Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Linking/Archive 7

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Archive 6 Archive 7 Archive 8

Overlinking example

Talk:Keely_Smith#Overlinking. Thought you guys might enjoy this! — Sebastian 20:27, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Yes! I did more. Tony (talk) 02:42, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

RfC about Red links in featured lists

Comments are appreciated at this discussion. Dabomb87 (talk) 23:32, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

How do you link to other language Wikipedia?

I once saw a link linking to a another language Wikipedia, but this article doesn't mention anything about that. How do you link to a another language Wikipedia? tablo (talk) 01:55, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

[[it:Foo]] adds a link to the Foo article of the Italian Wikipedia in the left bar; [[:it:Foo]] adds one in-line. BTW, this is a style guide for what you should link in articles; for instruction on how to code links, see Help:Link. ___A. di M. 08:31, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Sept update

I think the best way to avoid big-daddyism in the Update when I can't discern consensus is simply to do nothing and see what happens. A week is generally considered long enough in a variety of Wikipedian processes to give everyone a chance to weigh in. I see the #Over-linking and under-linking earlier concerns by Carcharoth and others that the wording is too strict, and the wording got slightly stricter in September, but I don't see any ongoing objection on the talk page, and the current version of WP:LINK#What generally should not be linked has stayed in the same form for a while, so for purposes of the Update, I have to assume this is the accepted version. I was noncommital and asked for help in the Sept Update; I'll go back and commit now. - Dank (push to talk) 16:40, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

How did it get "stricter" in September? [1] For that matter, how thus far in October? Tony (talk) 02:08, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
You're using Sept 22; I picked this version from Sept 30, because the following edit was this one, and I don't see any ongoing debate or editing in favor of "This may include ..." I decided to call it a "slightly stricter tone" because that version starts out with "It is generally inappropriate to link terms whose meaning can be understood by most readers of the English Wikipedia"; the qualifier "unless" has been moved to specific cases in the next sentence. In the current version, the qualification "unless ..." is back in, but "It is generally inappropriate to link ..." has been slightly strengthened to "... avoid linking". It seems like a slight strengthening of tone to me, but if you guys didn't intend it or don't see it that way, I can just list the changes without comment. - Dank (push to talk) 03:00, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
It has been "It is generally inappropriate to ..." for a long time. There has been no change worth mentioning, I'd say. Tony (talk) 03:22, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
I thought it would look weird to select a version (that is, to omit the "This may include ..." edit), and then not list the change that made me select that version, but I can remove my description. - Dank (push to talk) 03:46, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Well, my view of your very good summaries is that they are useful because of what they omit from hard-pressed editors, as much as what they include. The more information, the less they'll take it in. Tony (talk) 05:37, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Agreed, I have no problem with removing this commentary. - Dank (push to talk) 15:50, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Dank, if your perception is that the wording has become stricter, then it needs review as there's certainly no consensus to make such a change in tone. I've taken the liberty of removing the text in the update, primarily because the arrangement you describe there isn't reflected in the current version of the guideline. ("Unless it is..." is still at the beginning, not at the end.) As for the guideline, I'm not sure that it warrants an update in the summary. Thoughts?. --Ckatzchatspy 15:07, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Okay, I see you removed the whole entry, Ckatz, let's back up and see where we disagree. When I don't list a General style guideline in the Update, it means two things: there was no better page version to use than the last version of the month, and there was no significant difference between that version and the version from the previous month's Update. The last page version of September included your "This may include ...", which was reverted in the first edit of October and hasn't been reinstated. I don't take a position on what the "right" version of the page should be; I gauge consensus. If a change remains in place without reversion and without discussion for a week, then I assume that there's at least a temporary "cease-fire" on the issue; see the many discussions that extended all the deletion discussions to one week on the theories about how one week is probably a good compromise when you want to give everyone a chance to weigh in, but don't want to wait too long before making the call. So, are you saying that there's consensus for your "this may include ..." edit? If so, then either argue the case for it here, or re-insert it and let's see what happens. - Dank (push to talk) 15:50, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Dank, your text said:

"Unless they are particularly relevant to the topic of the article, it is generally inappropriate to link terms whose meaning can be understood by most readers of the English Wikipedia, including plain English words, the names of major geographic features and locations, religions, languages, common professions, common units of measurement (particularly if a conversion is provided), and dates (but see Chronological items below).""

changed to

"It is generally inappropriate to link terms whose meaning can be understood by most readers of the English Wikipedia. Do not link plain English words, the names of major geographic features and locations, religions, languages, common professions, unless they are particularly relevant to the topic of the article.", with units of measurement handled separately."

However, that change was rolled back, and the present text reads:

"Unless they are particularly relevant to the topic of the article, avoid linking terms whose meaning can be understood by most readers of the English Wikipedia, including plain English words, the names of major geographic features and locations, religions, languages, common professions, common units of measurement, and dates (but see Chronological items below)"

The update text therefore was suggesting a change that is not reflected in the actual guideline. --Ckatzchatspy 17:17, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
It's not accurate now, but it was accurate on Sept 30. I've never had a request before to include October edits in a September Update. - Dank (push to talk) 19:17, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Hm. OTOH, I take your point that there's an argument that the version I used didn't have consensus either. There were two problems here that I don't usually run into: the page was largely stable until the last day, so I couldn't use time as a gauge of consensus, and the changes that did occur were possibly significant but fairly small and localized, so that I couldn't fall back on my usual "significant changes were made". I'm thinking at the moment that the best way to get out of the way and let you guys do your thing is either to say nothing (and this option seems to have support from both of you), or to say that "Small but possibly significant changes were made to WP:LINK#What generally should not be linked late in the month." Is either of these options acceptable to everyone? - Dank (push to talk) 19:40, 12 October 2009 (UTC)
Dank, when I did these summaries I ran up against the occasional month-boundary issue, especially when publishing the summary well into the following month. In those cases, I stretched the envelope by taking into account subsequent stability or non-stability. One of my concerns was to minimise the amount of information editors had to read month by month—they are easily turned off. You might, in fact, consider freeing up the model of providing summaries strictly by calendar month; thus, when publication is late, it could easily be, say, September 5 – October 11. I don't think anyone would mind as long as all significant changes are flagged on an ongoing basis, without things falling through cracks. But is the change to the section in question here worth flagging? I ask myself how editors will behave differently according to what they might regard as a rather subtle tweaking. If it looks subtle but is major, you might consider just telling them by paraphrase the import of the change. I look forward to the day when you need to report nothing! Tony (talk) 05:35, 13 October 2009 (UTC)
I hope everyone will be as understanding and allow me to leave out details that I don't think will have much actual impact, maybe because it's subtle or maybe because the changes get quickly reverted the next month. As you say, if people have less to read, that's a good thing. Ckatz removed the entry for September, that seems to be fine with everyone, and if it turns out there's something to report, I'll put it in the October Update. - Dank (push to talk) 14:58, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Formatting inline cross-references

Besides "see also" sections and hatnotes, there are often explicit cross-reference links to other Wikipedia articles in body text, often in parentheses. I've checked for any previous discussion, and started a thread at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#More italics clarification and inline .22see.22, but it looks like most editors are indifferent to the issue.

Should it be:

At this time France possessed the largest population in Europe (see Demographics of France)


At this time France possessed the largest population in Europe (see "Demographics of France")

or (as in most print reference works):

At this time France possessed the largest population in Europe (see Demographics of France)

The first example seems to be the convention on Wikipedia, but is a problem from the point of view of grammar and the use–mention distinction and it blends in with the rest of the text; hyperlinks aren't formatting and don't show up on paper. The second makes some sense logically, is in line with standard citation practice, and is flexible enough to allow a full sentence including the name of the Wikipedia article. The third is more standard practice in traditional encyclopedias like the Britannica or Macmillan, and might be what readers expect; it marks the words until the close bracket or end of sentence as a cross-reference rather than a statement and distinguishes the title of the article (or a set of articles separated .

I've just added a new section at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (text formatting)#Uses of italics that are specific to Wikipedia, which I think would help an editor unsure of current practice. What's the best way to get a discussion about whether the current convention should change (possibly with the help of a bot), and whether it needs a guideline? --Cedderstk 15:46, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

The term "anchor".

WP:Linking#Principles defines "anchor" (linker) as opposed to "target" (linkee):

The page from which the hyperlink is activated is called "the anchor"; the page the link points to is called the "the target".

Yet Help:Link#Section linking (anchors) uses the term anchor (as linkee) to mean a "target" section (linkee)(in opposite sense to WP:Linking).

The two uses are incompatible and oppose one another. I move we minimize the use of anchor in linking guidelines, as it is confused.

  1. Delete the sentence. It is unused in WP:Linking (occurring only once to define itself).
  2. Delete the parenthetical. Section titles do not need the task of defining terms parenthetically.
  3. Decide upon a consistent linking terminology, then review and copyedit WP:Linking and Help:Link. They are the same subject, on same project.

Both uses are logical, but we should simply remove the term except from where it is entrenched. Since it is well established in HTML and wiki software template circles (as evidenced by "Section linking"), we should make wikitext markup descriptions similar to them.

CpiralCpiral 22:22, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

I would remove the sentence from this page; it serves no purpose. No particular view on the parenthetical - anchors aren't quite the same as sections (though usually they are).--Kotniski (talk) 07:45, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
They are both anchors (HTML <a>). In HTML, <a href="foo"> creates a link anchor, and <a name="foo"> creates a target anchor. (No, I don't think "link anchor" and "target anchor" are the standard terms, but I can't recall them from the top of my head.) Anyway, the latter use is more common, and that's what {{Anchor}} makes. (And I agree that this belongs to Help:Link rather than here.) ___A. di M. 16:00, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
WP:Linking (here) is grammar, and Help:Link is syntax, but they are on the same project and the same subject. Anchor could be used to describe both the grammar and syntax of linking, and so anchor's current usage could be reasoned out to prevent future confusion. CpiralCpiral 19:49, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Now we've got a start with "link anchor", "target anchor", and "section anchor"... CpiralCpiral 16:32, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Quotation marks on linked news article titles

I've done some work on Art D'Lugoff (recently deceased) including tidying up refs and adding a couple of obituary EL's. Another editor insists on adding quote marks around all news article titles. Seems unnecessarily fussy to me and just adds to clutter, but I'm not going to reverse without some justification. I've looked for a guideline on this I find none. Any comments? Wwwhatsup (talk) 15:25, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

i reckon titles in refs and external links follow the same conventions as titles within the body of the article, so i'd direct you to WP:Manual of Style (titles)#Quotation marks. Sssoul (talk) 15:41, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
Yep, I'd guess by that guideline, the quote marks are correctly included (sigh). Wwwhatsup (talk) 21:52, 11 November 2009 (UTC)


I've recently been told that overlinking denotes that we should not link a person's nationality in an article whatsoever; am I the only one who sees a slight flaw with this? Surely it would make sense to include it at the very least in the first sentence. Or have I been fed rubbish? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:16, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

