Help talk:Archiving a talk page/Archive 1

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Archive 01020304

Alternative methods

Maybe this should include something about alternative methods. I'm starting to wonder if archived talk pages are useful, particularly for pages with a large number of edits. For example, if you want to work on the creationism article, do you really want to read six whole archives on the matter first? Recently on the deletion policy page, I summarised the earlier discussion and just provided a link to the history of the page where the full text could be found. Would it make sense to add this as an alternative? Angela 21:11, 10 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Ah, I see, that is also an option. I just took a look at both Wikipedia_talk:Deletion policy and Wikipedia:Deletion policy but I couldn't find where you did this. What should I look for? -- Viajero 23:53, 10 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Everything above "unsummarised discussion" on Wikipedia_talk:Deletion policy was the summary. dif. Basically, I cut 9000 words out, and just put a link at the top, under the list of previously archived pages to the history version. Angela 00:29, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)
Ah, now I see. Ok, if you had to generalize, what kind of Talk pages do you think should be treated this way and what kind the other way? -- Viajero 00:32, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)
I think it depends partly on whether it's worth the effort summarising. Is the discussion still applicable? Do people need to read it? Will they want to? Is there any benefit to having a summary or can the previous discussion be ignored? Is there a benefit in being able to have a full textsearch of the page? In cases like the village pump, an archive is useful because people are often searching for the same thing again and again. If you just link to the history, you won't be able to find anything through the search engine, but for other pages this might not be necessary anyway. It might depend on how long the archives are likely to be. For the deletion policy, I felt there were too many archives already, but other talk pages won't have this issue (or at least not immediately). Angela 00:41, 11 Nov 2003 (UTC)
A method that I would like to see discussed is the idea of placing all archive pages under categorical headings or perhaps use the categorical headings in the article so authors can easily find comments on the place in the article they wish to edit. For instance the Hitler article has over 35 archives. I don't know if there is anyway this could ever become WP policy but a good idea to form. Since I am relatively new at this if any user could direct me to a better place to discuss this idea that would be very helpful. Thecolemanation 15:39, 9 June 2006 (UTC)

Martin, what do you mean by a "time-based archive"? -- Viajero 19:00, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

/archive1, /archive2, /archive3 or /2002, /2003, /2004. Content is placed in the archives according to when it was said. Martin 19:19, 12 Nov 2003 (UTC)

Archiving by "Moving" NOT advised

This page seems to have been mostly dormant for a long time, and I'm not sure it reflects current practice. Is cut-and-paste really favored for sequential archiving? I much prefer the page-move method, which wasn't even mentioned until I put in a note about it. Isomorphic 06:19, 25 Dec 2004 (UTC)


Alternatively, you can create sequential archives by periodically moving the current talk page to a new title (move Talk:article to Talk:article/archive1.) This allows the history to be kept in the same location as the text.

I cut the above paragraph from the Wikipedia:How to archive a talk page page. Please revert if you think I am wrong. My reasons for cutting the above paragraph are the following.

  1. You want to have a complete history file under the original name of the TalkPage. For example, you want to be able to look at the History file of the TalkPage of the "Evolution" Page to see every single edit of Talk:Evolution that goes back to the very first TalkPage version created back in 20:41, 5 Nov 2001 when there was a system conversion.
  2. You do not want to search through the archives of the TalkPage to find any particular version of the TalkPage. How would you know which sequential archive to search to find the January 2004 discussion? You want to be able to look through the one History file of the complete history, do you not? 8))
  3. The lead section of the Wikipedia:How to archive a talk page page already mentions the possibility of archiving by moving--because the lead section already says, "(Note: Utilizing the "Move this page" feature for such an operation is not at all advised.)" And I think that that warning is accurate and appropriate. Hence, I cut the "not at all advised" paragraph to this TalkPage for discussion. :)) ---Rednblu | Talk 10:54, 25 Dec 2004 (UTC)
What I want to know is why it is "not at all advised". I archive my own user talk page using page moves, and I know that others also archive talk pages in the this way. I prefer it because it keeps the history for a given time period in the same place as the text for that time period.
I don't see any advantage in having a single unified history list. In fact, such lists are inconvenient because for heavilly edited pages, the history will be extremely long. Finding relevant edits is much easier when the history is in smaller chunks. Isomorphic 07:27, 26 Dec 2004 (UTC)
I, also, think that moving would be a better method, and would like to know why it is not advised. dbenbenn | talk 00:57, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I prefer moving too. --Duk 20:55, 10 October 2005 (UTC)

