Help:Archiving a talk page

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*It is the least common of the two methods <!--(three procedures)--> and may cause confusion even for experienced editors who are not familiar with "permanent link" function in the toolbox.
*It is the least common of the two methods <!--(three procedures)--> and may cause confusion even for experienced editors who are not familiar with "permanent link" function in the toolbox.
*It does not show up in special:whatlinkshere/page_title of the linked pages.
*It does not show up in special:whatlinkshere/page_title of the linked pages.
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[[Category:Help|{{PAGENAME}}]]

Revision as of 16:55, November 5, 2011

It is customary on MeritBadgeDotOrg to periodically archive old discussions on a talk page when it becomes too large. Bulky talk pages may be difficult to navigate and may contain obsolete discussion. Large talk pages could be a burden for users with slow Internet connections. On the other hand, there may be circumstances where it benefits discussions to keep older sections visible on the talk pages, so that newly visiting editors can see what has been discussed already, and so they can avoid bringing up topics again that have already been addressed.

The decisions when to archive and what is the optimal length for talk pages are made according to the MeritBadgeDotOrg policy of consensus among the editors on each particular talk page.

If possible, archive talk pages during a lull in the discussion to avoid archiving in the midst of an active discussion so that the full context of the discussion is together.

Regular articles are not archived because previous versions may be seen in the history tab.

There are two main methods for archiving a talk page, detailed below. Regardless of the method you choose, you should leave current, ongoing discussions on the existing talk page. It is helpful to label archives with dates and a brief summary of the main discussions. The most common useful method is the cut and paste procedure.

You may wish to consider refactoring discussions when you archive them.

Archiving one's own user talk page is optional and is preferred over deletion so that past discussions can be easily searched.

Contents

Subpage archive method

Using a subpage is the most popular method for archiving a talk page. There are two alternative procedures which can be used to create a subpage: Cut and paste or move. Whichever way you prefer, you should generally stick to one procedure or the other on any given page, since mixing the two may cause confusion.

Archive pages should be named as follows: take the name of the talk page, and add "/Archive #", where # is the number of the archive. Note that the word "Archive" has a capital A, there is a space before the number, and there are no leading zeros.

For example:

  • the 20th archive of Talk:Earth would be named Talk:Earth/Archive 20
  • the first archive of User talk:Example user would be named User talk:Example user/Archive 1

Remember to use the correct namespace – the part before the colon (:) – when archiving your own user talk page. It should start with "User talk:" not "Talk:".

Cut and paste procedure

  1. Click on edit this page for the talk page you wish to archive.
  2. In the edit box, highlight all the text you want to archive, right-click (Windows/Linux) or command-click (Mac); alternatively, left-click above the text you wish to move, and then scroll down and shift-click below it; and then select cut. The text will then be copied to your clipboard. Note that any WikiProject header templates should remain on the main talk page and should not be cut and pasted to an archive page.
  3. While still in the edit window, make a link to the archive name you plan on creating – you can link directly to a subpage by putting a slash (/) in front of it.
    • If you're making a topical archive, use the name of the topic, for example [[/Place of birth debate]].
    • If you're just archiving old discussion, use the next available number; so if the last archive page was Archive 3, call it [[/Archive 4]].
    • If there are no archives yet, call it [[/Archive 1]].
    • Archive links can be conveniently placed in an archive template (How to do this is described in the archive box section below)
  4. Save the page. You should now have a page of recent discussion with a red link to your archive at the top.
  5. Open the newly-created subpage by clicking the red link. Paste the old discussions from your clipboard into the edit box.
  6. Add {{talkarchive}} to the top and bottom of the page. This adds a notice explaining that the page is an archive, and links back to the main talk page.
  7. If this is a numbered archive, you can add a navigation template to make it easier to navigate through to other numbered archives. See the section navigation templates below.
  8. Save. You have now created an archive.

