Wikipedia talk:Outlines

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Essays
WikiProject icon This page is within the scope of WikiProject Essays, a collaborative effort to organise and monitor the impact of Wikipedia essays. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion. For a listing of essays see the essay directory.
 Low  This page has been rated as Low-impact on the project's impact scale.
WikiProject Outlines
WikiProject icon This article is an outline, a type of article that presents a list of articles or sub-topics related to its subject in a hierarchical form. For the standardized set of outlines on Wikipedia, see Portal:Contents/Outlines. Outlines are within the scope of WikiProject Outlines, a collaborative effort to improve outlines on Wikipedia.

RfC on navigational pages[edit]

I started the last RfC for a new namespace, and I think I know why it went wrong (mostly TLDR). I'm going to collect links and background tonight, and will help draft a discussion thread, for use at the VillagePump (or somewhere else, if anyone objects to VP).

There are a metric shitload of overlapping issues, so my biggest concern is anyone trying to oversimplify the issues. I'll elaborate on that (as succinctly as possible) tonight. The point form list of outline objections is up at #Points. However, there are related issues that aren't mentioned there.

Please (please) see the threads at User talk:Dbachmann#More on Outlines and User talk:Verbal#Outline RfC help request for a few of my tentative thoughts, but reply here or at my talkpage to avoid overwhelming those editors. Or reply at User talk:Karanacs/Outline RfC draft

Calm and patience would be greatly appreciated. -- Quiddity (talk) 21:14, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

ESSAYS ARE BORING — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:21, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

Problem with lack of suitable attribution, GFDL[edit]

(copied from #Ownership and expert input)

I have noticed that the introduction to Outline of Hungary was lifted direct from the Hungary article in this edit. There is no record of where the text came from, its list of authors or a link to the original version of the text - nothing.

Per my reading of WP:COPY#Re-use of text, this is a failure to attribute the authors of the text. There is no reasonably accessible method of checking the origin of the text at the outline page, nor any way of attributing its authorship correctly. This is very similar to the reason we don't allow cut-and-paste moves - as it says at WP:MOVE:

"The GFDL requires acknowledgement of all contributors, and editors continue to hold copyright on their contributions unless they specifically give up this right. Hence it is required that edit histories be preserved for all major contributions until the normal copyright expires."

Correct me if I'm wrong - but if I'm right this is going to take quite a bit of clean-up, as it doesn't seem to be an isolated case, e.g. Ancient Greece and Outline of Ancient Greece; Aerospace and Outline of Aerospace, etc.

Adding Template:GFDLSource to the affected articles would be one way to add attribution. Knepflerle (talk) 22:11, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Erm, WP is also under CC-BY-SA now, but the thrust of your argument is still basically right. --Cybercobra (talk) 00:52, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:Copying within Wikipedia and Talk:Outline_of_water#Lead. --Stefan talk 02:28, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Oh dear. Apparently I'm responsible for a good portion of these types of edits on country outlines. I didn't understand intra-wiki copyright issues at the time and am still a bit dodgy on the whole thing. Whatever I need to do to fix it, I'll do; I can't do it immediately though because of real life. --Danger (talk) 06:35, 21 October 2009 (UTC)
Depending on the exact content copied this may no be a problem. The facts are not copyrightable, while the selection and arrangement potentially are (feist v. Rural). If the selection and arrangement are following the pattern of other pages, then the GFDL problem lies with not ascribing the layout of, say OO Hungary to OO Greece. But realistically it's not a major problem, and can be obviated as suggested above, or by leaving appropriate attribution in the article history. Rich Farmbrough, 10:03, 8 November 2009 (UTC).
You've pretty much missed the point of that case entirely. Look at the recipe example given in the Implications section of that article - this isn't bare facts or a process that have been copied, this is direct verbatim copying of a selection of facts, their co-ordination and presentation, including the "expressive" content and phrasing. As the judge in that case pointed out, the lowest threshold for originality and creativity is very low indeed. Knepflerle (talk) 12:40, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

