Wikipedia talk:Template namespace

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Should we have interwiki links in nav-templates?[edit]

Pls see Wikipedia talk:Categories, lists, and navigation templates#Request for comment: Use of interlanguage links in Wikipedia templates.--Moxy (talk) 21:37, 21 January 2017 (UTC)

Template used for inserting same text into multiple articles[edit]

Please express your opinion : Talk:List_of_chemical_elements#Moving to template? . Staszek Lem (talk) 17:30, 10 April 2017 (UTC)

Inappropriate use of Template namespace?[edit]

Template:External program hours seems to be a table of program hours for various radio stations around the world. It's been linked to in the "See also" section of several articles about radio stations, though the link is piped to hide the "Template:" namespace. Is this an inappropriate use of the Template namespace? It seems like an attempt to include content that would normally be in its own article (or part of another article) without actually having to follow those guidelines. --V2Blast (talk) 02:52, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

It looks like pure copyvio to me: Compare with this.Jonesey95 (talk) 04:20, 18 April 2017 (UTC)

Deletion discussion regarding to the scope of templates[edit]

I would like to understand the consensus regarding the scope of templates in this TfD. I'm pinging everyone who was involved in the previous discussion on the scope of templates: @Ricky81682, Netoholic, OwenBlacker, DePiep, Holdek, L235, and Joy:. Anyone else is welcome to participate. E to the Pi times i (talk | contribs) 20:49, 6 April 2018 (UTC)

Thanks for pinging me. I have no other involvement than fixing template parameter issues (spelling, date formattong). -DePiep (talk)
The only generally accepted use is for extremely complex parts of a page which would inundate any editor and could be potentially changed in error and missed. The basic example is {{Infobox hydrogen}} used to store the massive amount of technical data in the Hydrogen article (done also for the rest of the elements). This is probably not ideal (I would prefer if these were moved to article subpages and out of the template namespace), but explains the current wording. The use of the template namespace for basic parts of a page which can be easily edited (manually or with bots) is not endorsed. See the history of {{cite doi}} for the type of thing we've workted to deprecate. -- Netoholic @ 21:08, 6 April 2018 (UTC)
Actually, I am maintaining your example-of-bad template {{Infobox hydrogen}}. Now what is the problem? - DePiep (talk) 21:16, 6 April 2018 (UTC)
I was just meaning that, since {{Infobox hydrogen}} is used on exactly one article, and since it contains article text, it can easily be moved to a subpage like Hydrogen/infobox and transcluded from there, rather than reside in the template namespace. -- Netoholic @ 00:48, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
(edit conflict) @Netoholic: Just briefly skimming the description of {{Cite doi}}, it seems like a non-sequitar, since the bot in that case generated a new template for each separate DOI source. Could you expand on your comment: "This is probably not ideal (I would prefer if these were moved to article subpages and out of the template namespace), but explains the current wording." (it is unclear what these refers to.) E to the Pi times i (talk | contribs) 21:21, 6 April 2018 (UTC)
@DePiep: I'm not sure of the context of why I've been pinged. Could you expand upon what you're asking of me, please? :o) — OwenBlacker (talk; please {{ping}} me in replies) 22:46, 6 April 2018 (UTC)
OP pinged me. I am involved in {{Infobox hydrogen}}, and {{Infobox element}}. What is your question? ~~-DePiep (talk) 22:54, 6 April 2018 (UTC)
@OwenBlacker: I would recommend reading the original comment. I pinged you because I wanted your feedback on this TfD, because it is related to the scope of templates, and you previously (in 2014) participated in a discussion involving the scope of templates. I would like your feedback in whether this use is suitable within the scope of templates.
@DePiep: I only pinged you previously because you were involved in a discussion about the scope of templates (RfC: What should the guideline be regarding the scope of templates?), and the TfD is strongly related to the scope of templates. E to the Pi times i (talk | contribs) 16:41, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
@DePiep: Sorry, I misparsed the opening comments and didn't spot User:E to the Pi times i's signature because it's in red and at the far right of my screen, so I didn't register that your comment was a reply, not a continuation of the original request. Sorry about that. — OwenBlacker (talk; please {{ping}} me in replies) 18:06, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
@E to the Pi times i: Aaah, I hadn't quite understood when I read it first time round; but reading again makes it clearer now. I don't remember the way in which I'd discussed the scope of templates, but I don't doubt that I did. I've added a Keep !vote, with some commentary, to the TFD discussion. I'm definitely less bothered by the mainspace/templatespace divide than some other people — I definitely don't have any objections to {{Infobox hydrogen}} or {{Cite doi}} for example. At the end of the day, we all just want to make a better encyclopædia :o) — OwenBlacker (talk; please {{ping}} me in replies) 18:06, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
Having just read the previous discussion, it would appear that User:DePiep and I have pretty similar opinions that don't seem to have changed much and we still both disagree with User:Netoholic ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — OwenBlacker (talk; please {{ping}} me in replies) 18:16, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
OK, will reply later. Sorry to have detracted from the OP, i'd invite everyone to go back to the OP. - from m DePiep (talk) 18:23, 7 April 2018 (UTC)
OK. I've reread this thread. 1: No opinion about the OP. 2. re {{Infobox hydrogen}} (I'm involved) being transcluded only once etc.: See WT:ELEMENTS. WP:ELEM is very good (some 90 out of 120 element articles are GA+ now). I wrote a serious paragraph about this (at TfD; cannot find the link); ask me if you want to read it. - DePiep (talk) 20:56, 8 April 2018 (UTC)
Here it is that TfD, read my point [1] - DePiep (talk) 21:22, 8 April 2018 (UTC)

Move discussion related to use of the Template namespace[edit]

A move discussion is being held at Wikipedia talk:Did you know#Requested move 10 April 2018 which may be of interest to editors following this page. -- Netoholic @ 15:22, 10 April 2018 (UTC)

Single use template[edit]

A common rationale for deletion of templates nowadays is stated as "single-use template", i.e. the template is only used on one article. However this issue is not mentioned on this guideline (as far as I can tell). What are people's opinions? Is it acceptable for a template to be used on a single page or is this a valid reason to substitute and then delete a template? — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 12:44, 18 October 2018 (UTC)

