Wikipedia talk:Transclusion costs and benefits

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
WikiProject iconEssays Low‑impact
WikiProject iconThis page is within the scope of WikiProject Wikipedia essays, a collaborative effort to organise and monitor the impact of Wikipedia essays. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion. For a listing of essays see the essay directory.
 Low This page has been rated as Low-impact on the project's impact scale.
Note icon
The above rating was automatically assessed using data on pageviews, watchers, and incoming links.


This page is a view alternative to Wikipedia:Avoid using meta-templates. I have attempted to address the same issues in a more general, more neutral, more informative, more colorful, calmer, and less dictatorial fashion. Perhaps I have succeeded, but although I originally conceived this as a replacement, I choose to let both versions stand each on its own "feet", and link the two discussions together. — Xiongtalk* 04:39, 2005 May 2 (UTC)


Rather than extending the points on Wikipedia:Avoid using meta-templates, Xiong's page here is simply a exposition of all his ideas for Wikipedia. This page largely consists of extremely drawn out explanations which are already described better and more appropriately on other pages (m:Help:Template). There is also a number of "measures" which are completely irrelevant to the topic of Transclusion. What do these have to do with anything? -

  • "Avoid ultra-cute signatures. Signatures appear in so many places that lengthy sig markup may become a significant burden. Never use images or templates in your sig.
  • "Archive Talk to history whenever possible; long pages are hard to render, and if a user's browser times out, he is encouraged to reload the page over and over. There is no need to create a new page; history already preserves everything, anyway. "
  • "Use the Cologne Blue skin, which loads neither the project logo nor the background image. "
  • "But use the Preview button before the Save button. Multiple edits to a page make work for both machines and humans. "
  • ...

I also find it funny that it says "Don't use images just to be cute. "An image is worth 1000 words." -- well, not only is its value 1000 times that of a word, so is its cost.", considering the visuals included, particulary the Donate image at the bottom.

Like I said, this page is just the sum total of one editor's agenda. The Wikipedia:Avoid using meta-templates is the directive of our developers. I may incorporate some of the ideas here into that page, and suggest that some sections be split off onto other existing pages - but let's keep this out of the Wikipedia space until it no longer resembles a manifesto. -- Netoholic @ 14:47, 2005 May 2 (UTC)

Your claim that The Wikipedia:Avoid using meta-templates is the directive of our developers is utter nonsense. It is a rejected policy proposal which you nonetheless insist upon referring to as though it were valid. Firebug 07:58, 4 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I concur to a degree. This is all nice background reading, but should not become an official policy. It's way too wordy and long, doesn't get to the point in the first few sentences, and is an example of m:instruction creep. A page like this is hard to manage. A better way is to link pages together, e.g. one article might describe transclusion in detail and another one the dos and the don'ts. And why must there be two almost identical explanation diagrams of every point made? Take those "twit" ones away, it makes reading easier. Wipe 22:54, 3 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oops, I was a bit too hasty to condemn those diagrams. I read it more carefully and noticed that while they are too big and there's too many of them, they do serve a point. Wipe 23:20, 3 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I see portions which could be integrated in the main MediaWiki documentation, and some that can be split amongst other pages. The rest ("Emergency measures") is redundant with real policy pages, or is an invention of Xiong's. -- Netoholic @ 02:45, 2005 May 4 (UTC)
I do not like to be contentious. When Wikipedia:Avoid meta-templates came up for VfD, I voted to keep. We all have our opinions, and every new page in this namespace is just that -- pure opinion. The longer it stays here, the greater the chance that it may be improved by many editors and become accepted by the community. Of course, a certain degree of openness to change is required.
  • This page is hardly the sum of my "Wikipedian Manifesto". I have quite a basket of proposals in some stage of development, some that have yet to see the light of day, others completely unrelated to this topic. I dislike it that anyone should think this one page is my full extent.
  • Tagging templates, depending on how it is done, produces double transclusion, double substitution, transclusion-substitution, or substitution-transclusion. It is risky and unwise, and I have shown why very clearly, here and elsewhere at length. Neither custom nor the fact that some users uphold this practice makes it less unwise or less risky -- indeed, no such user has been able to muster a defense. I can think of no better place to put this summary.
  • I apologize for long-windedness. Perhaps other users can find ways to restate my comments more succinctly.
  • Signatures and images, like transcluded pages, are included into rendered pages. The mechanism is similar and the cost/benefit analysis related. This page is not limited to a discussion of templates.
  • "Emergency Measures" was written at the specific instigation of developer Jamesday. I feel that most concerns about transclusion costs (engine costs) can be fixed by installing more machines and spending more money on paid developer time to configure them to work better with each other. Jamesday agrees, at least in part -- but says new servers are already on order, but six months away from installation. "What can we do now to reduce server load?" I supplied a few thoughts -- good actions at any time; but following them now enables us to continue to use transclusion wisely. (Thus germane.)
  • Part of my professional work is to convey complex ideas using simple diagrams. I find these illustrations not only help users without technical backgrounds, they make pages easier to read. They eye goes stale staring at endless wastelands of unadorned text. While I despise senseless eye candy, I believe in the value of a well-used image.
  • There is no ultimate "point" to get to, in the first paragraph or otherwise. This page provides background for the understanding of several debates and issues. Those with advanced technical knowledge will certainly feel talked-down-to -- but this entire page is for the non-technical member. The rest of us long ago made up our minds on every point.
That said, this is, so far, one man's opinion. I hope to see it become a more useful tool as more contributors improve it. However, I do strongly support every point I have made; if any user feels part of it must be broken out, let it be done -- and the new page linked to and from this one. Frankly, I feel that the work involved in creating such linkage and bridge text is more trouble than it is worth -- but I shall not stand in the way of a user willing to expend the effort. — Xiongtalk* 18:43, 2005 May 4 (UTC)
Hmm.. I just read the emergency measures section, and some of those things don't really have much to do with tranclusion. I'll probably remove some later. - Omegatron 19:27, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
As per Wikipedia:Project namespace#Guidelines, it's not a good thing to have the project namespace filled with alternate views and pages that duplicate material from elsewhere. The user namespace can be used instead. Village pump and related talk pages can be used to attract attention. Secondly, users wishing to read on some specific topic don't want to go through masses of loosely related text and images under a loosely related heading. Wipe 16:53, 5 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Excellent work[edit]

