If so, then those links might not show up by checking for (clicking on) "WhatLinksHere" for "Attorneygate"—since those links might come from somewhere outside Wikipedia.

Therefore consider the deletion only of either really harmful redirects or of very recent ones.

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Reasons for deleting[edit]

You might want to delete a redirect if one or more of the following conditions is met (but note also the exceptions listed below this list):

  1. The redirect page makes it unreasonably difficult for users to locate similarly named articles via the search engine. For example, if the user searches for "New Articles", and is redirected to a disambiguation page for "Articles", it would take much longer to get to the newly added articles on Wikipedia.
  2. The redirect might cause confusion. For example, if "Adam B. Smith" was redirected to "Andrew B. Smith", because Andrew was accidentally called Adam in one source, this could cause confusion with the article on Adam Smith, so the redirect should be deleted.
  3. The redirect is offensive or abusive, such as redirecting "Joe Bloggs is a Loser" to "Joe Bloggs" (unless "Joe Bloggs is a Loser" is discussed in the article), or "Joe Bloggs" to "Loser". (Speedy deletion criterion G10 may apply.) See also: #Neutrality of redirects
  4. The redirect constitutes self-promotion or spam. (Speedy deletion criterion G11 may apply.)
  5. The redirect makes no sense, such as redirecting Apple to Orange. (Speedy deletion criterion G1 may apply.)
  6. It is a cross-namespace redirect out of article space, such as one pointing into the User or Wikipedia namespace. The major exception to this rule are the pseudo-namespace shortcut redirects, which technically are in the main article space. Some long-standing cross-namespace redirects are also kept because of their long-standing history and potential usefulness. "MOS:" redirects, for example, are an exception to this rule. (Note "WP:" redirects are in the Wikipedia namespace, WP: being an alias for Wikipedia.)
  7. If the redirect is broken, meaning it redirects to itself or to an article that does not exist, it can be immediately deleted under speedy deletion criterion G8, though you should check that there is not an alternative place it could be appropriately redirected to first.
  8. If the redirect is a novel or very obscure synonym for an article name, it is unlikely to be useful. In particular, redirects from a foreign language title to a page whose subject is unrelated to that language (or a culture that speaks that language) should generally not be created. Improbable typos or misnomers are potential candidates for speedy deletion, if recently created.
  9. If the target article needs to be moved to the redirect title, but the redirect has been edited before and has a history of its own, then it needs to be deleted to make way for move. If the move is uncontroversial, tag the redirect for G6 speedy deletion. If not, take the article to Requested Moves.
  10. If the redirect could plausibly be expanded into an article, and the target article contains virtually no information on the subject, it is better that the target article contain a redlink than a redirect back to itself.
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Reasons for not deleting[edit]

However, avoid deleting such redirects if:

  1. They have a potentially useful page history, or edit history that should be kept to comply with the licensing requirements for a merge (see Wikipedia:Merge and delete). On the other hand, if the redirect was created by renaming a page with that name, and the page history just mentions the renaming, and for one of the reasons above you want to delete the page, copy the page history to the Talk page of the article it redirects to. The act of renaming is useful page history, and even more so if there has been discussion on the page name.
  2. They would aid accidental linking and make the creation of duplicate articles less likely, whether by redirecting a plural to a singular, by redirecting a frequent misspelling to a correct spelling, by redirecting a misnomer to a correct term, by redirecting to a synonym, etc. In other words, redirects with no incoming links are not candidates for deletion on those grounds because they are of benefit to the browsing user. Some extra vigilance by editors will be required to minimize the occurrence of those frequent misspellings in the article texts because the linkified misspellings will not appear as broken links.
  3. They aid searches on certain terms. For example, if someone sees the "Keystone State" mentioned somewhere but does not know what that refers to, then he or she will be able to find out at the Pennsylvania (target) article.
  4. You risk breaking incoming or internal links by deleting the redirect. Old CamelCase links and old subpage links should be left alone in case there are any existing links on external pages pointing to them.
  5. Someone finds them useful. You might not find it useful, but this may be because you browse Wikipedia in different ways. stats.grok.se can also provide evidence of outside utility.
  6. The redirect is to a plural form or to a singular form, or to some other grammatical form.

Neutrality of redirects[edit]

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Just like article titles using non-neutral language are permitted in some circumstances, so are redirects. Because redirects are less visible to readers, more latitude is allowed in their names. Perceived lack of neutrality in redirect names is therefore not a sufficient reason for their deletion. In most cases, non-neutral but verifiable redirects should point to neutrally titled articles about the subject of the term.

