Wikipedia talk:External links

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External links in lists[edit]

The policy is a bit vague about how external links should be handled in stand alone lists. The example I came across is List of real estate companies of the Philippines. It includes links to the website of each company listed (as well as phone numbers). These external links come across as inappropriate to me, but I'm unsure. Any thoughts? Deli nk (talk) 13:22, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

Seems promotional and inappropriate to me. IMO that list should be limited to companies that are bluelinked and/or reliably-sourced in a manner that establishes their significance. DonIago (talk) 15:10, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Then we need to make the guideline clearer, since such links are inappropriate. --Ronz (talk) 16:24, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Currently, the policy says, "Stand-alone lists or embedded lists should not be composed mainly of external links. These lists are primarily intended as internal navigational aids, not a directory of sites on the web." The word "mainly" suggests that including weblinks would be acceptable as part of a fuller listing. How would you suggest making the guideline clearer? Perhaps bringing in the concept of Wikipedia is not a business directory? Deli nk (talk) 16:45, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
I went through with a machete. I didnt actually check the philstar sources - they may just be adverts or directory listings and more should be removed. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 17:44, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Let's get rid of the word "mainly". Any rare exceptions would be covered by IAR.- MrX 20:37, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
@MrX: That would give "...lists should not be composed of external links" which might be confusing as worded. Is "...lists should not contain external links" consistent with your suggestion? Deli nk (talk) 20:52, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Deli nk, that would be better.- MrX 21:03, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
I agree that the word mainly should go. --Dirk Beetstra T C 03:25, 6 May 2015 (UTC)
Since there seems to be agreement, I have made a slight change the wording. Deli nk (talk) 18:11, 11 May 2015 (UTC)


"Lists should not list external links" is going to be a problem. First, MrX's assertion aside, policing spam attracts editors who follow absolute rules absolutely. Secondly, we have a persistent problem with people interpreting "citation" as meaning "something enclosed inside ref tags". For some stand-alone lists, the 'external link' is a citation, but it's formatted exactly like an external link. We want those, both because they're appropriate at ELs in some cases (e.g., an official link to an organization that's being mentioned) and because they do verify the material (e.g., URLs to radio stations, in a list of radio stations).

What's meant by "should not be composed mainly of external links" is do not have a list whose contents are:

nor even a list whose entire contents are:

but definitely do accept a list whose contents are:

  • Radio 1 – 91.1 FM. This is the first radio station to broadcast in this area.
  • Radio 2 – 94.5 FM. The second radio station founded; closed in 1998.
  • Radio 3 – 103.3 FM. The fifth radio station for this area; the name comes from the frequency number.

or (especially if each of these could be notable radio stations)

  • Radio 1 – 91.1 FM. This is the first radio station to broadcast in this area.[1]
  • Radio 2 – 94.5 FM. The second radio station founded; closed in 1998.[2]
  • Radio 3 – 103.3 FM. The fifth radio station for this area; the name comes from the frequency number.[3]

And it is especially important to not end up with this:

List (redundant one)[edit]

  • Radio 1 – 91.1 FM. This is the first radio station to broadcast in this area.
  • Radio 2 – 94.5 FM. The second radio station founded; closed in 1998.
  • Radio 3 – 103.3 FM. The fifth radio station for this area; the name comes from the frequency number.

External links[edit]

(or any equivalent, such as wrapping those URLs in ref tags and calling them ==References== instead).

This is why "mainly" is important language: we don't want a list that is entirely URLs, but we don't want to prohibit sensible formatting if we have a list that contains significant other information. WhatamIdoing (talk) 14:55, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

Unsurprisingly, I disagree. Citations should always be wrapped in <ref></ref> tags because that's how the software is designed to work. I agree that if an editor added bare external links as a good faith attempt to provide citations, then those links should not be removed; they should be converted to citations by wrapping them in ref tags. The question is, what is the bigger problem: legitimate references being removed by overzealous editors, or spam links masquerading as encyclopedic content? A recent example is List of TED speakers, which had citations for the list as a whole and hundreds of links to the individual presentations.- MrX 15:31, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. Links that are not references don't belong. References should be formatted as such. Links to examples, official sites, etc are linkspam and don't belong. --Ronz (talk) 15:49, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── MrX and User:Ronz, do you mean, citations should be formatted the way that WP:Citing sources recommends, which just happens to include what's shown here? Ref tags are popular but strictly optional. There are half a dozen styles of WP:Inline citation. Some people would say that WP:ECITE, which is what's used here, is deprecated (and I personally dislike it, because it's usually misused), but it's not actually prohibited.

