Wikipedia:WikiProject Short descriptions

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WikiProject Short descriptions
Farm-Fresh quill.png
CategoriesWikiProject Short descriptions, Pages with short description
Project banner template{{WikiProject Short descriptions}}
Has goals?Populate all articles with short descriptions.

This is a project to populate all Wikipedia mainspace articles with a short description suitable to allow a reader to identify which search result is most likely to suit their needs.

The short description will have other uses too.

State of the project[edit]

Out of 5,468,581 articles, 655334 have a short description template. 4,813,247 articles do not have a short description.

655,334 / 5,468,581 (12%)

11.98362 % complete – Help make this bar green!

Sub-tasks: personal and WikiProject[edit]

  • WikiProject Scuba diving short descriptions  Done
  • Featured article short descriptions (busy)
  • Good article short descriptions

WikiProject Medicine short descriptions:[edit]

For the existing descriptions on Wikidata, that are currently being shown to readers on mobile:

A further group to consider are articles where there is currently no description on Wikidata. For these a machine-generated description is currently shown on mobile, created by Magnus's autodesc script:

Why is this a good thing?[edit]

  • It helps readers find the article they need from a list of articles produced by a search engine. It could save a lot of people a lot of time.
  • It concentrates the mind on what the article should actually be about. Particularly when creating a new article or patrolling a new page.
  • It will prevent the use of inappropriate short descriptions from Wikidata being used as the first contact for our articles. Wikidata vandalism does not show on Wikipedia, and slips by our defenses.
  • It will reduce the temptation for vandals do try to attack Wikipedia through Wikidata. This does not help Wikipedia directly, but it is a serendipitous side effect.
  • There are other places where a short description of a Wikipedia article is useful, inside Wikipedia, It is possible to display the short description as an annotation after an internal link by using the template {{annotated link}}. "See also" sections, Outline lists, Index lists, and any other place where a list of plain Wikilinks would be improved by a short description of the target article can make use of this to advantage, and it may at some time become possible for Category lists to also use the short description annotation. It may also become possible at some stage for the page display to be toggled to display or not display the short description, making them visible only when wanted.


Why we are doing this - Links to discussions on WMF use of Wikidata in mobile view, RfCs etc.


How to write a short description.[edit]

  • Preferably limit to about 40 characters, but function is important. A slightly overlong description is better than a wrong, misleading or useless one.
  • We have a template {{short description}} for the purpose. This will insert the short description into the magic word, and add a maintenance category so we can identify which pages already have a short description. The template may be modified to do other useful stuff.

What if a short description is redundant?[edit]

To start off, WMF plans to display a short description from Wikidata if the magic word has no short description. If the Wikidata short description is objectionable, we will have to put something in to take its place. If it is wrong on Wikidata you could delete it there, but only do that if you are confident that it is not appropriate for Wikidata. Eventually the Wikidata descriptions will be turned off and if there is no short description nothing will be displayed. One way to deal with this is to do nothing, but if someone adds a template with a blank short description, or with the word blank, or a non-breaking space, just leave it like that, as it shows that someone has checked and decided that a description is not necessary. If you find a blank and think a description would be better, put it in.

  • Redirects – could be left as a blank or use "Redirect page"
  • Disambiguation pages – can be "Disambiguation page" Where a more specific category is available, a more informative short description can be used, for example, in Category:Bird common name disambiguation pages, a more informative description {{short description|Bird common name disambiguation page}} could be used, but be sure to check that the name covers all the articles it disambiguates.

(Add other page types that can be treated similarly here}

How can I see the short description in desktop view?[edit]

The template includes the class shortdescription. That allows anybody to add a definition to their Special:MyPage/common.css like this:

.shortdescription { display:block !important; }

Just copy and paste the code given or customise the display to suit your preference. You can't miss this one:

.shortdescription { display:block !important; background-color: #FFFF80; }

Alternatively there is a gadget available in Preferences, which can be selected as an opt-in. It does not appear to be working consistently yet. Or one could use, User:Galobtter/Shortdesc helper which is compatible with Page assessments gadget, shows the short description if it exists, allows editing of only the short description, shows the Wikidata description and allows it to be imported and if desired, edited.

  • This script introduces the short description as a class .mw-page-description which can be highlighted by a line of css like .mw-page-description { background-color: #FF80FF; }

How can I see the short description on Wikidata[edit]

  • You can click on the Wikidata link in the sidebar to go to the record, where you can read or edit it, or
  • You can enable a view of the Q-code, short description and alias, complete with links, at the top of every article just below the title by installing this script.