So, this is still an outstanding problem over many articles which needs fixing by tagging or rewriting. Is anyone from this project getting round to fixing it? Knepflerle (talk) 12:40, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I remove those I come across, but there is such a mess of them it's hard to make any headway without being accused of vandalising this project. Verbal chat 12:59, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Instructions for fixing these is at Wikipedia:Copying_within_Wikipedia#Repairing_insufficient_attribution. Giving credit is acceptable, the paragraphs do not need to be removed or rewritten or tagged.
I've given Danger a nudge, and will try to find time to do some work on these myself.
Verbal, feel free to help with repairing insufficient attribution. It's the continued page-renaming that was heavily warned against. -- Quiddity (talk) 21:15, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
That doesn't fix the problem, the verbatim copied introductions are plain bad style, against the MoS, and look rediculous. Keeping them in sync with the main article would be a nightmare, and not to would be poor practice and could leave historical errors. It's a poor practice that should be stopped. It is much better to remove them and replace them with something appropriate for a list. The page renaming to outlines has stopped, and we should move any outlines that are better named as lists (most) - but that is a separate issue. This issue, of out of place intros in lists, applies to all lists, of which outlines are a subset. Verbal chat 21:21, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
It does fix the "lack of suitable attribution" problem, which is what this thread is concerning.
(That said, I completely agree that it is a bad habit; however, articles like Credulity are entirely created from excerpted content, and we apparently don't forbid it.)
We don't need to keep-them-in-sync, but we don't need to make them this concise either (See any featured list for examples of introduction length). Somewhere in-between should be acceptable to most. (This topic might need a new thread, if you want to continue to discuss) -- Quiddity (talk) 21:44, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree that rewriting the intros is sufficient to solve the attribution problem, and not strictly necessary - but that doesn't mean rewriting isn't a good thing. I do agree with Verbal that a purpose-written intro would be more suitable for these quasi-articles if they are going to be hanging around article-space. Knepflerle (talk) 22:57, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Rewriting the intros would not be sufficient by itself, that's the problem. Even if all of the text is deleted, it still needs to be credited in the history, in case someone reusing the material somehow uses that diff, or it gets reverted to, or other related situations.
Rewriting the intros is a separate matter from providing attribution. - As I said above, somewhere in between the length that they are now, and Verbal's edit diff that I linked (a single sentence), would probably be a good target to aim for. -- Quiddity (talk) 01:54, 26 November 2009 (UTC)
"Rewriting the intros would not be sufficient by itself... it still needs to be credited in the history" - indeed, you're right. I stand corrected. Knepflerle (talk) 00:54, 27 November 2009 (UTC)
What exactly is the procedure for accrediting it in the history, and what needs to be included in the accreditation? Step by step, please. The Transhumanist 19:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Well theoretically, I fixed the Outline of England with with edit (According to the instructions at Wikipedia:Copying within Wikipedia#Repairing insufficient attribution, we just need to add an edit-summary explaining where/when the content came from), but Verbal reverted me, and I'm not sure why - he hasn't responded at Wikipedia:Copyright problems/2010 February 10 yet. -- Quiddity (talk) 19:52, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm finally doing my penance. Oh god, I'm so so sorry. This process is even worse than being sick. Although it's taking my mind off of the headache. --Danger (talk) 02:18, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

Fixing accreditation[edit]

Quiddity's advice is correct, but the three examples remain unfixed. And then there's all the other articles to find, check and fix. Knepflerle (talk) 14:01, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

I've completed the attributions for A-C (from Category:Outlines). I'll get back to this later. Assistance from other OOK project members would be greatly appreciated. Perhaps someone else could start on the geographical outlines, or at the other end of the alphabet? Thank you! -- Quiddity (talk) 22:41, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Workflow suggestion:
  • Open 1 tab with Category:Outlines.
  • Open an outline in a new tab.
  • Click "edit", and paste an edit summary that has gaps waiting to be filled. eg: GFDL NOTE: lead paragraph(s) were copied to here, from the article [[]], at . (+cleanup)
  • Open its history in a 3rd tab. Scan down the history looking for any obvious edit summary (often The Transhumanist used "add lead" in the midst of his 2006/2007 bulk edits), or by checking individual diffs until found.
  • Check the diff, and the article that it probably originated from (in a 4th tab) to make sure they are close matches and probable copies.
  • Copy/paste the date of the diff into your waiting edit summary. Copy/paste the name of the originating article into the other gap.
  • DO NOT FORGET to make a change to the outline (just add or delete a space at least) or some minor cleanup, so that it actually registers a difference and saves your edit summary. (If no changes are made, the edit summary will just be discarded).
  • Close all tabs except the 1st, and repeat (start on next outline).
HTH. -- Quiddity (talk) 23:15, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your efforts! Knepflerle (talk) 09:57, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Suggestion: One could make the accreditation fix edit slightly more productive by replacing keyboard - with – (& ndash ; without the spaces) per WP:ENDASH. Should likely be done eventually.... Minnecologies (talk) 19:27, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Essays are extremely boring and should be ... — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:19, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