Advantages of cut and paste

  • Discussions can be archived by topic, rather than chronologically. This may be appropriate on talk pages where certain topics have a tendency to come up again and again, and it is convenient to have all past discussion on an issue in one location. Archiving by topic is usually less appropriate for personal user talk pages.
  • Unlike the permanent link archiving method, the archive can be edited for clarity. For instance, headers can be renamed to be more helpful, unsigned comments can be noted, irrelevant comments can be moved to a more appropriate place, chit chat can be removed, etc. (However, this kind of editing might be considered a mild form of refactoring.)
  • The links used throughout the discussions remain indexed within MeritBadgeDotOrg. This may also be a disadvantage, as 'what links here' is often clogged with archives and user talk pages.
  • Editors who have the article on their watch list will not have the archived talk page put on their watchlist, which happens when talk pages are archived by moving them.
  • Unlike the move procedure it does not reset the history of the page.

Disadvantages of cut and paste

  • Unlike the permanent link archiving method, new users may accidentally reply to inactive discussions, and the page is open to vandalism.
  • This method assumes good faith edits by the person creating the archive. When that trust breaks down, without the edit history on the archive page, it can be very complicated to prove that the archive is a genuine copy of the information being archived from the current talk page. Example.
  • Unlike the move procedure archives are not automatically added to the watchlists of the editors already watching the main discussion page.

Automated archival

MiszaBot and ClueBot III can automatically create cut-and-paste archives for any discussion page (one that has "talk" in the namespace), by moving sections to a subpage when they have received no comments for a specified period of time. See User:MiszaBot/Archive HowTo or User:ClueBot III#How to archive your page for instructions on setting this up. Note: Make sure to establish consensus before setting up MiszaBot or ClueBot III on an article talk page.

Move procedure

  1. Subpage archives can also be created by moving the talk page to a subpage.
  2. Add {{talkarchive}} to the top and bottom of the archived page. This adds a notice explaining that the page is an archive, and links back to the main talk page.
  3. If this is a numbered archive, you can add a navigation template to make it easier to navigate through to other numbered archives. See the section navigation templates below.
  4. Alter the redirect link on the now empty talk page into an ordinary link so that the Archive can be found by clicking on the link. It is probably best to place the link into an archive template (How to do this is described in the archive box section below).
  5. Cut and paste any WikiProject header templates from the archive page back to the new talk page.
  6. Copy discussions that are still active back to the original talk page. If the active discussions are large, as an alternative, copy the section headers of the active discussions onto the new page and provide a link to the same section in the archive eg:
Archive standards
See MeritBadgeDotOrg talk:How to archive a talk page/Archive 1#Archive standards for earlier discussions on this topic

Advantages and disadvantages of the move procedure

In moving the page history, this method leaves user contributions displayed as being to the archive rather than the original page, and makes it difficult to search for past edits to the talk page by a certain user. But moving the history to the archive does make it easier to prove that the archive is a true copy of the talk page before it was archived, and it makes it easier to trace changes to the new talk page as the current history only covers the period from the archive to the most recent edit.

Navigation templates

If the archive page is a numbered archive page ("Archive #" where # is the number of the archive), you can add a navigation template to make it easier to navigate through to other numbered archives.

  • {{archive-nav}} needs the archive number as a parameter – for example {{archive-nav|3}} on Archive 3.
  • {{archive nav}} similar to the above, but a dynamic list of links, – for example {{archive nav|33}} on Archive 33.
  • {{atn}} is similar, but doesn't need a parameter.
  • {{talkarchivenav}} combines {{talkarchive}} and {{atn}}, adding navigation features to the standard notice.

Archive box

On regularly archived talk pages, it is useful to have an "archive box" template. Common usage is to place the archive box below other header templates and before the first section heading so that the box appears to the right of the table of contents.

If the new archive has been created through the cut and paste procedure and if the page already has an archive box, add the link to the new archive page to it.

If the new archive has been created through the move procedure and if an archive template already exists, copy the archive template from the newly created archive page to the talk page and add a link to the new archive page to it.

