Wikipedia:Merge what?

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It is common in deletion discussions for editors to advocate merging the article into another article as an alternative to deletion. While this may represent the best outcome in some cases, like when subjects lack independent notability but may still deserve mention in another article, the number of AfD discussions closed as merge can create a significant backlog in articles to be merged. It is not uncommon for some of these articles to remain in this backlog for a period of two years or more. Therefore, merge !votes should be avoided if used only as a middle ground. Instead, editors should always ask themselves, "What should be merged"?

Before nominating

Articles do not need to go through AfD discussions to be merged. If you think this is a likely outcome consider being bold and making the merge yourself, or starting a merge discussion on the talk page.[1] However, please note that a merge can sometimes amount to a delete. This is for multiple reasons. For example, editors at the main article may feel there is insufficient overlap between the two articles, and as a result may either immediately, or eventually remove the merged content. Or an editor may feel it is appropriate, but may feel the article is too long to have content added. Or on a medium-sized article, an editor may feel that the content is superfluous, too miscellaneous, trivial-like or out of scope with the layout of the article.

Voting merge at AfD

Unlike other deletion processes a merge close does not result in an immediate effect to the article. Someone still has to complete the merge. You should try to make the process as easy as possible for them. The difficulty associated with conducting merges varies. Adding the information to a list or creating a dedicated section from the article is relatively simple. Merging two articles that both cover the same topic can be difficult and time consuming. Is the effort of doing the merge going to result in an improved article?

Always provide a link to the target article, and make sure the link is correct. On occasion, articles for deletion discussion have closed as a mistaken consensus to link to a disambiguation page, because the first editor didn't check and provided the wrong link and no one else bothered to check either. It is not always best to target the parent article as this can often create undue problems. Is there a list or more specific article that will contain the information better.[2] Scan the target article to make sure the information is not already present. If it is a redirect might be a better option.[3]

When a discussion is closed as merge it has an impact on other articles. Think about how the merge will effect the target article, especially if it is a well developed one. If an article consists of a large number of tables and stats it is unlikely to fit very well in an overview article.[4] Articles with serious problems (non-neutral, poorly sourced, poorly written etc.) are not seldom solved by merged. In some cases it can end up making the target article significantly worse.[5]

In an ideal world the exact content to be merged and the precise target location will be specified.[6] Be as specific as possible about what you want to merge. What is salvageable? Should the entire contents of the article be merged or only certain parts? Are there particular sentences, paragraphs or sections that you think should be merged? Are there any that definitely should not be? Have an idea where in the target article you think the information will fit. A particular section? Paragraph? Its own section? Mixed through the article? "Merge relevant information" or "merge selectively" are only marginally more useful than straight "merge" !vote if no more details are provided.

If you believe the material should be retained in some way but you're not sure how, consider voting to keep and initiating or participating in a merger proposal on the article's talk page. If you've considered the issue and decided that no content needs to be merged, but you also think the AfD article's title is a plausible search term, !vote to redirect. If a subject doesn't meet the usual criteria for merging, it probably shouldn't be merged as a result of AfD either.

Closing merge discussions

The following is not intended to replace the closers discretion when closing discussions. They are just points to contemplate that may make a merge easier for other editors to complete.

Straight keep and delete !vote are generally given less weight than well rationed !vote. Merges should be treated the same way (see WP:JUSTAVOTE). Consider weighting a merge !vote without any further information closer to a redirect. If it is not obvious what needs to be merged you could relist the discussion asking for more specifics or even individually ping editors asking for more information.

If information is merged then a redirect should be left behind. A !vote for merge and delete should only be made in special circumstances (i.e. if the redirect left behind should not exist or for cross wiki merges). If a close is made for merge and delete the easiest way to accomplish this is to first move the article and then merge it, this keeps the contribution history intact.

If closing a long discussion as merge it can be helpful to summarise the consensus for how the merge should proceed. Especially if there are varying ideas on the target or information to be merged.

Completing a merge

Merge-arrows.svg

Once a discussion is closed as merge then this needs to be carried out. The process is similar to closing a non-AFD merge, with the key difference being that consensus is already established for merging. If you !vote for a merge, and it is closed as such, consider doing the merge yourself. There is no danger of being involved as consensus has been determined. As you are already familiar with the discussion you should be able to complete it easier than another editor that is new to it. The same applies to the creator of the merged article.

If you haven't already, read the AFD as it may contain details on what should be merged. Where possible these details should be followed. If there is no specific instructions on what to merge then it is up to the person conducting the merge on what to merge. Take care merging unsourced content and poorly sourced controversial content. Look at the target article and determine where it might fit. Sometimes the information is already there and can be expanded upon or a new section might need to be created. If the target article is well developed be extra careful when merging, especially if it is a good or featured article. Be careful of violating undue as often quite specific articles get merged into more overview ones.

When merging you must say it is a merge and link back to the merged article. This step is required as part of the projects licensing agreement. Leave a redirect behind at the merged article targeted as close to the merged content as possible. You may wish to add {{rcats}} to the redirect. If information you merged gets removed this should not generally be considered as going against the AFD consensus as it has now become part of the normal editing process. If you can not think of a feasible way to merge the information and there is no guidance at the AFD consider just redirecting the article or leaving a note at the targets talk page.

Notes

  1. ^ Agnes Skinner was merged to List of recurring The Simpsons characters. While consensus was against her having her own article, a deletion discussion wasn't necessary.
  2. ^ Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging closed as merge to McMaster University, but the information fitted much better in McMaster Faculty of Social Sciences.
  3. ^ The AfD for Ron Burgundy was closed as a merge with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy#Plot. But as one of the merge voters put it, Ron Burgundy was "completely redundant" to that section. Four months later, it was redirected without merging.
  4. ^ Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Brussels Tigers was one of a group of similar articles that predominately consisted of lists that were closed as merge into a single overview article
  5. ^ Child work, money trail and anti-blackness in the U.S. were essay-like articles that would be difficult to merge into the target articles without reducing their quality.
  6. ^ Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Chapel Hill State School is a good example of a debate that clearly stated what should be merged

See also

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