Help:Archiving a talk page

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On Wiktionary, talk pages are archived when they get too long. This is because it takes a lot of time to find the new discussions on long pages.

Only talk pages are archived. Articles are not.

There are two ways to archive a talk page. Both of them are talked about below.

You do not have to archive your user talk page when it gets long. If you want to you can just erase all the words. But it is not a good idea to do that because then it is hard for other people to see what people have said to you.

Subpage archive method[change]

Using a subpage is the most popular method for archiving a talk page. There are two methods which can be used to create a subpage: Cut and paste or move. You can use any method you prefer, but you should not mix the methods in archiving a page, because it confuses the visitors.

Archive pages should be named as follows: take the name of the talk page, add /Archive # to the end of it, where # is the number of the archive. (So, for example, the first archive a page named Talk:Example will be placed at Talk:Example/Archive 1). Note that the word "Archive" has a capital A, there is a space before the number, and there are no leading zeros. (It means, Talk:Example/Archive 01 is not a good address for the archive).

Remember to use the correct namespace – the part before the colon (:). For articles, it should start with Talk:; when archiving your own user talk page, it should start with User talk:.

Cut and paste procedure[change]

  1. Click on change this page for the talk page you wish to archive.
  2. In the edit box, select all the text you want to archive and then cut the text. The text will then be copied to your clipboard.
  3. While you are still in the edit window, make a link to the archive you plan on creating – you can link directly to a subpage by putting a slash (/) in front of it.
    • If you're making an archive for a special topic, use the name of that topic, for example [[/Place of birth debate]].
    • If you're just archiving old discussion, use the next available number; so if the last archive was Archive 3, call it [[/Archive 4]].
    • If this is the first archive of the page, call it [[/Archive 1]].
  4. When there are a lot of archives it can be useful to have a "box" of archive links. If the page already has one of these, add your link to it. Otherwise, you may want to add your own:
    • {{archive box}} 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 higher up to the right. Example code from Talk:Al-Aqsa Intifada:
      • {{archive box|[[/Archive. Old page|Old page]]. [[/Archive 1|Archive 1]]. [[/Archive 2|Archive 2]].}}
      • If all the archives are in the format /Archive 1, /Archive 2 etc. {{archive box|auto=yes}} or {{archive box|auto=long}} can be used to automatically update the archive box when new archives are created.
    • {{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 below the {{archive box}} example higher up to the right. It works with the same parameters as {{archive box}}.
    • {{archives}} 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.
  5. Save the page. You should now have a page of recent discussion with a red link to your archive at the top.
  6. Open the newly-created subpage by clicking the red link. Paste the old discussions from your clipboard into the edit box.
  7. Add {{talkarchive}} to the top of the page. This adds a notice explaining that the page is an archive, and links back to the main talk page.
  8. If this is a numbered archive, and there are already others, you can add a navigation template to make it easier to go through them.
    • {{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.
    • {{atnhead}} combines {{talkarchive}} and {{atn}}, adding navigation features to the standard notice.
  9. Save. You have now created an archive.

Advantages of cut and paste[change]

  • 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 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[change]

  • 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 [1].
  • Unlike the move procedure archives are not automatically added to the watchlists of the editors already watching the main discussion page.

Move procedure[change]

  1. Subpage archives can also be created by moving the talk page to a subpage.
  2. Once the move has been made, to reduce the likelihood of an accidental edit to the archive, it is advisable to add a line to the top and bottom of the archived page stating that it is an archive. The template {{talkarchive}} is available to save some typing and to give the message a consistent appearance.
  3. 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.
  4. Copy discussions that are still active back to the original talk page.

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.

Permanent link archives method[change]

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 Wikipedia-style link. You have to supply the full URL. These pages do not show up in search engines, as they are dynamically generated.

Procedure[change]

  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=Talk:A&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[change]

  • 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[change]

  • Searching for past discussions is not possible, as the discussions archived by this method do not show up in search engines or Wikipedia 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.