Tolkien Gateway

Forum:Linking to redirects

Revision as of 18:50, 10 January 2011 by Mithbot (Talk | contribs)
Tolkien Gateway > Council > Linking to redirects


Hello all. Recently myself and Mith have been changing links so that instead of linking to redirect pages, they link directly to the location of the article. We're currently going through all pages in the redirect list, using our bots when there are too many to pages to edit manually. It would be great if we could establish a new policy to ensure that editors link directly to an article instead of linking to a redirect page, obviously this ensures that our work changing the links now isn't gradually undone (there's currently 5 years worth of complacency which we're trawling through). -- KingAragorn  talk  contribs  edits  email  21:45, 3 July 2010 (UTC)

We probably need to rewrite the manual of style or disambiguation policy for that, should be no problem. As Mith noted on his shortcut list, a lot of the policies could do with reconsideration. -- Ederchil (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 21:58, 3 July 2010 (UTC)
My intention is, once I've fully analysed what's we've got (and where it's located), to completely set about overhauling and modernising the Tolkien Gateway: and Help: namespaces. I think weeding out all the hallmarks of the older standards (weird disambiguation, bad linking, old referencing system, etc.) is a really important step in taking TG from a good wiki to a great wiki. --Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 23:42, 3 July 2010 (UTC)
I seriously agree. Links should not go to redirect pages or to disambiguation pages, but directly to the substantive article intended. And that will need a consistent policy on naming articles and disambiguation and also on how to deal with alternative names. The last forum discussions on that last issue seem to have ended in this and this, and by the looks of it, we are not even following the conclusions there consistently.
A problem with alternative names, that redirect to the substantive article under the main name, and by extension alternative names used in other articles linking directly to the substantive article under the main name, is that the ‘layman user’ may be surprised to land at an article that does not have the name he typed or clicked (certainly in the second case where he is not even informed about a redirect) and not realise the relation or identity between the names. Even I have been non-plussed at some occasion. I think policy should state that an article redirected to should explain the relation or identity, if the redirect is not immediately recognisable as a mis- or alternative spelling, singular for plural or short form. And that if an article links to another article by a different name, either the one or the other article should make the relation or identity clear.
Actually, not linking to redirects or disambiguations is sort of self-evident to me, so when a month ago I was looking at a few related articles idly, and noticed that Edith Tolkien, née Bratt, Mabel Tolkien, née Suffield, and the two Michael Tolkiens, father and son, were linked to inconsistently and partly indirectly, I set about to put matters in order. Only for my work on the two Michaels to be immediately undone by Pinkkeith, who thought those articles (one of which still doesn’t exist, btw) should reside under different names. Now, whether he was right or not isn’t the issue here (I don’t think he is, but I will deal with that on the appropriate discussion page). But I think the policy on linking directly, that KingAragorn rightly says above should be established, should also make clear the principle that, among similar things, when a substantive article is moved, and as a consequence the pages formerly linking to that article instead link to a redirect or a disambiguation page, the onus to point those links to the substantive article again is on the person that caused the move.
I have a concern with the use of bots in overhauling matters. I have, quite by accident, already come across several cases where the bots, in replacing links, have broken things. I have already mentioned some cases on KingAragorn’s and Mith’s discussion pages, but let me point out a few problems here:
  1. Please make sure the bot is only changing the exact link one wants changed and doesn’t cast its net too wide; e.g. when changing Took into Took Family, not to change Peregrin Took into Peregrin Took Family [1].
  2. Do not change the actual text of the article, but always change links to [[Redirection Page]] into [[Direct Link|Redirection Page]]. The change of
    ..... Zirakzigil, the Dwarves' name for the mountain called Celebdil or Silvertine by other races
    into [2],[3]
    ..... Celebdil, the Dwarves' name for the mountain called Celebdil or Silvertine by other races
    actually changes a correct statement into a misstatement of fact. (This example, incidentally, also raises the need for some guidelines in what circumstances to link repeatedly from the same page to the same article.)