List of accreditation fixed[edit]

Please update here

In Category:Incomplete outlines, some redundancies:

In Category:Outlines of regions (5)

  • Africa, North America, South America, Yes check.svg Done Minnecologies (talk) 19:25, 7 May 2010 (UTC): I cannot figure out why but my browser is unable to edit either Europe or Asia's outlines, someone whose internet is not challenged will have to do them, they were edited:
  • Lead of Europe was copy and pasted on 03:45, 27 March 2008
  • Lead of Asia was copy and pasted on 01:59, 27 March 2008
Yes check.svg Done (I had problems loading the pages at all. I received error messages when saving. However the edits show up in the page histories, so I believe they were successful.) -- Quiddity (talk) 19:46, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

In Category:Outlines of countries (300), some redundancies

In Category:Outlines of U.S. states (51)

  • A-K
  • L-N
  • O-Z

country factual info hard to place in main page article[edit]

There are several bits of information about countries that are on the one hand very relevant to people exploring that country, while on the other hand very difficult to take into the prose version of the "normal" country article.

Examples of this are "side of the road traffic drives on"; "voltage of current"; "type of electric plugs" (forgive my English here as I am no native speaker and unfamiliar with the jargon; hope you get the meaning)

There is an ongoing discussion where to place this type of information, and the only option so far seems to be the infobox. In my view this overloads the infobox.

In my view, outlines would be a very relevant place as it summarises factual information. Also it would give the outlines information of interest located in a structured way with the country only in the outline (a unique selling point for the country outline). How do you guys think about adding this type of information to the standard country outlines? Arnoutf (talk) 20:02, 24 November 2009 (UTC)

You want a travel guide, not an encyclopaedia. Even the CIA world fact book doesn't cover that detail. A list might be a good place for this, but I see no special role for "outlines". Verbal chat
That information is currently given at Right- and left-hand traffic and Mains power around the world and AC power plugs and sockets. I agree that this information would overload an infobox, and could potentially be usefully added to outlines, these specific examples under the "Infrastructure of [country]" headings. -- Quiddity (talk) 21:52, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Note those headings break the WP:MOS. Verbal chat 22:05, 24 November 2009 (UTC)


This proposal has been marked as failed, as consensus in its favor was not established within a reasonable amount of time (and it's been a long time). Verbal chat 21:39, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

I didn't think time has meaning in finding consensus on Wikipedia, and I do wonder how a decent discussion can it be achieved that with the application and tone of your edits regards outlines and proponents of it, verbal, you are not neutral in this issues and I suggest leaving final judgements to a neutral party. I have reverted the fail, the previous edit denoted it as an essay and I see no proper rational at moment to upset the status quo. Lee∴V (talkcontribs) 22:06, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Agree with Lee. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 23:27, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Agree with Lee and SmokeyJoe. The Transhumanist 17:42, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
What would you propose is a "reasonable amount of time". The backers of this policy have had plenty of opportunity and have been asked repeatedly to go to the community. Verbal chat 18:11, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
It's an essay, and therefore it is not subject to a "failed" tag. This is the wrong venue for your attack on outlines, as this is a set of instructions on how to build a good one - not a request for permission for outlines to exist. The proper venue for deleting outlines is AfD. That is a very wide discussion forum, and will attract the greatest amount of feedback from Wikipedians. Quit trying to go around AfD. I've detailed my objections to your insidious outline deletion campaign at User:Verbal#Deletion war: Please stop. The Transhumanist 20:02, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
You have been asked, indeed told by admins reviewing your behaviour, to establish consensus for your actions with the community. Please do it, as you said you would, and stop disregarding community approved policies and style guides to build your empire which you are forcing on the rest of us despite its severe problems and limitations. You should stop wasting effort on these pointless pages and try and get consensus for your actions, otherwise you may find they are all simply deleted one day and all your time will have been wasted, and that will be a shame. Verbal chat 20:47, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, you've presented that out of context by generalizing it. I renamed about 30 pages from "List of" to "Outline of", and have refrained from doing so since then. The outline pages follow policy and guidelines. If you'd care to point out specific violations, then I'll be happy to point out the exceptions in the rules and any misinterpretations you may have made on the rest. Many people find the pages valuable, as can be seen in the AfD nominations. The Transhumanist 22:06, 22 February 2010 (UTC)
I completely agree that some things need to change.
There are some (imho) daft and indefensible examples of outlines, like Outline of life extension and Outline of James Bond (does every fictional universe get one? and other quibbles, etc). However, conflating these poor examples with perfectly good outlines, like Outline of anarchism or Outline of cell biology, makes it hard to communicate. We do need to discuss the "Scope" that outlines should cover, and restrict it in some way. (preferably in a new thread, or location).
The Indexes, eg Index of Japan-related articles, have no "approved consensus to exist" either. They, and the Lists of basic topics, have existed almost since the Wikipedia began. Please stop trying to imply that rules have been broken in allowing these to exist at all. There are problems, but this is not one of them.
If we could keep further discussions non-personal and somewhat-objective, that'd be great.
More later. -- Quiddity (talk) 21:22, 22 February 2010 (UTC)