suggestion for a recommended heading for archived pages

I followed the convention set by the first archive page of the article on Europe when creating the second archive page, and added a horizontal rule. (I think this is one place where the use of the horizontal rule is a good idea.) I saw that the result was good, and now suggest that this convention be included in the How to archive a talk page article. The instructions could read as follows:

When creating a new archive page, add the following text to the beginning of the page, substituting (a) the dates the archive covers for yyyy-mm-dd, (b) the real title for Article_title, and (c) the sequence number of the next archive page to be created for XX:


This archive covers approximately the dates between yyyy-mm-dd and yyyy-mm-dd.

Post replies to the [[Talk:Article_title|main talk page]], copying
the section you are replying to if necessary.

Please add new archivals to [[Talk:Article_title/ArchiveXX]]. Thank you. ~~~~


Teemu Leisti 13:09, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Well, no one gave any comments, but I just went ahead and did it. I also added instructions on how to create links to the second-level headings of the archived pages. Teemu Leisti 17:48, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
And I edited the "Sequential archiving" section a few more times, but now it's perfection itself. :) Teemu Leisti 08:19, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Archiving the deleted

Is there a way of archiving the deleted or long-gone discussions? In the case of an article, there is an everlasting history to it, or at least, until you get to when the article was created. Readers can see the entire evolution of an article. But is this the same way with a talk page? Once things get deleted instead of archived, is there a "history" section for that talk page, so that people who are worthy of the task can archive the discussions that have happened since the beginning of the article?

In other words, if discussions in the talk page are erased instead of archived, is there any way a person can archive the discussions that have been deleted, up until the very beginning of that talk page? Is there a History to the talk page, so that nothing is truly "deleted"? This is assuming that articles have histories that go as far back as the beginning of the article, with no limit on how far back they go.

No. Histories reflect previous versions of the files. If one wanted to restore all original content in an article with very many edits, he would have to cull them from each of the historic backups. It would be unfeasible for an individual to do it manually, but perhaps someone could code up a nice bot for such a thing. (Though it would be tricky because there would be many cases to cover.) -DanDanRevolution 05:39, 11 May 2006 (UTC)

Namespace Question

Perhaps is a software related problem, but the article says to create a Talk:Foo/Archive01 instead of User talk:Foo/Archive01.

The wikipedia software does not automatically translate the former into the later. I know there have been a few improvements to the software and this might work before (a long time ago, in a galaxy far away) but it didn't work for me today. Should the article be fixed? -Mariano 07:19, 31 August 2005 (UTC)

The method works for both Talk:Foo and User talk:Foo but yes, good comment, you have to change the namespace manually. I've added a clarification to the remmed-out C&P text. Do you think that's enough? Hajor 13:31, 31 August 2005 (UTC)
Good comment but still a stupid question form me. I forgot you might want to archive something else than your user page! :o)
I don't know if it is enough, specially since you still have Wikipedia_talks, Template_talks, Category_talk and God knows what else, but people archivin those pages might probably be way brighter than me. -Mariano 18:19, 31 August 2005 (UTC)
Ya, hombre, ¿no que te ibas de vacas? Brighter? Not necessarily. I once moved the entire contents of Talk:Mecca to Talk:Foo/Archive01. I now have it on my watchlist in case the same thing happens to anyone else. Maybe another line in the remmed-out text saying "check the namespace"? Hajor 19:57, 31 August 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure what's the best way to fix it. Perhaps a sentece right before the the Copy/Paste section saying "Replace Talk: with User talk:, Category talk:, Template talk:, etc. when necessary". -Mariano 07:23, 1 September 2005 (UTC) we are talking! Looks fine. Good job. -Mariano 15:02, 1 September 2005 (UTC)


