Wikipedia:Build content to endure

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikipedia is littered with content that, while once great, has since decayed (much like this statue).

Most content on Wikipedia naturally improves over time. However, this is not always the case, particularly for featured content, and none of us will be around forever to defend the pages we care most about.

As a general principle, when building something on Wikipedia, envision it 10 years or even 50 or 100 years in the future. This doesn't mean every system must be entirely maintenance free (which would be impossible), but if maintenance is so complicated or tedious that only you would reasonably do it, it's sure to eventually fail.

Overall, Wikipedia is a long-term endeavor, and contributions that survive will have a far greater impact than those that don't. By following these best practices, you will increase the likelihood that pages will endure and retain their quality into the future.


This section lists measures that can be taken to help prevent content from degrading over time.

  • Use hidden text comments and edit notices to warn against tempting but undesirable edits. For instance, set specific criteria for lists that might otherwise accrue cruft, or note next to a controversial element that there is consensus to include it. One way to identify these temptations is to note repeatedly reverted edits or talk page suggestions. Include enough information to guide unfamiliar editors, but otherwise keep the notices as limited and short as possible to avoid banner blindness.
  • Avoid language likely to become outdated, such as "recently", "currently", "so far", and "soon".
  • Use templates such as {{As of}} and {{Update after}} to mark statements that should be updated in the future. Sometimes, code can be employed to help keep content updated — for instance, when noting the contemporary value of a historical monetary figure, use {{Inflation}} rather than just writing out the conversion for the current year.
  • Clearly establish the article's style of English through templates like {{use dmy dates}} and {{use American English}} so that it can be retained.
  • Selectively transclude duplicate content instead of copying and pasting it. This ensures that updates or improvements to it will be synced with the page.
  • Migrate information to Wikidata, where it can be more easily updated via bulk imports or by a non-English contributor.
  • Document templates and other complex pieces of code thoroughly to make them easier to maintain and to revive if they break.
  • Use full citations rather than bare URLs to guard against link rot.
  • Add incoming links, redirects, and categories to make pages (particularly in the project and template spaces) easy to find so that they are less likely to be recreated by someone unaware of them.
  • Protect pages at an appropriate level to make them as accessible as possible without inviting vandalism.
  • Ensure that sectioning reflects due weight, since once a section is added, it tends to get filled out over time. Criticism or controversy sections are particularly dangerous, since they are a magnet for recentist news coverage that is unlikely to be notable long-term.
  • Use summary style and keep article scopes sufficiently broad. The more content there is, the more work it is to maintain, and for evolving topics that get limited editor attention, this can lead to degradation. Even if you think your article could survive an AfD, it may still be wise to upmerge it.
  • Avoid obscure or dated templates if more common or modern alternatives are available, since those are more likely to be maintained. Do not tag articles with {{nobots}}, which hinders future maintenance.

See also[edit]