Which articles have a short description on Wikipedia?[edit]

Auto-generated and bot generated Descriptions[edit]

  • Keep in mind that we are working on making infoboxes generate descriptions automatically, so it may not be necessary to add descriptions manually or semi-automatically for certain groups of articles; though improving those automatic descriptions is always welcome. Also bots may or likely will be used in areas where descriptions are possible to be gotten from the lead automatically due to similar format such as for sportspersons.
  • Automated addition would be subject to the usual conditions for bot runs. Automation would be complicated by the need to produce accurate, concise and policy compliant short descriptions. This may not be possible, but if you have a plan, and it works, that would be very helpful.
  • Semi-automated tools would be extremely helpful. If you can produce a script that is easy to use, checks through a category for the presence of short descriptions, and when absent checks for a Wikidata description and opens the page to allow the editor to check if it is suitable, then adds the description or allows manual addition and saves on a click before going on to the next article, it would accelerate the work by orders of magnitude.

Already done[edit]

Work in progress[edit]

Templates and modules[edit]

Templates and modules that are useful for this/created for helping with short descriptions:

Can we use the Wikidata description if it is good?[edit]

Yes, but check that it really is good, and don't hesitate to improve it. Wikidata short descriptions are public domain and can simply be copied, but mentioning the source in the edit summary would be preferable.

Can I copy the Wikidata short descriptions with a bot?[edit]

You need to check each one to be sure it is appropriate. This is content you will be adding, and you are just as responsible for it as for any other content. Semi-automated copying should not be a problem as long as it is done properly, which means at least checking that the short description agrees with the lead section. If you come up with a good way to do this, please mention it here. There is enough for everyone. We have about 5.5 million articles to do. It will not happen overnight.

Which articles can I work on?[edit]

  • Start with topics where you are sufficiently familiar to be able to write a good short description. If you run out, do anything that you are confident you can handle. If in doubt, leave it out.
  • Follow BLP policy scrupulously. Avoid areas if you are topic banned.
  • Consider working though your watchlist (or part of it), or a WikiProject's articles, or a category.
  • If you like Outlines, work through one, they may be a good source of short descriptions if well annotated, and if not, you can annotate with the short descriptions as you create them.
  • If you don't have the time or inclination to work on this systematically, consider just checking and adding a short description on articles that you will be editing anyway.
  • All articles need a short description, Featured, Good, A and B class could be prioritised, but at this stage numbers are important, to get WMF to stop displaying dubious Wikidata descriptions.
  • If you are a bot operator, there are bot tasks to be done.

What can we do about bad short descriptions?[edit]

  • Fix them, this is Wikipedia.
  • Follow Bold - Revert - Discuss, or you can start with discuss in uncertain cases. The short description is just another piece of content.
  • In the case of a content dispute, get talk page consensus.
  • For a BLP violation, blank or preferably replace, and provide an edit summary to explain.

Join the project[edit]

Add your signature to the list.

  1. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 11:49, 16 February 2018 (UTC)
  2. Jheald (talk) 16:46, 16 February 2018 (UTC)
  3. Not a very active user (talk) 04:58, 28 April 2018 (UTC)
  4. HotdogPi 21:32, 28 April 2018 (UTC)
  5. Galobtter (pingó mió) 05:10, 29 April 2018 (UTC)
  6. So far mostly fiddling with Peter (Southwood)'s ones. Johnbod (talk) 15:02, 8 May 2018 (UTC)
  7. EstablishedCalculus 20:21, 25 May 2018 (UTC)
  8. Focusing on the larger taxa of insects. AddWittyNameHere (talk) 04:12, 1 June 2018 (UTC)
  9. — AfroThundr (u · t · c) 17:22, 13 June 2018 (UTC)
  10. Sam Sailor 19:01, 21 June 2018 (UTC)
  11. Newslinger talk 20:39, 25 August 2018 (UTC)
  12. Jmertel23 (talk) 14:38, 11 October 2018 (UTC)
  13. Vinvibes (talk) 09:06, 9 December 2018 (UTC)


  • We could add initial ones by bot such as "is a medical condition" to all articles that have "infobox medical condition" in the lead and "is a drug" to all that have the "drugbox" in the lead. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 04:02, 20 February 2018 (UTC) (copied from WikiProject Medicine talk page)
  • Pages with a bot-generated short description following a formula like this should be added to Category:Bot-generated short descriptions so that Wikignomes can follow up and improve them. · · · Peter (Southwood) (talk): 08:32, 20 February 2018 (UTC)


Add {{User Short descriptions}} to your user page to be included in Category:WikiProject Short descriptions participants. The userbox looks like this:

Farm-Fresh quill.pngThis user is a participant in WikiProject Short descriptions.


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