Couldn't Wikiusers archive without creating a new page by copying and pasting a link to an outdated version? Por ejemplo. freestylefrappe 03:15, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

Searching within archives

When I have questions to an article, I first check the discussion pages and search for the word of interest by using my browser's text searching capabilities, as my question may already has been discussed. Unfortunatly, with archived talk pages, it becomes uncomfortable to look everything up, as you have to crawl through each archived page. It would be great if MediaWiki allowed a "search within archive" function. --Abdull 11:27, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Archive by moving, yes or no??

The article body contradicts the opening paragraph. I dropped in in {{contradict}} tag. I don't know enough to have an opinion. Thatcher131 15:48, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

I was the one who recently added the contradictory section. As for the "not at all advised" remark in the lead section, it appears to be a rewording [1] of a more specific statement that has been on this page from the beginning [2]. The original reason given for avoiding archive-by-move was that "this way, the archive does not show up on the Watchlist of people watching the article." No elaboration on why this was actually considered a bad thing seems to have been given, but some additional reasons have been suggested above, essentially boiling down to a desire to keep the entire page history together in one place.
Both of those reasons have been disputed, which in itself suggests that the categorical warning perhaps ought to be toned down or even removed. However, I did have a specific reason for recommending archiving-by-moving for very busy pages (such as the reference desks): if the history of a page grows excessively long, moving or deleting that page (even temporarily) becomes very resource-intensive and can even lock the database for extended periods, effectively bringing the entire site to a halt. This has happened a couple of times, perhaps most famously when the former VfD page vas deleted. Proactively archiving-by-moving such pages can prevent such occurrences.
As to the problem of archiving only part of the page, there are at least two solutions. One is simply to cut-and-paste back any ongoing discussions after the move. The other, in some ways neater solution, which I have not so far described in the article, involves transcluding the latest archive onto the discussion page. You can see the latter method in use on my user talk page. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 16:36, 2 March 2006 (UTC)

Since there seems to be no consensus on this page for the blanket prohibition of page move archiving, I've removed it for the article. Instead, I've added a paragraph about the controversy and the relative advantages of either method. —Ilmari Karonen (talk) 15:13, 9 March 2006 (UTC)

As I have added to the article the copy method assumes good faith by the editor creating the archive. Archives often pass their 32K because editors are disagreeing with each other. In this case the trust necessary for good faith often breaks down. So with controversial topics (the ones which generate the larges talk pages) moving is better because it allows for an easy check that the archives are accurate. The last thing one would usually want to get involved in is an edit war over alleged bad faith copies of an archive! With a move this can not happen, so I think for this reason the move version is to be preferred and should be given Pre-eminence on this page. --PBS 15:51, 5 April 2006 (UTC)


Is this a policy or a guideline? The article doesn't exactly make it clear. Probably a guideline. Kilo-Lima|(talk) 15:31, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Permalink archiving is underrated

I propose that we advocate, as guideline, that archiving talk pages chronologically should be done with permanent linking, rather than with subpages. Here are my reasons:

  • It creates less clutter by leveraging Wikipedia's existing archiving system.
  • It ensures that users cannot edit archived conversations without setting off a red flag.
  • It creates a unified page history. There has been debate (above) as to whether this is a beneficial feature.
  • I believe it is not negative: if you are interested in edits made to one specific archive page, simply use the dates of modification to guide you. Choose edits only between the dates that are relevant to your desired archive.
  • It also provides a positive in that an editor can relive the entire history of the talk page without flipping between subpages. If I want to see what happened to the New York City article around the dates of the attach of 9/11, and if it so happened that these were split into multiple archives, then I would have to go through each archive's history to see the conversation unfold. If the history is unified, this is not an issue.

