Wikipedia:What an article should not include

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There are some things that rarely, if ever, should appear in the finished version of an article as it appears to readers. These are:

Instructions

How to read

This should be self-evident to a reader in the way an article is written. Pages should not be written so special instructions are needed to know how to read it. The table of contents should help readers appropriately navigate the page, and internal links should aid readers in navigation to other pages, or in some cases, to other parts of the same page.

How to edit

No editing instructions should be included in the saved version. However, hidden text can be used to give instructions on editing.

Messages

Disclaimers

Articles should not have disclaimers in their text or templates found within their text. For example, if an article is about a medical condition, it should not have a disclaimer stating not to use it to help cure a medical condition.

Warning templates

Templates warning of a problem with the page (including those in horizontal boxes at the top of the page or sections, or providing phrases after words or sentences) are only intended to be temporary until the problem is fixed. While there is no deadline to fix those problems, they are never intended to remain as a part of the permanent structure of the page. Navigational templates, including navboxes, sidebars, hatnotes, and other similar templates may remain as a permanent part of the page.

Stubs

The purpose of a stub is to be the planted seed for a future article, to let readers and editors know that they can help by building on the article. No article is ever intended to permanently be a stub. Such pages are called permastubs. If it is ever suspected that such a page can never be expanded beyond its stub status, it is recommended to consider merging it to another article.

Appearance

Whitespace

All Wikipedia pages fit into a rectangle on the screen. Certain conditions can cause a significant portion of that rectangular to be blank. This blank space is referred to as whitespace. In most cases, the conditions that generate whitespace are never intended to be permanent. It is preferable to fix these conditions whenever possible.

Red links

A red link is a set text that is configured to internally link, but that the page to which it should link does not exist. It appears like this. There are some good reasons for having red links. If there is a good chance there could be a future article or redirect with that title, it is okay to make the red link. But if so, they are generally intended to be temporary.

Red linkage can be resolved by creating articles, even if they are stubs, changing the raw text to link to an existing page (or target on a page), redirecting the linked term to another page (or a target on a page), or removing the link altogether.

Title

The word "and"

Each subject worthy of an article should have a single article. An article should not be about two similar but distinct subjects. For example, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, though nearby, each have their own articles. The only time the word "and" should be used in the title is if it is an actual part of the subject's name (e.g. Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Slash marks

In most namespaces, including talk pages of main namespace, slash marks (/) are used to make subpages. The subpage is recognized by the system as being a separate page because it has different characters from the main page itself. But it is recognized to the reader as having some relationship to that page.

It is customary not to use slashmarks and create subpages of articles in mainspace. Rather, it is acceptable to create subarticles that are somehow related to a parent article. For example, History of wine is a subarticle of wine.

It is acceptable to use slash marks in a main namespace title if it is actually part of the title, such as Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, AC/DC, or 20/20.

Wording

Subjective terminology

Wikipedia is intended to be a source of neutral, factual information. The neutrality of the information is compromised when you used subjective terminology, such as best or worst.

Wrong: He is the best runner on the team.
Right: His speeds are ranked as the highest on the team.

Wrong: _____ was evil
Right: _____ participated in the murders of 200 people

"I...I...I..."

Articles are here to tell about the subject, not its author, or the author's view of the subject. Even in other namespaces, this is the case. "I" should only be found on talk pages in the sense of trying to improve the page or the encyclopedia. The only exception is when the article shows the subject's quote or that of a person mentioned in the article.

"________ is notable because ________"

If a subject has been granted an article, it is because it has been presumed to be notable and worthy of having an article. The text of the article should not have to explain why.

"This article will focus on. . ."

All Wikipedia articles are just that . . . articles. There is no need in the article to identify them as articles. The title and headings should be enough to say what they will focus on. If the text does not do that, it should be edited in a way in which it will.

Recentism

  • "________ is currently ________"
  • "Just the other day, _______. . ."

While Wikipedia is editable at any time by anyone, Wikipedia articles are intended to be permanent, are here for the future, and not only to reflect the present times.

The above examples sound very dated. They may make sense to someone who reads them immediately after the changes are saved. But as the days, weeks, months, and years go by, it would not sound accurate for older text to be written at a present point-of-view. Using phrases such as "As of (date)" or "In/On (date)" not only avoids using a phrase that will date quickly; it is also more precise and informative.

An argument for recentism is that this can be updated at any time. But many events only get attention from editors as they are widely reported, and once media coverage dies down, there will be little if any editing on the topic. This is not saying that the subject of the article is not notable. Many events are notable per WP:EVENT guidelines even after coverage has finished. But even so, they should be written at a point-of-view in which the text will be for the ages.

Profanity and pejorative terminology

Wikipedia is not censored. Yes, profanity is found on Wikipedia sometimes. But it is only used in articles when it is really appropriate. For example, profanity is found in articles about the words themselves, in titles containing those words, and in quotations. But Wikipedia's neutrality guidelines prohibit the use of profanity as a method of labeling a subject or namecalling. A more neutral term should be substituted in these situations.

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