There are many more templates that are not used at all. Why not delete those first? I know I'm not answering your question, but it seems a lot easier. – Jonesey95 (talk) 16:05, 18 October 2018 (UTC)
Irrelevant. -DePiep (talk) 23:10, 15 November 2018 (UTC)
The only policy guidance related to "single-use templates" is WP:Template namespace § Guidance (shortcut WP:TG), where it says Templates should not normally be used to store article text, as this makes it more difficult to edit the content. To me, it would help if this were spelled out in a bit more detail, for example:
  • Single-use templates can make editing easier when they encapsulate complex wikimarkup in template space, thereby making it easier to edit the article-space content without accidentally or maliciously modifying complex wikimarkup.
  • Single-use templates can make editing easier when they encapsulate complex wikimarkup that is used multiple times on a single page.
  • A set of single-use templates can be helpful in maintaining consistency between the different templates.
  • The guiding principle behind the acceptability of single-use templates is what helps editors. As such, deference should be generally given to those who are actually using the single-use templates to manage the content of WP articles.
Just my two cents. YBG (talk) 09:23, 12 November 2018 (UTC)
I am not entirely sure how The Template namespace on Wikipedia is used to store templates, which contain Wiki markup intended for inclusion on multiple pages, usually via transclusion. [emphasis mine] in the first line of the very first paragraph of the page-proper was missed. :upside_down: :) --Izno (talk) 00:16, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
Fair enough, Izno. When I read the page, I immediately jumped down to the "guidelines" section. Note that the lede sentence has a slightly different meaning depending on whether the comma is included or not. That lede would be improved if it were to state either "is generally used" or "is exclusively used". Everyone agrees that the vast majority of templates are used on multiple pages. I reckon very few people are aware of the templates (more than 100 that I know about) which were created to be used on only a single page. Of those that I know about, most easily survived a TfD; only two were deleted, a decision which I believe should have been different. But what concerns me most is not the particular deletion, but rather that the guidelines could be more explicit. YBG (talk) 00:34, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
No Izno. I am here for agrumentation, no cynicism. Now what is your input -- whithout having me guessing? -DePiep (talk) 00:36, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
It wasn't cynicism. I think there is clear evidence that we intend for templates to be used on more than one page (c.f. the guideline says as much), implying that templates which do not probably should be deleted as a result. --Izno (talk) 02:20, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
Thanks. Well, I can follow the "intended for", but that definitely does not forbid single use. There is no problem reading "multiple" as "one or more". The principle and the practice of transclusion is not broken if there is only one. IOW: for the transcluded page, there is no difference between 1 or 1000 transclusions. (Deletion of zero-used templates is anothor issue). Exploiting this difference between "one or more" is a locally invented issue.
Transclusion is essential part of web-design. Not just for wikipedia websites, but for each and every website. Our Main page is full of templates intended for single use. What is wrong with that intention? Should mainpage-templates be deleted? (Let's forget about secondary use in preparing etc. FSOA). -DePiep (talk) 09:56, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I can come up with many reasons why a single-use template is useful; templates shouldn't be used merely for holding plain text in an article, but for display elements which would have complex or confusing mark-up that may make editing hard (like infoboxes, navboxes, etc.) templates can simplify the edit window so that editors can focus on the article prose and not get lost in weirdness they don't need or don't understand. Templates that serve the purpose of simplifying display elements that would not normally otherwise need to be changed shouldn't be deleted blindly if they are only used in one article. The rationale, to me, is flawed, and "only being used in one article" may make a supporting rationale, but should never be the only or primary rationale for deleting a template. --Jayron32 12:46, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    We aren't living in a wikitext-editing-only world anymore. Complexity is hidden these days for new editors. And when you hide complexity, you make it harder for new wikitext editors to access that content to change it. (And I personally get annoyed when I have to load an entire new page to fix single-use content.) If your case is really so-well served as to be needed due to reasons of complexity, it is perhaps a good idea for multiple pages. For example, {{swimming schedule legend}} was in multiple pages as a "single-use". I pulled it out and now those pages are improved also because I have added template styles to it. --Izno (talk) 23:02, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    Utter BS, Izno. Nothing of what you write relates to the issue: one versus multiple transclusions. Any basic template has the V ·· E links, nothing "complexity hidden". I'll give you UNhidden complexity: [2]. How does that help any new (or experienced) wiki editor? DePiep (talk) 23:53, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    Chill out. No, it's not "utter bullshit". Yes, it does relate. Users using the visual editor cannot manipulate templates as easily as those working with wikitext, and are in fact taken out of the visual editing experience when they need to work with a template. Instead, if you've taken what was a templated table and turned it into a local table, they can manipulate the cells directly. And no, not every template or even every basic template has a VTE set of links. So, simply, you're wrong.
    As for presidents, that looks like a mess because it hasn't been cleaned up. If that had been in mainspace since its creation, that mess wouldn't have happened. The table itself is structured poorly. If your responses to this discussion are because of that garbage, that's on you or whoever made that template, not on me. --Izno (talk) 01:30, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • Another factor to be considered: 1-page-1-use vs. 1-page-N-uses. IMO, both are acceptable in some cases and unacceptable in others, but the 1st requires more justification than the 2nd. A complicated table that appears on only one page may benefit from having a row template to assure that all of the rows are identically formatted. YBG (talk) 14:00, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    I advocate: no, do not require extra justification for a single-use template at all. Arguments are already there: good template design, do not store body text in tempaltes, ... It is all already there. Number of transclusions 1 vs. more is not the entrance of any question at all. (example. Main page uses many templates. Most have second usage for example in test & prepare situations. But when a template MP-related happens to have only one transclusion, should anybody have to defend that against deletion? No.) Transclusion is what templates are for, not "multiple" per se. -DePiep (talk) 14:38, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    Not buying it. Such a 1-article-N-uses template may be temporarily helpful in developing the page, but should be substituted after you're done with it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  14:16, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    @SMcCandlish: I would be interested in your opinion about the general usage of row templates like {{CAint}}, which is a N-article-N-use template used for innumerable table rows in many articles. It is useful because it allows the format to be consistent across multiple tables in multiple articles. Furthermore, it facilitates data modification as roadways change over time, allowing even newbie editors to make the changes without damaging the consistent look-and-feel (so long as they don't accidentally remove a pipe). Further, it enables more skilled editors to change the format consistently without a massive global search-and-replace effort that could easily miss a few instances. I believe you would agree that all of these features are helpful to WP readers and to WP editors.
    Now consider the case of an article with a table with several dozen rows that does not have any comparable articles or tables anywhere in WP. The difference is a difference of scale, not of kind: the same advantages apply. The novice editor can easily make changes as new information requires changes in the article, and is assured that the addition to the table will be formatted consistently with the other rows. Similarly, the more experienced editor can make changes to the underlying template without a global search-and-replace. Both of these features would be diminished if the row template were only used to set the table up in the beginning and then substituted. Using a row template to build the table in the first place and then substituting it might be OK if we could be guaranteed that under no circumstances would new rows be added to the table. But in a table requiring periodic additions - even just a few times every decade - using 1-article-N-use table row templates offers many advantages. I have yet to see any advantage to forbidding 1-article-N-use templates, but perhaps you could help me understand better. Thanks! YBG (talk) 20:10, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    • We have oodles of table-formatting templates, which are [generally] useful. The ones we keep have broad application and are not for only one article. That's the difference. If you've built a table in an article that is so complex it would benefit from this, yet a row template for it would not be useful anywhere else, you are probably making a mistake, and need to redesign the table to either use a row template we already have, or to create one that has broader applicability. If none of that is practical, leave a code snippet of the row code on the talk page with an explanation of what it is. I'm hard pressed to think of any situation in which we have a table in an article, and the table is being worked on long-term by many editors, in which one or another of the above solutions doesn't work and doesn't avoid us having a one-article template.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:02, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    Seriously, SMcCandlish, I do not understand a single point of your reasoning here (all posts included). Recap. The question is: why should we disallow (=delete) single-use templates (=templates that are only transcluded once). Why/not? - DePiep (talk) 21:29, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    • I am more than willing to consider alternatives to 1-artlcle-N-use templates. Is there a category for table row templates so I could look at them? I'm always willing to learn new things and consider alternatives. But I must ask you again, what is the advantage to WP readers or WP editors of avoiding 1-article-N-use templates? I'd like to know the advantage, to let me weight the pros and cons in a given circumstance. So please, what would is the advantage of avoiding 1-article-N-use templates? YBG (talk) 21:22, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • What is the benefit of deleting templates? Does it speed up wikipedia? That is a nice discusssion, but what is the benefit of the discussed workload? --Stone (talk) 16:50, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    I don't know. Why do you ask? Why here? -DePiep (talk) 18:53, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    @Stone: That is a good question. If there is not significant benefit to deleting templates, it weakens the case to be made for deleting "single use" templates. YBG (talk) 19:09, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    The question doesn't make sense in this context. We delete templates for the same reason we delete any back-end page: it has served its purpose or there is duplication of content (in which case we sometimes redirect the page). The reasons for deletion are already quite set in stone and you're welcome to review WP:Deletion policy on the point. --Izno (talk) 23:03, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
    I think the implication is simply that there's not reason, that they do no harm. An overextension of the "redirects are cheap" idea at WP:RFD. Templates are not cheap, and they come with significant maintenance costs. Ones we don't need suck editorial productivity away from working on the encyclopedia to farming useless (or insufficiently useful) templates. There are other reasons people argue to delete single-use/single-article templates, but that's a major one.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:02, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • On an aside, this discussion pops up every once in a while in this page's long history. --Izno (talk) 23:10, 16 November 2018 (UTC)
Single use templates should be something that is used more.....it's to bad it's fading away. Long ago we use to make templates to reduce the coding on pages to engourage editing. It's too bad most don't take new editors into consideration anymore. A great example would have been the deleted World War II info box temp ....deleted even though the people that got it to GA explained why it's was desired..... now we have to search all over to refer back to Old discussions. Great example of mergerits thinking it's best to jam pages with coding and not caring that those that wrote and watch over the page had a system in place to discuss and keep track of the talks (Wikipedia:Templates for discussion/Log/2015 February 22#Template:WW2InfoBox). It's weird that people actually think transclusion means on many pages..... in the old days we used it a lot for saving coding..... cuz it's not like Wikipedia is running out of space. Template consolidation has done nothing but cause problems..... might look all neat and tidy but it's clearly was the wrong path to choose.--Moxy (talk) 03:23, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
  • I agree that this guideline should provide a better explanation. Our WP:P&G pages are better understood and more often followed when the rationale for a line-item is clear instead of appearing to be an inexplicable fiat someone injected when no one was looking. I have no particular preferences as to exact wording, as long as it doesn't substantively change practice ("make up new rules"). I thus cannot agree with the bullet-list of long-winded defenses of single-use templates near the top of this thread; I don't think any of those rationales stand up to close scrutiny, and we don't have a TfD history of accepting them. All this said, be careful of templates that seem at first glance to be low-use; many are designed for substitution.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  14:21, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    All fine, but the other way around. TfD history of accepting them - I'sd say: we don't have a TfD rational e for deleting them (example in case: the TfD that this tread was invoked by). I think the deletion of single-use templates is not based in P&G (we have been asking repeatedly for that rule, to no effect). -DePiep (talk) 14:28, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    Policy and guidelines pages do not force consensus, they are written after the fact to codify consensus. If TfD has a decade+ history of deleting single-use templates, with very few exceptions, then there's a broad community consensus to do so, and it needs to be recorded in the guideline, with at least the overall rationales for it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:02, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    My question was "what is the benefit", I do not care much about "codified consensus" and the "history of deleting". That disucssions are of no good for my happieness. If somebody tells me I want to do it because it is fun I even would accept this as a benefit. The "suck editorial productivity" is not true for the elements pages and therefore it is not a valide point here. The deletion of the templates would generate a huge workload and gaining nothing. I renew by question: What is the benefit of deleting templates?--Stone (talk) 21:35, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    I answered this (in part) above: a benefit of getting rid of templates that are not widely used is lower maintenance costs to editorial productivity. This isn't the only reason, but it's the one I care about enough to name it. However, I really don't care very much if consensus changes to permit one-page-only templates. I just observe that RM history shows that this consensus doesn't actually exist at present. Don't shoot the messenger. I didn't come here to kill your pet templates, I'm observing that if they end up in the dog pound they'll probably be put down. If the elements pages (plural) are sharing a template, then it's not a one-page-only template, so I don't see what point you're trying to make ("what dog you have in the fight", to continue the doggy stuff :-). I really am not interested in the fight, and am not going to argue point-by-point with people above, especially when they profess to be literally unable to understand what I'm saying. Better stuff to do today. I do, however, care about "consensus doesn't matter because the result of this one makes me unhappy" arguments. That's not how WP operates. And it is not possible to keep everyone happy all the time. Some things efficient in one sector produce inefficiency in another. Life is like that. Compromise is needed. We do not always get our way. Balance is required.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  21:59, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    How does a unused tamplate create maintainace costs? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Stone (talkcontribs) 09:57, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
    The benefit is, Stone, that we can use page (template) transclusion without having to care about the number of transclusions (one or more?). That distinction is figment (artificial) here at this wiki, and non-existant elsewhere on internet. There is no use in having to defend the "one" case. For over six years I maintain templates like {{Chembox}}, {{Infobox drug}}, {{Infobox element}}, {{Periodic table}}, and dozens more (Category:Periodic table templates (62)). Many of those are single-use -- I do not want to care. Now please tell me (just once, only just once ffs): what is wrong with single-use? Or are you gonna TfD-delete {{Periodic table}}? - DePiep (talk) 22:19, 17 November 2018 (UTC)
    I know why the templates are used in the chemical elements. The point is why is it a productive work for wikipedia to delete the templates which are single used or not used. There is alot of work done in wikipedia which does not serve the people using wikipedia. This is the third or fourth discussion on the deletion of the templates used in the project and it takes a lot of work to get through all the discussions. I want to understand why the deletion is so vital that it has to be discussed every two or three year. Ground hog day is a funny film but a bad world to live in. --Stone (talk) 09:57, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
    I think the discussion reappears because it has never been laid down in a rule (not to keep, nor to delete), while editors --admins too-- refer to this "rule" without a blink. Example in case: the recent TfD we are talking about. I am spending thime on this because I want to have it formalised (as being not an argument, is my point). -DePiep (talk) 10:39, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
    I can add: "Delete because single use" is always invoked by people who are not doing the maintenance work. As an uninvited 'I will help you doing cleaning this up'. Or wikilawyering without a law. This non-committedness makes arguing in a TfD extra hard. (BTW, wasn't it referred to long ago in some policy or guideline?) -DePiep (talk) 10:47, 18 November 2018 (UTC)