But what I'd like to know is why you think this would be preferable:

It's preferable because it allows readers to easily distinguish between sources and external links that provided further information about the subject. It's also a widely accepted convention across Wikipedia. Citations with URLs can easily be followed by enabling Reference Tooltips in user preferences.- MrX 15:08, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
But these particular links, in practice, are both "sources" (that verify the fact that this item belongs in this list) and "external links" (that provide further information about the list entry), so your answer amounts to "I prefer having separate, redundant lists because it misleads people about the nature of the link". Is that actually such a good idea? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:06, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

List (redundant)[edit]

  • Radio 1 – 91.1 FM. This is the first radio station to broadcast in this area.[1]
  • Radio 2 – 94.5 FM. The second radio station founded; closed in 1998.[2]
  • Radio 3 – 103.3 FM. The fifth radio station for this area; the name comes from the frequency number.[3]


  1. ^ Radio1
  2. ^ Radio2
  3. ^ Radio3

to this:

List (compact with sources)[edit]

  • Radio 1 – 91.1 FM. This is the first radio station to broadcast in this area.[4]
  • Radio 2 – 94.5 FM. The second radio station founded; closed in 1998.[5]
  • Radio 3 – 103.3 FM. The fifth radio station for this area; the name comes from the frequency number.[6]

or even this:

List (table format for Featured Lists)[edit]

Station name Frequency Description Source
Radio 1 91.1 FM. This is the first radio station to broadcast in this area. [7]
Radio 2 94.5 FM. The second radio station founded; closed in 1998. [8]
Radio 3 103.3 FM. The fifth radio station for this area; the name comes from the frequency number. [9]

While the redundant system uses a popular formatting style for citations (and thereby shoos away editors who can't tell the difference between a inline citation to a primary source and a list of external links), the effect is that the entire list gets repeated on the page. Imagine a list with 100 entries. Is that page actually improved by having 100 list entries followed by repeating the entire list of 100 items, only this time with a URL added? Why not just put it all together, on one line? WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:00, 4 June 2015 (UTC)


The examples would benefit with numbering. The only one that I think is acceptable is the "or (especially if each of these could be notable radio stations)". --Ronz (talk) 16:36, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
I also, unsurprisingly, disagree with the assertion that external links should be allowed with list entries. If the list entries meet notability standards, they can have their own Wikipedia article with their own Official External Link on that article. There is no reason for any other list than this:
  • Radio 1 – 91.1 FM. This is the first radio station to broadcast in this area.
  • Radio 2 – 94.5 FM. The second radio station founded; closed in 1998.
  • Radio 3 – 103.3 FM. The fifth radio station for this area; the name comes from the frequency number.
And, as those all should be pointing to existing Wikipedia pages with the Official websites linked there, there shouldn't be an external link in the EL section at the bottom of the article for that entry. And, any refs should be pointing not to the official site, but to a reliable, third-party published source that shows justification for inclusion on the list. Stesmo (talk) 18:29, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
Stesmo, do you actually mean that an ==External links== section should be prohibited in stand-alone lists? WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:02, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
@WhatamIdoing I think having an EL section with a minimal number of links that meet WP:EL is good for a few stand-alone lists (the TED Talks list mentioned above, for example). I'm against banning an EL section from all stand-alone lists. However, the links should be furthering the encyclopedia knowledge of the subject of the article. And, as the subject of the article is "List of Radio Stations" (used primarily for navigation to Wikipedia articles about particular Radio Stations), external links to individual radio stations wouldn't fit the bill on the List article. Especially as the list entries are probably notable and would have wikilinks to their very own articles with an External Link there. So, ban EL sections on stand-alone Lists? No. Should most stand-alone lists have an EL section? Probably not. Stesmo (talk) 16:52, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

I also think that the "stand-alone lists or embedded lists should not list external links" wording is problematic. It can easily be interpreted as saying that stand-alone lists shouldn't have external links sections, which isn't true. There are numerous examples of stand-alone lists with desirable links in an external links section, and we shouldn't discourage that practice. - Eureka Lott 17:43, 3 June 2015 (UTC)