This may be relevant as well, for the specific edits you wish to make. I'm against changing the MOS on this point; if there was a consensus here, or at some other centralized discussion I think your edits would make sense. I think the current consensus is against them. Open to discussion of course. --John (talk) 05:30, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
Where are the edits? It is generally not useful to the readers in all but a few types of article to link to the names and nationalities of well-known countries, especially English-speaking countries. If a link must be made, it would be better to a more specific article or a section. Tony (talk) 06:00, 29 October 2009 (UTC)
I think the point that many editors are missing is that while the nationality of a person may be important, the content of the article that is linked is not useful. Links are necessary for context and understanding, not to highlight important details. Dabomb87 (talk) 02:48, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
If the nationality of a person is important and the content of the article that is linked is not useful, then the article that is linked should be improved. And hiding it away by removing links to it doesn't make it more likely that it will be improved. ___A. di M. 15:49, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
With respect, I think you misunderstand the reasons for not linking in this way. It is not that the country articles need to be improved (an article like United States is already at a very high level), but more as Tony says above, it is that an article on a country is not likely to be relevant to an article on a person born in that country, such as Jello Biafra. In the example I give, San Francisco might be a better alternative. Do you see what I mean? --John (talk) 15:55, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Yes. If "United States" is irrelevant, why would one write "American musician" in the first place? --___A. di M. 16:43, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Because there is a huge difference between the relevance threshold for saying something and the relevance threshold for linking it. Hans Adler 21:20, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm not convinced that "San Fransisco" is always useful; depends on the context. But certainly the US state shouldn't be chain-linked adjacent as well as the city, since the state and country will be clear (and probably linked) in the specific city link-target article anyway. Country articles are usually very large affairs; links usually need to be more specific than a well-known entity such as the US, the UK, Australia, France, etc. Tony (talk) 16:04, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Dates are very relevant, but I think we all agree that we shouldn't link them. Dabomb87 (talk) 00:39, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I've undone the anon's edits on the basis that no consensus was apparent here to keep these links. Thanks. --John (talk) 07:47, 5 November 2009 (UTC)
Compare "John Brown was an American slavery abolitionist ..." and "John Brown was a Scottish favourite of Queen Victoria ..." Martinvl (talk) 16:24, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

Linking in lead and body

Would it be considered wise to link important terms in the body even if they are already linked in the lead? Rehevkor 16:20, 15 November 2009 (UTC)

  • Depends how important they are, how close by they are, and how dense the linking is already. Generally not, but it's allowable. Tony (talk) 16:51, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

I was just wondering the same thing - I keep finding that when I zip down to particular sections, and then am wondering about the definition of a particular term. It is not linked, but frequently exists. Now I know to look in the lead first - but is that a standard, and is that point mentioned somewhere as people get started? Do I just need to do the tutorial? Peacedance (talk) 23:17, 28 November 2009 (UTC)

Generally, readers are more likely to click on a link if the linking is rationed: it's to do with signal-to-noise ratio. Can you provide an example? What kind of term are we talking about? Tony (talk) 02:08, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
More likely to click on an individual link, but less likely to click on links in general, if fewer are provided. --Michael C. Price talk 03:29, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
I think it's global and individual. Tony (talk) 07:38, 29 November 2009 (UTC)
Any evidence? Sources? --Michael C. Price talk 10:51, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

Linking City, State

Collapsing discussion in favor of RFC

Thumperward is attempting to delete {{city-state}} because he doesn't think that it's proper to link to, for example, [[Snohomish, Washington|Snohomish]], [[Washington]] when you can click through the Snohomish link to get to the Washington link. I disagree, and I think that it should be discussed here, rather than trying to change linking guidance by removing a tool that makes it easier to link that way.--SarekOfVulcan (talk) 02:03, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Ignoring the rather curious characterisation of a TfD as "trying to delete" something, there is no need to link both city and state. It's simple overlinking: the context should be clear enough just with the one link, as the text is the same. There is no need to significantly complicate the markup for the sake of having two links. The same applies for things like Edinburgh, Scotland - the link works, the context is clear, and the value in linking the country separately is minimal. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 09:29, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
I honestly don't think this is an issue worth having a guideline about. The difference in impact on readers is small either way it is done, and I could see situations where one or the other might be preferred by some users. --RL0919 (talk) 16:57, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
I think, though, that it could be determined whether it's always overlinking or not. If it is, the template should not overlink, and should probably be removed as it won't save much typing: if not, the template can continue to exist, and it should not be mass-substituted to fit one editor's preferences. I won't go as far as to say it's never overlinking, but I suspect there are a fair number of editors who might take that position. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 17:42, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
Given that the template's entire purpose is to overlink, I can't see how it would be adjusted to resolve that issue. And this isn't the TfD: I'm not planning on mass-substituting anything. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 19:55, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
Oh, and per "This template shouldn't exist", I see nothing whatsoever "curious" about the characterization above. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 17:46, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
Starting a TfD is not "trying to get something deleted". It is "trying to gauge the community's thoughts on the deletion of a subject". There's a subtle difference. In the end, it's more important to have any answer to the question I raised three months ago than to have the one I happened to prefer. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 19:55, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Should editors be discouraged from making separate links to city and state? SarekOfVulcan (talk) 15:14, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

In a recent template discussion, the argument was made that this was overlinking, and should be discouraged; readers who wanted to get to the state's article could just click through from the city article. I think that it's better not to require readers to jump through hoops when with minimal extra work, we can make things easier for them.SarekOfVulcan (talk) 15:14, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

It could be argued that any form of overlinking is simply providing a service to our readers. I don't believe that in general, the region that a settlement is located in is of direct importance to the subject of the article if it is only introduced by way of a double-link in the settlement title. If it's not of direct importance, then we needn't go out of our way to link it. This template goes out of its way to link the state. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 17:47, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree with thumperward. I much prefer [[city, state]] to [[city, state|city]], [[state]]. It makes for cleaner code and the state link is rarely relevant to the subject of the article. Powers T 13:28, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
That's why I like {{city-state|City|State}} -- it keeps the code more maintainable. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 14:01, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Well, that's a minor part of my argument, since we should favor readers over editors anyway. Powers T 15:57, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
I agree with thumperward that there is rarely much added value to linking both. olderwiser 14:06, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Even linking only to a city can be over-kill. For example - "Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City" and "Abraham Lincoln was born in Springfield, Illinois". The Wikipedia article on Nedw York does not mention Roosevelt, so is it neccessary to back-link Roosevelt to New York? Well, maybe. On the other hand, without Abe Lincoln, Springfield would not be Springfield - a back-link is certainly appropriate and the article is already titled Springfield, Illinois. Martinvl (talk) 20:54, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Comment How about City, State? The link to the state will almost definitely be in the first sentence of the city article, so why not focus the link to the more specific article? Dabomb87 (talk) 16:31, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Leave it up to the editor concerned. I am quite happy with "London" or "New York", but in the case of "Cambridge" I feel that one should write "Cambridge, England" or "Cambridge, Mass" (unless of course the qualification is obvious from the context). Martinvl (talk) 16:38, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
  • There is rarely a reason to jam against each other two related links such as city, state. This is known as a chain-link, where the more specific target—here the city—has a link to the broader target, usually at its opening. Readers do not want to go directly to California, in "Sacramento, California. Tony (talk) 16:49, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
  • When a US city is mentioned in an article, the state is only there to provide clarity (as in Dubuque, Iowa, which gives the reader some idea of whereabouts Dubuque might be, or to provide disambiguation, as in Portland, Oregon vs. Portland, Maine. A separate link to the state is in itself not likely to be helpful to the reader and therefore would constitute overlinking. While I therefore have some sympathy with the '[[City]], state' approach, it requires convoluted coding of the form '[[City, State|City]], State'. Much better in my opinion to stick with a simple '[[City, State]]'.
  • Comment I’d like to comment about the whole, broader issue of linking cities and states at all. When and when not to link it is a balance between avoiding overly linked articles vs. providing a convenient link to a topic readers might not know about. Obviously, if there is an article on road safety, it is not desirous to have ice linked; everyone knows what ice is and they know they could type the word into the search field if the want to learn more about the subject. Similarly, the typical reader can assume that most any notable city has a Wikipedia article on it. We therefore, IMO, don’t generally need links to well known cities like New York and London. Nor do I think we need links to even minor cities in most cases. Whether or not we should link anything in articles should follow this principle: Links should always be germane and topical to the subject matter, and readers interested in the broader subject area should have a reaction of “Wow, I didn’t know there would be so much to learn about this.” If I’m reading an article about an FDA regulatory ruling covering all artificial sweeteners, a link to “Washington, D.C.” doesn’t add sufficient value to offset the disadvantage of its contributing to the “sea of blue” problem; linking cyclamate would certainly be a help. Greg L (talk) 18:40, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
    • I strongly disagree. A reader should only rarely encounter a word or phrase for which he has to search instead of having a convenient link close at hand. Powers T 20:35, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
      • That’s fine; your views are important. However, your sentiment, while not rare by any means, is (fortunately, in my opinion) not a majority view. Our existing guidelines governing links currently call only for links that “are helpful to the understanding of the article or its context.” Anything beyond that just increases clutter and makes for the “sea of blue” that has plagued some other-language Wikipedias. The thrust of my above comment wasn’t to try to change this principle, but to point out that editors should heed it when thinking about how city/state links fit into this. They should be asking themselves “Would linking this city or state really help the reader to understand this article in this context?” If not, don’t link. Greg L (talk) 01:28, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
        • The quotation is "understanding of the article or its context". I think linking the city is, in most cases, very important to understanding the context. Powers T 13:26, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Powers, the city may be important to understanding the context, but linking the city is another matter. Just why "Los Angeles" or "New York City" should normally be linked is beyond me, since it is reasonable to assume that every visitor to the English WP knows what and where they are. If it's Bronx, New York, we just do not need three adjacent words to be blued out, since the article on "Bronx" links clearly and unambiguously to the article on "New York"—a chain link. Same for Royal Albert Hall, London. As a general rule, the higher the link density in a passage, the less likely a reader is to click on a link. It is essential to the skilled use of linking that the items be restricted, rather than going back to the default of "link whatever you like", which damaged our wikilinking system. Tony (talk) 13:43, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Prefer one overall link when mentioning a geographic location in the providing of context for a non-geographically-based article, representing the finest resolution of the geographic space we can provide. (In geographic based articles, precision is necessary, but this can also be alleviated by good writting) At worst, if a person clicks on a [[city, state]] or [[city, country]] link expecting to get to the state or country, they have just one more click to get there (if the city article's lede is at least basic enough). Also prefer [[city, state]] vs [[cite, state|city]], state for the same reason. --MASEM (t) 14:58, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
  • one link is enough; whether it's [[city]], state or [[city, state]] is a question for the editors of a given city's article, not an MoS issue. the MoS issues are: serial links like [[city]], [[state]] are misleading, and splitting [[city, state]] up into [[city, state|city]], [[state]] is both misleading and an overcomplication. Sssoul (talk) 19:06, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
  • Agree with Sssoul. Also would note that all old world countries plus quite a few new world ones needn't be linked, because they are known to everyone. Ditto major cities, except to dab (e.g. London, Ontario, Paris, Texas, Birmingham, Alabama). It may be needed for historical articles where the reference is to a former country. In the vast majority of other cases, and especially where the city/town is merely incidental background, we shouldn't pollute with links no germane to the subject of the article. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:31, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

But the list you gave, Ohconfucius, is an ideal example of how rationalised linking is easier to read and is more likely to garner reader-clicks: (e.g. London, Ontario; Paris, Texas; and Birmingham, Alabama).

And Greg's hyperbolic:

Compare? Readers are, I believe, more likely to use the wikilinking in the second of each case. Tony (talk) 06:11, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

I link, therefore I am. (Greg L)
  • Really, really, if this was an article about sewer covers, a typical reader might be coming to find out what the heck they call the things the cover fits into (a ring or riser ring). Or they might be reading it to find out what they are made of (gray iron or ductile iron). In accordance with current linking guidelines, I would be linking only those items that wouild enhance a reader’s understand of that particular subject. As to where the thing is made, linking down that path is too tangential and unnecessary (as are most of the other links in The sewer cover in front of Greg L’s house). Accordingly, the sentence in an article about sewer covers might be “The cover was cast in Mead, Washington in the United States.” Linking the word “cast” is just the sort of link suitable to enhance a reader’s understanding of this subject. Information regarding where it is made is all there in all its complete glory; there’s simply no need for more blue just because technology makes it so one can link to it. If a reader wants to start reading up on cities and states, they know how to do that.