The failure of this project to sort even one of the three CC-by-SA attribution violations pointed out explicitly above in five months(!) reflects both on the relevant timescales and "success" of this venture. Knepflerle (talk) 13:54, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

I was hoping the editors who had done the copy/pasting were going to fix their errors. I think perhaps everyone is just tired of being harangued, and so are concentrating on projects elsewhere, currently. I've made a start on the fixes, as noted above, hopefully others will join. -- Quiddity (talk) 22:47, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
Exactly, what is the point of working on something when there is a risk of all of it being deleted?? I just want the RFC to be over and get a consensus one way or another, after that I might be able to bother again. Now it is just a war that I do not want to fight, I want to spend the little time I have for wikipedia to do something useful, not having the risk that it all will be deleted. --Stefan talk 00:47, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
I see that it might be a chicken-and-egg situation, as it is very unlikely that a project with attribution issues will survive the RfC. I agree that it would be a good thing to have the RfC sooner rather than later. Knepflerle (talk) 09:56, 10 March 2010 (UTC)
Regarding risk, I don't think there is any danger of them all being deleted, as only 1 or to editors have expressed that as a preference. There are currently 3 potential solutions, (as far as I can tell) - 1) Pages being marked somehow as "non-article/mostly-navigatory" like disambigs are, and left in mainspace. 2) Being moved to portal namespace or a new namespace. 3) (?I'm forgetting something, and need more coffee?) Being renamed back to "List of basic X topics" maybe? something else?
We do need help getting an agreeable wording for the RfC at User talk:Karanacs/Outline RfC draft, though. One and all are welcome to give input. The talkpage isn't that long yet ;) -- Quiddity (talk) 18:35, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Assistance request[edit]

Please give input at User talk:Karanacs/Outline RfC draft, or improve the RfC's wording directly.

Please give editing-assistance at #Fixing accreditation, above. (instructions included). Thanks! -- Quiddity (talk) 18:35, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Please help in completing the proposed merges of the Historical outlines of regions, as per consensus. Minnecologies (talk) 16:25, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Portal:Contents/Outlines[edit]

This is to inform this project that a page under this projects scope is being considered for deletion. Pls see Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Portal:Contents/Outlines.Moxy (talk) 16:54, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Outline Guideline drafting underway[edit]

Based on the discussion at Wikipedia:Village_pump_(proposals)#Alternative_Outline_Articles_Proposal, the writing of a draft of an Outline Guideline is underway at Wikipedia:Outlines/Proposed Outline Guideline. The Transhumanist 01:15, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Merged guideline draft into the existing essay[edit]

Since its scope was nearly identical to Wikipedia:Outlines, and it was turning into a rewrite of it, I've merged the draft into the essay. The discussions pertaining to it have been copied below for your convenience:

Draft Proposal and Consensus[edit]

I have created this draft proposal based on the input and consensus at Wikipedia:Village_pump_(proposals)#Alternative_Outline_Articles_Proposal. There is a clear consensus for developing a guideline on outline articles, however the initial proposal that garnered support needs to be developed more before it can be an effective guideline. I hope we can do so here, and then begin an RFC to adopt a more substantial version. Monty845 16:09, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Copy of the village pump discussion "Alternative Outline Articles Proposal"[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
User:Monty845 has pointed out that I forgot his alternative proposal. My apologies. The result of that discussion was support. Ozob (talk) 11:47, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

We should develop a guideline that specifies what a proper outline article is. Once a consensus is reached on that, the guideline can be used to support the renaming of lists masquerading as outlines, and the merging of outlines that do nothing more then duplicate existing articles or lists.

