This is an essay.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
|This page in a nutshell: Embedded-list format is a good way to present some kinds of information, but can also be misused.|
Lists within articles are lists of facts or lists of links included in an article or appended to the end of an article.
Types of lists
Example of a list. Lists make one exception to policies and guidelines applicable to all main or article namespace pages: lists are self-referential by their very nature (the word "list" or "lists" in their titles refers to an entity on Wikipedia, not in the world-at-large), and therefore they are an exception to the Wikipedia:Avoid self-references guideline.
Lists within articles
Most Wikipedia articles should consist of prose, and not just a list of links. Prose allows the presentation of detail and clarification of context, while a list of links does not. Prose flows, like one person speaking to another, and is best suited to articles, because their purpose is to explain. Therefore, lists of links, which are most useful for browsing subject areas, should usually have their own entries: see Wikipedia:Lists (stand-alone lists) for detail. In an article, significant items should be mentioned naturally within the text rather than merely listed.
Advantages of lists
- Lists are good for exploratory browsing of Wikipedia, and provide a useful alternative to the cumbersome category system – lists are often more comprehensive because each is maintained from a centralized location (at the page itself), and more inclusive than a category. Sufficient notability to have a separate article is usually not required for a list entry (except for top-level lists written in WP:SUMMARY style, branching to more detailed sub-topical lists). This inclusion of content that is encyclopedically relevant, not just fully notable and already existing as separate WP articles, is one of the principal distinctions between lists and categories.
- Lists are much easier to build (fill) than categories, because entries can be gathered, cut and pasted in from searches and other sources. Brainstorming entries from one's personal education is much easier, because you don't have to hunt for the articles to place the tags on, you simply type the topics into the list, and reliably source them.
- Lists can be fleshed out with annotations (further details), without resulting in long prose paragraphs. For example, a list of FIFA World Championship teams can include with each entry when each championship was won, who the champions defeated, who their coach was, etc., in a format easier to read than a long page of dense paragraphs that are hard to visually scan.
- Lists, like other content, must cite sources, and the format of a list makes it easy to discern unsourced entries the inclusion of which may not be justified.
- Lists can include links to notable entries for which there are no articles yet ("red links"), which may inspire new article creation.
- List items can be sorted using a variety of methods. An article can appear several times or in different ways in the same list.
- Lists can be linked to specific articles and sections of articles in a topic, forming an outline of the topic area.
- Lists can include invisible links to discussion pages, so that clicking on "related changes" will include those (format:
[[Talk:Omphalology|<!--empty link to include talk page in "related changes"-->]]).
- Lists can be more easily edited by newbies who are less familiar with MediaWiki's markup language.
- Images can be interspersed throughout a list, appearing beside the entries to which the pertain.
- Lists can be formatted in many different ways, to improve the presentation of the contents of the list .
- Templates can be transcluded to provide re-usable portions of a list, making maintenance easier (e.g. the same list of species in a genus can be maintained in a single place for use in both the article on the genus, and for a list of all the species in the family, all wildlife endemic to a geographical region, etc.)
Disadvantages of lists
- A lengthy list may make a Wikipedia article longer than its recommended size, or have the effect of inappropriately converting a normal article into mostly a list article
- New users who are creating articles may be completely unaware of any related list which needs to be updated
- Lists, especially about careers, awards, and commercial products are often targets for unsourced or self-promotional additions, including external link-spam.
- Some data that can be put in list form is better presented as a WP:TABLE. Some may also serve readers better as a normal paragraph, especially for short lists; rewriting as regular prose also discourages the addition of list-cruft entries that are not of encyclopedic relevance. This is especially true of "in popular culture" material, which often slides into trivia. An entire section of trivia is counter to our Manual of Style, but the frequent result of poor use of lists within articles.
Adding external links to another website, like a news article, homepage, or user profile for the purpose of promoting an entity, service, or product is not allowed, and is considered to be spam. Although specific links may be allowed under some circumstances (e.g., an article about a company or celebrity may link, once, to that subject's official website in both the article's infobox and its "See also" section), repeatedly adding links will in most cases result in all of them being removed. The primary purpose of external links from Wikipedia articles is to provide users with sources of additional reliable information about the topic, not web forum to argue about it, companies selling something related to it, or self-published punditry about it.
Adding links to online free videos that promote a site or product is not allowed. Often these videos have been uploaded in violation of their copyright which adds an additional reason for not linking to them. A video is a spamming video if:
- It has a banner plastered across the video giving you a website address to go to.
- It has links on the video page—the page that plays the video—that go to a commercial site or to another spamming video, even if it is only one link among many legitimate links.
- It has text at this video page that would lead readers to a specific commercial site. For example, "book available at xyzBooks dot net" .
- It is a "clone" of a video that has been deleted. Here is how this typically happens: 1) A spammer posts a video in violation of a copyright; 2) the copyright holder (or other party) notifies the video sharing service that the video is not authorized; 3) the service reviews that claimand deletes the video; 5) the spammer uploads the video somewhere else (at the same service or another one) and links to that copy instead. Note: The ID in the address for the video at the video sharing service changes when this happens. Further note: The presence of a "no copyright infringement intended" disclaimer on the video's page at the video sharing service is an indicator of nothing other than that the poster doesn't understand copyright law. Such disclaimers are generally strong evidence that the post is an infringement!
- Generally, a video is not spam if it was posted or is hosted by the actual subject of the Wikipedia article. For example, if the Wikipedia article is on a movie named XYZ and the official site for the movie is xyzmovie.com, then links or references to xyzmovie.com are legitimate for a video at a video sharing page. However, all other links at that video page still must also be legitimate. Some judgement is needed here. If the posted video just advertises a bunch of products associated with the movie, then it is a spamming video even though it is posted by the official site. Wikipedia is not a movie database like IMDb, and we do not host links to collections of movie trailers (i.e. advertisements for films), or similar material.
- Social networking has flourished with websites such as Facebook and Twitter, ...
- Examples of detergents include Tide, ...
- The most notable MLM companies are Amway, Pre-Paid Legal, ...
- Some taste tests have rated Dr. Pepper as the best-tasting soft drink ... (this is also weasel wording)
- The topic generated controversy on various blogs, including see Some Blog Here, ...
Remember that it is far easier to add a link to the end of such a sentence than to add encyclopedic content. Our readers do not need a general of such things in the articles on these sorts of topics. It is much more encyclopedic to write a well-sourced paragraph that ties mention of specific trademarks to specific reliable sources providing specific information about those brands that we want to present to our readers. As an example, no one can add another brandname to a sentence of the form "A 2015 review by Consumer Reports rated Brand Foo as the safest whatever in its class."