Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2008-03-24/Dispatches

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Dispatches: Articlehistory and banners tame talk page clutter

By SandyGeorgia, Gimmetrow and Kirill, March 24 2008

Template clutter has been a concern for the community for a long time. Article talk pages have historically been overburdened by templates from the various processes on the path to featured status. The plethora can include:

To these can be added WikiProject and other templates. If you're still not convinced of the need to clean up talk-page clutter, take a look at the images below. Making matters worse, template links are broken when articles are moved to reflect name changes, fracturing or losing pieces of an article's progression through the content review processes.

New ArticleHistory and WikiProject banner templates

The situation has changed markedly over the past year. In December 2006, there were several discussions among participants at featured article candidates about talk-page template clutter. Following these discussions, implementation of a new {{ArticleHistory}} (AH) template designed by Dr pda began. Simultaneously, there was discussion that the number of steps to close featured article candidates and featured article reviews was time-intensive, and Gimmetrow gained approval for a bot to partially automate these closures and to convert existing talk-page templates to the AH template. GimmeBot began closing FACs and FARs and converting talk-page templates on featured articles and former featured articles in February 2007. By March, two new templates to consolidate WikiProject talk page templates were in place—{{WikiProjectBannerShell}}, designed by Kirill Lokshin, and {{WikiProjectBanners}}, designed by Raul654.


GimmeBot processes the closure of FAC and FAR pages; in 2008, it also began processing the closure of featured list candidates, featured list removal candidates, and featured portal candidates (but not yet featured portal reviews), by adding these events to AH. It also updates the good article page and its counts, typically after a FA promotion, and is gradually converting the {{GA}} templates to AH.

Editors often ask why a bot closed a featured process. In fact, the bot doesn't make the decision to close; rather, it merely performs a lot of basic clerical work, updating talk pages after a human decision to archive or promote a candidate. It is critical that nominators not remove nomination templates from article talk pages before the bot runs; if they do, this stalls the bot and creates extra work.

GimmeBot's magic extends to converting the following templates to ArticleHistory:

You too can use the ArticleHistory template

Articlehistory template for Tourette syndrome

Any editor can build the {{ArticleHistory}} template on an article talk page by following the instructions. A sample AH template—including a peer review, good article nomination and featured article candidacy—is at Talk:Tourette syndrome. AH records events in the history of an article by number; each event is linked to the event page, and dates are linked to the version of the article (oldid) at the time of the event. This provides easy access to the version reviewed. From there, the link for "current version (diff)" shows what has changed. To give an example, by clicking on the event dates in AH for Tourette syndrome, you can view the:

peer review version on May 1, 2006,
good article version on August 31, 2006
featured version on November 2, 2006.

Another sample AH template—combining three peer reviews, two FACs, a FAR, a good article nomination, and a mainpage date—is at Talk:Autism.

However, the syntax is complex, and learning to use AH correctly can take time.

  • AH reflects only closed processes; it does not handle nomination processes. For example, do not add unclosed FAC or GAN processes to AH, as doing so will cause an error.
  • Editors frequently updating AH templates will find the task easier if they employ Dr pda's articlehistory script, which locates AH events in the article history and returns dates and oldids.
  • Editors unfamiliar with building AH can leave regular templates (like {{GA}}, {{DelistedGA}}, etc.) on the talk page and wait for GimmeBot to convert them to articlehistory.

After adding or modifying AH, please check the bottom of the talk page for a red error category; if the red category is there, your AH edits need repair.

Using the WikiProject banner shells

Two are available.

{{WikiProjectBanners}} (sample at Tourette syndrome) is a fixed-size banner that hides all of the project information within a collapsible block. It can be used on any normal banner without modification.

{{WikiProjectBannerShell}} (sample at Battle of Ceresole) is larger than its counterpart, since it displays the project name and assessment ratings—and, rarely, additional information—for each project. The shell can be used only on banners that support its particular layout (typically triggered by passing the "|nested=yes" parameter to each banner). Virtually all commonly used project banners have been modified to support this option (there are still a few that do not format properly when placed in the shell).

The choice of which shell to use is occasionally debated by editors on a talk page.

Also this week:

Single User Login — WikiWorld — News and notes — In the news — Dispatches — WikiProject report — Features and admins — Technology report — Arbitration report

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