Yes, I agree that this wording will be interpreted as banning the entire ==External links== section from all stand-alone lists. I don't know if any of its previous supporters actually intended that, but it will be read that way. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:02, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
I don't think that lists by definition should never have an ==External links== section. However, I do think that:
Station name Frequency Description Source
Radio 1 91.1 FM. This is the first radio station to broadcast in this area. [10]
Radio 2 94.5 FM. The second radio station founded; closed in 1998. [11]
Radio 3 103.3 FM. The fifth radio station for this area; the name comes from the frequency number. [12]
as a list item is redundant in having the external link (in any format). That link is supposed to be in the article Radio 1 (as the official site per WP:ELOFFICIAL), and hence is superfluous on the list. It is not needed as a primary reference either, we have the Wikiarticle (which should be having secondary sources showing notability) and hence 'it exists' - there is no need for the primary 'reference'. If Radio 32143298457 does however not have an own entry in Wikipedia, then it can only be taken up in a list if it is somewhat notable, and hence it needs a secondary reference (note: its notability does not have to rise to the level of suitability for an own article, but not be of the level of 'I also run a radiostation from my garden shed and my neighbour is enjoying it every day!'). Note that certain columns in a table could be primary sourced:
Station name Frequency Description Streaming
Radio 1 91.1 FM. This is the first radio station to broadcast in this area. Yes
Radio 2 94.5 FM. The second radio station founded; closed in 1998. Yes[1]
Radio 3 103.3 FM. The fifth radio station for this area; the name comes from the frequency number. Yes
-- refs --
    It should be either as for Radio 1, or (likely preferred) Radio 2, and not like Radio 3 (that one should be converted to be in line with Radio 2).
    I still think that external links in lists are not supposed to be there - either the items are to be 'primary referenced' to their own Wiki-article (hence showing notability because the article exists), or need independent proper references showing existence ánd notability (and if that can not be proven, the item is just failing our inclusion standards, same goes for redlinked items). Certain columns in the article can be primary referenced, but not the whole row. The external links for the individual items should also not be in (duplicated in) the external links section. --Dirk Beetstra T C 13:29, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
    Here are the problems:
    1. List entries are not required to contain only notable items, or even "somewhat notable" ones (see WP:LSC). Therefore, there might not be any page that contains other citations.
    2. Even if such a page exists, relying on the citations at the linked page is not acceptable (see many archives at WT:V).
    I agree that the external links for the individual items should also not be in duplicated in a section that says ==External links== at the top of it. I still don't understand why it would be such a good idea to duplicate the external links for the individual item in a section that says ==References== at the top of it. Either we need a completely separate and duplicate list to store the URLs for every item, or we don't, and IMO the label on the list doesn't determine whether we need to list every item twice.
    Also, given your statement, "I don't think that lists by definition should never have an ==External links== section", then you should change the current wording. "Stand-alone lists or embedded lists should not list external links" sounds a lot like "Lists should never have an external links section". WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:20, 4 June 2015 (UTC)
    @WhatamIdoing: Items in the list can be primary sourced to their existence, but that items that rely on only that can be questioned to our inclusion standards per WP:IINFO. I see by the way that WP:LSC is under discussion for something that is really close to this point - what should be in a list.
    I don't think that that says that, I think that it reads that the list itself should not have external links listed in the list - but one could add a clarification sentence that list-articles can include an external links section with links that satisfy our WP:EL guideline, noting that external links to the individual items in the list are indirect to the subject of the page, and hence fail WP:ELNO #13 (the external links talks about 'an item in the list', not about 'the list'). --Dirk Beetstra T C 07:42, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

    Regarding ==External links== sections in lists: They are rarely appropriate, but can be when the entries are external links to webpages that contain useful (not redundant and highly relevant) lists that are not or cannot be used as references within the list article itself. --Ronz (talk) 17:08, 4 June 2015 (UTC)

    I guess that the ==External links== section could contain links to dmoz of similar lists, or when the list in itself has something that can be talked about. But I agree that most of the true list pages will often not need an External links section. --Dirk Beetstra T C 07:42, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

    Since nobody supports a ban on ==External links== sections, and since the sentence could be read that way, I've clarified. I've also added a section heading for convenient linking and an example, in case that might help editors understand what we really don't want. Is everyone satisfied? If not, it's a wiki, and you should feel free to try out a new way to phrase it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:36, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

    .onion linking and clearnet gateways[edit]

    Hi all

    So I've been writing up a number of tor hidden services so the list now has an increased amount of live services than dead ones. Now I understand the inherent controversy in linking to darknet markets, but I also understand the issue where 'random' often unverifiable links get added - is that the real site or not? You don't know!

