Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/On linked and isolated articles

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  • Isolated articles are a way to share information that is hard to find. And they are hard to find.

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  • Each project contains isolated (or orphanned) articles that are hard to be found by readers and may lead to some undesirable effects. What are they, how they appear and what to do are the topics of the post.

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Link it!

Linkedness of information pages is one of the key properties of online resources generally and of Wikipedia in particular.

However, it is sometimes impossible to go to some of the encyclopedia pages (so-called isolated, or orphaned pages) directly from the other encyclopedia pages, as a result such pages can be found only via direct search.

This means traffic and popularity decrease, as the readers have to search more instead of read more, as a result they may find the information they are interested in at other places. They may read a complementary article, but they may not find there a link to what they are interested in. Or they may read what they are interested in, but may not find out some complementary information that could be of interest as well. Even more, when it is impossible to find the target information, it results in scattering the efforts of wiki editors, as they may start creating new articles, being sure they don’t exist yet, instead of elaborating and supplementing, or creating the complementary articles that really don’t exist yet.

Most often such articles appear when users create new pages without links to the article on complementary subjects, or when they don’t make back links to the newly created article in such complementary articles. Sometimes articles become isolated after deletion of links from the complementary articles, or deletion of whole pages or redirects that provided the connection to the whole Wikipedia. By doing the opposite – i.e. by adding the links in complementary articles or creating one or more intermediate pages, this article can again be made available for those who use links to navigate from page to page.

The easiest way to find out if a Wikipedia page has any links from the other pages is via Wikipedia interface with the help of «What links here» tool on the left. It can help to check one article: if it says there are no articles, having links to it, or no linked Wikipedia pages at all, then such an article is an isolated one.

Of course, it is hopeless to check each of the thousands of Wikipedia articles one by one in such a way, especially, when the links between the articles change constantly. The matter becomes even more difficult as there are some isolated pages that are linked to other isolated pages. Such isolated pages can create long and branched chains of links between themselves, separate “straits” and “islands” of connections, creating so-called clusters and remaining unavailable for the searchers from the “mainland” – i.e. from other linked pages. An example of such pages could be the articles about an artist and his works, which do have links to each other; however, none of them has links, leading to it at the other Wikipedia pages. For example, if the page about the art in the artist’s native country doesn’t contain such a link. Another example are the articles about minerals, or topographic form, which have links to each other, but there are no links to them at the relevant pages about the region economy or geography.

The number of Wikipedia pages and clusters of isolated articles make the manual check almost impossible. A reasonable solution to such challenge was creation of a tool, a bot, which is able to make such kind of a check regularly and dispenses people with the necessity to wander from article to article by the links. Unfortunately, the creation and operation of such tools is connected with the number of difficulties (one of which is notable amount of pages and links to perform). Due to this, they appear not so often, and the ones already created stop being supported by their developers and operators after some time. For instance, in Ukrainian Wikipedia two years passed between the stoppage of one such bot and the launch of another alternative version.

This new instrument supports some other projects beside Ukrainian Wikipedia and provides the list of isolated articles. Any user can check the pages, created by him or her, and see if there are any isolated ones. Of course the user can add links to and connect not only the pages that were created by this user. But even cheking one’s own contribution helps to make it more useful and significant, and the whole Wikipedia more complete and visited. Why not do so? :)


Sergento, Ukrainian Wikipedia