Wikipedia talk:Article size

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Oct. 2 Lead[edit]

Allow me to explain the changes in the lead made on Oct 2. The discussion above titled Proposed load size rule of thumb under discussion is most pertinent to the understanding, but it is the same topic as the two discussions before it and the one after it—"which metric?"

Old New Expl.
This page contains an overview on issues related to article size. Several different ways may be used in Wikipedia to measure article size, but readable prose size (which is largely the text the reader reads, ignoring references) is generally considered the most important. This page contains an overview of the key issues concerning article size. Three measures are key: I then explicitly define the three metrics in bullet points. They need improvement. undefined phrase "readable prose" is used (the parenthetical definition doesn't quite help); summary statement is yet premature I think, because "most important" seems it may shift in the many efforts under discussion, from "readable prose"
a list of issues that over-sized articles cause I then term them "usability considerations" These four "categories of issues that arise" are largely unmentioned in the project body, and could be better integrated
<nada> When an article seems the wrong size, five, rule-of-thumb administrative responses are given here. The decision to divide it (break it out) into a new, or to combine it into an existing article, is based solely on the size metric. The rule-of-thumb responses not to; maybe to; possibly to; probably, or certainly to, is currently guided by readable-prose size. Other solutions to large articles, for editors and administrators, and information about the size of articles, are provided below. Note that the licensing policy mandates that any decision to "break out" or combine articles also be accompanied by an edit summary ala "new content from the [[page name]]". Add'l info from body of project: "break out" is project phraseology; an edit summary with specific content is a licensing requirement; the result of the rule-of-thumb chosen is always one of five possible results. There's room for improvement.

CpiralCpiral 06:55, 20 December 2012 (UTC)

Claims for average attention span have never been cited[edit]

In previous discussion, the issue of an unsourced claim of an average attention span of 20 minutes was challenged. A source was never found, and eventually the claim was removed. Currently the article/guidline has a claim that there is a "limit of the average concentration span of 40 to 50 minutes." It may well be correct, but if it is, there has to be a source. I am certain extensive research was done into this, so it should not be hard to source it. Of course it is likely that such research was debated vigorously, so beware. The claim was removed before because no one bothered to source it. I've done as in the previous case and as is custom and added a citation needed tag. The claim of the average attention span is really kind of a distraction in my opinion, as the point can be made without resorting to potentially contentious claims. Rifter0x0000 (talk) 10:40, 31 January 2013 (UTC)

Reading speed & attention span statistics[edit]

I've removed the parts about averages. I think it's unnecessary to mention statistics that are highly context-dependent and debatable.

Average reading speed isn't cited, but in order to find a source on average speed, we should know how readers read Wiki pages. Do most readers skim? If so, 200 seems low, and a source on average skimming speed should be used.

The source for a 40-minute attention span didn't seem reliable for that fact. It tangentially mentions attention span and states that "the normal maximum attention span is said to be 40–50 minutes" (emphasis mine). (Aren't those weasel words?) In short, a better source is needed. I think a max of 40 min actually seems too long in this day and age. It seems more suitable for an action movie then a long, written article.

In the wider context, I don't think reading speed should even be mentioned. As long as we agree on an acceptable attention span, lengths of long articles should be adjusted accordingly (assuming that most readers would like to read the entire article). –Temporal User (Talk) 09:49, 12 May 2013 (UTC)

It's better to have a reference than no reference, otherwise it's OR. While OR is not actually banned in policy pages, it's still better to avoid it. If you can find a better reference then we can use that instead.Teapeat (talk) 11:46, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
The 40-50min attention span seems seldom relevant in this context, when we know from Alexa that time spent on Wikipedia was between 4 and 5 minutes in average in the past two years. --ELEKHHT 22:32, 12 May 2013 (UTC)
That's not the same thing. Wikipedia is a reference site; the main use is to dip into a page, grab the info you want from a page and go elsewhere. It doesn't matter so very much what size the page is for that.
But the article size guideline is rather different, it's about how big the article should be for people that actually do read the whole article.Teapeat (talk) 00:36, 13 May 2013 (UTC)


At what size do the technical issues start to become a problem nowadays? Chrisrus (talk) 18:10, 25 August 2013 (UTC)

This is a question that has come up in looking at the number of images at History of Painting, where there's 391 images in addition to 118k of readable prose - the question is if this much data is a technical problem for the readers we expect to serve? (There are content and other related issues, but I'm focusing only on the byte-size right now, which I estimate ends up being about 3M for the entire page + images of raw HTML. ) --MASEM (t) 16:27, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

100 kB too much? An ideal? Or for old/slow computers/networks? Out-of-date?[edit]

Hi, "> 100 kB Almost certainly should be divided". See Special:LongPages. Over 6000 pages this size (probably a lot more, just didn't want to scroll down too much), 6000th is 1999–2000 UEFA Cup ‎[107,611 bytes]. Thereof the biggest 1000 are 174,380 bytes or over. Among bigger than 100 kB, Barack Obama (and lots with his name - lists related to his administration), [5828th] Internet Explorer and my favorite The Big Bang Theory. Do we really want all of these split up? Many are lists, more frequent the bigger they get, probably some even harder to split up logically? I'm not saying we shouldn't have any limits (as a guideline), maybe just higher? comp.arch (talk) 10:55, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Many of those can be split apart without much difficulty; the fifth highest, List of people of the Three Kingdoms, is just 26 tables (one for each alphabet character) so that could be split in 4 to bring each below 100k, for example. Articles like Golden Eagle can be split to move finer details to subpages per WP:SS. Interesting, Barack Obama is only 53k of readable prose - the bulk of the wikitext is in references (and that's something to remember with Special:LongPages is that is considers the entire page, not readable prose). The 100k limit is still good both technically and keeping in mind the reader's attention and time. --MASEM (t) 13:50, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

