Wikipedia:Red link

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"Most new articles are created shortly after a corresponding reference to them is entered into the system"

The collaborative organization of knowledge, Communications of the ACM

A red link, like this one, signifies that the linked-to page does not exist‍—‌it either never existed, or existed at some point but has been deleted. It is useful in editing articles to create a red link to indicate that a page will be created soon or that an article should be created for the topic because the subject is notable and verifiable. One study conducted in 2008 showed that red links helped Wikipedia grow.[1] Follow-up work on this indicated that the creation of red links prevents new pages from being orphaned from the start.[2]

Articles should not have red links to topics that do not warrant an article, such as a celebrity's romantic interest who is not a celebrity in his or her own right, and thus lacks notability. Red links should not be made to every chapter in a book. Red links should not be made to deleted articles, unless the reason for the deletion of the article was not due to a lack of notability or the topic being un-encyclopedic in another way. Many important topics have had previous articles that were unsalvageable or vandalism. In addition, even if the topic does not meet Wikipedia's guidelines, you may make a red link to the term if you intend to write an article about an entirely different topic that happens to have the same title. In general, a red link should be allowed to remain in an article if it links to a term that could plausibly sustain an article, but for which there is no existing candidate article, or article section, under any name. Do not remove red links unless you are certain that Wikipedia should not have an article on the subject, or if the red link could be replaced with a link to an article section where the subject is covered as part of a broader topic (see Notability – Whether to create standalone pages).

Good red links help Wikipedia—they encourage new contributors in useful directions, and remind us that Wikipedia is far from finished.

Creating red links[edit]

A red link appears whenever double brackets [[ ]] are placed around a word or phrase for which Wikipedia does not have an article, disambiguation page or redirect.

When to create red links[edit]

Create red links everywhere they are relevant to the context for terms that should exist in the encyclopedia. An easy example is a technical term that merits a treatment beyond its dictionary definition, to help support its role for its existing context. A technical term probably qualifies because it is probably "notable" and probably should have that obvious title. But in many cases, a bit more care should be used in creating a red link, to ensure the red link is entirely proper.

The topic of the red link could actually exist, but under a different page name. The topic may well be covered in a section of another article; it could even be buried in several paragraphs nearby. So it is the responsibility of the person who creates a red link to scan for the topic's coverage. The category links at the bottom of that page will link to virtually all related articles, and the search engine provides features for advanced queries that can pinpoint matching text anywhere on Wikipedia. Both search methods employ MediaWiki features crafted to find information on Wikipedia. They can help us build Wikipedia, red link by red link.

Creating a red link also carries the responsibility to first ascertain that the red link is a valid title of a page, and that its foreseeable new subject matter will meet the notability guidelines for topics covering: people (WP:BIO), web content (WP:WEB), businesses (WP:CORP), and more.

Avoiding creation of certain types of red links[edit]

Do not create red links to articles that are not likely to be created and retained in Wikipedia, including articles that do not comply with Wikipedia's naming conventions. The illustrative red link positioned at the beginning of this page is an example of this type of normally unwanted red link.

Red links generally are not included in See also sections, nor are they linked to through templates such as {{Main}} or {{Further}}, since these navigation aids are intended to help readers find existing articles. Red links may be used on navigation templates with links to existing articles, but they cannot be excessive. Editors who add excessive red links to navboxes are expected to actively work on building those articles, or they may be removed from the template.

An article should never be left with a non-existent (red-linked) category in it. Either the category should be created, or else the nonexistent category link should be removed or changed to a category that does exist.

A red link to a person's name should be avoided, particularly when the name is used in a context which might cause readers to hold a low or critical opinion of the named individual. Frequently a red-linked name has been placed in an article, and subsequently a different editor has created an article about an entirely different person with the same or a similar name. All the rules that apply to our biographies on living people equally apply to red-linked names. When creating a biography from a red link be sure to use "what links here" to make sure all the incoming links are properly disambiguated. It's not rocket science: an article on the book Extra Virginity red-linked the author's name, journalist Tom Mueller, in 2012. Following that link reveals that Tom Mueller is in fact a rocket scientist with SpaceX, according to an article created in 2014.

When creating an article, it is best practice to: (a) check whether there are existing red links that will be turned blue by the creation of the article; and (b) check whether those incoming links are pointing to the right place and to correct them where needed. Again, when creating a biography from a red link, be sure to use "what links here" to make sure all the incoming links are properly disambiguated.

Do not create red links to files. Such red links are categorized for cleanup at Category:Articles with missing files.