    The whole idea here is to avoid the great excesses of the past, where there were so many low-value links, readers’ minds started to tune them all out. Greg L (talk) 07:05, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

    • If it is important enough to mention where the sewer cover was made, it is certainly appropriate to link the city (or whatever the smallest geographical element is) to help provide context for readers (however still avoiding linking all larger domains the city belongs in). If the link is not valuable, then the mention of the geographic location is also questionable.
    • Basically, if we are going to mention a geography aspect in a non-geographic article because of necessity towards complete comprehension of the fact, then we should be linking the minimum possible to provide readers context of that location. (In geographic articles, this is just expected, period). --MASEM (t) 07:31, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
      • "to help provide context" ... well, only if the link is useful. Please, not "New York City", "Los Angeles", "London", "Paris" (the latter two providing London, Ontario and Paris, Texas are clearly not at issue). I think we can expect that if a reader speaks even a little English, they'll know where they are. Even if they dontt speak English. Tony (talk) 09:31, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
      • Masem, I can’t track the technical-writing logic of your position. If it is important enough to mention that a heat-treated part is quenched until it is “ice-cold,” it does not necessarily follow that it is sound technical writing practice to provide a link to such tangential and commonly recognized thing. Nor would linking “ice” in such an article be in compliance with current Wikipedia guidelines since such a link is not “helpful to the understanding of the article or its context.” Most readers know what “ice” is and aren’t going to follow such a link. Most readers know where “London” is and aren’t going to follow a such a link.

        If one is working on an article regarding states and cities, then linking cities and states as a matter of course makes sense. Or if one happens to be mentioning a city that is notable for a related reason (like a college town when one is writing of colleges), then that too makes sense. But what you are proposing (link a city and state just because it was mentioned and can be linked to) when the subject matter of the article is not directly about cities or states, is not, IMO, wise simply because it is unlikely a reader would follow the link and it is also clearly not helpful to the understanding of the article.

        Your logic, that if one is going to ever mention a city or state that one should link to it—regardless of the subject matter—is contrary to the very premiss of the common-sense basis underlying Wikipedia’s guideline that links be selectively made so they retain their value and we don’t end up with mind-numbing sea of blue.

        Do tell: what part of “links should be made if they are ‘helpful to the understanding of the article or its context’ ” do you have difficulty with? Greg L (talk) 19:32, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

        • I think we're saying the same thing, Greg: In general, we should only link the narrowest geographic element mentioned, and avoid linking to well-known (to most English speakers) cities, states, and countries. We'd still need to link Mead above, but would not link New York City, per Tony's statement. Only when describing geography in full in such articles should we link to these well-known places and likely to all larger geographic elements. (This would be the same as linking to ice only in articles dealing with phases of water or the processes of freezing or melting, for completeness-sake). --MASEM (t) 22:41, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
          • I think we’ve pretty close to complete convergence on the basic principals as well as the specifics regarding the linking of cities and states. I’m outa here. Greg L (talk) 05:23, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

I think in some cases having a double link is not that useless. On reading that someone is from Acuitzeramo, Michoacán, I'd probably find the latter link more useful than the former. --___A. di M. 14:51, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

See also sections

Hi, I have probably missed this one or just haven't found it...? ~ R.T.G 07:38, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia:See also, sorry ~ R.T.G 07:40, 29 November 2009 (UTC)

ArbCom election reminder: voting closes 14 December

Dear colleagues

This is a reminder that voting is open until 23:59 UTC next Monday 14 December to elect new members of the Arbitration Committee. It is an opportunity for all editors with at least 150 mainspace edits on or before 1 November 2009 to shape the composition of the peak judicial body on the English Wikipedia.

On behalf of the election coordinators. Tony (talk) 09:44, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Date of birth and death should be linked in biographical articles

However, the years of birth and death of architect Philip C. Johnson should not be linked, because little, if any, of the contents of 1906 and 2005 are germane to either Johnson or to architecture.

I think the year of birth and death are quite fundamental in a person's life, so these dates should definitely be linked in biographical articles, and this guideline should be modified accordingly. It's also useful because this way it could be ensured that the person in question can be linked from the relevant month and day article and from the relevant year article (as these articles give a list of those who were born and who died in that year or on that day). Failure to insert these cross-references actually interferes with the functionality of Wikipedia. Adam78 (talk) 22:18, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

We link on WP not because something is of extraordinary importance to the person (you're born, you die ... reasonably important to one's mentality, yes), but because it is likely to be useful to our readers. This is almost never the case, especially as year articles/lists are very general—seas of irrelevant information beyond the coincidence that they happened in the same calendar year. So the Titantic sank in the same year she was born? So what? You have the option of putting a year-link in the "See also" section at the bottom, but don't be surprised if someone comes along and questions why. Please do not clutter the openings of articles by blueing the dob and d: there are usually a lot of high-value links vying for inclusion at the top, and we do not want to blue unfocused, general links. This was decided once and for all at a large RfC many months ago. Thank you for your inquiry. Tony (talk) 02:00, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
the wording should probably be changed to clarify that it's the articles about 1906 and 2005 that are not pertinent, not the years themselves. that was obvious to the people formulating the Linking page, but it's not necessarily clear to others. Sssoul (talk) 09:18, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Isn't it quite explicit already? "Articles ...". Tony (talk) 09:55, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
as i said: it's quite obvious to the people who contributed to the guideline, but not necessarily to other people (for example Adam78) who feel the dob/dod should be linked because the dates themselves are important. for example: the sentence at the start of this section should read because very little (if anything) in the articles on 1906 and 2005 is germane to either Johnson or to architecture. (since little is germane, the verb should of course be singular, but my main point is that "the contents of 1906" is not particularly communicative.) Sssoul (talk) 10:14, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

OK, let's see things from a merely practical point of view. How will you find the relevant people to be added to the lists in year and month&day articles, if these years and month&days are not linked? You're reasoning as if these lists didn't exist anyway. They were (at least partly) compiled based on the right linking, and they can and need to be expanded based on the right linking.

As an example: the novelist Ferenc Móra died in 1934. How will any human or any robot be able to insert his name into the Deaths section of the 1934 article if the date 1934 is not linked in his page? If you refuse this link, you're denying the mere function of linking, on which the usability of Wikipedia relies. Adam78 (talk) 11:56, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

as Tony's pointed out: there was a whole series of RfCs about this issue, and the consensus was clearly against the point of view you're presenting. here's a link to the March/April 2009 RfC on date-linking, and here's one to a summary of the December 2008 RfCs. (you can still add Ferenc Móra to the "death" section of the 1934 article - a link from his article to the 1934 article isn't necessary for that.) Sssoul (talk) 12:06, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Your example in full is: Ferenc Móra (Kiskunfélegyháza, 19 July 1879Szeged, 8 February 1934). Could you please explain how using the syntax [[1934]] will assist a bot in adding Móra to the deaths section of the 1934 article? One thing that emerged from the great date debate of 2009 is that it's jolly difficult to reliably detect dates, so the mind boggles as to how a bot is going to detect – [[Szeged]], [[8 February]] [[1934]] as a date of death. I do understand how a human could add the details to the 1934 article, however the ability to do that doesn't depend on the year being linked.  HWV258  21:42, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

My example was only one among hundreds of thousands of biographical articles.

Thank you for the link. I see no trace that the voters' community paid any special attention to the date of birth and the date of death, with regard to the fact that there are lists of people in the year and month-day articles. So I tend to think that the present wording in the Manual of Style is a mistaken conclusion, and another, more specific voting should be made. (If I'm asked a general question, of course I may not think of the special cases, but I'll give a general answer...) It's bad to see that carelessness in the interpretation of community votes engulfs Wikipedia. Adam78 (talk) 13:27, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

you seem to have missed this part - years of birth/death were specifically mentioned, and if you scroll down a bit on that page, you'll see that the consensus was overwhelmingly against linking them. Sssoul (talk) 13:50, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
"It's bad to see that carelessness in the interpretation of community votes engulfs Wikipedia"—I have to wonder if we read the same thing. Of the 249 people who voted for option 1 (link only relevant years) or option 2 (link only relevant years plus birth/death years, etc), only 16.5% voted for the "plus birth/death year" option. Interpretation?  HWV258  21:16, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Could possibly we use categories as replacements? Every person would have 4 (or 2 if still living) added categories: "People born in YYYY" and "People born on MMMM DD", and the respective death categories. This avoids the above-mentioned linking problem while still providing that information. --MASEM (t) 13:52, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

We do have Category:1934 deaths. As for the day of the year, that's trivia, not serious categorization. --NE2 14:06, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Yup, categories, WP search box, and even a WP-constrained google search (details provided if you need them). All search methods, including the "What links here", have lots of false positives, of course. In fact, the "What links here" function is particularly bad in that respect. Tony (talk) 14:40, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
  • Yes, I really missed that option #2, I'm sorry. (Based on the first couple of paragraphs, the page didn't seem sufficiently relevant, I admit.)
  • How a bot could detect a date to be added to the Births or Deaths section of a year: well, if it's right after the bold name usually identical with the name (title) of the article, in parentheses, before or after a dash, but certainly before the first full stop, then it must be interpreted as a birth or death, respectively. In fact, I don't see that much difficulty here, if a correct formatting is applied in the introductory sentence.
  • I think the "What links here" is bad because of previous bad usage (the time when people linked everything). Of course it's beneficial to remove all the other unnecessary links, and in this case the "What links here" will be much more useful, especially after being filtered (so that only biographical articles should be examined).
  • I still consider the prevailing option #1 as an ill-considered option. As seen from the arguments, people got too tired of the too many links, so they wanted to exterminate them with all their might... Such a vehement position rarely brings any good.
  • Well, "1934 deaths" and similar categories could be a tolerable replacement, although a link to these categories should be added to the Births and Deaths sections of year articles.
  • It should be possibly mentioned in the Manual of Style what is presently the best way to find who were born or who died in a specific year, as the most obvious answer (such as looking up the relevant article) is not effective or reliable any more. It is sad though that certain answers are not to be found any more where people would normally look for them.
  • Apart from the years, I do expect Wikipedia to tell me who were born on a specific month and day of a year. It can't really be called trivia, just like we have an "On this day..." section of the Main Page (with a list of the significant events that happened on the given day). If this is trivia, then we have a heap of trivia on the Main Page as well.

Adam78 (talk) 10:04, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

  • Your "algorithm" for determining a birth or death date will have little chance of success in practice (but feel free to try). As I mentioned, it is difficult to accurately detect all forms of dates—let alone in the manner you describe (based on location within the article, bold text, dashes, etc). Don't forget that for birth and death dates the algorithm will also have to deal with such things as 428/427 BC[a] – 348/347 BC, r. ca 1089-1068 BC and c. 1027 or 1028[1] – 9 September 1087.
  • The linking of month-day pairs was the most overwhelmingly rejected part of the RfC process. Personally, I don't believe the "On this day..." section should be on the main page as there must be better information to provide to the casual reader. Anyhow, two wrongs don't make a right (in terms of us linking to pure trivia via month-day pairs).
  • For those who wish to determine who was born or died in a particular year, the search box looms large and inviting. The MOS is not the place for search instructions, but perhaps you could add the information you believe relevant to Wikipedia:Searching?
 HWV258  11:04, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Adam, the main page has a different tenor, a different relationship with readers. There, who-was-born-on-this-day is a good appetiser for the encyclopedia. When readers consult actual articles, the matter of rationing links to the most valuable becomes important. Month-day and year links are just too general for all but chronological articles themselves. And there's no end to it: link a few years/dates and before long they'll all be linked, without reason. That is what some of the other WPs do, and it seriously damages the professional look of the text and the value of their wikilinking. You might consider having a browse around the French WP.
More broadly concerning linking skills, I'd like to know what you think of this series of exercises. Critical feedback would be appreciated. Tony (talk) 12:25, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Is this an example of a preferred Wikipedia linking?

This article gives as an example of a preferred way to link to parton as this:

"Richard Feynman was known for ... as well as work in particle physics (he proposed the parton model)."

However, I have been advised that we do not Wikilink parentheticals. If this is true, the sentence above, in the Wikipedia:Linking article, should read something more like:

"Richard Feynman was known for ... as well as work in particle physics, in particular his proposal of the parton model.