From my point: There is no written test refering to single use templates, because of this there is no case here. --Stone (talk) 11:18, 18 November 2018 (UTC)

Scary seeing mergerist and deletionits trying to dictate use of templates.--Moxy (talk) 23:20, 18 November 2018 (UTC)
I do not make this up. Again, TfD 2018 November 19 by Zackmann08. -DePiep (talk) 02:26, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
DePiep please don't paraphrase me to bolster some alternative agenda. For those wondering, I started a DISCUSSION to DISCUSS why the need for multiple single use templates. I have not read this thread in its entirety, but from the looks of it there are some good points raised here! I don't think single use is a valid rationale alone for deleting a template. I was not, am not, advocating deleting anything SOLELY because it is single use. I was trying to understand the use case pertaining to templates for chemical elements. I'm sure we can all agree there is a bit of a slippery slope. Do we make a custom template for every city's infobox for example? Anyway, again, I was just trying to start a discussion. Something I now definitely regret bothering to try. --Zackmann (Talk to me/What I been doing) 02:38, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
The point is, Zackmann08, as I wrote: There is no use in having to defend the "one" case. For over six years I maintain templates like {{tlf|Chembox}}, {{tlf|Infobox drug}}, {{tlf|Infobox element}}, {{tlf|Periodic table}}, and dozens more. Many of those are single-use -- I do not want to care. Now please tell me (just once, only just once ffs): what is wrong with single-use? Or are you gonna TfD-delete {{Periodic table}}?. (MSGJ, please take note. Exactly this is what I warned against).-DePiep (talk) 02:51, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
I haven't researched into any templates mentioned here, but I'll comment on the general argument. Generally speaking, a single use template shouldn't be used as it usually either holds content, which as has been noted, the guideline does not support; or is a duplication (even as a wrapper) of an already existing template. I would though like to see a non-lashing out argument for a good use of a single-use template (as the few I briefly looked that were mentioned here seem to be just holding article content which would IMO be better served in the article itself). To Stone who kept on asking about the cost, well, unlike in a lot of other coding languages where you can write something once and then extend the usage to something else without duplication of code, in templates, even if you use a wrapper, you end up duplicating a lot of the code. This means that when updates (read: fixes, changes, additions, removals, accessibility, etc) need to be rolled out, edits need to happen in all places that need it, instead of only one spot. In addition, if a template was abandoned in favor of a better one, but not deleted, then someone might use the old template again. --Gonnym (talk) 08:01, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
I believe the costs you mention are costs that would be borne by those who edit the single-use template or other templates upon which it depends. In the case of the element templates mentioned above, they are maintained by the dedicated members of WP:ELEM, in particular by DePiep. So long as the current group of editors are committed to working on them, your point about cost seems to be that of an external party coming in and saying, hey, I think your editing would be more efficient if you did it this other way, so I'll nominate the template for deletion to force you work in what I think would be a better way for you to work. Now if this were a new member of our wiki-project, that would be one thing. But these suggestions come from those outside of our project who are not going to be working on them in the long term, and so the argument seems IMHO to fall flat on its face. Now, add that to the fact that every 24 months or so some new outsider comes along and makes the same argument at TfD, which requires extra effort on the part of those who actually take responsibility for day-to-day maintenance, and you can see how it can quickly become frustrating.
In summary, although our primary concern at WP ought to be our readers and what benefits them the most, when you have two different methods of wikimarkup - method (1) and method (2) - that render exactly the same for the reader, the pros and cons are only those to the editor. If the editors active in a particular content area universally prefer method (1) over method (2), then who am I to come in from the outside and tell them that, no, you should consistently use method (2) and never use method (1). This would be grossly unfair to my fellow editors.
This argument is particularly cogent for a small wikiproject working on a limited set of single-use templates. The case mentioned above about city infoboxes does not really apply. The number of distinct chemical elements is easily dwarfed by the number of cities and the like within a short drive of my home - let alone those around the world. YBG (talk) 09:39, 19 November 2018 (UTC)
  • In general, oppose.
There are some short, simple, templates where being used only once (and every indication of staying that way) could be reason to delete. However there are also a great many templates where their content is either bulky or complex (routemaps being a great example) and that alone is plenty of reason to justify them - no matter how many times they're used.
Templates should be deleted because that template, as it's used and how it's plausibly likely to be used, has no useful value. We can't simplify that to such a simple proscription as this. Andy Dingley (talk) 22:07, 19 November 2018 (UTC)

Short template shortcuts: are they pollution?[edit]

Under "Guidelines", the project page states:

Template function should be clear from the template name, but redirects can be created to assist everyday use of very popular templates.

This leaves it unclear whether the name of the redirect itself should also always make clear the function of the target template.

We have a great many template shortcuts that are too short to give much information about the function of the template they redirect to. The more commonly used ones are listed at List of non-self-explanatory template shortcuts.

