[Portal] Red link

Most new articles are created shortly after a corresponding reference to them is entered into the system.

   — "The Collaborative Organization of Knowledge", Communications of the ACM[1]

A red link, like this one, signifies that the linked-to page does not exist‍—‌it either never existed, or previously existed but has been deleted. It is useful while editing articles to add a red link to indicate that a page will be created soon or that an article should be created for the topic because the subject is notable and verifiable. Red links help Wikipedia grow.[1] The creation of red links prevents new pages from being orphaned from the start.[2]

Articles should not contain red links to files, to templates, or to topics that do not warrant an article, such as a celebrity's romantic interest who is not a celebrity in their own right, and thus lacks notability. Red links should not be made to every chapter in a book. Red links should not be made to deleted articles unless the reason for the deletion of the article was not due to a lack of notability or the topic not being encyclopedic in another way. Many important topics have had previous articles that were not salvageable or were vandalized. In addition, even if a page has been deleted because it does not meet Wikipedia's guidelines, you may make a red link to the term if you intend to write an article about an entirely different topic that happens to have the same title.

In general, a red link should be allowed to remain in an article if it links to a title that could plausibly sustain an article, but for which there is no existing article, or article section, under any name. Do not remove red links unless you are certain that Wikipedia should not have an article on the subject, or if the red link could be replaced with a link to an article section where the subject is covered as part of a broader topic (see Notability – Whether to create standalone pages).

Good red links help Wikipedia—they encourage new contributors in useful directions, and remind us that Wikipedia is far from finished.

Creating red links

A red link appears whenever double brackets [[ ]] are placed around a word or phrase for which Wikipedia does not have an article, disambiguation page or redirect.

When to create red links

Create red links everywhere they are relevant to the context for terms that should exist in the encyclopedia. An easy example is a technical term that merits a treatment beyond its dictionary definition, to help support its role for its existing context. A technical term probably qualifies because it is probably "notable" and probably should have that obvious title. But in many cases, a bit more care should be used in creating a red link, to ensure the red link is entirely proper.

The topic of the red link could actually exist, but under a different page name. The topic may well be covered in a section of another article; it could even be buried in several paragraphs nearby. So it is the responsibility of the person who creates a red link to scan for the topic's coverage. The category links at the bottom of that page will link to virtually all related articles and the search engine provides features for advanced queries that can pinpoint matching text anywhere on Wikipedia. Both search methods employ MediaWiki features crafted to find information on Wikipedia. They can help us build Wikipedia, red link by red link.

Creating a red link also carries the responsibility to first ascertain that the red link is a valid title of a page, and that its foreseeable new subject matter will meet the notability guidelines for topics covering: people (WP:BIO), web content (WP:WEB), businesses (WP:CORP), and more.

When creating an article, it is best practice to: (a) check whether there are existing red links that will be turned blue by the creation of the article and (b) check whether those incoming links are pointing to the right place and to correct them where needed.

Avoiding creation of certain types of red links

Do not create red links to articles that are not likely to be created and retained in Wikipedia, including articles that do not comply with Wikipedia's naming conventions. The illustrative link shown in red positioned at the beginning of this page is an example of this type of normally unwanted red link.

Red links generally are not included in See also sections, nor are they linked to through templates such as {{Main}} or {{Further}}, since these navigation aids are intended to help readers find existing articles. Red links may be used on navigation templates with links to existing articles, but they cannot be excessive. Editors who add excessive red links to navboxes are expected to actively work on building those articles, or they may be removed from the template.

A page in any Wikipedia namespace should never be left in a red-linked category. Either the category should be created, or else the non-existent category link should be removed or changed to one that exists.

Links should not be created to templates unless and until the templates have been created. Do not create red links to files. Such red links are categorized for cleanup at Category:Articles with missing files.

Do not create redirect pages to pages that do not exist.

Biographical articles

As with other topics, red links can be created to biographies of people who would likely meet Wikipedia's guidelines for notability. All the rules that apply to our biographies on living people equally apply to red-linked names. As discussed above, when creating a biography from a red link, it is best practice to use "what links here" to verify that all the incoming links are referring to the same person.

There have been cases in which a biographical article was created for a person with the same name as an existing red link, but the article was for a different person. An example in which such a situation happened was a red link to Tom Mueller in the article about the book Extra Virginity. The red link, created in 2012, was for the author of the book. In 2014 an article was created for a different Tom Mueller, a rocket scientist who co-founded SpaceX, without checking for existing incoming links. The red link in the Extra Virginity article thus became blue, but the link was to the wrong person. The error was not corrected until 2016.