If Wikiliking parentheticals is acceptable, please correct here the misunderstanding I was told, so in the future I will be able to point editors to this talk page archive. Thanks, Abrazame (talk) 08:54, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

... links are normally avoided within direct quotes, but i've never heard of any guideline against links within parenthetical phrases. what would the reason be? until further notice, that "rule" sounds like a misunderstanding. (maybe the context makes a difference, but for me the nonparenthetical version of that sentence reads better than the one with parenthetical, for reasons that have nothing to do with the link.) Sssoul (talk) 10:13, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for clearing up that misunderstanding. Indeed, I don't know why that would be a rule. But on that point, if I could press you one question further...what is the reason for not linking within a direct quote? Could you point me to the section where that is explained, again both for my own understanding and for future referral to others? Thanks again, Abrazame (talk) 10:31, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
the point about not linking within direct quotes is at Wikipedia:Linking#General points on linking style. the reason is to avoid inadvertently introducing some kind of "slanting" into the quote: what the linked article says might not be exactly what the person quoted meant. Sssoul (talk) 11:05, 30 December 2009 (UTC)
Or even to avoid advertently doing so! I understand. Sorry to have missed that, involved in a few other issues, I only word-searched the article for "quote". Thanks. Abrazame (talk) 11:12, 30 December 2009 (UTC)

Impending announcement: silliest wikilink of the month awards

Users are advised that His Grace the Duke of Waltham has agreed to be the inaugural judge of the Silliest wikilink of the month awards. There will be five monthly winners (August–December 2009) and an overall winner for 2009.

His Grace will make the announcement at WT:LINK when He is ready. The Duke's private secretary, Harold Cartwright, has emphasised that no correspondence will be entered into regarding the awards: His Grace's decision will be final. Tony (talk) 23:46, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Policy on automatic link creation

Is there any part of Wikipedia's link structure that is automatically created? Are there bots running to detect and link dates, people, locations, etc? Or is everything done manually? Is there anything detailed that I can read/cite about this?

This is an important question for me, because I use Wikipedia for computer science research. I've tried looking through the documentation on bots, but this is pretty messy. I've also asked at the help desk, and it was suggested that I post here.

Thanks, Dave (talk) 22:32, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

i know there are some "semi-automatic" link-proposing tools, but i don't know of any bots that attempt that kind of thing. Sssoul (talk) 11:40, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
You plan to create such a bot, Dave? Tony (talk) 11:44, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
I've done some research on the problem. It's an interesting one. Have a look at this video if you are curious.
So I take it there aren't any fully automatic link creation bots? Is there anyone I could directly contact to confirm this? What are the names of some of the semi automatic tools? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:59, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
What kind of links do you want to automatically create? I'm very suspicious, since WP as a whole is massively overlinked already. Tony (talk) 03:28, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Hi Tony. I am not trying to set up a bot, actually, but just to document what is going on already. A bit of an argument has sprung up recently among researchers, about whether the links are made automatically or manually. I just want to settle that if I can, and report it in my thesis. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:22, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
I believe that links are by-and-large created manually. There are tools (e.g. User:Nickj/Can_We_Link_It) to help create links (unfortunately).  HWV258.  04:32, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
There is a fully automated bot that delinks dates—see User:Full-date unlinking bot. Dabomb87 (talk) 22:10, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

Red links to persons

I had a problem recently where an article contained red links to persons. However, one of the persons had a blue link. I clicked on it, and it turned out to be the wrong person. I think what happened is the link was originally red, but later someone wrote an article about an entirely different person with the same name. This makes me think that red links to persons are a bad idea. Jc3s5h (talk) 14:43, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Recent addition

User James B Watson has added the last bullet to the guideline:

In general, link only the first occurrence of an item. This is a rule of thumb that has many exceptions, including the following:
  • where a later occurrence of an item is a long way from the first.
  • where the first link was in an infobox or a navbox, or some similar meta-content.
  • tables, in which each row should be able to stand on its own.
  • where a link to a significant related topic occurs embedded in the text of an article it may be useful to have a duplicate link in a "See also" section to make it easier to find.

I took the liberty of weeding out some redundant wording in this section while thinking about the addition:

In general, link only the first occurrence of an item. This rule of thumb has many exceptions, including:
  • where a later occurrence of an item is a long way from the first;
  • where the first link was in an infobox or a navbox, or some similar meta-content;
  • tables, in which each row should be able to stand on its own;
  • where an important link occurs in the main text, and a duplicate link in a "See also" section may make it easier to find.

What do people think about the addition? PS Anyone know how to align both boxes to the margin? It's misbehaving. Tony (talk) 13:35, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

  • The last point still risks clogging up the 'see also' section, as people continue to demonstrate remarkable lack of understanding as to what is 'important' or 'germane'. However, it can be useful in large articles (say, over 90kb) which are linked strictly according to the current version.

    On a separate point, I have qualified the line about tables. In my travels, I often see tables of twenty or thirty or so lines where there are a small number of (maybe three or four) rubrics where every line is linked. I feel that this can be very distracting and dilutive to higher value links in adjacent columns, and I often have little hesitation in removing the duplicates when I see the entire table is a sea of blue links. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:22, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Let's define the size of a table by the screen display. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:52, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Thinking about it some more, bullet 4 has the same effect as bullet 1, thus is repetitive/redundant. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:57, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
  • This edit was made on the pretext of wanting to leave linking of tables to editors' descretion. However, as it is currently worded, this is not achieved – this is no discretion, but a mandate for multiple low value links to dilute potentially valuable ones. I have therefore amended it to read linking to be at editors' discretion, as was likely intended. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 08:40, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, it seems sensible to make it optional. Tony (talk) 09:38, 21 January 2010 (UTC)

Announcement: Silliest wikilink of the month awards


Greetings, my fellow Wikipedians. I hope I have not kept you waiting for too long; I admit that I had underestimated the difficulty of the task entrusted to me, as well as the demands of my other pursuits on my time. Here I am, however, and I bring you the results of the judging process: the five monthly winners of 2009 and the overall winner for that year. Ladies and gentlemen, here follow last year's silliest wikilink of the month awards!

(Drum roll, please.)

  • Our first winner is Ohconfucius for his August nomination of "windows", from 2005 Sharm el-Sheikh attacks. There was a hard fight between it and "alcohol" (not in a bar, though), for they were equally useless; in the end, the Microsoft association that pops up in one's head on second reading won the day for the transparent-opening-in-a-wall camp.
  • For September 2009, the winner is Tony1 for "disaster" from Elton John. ("Human" and "lid" came close.) The link is pretty much self-describing; "utterly redundant" and "completely irrelevant" are the first characterisations to spring to mind, but this one also happens to grace a quotation. One almost expects an Easter egg there, explaining the exact nature of the disaster. This would be fine for the Daily Mail, but it is hardly appropriate for an encyclopaedia.
  • Many ridiculous links were nominated in October, but the difference in John Martin Scripps is that we have an entire collection of them. Nominated by Ohconfucius, who is this month's winner, the anatomy-themed links include such unknown concepts as "arms", "knees" and "torso". As only one link can actually be chosen, however, I have elected "head" to represent the group. Make of that what you will.
  • As tempting as "toilet attendant" may have been for its comedy value, one cannot ignore the fact that pretty much every person in the world old enough to read knows what a dog is. And even if they don't remember that one of the most prized qualities in a dog is loyalty, the reader was helpfully reminded of this in the text. The canine was mentioned (and linked) in passing in Characters of Final Fantasy VI and the winner for November 2009 is (again) Ohconfucius.
  • December 2009 was another month with worthy nominations, including the first two from non-mainspace pages. But the award can only go to one contender, and I have decided to bestow it upon Adrian J. Hunter for "Wikipedia" from Wikipedia:Manual of Style (biographies). The assumption that anyone would be reading a Wikipedia project page (in the Manual of Style of all places!) without knowing what Wikipedia is simply cannot go unrecognised. "Computer-generated cartoon elephant" initially seemed to be a strong contender on pure-silliness grounds, but I could not accept it because it was actually a group of links.
  • And now, for the great winner of 2009, we have five candidates (this being SILLIWILI's inaugural year): "window", "disaster", "head", "dog" and "Wikipedia". And the silliest wikilink of 2009 is... "window"! Congratulations, Ohconfucius; you get to hold the cup for one year.

And so ends the first awards ceremony of our competition. I hope to see more entrants in the following year, so that both the range of winners and the number of different examples to avoid can be increased. See you again in a few months, either as a returning judge or as a contestant. From Waltham Hall, I bid you a good day! Waltham, The Duke of 10:15, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

  • I would thank the Duke for his precious time and effort in judging the awards for 2009, and for bestowing same upon me for several of my entries. Oh, Malleus will be disappointed – I seriously thought he had an excellent contender! There are no shortage of 'silly wikilinks' out there, and I encourage a greater number of editors to submit entries in the future. I will not be upset if this means I no longer monopolise the awards. ;-) Ohconfucius ¡digame! 13:30, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
    • Congratulations Ohconfucious. I was sure I had that one in the bag. :-) --Malleus Fatuorum 19:30, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
      • Well, I'm shocked that my "toilet attendant" got nothing, nix, zilch, niente, zèro. Tony (talk) 21:53, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
        • I choose to believe that surprising you is a good thing, dear colleagues. :-P In any case, "silliness" is a fairly subjective criterion, so this discrepancy between expectations and results ought to have been anticipated. (That is not to say that I didn't use some objective criteria as well, however. The concept of bad links was defined long before I wore the black cap and pronounced judgement on a few hapless specimens.) Waltham, The Duke of 00:54, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Rats, I'm just a little too late. Today, I reverted a string of edits in which an editor managed to link "conflict", "frustration" and "actress". Amazing.  HWV258.  10:12, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Please, add to the January entries. Tony (talk) 11:20, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Arb. Break

Not to take away too much from the humorous value of the above, but some of these beg the question: when should we ever link to words like "window" or "dog" or the like? WP is meant to be a web, with articles having incoming links in addition to outgoing ones. I understand the importance of avoiding seas of blue text, and avoiding links of words that should be clearly obvious if you've already found your way to in the first place. But taking these to heart, articles like "window" or "dog", by this type of advice, would never have incoming links, it would seem, and that's harmful itself as well to the wiki.

