Wikipedia:Temporary versions of articles

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When a building is covered in scaffolding for a long time, debates can arise over whether having this visible scaffolding and construction work for so long is desirable.

A temporary version is a saved version of a page in Main Article Space in which the editor who saves the changes actually has plans to make more permanent changes at a later time or date, or has the strong expectation that one or more other editors will. The later time may be a few minutes or days later, or may be indefinite. A temporary version may or may not have an incomplete appearance to the reader.

Arguments for temporary versions[edit]

  • Wikipedia is a work in progress. Technically, few if any pages can ever be complete. Additionally, many pages are about ever-changing subjects and require non-stop updates.
  • Some pages are so complicated that it is impossible to complete them or complete certain changes in a single edit. But there is a desire for them to be in mainspace prior to their completion.
  • Some pages are so long that it is difficult for a single editor to complete the entire page, and help may be needed from others.
  • They can be used as a neutral location when it is likely that some involved editors would not like to edit a draft in another particular editor's user-space.

Arguments against temporary versions[edit]

  • Wikipedia is for the readers more than the editors. A page in a temporary state gives a bad impression of the page and of Wikipedia altogether.
  • Temporary versions may lack accuracy or neutrality.
  • One might view making a temporary version as harmless. But the number of times a page is viewed varies for each article. If an article is viewed around 6000 times in a day, that is approximately 4 views per minute. That means for each minute that passes between saving different edits, about 4 people have viewed the page. This is acceptable if the article is simply incomplete, but is problematic when the information is out-of-date or otherwise inaccurate, especially with a living person or otherwise sensitive subject.
  • Editors can avoid temporary versions by performing all proposed changes in their own userspace, as a draft, and then transferring their planned final version to the article when they are done.

Marking temporary versions[edit]

There are various templates that can be used to indicate that a page is in a temporary state:

  • {{New page}}, to indicate that the page has just been created and may not be complete
  • {{Newlist}}, for lists that are not complete
  • {{Userspace draft}}, for new articles temporarily in userspace
  • {{In use}}, to indicate that the page is in the process of an update that is taking multiple edits at the present time, and others should not disturb the page
  • {{Under construction}}, to indicate that the page is undergoing a major revamping, but that others are welcome to edit during this process
  • {{Incomplete list}}, to indicate a list is in the process of being built and that others should help expand it
  • {{Dynamic list}}, to indicate the list can never remain in a complete or steady state. The list covers an ever-changing topic, and will likely always need updates.
  • {{Update}}, to indicate that the information on a page is in need of an update