  3. Related to the previous point is what happens to discussion or forum pages, where the poster may actually intentionally have used two ways to link to the same page, or two alternative names or titles. Changing all the intentionally different links to the same link to the title under which the actual substantive page now is (and may in fact not have been at all when the post was written) often turns a meaningful point into an idiotic triviality that is totally besides the original point. Changing
    I think we should only use redirects in cases of singular vs. plural entries (Orc vs. Orcs), unaccented vs. accented entries (Numenor vs. Númenor), and the like.
    into [4]
    I think we should only use redirects in cases of singular vs. plural entries (Orc vs. Orcs), unaccented vs. accented entries (Númenor vs. Númenor), and the like.
    and
    Unfortunately this would mean Aragorn II would be changed to simply Aragorn, and Boromir son of Denethor II to Boromir, etc.
    into [5]
    Unfortunately this would mean Aragorn II would be changed to simply Aragorn, and Boromir to Boromir, etc.
    seriously compromises that forum page’s role as an accurate record of the actual discussion. I think there is a case for excluding discussion and forum pages entirely from the direct linking policy, and certainly from the current re-linking project.
I’m concerned here all the more, precisely because I came to these examples by accident, and that suggests to me that many more pages have had similar (and perhaps dissimilar) errors introduced into them as yet unnoticed. I don’t want to tell you to stop using bots immediately (well, I came close ...) because I realise that bots can be a great help in such a project. But please think carefully about what your bot is doing, and what may be the unintended negative side-effects of that. — Mithrennaith 03:27, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
You are right that we aren't even following policy properly because it comes down to individual editors' discretion on a policy they might know nothing about. I hope to sort this out in the not-too-distant future.
When there are redirects of other names to an article, they should be listed in the opening paragraph as a matter of course, in my opinion, "Bob also known as Robert or Bobby was a hobbit from Crickhollow." (Although if there are many they often get relegated to a "Other Names" or "Etymology" section.)
Disambiguation pages: as far as I know, no page should link to these without intention. I spent a long time earlier in the year tidying up all the disambiguation and removing links to them. If there are any links to disambiguation pages, there will only be a few, and they will be much more recent.
  1. With regards to Peregrin Took Family, you'd managed to stumble across the only substantive error I made (which was a slight sloppiness on my part). I check everything and if there's ever a mistake I always correct it.
  2. I have never done that (see 3.).
  3. With regards to Númenor and Boromir, these surely must be the only examples in which I don't use the pipe, as you rightly say (please do check everything else and you'll see I do do [[Direct Link|Redirection Link]]). I'm not going to defend my decision on these two articles - because it's plain to see what I did and why - but what I will say is that after experiencing the learning curve of a bot I'm now more sensitive to an article's integrity than I was when I first started using it (that's not to say I wasn't before, as I say, I would nearly always use a piped link, but I have become more so).
I can set the bot to avoid Forum pages, that's not a problem. I did originally do this but it then started bothering me that Forum pages were often linking to redirects just as much as normal pages were.
I do apologise for my mistakes, but using a bot is definitely a learning curve: you have to make the mistakes in order to understand what you're doing (and to understand what you can and can't do), I assure you that the examples of my work you point to now are not what I would do now. --Mith (Talk/Contribs/Edits) 09:53, 12 July 2010 (UTC)
Apology readily and heartily accepted. That you check everything does go a long way to allay my concerns. (Yet KingAragorn failed to spot the error in Zigil when checking.) My signalling problems with examples here was intended as much to assist the learning curve. Yet I think checking by hand will remain necessary, as there will be cases (as under 3.) where re-linking is definitely inappropriate, and they are almost impossible for a bot to decide, and in several cases, consideration of the context may show that a piped link can be considerably simplified (e.g. I saw several cases of [[Balrogs|Balrog]]s somewhere), or may even be removed as redundant (as in 2.). Eventually we’ll get things improved, let’s not leave too many casualties on the way there.
Consideration for policy: when a redirected or piped-linked other name is not listed in the opening paragraph of the article redirected or linked to, but relegated to an "Other Names" or "Etymology" section, one should seriously consider linking to that Other Names" or "Etymology" section specifically. — Mithrennaith 15:11, 12 July 2010 (UTC)