So, the begged question is: all other factors the same, when should we be linking to articles that are common english terms that we would otherwise avoid (per the above)? --MASEM (t) 15:02, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

It is a good question, and lies at the heart of the over-linking issue. I think the short answer would be "link when the target article's contents would give the reader a better understanding of the subject they are reading about". In this sense there are many articles which ought to almost never be linked because their subjects are only mentioned in passing and we all know what they are; the link offers no benefits and contributes to over-linking. Window is one such article, as no user of Wikipedia is expected not to know what a window is. However, the article clearly exists, and has information on the history, types and construction of windows. All this is relevant to many architecture- and construction-related articles, not to mention the various types of windows which can link to the main article for background. Links in such cases are often not only useful but necessary.
Every article notable enough to be included in Wikipedia should have a range of other articles relevant enough to link to it (and theoretically well-developed enough to mention it). For the most notable ones this remains true, even if their subjects are mentioned far more often. "Mention" does not equal "content relevance", however, and therefore their respective treatments also differ with respect to linking. Waltham, The Duke of 17:00, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree. It is hard to think of a context in which just "Window" is useful. The article is quite detailed and includes an historical section. A section-link could possibly be useful ("British architects tended to include more [[Window#Casement window|casement windows]] in the designs at the start of the 20th century." The article on "Dog" may be worth linking in the lead of "Bull mastiff" (indeed it is linked), but frankly dog gives no focused information for the likely reader of "Bull mastiff". Perhaps the section "History and evolution" from that article might be worth linking from Origin of the domestic dog. Again, the emphasis is on focus and utility. Tony (talk) 22:42, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Both of these fall in line with how I think it should work , too. It seems the best way to describe this is to say, when included in an article that provides "parallel information" to the common english term, we should link it (per all other normal linking rules). Now, what I mean by "Parallel information" are concepts that fall in the same field or are of the same type of term for that field. Linking "window" in an article about history of construction of homes makes sense, but not in, for example, the description of a character being thrown out their window to their death, or the like. Linking "dog" in articles about specific species of dogs, or even other animal species, but not about the current Presidential pet, or cartoon or animated dogs. I don't know if there's a better way to word this, but I'm thinking that any advice towards this end is going to help improve WP:LINKING. --MASEM (t) 14:49, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Isn't the current text, "Unless they are particularly relevant to the topic of the article, avoid linking terms whose meaning can be understood by most readers of the English Wikipedia", adeguate? ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 20:06, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Some of you are missing a point: people don't just follow links to find out the meaning of some phrase they had never heard before (indeed, it is a Bad Thing if a reader needs to do that; see WP:NOT PAPERS, point 5); they also do that in order to know more about something they already have a vague knowledge of. 615,173 people visited the article on Barack Obama last month; how many of them do you think didn't know who that guy was beforehand?
Of course most people reading the article 2002 Bou'in-Zahra earthquake already roughly know what a earthquake is; but it is very likely that someone reading such an article will be interested in more details about the geophysics, the issues relating to, and/or the effects of earthquakes in general; the link to earthquake at the top serves for that. Likewise, someone reading the article Group 11 element very likely has already heard of copper, silver, and gold, but it is very likely to want to know more about the the natural occurrence, the chemico-physical properties, and/or the uses of each one of those metals; so there are links to their respective articles. Also, everybody roughly knows how long a second is, but on reading that the metre is defined as the distance travelled by light in 1/299,792,458 of a second, they might be curious to know how the second is in turn defined, so we link second.
Back to our example, someone reading the article Canidae might be interested in details about the zoology of the wolf, the coyote, and/or of the dog; the links at the top do that. It is somewhat less likely that a reader of Bullmastiff wants to do that, but still quite possible, and the lead of that article isn't so full of blue that blueing three more letters is going to be ipso facto a problem. On the other hand, the probability that someone reading about a fictional dog might become interested in the zoology of real dogs in general is negligible. (Similar examples with Window are left as an exercise for the reader.)
BTW, I think it is normally more useful to link to Casement window than to Window#Casement window; sections often start abruptly (i.e. assume the reader has already read the previous part of the article) and are less likely to be expanded. And I don't get the point of directly linking Dog#History and evolution from Origin of the domestic dog, as the former is (supposed to be) a summary of the latter. Linking to the top of the former article, where the reader can get to the TOC with one keystroke and decide themselves what particular aspect of dogs they are most interested in, is more useful.
The bottom line is that if the set of people potentially interested in reading a particular article is empty, there's little point in writing the article in the first place. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 09:14, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't understand your last point; is there a word missing?
Yes, sorry. Added. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 10:19, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
"615,173 people visited the article on Barack Obama last month; how many of them do you think didn't know who that guy was beforehand?" Yes, but how many visited via a wikilink rather than a direct google or search-box action? (Rather a tiny proportion, I suspect, although it's impossible to tell.)
Yes, having the toolserver count the referring URLs as well as the total page visits would be interesting. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 12:51, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I have to say that your rationale appears to mandate the linking of just about any item in text: that slippery slope will lead us down the ugly blue-spattered text—unrestrained wikilinking that probably inhibits link-clicking, no doubt the opposite of editors' intentions, because they're not seeing it from readers' point of view. The advantages and disadvantages of adding each link should be skilfully weighed up, and we should avoid the assumption that not linking an item is somehow denying access to that article.
No, my rationale isn't that one. There are plenty of items which I do not think should be linked. And I am viewing it from the POV of the reader too – I am quite frustrated when I read an article and cannot find a link to an obviously closely related topic I become interested in. Not linking an item doesn't deny access to the article provided that, among other things, the reader knows that an article about that topic exists and is willing to bother to search for it. Removing all public transportation to a borough isn't going to be a good idea even if you aren't blocking people from accessing it by their own means. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 10:19, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
User Piano non troppo, a professional webmaster and programmer, has written of his experience and intuition WRT to the saturation of text with links and the surprisingly low level of link following by readers. This accords with what psychologists have learned by direct experiment theoretical analogy WRT signal-to-noise ratio, confirmed by User Holcombea, a US researcher in the field of visual perception. I can provide links if required. Tony (talk) 09:37, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm not proposing to saturate text with links. I completely agree that the blue in Irish phonology#History of the discipline, for example, makes it nearly unreadable. I'm saying that it makes little sense to remove a link from a sentence containing no other links on the sole ground that it is to a word everyone has heard before, no matter how strongly relevant to the article. As for the surprisingly low level of link following, that likely varies from person to person and from situation to situation. That might be true for most people, but removing links on that grounds would be like banishing photomultipliers because most people never or seldom use them. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 10:19, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Speaking purely as a reader (I barely edit Wikipedia anymore), I have noticed I am growing in frustration when reading articles, when I am having to use my internet search engine to find Wikipedia articles which really I felt I should just have been linked to. Now, I know that overlinking is a problem - I recall that link saturation was pretty horrible on Wikipedia circa 2004. But I do wonder if people are being somewhat overzealous removing links that, to them, feel redundant - there is an underlying difficulty that the utility of a link will vary greatly from reader to reader, and some subgroups of users have different needs to others. Some subgroups are obvious and it should be relatively simple to take into consideration: readers with different levels of English, readers used to different varieties of English, readers who are inexpert on the topic of the article. Other subgroups of readers may be non-obvious: different groups of readers have arrived at the article in different ways, for instance (those landing from a search engine may be more likely to be searching around for links that would give greater context, while those who have got there from an internal link on a related article may already have a better sense of context) and readers who arrived via a section link (who are to some extent discriminated against if the "link only once in an article" rule is too strictly applied to, and a link that is important for general understanding only appears above the section they arrive at). Finding a way that balances the needs of all these groups, while not leading to a plague of unnecessary blue everywhere, is tricky.

I think the Obama example was not as helpful as it may first appear - I would suggest that, since Obama is a specific individual, his name should be linked at least the first time it appears in any article. The proportion of people who arrive at the Obama article from such links compared to external search engines is actually besides the point - a more interesting statistic would be, for any given article into which a link to the Obama article has been inserted, what proportion of users make use of it? Even if this proportion is fairly low, I suggest that in most cases it is worthwhile. (Although this isn't a cast iron test of a link's worth: in most such articles, I doubt any improvement would be created by removing the Obama link and creating another link elsewhere; so if we accept the current level of bluelinkage, the Obama link itself is not sub-optimal.) I have some suggestions - mostly these are "indisputably correct" in the sense that I know these suggestions would be useful to me, but are "controvertible" in the sense that my needs, and needs of other readers like myself, may not be easily incorporated into clearly defined rules that would be useful to apply for editing purposes, or would actively reduce the utility of Wikipedia for other readers if applied. I have included some examples of nominated "silly links" that actually I felt there was a case for.

  • First off, there are several reasons why I might click on a link (or might want to, but find there isn't one given), so before removing a link or considering when to add one, it's worth thinking whether there are any readers who will have any of the following 5 thoughts:
  1. I don't know who/what/where this is (commonly: people, technical terms, places; also WP:ENGVAR problems etc)
  2. I know what/who this is, but I'm interested in some additional aspect of this new topic e.g. what it does/how it works etc because this will help my understanding of some specific detail of the current topic (commonly: links from a "specific" article to a "general" article; e.g. if reading about my local airport, I might want to find out about the purpose or functioning of runway, control tower etc and even the general article on the subject, "airport")
  3. I know what/who this is, but I want to find out more about it, because this seems interesting in its own right/helps me to see the current article in some wider context (commonly: links from one "specific" article to another, e.g. from one biography to a mentioned contemporary, or one breed of dog to another)
  4. I know what/who this is, but want to visit this new article because it may give more useful links to follow, and those may put my current article in better context (commonly: links to a "general" or "list of" article; for instance from an article about a particular type of window, to "window" itself, or from a breed of dog to an article about "dog", or "list of dog breeds")
  5. I was told earlier what/who this is, but I've now forgotten (commonly: people - personal names convey less "sense" or meaning than even abstruse technical terms - mentioned towards the start of a long article, but who then only reappear several pages later; in fairness this could often be resolved by a more explanatory writing style when a subject is reintroduced after a long break rather than a wikilink)
  • In general links of the type in point 1 (broadly construed to mean any time there is something/someone mentioned that a significant proportion of readers wouldn't be able to identify; bear in mind WP:ENGVAR issues), ought to be linked regardless of relevance. I saw a link to "parka" in the list of removed silly links, but I would have had to look it up had I read the article; even though it turned out that the topic of parka/anorak was not especially pertinent to the article about Korea, without knowing what a "parka" was I could not realise that, and would have been compelled to look it up. In the case of non-pertinent links such as this, it seems to me that a wiktionary entry would have sufficed, but it doesn't seem harmful to link to the wikipedia entry, since that too identifies the meaning of the word, and either way it requires a blue link.
  • Some links are more essential to understanding than others. If there is an article which some readers enter via a section link, then it is worth repeating such high priority links if they were only previously linked above the relevant section link. Similarly for point 5, an "essential" link might in certain circumstances be more worth repeating than a non-essential link, if the previous time it was mentioned and link was several pages higher up in the article.
  • One aspect of "pertinence" is whether the current article is a "basic" or "general" article, or a more specific one. In an article about "houses", I might expect to find a link to the general article about "windows". In an article about a very specific house, I wouldn't expect such a general link - although a link (possibly a section link) explaining the particular type of window used in this specific house would make sense.

Just my two cents, but I wanted to give a reader's viewpoint. I've perceived a genuinely irritating rise in frustrating "non-links" over the past couple of years. TheGrappler (talk) 23:15, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree with most of your points, but case 1 should be avoided as often as possible. If in an article "parka" is used in a way such that one cannot figure out from the context that it is a heavy garment, adding the link makes things only marginally better, as it requires readers to jump to another article to understand the sentence, they are lost in hardcopy, etc. It is unavoidable to do that in articles over über-technical topics such as de Rham cohomology, but most articles aren't. See WP:NOT PAPERS. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 02:38, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
In the past I would have tended to agree with you. But the widespread adoption of tabbed browsing, and also the availability of WP:POPUPS (particularly if it's only for the basic definition of something), make checking out a link far easier than reaching for my OED or having to do a googlesearch for the uncomprehended word or phrase. Of course it would be far better to address the issue by better wording: including of regional English variations where necessary, or giving a paranthetic explanation for terms the reader may not be familiar with (perhaps in a similar model to the way The Economist always carefully introduces each corporation mentioned in an article), or better still to avoid the use of words or phrases that readers may need to look up, if there are alternative ways to phrase them or if they can be left out altogether if essentially irrelevant to the article. TheGrappler (talk) 16:46, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

New links template

Users are advised that a template has been created for use at that top of articles that have significant compliance problems. It can be inserted simply as:

{{Linkaudit}} or {{Overlinked}}

However, the date of posting should normally be included, thus:

{{Linkaudit|date=January 2010}} or {{Overlinked|date=January 2010}}

to render this:

Ohconfucius ¡digame! 16:05, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

I have redirected this new template to {{Overlinked}}, as it has the same function Template:Overlinked has been fullfilling so far. I have notified the author and he has agreed. Debresser (talk) 17:20, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Year linking

What is written now:

Year articles (1795, 1955, 2007) should not be linked unless they contain information that is germane and topical to the subject matter—that is, the events in the year article should share an important connection other than merely that they occurred in the same year. For instance, Timeline of World War II (1942) may be linked to from another article about WWII, and so too may 1787 in science when writing about a particular development on the metric system in that year. However, the years of birth and death of architect Philip C. Johnson should not be linked, because little, if any, of the contents of 1906 and 2005 are germane to either Johnson or to architecture.

