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How to Archive a Talk Page?Edit

It is customary to periodically archive old discussions on a talk page when that page becomes too large. Bulky talk pages may be hard to navigate, contain obsolete discussion, or become a burden for users with slow Internet connections or computers. Notices are placed at the beginning of the talk page to inform all editors of an archive.

Regular articles are not archived because previous versions may be seen in the history tab; the practice of archiving is particular to talk pages and noticeboards, which often swell to great length. Archiving one's own user talk page is optional; some users simply blank the page, as the history is kept available for future reference, but this is not considered the best practice (as it makes things more difficult to find and link). For this specific case, the use of "permalinks" can provide an easy way to display an archived view of a talk page at a given moment, though there's no control on thread organization or presentation. See below for more details.

The talk page guidelines suggest archiving when the talk page exceeds 50 KB or has more than 10 main topics. However, when to archive, and what may be the optimal length for a talk page, are subjective decisions that should be adapted to each case. For example, ongoing discussions and nearby sections they reference should generally be kept intact.

When archiving by creating subpages, two procedures can be used: cutting and pasting the content, or moving the page. Cutting and pasting, which retains the talk page history in a single location, is generally preferred. It is helpful to label archives with dates and a brief summary of the main discussions.

There may be circumstances where it would be useful to keep older discussion present on a talk page, to avoid the same issues being repeatedly raised. However, this situation can be better addressed by use of the {{FAQ}} template.

When a talk page becomes too long, it will need to be archived. This is because long talk pages are often difficult to navigate, and also because some users may not be able to edit pages longer than 32kb.

There are two main methods to archiving pages, manual, and automated.

Subpage archive methodEdit

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 technique 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. Templates like {{Archive list}} rely on this naming convention to automatically find the archive pages.

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 procedureEdit

Quick start checklistEdit

  • Get into edit mode on the talk page that contains the material you want to archive
  • Choose a name for the page to which you want to archive that material. The best name is usually /Archive 1 (or some other number if 1 is already in use). The slash makes your archive page a subpage of the talk page.
  • Near the top of the talk page, after any tags or headers but before the first discussion entry, create a link to the prospective archive page. Example: [[/Archive 1]]
  • On the talk page, identify the material that you want to archive, then select and cut it
  • Save the talk page (now minus the material to be archived), using an edit summary like "Archiving old material"
  • When the new, smaller talk page comes up on your screen, find and click the link you added at the top (it will be red): /Archive 1
  • A blank page will come up, with the name you have chosen for your archive. Paste the cut material into this blank page
  • Add {{talk archive}} before and after the pasted material. (You can copy and paste it from this line if you like. Be sure to get all the curly brackets, and don't worry about the underline.)
  • Save the new page, with an edit summary like "New archive". You now have created the archive. You can stop here, but it's desirable to take one more step:
  • Optionally go back to the main talk page and add an {{archivebox}}, just above the (formerly red) link you added at the top of the talk page. Then remove that link and save the page, using an edit summary like "Added Archive Box". The following code produces a nice archive box that gives your archive a specific name in addition to its page name. The name is useful for specifying the time periods of the archives:

{{archivebox|[[/Archive 1|DescriptiveNameOfArchive1]]}}
This code puts three archives in the box, each on its own line. It works for any number of archives. The <br>'s separate the individual lines:
{{archivebox|[[/Archive 1|DescriptiveNameOfArchive1]]<br>[[/Archive 2|DescriptiveNameOfArchive2]]<br>[[/Archive 3|DescriptiveNameOfArchive3]]}}

Detailed explanationEdit

  1. Click on the edit tab 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 control-click (Mac) and then select cut (also Ctrl+X, Cmd+X for Mac). 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. (It's helpful to include an Edit summary like "Archiving old material".) 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 {{talk archive}} 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.
A collapsible and searchable systemEdit

Use {{archive banner}} to make the links from your main talk page collapsible and also have a searchbox that will search your archives.

Advantages of cut and pasteEdit

  • 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 Wikipedia. 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 watchlist 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 pasteEdit

  • 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. (For an example, please see here).
  • Unlike the move procedure archives are not automatically added to the watchlists of the editors already watching the main discussion page.

Automated archivalEdit

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 a talk page other than your user talk page.

Move procedureEdit

  1. Subpage archives can also be created by moving the talk page to a subpage.
  2. Add {{talk archive}} 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 e.g.:
Archive standards
See Wikipedia talk:How to archive a talk page/Archive 1#Archive standards for earlier discussions on this topic

Advantages and disadvantages of the move procedureEdit

This method moves the page history, making user contributions displayed as being to the archive page rather than the original page, and makes it difficult to search for past edits to the talk page by a certain user. On the other hand, clicking the history tab always gives the history of the current page and the current page only, which makes it easier to get diffs from archives. Moving the history to the archive makes it easier to prove that the archive is a true copy of the talk page as of the moment it was archived, though it allows the potential for losing or tampering with comments when active discussions are moved back to the main talk page after the move.

Navigation templatesEdit

Template:Warchivenav 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 navigation}} needs the archive number as a parameter – for example {{archive navigation|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.
  • {{talk archive navigation}} combines {{talk archive}} and {{atn}}, adding navigation features to the standard notice.

Archive boxEdit

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:

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.

generates a floating box for the archive links. Just place your link as a parameter, for example {{Archive box|[[/Archive 1|/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) (for details see the template page). As an alternative, provided the archives are in the precise format of "Archive numbered-sequence", the list can be generated auto-magically using {{archive box | auto=yes }} or {{archive box | auto=long }} (for details see Automatic links)

Template:Archive box collapsible

is a visual modification of {{archive box}}, which generates a collapsible box that can be opened with a click. It works with the same parameters as {{archive box}}. See the example to the right. Detailed instructions are on the template page.

Automatic archive boxEdit

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 indexingEdit

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, or when the archives are of considerable size. See the bot's instructions for details on how to set up archive indexing.

Archive searchingEdit

If there are several archives, it is easy to search them all at once using the optional search parameter prefix. For example, suppose we want to begin a discussion about adding a security section to the Linux article. Before bringing up the topic we can do the following search: Template:Search link. This will look in all the subpages of the Linux article in its Talk namespace.

The templates {{archives}}, {{archive box}}, and {{talk header}} have a parameter |search=yes which provides a helpful search box on the talk page to automate searching, as do independent search templates such as {{search archives}}. It is recommended that when a page is archived, such a template be put on the surviving talk page to simplify access to past discussions.

See alsoEdit


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