When a template is nominated for discussion at Wikipedia:Templates for discussion, one possible outcome is substitute and delete (or subst and delete). This involves the substitution of the template on the pages where it is used, and the subsequent removal of the template. This process bears similarities to the merge and delete performed on articles.
When the content of the template, as substituted on a page, contains material that is sufficiently creative to be copyrightable, then attribution must be provided. This is usually achieved by indicating
the source of the text in the edit summary (for example
Substituting [[Template:Template name]]; see that page's history for attribution) and then preserving the history of the template. There is no need to provide attribution for basic formatting, bare references, a single word or expression, or simple lists of articles. For more information, see Wikipedia:Copying within Wikipedia.
When not to delete
In some cases, after a template has been substituted, it may be necessary or desirable to preserve its history. Relevant considerations include:
- Attribution. Providing attribution to users who have contributed to a page is a requirement of Wikipedia's licensing.
- Accountability. It is useful to be able to track the provenance of content in articles and the contributions of editors. If for example it is discovered that an editor has often introduced factual inaccuracies it may be desirable to track and examine their contributions; any problematic edit they have made to a template that was subsequently substed and deleted would then escape scrutiny, even if the results of this edit are still live on the encyclopedia.
- Preserving the historic record. If a major template has existed for a very long time, or it has influenced the development of other templates, it may be desirable to preserve its history for its significance to Wikipedia's development.