Here are the current "Disadvantages" listed for permanent linking, along with my rebuttals:

  • You cannot organize topics into one place, although you can list links to sections within the page history that are relevant to a particular topic.
  • My proposal deals with chonological archiving only.
  • Archives cannot be easily repartitioned and recombined as with the subpage method. If you later wished to divide up the archives in a different way, you would need to paste all past archives to the talk page, save, and then rearchive (note that when this is done, the revision history becomes muddied).
  • One would very rarely wish to repartition or recombine a chronological archives. In addition, it wouldn't be any more difficult than what one would do using subpages: Copy all of the text from each archive to a large page. Save it. Then redistribute it as one would with subpages.
  • The revision history would be "muddied" only in that it would show that you've recombined the archives. This is not detrimental.
  • An edit of the archive by mistake (and ignoring the warning) would overwrite the current talk page.
  • This would be a glaringly obvious issue (especially because the resulting page will likely carry a header that says it's an archive). It would need to be reverted, just like any edit to an archived subpage.
  • Unlike the move procedure it does not reset the history of the page.
  • I've argued that reseting the history is not desirable.
  • It is the least common of the two methods, and may cause confusion even for experienced editors who are not familiar with "permanent link" function in the toolbox.
  • This can be quickly overcome.

--DanDanRevolution 07:27, 23 May 2006 (UTC)


Let folks do what they like best. I used what you prefer on my talk page for the reasons you've stated, but creating links to all archived sections takes some time. -- Omniplex 09:51, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
An obvious disadvantage of permalinking that doesn't seem to be mentioned is the fact that actual archive pages are tracked by google and by WP's search, so they can be searched. There is no simple way to search page histories. Christopher Parham (talk) 10:18, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
That's a pretty big omission, Christopher, thanks for bringing it up. That is (unfortunately for my argument) a significant disadvantage. I suppose your both right, they should remain equal alternatives. --DanDanRevolution 14:16, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Doesn't this also prevent pages from being Googlable? Pretty huge disadvantage if you ask me. — Omegatron 23:09, 25 May 2006 (UTC)
Above I agreed that these pages are not Googlable, but now that I think about it, I believe that they are. Here's justification: Google crawls the web using any links it finds. If someone on an archive page links to a permanent link, then Google will find it. That's all we need. Note, a seach for a permanent archive would include inurl:oldid. In fact, there would be no difference to Google whether or not the archive was on a subpage, or on a permalink. All Google would see is a link to an archive. The rest is identical. --DanDanRevolution 01:13, 26 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure dynamically-generated pages are blocked by robots.txtOmegatron 02:02, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm against recommending one way, point out the advantages and disadvantages of each method. BTW what happens with a permanent link if the talk page is moved along with the article page to a new name? --PBS 07:33, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

Oldids are global and unique, the &title= bit is completely unnecessary. will take you to an old copy of my user page, and even if you include the wrong page name ( it still works correctly. GarrettTalk 01:44, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Mention not archive recent discussions

This guideline should state that recent and open discussions should not be archived. -- Centrx 21:26, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Archive header templates

Hi all. Recently I modified {{Archive}} and {{Talkarchive}} to include a better categorization scheme, so every once in a while I've been adding archive header templates to archived pages. Typically this is just {{Talkarchive}} and {{Archive-nav}} (see Talk:Main Page/Archive 2, for example). Are there any problems with this? I may start doing this to a lot of pages, so I just wanted to see what others thought. Thanks! ~MDD4696 04:37, 12 June 2006 (UTC)

It is more direct and understandable to say "Do not edit this page". That is what is meant, and it is implicit in "archive" that is contents should be preserved. -- Centrx 05:45, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
Do you mean to say that you think the wording of {{Talkarchive}} should be changed? Personally I think it's fine as it is. It's not that we don't want people to edit the pages (for maintenance such as I what I'm doing), but that we don't want their contents to be altered. However, a note along the lines of "Do not edit this page" would discourage those who don't know better from editing the pages... a good thing, I think. ~MDD4696 16:41, 12 June 2006 (UTC)
How about: "Do not edit the contents of this page." It is direct and restricted to just the contents. Or "Do not post new comments to this page." —Centrxtalk 05:09, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