If there is no archive box yet, you may want to set one up:

generates a floating box for the archive links. Just place your link as a parameter, for example {{Archive box|[[/Archive 1]]}}. Multiple archives can be named, linked and labeled in various ways. See the example archive box to the right. The wiki code used in the example box is: {{archive box|[[/Archive. Old page|Old page]]. [[/Archive 1|Archive 1]]. [[/Archive 2|Archive 2]].}} (the example links are red because the pages they link to do not actually exist). Detailed instructions are on the template page.

Template:Archive box collapsible

is a visual modification of {{archive box}}, which generates a collapsible box that can be opened with a click. See the example to the right. It works with the same parameters as {{archive box}}. Detailed instructions are on the template page.
may be a good idea for pages with a very large number of archives (such as Talk:Main Page); this uses a separate subpage to list the archives.

Automatic archive box

Both {{archive box}} and {{archive box collapsible}} can automatically list links to archives. Instructions are on both of the template pages.

One example is {{archive box|auto=yes}}. It will automatically create an archive box of links to archives labeled "Archive 1", "Archive 2", etc.. For an example see Help talk:Archiving a talk page. Archives with other names can be added as parameters. (See Talk:Iraq War for an example).

Archive indexing

HBC Archive Indexerbot can create an archive index page based on a set of archives. This index makes finding old discussions on a given topic easier, particularly in pages with many archives, on when the archives are of considerable size. See the bot's instructions for details on how to set up archive indexing.

Permanent link archives method

With this method, instead of copying discussions to a separate page, you simply provide a link to an earlier version of the page. Caveat: it is not possible to link to an earlier version of a page with a Wiki-style link. You have to supply the full URL. These pages do not show up in search engines, as they are dynamically generated.

Procedure

  1. Go to the talk page you wish to archive and click on permanent link in the toolbox section of the left sidebar. Alternatively, go to the page history of the talk page and select the revision you want to use.
  2. Copy the complete URL from the navigation bar of your web browser.
  3. Edit the talk page and delete the text you want to archive. While you're still in the edit window, make a link to the URL you copied at the top. Keep in mind that syntax for full URL links is different than for Wikilinks. Here is an example: [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia_talk:How_to_archive_a_Talk_page&oldid=1709131 Archive 1]: June 2004 – May 2005
  4. Save. You have now archived a talk page.

You can make the link shorter, and hence keep the wikitext of the page more readable, by replacing the path to the page with a {{fullurl}} link, leaving the "oldid" section at the end. For example, the link given above could be replaced by this:

[{{fullurl:{{FULLPAGENAME}}|oldid=1709131}} Archive 1]

which would display as Archive 1. If you wish, you can also prevent the "external link" icon from appearing (since this isn't an external link anyway) by enclosing the link with tags like this:

<span class="plainlinks">[{{fullurl:{{FULLPAGENAME}}|oldid=1709131}} Archive 1]</span>

which displays as Archive 1.

Advantages of this method

  • It is simpler and requires fewer resources.
  • There is some guarantee that the discussions have not been altered mistakenly or by vandals.
  • This strategy can be particularly useful for summarising discussions; you provide a succinct overview of the various points of view and a link to the complete, unadulterated discussion.
  • Unlike the move procedure it does not reset the history of the page.

Disadvantages

  • Searching for past discussions is not possible, as the discussions archived by this method do not show up in search engines or MeritBadgeDotOrg search.
  • You cannot organize topics into one place, although you can list links to sections within the page history that are relevant to a particular topic.
  • Archives cannot be easily repartitioned and recombined as with the subpage method. If you later wished to divide up the archives in a different way, you would need to paste all past archives to the talk page, save, and then rearchive (note that when this is done, the revision history becomes muddied).
  • An edit of the archive by mistake (and ignoring the warning) would overwrite the current talk page.
  • It is the least common of the two methods and may cause confusion even for experienced editors who are not familiar with "permanent link" function in the toolbox.
  • It does not show up in special:whatlinkshere/page_title of the linked pages.
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