I like this article a lot. One concern:

"Therefore: It is recommended that tags never be placed on Template namespace page bodies."

Isn't this your pet policy? I think, for instance, TFD tags are supposed to be put in the template itself... - Omegatron 14:49, May 2, 2005 (UTC)

Perception, persuasion, proposal, policy?[edit]

I'd much rather have Wikipedia:Avoid using meta-templates renamed to Wikipedia:Netoholic's interpretation of Jamesday's concerns about meta-templates, and Wikipedia:Transclusion costs and benefits to Wikipedia:Xiong's opinions on templates and how to reduce server load. The topics are quite valid even if the pages are, shall we say, expressing opinions in places that are a bit particular.

The good first. Transclusion is explained very well, even for the non-technically inclined. It's a little prolix here and there, and some things I could do without (a graph of Wikipedia's exponential growth?) but good work nonetheless.

But what does something like "when you have a disagreement with another Wikipedian, at least try to discuss it with him" have to do with transclusion, for example? Nothing, except only very indirectly as "disagreements tend to spark edit wars, edit wars might take place over pages that use transclusion heavily, transclusion is costly". Edit wars are harmful period; there's no need to drag them into this argument. "Edit wars are always harmful, but they're extra harmful on transcluded pages" is a valid observation, but let's leave it at that. Even as an observation it's not worth much, because checking whether a page is transcluded is surely the last concern on an edit warrior's list (if that list has any concerns at all beyond "make sure The Right Version is up at the end of the day"). The whole "emergency measures" section sticks out like a sore thumb. If you're going to have a page named "Transclusion costs and benefits", then let it describe transclusion costs and benefits, and leave other things for other pages. If you want Wikipedia:Avoidable things that increase server load, you know where to create it.

Similarly, things like "it is recommended that tags never be placed on Template namespace page bodies" are a bridge too far. What, never? (Hardly ever!) Doesn't Wikipedia:Templates for deletion explicitly instruct you to place the deletion tag on the template? Ah, I see: Template talk:Tfd. So, based on drawbacks you list, you assert that something going against current practice in at least one clear instance is a recommendation? You could be right a thousand times over and still get no one to agree. If you want to change what people are doing, take it to another page, and make clear that's what the page is about. "I" is not a dirty word, and Wikipedia:Village Pump (proposals) is open to anyone if you want to broaden the scope.

I'd edit this page, but given the huge storm we had over the last one, and given that this is a Wikipedia page rather than an article (and thus blissfully unencumbered by practical guiding principles like NPOV and accuracy) I'm just going to leave it be. IMO, the entire "tagging" and "emergency measures" sections should be scrapped. "Tagging" could conceivably be rewritten; "emergency measures" needs its own page. JRM · Talk 10:10, 2005 May 4 (UTC)