  • Key features of an outline:
    It helps explain how a large topic area is broken down into subtopics.
    It Provides links to subtopics, with an explanation of how they relate to the broader topic.
    It Provides a broad overview of the topic area, without going into depth.
    Is designed to help those who may not know much or anything about the outline topic identify subtopics that may interest them.
  • What an outline is not:
    Not a list (lists can be annotated and still be lists).
    Not a mere copy of the contents of a main topic article with a bunch of links.
    Not a replacement of any existing article or list, it should provide something that is not currently available in another location.

That is just my idea for how to start it, does it seem consistent with what a proper outline should and should not be? Monty845 01:51, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

This makes sense to me. Looking at the examples I mentioned in the section above, which do you think should be called "outline" and which would you call lists? Jowa fan (talk) 08:33, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I support the idea of having guidelines on outlines and that seems a good start. However, I do think that an outline will, of necessity, take some content from the lead of articles it links to. Some may say that's a fork, but if so it's a benign one. For me a fork is an attempt to mirror an article with the intention of sneaking in stuff that couldn't achieve consensus in the article proper. That's obviously bad. But provided that isn't happening I think an outline should give more than an article link, and I don't see how that can happen without repeating some info that the user will find should they click the link. We should be providing context that gives the viewer of the outline enough to decide whether they want to progress to the article or not. A teaser, I guess. --bodnotbod (talk) 09:48, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
What you call a fork is what WP:CFORK calls a POV fork. I don't think—and I don't think anyone thinks—that the paragraphs in outline articles are POV forks. (And thank goodness they're not!) But CFORK describes another type of content fork, the "redundant content fork". It's not malicious like a POV fork; it's just a waste of resources. It generally happens by accident. But my opinion is that with outlines, it happens (and cannot help but happen) by intent. If they use proper summary style to introduce each of their links, then they will effectively duplicate the main article on the topic (or even, perhaps, have more detail). Summary style is not itself a redundant content fork; but duplicating an article is. I still haven't seen anyone attempt to explain why the examples I discussed above (in the "Oppose" section) are not redundant content forks. Ozob (talk) 11:45, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
The exact same duplication happens by intent in regular articles. (In the main article on a topic, in related articles where they summarize what is in the related article.) The articles will not duplicate the main article on the topic, they will summarize it. If I have various sections that cover material in related articles, using summary style, what makes this okay if I have them just listed sequentially with different headings (as in an article), but not okay if I have them in an indented list (an outline)? Zodon (talk) 23:56, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
You're right; I misspoke. I believe that proper summary style for the main article on a topic is out of place in an outline. Proper summary style in an article may include a full paragraph with a multitude of links. Including an entire paragraph next to each entry in an outline means that you are effectively writing a new article, and I object for WP:CFORK reasons. However, I believe there is a proper summary style for annotated lists. It's shorter than in a regular article; no more than a sentence or two, and nothing that ought to need a footnote. If an annotated list consistently limits itself to that then I think it's not a redundant content fork. Ozob (talk) 19:16, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose - "Hey, this storage box is full of crap, let's clean it out!" "Naaaahhh.. let's just rename it a Crap Storage Receptacle, and formulate rules for how we put crap in it!" → ROUX  10:24, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
This comment is useless, inappropriate and childish. Wikipedia is not a place to give emotional opinions. OffiikartTalk 20:14, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. This looks like a way forward. Some outlines are indeed poor and should be deleted or moved to be a list. Some lists could become outlines. At their best, outlines are very useful. At their worst, grrr!
I agree with whoever the unsigned user above is - HIGHFIELDS (TALKCONTRIBUTIONS) 20:28, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Outlines should be permitted (not particularly encouraged). In general they should have a main article associated (unless they are the main article on the topic). They should have sources, just as a regular article. For some material an outline is a natural way to present it, editors should not be arbitrarily barred from using that format.