    There is a major exception to this issue, onion sites with clearnet gateway sites or full joint web support. (related, one day Clearnet gateway may be a thing) Some examples:

    • DeepDotWeb, features an official onion link with a citation from the clearnet site - I added a reference directly to the page in this case
    • Facebook, has an official onion address but it has low prominence - suggest the above convention?
    • Bitcoin Fog, their gateway exists purely to link to their onion site - so probably work labelling the link as a 'clearnet gateway', without linking directly to the end point
    • Agora (online marketplace), I just added the official gateway to it no it's unofficial, this is exactly the problem!, but I would understand if this would be undesirable due to the site's content

    Onion sites and alternate end points are here to stay, I propose the following conventions for onion sites:

    1. Sites that support Tor access must have a clearnet reference on their external link to verify its authenticity to any Wikipedian. Direct onion linking should go though a small approval process, so allow direct linking via exception only. Bots could automatically reject links without citations out of hand, prior to a human having to approve it.
    2. Official clearnet gateway sites should go through a verification process (not sure how exactly just yet), but should be used instead of linking to the onion site. The link should be labelled a clearnet gateway site, like you would a mobile site.

    Thoughts? Deku-shrub (talk) 18:45, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

    WP:ELNO#EL3 comes immediately to mind for at least some of the websites. There is no requirement to provide an external link at all, even if the subject of the article is web based. In the case of Agora, I would tend to be opposed to linking to its official gateway as it seems to offer no encyclopedic knowledge about the subject.
    Generally though, something should be added to the guideline to address this type of content and your two bullet points above seem to be a good starting point for discussion. - MrX 19:48, 7 June 2015 (UTC)
    Whilst I don't want to distract from the issue for a generalised onion-linking policy, whilst a site containing illegal media (criminal or copyright infringing) should not be linked to under WP:ELNO#EL3, AFAIK it is not illegal to access a darknet market. Otherwise journalists like Andy Greenberg and the creators of Deep Web (film) would be criminals, which they're not. That said, if the onion-linking policy becomes more liberal, relevant safeguards might need to be put in place ahead of any policy change Deku-shrub (talk) 20:31, 7 June 2015 (UTC)
    To clarify, I was thinking more along the lines of child pornography when I referred to EL3.- MrX 20:53, 7 June 2015 (UTC)
    Fair point. First of all there are no active notable such sites on wikipedia right now, so doesn't apply. Should this happen, it would be covered under that point you raised already though. Deku-shrub (talk) 21:25, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

    Deku-shrub, for the links you're talking about, what will happen if I click on them (without installing any special software, configuring anything, etc.)? One of the main reasons for a near-total ban on .onion sites has been WP:ELNO#EL7, "Sites that are inaccessible to a substantial number of users, such as sites that work only with a specific browser or in a specific country." WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:33, 7 June 2015 (UTC)

    @Deku-shrub: the .onion is an official link of facebook, though not thé official link of facebook. We do not include all (official) links that are connected to a subject, only what most people see as the most important one (see WP:ELOFFICIAL. For those cases where the .onion itself is thé official site of the subject of the page, it can be included, after a request for whitelisting (which will be granted if you can show that it is the official site). Do note, that WP:ELOFFICIAL is a guideline-ified form of WP:IAR on WP:NOT (many official sites of subjects fail our inclusion standards), and we could again WP:IAR on WP:ELOFFICIAL if a site is the official site but is too problematic for use - there is no must in linking, even to the official site (and many official sites fail several of the WP:ELNO-rules). --Dirk Beetstra T C 06:16, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
    Is there an existing request for whitelisting process I can follow? Do you have info? Deku-shrub (talk) 14:54, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
    WT:WHITELIST.- MrX 15:28, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
    I'll see what the response is Deku-shrub (talk) 16:10, 8 June 2015 (UTC)
    Nope, all denied. The issue appears to be that alternate links should be rejected in favour of more prominent links. However the onion only sites often have questionable content... Deku-shrub (talk) 14:18, 10 June 2015 (UTC)
    @Deku-shrub: - it is not what it appears to be, that is what we have codified in WP:NOT and WP:ELOFFICIAL, it is what our pillars/policies and guidelines describe. And also, this is not about the content that is being linked to, it is about the problems Wikipedia in the past had with .onion sites (abuse, in this case in the form of insertion of false .onion addresses over the actual official site of the subject). If a .onion is thé official site for a subject, it merits linking to, even if the content on the external site is (in the eyes of some) questionable. --Dirk Beetstra T C 10:25, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
    The problem is, there is no iron-clad way for an onion-only site to advertise it's url, and as a result, it's hard to get that assurance that it's genuine. Only sites with dual clearnet and tor sites can officially advertise their onion urls, these are the ones suggest to be redundant.
    Frankly, this is a problem with the fragmenting nature of name systems in general, I believe Namecoin want to be the successor to .onion domains to manage this better, then one could cite some official namecoin registry viewer to authenticate sites. As mentioned, clearnet gateways attempt to solve this issue, but the have their own problems :/ Deku-shrub (talk) 12:01, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
    @Deku-shrub: - that is close to the reason how .onion ended up on the blacklist, and we will only whitelist them with significant scrutiny and when really needed. The ones you requested whitelisting for are for sure not 'needed' as encyclopedic content. --Dirk Beetstra T C 13:51, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