Two recent RfD discussions, this one and this one, have raised a question over the creation or retention of such templates. They have been described as "cryptic", "obscure", "strange squiggles" and "polluting the edit window". One discussant has [seen] a trend the past few years of templates moving from short, unreadable titles, to clear full word/sentence titles. If this is so, and has consensus, should it not be documented?

The case for such shortcuts would amount to: they save typing; they take up less space in the editing window; many are already much in use.

Aspects of the issue are:

  • Should the creation of new examples of such "short" shortcuts be discouraged?
  • Should further transclusions of existing ones be discouraged?
  • Should existing uses of these shortcuts be converted to the full template names by some automated process?
  • Should the shortcut templates themselves then be deleted?
  • Should the answers to the above depend upon: template function: namespace(s) in which used; number of transclusions; whether applied only once to a page; length of the full template name; any other factor?

: Bhunacat10 (talk), 14:39, 22 February 2019 (UTC)

In case this is thought a non-issue or a leftover from past times, these short shortcuts are still being made: within the past six months there have been created {{E22}}, {{SON}}, {{@A}}, {{MCN}}, {{Ea}}, {{Stc}}, {{Vad}}, {{Cih}}, {{Hir}} and others. Meanwhile {{SHD}} and {{Sdesc}} have been deleted, partly on objections to do with the specific Short description project, but also on the general grounds mentioned above. I'm not bothered which way this goes, but I do consider that retention or deletion of any type of template should be based on more than editorial whim: Bhunacat10 (talk), 11:04, 28 February 2019 (UTC)
  • I think most of the more recent examples you gave are absolutely unacceptable and not in keeping with the originally spirit of this section of the guideline which I think was mostly written to accommodate such redirects in non-article space - such as talk pages - and a few extremly high-use templates like {{cn}} (Template:Citation needed). Fundamentally, there is no point in having a guideline to name templates clearly, if all that is seen in the edit window of articles is an obscure shortcut. As to the question "Should existing uses of these shortcuts be converted to the full template names by some automated process?" - absolutely yes, within articles. AutoWikiBrowser, for example, does this as a semi-automated, secondary function. I think as a rule, every template called from a mainspace article should be named clearly and linked directly - and I'd be willing to support a change to the guideline to specify that. Perhaps if that's adopted, this can be a bot job, to replace all mainspace redirects with the full name, and then we can mass-delete those redirects. -- Netoholic @ 12:15, 28 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. At the start of this thread is the following citation from policy
    • Template function should be clear from the template name, but redirects can be created to assist everyday use of very popular templates.
    This is followed by this reaction:
    • This leaves it unclear whether the name of the redirect itself should also always make clear the function of the target template.
    I submit that it is perfectly clear. The English word but indicates that what follows is in contrast to what proceeds. If the intent of the policy was that the redirects also be completely spelled out and clear, the word but would not have been used. The threshold of how frequently used a template needs to be for cryptic template shortcuts to exist is probably higher for mainspace than for talkspace and higher for talkspace than technical spaces like template and template talk frequented primarily by experienced editors. See, for example, the use of {{tq}} by the editor who started this thread. But any attempt to establish a definitive list of acceptable exceptions based on frequency of use sounds like a proposal only the most entrenched of bureaucrat would like. A more productive solution would be to enable something akin to page previews that would explain templates when the wikitext is being edited; this would allow the experienced user to use usefully short shortcut and give the newbie an easy way to learn. YBG (talk) 15:50, 28 February 2019 (UTC)

RfC on templates storing data[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The majority of the participants felt that it either was acceptable to store data in the template space or that it should be dealt with on a case by case basis; with no outright consensus for "yes, all data templates must be kept", the status quo of dealing with potentially problematic templates via the TFD process shall be maintained. Primefac (talk) 23:29, 20 April 2019 (UTC)

Is storing data an acceptable use of template namespace? {{3x|p}}ery (talk) 23:35, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

Background: Zackmann08 has recently nominated a large number of templates that are used to store multiple pieces of data, each intended to be used on only one article, for deletion. These have ended in inconsistent results:

  1. Wikipedia:Templates_for_discussion/Log/2019_February_15#Template:Metadata_population_AT-9 closed as delete
  2. Wikipedia:Templates_for_discussion/Log/2019_February_22#Metadata_population_AT_templates closed as delete (although this was kind of a fait accompli since the templates had been orphaned during the discussion).
  3. And there are many currently open, often with the !votes heading in opposite directions despite the arguments for keeping v. deleting generally being the same.

Feel free to tweak the above list. Thus, I am presenting this issue to a wider discussion. {{3x|p}}ery (talk) 23:35, 15 March 2019 (UTC)

Survey[edit]