The requirements for list of articles should be made less strict (not require alphabetization), allow items to be grouped by topic. Zodon (talk) 00:06, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. Clearly matches my understanding of what an outline should be. Toshio Yamaguchi (talk) 10:56, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Support a good compromise which should keep the majority of supporters and opposers above happy Jebus989 11:03, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose per Roux above. It's duplicate portal content. Merge 'em. [edit: Where original content wasn't a pre-existing list that should be restored. Why didn't admins stop this trainwreck editing faster?] — LlywelynII 21:57, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment When I have found "Outline" pages useful it is because they are lists - a particular type of list, ordered by topic, annotated where needed to make clear what the articles listed are about. Timelines are another specialised type of list. Outlines should not have introductions or simplified explanations of subjects - those belong in the Lead section of the articles. I don't much like the name "Outline" but apparently it is widely used in US universities so I guess I can live with it as a name. In summary Keep "Outline" pages where they are hierarchical lists of articles, organised by topic and sub-topic.--filceolaire (talk) 23:14, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. The good examples referenced above like Outline of anarchism, Outline of canoeing and kayaking, Outline of cell biology show great promise for providing new and unique value, even though they cover the same area as some other lists and articles. Although not all encyclopedias include them, they clearly are in line with our mission. However, I am also concerned about the risk of content forking - I would rather see minimal prose in the outlines, including links, or a brief summary, than a straight copy of any substantial part of the article on the topic. One way to do this is to replace prose paragraphs with short bulleted lists of phrases or possibly infoboxes (which offer the succinct key:value format for basic facts). Dcoetzee 07:00, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment - the massive cleanup that this proposal suggests is already underway, and has been for the past couple of years. That's why the outline and index WikiProjects were formed. Many pages have been merged, to reduce redundant lists, and the work continues. Note that outlines are lists. All of them are, so differentiating them from lists per se is impossible. Though we can differentiate them from other types of lists, such as indexes, and item lists. The Transhumanist 21:16, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I have three times been unable to save a support !vote because the system says I am trying to save a blacklisted external link. There were no links in the prose I tried to append, so in effect my !vote is being unnecessarily precluded. Someone should investigate this. My76Strat (talk) 07:35, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
    • I have placed a vote in your name in Support section. Maybe it will let you edit that vote? Ozob (talk) 11:44, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
      • Thank you, BTW I have isolated the problem as local, so it is not an issue to be investigated further. Unless someone knows why my end might be causing this? It has something to do with the word updating, the fact that dating is green with two underscores on my screen, and when I edit, up and dating split with some crazy markup which includes a blacklisted site added between the two words. It's crazy. My76Strat (talk) 03:43, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I agree that clarification of the difference between "Outlines" and "Lists" would be worthwhile. If a clear consensus of that distinction can be made, I support such a guideline in principle, if not in content. With such a guideline it is likely that some Lists might be better served in Outline format. Consider Tree structures and Inventories, for these articles in question (whatever their current forms), are they more suitably defined as strictly Lists or conversely as strictly Outlines? I suggest neither limitation is advantageous. Keep both, but clarify and distinguish appropriately. Also, I typically use these linking-articles, as well as tables and boxes, as primary browsing tools. Pro-expansion, anti-constriction. JimsMaher (talk) 03:45, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Weak support. Would prefer an outright deletion for those pages, though. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 01:36, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Support. An outline should list topics in an order that makes the scope and vagaries of the subject matter clear. bd2412 T 18:03, 4 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment. As I commented in a separate RFC, I feel that the whole focus of Wikipedia should be to help people to quickly find and jump to an answer to their specific question, not to redirect them and force them to read through a humongous article to see if it contains something related to their question. If articles are written as outlines with links to subtopics which are standalone articles, then it is much easier to find a subtopic than if it were merged into a humongous article. In general such major subtopics do not belong exclusively to a single main topic anyway -- for concrete examples, see the comments on Emergency Management in the above-mentioned RFC. LittleBen (talk) 11:28, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.