I disagree with these OPINIONS 100%. The BIOGRAPHY of a person fits within the context and parameters of the years of birth and death. Having a link makes it easy to compare the world the person was born in with the world they grew up in and the year they died in.

I note that publications, even when writing abbreviated bios, almost always include the essential birth and death years, such as Columbia Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, for a time, rightly had links to years. The recent "delinking" craze has forgotten that one of the two most important features of Wikipedia is the wikilink (the other is that "anyone can edit").Ryoung122 08:08, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

You're right that linking is essential to the idea of WP, which is why it's important not to add too many. When an article is a sea of blue, each link is practically meaningless, which is why there's been a push to persuade editors to use them judiciously. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 08:30, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
here is the third of three recent RFCs showing that consensus is firmly against routine links to years of birth and death. Sssoul (talk) 08:47, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
I will note that all biographies at WP mention the essential birth and death years so we are at least as "good" as the Columbia Encyclopedia in that regard. :-)
I will take exception to the "rightly" part of "Wikipedia, for a time, rightly had links to years". The decision not to link dates of birth and death was a consensus-driven process commented-on by hundreds of editors. The use of the pejorative "craze" firmly plants the above observation in the personal point-of-view category (and, as the debate showed, a tiny minority view at that).
I will also take exception to the use of the (shouted) word "OPINION", as no statement could be further from the facts. The wording of Option 1 came about after a tortuous process involving editors from all points-of-view. The fact that 208 editors supported the wording further removes it from the domain of "opinion".
I'm curious, so a direct question to Ryoung122: During the period of the poll (March 30, 2009 to April 13, 2009) you made 60 edits, however your username doesn't appear anywhere on the polling page. Did you not know the poll was occurring? If you did know, why didn't you inject the arguments that you now feel are so important? I ask of course because you have to appreciate how frustrating it is to go through the entire datelinking debate, only to have to relive it now that one editor doesn't like the result to which so many editors agreed.
 HWV258.  00:37, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Infobox country

I just found out that the above template links words such as 'Area', 'Water', '%', and have asked for these terms to be delinked. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 06:41, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

City-region template

I've just come across Template:City-region, which seems to go against the grain of linking articles in an intelligent manner to add value to the project. I don't quite see what the point of creating two links where one will suffice. I guess someone at some point must have thought it a good idea, as it is used in over 15,000 articles,. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 01:46, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

It can be useful in rare cases where the town is small and not particularly noteworthy so that it's unlikely to ever have an article of a decent size, and the region is relatively obscure. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 12:19, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
How is it useful in that circumstance? Tony (talk) 10:00, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
and how often do you think that occurs? Ohconfucius ¡digame! 11:22, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
Imagine the sentence "Pablo was born in Altamirano, Guanajuato". The first link provides no more information than anybody would be able to figure out from the context; most people would likely find the second link more helpful. In cases where the town has no article yet, that would be even worse: Ahuatlán, Puebla is going to be much less useful than Ahuatlán, Puebla. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 12:04, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
I presume there'd be a space after the comma. "Gaunajuato" is linked in the article on Altamirano. Why link it at the original anchor? The fact that there's an article on Altamirano is going to necessitate a click there anyway by the reader, to find it's a total stub, whether they go there first, funnelled from the anchor, or via the state, another possibility you're suggesting justifies the linking of all states in all such circumstances. It's fair enough when the article is a red link, though. So again, I still don't see the advantage of this city, region template: what more does it do that can't be achieved by controlling the linking manually for the benefit of our readers? Tony (talk) 12:11, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
By "it" I meant "creating two links" not "Template:City-region". I'm not sure I understand you correctly when you say "via the state": the article about Guanajuato never mentions Altamirano... (Was there supposed to be a "which" before "justifies"?) As for "all states in all such circumstances", my point doesn't apply to well-known states such as England, California, or New South Wales. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 14:01, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
No, a "that" (cf. CMOS), but it's not essential. This is a rare case that does not justify the use of this template, nor of the practice of blindly linking all states (and even a third element, the country), where it's totally unnecessary. Tony (talk) 02:11, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Whatever what prescriptivists say, both "that" and "which" are OK in such sentences. (A Student's Introduction to English Grammar cites "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" from the KJB and "a date which will live in infamy" from a speech by Roosevelt; Pullum once wrote an extensive post about that on Language Log.) I guess one of them is needed anyway when it's the subject of the relative clause; at first, I took the comma after state to be a splice, except that the result didn't make much sense. That said, I agree that cases when that's useful are likely so rare that it's unnecessary to have a template for them in the first place. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 16:38, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Does Template:English create overlinking?

{{English}} expands to:

[[English language|English]]

for use in the "Language" entry of any article infoboxes. Under what circumstances would such a link add value? Ohconfucius ¡digame!

I know I appreciate links to other languages in, say, country infoboxes. Perhaps there are non-native readers of the English Wikipedia that want to read about English when visiting the England article. Or even native speakers of the language. But perhaps linking to English in film and TV infoboxes is overdoing it. That's not the template's fault. People should just type "English", no link.--Father Goose (talk) 00:15, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, linking our readers to English language almost anywhere is overlinking. I shoot them on sight. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:17, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps someone with AWB can quickly run through and remove the curly brackets aroud "English" in said infoboxes, if possible? Dabomb87 (talk) 00:22, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Are either of you suggesting that country infoboxes should not have links to the native/official languages? Seems highly relevant in that case, even when it happens to be English.--Father Goose (talk) 00:34, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I think it it would be acceptable to have the language links in country infoboxes, though I personally would never click on them. Dabomb87 (talk) 00:49, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Father Goose: why should the English language be linked in an infobox when you are reading the English WP? It is a textbook example of overlinking. No, the template needs to allow editors the control to link or not to link, so that "Mongolian" can be linked, and "English" (and many other languages) not. I agree strongly that this language template should be zapped by AWB. What purpose it serves no one has ever revealed. Seems like a case of geek-speak gone mad. Tony (talk) 02:09, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I wonder if you would similarly advocate that English language should not be linked anywhere within the England article. We don't link to other articles solely on the basis of whether people know what that other topic is; we also link on the basis of how strongly related they are. A country's official language(s) have a very plausible relevance to that country.
Linking to English from movie pages is a classic case of overlinking; removing links to English from country pages (including infoboxes) is a classic case of over-de-linking. I have to marvel at cases where linking seems to have become almost reflexively hated, regardless of whether there's a justification.--Father Goose (talk) 04:36, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
FFS, if somebody is redirected here to en.WP, this must surely have enough of an inkling what 'English language' is to no want to be distracted from a subject they want information on. Fine, if it's linked in the infoboxes of the UK, IRL, ANZ, SA, HK, MCO, SGP, India as official languages, but being transcluded in nearly two thousand articles, most of which appear to be about films, is overlinking beyond imagine. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:47, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps this is further proof that there are many severely overlinked articles in Media, Music categories. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:51, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
It's not a question of "not knowing what the English language is", it's a question of how strongly related it is to the article in which it appears. That justifies removing links to English from movie pages/infoboxes -- I would support that. But if for some reason I'm reading about a country that speaks English, there's a not-insignificant chance I, or someone else, would also want to read up on the English language as well.--Father Goose (talk) 04:36, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree with both of you. There's an interesting and related discussion I'm involved in at Talk:Terry Gilliam; what do you think? --John (talk) 04:42, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
  • No no no: there's something basic wrong here, Father Goose. It's not how related a link-target is; it's whether it would be useful to the reader in the circumstances, in understanding the topic at hand. Answer for English language: hardly ever, at least as a whole (i.e., not section-linked) article. Certainly not when cited as the official language of a country. You may as well start linking country, too. Tony (talk) 05:17, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
    IMO it's the probability that, given that someone is reading article A, they will want to read article B. I can think of several articles which should link to English language (though not so many as to justify creating such a template in the first place); for example, West Germanic languages and English grammar. England is more borderline; whether I'd link it would depend (among other things) on the surrounding link density, with the threshold being higher in infoboxes (as they aren't typically read as prose). (Personally, I seldom read a country article without taking at least a quik skim at the article about its language, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, I recall an old print encyclopaedia having no separate article about e.g. the Japanese language, which was discussed within the article about Japan.) For publications which just happen to be in English (as opposed to be about English), such a link is almost surely useless. (Even if they are indeed about English, if they are about a particular aspect of the English language rather than a general overview of it, a daughter-article link to e.g. English grammar – which will in turn link to English language – would be better.) ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 16:41, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I've requested over at Template talk:Infobox film that the automatic linking of English language be removed. Colonies Chris (talk) 12:10, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, Chris. ADM, I have no idea about this notion that because infoboxes are "not read as prose", the threshold for utility, relevance and focus should be lower. It doesn't make sense. The need to funnel readers towards the very items that may be useful to them ("Knoxville", not "South Carolina", nor "United States", which are "chain-linked" in this context), and not "English language" in the article "England", unless in a particular historical context there, in which case a section-link or daughter article to "English language" might be appropriate. Tony (talk) 12:25, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

My reversion of a major change

Wikipedia:Linking#Chronological_items has contained a critical word, "germane": "Month-day articles (February 24 and 10 July) should not be linked unless their content is germane and topical to the subject." The same word is used analogously WRT links to year articles. The wording of these subsections was inserted by the Clerk for the ArbCom Dates Case after a set of RfCs overwhelmingly endorsed this wording over others.

Two editors have recently changed this word to "relevant", which significantly weakens the ambit of the two guidelines. I have reverted this pending consensus here that the change would be desirable. Tony (talk) 08:15, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Comment Three editors, actually, as I also supported the change made by the first two. These editors made the change based on their belief that "relevant" is more accessible to a general audience, which makes sense in terms of a goal for these guidelines. From what I have found in researching the matter, changing the terms would not constitute a "major change". "Relevant" and "germane" appear (according to several dictionary and thesaurus definitions) to be equal in meaning in this context, and either would thus suffice to convey the point. While it is true that there was specific wording in the RfC last year that incorporated "germane", it is important to note that the term was used interchangeably with "relevant" throughout the voting section, the displayed options, and even in the heading of the winning choice ("link only relevant dates"). ArbCom did not select or mandate the specific use of "germane", and the differences between the selected text and the other choices did not revolve around the use of "germane" versus "relevant", but instead about other more fundamental changes. If we have the opportunity to make a guideline more understandable to a wider audience, it makes sense to take advantage of it. --Ckatzchatspy 08:26, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps I can't count. Who's the third? But it hardly matters. The RfC text agreed to by a huge majority with very large participation and prominent notification in the project used "germane", not "relevant". The time to object to the word was when it was framed (you played a major role in the preparation of the RfCs). If you want to link "germane" to wiktionary, go ahead, but English-speakers should know what it means if they don't know already: it's a standard, useful word in the language. Tony (talk) 09:29, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
I would also prefer to see "germane". It's a little stronger than "relevant". "Germane" carries a further connotation of "to the point," "appropriate," "what this is about."SlimVirgin TALK contribs 11:58, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
I'd prefer "germane" too. I think the people who read this page will be sufficiently literate to understand it, and as Slim says, it carries useful connotations.--Kotniski (talk) 12:13, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
I also favor "germane", per above. In addition, I've found when the word "relevant" is mentioned in linking discussions, some editors seem to think that just because an item is "relevant" (important to note), it deserves a link. For example, from the article Brad Pitt: "William Bradley "Brad" Pitt (born December 18, 1963) is an American actor". It is indeed very relevant that Pitt is American and that he is an actor. However, those terms should not be linked because there is nothing in those articles that significantly aids the readers' understanding of the article. Dabomb87 (talk) 13:47, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
I would support adding a wiktionary link to the first appearance of the word "germane", if that helps. Dabomb87 (talk) 13:49, 5 February 2010 (UTC)
  • I agree that the difference is not great. Let’s please get the facts straight, though. Perhaps Tony was trying to keep me out of it, but the wording was not “inserted by a clerk,” it was written by me. Moreover, “germane” and “relevant” are not the same. According to Merriam-Webster, “germane” means “relevant and appropriate” (my emphasis); it is a higher standard. Since the verbiage was the product of a lengthy give & take session and had been voted upon in a final RfC after several previous RfCs that had proved exceedingly contentious, let’s not tinker with it please; that is, unless all parties are in wide agreement for the change, which appears to not be the case here. As for relevant being “more accessible” than germane, this isn’t the simple-English version of Wikipedia. Greg L (talk) 17:23, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