  • No it is not The below is copied from the most recent TFD I started and I think really lays out the arguments.
Storing data in a template like this creates a number of problems.
1) Ease of access What this means is that if a user wants to update the information (say for example the population), rather than editing the page, just like every other article on Wikipedia, they have to track down the sub template that is being called and then understand how the switch statement works and find the right value to change. For those of us experience with template editing, this is no problem. But Wikipedia is meant to be open for anyone to use. Storing data in this way just makes it more difficult to update.
2) Outdated references with invalid dates If right now I update the value of Imatra's population, I have to update it on {{Infobox Finnish municipality/population count}}. First, lets assume I am using the same reference as the one that is provided. Well now my access date needs to be updated to today's date. But I'm only updating one value... If I change the reference, I am saying that ALL the values are current as of today's date. But that isn't the case, I'm only updating one value. Furthermore, what if I'm using a different source? I am locked in to using the same source as every other value on the page because that is the source that is being returned by the template.
3) Dangerous precedent Additionally this sets a dangerous precedent. Should we next create a {{Chembox/boiling point}} that contains a massive switch statement with the boiling point of every chemical? Or {{Infobox NFL team/coach}} with a switch statement containing the current coach of every NFL team? That isn't how this works. If you want to change the data, you change it on the article in question.
4) Performance issues With the current implementation of 20 different subtemplates, that means that any time one of these articles loads, it has to parse 20 different switch statements. In somecases, because of the way the error handing is written, the switch statements are parsed multiple times. All to return plaintext numbers or references that can and should be included directly on the page.
The only reason I have heard for keeping these templates is that it makes it easier to update. Well that is just false. It may make it easier to BULK update, but how often are you updating EVERY value in one go? Rarely... And if it needs to be done, WP:BOTs are your answer for bulk updating pages. --Zackmann (Talk to me/What I been doing) 23:37, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
If thousands of boiling points or NFL coaches were changed at least once a year on the same day by the same organization, probably we would have a meta template for them. --eh bien mon prince (talk) 00:51, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
Underlying lk, read that as boiling points of NFL coaches. cygnis insignis 10:52, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • No For the same reason that single-use templates are generally deleted. {{3x|p}}ery (talk) 23:43, 15 March 2019 (UTC)
  • More examples are needed to form a general consensus. I recall seeing some census/statistics information that came from a few reliable sources and which was stored in a template (or was it a module?). Each article used a code (from the RS) to identify which set of data was needed. It worked well and was much easier to verify because all the information was in one place. In particular, it was much easier to update the information when changes occurred because the changes came from one RS and were made in one template/module. Sorry I can't find an example at the moment but it might have been something to do with Swiss settlements. Johnuniq (talk) 00:04, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict) Pinging users who participated in any of the TfDs about this issue: @Apalsola, Markussep, Underlying lk, Scope creep, Darwinek, Pigsonthewing, Tom (LT), Keith Edkins, Number 57, Michael Bednarek, Nyttend, SPQRobin, Kusma, RexxS, Uanfala, and Gonnym: (apologies if I missed anyone). {{3x|p}}ery (talk) 00:10, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes. Take any series of related articles, e.g. the ones in Category:Nations at the 1992 Winter Olympics. Imagine that the Olympics wikiproject decided that it would be useful for all of these articles to have a template with some of that year's final medal counts. What would be wrong with that idea? It's raw data (see full form at 1992 Winter Olympics medal table), and it would seemingly be beneficial to include in all the articles in question. The opposing arguments demonstrate potential problems with storing data in certain circumstances, but saying "it's not always a good idea to do this" is very different from "it's never a good idea to do this". Dump the bathwater and keep the baby. Nyttend (talk) 00:27, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    Nyttend, see but the example you highlighted is very different... A formatted table that is used in multiple places is a perfect use of a template. I don't think anyone is suggesting elimination of {{Medals table}} templates. What we are talking about is purely raw data where a massive switch statement returns a number. Zackmann (Talk to me/What I been doing) 03:14, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    No, what you're talking about is using the template namespace to store data. See no true Scotsman and don't try to redefine the proposal in your favor. Nyttend (talk) 03:30, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    There's no "no true Scotsman" here; I was never intending to include the kind of template you are talking about (although I think it merits deletion for an unrelated reason). {{3x|p}}ery (talk) 03:32, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    Sorry, I misremembered the meaning and was attempting to switch it to Moving the goalposts when I edit-conflicted with you. The point is that you can't propose one thing and then get claim that you proposed something else when the absurdity of your proposal is demonstrated. Nyttend (talk) 03:34, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes. The RfC asks if it is acceptable, and it certainly is, most of those templates have been around for nearly a decade. The objection regarding the difficulty of updating an individual entry within them is beside the point: when statistical offices publish updated population figures (which can happen quarterly in some countries) you will want to update all of the entries. It is a tedious and largely uncontroversial task, which is why it is accepted to forsake some ease of access in order to make the update process more manageable. In many cases there might be better way to achieve the same result (such as using Wikidata for storing statistics), but that hardly means that meta templates are somehow now unacceptable.--eh bien mon prince (talk) 00:39, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes Templates like {{Israel populations}} are extremely useful ways of keeping hundreds of articles easily and consistently updated, whilst ones like {{English football updater}} ensure that the style of presentation is consistent, and helps ensure all articles do get updated (before this was introduced, numerous articles weren't being updated every season). Getting rid of data templates like these would be madness, and I think the rationales opposing them above are heavily flawed. Firstly. templates like Israel populations are updated in one go, once a year when the new population figures are released. Secondly, the outdated references bit can be easily resolved by having a requirement that all entries are updated in one go (and putting them on template protection to prevent drive-by editing). Thirdly, these aren't setting a dangerous precedent; in some cases they're useful, in others not – if editors feel they're not useful, then they can be taken to TfD or discussed at the relevant WikiProject. I also disagree that these are complex to edit – they're far simpler that trying to complete something like {{cite}}, and even if they were more complex, actually in many cases these are things that we probably wouldn't want drive-by editors updating in most cases. Number 57 00:48, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    Number 57 & Underlying lk you both make good points. I don't agree 100% but I do respect the way you presented the argument. Can I ask, what say you to things like {{Infobox Finnish municipality/land area}} I don't see that being updated all that often (seems more like my NFL coaches example?). Now with {{Infobox Finnish municipality/population count}} I totally get where you are coming from. I take a different stance on it, but I can at least understand where you are coming from! But with something like land area, total area, etc. Why the need to update those constantly. I would think those would be pretty darn static. Additionally, population density should be automatically calculated. I'm going to repost this comment at that specific TFD for more discussion there... Zackmann (Talk to me/What I been doing) 03:20, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    It's not inconceivable for areas to need to be updated: for example in the case of administrative reorganisations. But ease of updating is only one among several advantages of storing this data inside a template. Another advantage is that it makes the data more secure: if it's stored inside the complicated template machinery it's much more difficult for disruptive editors to tamper with it than if the data were in the article or on wikidata, and it's also much easier to keep an eye out for such tampering: watchlisting a single template page is better than having to watch hundreds, oftentimes regularly edited articles for such changes. – Uanfala (talk) 03:36, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    I agree that things that will rarely/never updated don't need to be in templates – this was part of my point above about in some cases they're useful and in other cases not – the issue is that a blanket ban leaves no room for decision on where they're appropriate. As an aside, population density can be calculated by using a mix of static and templated data like at Subdivisions of Scotland#Council areas. Number 57 11:57, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes – In addition to the arguments above I refer to the Keep arguments at Wikipedia:Templates for discussion/Log/2019 March 2#Template:Metadata Population BE. -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 05:30, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    Number 57, Underlying lk & Zackmann08 very useful like {{English football updater}} templates. We are using in Turkish wikipedia. Those are also protective for vandalism. We thought same templates for population but after that we entered all province and district population wikidata page. There are almost 1.000 pages. We collected all Q numbers in a excel file. And we are working going on to take those datas from wikidata. And next years will be add automatically with BOT, because of collecting data excel file. Wikidata example is Trabzon, in Turkish wikipedia example also tr:Trabzon. Regards, Sakhalinio (talk) 05:45, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • No - WP:Wikidata is for data. The project was created in part because the template namespaces were becoming perverted into data stores. The template namespace is for structures, navigation, and aesthetic design - not data. Templates are perfectly capable of invoking calls to Wikidata properties, and more of those are converted to do so every day. Now, if we're talking about article text content (prose), that belongs in the article where editors can easily access it and track changes. This also avoids single points of vandalism. In fact, I think the current guideline would be better with one word struck to read: Templates should not normally be used to store article text. If you want to read a horror story about how messy it is to misuse the template namespace for data/prose, read up on Template:Cite doi and its like. Took months of cleanup. -- Netoholic @ 06:48, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    • The problem with Wikidata concerns the work required to update, say, 100 articles with population changes when a new census arrives. If the data is in a template, one edit can be made, and it's easy to compare the template with the source for checking. Updating 100 items at Wikidata would be extremely time consuming and fragile (hard to check for typos). Also, it's very easy for vandalism to occur at Wikidata and very hard for enwiki editors to notice bad changes. A blue-sky plan would be to have data in a JSON page at enwiki, with a bot that updates Wikidata to match changes in the JSON page. The bot would also have to monitor changes made at Wikidata and report conflicts in a single location on enwiki. Johnuniq (talk) 10:18, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
      • I agree with the general approach Johnuniq suggests. We need to retain control over changing data that is used here. Yes, in principle, templates should not be now be used to store data because there are better technologies, such as JSON, available to us. However, this requires hard-pressed editors to learn yet another new coding language – there are plenty of complaints around about templates that have been changed into Lua modules, with the consequent need to learn Lua to alter or maintain them. But it's an approach that should be considered for new projects, even if converting existing ones (like the automated taxobox system mentioned in my comment below) is unlikely to happen. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:30, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
        • I think that Wikidata is good place to move that data. However, currently there is no support for wikidata in infobox templates. In example only thing what template:Infobox settlement reads from Wikidata is coordinates, photos and webpage so even if the census data is updated to Wikidata the infobox doesn't use it. --Zache (talk) 12:38, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
          • @Zache: There is support available for Wikidata in infobox templates. See Module:WikidataIB and Category:Infobox templates using Wikidata for examples of how and where – and Template:Wikidata Infobox for an extreme example. Anyone is free to update infoboxes to draw data from Wikidata, although I would recommend testing in the sandbox and then getting consensus first. --RexxS (talk) 12:51, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
            • @RexxS: I didn't mean that if it is technically possible, but that there should be implemented support in infoboxes like template:infobox settlement etc before the existing solution to store data to templates can be deprecated. With implemented support, I mean that infobox is actually showing the data from Wikidata or from Commons tabular data. --Zache (talk) 09:00, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
      • Johnuniq, it is actually quite manageable to update thousands of Wikidata entities using QuickStatements, and it doesn't take any more time than doing it with metadata templates. I did it for Belgian, Russian, Swiss and German municipalities, and wrote a short guide on how to do that on {{Austria metadata Wikidata}}.--eh bien mon prince (talk) 11:07, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes – at least in some cases. About 220,000 articles have taxoboxes generated through the automated taxobox system, which stores its taxonomy in almost 60,000 taxonomy templates. No alternative to this system is currently viable, and even if it were, conversion would be extremely difficult and time-consuming. If you want to know why Wikidata isn't a possible alternative, I'll be happy to try to explain, but be warned that the history of this discussion is very long and detailed (see e.g. here). Wikidata is fine for storing straightforwardly and uncontroversially structured data that changes very rarely, if at all, so sure, once it was available, mapping doi's to citation details is better handled in Wikidata. It is not suitable for storing data that does not fit into its rigid relational database model (e.g. it cannot model real world relationships such as the non-1:1 relationships between articles in different language wikis or the overlapping taxonomic hierarchies that result in a network of relationships rather than a tree). It has many, many fewer active editors than there are here, so data that changes does not get updated and maintained as well. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:58, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes, as the question is currently phrased. Just to pick one of many examples, take a look at the data in Template:Sacramento Kings roster. The data in that template is transcluded in Sacramento Kings, List of current NBA team rosters, and 2018–19 Sacramento Kings season. Being able to reuse data of this sort is one of the reasons that we have templates. To pick another (admittedly more controversial, judging from a recent no-consensus TFD discussion) example, take a look at the series of templates described at and linked from Template:LDS Temple/doc. Each piece of data in those templates is stored in a single location and used in a variety of pages. Having that data stored in individual pages or templates would lead to forking and more difficult maintenance. – Jonesey95 (talk) 10:44, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    Jonesey95, @Pppery: I think you might need to clarify this RFC, because the example that Jonesey used above is NOT what we are talking about here... What we are talking about is massive switch statements that return nothing but an integer value. --Zackmann (Talk to me/What I been doing) 20:51, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    @Zackmann08: Just do so, then (although I suspect it will provoke more "moving the goalposts" triigers). I give you permission to edit the opening statement of this RfC to make it clearer. (Although my intent was not just "massive switch statements": templates that do the same thing using subpages could also be considered here. {{3x|p}}ery (talk) 20:55, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    I was just responding to the question as written: Is storing data an acceptable use of template namespace? It seemed to me that the obvious answer was yes. In writing RFCs, it is important to get the question(s) correct if you want to get useful answers. I find that sometimes a pre-RFC discussion can help craft a good question. Template:Sacramento Kings roster is without question storing data, and in this case it's in a very nice, sortable table format. – Jonesey95 (talk) 21:35, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes I'm in strong agreement with application of the principles outlined above that generally conclude this ought to be deprecated, there needs to be a good foundation and exceptional reasons to transclude information. The exception is what Peter refers to above, I highly recommend that people examine what has been done with our taxobox system before concluding there is another solution. Wikidata doe not provide the means to accommodate what is done here, a century's old classification built on a web of citations, and I that is probably a good thing as I have reflected upon the arrangements at the sister sites. cygnis insignis 10:46, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes: We would be foolish to reject storing data in templates on principle. Why would we want to restrict our choice of ways of accomplishing a job? There are three main ways of storing a dataset for use in an article, and each of them may be optimal for some cases:
    1. Code the dataset directly into the page that uses it. This is fine for single-use datasets, especially when frequent updating isn't needed. Any non-Wikidata-enabled infobox is a good example of this.
    2. Place the dataset in another page (Template: namespace is then the obvious choice) and programmatically read that data into the article, or transclude the raw data directly if it needs no further processing. A recent example that I saw is in the article Bordeaux #Population where both the population change table ({{Table Population Town}}) and the population over time chart ({{Chart Population Town}}) draw their data from the same source, {{Database Population Bordeaux}}.
    3. Store the dataset on Wikidata. This makes the data available to other projects, but suffers from all the problems deriving from the lack of editors maintaining Wikidata, and needs somebody to write a piece of code to fetch that data for use in an article here. {{Infobox gene}} is a good example of using Wikidata datasets and how an English WikiProject maintains the data on Wikidata for its uses here.
There is a spectrum of abilities and of needs in curating data for use in Wikipedia articles. Our most valuable resource is committed editors and we should retain the flexibility to use whatever solution is preferred by the editors curating that data. It's not our place to impose our own preferences on them. --RexxS (talk) 11:52, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes, but it depends. Templates should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and not blanket-ly. Also,
  1. Re #1: sometimes, data in templates provides ease of access.
  2. Re #2: look at the template's edit history and ask someone to update the entire template if you can't do it yourself.
  3. Re #3: a contrived example, akin to 'ladders exist, so how should someone get to the 100th floor of a building, use a bunch of ladders?'. No, take the stairs, i.e. Wikidata. {{Wikidata}} and other similar templates exist for this purpose, and can be used in satisfy said examples.
  4. Re #4: WP:DWAP.   ~ Tom.Reding (talkdgaf)  12:32, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment: The RfC is unfortunately worded. What should be asked is "should we be migrating data to Wikidata, and transcluding it from there rather than storing it in back-end data templates", to which the answer is a resounding yes. As with most things on Wikipedia, there is no deadline, and exceptions (for circumstances where Wikidata is not yet ready, for example) apply. Arguemnts about the ease with which multiple articles can be updated by changing a single Wikipedia data template are flawed, because they ignore the possibility that those articles exist in up to 300 Wikipedias in different languages; and they ignore the tools that exist, for conveniently making batch updates to Wikidata. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 13:06, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes, agree with the above, should be assessed on a case-by-case basis where these types of templates would be very useful. A blanket ban would not be helpful. Vaselineeeeeeee★★★ 14:59, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Is storing data an acceptable use of template namespace? Generally no. I would much prefer migration to Wikidata. "Only 1 edit" argument can be a non-issue with e.g. d:Wikidata:QuickStatements (which is actually easier to manipulate IMO than a template which could be prone to operator error). Exceptions may apply (for example, I don't particularly support automatic taxoboxes here rather than Wikidata, but to enable those the best we would need to be able to query up the subclass chain, and that particular effort is not supported yet). --Izno (talk) 15:56, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
    • @Izno: "that particular effort is not supported yet" – it could be, see c:Module:Taxontree. I'm not sure you'd like the results, though. c:Medicago sativa is a typical example of it embedded in an infobox. --RexxS (talk) 16:19, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
      • @Izno and RexxS: This sub-discussion is at the wrong place; it should be at Wikipedia talk:Automatic taxobox system. {{3x|p}}ery (talk) 16:34, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
        • Not really? It was brought up above as a "we should allow this kind of data". I don't think we should so I commented on it. :) --Izno (talk) 16:41, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
        • @Pppery: My small note is fine here. The subject of broadening Wikidata usage is perfectly relevant to this discussion, and you don't get to decide where I post comments. Stop trying to over-regulate everything. Your compulsions are not shared by the vast majority of editors. --RexxS (talk) 16:54, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
      • I certainly wouldn't support the identifiers, but the class hierarchy seems entirely reasonable, which is the predominant reason for the automatic taxobox system existing in the first place. IIRC it currently requires multiple arbitrary access to a Wikidata item (each step up the tree), which is expensive, which is why I said "not supported". Embedded SPARQL queries would make that much more powerful, but that is not supported at all (and which is what I made reference to). --Izno (talk) 16:41, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
        • @Izno: The code I write no longer makes use of the old calls to enable arbitrary access. Previously it had to load the entire Wikidata item (statements, links, labels, descriptions, etc.), which was classed as expensive. The latest API lets us fetch a single statement from an arbitrary entity, which is not expensive. That has allowed these sort of chains to be followed. Another example is the location function in Module:WikidataIB which produces results like Selby, Selby District, North Yorkshire, Yorkshire and the Humber, England, UK. Cheers --RexxS (talk) 16:54, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
        • @Izno: actually, it's very wrong to speak of the classification hierarchy. Different wikipedias use different and incompatible systems of classification for the same group; we here use different and incompatible classification hierarchies for different groups (e.g. for birds and dinosaurs). This is perfectly justified, since taxonomic decisions are in the end subjective. No-one has yet shown how different but overlapping classification hierarchies, together forming a tangled network, can be stored in Wikidata. (We manage it here in an ad hoc fashion via skip and variant taxonomy templates plus customized code.) The general point is that each proposed use of Wikidata must be considered on its merits, not by some blanket decision. I'm in no way opposed to using Wikidata when it can be made to do what we want (e.g. taxonbars). Peter coxhead (talk) 21:04, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
          • Careful, careful, not to straw man what I have said, which was specific to the example that RexxS provided. I am aware there are differing hierarchies for certain groups. No-one has yet shown how different but overlapping classification hierarchies, together forming a tangled network, can be stored in Wikidata. Wikidata already does so? You add a source for the particular system's hierarchy or even an ad hoc paper for a particular arbitrary grouping. If you were interested in all of a particular system's hierarchy for a specific taxon, as you walked up the classification tree you would filter out all of the systems not equal to the one of interest on a particular wiki page. If you were interested instead in a list of all the parent classes and their parents, that could be a table embedded in the article-proper. I think this is clearly in the realm of the possible based on my own experience. That said, perhaps these infoboxes fail in that what they should provide is only the most immediate classes in the hierarchy up or down. Other infoboxes have little issue with this way of looking at things. --Izno (talk) 23:08, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes Certainly on a case by case. I see now reason why it would be of benefit. scope_creepTalk 16:48, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes, and I think with how the question is framed, it would be difficult to say no—even if one believes that it's not desirable, there are some WP:COMMONSENSE cases where it might be, so unacceptable is a very strong word. In any case, I actually believe that it's also generally desirable in the provided use cases, until there is an alternative solution that does the same. I think the benefits it brings are largely the ones said to be disadvantages by User:Zackmann above:
    • Ease of access: yes, one would need to go to a different page to edit the template, but this is the case with any template on Wikipedia, and it's easy to pick up even for relatively inexperienced editors who understand WikiMarkup (not sure how it works with VE). However, when editing the template, all the data is in one place, which improves ease of access.
    • Outdated references: I haven't personally encountered such a problem in data templates, but I would imagine that the point of a data template would be to have a list of data points that comes from the same source or a small number of sources. In such a case, updating references is significantly easier with a data template than a thousand different articles. I think the example given by Zackmann actually proves this point.
    • Dangerous precedent: I think that only the contrary, any of the nominated templates is a good example of how to resolve the very annoying problem of having to update hundreds of articles when new data is available, so it sets a good precedent to follow. If there are use cases where data templates don't work well, editors will realize that it's not working and go back to the old method—or just not create these tempaltes in the first place.
    • Performance issue: To be honest I don't know how switch statements are implemented on MediaWiki, so it could be that Zackmann is correct and it's a huge performance drain. However, there is a possibility for Lua templates now which bring templates closer to the actual computational performance (it's not exactly a low-level language, but far more efficient than WikiMarkup conditional statements). Making 1000 switch/case comparisons in PHP 7.x takes tens of microseconds on a typical machine, which doesn't seem like a big deal to me, even assuming a single-server architecture (not the case) and no cache whatsoever (also not the case). In any case, it should be the other way around: if we find data templates really useful but they are slow, we should all vote to have the performance improved in the annual community tech wishlist survey—not avoid using the feature. If it's catastrophic, WMF engineers are likely to intervene, like they did with the custom fonts.
Ynhockey (Talk) 19:32, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes. "Bulk updating" is actually fairly common: usually new population data is released by statistics offices for an entire country (or country subdivision) at the same time. Some of the data can't be easily bulk-moved to Wikidata for license reasons. I believe in performance issues only when a dev tells us not to do something. So the data template setup works. The argument that I can agree with is that data can be hard to edit, but a lot of the data is not supposed to be edited. There should be clear instructions in the infobox or other templates that call the data how the data can be updated. Editing the entries on Wikidata isn't intuitive for the first time user either, so overall the case against data storage templates isn't very strong. And finally, I can't see how creative use of the template space sets anything but a good precedent. —Kusma (t·c) 20:17, 16 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Invalid question. Technically anything counts as data, so the answer is of course yes. I think we should discuss what we mean by "data," and formulate some red lines over what is and isn't acceptable, before delving straight into !voting. -- King of ♠ 01:18, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
    Certainly the question should be focused on encyclopedic content/data which normally requires a WP:CITE on a main space article. -- Netoholic @ 15:00, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
    Good point, the population templates I'm familiar with (for German states like {{Metadata Population DE-NW}}, {{Population Cape Verde}}) have a reference and offer easy transclusion of that reference. Markussep Talk 19:41, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes, per Kusma. Markussep Talk 19:43, 17 March 2019 (UTC)
  • We're getting into snow territory here, but most definitely yes. A great example is something like Template:Extrasolar planet counts: it uses the numbers subpage to store all the data needed, and is faithfully updated each month by a dedicated user. It's simple and designed to solve a few of the exact issues presented above. I don't think "ease of access" isn't a huge concern, as the mere usage of templates ({{whatever}}) is enough to complicate things, and I certainly don't think the precedent can be called dangerous. See also WP:PERFORMANCE. I also take the comments above about how one defines data to be well-said. Similarly, there are a ton of modules with data stored in /config or similar subpages. ~ Amory (utc) 10:49, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes Bulk updating is obviously needed to be done regularly in regards to census and other similar results which may be updated yearly or ever 5 or 10 years. Makes it more convenient in some cases, but that doesn't set a "dangerous" precedent for other cases where the data is not updated in one go by one authority. Ease of access isn't an issue when the data does not need to be changed unless an update is released by the relevant authority. Galobtter (pingó mió) 18:36, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes at present. I think some effort could be made to gradually move some data to Wikidata (especially if used on multiple Wikipedias) but that should be a process guided by local discussion specific to each template or group of templates. --Tom (LT) (talk) 06:35, 22 March 2019 (UTC)
  • No, it is not. Let's not nitpick on the definition of data. For the described kind of purpose(s), Wikidata is the platform to use, not the enwiki template namespace.
    Disclaimer: Invited by Legobot, am a fan of the Wikidata idea, typing on mobile
    ~ ToBeFree (talk) 18:05, 30 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Yes some templates should be used to store some data. There are sure to be cases where that is unwise—like everything, discussions on a case-by-case basis are needed. The suggestions to use Wikidata, perhaps with QuickStatements, might work in some cases but this RfC cannot mandate that procedure. Wikidata is subject to vandalism that cannot be detected at Wikipedia. Using Wikidata is a timebomb until there is a bot which can transfer data from a central page on Wikipedia (which can be watched for changes) and report daily on any changes made at Wikidata. Editors are volunteers who know how to deal with wikitext. They should not be compelled to use QuickStatements or other foreign systems, particularly when those systems cannot check for vandalism. Johnuniq (talk) 00:02, 4 April 2019 (UTC)
  • Sometimes. This is a case-by-case matter. Some good use cases have been outlined above (and have been heavily used, enjoying long-standing consensus). Others are very wrong-headed, and are rightly TfDed.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:14, 4 April 2019 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