They are both articles about tranclusion with some good technical facts and lots of opinion, and I don't think either author will ever allow "their" articles to change to fit the other's viewpoint. (Though maybe we should force them to merge their articles as an exercise in cooperation? ... Yeah right.) I would agree with moving both to userspace or mandating that the authors' names are included in the titles. - Omegatron 14:10, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
I have no problem if someone wants to edit Wikipedia:Avoid using meta-templates. If there are problems, or if people still think it is my "interpretation of Jamesday's concerns", then please fix it or discuss on its talk page. The fact that much of both James' and my text is still there in its original form indicates that there aren't any significant counters or disagreements over the validity of the assertions or the recommended ways to avoid meta-template problems. -- Netoholic @ 14:57, 2005 May 4 (UTC)
See also Wikipedia:Votes for deletion/Avoid using meta-templates. Whatever happens to one should happen to the other, in my opinion. - Omegatron 14:13, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
Hardly, you're making a false analogy. Xiong's page is a manifesto of all his desires for this wiki. Wrapping it in pretty graphics and verbage doesn't change that. Some should go to Meta, some into various Help pages, and some should be left in his space. I've already said there are portions which are useable, but none of them are useable under the title "Transclusion costs and benefits" on this wiki. In light of the fact that so many people on this Talk page agree this doesn't belong in Wikipedia space, I am moving it to Xiong's user space. Conversely, the VfD for AUM is showing wide support for keeping, so that should stand. -- Netoholic @ 15:14, 2005 May 4 (UTC)
This is the third time he's moved it. - Omegatron 15:25, May 4, 2005 (UTC)
On it! Kim Bruning 15:33, 4 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That's not what I meant.
I was just pointing out his violation of the three-revert rule and also of his injunction, for which he should theoretically be blocked for 24 hours. (But I'm not going to do it, as I've never blocked anyone before, and I am also now involved with his disputes.) - Omegatron 17:22, May 4, 2005 (UTC)

A recent pair of edits [1], [2] with the edit summary: On second thought, doesn't seem to be semipolicy at all - too much objection on talk page

Personally, I support the {notpolicy} tag, though I'm not sure it's actually required. This page is more informational than prescriptive. Its primary purpose is to give the less-technically inclined member some background on .... Transclusion costs and benefits. — Xiongtalk* 03:37, 2005 May 13 (UTC)

Tagging templates[edit]

It is my position that tagging templates, under most circumstances, constitutes vandalism. (See opinion at Wikipedia:Transclusion costs and benefits#Tagging). To summarize in a word my arguments, template tagging destroys instantly a portion of the value of any template; in some cases, it renders the template useless. As this action takes place before process completes or even begins, it is a violation of our core principle of concensus, as prominently stated in Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines#How are policies decided?. That is, the petty policy of whether a given template be permitted to exist is established by process of concensus and not by unilateral act. Obviously, the principle of consensus dominates any minor policy evident at any given time on Wikipedia:Templates for deletion; to the extent that such minor policy conflicts with core principles, it is invalid.

Therefore templates ought not be tagged upon their bodies, and instead upon their corresponding talk pages -- prevailing practice or spurious claims of expedience notwithstanding. — Xiongtalk* 23:17, 2005 May 11 (UTC)

Vandalism always implies bad faith. If the tagging is not meant to disturb Wikipedia, it's by definition not vandalism, no matter how disruptive it might be.
Using {{tfd}} is important to attract attention to the vote. If the software allowed, the message could be shown only to logged-in users in order not to create confusion and bad-looking pages for the casual reader who is not interested in editing. (This might be opposed by IP-only editors.) Another solution would be to remove the template to be deleted from pages after a certain period of time while giving an explanatory edit summary. Then, after a similar period, the template would be deleted and debate ended. This method would have the drawback of being very non-visible, especially to those who wouldn't have the pages on their watchlists.
I don't know how bad a resource hog the tfd tag is, but it seems to be a comparatively small nuisance. Wipe 23:32, 12 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I disagree. Votes for deletion tags are put on the article itself to draw attention to the vote and to indicate that the consensus status of the article is debated. The same goes for templates for deletion. I wouldn't mind if the tfd tag were a bit less obtrusive, though.
Please give an example of a template that is "destroyed" by the tag. I kind of understand what you mean, but not exactly. - Omegatron 00:22, May 13, 2005 (UTC)

User:Xiong/tagging is a concentration of all the educational material on the subject; I have expanded it and addressed specific questions. Please feel free to raise additional points on that page. — Xiongtalk* 10:42, 2005 May 14 (UTC)

Might it be possible to define the {{tfd}} template in such a way that the notice appears somewhere out of the way? Perhaps surrounding it with a suitable DIV tag which the CSS moves to the top of the article. Stoive 02:09, 18 May 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Answered on User:Xiong/tagging. Please discuss this issue there; it's a sideshow. — Xiongtalk* 11:13, 2005 May 18 (UTC)

Dumb and lazy question[edit]

A dumb question, which I haven't seen answered here--and may be answered in the MediaWiki documentation, but I'm too lazy to go look.  :) Does the software prevent infinite loops and/or infinite recursion implemented via transclusion?