I've modified the draft to clarify some ambiguities or vagaries in the original.

The original stated that outlines are not lists. We must be careful not to rely on wikijargon too heavily, because we are also speaking English. Outline articles are definitely a type of stand-alone list, just as "Index of", "Glossary of", "Bibliography of", and "Timeline of" are other types of lists. Outlines are hierarchically-structured lists. Note that we are not using the general context of "outline" here, but the context that is the nickname for "hierarchical outline" – that's because naming articles "Hierarchical outline of" is too cumbersome, and because the common name used wherever hierarchical outlines are utilized (school, work, other encyclopedias) is "Outline".

"Outline" refers to a type of list format, but the format itself was missing from the initial draft. I've tried to describe the outline format.

There is often confusion about topics lists. There are two types of topics lists on Wikipedia based on their structure. Indexes on Wikipedia are alphabetical topics lists. The other type of topics lists are structured, that is they are outlines. Some editors claim that topics lists with topical subsections are not hierarchically structured, but they are ignoring the definition of hierarchy. Subject-->subtopic-->subsubtopic is a hierarchy, regardless of how general the subsections are (some outlines are looser than others). Hierarchically-structured topics lists need to be renamed to "Outline of".

Any topics list that is hierarchically structured is an outline.

Outlines have occasionally been mistaken for copies of articles because they have displayed the same leads as the articles. A clean-up effort is underway to differentiate the lead sections of outlines so they are visibly identified more distinctly as outlines. The clean up is comprised of moving the introductory sentence to the top, followed by condensing and reformatting the lead prose into a primary list entry for the outline's subject (with annotation).

So far, the leads of outlines listed under Culture, Health, and Technology have been reformatted in the manner mentioned above.

The initial guideline draft was unclear on the use of annotations in outlines. Many outlines use them, and the whole set of outlines (except for country outlines) is evolving toward a standard design that includes annotations. The following examples rely heavily on annotations, and set an example for others to follow with respect to them:

The initial draft was also somewhat ambiguous with respect to scope and how outlines are expected to cover their subjects. Experience with outlines show that they simply keep growing. Their tendency is to become more and more comprehensive. The outline project started out as the basic topics lists project, but the lists grew in scope so large that they were no longer basic and we had to change the project's name! You can't stop them from growing (I've tried), nor would you want to. Similar to regular articles, outlines can be split as they grow, and growing articles that split off are a major source of new articles.

Currently there are no "Outline of" articles that are called outlines by mistake. They are all lists, and they all have at least rudimentary hierarchical structure. Some are looser than others, but they all have hierarchies. A few "Outline of" articles have paragraphs stuck into them, and those paragraphs should be removed or converted into list entries or list entries with annotations (if possible).

However, there are about 200 outlines that are named something else. What makes an outline an outline is its scope (a subject, rather than a discrete class of items) and the structure of its contents (not its title).

I hope that clarifies outlines. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them. Sincerely, The Transhumanist 09:47, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