P.S. I have no problem with Ckatz’ edit where “contents” was changed to “content” in two places if that makes them grammatically correct. I’m not sure, but it appears that if the plural form is used, the “either” doesn’t belong. We can all tweak—or even expand—the language on date linking to make the principle clearer; we just have to be good stewards and take great care to ensure that the intent of the majority in the last RfC is properly preserved. Greg L (talk) 19:34, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

  • The wording is established by a massive consensus, so it should stay, at least for now. I only wish CKatz will put up his arguments, as I have asked him on more than one occasion, rather than snipe or ride on the coat-tails of any editor who seeks to weaken the guideline – or in this case an editor who innocently changed the guideline purely because he/she thinks 'relevant' is a more common and easily understandable word than 'germane'. It seems that the editor already admitted it was a genuine mistake, so the case is closed. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 10:57, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, OC; we need to clarify some details in your post though. First off, my note near the top of this section clearly outlines a rationale for the change. Second, the editor you refer to (Matt5AU) did not say the change from "germane" to "relevant" was a "mistake". They actually just commented that the change was only a minor matter, and that they would "leave it to [Tony1] and Ckatz to decide whether to change the word, link it, or leave it as is." We haven't yet heard from the first editor who made the change. --Ckatzchatspy 20:41, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I am new to wikipedia, and confess to not fully understanding the politics of editing, particularly on contentious matters. Generally I try to tread carefully, particularly while I learn the etiquette. I backed away from this, as once I understood that there were other editors who had more time invested in creating this section of the article, I believed it be best decided amongst them. I was not an editor of the WP:Link page, but rather I was a user, reading it to further understand the best use of links in an article. When I came to the word germane, I had to look it up in the dictionary, so I replaced it with a similar word so that other users would not need to do the same. From reading the comments above, the word has a greater meaning than 'relevant', something that was lost on me the simple user (even after I looked it up). If you wish to convey this meaning perhaps it is better to replace germane with more than one word, such as "relevant and appropriate" as Greg suggests would be closer in meaning to the word germane. I do not consider myself to be any form of expert with the english language, but english is my first language, I have a tertiary qualification and use english to write technical reports regularly for work. I don't intend to further edit the page, but would just ask those who responded above to read my comments and decide if they can see a good reason to make the change. I still think it best that the regular editors decide to make the change (or not), but felt that I was obliged to provide the point of view of a regular user. Matt5AU (talk) 12:50, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
I wish all editors were as candid and thoughtful as you, Matt5AU. :-) Greg L (talk) 03:42, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Infobox musical artist

I've noticed that it encourages editors to link to 'rock music' and 'pop music'. I think it's about time to encourage some healthier linking practices. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 10:28, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Usually I'm firmly in the delinking camp, but in this case I'd be inclined to keep those links. The boundaries of rock and pop are fluid and hard to define, so there's a definite value in a link to a discussion of their characteristics & history, and insights into why a particular band is considered either rock or pop or both. Colonies Chris (talk) 11:59, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
i second what Colonies Chris has said (and it goes for "rock & roll" as well). Sssoul (talk) 12:33, 6 February 2010 (UTC) ps: i believe the sentence that OhConfucius has picked out is actually meant to note the need for piped links in the cases of these two genres - it's just not very well expressed. Sssoul (talk) 13:46, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
This is exactly the type of case where, despite being common english and knowledge, linking is appropriate because its a term within the same field (in the same manner as linking to window in a construction-related article). Even more so for consistency in the related group of infoboxes. --MASEM (t) 13:08, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Masem, this notion of "same field" is unfamiliar. Just why should a construction-related article link to the quasi-dictionary article on "window"? It's fodder for Silliest wikilink of the month award. Tony (talk) 01:56, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
The article in which window was awarded as the silliest wikilink of 2009 was not construction-related, indeed. What part of "Unless they are particularly relevant to the topic of the article" don't you understand? If you think "window" is a quasi-dictionary article, so fix it, or if you really can't be arsed to fix it yourself, just slap one of those templates on it (e.g. this one). ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 12:26, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

(outdent) the discussion of the musical artist infobox is probably better off on the infobox talk page, but there are good reasons for the "keep it general" principle in this case. meanwhile, i think "this notion of 'same field'" isn't exactly "unfamiliar" – it was part of the discussion in the "Arb. Break" section above, no? Sssoul (talk) 11:25, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

Request for Comment: Year-linking exceptions for persons noted as "links" to the past


While I had thought it was obvious that I was employing an "exception to the rule" argument rather than arguing against consensus (the fact that I wasn't editing non-longevous biographies for year links should be a clue), apparently I was mistaken.

Therefore, I am requesting that we have:

1. a period of discussion (say, two weeks) allowing for discussion of whether a very few articles concerned with "links to the past" should have an exception

2. Articles should be maintained at the status quo as of January 26 (before the current debate began)

3. That discussion on various pages (Jeanne Calment, Jiroemon Kimura, Marie Bremont, etc be brought here.

4. This discussion should focus ONLY on whether persons noted for extreme longevity (where "links to the past" is considered important by many, many multiple outside sources which existed long before Wikipedia did) should have a link in the article to the year of birth

I am leaving for now, more later.Ryoung122 23:31, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Comment by

I deplore the lack of year-links generally,for a long time it was an understood default Wikipedia style that of course all calendar years were linked on first appearance in any article.In this particular case it is of even greater importance.The births of the most particularly aged persons (perhaps the longest-lived and/or last survivor of each calendar year) should always be noted in the article about the year itself,so there is an element of recursion in the link from the biographical article.--L.E./ (talk) 18:27, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Could you please register and sign in: it takes about three minutes. Without signing in, it is difficult to verify your comments. If you need more information, please buzz me at my talk page. Tony (talk) 02:41, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Comment by HWV258

I encouraged Ryoung122 to promote the discussion of this topic to this page (previously, the majority of the debate was at Talk:Jiroemon_Kimura#Year_link). The issue of linking particular dates has been brought to a head recently as Ryoung122 believes it is appropriate to link the date of birth of "persons noted for extreme longevity". Reverting (linking/unlinking of dates) has occurred on the pages listed above (in point 3)—although that has recently diminished.

Following much debate and comment, a 2009 poll was conducted in which four options were presented to editors. The wording of Option 1 (which received the overwhelming support of 208 editors) is:

Year articles (1795, 1955, 2007) should not be linked unless they contain information that is germane and topical to the subject matter—that is, the events in the year article should share an important connection other than merely that they occurred in the same year. For instance, Timeline of World War II (1942) may be linked to from another article about WWII, and so too may 1787 in science when writing about a particular development on the metric system in that year. However, the years of birth and death of architect Philip C. Johnson should not be linked, because little, if any, of the contents of 1906 and 2005 are germane to either Johnson or to architecture.

Following this consensus, a date-delinking bot was authorised and has been moving through article space to remove date links (in accordance with community consensus). In an attempt to justify the linking of some dates, Ryoung122 recently removed the final sentence of Option 1. That action can be seen as an attempt to weaken the (consensus) policy, and demonstrates a willingness to circumvent community process in an attempt to achieve a goal. Ryoung122 has also made a large number of edits that relink the birth year of a person—all with an edit comment similar to "year links appropriate for oldest persons". Each of those edits followed the (consensus-driven and authorised) edit by a bot (or user) to delink dates. Each bot edit was made with an edit summary that provided a link back to a guideline page (for explanation). Ryoung122 is experienced enough to know that bots don't get authorised that perform actions that go against consensus. I therefore believe those edits to be disruptive. There is evidence that Ryoung122 desires other dates to be linked. For example this reversion re-established links for "2001", "2006", "2008" and "2009" (a non-revert edit could have been made to leave these dates unlinked). This indicates Ryoung122's sympathy in linking dates other than the birth year of "persons noted for extreme longevity". A personal observation is that Ryoung122 is simply not happy with the consensus decision to not link dates in general, and has now undertaken what appears to be a one-man crusade to buck the guideline.

The following points indicate why I don't believe the linking of dates policy should be altered in accordance with Ryoung122's stated wishes:

  1. The policy to not link dates of birth and death was decided by a large number of editors, and the debate that led to consensus occurred over a long period of time. The final sentence in the consensus-driven wording to indicate that birth or death years should not be linked is particularly clear, and does not contain a caveat as to the nature of the link (e.g. a person's age).
  2. The wording of Option 1 begins "Year articles should not be linked unless they contain information that is germane and topical to the subject matter". As has been pointed out to Ryoung122, there is little or nothing of relevance in the list of trivia that is reached upon clicking a year link. In the example given, there is nothing at 1897 that relates to either "Japan" or "Asia", and even if there was, there can be no relevance to someone who could only have been aged up to 12 months in 1897.
  3. A list of trivia in a particular year is not an effective mechanism in providing "a link to the past" (as has been given as a reason for establishing links on birth years). The events listed at a year page (e.g. 1897) are not even particularly good at establishing a setting or era for the birth of a person. To believe so is like saying that the 2000s can be defined by what happened in 2004. I'm more sympathetic to the linking of a decade (e.g. 1890s) from a biography article as at least the decade page attempts to define an era (and can therefore provide some sort of background into what may have influenced the person in the biography).
  4. It could be argued that the year a person was born does not make them famous. In the case of "extreme old age", it is the year they died (or the current year if they haven't) that makes them "famous". I don't believe the "fame" associated with having lived all the way up until 2010 is enough of a reason to justify the link of 1897 (in the example given above).
  5. The trivial number of readers who visit a biography page and wish to find out more about the events that occurred in the year of birth can easily get to the relevant year page by entering the four digits of the year into the WP search box and then clicking the "Go" button. This is an issue that was discussed during the date-linking debate, and it was thought that the small price paid for this process was considered worth it so as to not clutter the page with unnecessary links.
  6. The addition of year links adds clutter to a page and dilutes the more valuable links on a page.
  7. It should not be up to one editor to decide on exceptions to a guideline that evolved from a significant community-driven process. Ryoung122 writes about "exception to the rule" argument, however I don't believe that that argument can apply in this case. If the result of this discussion is to add a caveat to the guideline that says "years of birth may be linked in biographies of people who have reached extreme old age", then so be it. However until that consensus change has been reached, it is not appropriate for Ryoung122 (and others) to edit in contrary to the established guideline. Doing so goes way beyond "being bold".
  8. There has so far been very little support for Ryoung122's stance on this issue. This should be contrasted with the large number of editors who voted for Option 1 (the last sentence of which did not refine which years of birth should be linked). On the "Jiroemon Kimura" talk page there has been only one other (non-IP) editor who has supported Ryoung122's stance (that is User:SiameseTurtle). (Personally I don't mind IP edits in article space, but I disregard them in talk space as it is impossible to determine if the IP edit is simply an established editor trying to add weight to an argument. I know that veers away from AGF, but that's what experience has lead me to believe.)
  9. Ryoung122 has given a reason for his stance as "If you don't think the link is meaningful for you...DON'T CLICK ON IT!". Unfortunately, this is not an argument that carries much weight on WP, as we are a consensus-driven project, and accordingly we have derived guidelines to benefit our readers. Like it or not, consensus has indicated that years of birth and death should not be linked. Example reasons include: over-linking devalues higher quality links, and that WP is not a collection of trivia. The "don't click on it" argument is also the reason why just about anything can be linked (because the reader need not click on it, right?).
  10. This change would be the "thin end of the wedge" as far as the year linking guideline is concerned. Ryoung122 has provided the "extreme old age" argument, but what is to say that someone else won't take the relaxing of the guideline to be an invitation to further dilute it for other reasons? In this particular case, what does "extreme old age" mean anyway? I'm sure Ryoung122 has some sort of definition in mind (perhaps supercentenarian?), but whatever the definition is, there will always be scope for creep. For example, if the supercentenarian definition is used, I'm having a lot of trouble finding the reasonable reason for not linking the year of birth of someone who is currently 108 years old. After all, doesn't that birth year link provide a window into the past for a 108-year-old just as well as a link does for someone who is 110? For that matter, why not link 1897 for someone who was born in that year and died in 1967 (as that would also provide a link)? Sorry, once this guideline is relaxed for this proposal, it might as well be removed altogether which would open the floodgates for a return to the days of overlinking (something the community has made very clear it doesn't want).