Talk archiving

Some people have very large user talk pages because they dont archive (either they dont know or care). This makes communication with them difficult as not all of us have T1 links... Any ideas on the matter? --Cat out 14:33, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

A kind note might prompt them to archive. There's {{utverylong}}, but personally that seems rude. Beyond that, I'm not sure there's anything you can do... it's the user's choice when to archive and if they want to be difficult, well... they'll be difficult. ~MDD4696 20:58, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
Maybe, this should be a guideline of Wikipedia? Some of the user talk pages are so long that some users using dial-up connection speeds have to wait for about 5 to 10 minutes before the affected page is completely loaded up! --Siva1979Talk to me 03:22, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Question on move archiving

It says that doing so will break all the links on the page. I can't understand why this would be? Moving pages doesn't normally have this effect. And if it means incoming links (though I dunno where you'd find many of those except signatures), well, it seems you'd want those going to your current page, not one of the archived sections, anyway. -Goldom (t) (Review) 04:45, 18 June 2006 (UTC)

When you archive a page, it will break incoming links to specific discussions (e.g. a link to Talk:Archives#Discussion 1). This is unavoidable with any of the archival methods. ~MDD4696 14:30, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Archive standards

Hi all. I would like to establish guidelines for archive header templates. I had been under the impression that the only templates in use were {{Archive}}, {{Talkarchive}} and {{Archive-nav}}, but a note on Template talk:Talkarchive led to my discovery of {{Chronological talk archive}} and {{Topical talk archive}}.

I was the one who implemented that categorization scheme in {{Archive}} and {{Talkarchive}}, and I had been planning on writing a bot to aid in various archival tasks, so establishing a standard is important to me.

Firstly, {{Chronological talk archive}} and {{Topical talk archive}} seem redundant to me. Does it really matter whether an archive is chronological or topical? Maybe it would be better to ask whether or not having such a distinction would be useful at all for those perusing archives. I don't believe it would be, and as such I believe that these templates make the system unnecessarily more complicated (m:Instruction creep).

The only other point I want to make is that we should use {{Archive}} or {{Talkarchive}} in conjunction with {{Archive-nav}} on all of our talk pages (for example, see Talk:Main Page/Archive 1). This leads to a consistent archive appearance, and aids navigation.

Comments, addendums? ~MDD4696 16:30, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