Disambiguation pages

Use of red links on disambiguation pages should be limited. The whole point of a disambiguation page is to help the reader arrive at the correct existing article from a choice of articles with similar titles. Since a red link is a link to a non-existent article, using red links in disambiguation pages is usually discouraged. Red links can be used in disambiguation pages if existing encyclopedic articles (i.e. not disambiguation pages because disambiguation pages are not considered encyclopedic) have such red links.

Dealing with existing red links

In general, a red link should be allowed to remain in an article if it links to a term that could plausibly sustain an article, but for which there is no existing candidate article, or article section, under any name.

A red link to an article that will plausibly be created in the future should be "left alone rather than being created as a minimal stub article that has no useful information." An example of a plausible red link might be to driving in Madagascar, since an article on driving in the United States exists, and country-specific driving articles like these are a likely area for future creation. However, it is better to leave this link red than to create a "placeholder stub" that says only "There is driving in Madagascar", with the sole purpose of turning the red link to blue. Editors should create stubs with a usable amount of content, or else not create the stub at all. Red links serve the purpose of notifying readers that a need exists in Wikipedia for the creation of a new article with at least minimal information content; the creation of minimalist marker stubs simply to get rid of a red link destroys this useful mechanism.

Likewise, a valid red link term like driving in Madagascar should not be dealt with by removing the link brackets, simply to temporarily reduce the amount of red text in an article.

An existing red link can indicate one or more of the following things:

  • A new article is needed. When a Wikipedian writes an article, it is common practice to link key topics pertinent to an understanding of the subject, even if those topics don't have an article on Wikipedia yet. Do not remove these red links. This has several applications:
    • From within an article, such a link prepares the article to be fully supported (not orphaned upon creation). At any time, a Wikipedian may independently write an article on the linked-to subject, and when this happens, there's already a link ready and waiting for it. The red link also gives readers the opportunity to click on it to create the needed article on the spot.
    • The red link may identify a need to create a redirect to another article, but only if that article comprehensively deals with the topic.
    • Some WikiProjects have bots that determine how many times a certain red link appears in Wikipedia. This is used to determine what articles are the most needed. Editors can also, after clicking on a red link, use the "what links here" function to determine how many times the subject has been red-linked.
  • The link is broken and no longer leads to an article (perhaps because the underlying article was deleted). In such a case, the link usually needs to be removed or renamed to point to an existing article.
  • The link may have been made by someone who wasn't aware of what should and shouldn't be linked to within articles. Always evaluate whether or not a red link is pointing at a title that actually needs creation. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Linking#What generally should be linked.
  • The red link may be a typo—e.g., someone wanted to link to African elephant, but instead typed "African eelephant". In this case, try to figure out the intended article and fix the link. If it looks like a common misspelling, such as Scandanavia, you may want to create a redirect from that misspelling to the correct one, but you should still correct the misspelling even though it would no longer appear red.
  • The subject of the red link may be covered on another edition of Wikipedia. If such an article meets the English-language Wikipedia criteria and you are able to translate, then follow the procedures at Wikipedia:Translation; if not, use a link to the article in the other edition of Wikipedia instead of or next to a red link. Such links can be made manually or by using the interlanguage link template {{ill}}.
  • Links in any of the various {{About}} and {{Otheruses}} hatnotes, in {{Main}}, {{Details}}, {{Further}}, and {{Seealso}} notes, as well as in "See also" sections, are meant to serve a navigational purpose. Red links are useless in these contexts; if possible they should be replaced by a functioning link, or else be removed.
  • Lists of "notable people" in an article, such as the "Notable alumni" section in an article on a university, tend to accrue red links, or non-links, listing people of unverifiable notability. Such list entries should often be removed, depending on the list-selection criteria chosen for that list.

See also

Lists of redlinks


  1. ^ a b Diomidis Spinellis and Panagiotis Louridas (August 2008). "The collaborative organization of knowledge". Communications of the ACM. Vol. 51, No. 8, pp. 68–73. doi:10.1145/1378704.1378720. Most new articles are created shortly after a corresponding reference to them is entered into the system. See also Wikipedia:Inflationary hypothesis of Wikipedia growth.
  2. ^ Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-01-31/Orphans

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