Non-neutral redirects are commonly created for three reasons:

  1. Articles that are created using non-neutral titles are routinely moved to a new neutral title, which leaves behind the old non-neutral title as a working redirect (e.g. ClimategateClimatic Research Unit email controversy).
  2. Articles created as POV forks may be deleted and replaced by a redirect pointing towards the article from which the fork originated (e.g. Barack Obama Muslim rumor → deleted and now redirected to Barack Obama religion conspiracy theories).
  3. The subject matter of articles may be represented by some sources outside Wikipedia in non-neutral terms. Such terms are generally avoided in Wikipedia article titles, per the words to avoid guidelines and the general neutral point of view policy. For instance the non-neutral expression "Attorneygate" is used to redirect to the neutrally titled Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy. The article in question has never used that title, but the redirect was created to provide an alternative means of reaching it because a number of press reports use the term.

The exceptions to this rule would be redirects that are not established terms and are unlikely to be useful, and therefore may be nominated for deletion, perhaps under deletion reason #3. However, if a redirect represents an established term that is used in multiple mainstream reliable sources, it should be kept even if non-neutral, as it will facilitate searches on such terms. Please keep in mind that RfD is not the place to resolve most editorial disputes.

What needs to be done on pages that are targets of redirects?[edit]

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We follow the "principle of least astonishment"—after following a redirect, the reader's first question is likely to be: "hang on ... I wanted to read about this. Why has the link taken me to that?" Make it clear to the reader that they have arrived in the right place.

Normally, we try to make sure that all "inbound redirects" other than misspellings or other obvious close variants of the article title are mentioned in the first couple of paragraphs of the article or section to which the redirect goes. It will often be appropriate to bold the redirected term. For example:

  • James Tiptree, Jr. (August 24, 1915 – May 19, 1987) was the pen name of American science fiction author Alice Bradley Sheldon ...

But insignificant or minor redirects can skip this:

If the redirected term could have other meanings, a hatnote (examples) should be placed at the top of the target article directing readers to the other meanings or to a relevant disambiguation page. This is usually done using one of the redirect disambiguation templates (examples).

It may also be helpful to search the List of Categories for related terms; adding a hatnote and a category link to the old term will make related pages easier to locate.

Redirects that replace previous articles[edit]

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Removing all content in a problematic article and replacing it with a redirect is common practice, known as blank-and-redirect. If other editors disagree with this blanking, its contents can be recovered from page history, as the article has not been formally deleted. If editors cannot reach consensus, the article should be formally submitted to a deletion discussion.

To make it easier for other editors to find the history of the blanked article, it's good practice to add a short notice at the talk page of the target article, even if no content has been merged there. This is specially useful if the blanked article had few visits and infrequent edits. If the redirect is replacing an article that had been deleted by an administrator, this notice is the only way for editors to know that a previous version of the article existed at all.

Content of the replaced article[edit]

If the topic of the article can be reasonably thought to describe a notable topic, mark the redirect with the template {{Redirect with possibilities}} to indicate that it could be expanded in the future. You may also consider turning the article into a stub by removing all unsourced content and keeping the valid references, instead of blanking it.

Note that certain forms of blanking are not allowed. Illegitimate blanking of valid content without reason is considered vandalism, a form of disruptive editing. Other forms of blank-and-redirect, although not vandalism, are still undesirable. If you want to rename the article by cutting and pasting text to a new article with a different title, you should instead move the page with the Move option. If you want to keep some content from the blanked article and add it to the target article, you should follow the instructions at Wikipedia:Merging#How to merge. Both processes will create proper links to the edit history, which is required by the Wikipedia license for legal reasons to preserve attribution of content to its authors.

Do not "fix" links to redirects that are not broken[edit]

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There is usually nothing wrong with linking to redirects to articles. Some editors are tempted, upon finding a link to a redirect page, to bypass the redirect and point the link directly at the target page. While there are a limited number of cases where this is beneficial, there is otherwise no good reason to pipe links solely to avoid redirects. Doing so is generally an unhelpful, time-wasting exercise that can actually be detrimental. It is almost never helpful to replace [[redirect]] with [[target|redirect]].

That is, editors should not change, for instance, [[Franklin Roosevelt]] to [[Franklin D. Roosevelt]] or [[Franklin D. Roosevelt|Franklin Roosevelt]] just to "fix a redirect". However, it is perfectly acceptable to change it to [[Franklin D. Roosevelt]] if for some reason it is preferred that "Franklin D. Roosevelt" actually appear in the visible text.

Reasons not to bypass redirects include:

  • Redirects can indicate possible future articles (see {{Redirect with possibilities}}).
  • Introducing unnecessary invisible text makes the article more difficult to read in page source form.
  • Non-piped links make better use of the "what links here" tool, making it easier to track how articles are linked and helping with large-scale changes to links.
  • Shortcuts or redirects to embedded anchors or sections of articles or of Wikipedia's advice pages should never be bypassed, as the anchors or section headings on the page may change over time. Updating one redirect is far more efficient than updating dozens of piped links. (The Rdcheck tool is extremely useful in such cases for finding which redirects need to be changed after an article is updated.)
  • Intentional links to disambiguation pages always use the title with "(disambiguation)", even if that is a redirect.
  • If editors persistently use a redirect instead of an article title, it may be that the article needs to be moved rather than the redirect changed. As such the systematic "fixing of redirects" may eradicate useful information which can be used to help decide on the "best" article title.