{{Archive}} is designed to link to any page on any namespace any other template is redundent. I recomend archiving by "moving" (via copy paste - not the history). Discussion threads 15 days old or more should be archived asuming they exeed a page. --Cat out 17:00, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
Mdd4696, I completely agree with your point; this is how I have been doing things so far. Cool Cat, I should point out that {{archive}} and {{talkarchive}} are different and are intended to complement each other. This is because, as Mdd4696 pointed out, the templates now categorize the pages according to namespace – for example, Talk: archives go in Category:Talk archives, while Wikipedia talk: archives go in Category:Wikipedia talk archives. Applying {{archive}} to a talk page puts it in the wrong category. Also, {{talkarchive}} informs users to leave messages on the current talk page and includes a link to that page, using {{BASEPAGENAME}}. This is useful, but (a) works only on talk pages, and (b) isn't includedworks differently in {{archive}}.
Furthermore, as Category:Talk archives will demonstrate, virtually all talk archives that are tagged (it's hard to tell how many are untagged, but there are plenty out there) currently use {{talkarchive}}. This is no coincidence. Check my last 1000 or so contributions – I have been systematically tagging then using Google searches. A bot would be most welcome – Gurch 17:48, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
  • What does "Discussion threads 15 days old or more should be archived asuming they exeed a page" mean?
  • With the move page option {{Archive-nav}} is redundent because the moved page will include any links to the older archives assuming that the archive on the talk page contains the full archive path.
--PBS 17:50, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
But not newer archives, which {{Archive-nav}} slso provides for – Gurch 22:07, 19 June 2006 (UTC)
I don't really agree with Cool Cat's stance on when to archive discussion, but it doesn't seem like a critical point to me. We can be flexible with that, and the archives will still be readable. Personally, I like to archive discussion at the end of the day or month that the 30th heading was added. PBS, I'm not really sure what you mean about the move page option and the links, but for cut and paste archives {{Archive-nav}} is pretty handy. ~MDD4696 02:26, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
The talk page before it is moved will have links to its archives often in a section called ==Archives==. When it is moved those links don't go away, so Archive-nav is duplicating the Archive section that already exists in the newly archived page. See Talk:Bombing of Dresden in World War II/Archive 7 as an example. The template would be useful for navigating forward but the links which exist already cover the previous archives including any previous page moves.--PBS 07:35, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
Oh by all means we can and must be flexible. My arbitrary 'rules' were the proposed values for a posible automated script. Archiving is no big deal. Infact I oppose any rule regarding archiving aside from already established ones. :P --Cat out 03:07, 20 June 2006 (UTC)
I do NOT like the idea of a regular (e.g. every x days) archival approach. When I archive, I do it based on the sense that a talk page is getting too long (over 32k by Wikipedia standards). In general, I try to make archives monthly but sometimes there aren't enough entries so an archive can span several months. The first few archives of an article might span entire an entire year.
I also try not to archive an "active discussion in progress". If a discussion started in May but is still continuing in June, I put a copy of the discussion through May 31 in the May archive but leave the entire discussion in the Talk Page so that editors do not lose the context of the discussion.
If you can write a bot that will support me in doing all this, then great. Otherwise, I would just as soon do things manually.
I think an archival bot makes more sense for things like Village Pump (assistance) pages which are inherently short-lived discussions as opposed to article Talk Pages whose discussions typically span weeks and across months.
--Richard 05:30, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

I agree with everything that Richard has said. This page is primarily a help page for those who do not archive pages very often and need a reminder (guideline) on how to do it. --PBS 07:35, 20 June 2006 (UTC)