The most trivial case, of course, would be a template which attempts to transclude itself. Non-recursive (but potentially expensive) attack vectors would include pages which transclude the same template multiple times; templates which themselved do the same thing, so that the number of transcluded pages grows geometrically.

Either require a small amount of work by a vandal; but could (if not prevented by some means) severly overload the Wikipedia servers, or crash them altogether.

For obvious reasons, I will not be experimenting with Wikipedia in this fashion.  :)

--EngineerScotty 00:50, 14 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

m:Help:Template#General: "If a template calls itself directly or indirectly, inclusion works only on one level for each template." —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 03:26, 27 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Force page rendering?[edit]

If I am attempting to transclude information, is it necessary to edit the target page to make source changes appear? Is there a way to force the target page to re-render without direct editing? Thanks —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 07:19, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes and no, respectively. —Simetrical (talk • contribs) 03:26, 27 April 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Although the change will eventually "happen" without editing the target page. See WP:Job queue. Rich Farmbrough, 12:22, 14 October 2011 (UTC).Reply[reply]

Subheader/Subsection Translusion? (Feature request?)[edit]

I've looked and looked and have not found what I had always assumed to be part of wikimedia, that being the transclusion of part of a page via transclusion, identified by the header you which to transclude. Does this exist? I would think this would save in the massive proliferation of miniscule transcludable templates. Epte 17:35, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

(No expert responded in 4 years, so here goes...) I'm pretty sure you can't identify the section you want to transclude. Certainly, {{:Electric_car#Charging}} pulls in the entire article, not just the "Charging" section. It's technically difficult to do; the structure of a page is apparent to us humans, but the id="Subsection_header_name" attribute that identifies a section in the TOC doesn't magically indicate how far that section goes. However, you can achieve this result if you use use the noinclude tag to carve out the parts you don't want to pull in when you transclude: <noinclude>blah blah All the text you don't want to appear</noinclude>. If you did this, expect some vigorous debate; it seems that WP frowns on transclusion, you're supposed to write the best prose for each article, and if appropriate write a template for the common stuff. -- Skierpage (talk) 00:06, 1 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Seeking advise: How costly is this simple transclusion case?[edit]

Hi, to whomever interested in analyzing the cost of transclusion,
Please take a look at this simple case, a template with code that is effectively only a one-liner, no computation, functionally self-contained, used by around 100 pages, mostly user pages. The only usefulness of this template is a readable-name that ease coding a bit, otherwise it's quite pointless. Then it leads to 2 questions:

  • How much resource is this template costing the servers?
  • Is this benefit of having a readable-name worth the resources it costs?

Please kindly advise. Thanks. Godric/Talk 01:03, 11 January 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'Emergency measures' section[edit]

I'm worried that this section is somewhat out-of-date, and the advice that it gives is no longer relevant (this page reminds me of WP:AUM). I've tagged it {{disputed-section}} in the meantime, but more input on this would be useful. --ais523 10:30, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

Imho that entire section could be removed. Firstly, it doesn't directly deal with template transclusions, and secondly most of the advices are questionable. For instance, "Edit by section. It is a lot less wear and tear on the page" seems more like a joke to me. In fact, i wonder if the advice given would have significant effect even if a majority of wikipedians followed it. /SvNH 23:49, 1 August 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hidden note in substituted template[edit]

I can't get a hidden note to show up correctly in the code in a substituted template.

Please look at my edits in the history of this template: Template:Skiptotoctalk

I was trying to get this note to show up only at the code level after substitution:

Above wiki code created with {{subst:Skiptotoctalk}}

I kept having unwanted text or characters showing up at the visible level after substitution. Or there was a "template loop" message, or something similar, at the hidden level.

I tried no-include tags, hidden comment tags, etc.. Nothing worked correctly when I tried substituting it into a page.

Try it in any template or test template. Then try the substituted template in a sandbox and see if it shows up correctly at both the visible and hidden levels. It is essential to try out the substitution in order to see the problems show up.

This hidden note would be useful for others who want to duplicate the latest version of the template elsewhere. This would encourage more people to substitute templates, too.

What is the template loop?--Timeshifter 10:40, 19 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

request verification of transclusion[edit]

I tried to use transclusion using the proper current guidelines. Could somebody verify ?

Template: Spinach:iron contents error

Used in :

Tristan Laurillard 18:46, 2 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Well, before anybody could reply to my reqest,
the template was already deleted by somebody.
Reason given: might confuse others.
     My conclusion so far: Wikipedia has no good
method at the moment for displaying one paragraph
in two places.
Tristan Laurillard (talk) 07:51, 9 December 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I redirected the page. The technical parts of the topic are fully covered in Wikipedia:Transclusion (and in the pages on templates etc). The other content is speculative and contradicts Wikipedia:