As one person commented, it would be good to start by contrasting outlines (hierarchical lists) with other types of lists such as timelines ([[1]]), to clarify the difference between outlines and lists. I copied your examples, including bibliographies, from the talk page to the top of the article, but (1) maybe there are few stand-alone "Bibliography of" lists, so this may not belong, and (2) it might be preferable to merge the detail (what an outline is/is not: the paragraph starting with "Outlines always have a hierarchical structure, so differ from other types of lists such as...") down into the body, and move the brief definition "Outlines are a type of stand-alone list. The other types of lists in the stand-alone list family include item lists (such as List of national parks), alphabetical indexes, glossaries, and timelines." up to the top in its place. LittleBen (talk) 04:25, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I wonder if it is really necessary to include "Outline of" in the article name? I would go so far as to push for a Wikipedia style guide recommendation : all articles that grow to be too long and detailed for people to quickly find important information should — where possible — be broken up into executive-summary outline subject overviews, with links from subtitled subtopics to standalone articles that expand on the subtopics. Emergency Management is an example of an article that is crying out for such executive-summary outline treatment. If people use merges and redirects to create humongous articles, rather than creating executive-summary outlines, then it takes a lot of work for readers to find the information that they are looking for — most people will simply give up — and it takes a lot of work for editors to revert such an article to an executive-summary outline with links to subtopics that really should be independent articles.
Another way of handling humongous articles — articles that grow too long and detailed for people to quickly find important information — might be to support a "click to expand" outline format. But this would be more difficult to implement and maintain. LittleBen (talk) 03:51, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
There was just a proposal to change the names of the outlines, and it failed. All stand-alone lists have a type or format designator in the title ("List of", "Glossary of", "Timeline of", "Index of", "Outline of", etc.), and lists are required to, to differentiate them from paragraph-formatted articles (regular articles). Besides, the subject names by themselves almost always have a paragraph-formatted article associated with them. So it isn't possible to rename "Outline of geography" to "Geography", for instance.
Also, outlines are not "executive-summary outlines", which (and correct me if I am mistaken) are typically overviews presented in paragraph prose. See The Outline of History for the formatting - it's just regular book or article formatting. That context fits regular articles, all of which are summaries of their subjects (note that "outline" and "overview" are sometimes used as synonyms for "summary").
The context we are using in the titles of "Outline of" articles is the hierarchical list format. Hierarchical outline-format lists are used by students to plan papers (with the typical I.A.1.a.i. prefix system), by professors to present the itineraries (called "topic outlines") of their courses to their students, and by other encyclopedias to either provide a taxonomy and study guide (as in the Propaedia of the Encyclopedia Britannica, or the reverse outlines presented at the end of World Book Encyclopedia articles to summarize those articles). Outlines are typically skeletons, or trees, or, menus, or site maps, or the output of outliner programs, or in the case of Wikipedia outlines, networked hierarchically-structured topics lists. What they are not is prose articles: heading-paragraph-heading-paragraph-paragraph-heading-paragraph etc. That's a linear data format, and doesn't present taxonomical information in its structure.
By the way, there are already guidelines concerning article size. See WP:LENGTH and WP:SPLIT.
Thank you for your input. I hope I've helped to elucidate the function and purpose of outlines. The Transhumanist 22:09, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the clarification. I became interested in categories and outlines and the like after finding that category names are not searched by default. If people are searching for a major topic, it would be useful if they were shown a list of categories and outlines relating to that topic, to make it easy to find/drill down to the information that they need. This would also help save new editors from inadvertently wasting a lot of time creating new articles that are virtually identical to existing articles, but named differently. Maybe categories and outlines are potentially the most useful way of exploring what is available on a subject, but (with the current default search functions) the average user will probably never find them... Even Wikipedia's advanced search does not seem to allow people to search specifically for "Outline of" or "Index of" articles, and maybe it won't occur to most people that there could be such articles. LittleBen (talk) 04:31, 18 October 2011 (UTC)
The search engine designers seem to have missed the fact that the subject of "Outline of x", "Glossary of x", and "Index of x", is "x". "Outline of x" is not about an outline of x, it's about x. So it should show up in searches for x. "Outline of" is just the format designator. But because it is in the title, the search engines are unaware that these pages are about "x". They mistakenly assume the whole title is the subject, or at least they behave as if they do. The result is that when searching for "x", search engines are blind to these pages.
I like your use of the term "drill down". Outlines help the reader drill down to what he needs more quickly than paragraph articles because outlines are more like maps. Outlines are faster than categories too because outlines show more levels, while categories show only one level each.
Currently, the way to maximize the chances of readers finding the outlines is to make sure they are linked from everywhere they are relevant. The Transhumanist 10:11, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Another major problem is that Google penalizes duplicate content. So if the articles "X" and "Outline of X" are substantially the same, then the great majority of people will never find "Outline of X" -- article "X" will appear at or near the top in the search results, but probably "Outline of X" will only appear if you click on "display similar or nearly identical search results", or whatever Google calls it, at the end of the list of search results (dozens, hundreds, or thousands of SERP pages later).
As a concrete example, if you Google for " japan" then the article "Japan" appears at the top, but most people will probably never find "Outline of Japan" -- it's as if it doesn't exist.
I'm wondering if the best solution is to modify the Wikipedia MOS to recommend that major articles either be written in outline format or contain an executive summary in outline format at the top of the article?
Another possible solution might be to add a hatnote at the top of major articles that points to the related portal, category tree and outline (if any), but there would need to be a consensus to do this. (Portals are probably not so easy to find in search results either).
The problem of category visibility in search results is probably easier to fix than the outline visibility problem. LittleBen (talk) 12:14, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
The outlines are distinctly different from the corresponding articles, except for the lead sections of the country and state outlines. The leads for all of the other outlines have been reformatted, and reformatting the leads to the geog outlines is underway. The majority of the content of each outline differs from the content of the corresponding article. I hope the similarity of the lead doesn't affect Google SERP much.
Replacing articles with outlines is not feasible nor desirable. Paragraph format is the standard written form of communication. Outlines are a reference format, intended to supplement learning materials, not replace them. We've tried the hatnote approach, and while it has been accepted at the tops of indexes, it met with much opposition when used on articles. The Transhumanist 20:12, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Merge complete[edit]

As mentioned above, I've merged Wikipedia talk:Outlines/Proposed Outline Guideline into Wikipedia:Outlines, because the latter already covered the same ground.

During the merge I consolidated redundant sections, and the whole turned out a little wordier than it was before. Any suggestions or edits to make it easier to read and understand are most welcome.

When the time comes to consider adopting this as official procedure, a proposal can be made to promote it to guideline status. The Transhumanist 01:48, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Software to allow collapsibility[edit]

Are there any plans to allow outlines to be collapsible? File a bug? Brettz9 (talk) 00:00, 6 December 2013 (UTC)

List guidelines[edit]

Please see: Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Outlines#List_guidelines. Fgnievinski (talk) 03:09, 17 November 2014 (UTC)

outline sections (not articles)[edit]

Please see: Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Outlines#outline_sections_.28not_articles.29. Thanks. Fgnievinski (talk) 03:12, 17 November 2014 (UTC)