It DOES matter whether an archive is chronological or topical although I admit that any conscientious person would name the archive in such a way that it would be fairly easy to tell if the archive was chronological or topical. I created both {{Chronological talk archive}} and {{Topical talk archive}} because I create both kinds of archives for the articles whose talk archives I have self-nominated myself as archivist.
The idea is that certain topics recur frequently (usually controversial topics). The purpose of Topical talk archive is to allow me to indicate in somewhat greater detail what the topic of the archive is. The purpose of the Chronological talk archive is to allow me to indicate what period this particular archive covers.
I would be happy if there were a way to use talkarchive in the following ways:
{{talkarchive|chronological|May-June 2006}}
If {{aan}} cannot be made to take parameters in this way, then I would prefer to keep {{Chronological talk archive}} and {{Topical talk archive}}
--Richard 06:13, 21 June 2006 (UTC)
Although I'm not entirely sure what the best implementation of this behavior would be, I could code the template to do what you suggest. This requires more thought; I'm not entirely convinced that a distinction is necessary between chronological and topical archives... ~MDD4696 04:44, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
I'm confused by your last statement. It's important to distinguish between the chronological archives and the topical archives. Typically, chronological archives are complete records of every posting.
Topical archives are collections of postings about a specific topic, usually a controversial one which keeps recurring. For example, the name of the United States article - should it be "United States" or "United States of America"? This question occurs at least once every other month. The solution is to document the decision along with all the discussion that was associated with the decision and put it into a topical archive. In this case, the topical archive is called Talk:United States/Name. I have created several such topical archives. After the third or fourth such archive, I started feeling that I wanted the {{aan}} template to help me document what I was doing at the top of each topical archive page.
Similarly, it is useful to have a template that helps document the time period that a chronological archive covers.
--Richard 05:28, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Clearly, in the context of actually reading an archive, it is useful to know whether the discussion there was grouped chronologically or topically. Usually this is evident by the archive's name. However, what I am concerned about it whether that distinction is important outside of the actual archive page or not (i.e. browsing categories). I believe now that it could be... it might be useful for someone to browse through all of the topical archives to find commonly discussed topics.
I strictly wanted to keep the archiving system as simple as possible. I think this is best accomplished by using a single template (or combination of templates) instead of several different ones for different types of archives. Instead of maintaining consistency between many templates, we can just add optional parameters to one.
I will try and come up with a workable solution and code for the templates. ~MDD4696 14:13, 27 June 2006 (UTC)
Great, thanks for understanding my perspective. I do wish to point out a picky point. The name of an archive may give some indication that it is a chronological archive rather than a topical archive. However, the name is often something like Talk:United States/Archive 1 which does not provide information about the period of time that it covers. That's why I created the {{chronological talk archive}}.
Also, it is my impression that chronological archives far outnumber topical archives so it's not a disaster if the template supports chronological archives more and topical archives less. Editors who want to create topical archives can add the topical information below the template.
Finally, I confess that all of the stuff that I did with archive templates was purely cosmetic in nature and not necessarily stuff that all editors would use. Thus, the archive template should be able to produce good results in the case where the editor does not wish to provide any parameters.
Thus, I imagine a template that can handle the following types of parameters:
{{aan}} - It's a talkarchive, that's all I care to say about it.
{{talkarchive|chron|Jan-Feb 2006}} - It's a chronological talkarchive for Jan-Feb 2006.
{{talkarchive|topical|name of article}} - It's a topical talkarchive about the name of the article.
If you can do the above easily, I would be tickled pink. However, as stated above, it's worth remembering that 99% of editors creating talk archives will probably continue to use {{aan}} without providing any additional information for some time.
So use the 80/20 rule and focus on providing functionality that works for the 99% group and, if you can, provide functionality for the unusual cases (me) later.
--Richard 14:37, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Richard, if a subject is controversial (and presumably there is some loss of good faith) how can you archive it by topic without the problem of how to prove that it is a fair representation of the talk page discussion? --PBS 22:02, 27 June 2006 (UTC)

Very carefully and very diligently. I have at times read through every chronological archive looking for messages related to a topic being archived and copied the discussion over verbatim.
My priority is not to summarize the discussion but to provide a verbatim archive. Sometimes, I or someone else will summarize when the archived discussion is really long but the presence of the entire record of discussion over weeks, months and sometimes years provides a way for the reader to be sure that the summary accurately captures the gist of the discussion.
I never provide only a topical archive. I always leave the chronological archive intact and copy messages to the topical archive. The major goal is to save the reader the trouble of having to scan the entire chronological archive in order to find the messages related to the topic of interest.
There are different kinds of controversial topics. For some topics, a consensus decision has been reached (e.g. name of the United States article). However, even in those cases, the question keeps coming up. It's good in those cases to point newcomers to the article to the record of discussion which presumably includes the justification (and vote if such exists) for the decision.
In other cases, there's not so much a clear consensus but nonetheless there was a lot of heated debate. The hope is that we can point newcomers to the article to the debate and say "Read that first. Then, if you have something new to say, say it. But don't plunge in as if nobody has thought about this idea before." The hope is that the various points on both sides of the issue will give the newcomer more depth and breadth of understanding before they jump in and put in their two cents worth.
Doing all this is a lot of work and I haven't seen anybody else doing this (of course, I only frequent a couple hundred articles so my sample size is small). I'm not completely sure if it helps although I've noticed a couple of times when other editors have directed newcomers to my topical archive on Talk:United States/Name so it must be of some use.
--Richard 00:30, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
I like your method, especially the point about making sure there is a chronological archive available even with a topical one. ~MDD4696 00:40, 28 June 2006 (UTC)
Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3 Archive 4