We'll never get numbers that are right; that's why it's all vague. However, the importance of size is not declining. All over the world, market share is shifting to smaller screens, often using slower connections. Usage in some countries of "real" computers with big screen and fast connection has even stopped rising and begun declining, in favor of mobile devices connected by 4G or more often slower. Last weekend I was out of town with only those two items, and some articles were just too big to study easily, either by mobile version with sections too numerous or more often too large, or by "desktop" version too big to understand on the little screen. And editing anything big with that slow connection was out of the question. So yes, large articles still ought to be trimmed, split, adjusted. At least, important ones. For trivial articles like a cute current TV sitcom especially appreciated by us geeks, there's little need for rigor in this or other quality criteria. And yes, today I'm back to a luxuriously big screen, real keyboard and moderately fast connection, but an increasing fraction of the WP:AUDIENCE doesn't work that way. Jim.henderson (talk) 15:05, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Even trivial ones can be improved. Take The Big Bang Theory. For one, there's a large amount of trainspotting plot details that could be taken out (given this is a sit com and not a serial drama), but easily the list of awards can be split to a separate article, a common practice for highly successful shows and actors. WP:SS is always a good place to start for these. --MASEM (t) 15:22, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

I've put this question to the larger VPP at [1]. --MASEM (t) 00:05, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

This discussion is getting confused among three different metrics: readable prose size that the user sees, wiki markup size that the editor sees, and fully expanded HTML etc size that the browser sees. The 100 kB figure applies only to the first. Wasted Time R (talk) 13:36, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

I wasn't even sure of the reason, I thought it was the users network bandwidth. That has been improving. As for the reader comprehension many will just read the lead anyway or skip sections? On small screens/my tablet I have to click on each section to see it anyway. I wander if sections are downloaded lazily or could be. comp.arch (talk) 09:35, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

People missed my point kind of and take individual examples of how pages are too big and can be split up. "Almost certainly should be divided" means all 6000+ top articles should be split up? I'm not going to do it! Or even put a banner on top of each of these articles! There must be (many) exceptions to this rule. People use this an excuse to not improve (add to) Internet Explorer (see: Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Internet_Explorer_11). comp.arch (talk) 09:56, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

It's a bit cliche, but wikipedia article is a work in progress. The vast majority of our articles won't follow all our guidelines (which aren't hard and fast rules), but they're always open to editing. Improving is not just adding to articles, refining articles also improves them. CMD (talk) 21:32, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

It's interesting that some of us think one of the ways of measuring size, or one of the reasons, is important and the others not. I don't see why this is so. And no, an article being too big should not be taken as an excuse to avoid improving it. Just the opposite. Big articles should be improved, made more pleasant to the screen and to the mind that isn't familiar with the topic. They should be made easier to download, and easier to edit with slow connections and slow methods such as the new, and as yet poor, WP:VisualEditor. The main way to improve such articles is by trimming, especially by a more rigorous application of WP:SUMMARY. 14:12, 7 November 2013 (UTC)

For long lists, especially glossaries, which are mostly consulted for a single entry (each of which has its own anchor), not read top-to-bottom, even 400 KB is reasonable, and we used to have text in the guideline saying so; while it takes a while to render in editing mode, this is still smaller than many single image files. I'll have to dig in the page and talk history to see why this was moved and on what basis (I'd be almost willing to bet it was removed without consensus).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:35, 23 August 2015 (UTC)

Size in kB being related to readability[edit]

I would just like to raise an issue with the article size in kB being related to readability: what about articles that contain a lot of sound files and pictures? In these cases, an article might have a high kb count, while the amount of text might not be overly long.OnBeyondZebrax (talk) 01:11, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

The page size tool gives a prose kB size. I'm not familiar with how exactly it figures out the difference, but it does give a much smaller figure than the overall page size. CMD (talk) 12:33, 17 November 2013 (UTC)

explanation of how to edit only introduction[edit]

Especially the section talking about difficulties encountered in editing large pages is missing the important info that one can get an edit link next to the introductions of all articles. And why isn't this edit link there by default? --Espoo (talk) 16:00, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

Guidelines for FAs and GAs[edit]

I think it'd be a good idea to include a mention of this, specifically to showcase that they can vary widely in size while still being considered among the highest-quality Wikipedia articles. (For example, look at MissingNo. and then at nearly any FA about a country or politician.) Tezero (talk) 21:47, 14 February 2014 (UTC)

On mobile devices[edit]

I think consideration must now be given to how material will present on mobile devices such as mobile phones, as smart phones have become more prevalent more and more people will be reading Wikipedia through such devices. Something that is no problem on a laptop can be a pain to scroll through on a phone.--KTo288 (talk) 22:13, 11 November 2014 (UTC)

Very true! I'm using a smartphone right now, as I do for perhaps half my Wikipedia time including editing, and I'm a Wikignome. --Thnidu (talk) 16:08, 2 August 2015 (UTC)