Good reasons to bypass redirects include:

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  • It is usually preferable not to use redirected links in navigational templates, such as those found at the bottom of many articles (e.g., {{US Presidents}} at the end of George Washington). When the template is placed on an article, and contains a direct link to the same article (rather than a redirect), the direct link will display in bold (and not as a link), making it easier to navigate through a series of articles using the template. There are exceptions to this exception: where a redirect represents a distinct sub-topic within a larger article and is not merely a variant name, it is preferable to leave the redirect in the template.
  • It may be appropriate to make this kind of change if the hint that appears when a user hovers over the link is misleading.

Self-redirects[edit]

Avoid linking to titles which redirect straight back to the page on which the link is found. This situation may arise if a redirect is created from a red link on the page, or if the title was once a separate page but was merged.

However, linking to a title which redirects to a section or anchor within the article (redirects with {{R to section}} or {{R to anchor}}) is acceptable as it facilitates navigation in particular on long articles that cannot be viewed all at once on an average-sized computer screen. It is not necessary to remove such redirects if they are marked with {{R with possibilities}} as they have the potential to become independent articles in the future.

Template redirects[edit]

A template can be redirected to another template in the same way, e.g., by entering the following markup at the top of a template T2:

#REDIRECT [[Template:T1]]

This allows the template name T2 to be used instead of the actual template name T1. All the parameters of T1 will be respected by T2.

A categorisation template such as {{R from move}} may be added to T2 (below the #REDIRECT line) as follows:

{{R from move|T1}}

Redirects for templates can cause confusion and make updating template calls more complicated. For example, if calls to T1 are to be changed to some new template TN1, articles must be searched for {{T1}} and a separate search must be made for each of its aliases (including T2 in this example). Moreover changes to syntax, corrections, scans and other processes (for example tag dating) must take into account all redirects.

Redirect protection[edit]

Sometimes, a redirect to an article pertaining to a very controversial topic will be fully or, more rarely, semi-protected indefinitely. Examples include Obama, Hitler, and 9/11.

Category redirects[edit]

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Do not create inter-category redirects, by adding a line #REDIRECT [[:Category:target category]] to a category page. Articles added to a "redirected" category do not show up in the target category, preventing proper categorization. What's worse, since redirected categories do not become "red links", editors won't be aware even when they add an article to a redirected category.

For an attempt to fix this issue in MediaWiki, see bug 3311http://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=3311.

Instead, "soft" redirects are used. It can be created by placing {{Category redirect|target}} in the category page. See Wikipedia:Categories for discussion#Redirecting categories.

Suppressing redirects[edit]

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When a page is moved, a redirect is automatically left behind. Some groups of users (those who possess a suppressredirect right) have the ability to prevent the redirect being created, by unchecking the box labelled "Leave a redirect behind." Currently these groups are administrators, bots and global rollbackers. In some circumstances, a page should be moved, but a redirect from its current name is inappropriate, such as reverting page-move vandalism. Suppressing the redirect can avoid an extra action (page removal) and save time in these cases.

However in general, the redirect will be a useful entry in the history, and it is best to leave it behind, unless there is a good reason to suppress the redirect, such as vandalism, userfying recently created malplaced items or freeing a title to be occupied immediately by another page (e.g., moving term to accurate term and term (disambiguation) to term). Redirects leave a trail to help readers find the old article, in case a new article is created at its previous location, and to prevent linkrot. Therefore, we usually neither suppress nor delete redirects. As Brion Vibber said, "Not breaking links helps everyone, especially us first and foremost". He also said that the removal of (file) redirects is "extremely user-hostile and makes the project less useful".

Technical notes[edit]

A Wikipedia redirect is not the same as an HTTP redirect; therefore it does not generate an HTTP 302 response. Instead, the MediaWiki software generates a duplicate of the target page with small text below the title identifying the redirect that was used, and so the HTML is different than the HTML for the target page. When a user clicks on a redirect such as housecat, the page URL is still https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Housecat despite the page being a redirect to cat (that is, a MediaWiki redirect is not an HTTP redirect). On one hand, this allows links like housecat#Anatomy to work as expected, but it also requires redirects to anchors to be implemented as a piece of JavaScript that jumps to an appropriate section after the page has loaded (since second-stage boot loader is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-stage_boot_loader and not https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booting#Second-stage boot loader – the anchor part of the URL only changes to "#SECOND-STAGE" after page load).

See also[edit]