    ──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I'm trying to work out the best / safest way to ever allow onion linking. I thought it'd be a stronger test case to allow the likes of Facebook, rather than sites like Agora (online marketplace) where I have to cite a reference from DeepDotWeb for the onion link, which suffer from 3rd party reference dependencies and questionable content. I'm looking to pave the way for general, safe onion use on Wikipedia. Deku-shrub (talk) 21:02, 11 June 2015 (UTC)

    The fundamental problem is that for the regular web there's an infrastructure in place to ensure that when someone types "" into their browser, it actually goes to google's servers, and if it doesn't, it can be easily fixed. It's because the regular web isn't anonymous. is registered to a real company with a real contact address and it's registered with a real registrar, likewise with a real address/contact. If a domain is hijacked or website otherwise compromised, the mechanisms in place make it so it doesn't typically take very long to sort it out except in those cases when the site's content or trade is illegal such that the legitimate owners have an interest in maintaining anonymity (and even then, sometimes). So when there's a reliable non-Tor counterpart to a site which advertises the "official" .onion, that's one thing, but in all other cases, everybody is anonymous regardless of whether their dealings are legal or illegal, and in an anonymous network, there's just not enough accountability to say any .onion link is the official link (again, barring those cases where there's the non-.onion counterpart. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 03:20, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
    Yep, I understand there is a fundamental problem with onion site authentication - who do you trust to vouch for it? But by putting in place a robust Wikipedia policy, Wikipedia itself could aid in the vouching process through reliable sourcing of 1 official, or multiple unofficial links. I think this is a desirable endeavour. Deku-shrub (talk) 14:15, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
    Personally, I lean toward not trusting any source sufficiently to include a .onion link on Wikipedia. Requiring the address to be accompanied by a reliable source has been a good compromise, but because of the tenuous relationship between .onion address and a particular site/owner, it's easy for any source to get it wrong, and harder to determine if something has changed (if that address now points to a phishing site, for example, would we require an updated reliable source in order to remove it?). The sources that write about these sites, published at a particular point in time, are too easily outdated and the consequences too significant. Having a site like Wikipedia "vouch" would indeed be useful, but Wikipedia should never be the most authoritative source since its principles of WP:V, WP:NOR, and WP:RS preclude including anything here that isn't already covered in existing reliable sources. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 22:36, 6 July 2015 (UTC)
    Since the introduction of vanity urls, e.g. facebookcorewwwi.onion the issue of accidentally linking to the wrong url has been diminishing significantly. I would support restrictions to only allow vanity .onion address for instance. Against proactive fraud it doesn't work, e.g. and fake Agora, but this is the same problem that the existing domain name system has, not a new one. Websites are hacked every day, I'm not sure how much more frequently this is on Tor. Saying 'we won't be able to remove it in case it gets hacked' is a little paranoid in my opinion. Also, hacks get pretty well documented. Like with any site, a link could be temporarily removed, pending further information. Also, who says what is an official site anyhow? The whois information? What if there's no whois? A known social media account, a PR announcement? The chain of trust determining what an official site is has to start somewhere, Wikipedia should capture the key signposts and turn this into a policy that allows the safe linking of onion site IMO Deku-shrub (talk) 23:02, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

    Deku-shrub, I don't see an answer to the question I asked above. Let's pretend that we decide that we want to include .onion links. You add one. I want to click on it. What will happen if I click on it, without installing any special software, configuring anything, etc.? Something? Nothing? An error message? Will a completely plain-vanilla web browser even recognize it as being a link? WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:29, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

    Having the links clickable and having them included without apology are different tasks. Assume I just want uncontested inclusion for now Deku-shrub (talk) 09:17, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
    User:Deku-shrub - barring very, very few exceptions, those links are all failing our inclusion standards - those exceptions can be whitelisted and be a clickable link, for the rest, the answer is simply going to be 'no', because the inclusion is contested (per Wikipedia:External links) for all of them. You focus on the problem of the links being false links, but that is by far not the only problem why they are and should be excluded. --Dirk Beetstra T C 11:00, 7 July 2015 (UTC)