Disambiguation pages[edit]

Use of red links on disambiguation pages should be limited. The whole point of a disambiguation page is to direct the reader to an existing article for the page's topic, so a red link does not help. They can, however, be added when the red link is included in an article. For full details, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages#Red links.

Dealing with existing red links[edit]

In general, a red link should be allowed to remain in an article if it links to a term that could plausibly sustain an article, but for which there is no existing candidate article, or article section, under any name.

A red link to an article that will plausibly be created in the future should be left alone rather than being created as a minimal stub article that has no useful information. An example of a plausible red link might be to driving in Madagascar, since an article on driving in the United States exists, and country-specific driving articles like these are a likely area for future creation. However, it is better to leave this link red than to create a "placeholder stub" that says only "There is driving in Madagascar", with the sole purpose of turning the red link to blue. Editors should create stubs with a usable amount of content, or else not create the stub at all. Red links serve the purpose of notifying readers that a need exists in Wikipedia for creation of a new article with at least minimal information content; the creation of minimalist marker stubs simply to get rid of a red link destroys this useful mechanism.

Likewise, a valid red link term like driving in Madagascar should not be dealt with by removing the link brackets, simply to temporarily reduce the amount of red text in an article.

An existing red link can indicate one or more of the following things:

  • A new article is needed. When a Wikipedian writes an article, it is common practice to link key topics pertinent to an understanding of the subject, even if those topics don't have an article on Wikipedia yet. Do not remove these red links. This has several applications:
    • From within an article, such a link prepares the article to be fully supported (not orphaned upon creation). At any time, a Wikipedian may independently write an article on the linked-to subject, and when this happens, there's already a link ready and waiting for it. The red link also gives readers the opportunity to click on it to create the needed article on the spot.
    • The red link may identify a need to create a redirect to another article, but only if that article comprehensively deals with the topic.
    • Some WikiProjects have bots that determine how many times a certain red link appears in Wikipedia. This is used to determine what articles are the most needed. Editors can also, after clicking on a red link, use the "what links here" function to determine how many times the subject has been red-linked.
  • The link is broken and no longer leads to an article (perhaps because the underlying article was deleted). In such a case, the link usually needs to be removed or renamed to point to an existing article.
  • The link may have been made by someone who wasn't aware of what should and shouldn't be linked to within articles. Always evaluate whether or not a red link is pointing at a title that actually needs creation. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Linking#What generally should be linked.
  • The red link may be a typo—e.g., someone wanted to link to African elephant, but instead typed "African eleephant". In this case, try to figure out the intended article and fix the link. If it looks like a common misspelling, such as Scandanavia, you may want to create a redirect from that misspelling to the correct one, but you should still correct the misspelling even though it would no longer appear red.
  • The subject of the red link may be covered on another edition of Wikipedia. If such an article meets the English-language Wikipedia criteria, then follow the procedures at Wikipedia:Translation; if not, use a link to the article in the foreign-language version of Wikipedia instead of or next to a red link. Such links can be made by:
    • Using the interlanguage link template {{ill}}; for example, {{ill|Lena Louarn|fr}} shows Lena Louarn (fr), {{ill|Nobuo Ina|ja|伊奈信男}} shows Nobuo Ina (ja); When the English article is created, the other language link won't be shown: {{ill|Parlichevo|bg|Пърличево}} shows Parlichevo.
    • Creating the language as a superscript; for example HK (FR) in List of Franco-Belgian comics series. Alternatively, if the subject of the link is unlikely to have an English article ever created, this can be written HK(fr).
  • Links in any of the various {{About}} and {{Otheruses}} hatnotes, in {{Main}}, {{Details}}, {{Further}}, and {{Seealso}} notes, as well as in "See also" sections, are meant to serve a navigational purpose. Red links are useless in these contexts; if possible they should be replaced by a functioning link, or else be removed.
  • Lists of "notable people" in an article, such as the "Notable alumni" section in an article on a university, tend to accrue red links, or non-links, listing people of unverifiable notability. Such list entries should often be removed, depending on the list-selection criteria chosen for that list.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Diomidis Spinellis and Panagiotis Louridas (2008). The collaborative organization of knowledge. In Communications of the ACM, August 2008, Vol 51, No 8, Pages 68–73. doi:10.1145/1378704.1378720. "Most new articles are created shortly after a corresponding reference to them is entered into the system." See also inflationary hypothesis of Wikipedia growth
  2. ^ Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-01-31/Orphans