Help:Talk pages

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Every wiki page has a Talk page AKA discussion page; (see tab at top left of page). These pages are for discussing the content of each particular page. The talk page conventions and wikicode are outline below.

Sign and date comments

Sign your name and indicate when a change was made.

Function You type Automatically susbstituted wiki code You get
Full signature (recommended)
~~~~

[[User:Username|Username]] 12:34, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Username 12:34, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Signature alone
~~~

[[User:Username|Username]]

Username
Timestamp alone
~~~~~
12:34, 1 February 2008 (UTC) 12:34, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Layout

  • Start new topics at the bottom of the page: If you put a post at the top of the page, it is confusing and can easily be overlooked. The latest topic should be the one at the bottom of the page, then the next post will go underneath yours and so on. This makes it easy to see the chronological order of posts. A quick way to do this is to use the "Add topic" tab next to the "Edit" button on the talk page you are on.
  • Separate multiple paragraphs with whitespace: If a single post has several points, it makes it clearer to separate them with a paragraph break (i.e. a blank line). However, avoid adding blank lines between any lines that begin with wikitext symbols for lists, because this increases the complexity of the generated HTML code and creates accessibility problems. These symbols include:
    • asterisks (*), which make bulleted lists;
    • hash symbols (#), which make numbered lists;
    • semi-colons (;), which make the first half of an HTML association list (rendered as bold-faced text); and
    • colons (:), which make the second half of an HTML association list, but which are popularly used for the resulting visual indentation effect.
  • Avoid excessive use of color and other font gimmicks: The advice at Template:Section link is as applicable to talk pages as it is anywhere else. And your post is not more important than anyone else's, so it should not be in huge, purple text.

New topics and headings on talk pages

  • Start new topics at the bottom of the page: If you put a post at the top of the page, it is confusing and can also get easily overlooked. The latest topic should be the one at the bottom of the page.
  • Make a new heading for a new topic: It will then be clearly separated into its own section and will also appear in the TOC (table of contents) at the top of the page. A heading is easy to create with == on either side of the words, as in ==Heading==. The "Post a comment" feature can be used to do this automatically. (If you are using the default skin, you can use the "Add topic" tab next to the "Edit this page" tab instead.) Enter a subject/heading in the resulting edit page, and it will automatically become the section heading.
  • Make the heading clear and specific as to the article topic discussed: It should be clear from the heading which aspect of the article (template, etc.) you wish to discuss. Don't write "This article is wrong" but address the specific issue you want to discuss. A related article Edit, actual or potential, should be traceable to that Talk-page heading.
  • Keep headings neutral: A heading should indicate what the topic is, but not communicate a specific view about it.
    • Don't praise in headings: You might wish to commend a particular edit, but this could be seen in a different light by someone who disagrees with the edit.
    • Don't be critical in headings: This includes being critical about details of the article. Those details were written by individual editors, who may interpret the heading as an attack on them.
    • Don't address other users in a heading: Headings invite all users to comment. Headings may be about specific edits but not specifically about the user. (Some exceptions are made at administrative noticeboards, where reporting problems by name is normal.)
    • Never use headings to attack other users: While no personal attacks and assuming good faith apply everywhere at Wikipedia, using headings to attack other users by naming them in the heading is especially egregious, as it places their names prominently in the Table of Contents, and can thus enter that heading in the edit summary of the page's edit history. As edit summaries and edit histories are not normally subject to revision, that wording can then haunt them and damage their credibility for an indefinite time period, even though edit histories are excluded from search engines.<ref>URLs of edit histories and revision differences begin with https://en.wikipedia.org/w/, and Wikipedia's robots.txt file disallows /w/.</ref> Reporting on another user's edits from a neutral point of view is an exception, especially reporting edit warring or other incidents to administrators.
  • Create subsections if helpful. Talk page discussions should be concise, so if a single discussion becomes particularly long, it may then become helpful to start a subsection (to facilitate the involvement of editors with a slower computer or Internet connection). Since the main section title will no longer appear in edit summaries, choose a connotative title; for example, in the section References used more than once, the subsection title References: arbitrary break might be used. If creating arbitrary breaks, ensure that sections end with a clear indication of the poster. (This method is preferable to using templates like Template:Tlx.)