  • I find some of the examples and justifications used in this RfC so far to represent naive "cleverness" rather than good sense, and give no consideration to the long-term health of the project. This RfC as worded does not make a clear recommendation as to the overall direction use of this namespace should head. The choice is this: do we acknowledge that some data is currently in the template namespace but that the long-term plan is to move toward deprecating such uses in favor of other methods ("list of" articles, wikidata, bot updates, etc.), or are we saying that we should encourage moving more and more data into templates? Well, I think only the first of these options is in alignment with the intended use of templates. The template namespace is not a database, and our policy should be to constantly move toward eliminating article content from it. This has been the stated purpose in this guideline for almost 15 years. We have deleted templates which contained whole paragraphs of prose to be used on multiple articles. We have deleted a whole system of citations being stored in templates. And now we've already got many templates with individual data points (populations, planet counts, etc.) which change over time. The problem is, where does that end? Do we create #switch templates to cover the current head of state in every country, the current roster of every sports team, the current Billboard top 100, the current outdoor temperature in every city? This RfC has developed no guidelines, limitations, or recommendations which would prevent the creation of any of these or for any data set imaginable. In fact, if the present trajectory holds, it would almost seem to encourage them. But I will point out that in the cases I mention above deprecating prose and cite_ templates, the first instinct of the community was to support them, their use and scope grew over time, and then the problems became apparent and the community rejected them, but not after a lot of effort and clean-up - all of which could have been avoided by sticking to the proper scope of the template namespace in the first place. Article content (and the citations that support them) belong in the articles themselves. We have no requirement that such data be "current", only WP:Verifiable, and there is no deadline. Let's not go down the wrong path again. -- Netoholic @ 12:50, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
    • Storing data in a template works well when a single reliable source regularly issues a set of data that is used in multiple articles. With one source and one template, updating and checking for typos is greatly simplified and made much more reliable. No single source issues a table of heads of state, so gathering that information into a single template would not be useful. Data-in-a-template works well in some situations and not in others. Johnuniq (talk) 22:37, 18 March 2019 (UTC)
      • All you're doing is repeating how convenient this is, on the small scale, but not addressing why this is a good practice long-term or on a wide scale. Also, I'll point out that relying on only a single source can itself lead to WP:Verifiability or WP:NPOV problems, so maybe its a really poor practice. -- Netoholic @ 00:16, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
        • The alternative to {{Swiss populations data CH-ZH}} would be to edit around 200 articles to change the population values when the source releases new data (and for other editors to check each change to the number in each of the 200 articles). Single-source problems apply to an article and are not applicable for one item such as the population in a municipality. Editing data in one place (when that data comes from one source) is easier and much more reliable. I agree that some templates will be inappropriate—each needs to be considered on its merits. When there is a magic system to update Wikidata and monitor the Wikidata values, we might get population information from Wikidata. Johnuniq (talk) 01:34, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
          • "when the source releases new data" - why? You're operating under the assumption that Wikipedia articles must include data points which are absolutely current. -- Netoholic @ 02:25, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
            • I think it's good practice to aim for the most up-to-date information. You're right that the template namespace is not a database, but the guidelines do not prohibit using it as such. IMO, a population number is not a piece of text as meant in the first guideline (Templates should not normally be used to store article text, ...). Markussep Talk 10:18, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
              • I've always been open to changing "store article text" to "store encyclopedic content" or anything else that makes it more clear that any data (text, information, citations, etc.) about a topic should not be stored in the template namespace. This is why template calls within articles is fine, because the data point is stored in the article's history as a parameter. -- Netoholic @ 14:06, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
                • That's your opinion, not an accepted guideline. Markussep Talk 14:27, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
                  • No, in fact it is the accepted guideline: "article text" links to Wikipedia:What is an article?. That page describes the content found in articles, including text, citations, etc. My point was that I am open to better wording, but the guideline already says that article content does not belong in the template namespace. -- Netoholic @ 19:23, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
                    • Wikipedia:What is an article? is an information page, "... not one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community." Templates like {{Table Population Town}} are article content and contain data, as is {{Chart Population Town}}. Surely nobody is suggesting that we hard-code each of those (along with the same data each time) in every article that would benefit from them? --RexxS (talk) 19:41, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
                      • I think we all know what qualifies as "article content" - that being the facts and figures related to a particular topic. You're being pedantic. But no, those templates only provide stylistic elements. The actual article content related to those templates is within the individual "databases" like Avignon Template:Database Population Avignon or Template:Database Population Bordeaux. These numbers are what belong stored within the article for those individual towns - there is only one article that benefits from each of them: Special:WhatLinksHere/Template:Database Population Bordeaux. Having them split out like that is exactly against the WP:Template namespace#Guidelines. -- Netoholic @ 20:21, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
                        • This is another illustration of a way in which this question is poorly formed and should have been the subject of discussion prior to this RFC. Template:Database Population Avignon is article content, and it used in only one article. The existing guideline already covers this sort of thing; the template should clearly be substed and deleted. The existence of Template:Database Population Avignon does not really bear on what this RFC should have been about, but because the question is too broad, we are talking about things that we shouldn't even need to discuss here. – Jonesey95 (talk) 21:28, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
                          • But that's not what I said. Please don't call me pedantic when you've not even read what I wrote. Look at Bordeaux #Population. There are both of the templates {{Table Population Town}} and {{Chart Population Town}}, each of which use {{Database Population Bordeaux}}. The data is used twice in the same article. Are you seriously contending that we should subst those templates and then delete the data? What happens when it's time to add another year's population information? What is easier: to redo the table and chart to accommodate the new value; or to simply add another datapoint to {{Database Population Bordeaux}} (which is done by bot anyway)? That's what datasets are for. And the same sort of argument applies to hundreds of sports-related templates which are updated even more frequently. Whoever wrote WP:TPG had failed to consider the case when the same data is used indirectly via two different templates in the same page. The only pedantry is thinking that guidelines are prescriptive, rather than descriptive. If you don't believe me, try using TPG as a rationale for deleting {{Database Population Bordeaux}} and see how far you get. --RexxS (talk) 22:02, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
                            • Guidelines are prescriptive. The word is taken from rope (line) which is laid along a path which is intended to be used by a traveler to hold onto and be led (guided) along the path. -- Netoholic @ 02:24, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
                              • Absolute nonsense. Policies and guidelines have always been descriptive on Wikipedia. Have a read of this useful essay, Wikipedia:Product, process, policy and note this:

                                Since the policy is a result of process and practice (instead of the other way around) it is quite possible that policy changes as a result of practice changing. Another important principle is that Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. Policy is subservient to product, not the other way around.

                                The result of this setup is that policy pages are often a step or two behind process. Whenever the result of process does not correspond with policy, it means that the policy is outdated. When we encounter a new situation, we are not required to base our discussion on policy. Rather, we base a new policy on the process of discussion. A corollary of this fact is that we, as a rule, do not vote on new policy or guideline pages. Frequently, we simply write down what already happens. Anything that describes the usual outcome of a common process is a good guideline for the future.

                                You envisage an encyclopedia where rules are in place in order to determine how we must edit. That's not Wikipedia. --RexxS (talk) 18:29, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
                                • You just quoted an essay, not a guideline. Guidelines are prescriptive, in that, if someone want's to go against them, they are considered to be going against the established consensus. Consensus can change, and something like an RfC can certainly describe how we want to change them, but then they become prescriptive until a new consensus is shown. -- Netoholic @ 19:31, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
                                  • Yes I quoted a useful essay as I stated. Which part of it do you disagree with? You've cited nothing but your own mistaken opinion. Policies and guidelines are descriptive, not prescriptive. They are descriptive in that they describe our consensus on what is best practice. They are not prescriptive in that they do not prevent an editor from making an edit. If that edit is shown to be improving Wikipedia, then it will stand. See WP:IAR. That's not an essay, by the way. --RexxS (talk) 20:02, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
          • "The alternative to {{Swiss populations data CH-ZH}} would be to edit around 200 articles" Not true; use Wikidata. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 00:07, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Other options Wikidata is being presented as the better solution, but some people prefer to not use Wikidata as they see it as hard to access or understand or monitor for vandalism and it is off-site. And Wikidata is not always a good fit for certain data. If the templates were converted to Lua the data could be stored in Lua tables as separate files, is commonly done. There is also the little known but interesting Tabular Data on Commons - "Tabular data allows users to create CSV-like tables of data, and use them from other wikis to create automatic tables, lists, and graphs." This is cool as you can create and maintain the CSV file using a bot, then a template from any wiki can render the data in articles without the need for a bot to edit the wikis directly. For example keeping weather or election data up to date. -- GreenC 02:36, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
    • While people make the argument that maintaining a template in one location is more convenient - that only applies to this Wikipedia. Do we want to maintain copy-cat templates in all 300+ Wikipedia languages? Well, suddenly updating in a central location (Wikidata) doesn't sound like such a burden after all. -- Netoholic @ 14:06, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
      • There aren't 300+ Wikipedia's that use templates to store population data, I count 28 at {{Metadata Population DE-BY}}. Markussep Talk 14:27, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
        • Thank you for proving my point. There are currently only 28 using that template, but in all we have 300 Wikipedias which this could be copied to. This does not scale. Even maintaining "only" 28 is more work than updating Wikidata centrally. -- Netoholic @ 19:23, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
          • Tabular data on Commons is a single location accessible to all Wikis. IMO it's better than Wikidata for many applications, and much easier to work with. Wikidata is not the right solution for everything. -- GreenC 14:54, 20 March 2019 (UTC)
  • Let's go back to basics. Any set of structured data is a database, by definition. So I reject the argument that template space is not a database. It quite clearly can hold databases. The only factor that differentiates templates from other namespaces is that you don't have to include the namespace prefix when transcluding the page. The whole purpose of templates is to transclude them into multiple other pages, so if you have a dataset that needs to be transcluded in other pages, then template namespace is a perfectly logical place to put it. Where things started to go awry was when editors started to process the data in the dataset before including it in an article. The programming ability of template space is rudimentary, to say the least, and it is only through the ingenuity of editors that we have developed complex templates that process data (which is usually held in template space as well). Does this work? Yes. Is it the best way to process data in the long-term? Almost certainly not. Surely we would want to move toward a situation where data is stored in a central location and is processed by an efficient, fully-featured language. The issue at present is that our main central location is Wikidata, and that site is not yet capable of curating the data held there because of lack of editors relative to the size of the database. Commons might look like an attractive alternative for a flat-file database, but at the expense of having to maintain another watchlist in order to keep a check on data that you have placed there – there is, at present, no means of monitoring relevant changes on Commons from your enwiki watchlist. Until we have better quality data on Wikidata, with far more robust anti-vandalism and more mature policies on verifiability and BLP, we are going to have to accept that there will be many places where we simply cannot deprecate storing a dataset locally (and that includes within template namespace in many cases). And once we accept that, you can see why this RfC will remain merely "blue-sky" thinking for the foreseeable future. --RexxS (talk) 13:03, 19 March 2019 (UTC)
Is watching a single page on Commons really not possible? If that is the only hurdle, it wouldn't be difficult to create a public watchlist program that logs a page on Enwiki every time the Commons page is changed (filtered for bots). Then anyone can watchlist the log page. BTW I love your idea to "move toward a situation where data is stored in a central location and is processed by an efficient, fully-featured language" .. unfortunately we have a minority who believe a "fully-featured language" is a detriment for the majority. -- GreenC 15:06, 20 March 2019 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

T3 and Wikipedia:Template namespace#Guidelines[edit]

I find it a bit strange that a speedy criteria exists for WP:T3 (Templates that are substantial duplications of another template, or hardcoded instances of another template where the same functionality could be provided by that other template), yet in Wikipedia:Template namespace#Guidelines it doesn't even mention creating a duplication of another template. WP:T2 however, does get mentioned here. --Gonnym (talk) 15:51, 8 April 2019 (UTC)

I see the following on the page right now: Templates that misrepresent policy or substantially duplicate or hardcode the same functionality of established templates may fit the criteria for speedy deletion. (emphasis added). That seems clear to me. How would you suggest changing the page? – Jonesey95 (talk) 16:39, 8 April 2019 (UTC)
No, that's good. It seems I was blind and didn't see it, even though I saw the the "misrepresent policy" part. --Gonnym (talk) 17:00, 8 April 2019 (UTC)