Lastly, I would request that should Ryoung122's request to change the guideline be unsuccessful, then all of his "year links appropriate for oldest persons" date-linking edits be reverted.

Comment by Canada Jack

What Robert Young has proposed is an example of an exception to the rule, not an argument against the consensus of editors. I agree that in this case, year links are appropriate, and I further suggest that the consensus in the form of Option 1 describes a case where a birth year is of trivial interest where the birth year in the cases Robert Young discusses are crucial elements to very existence of the pages of the individuals in question. Indeed, the pages in almost all cases would not exist if this crucial detail was lacking. The inclusion of the years, therefore, are not "trivial," and, therefore, neither is their link to year pages.

My responses to HWV's comments:

1. The final sentence in the consensus-driven wording to indicate that birth or death years should not be linked is particularly clear, and does not contain a caveat as to the nature of the link (e.g. a person's age).

But the problem with what Option 1 actually says is that the example given is of a person whose connection to that year is trivial, and there is no particular connection to architecture per se. In the case of people who are noted for their extreme age, the year of birth is a central element to their inclusion on wikipedia. So, just as we expect links for Phillip Johnson to various architectural subjects, we should also expect links to the dates that some of these individuals are associated with.

To extend the analogy further, look at the case of Harry Patch, the so-called "Last Tommy" who fought in the trenches for Britain in WWI. Is Mr Patch a noted warrior? Someone whose valour in his day brought him accolades? Or someone who led a crucial charge? Or led the British forces? I'd think that beyond the general acknowledgment of valour due to all veterans, the answer would be "no." So then, why link this person to World War I when his contribution was non-notable, even trivial? Yet no one seriously argues that there should not be a link.

In his case, I would not argue for a year-link as no specific claim about his year of birth is to be found, and would be "trivial" - last British man alive from that year, or whatever.

However, in some cases, such as the one I saw on the last man alive from 1897, the fact that he is the last man for that year on the planet is in the lede, and part of what makes his entry into wikipedia relevant. Therefore, the lack of a "caveat" is irrelevant as the example provided is of an individual whose year of birth is trivial to his inclusion to wikipedia. In the cases Robert Young cites, the year of birth is central and crucial.

2. The wording of Option 1 begins "Year articles should not be linked unless they contain information that is germane and topical to the subject matter".

The year itself is what is germane and topical to the subject matter. It therefore warrants a link. And what happened in that particular year is what people in general would use to refer to when it is noted that an individual is the last co-hort of that particular year.

As I stated earlier, knowing that for the last person alive for, say, 1896, that that was the year the first Olympic Games were held, the year Wilfrid Laurier became prime minister of Canada, are items which are of interest to link from a page where the subject of longevity is discussed as it directly contextualizes how long a person lived. Indeed, a common journalistic approach to stories of extremely old people is to describe the world the year that person was born, even if that person was a) not involved in any of these events or b) wasn't even in the same country.

3. The events listed at a year page (e.g. 1897) are not even particularly good at establishing a setting or era for the birth of a person.

True, to a point, but that's where links to World War I, as in the case of Harry Patch come in. And, more to the point, a lack of a page providing "context" presupposes that a list of prominent events etc are irrelevant or trivial in and of themselves. Which is POV. I hardly believe that reading that the first Olympic Games was in the year an elder was born is not relevant as the proper "context" is not provided is a real argument against inclusion.

4. It could be argued that the year a person was born does not make them famous. In the case of "extreme old age", it is the year they died (or the current year if they haven't) that makes them "famous".

On the contrary, the fact that the person is alive from that particular year, if they are the last, is what makes them famous, though the link to the specific year, say 1897, isn't per se what makes them famous. But the fact that there is a sole living link to a particular year is noteworthy.

5. The trivial number of readers who visit a biography page and wish to find out more about the events that occurred in the year of birth can easily get to the relevant year page by entering the four digits

Since news sources routinely describe events of a year an extremely old person was born, it would seem your presumption that a "trivial number of readers" would be curious about the events of a particular year is incorrect. And we aren't arguing about linking all old people's year of birth, just those who are the last in a very few instances.

6. The addition of year links adds clutter to a page and dilutes the more valuable links on a page.

I would call that a trivial objection.

7. It should not be up to one editor to decide on exceptions to a guideline that evolved from a significant community-driven process. Ryoung122 writes about "exception to the rule" argument, however I don't believe that that argument can apply in this case. If the result of this discussion is to add a caveat to the guideline that says "years of birth may be linked in biographies of people who have reached extreme old age", then so be it.

But it isn't a true exception to the rule as the consensus was based on an example which trivially linked a birth year to a year page. In the cases we discuss, the year of birth is crucial, not trivial. The only amendment to the guideline, if one should insist on one, is to clarify that year links are appropriate when something notable about the birth or death year is stated in the lede. Such as "x is the last living person from year y." Which is notable.

8. There has so far been very little support for Ryoung122's stance on this issue. This should be contrasted with the large number of editors who voted for Option 1 (the last sentence of which did not refine which years of birth should be linked).

The "support" was for an instance for which the year of birth was trivial. In many of the cases Robert Young refers to, the year of birth is not trivial, it is crucial.

9. (O)ver-linking devalues higher quality links, and that WP is not a collection of trivia.

Year-of-birth in these cases is not "trivia." In 99 per cent of other cases, I agree, it is trivia.

10. This change would be the "thin end of the wedge" as far as the year linking guideline is concerned. Ryoung122 has provided the "extreme old age" argument, but what is to say that someone else won't take the relaxing of the guideline to be an invitation to further dilute it for other reasons?

Strawman argument. He's not suggesting we link all years of old people, and if he is somewhere I have missed, I would not agree. We are talking about cases, such as Kimura's which says, in the lede: "...and the last known living man from the year 1897." In that case, and in other similar cases, a link is entirely relevant, non-trivial, and does not violate the consensus of Option 1 which cites a case where a link would be trivial and non-germane as the individual is not noted for his year of birth. Kimura and some others are. Canada Jack (talk) 23:28, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Responses to Jack:

"So then, why link this person to World War I when his contribution was non-notable, even trivial? Yet no one seriously argues that there should not be a link." A link to a section or daughter article or related list is usually better than a link to the whole of this huge, complex topic. Ask what the reader is to do when clicking to WW1 whole article; would it not be better that we use our skills as editors and specialists in the topic to direct them more specifically (or not at all). It partly depends on the density of linking in the anchor text, too, of course. Dilution is always a concern in optimising wikilinking. It's a simple signal-to-noise ratio consideration, and knowledge of how too much choice is a turn-off for shoppers, readers, anyone.
"the fact that he is the last man for that year on the planet is in the lede, and part of what makes his entry into wikipedia relevant." I found this argument initially interesting, until I though it through properly. The notion is that we provide a link to a whole-year article (presumably a huge and all-embracing one) to show what kind of world this last survivor for that year was born into. But the problem is that the subject did not know that year; he was in a cradle. The year did not know him, either, except in a tiny familial way. The argument could be improved ad adsurdiam by suggesting that 1902, as the first time he probably would have been exposed to a world larger than that of the family home, is a more appropriate target. But even then, a five year old's purview is normally rather narrow and cossetted. Perhaps we could do every 10th anniversary year for the subject; that would be 1907, 1917, 1927, etc, so the readers could travel their way through the world as it was at equal stages through their long lives. You'd have to work those years into the prose, of course. It would be rather like the Seven Up film (is that the right title?), where they filmed a group of kids at age 0, 7, 14, 21, etc. Cute, but stretching the bounds of applicability in a serious information source.
But the elephant in the living room is that readers almost certainly don't read WP articles like that, stopping mid-sentence to click on huge year articles. Blue years also, just a little, have a dilutionary effect on the worthy links in the vicinity. A less weak argument could be made for packing year-links into the "See also" section at the bottom, where readers might be more prepared to divert, having actually read the article through uninterrupted. In the "See also" section, there's opportunity to append further information that may entice the reader to click.
However, I don't see long-livedness as a special qualification for exception from the overwhelming community consensus reached last year that dates of birth and death should not be linked. Anderson came up with one vaguely half-decent example last year (Kennedy's death year), and an argument could be put for its linking. I would argue against on the basis that anything in 1961 that relates sufficiently to Kennedy to help the reader understand Kennedy's life and achievements should probably be included in the article and/or more specifically linked to. Tony (talk) 03:51, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

One short comment on Tony's response: True, he does not know the year 1897, and the year does not know him. But Kimura's association with that particular year - not 1902, not 1917, not 1927 - is stated in the article, and noted as special, specific and noteworthy. The problem with your argument ad absurdum is no one is suggesting links to other years, and I have suggested the link is justified by the fact the individual is identified as the last male co-hort of the specific year, not that the said individual's life experience should also thus be linked to year pages.

The difference between, say, Kennedy's death date (an obvious note-worthy event in 1963 which would appear on the year page) and this is the fact that Kimura's birth in that year is a unique superlative identified only with a single person. Kennedy's death, while certainly noteworthy, is not an intrinsically unique event associated only with the year 1963. Canada Jack (talk) 17:08, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Comment II by HWV258

(Okay; so posting lots of points didn't work. Let's try one-by-one...)
Could those wanting these type of date links please explain to us why linking "1897" for someone who was born in 1897 and lived until 2007 (age 110) is a desirable link (as a "link with the past"), but linking "1897" for someone who was born in 1897 and lived until 1996 (age 99) isn't?

Because the person who was born in 1897 and died in 1996 wouldn't have an article unless they were noted for something OTHER THAN LONGEVITY. Longevity to age 99 is considered family-interest level's not likely to get more than a local newspaper mention. World's Oldest Person, however, or even "oldest person in NY" is likely to get major-media press.Ryoung122 02:57, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I didn't ask why the 99-year-old wasn't notable-enough to get an article; I asked why you don't believe a link to the year of birth for a 99-year-old is a "link with the past". There are plenty of 99-year-olds on WP that do have articles, so why don't you believe they should have a "link to the past" via their year-of-birth?  HWV258.  03:23, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Comment by SWTPC6800

Dead horse n (1830): an exhausted or pointless topic or issue —- usually used in the phrases beat a dead horse and flog a dead horse. Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 2003 -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 05:33, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Comment by Ohconfucius

This is a variant of the 'in living memory' rule which was proposed during the mammoth RfC, but which was decisively rejected. So I agree with SWTP that the equine is well and truly dead. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:20, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Comment by Sssoul

just curious: is this a new format for RfCs or did this simply not get properly listed as an RfC? (if the latter, that's fine with me! i'm just curious.) either way:
opposed. the notion that birth-year links add valuable context has been thoroughly rejected in previous RfCs, and a person's age doesn't alter that. on top of that: the presumption that people noted for extreme longevity are regarded as "links to the past" is strange anyway. as far as i know they are noted as examples of extreme longevity, not for being born in a certain year. Sssoul (talk) 09:27, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Comment by ?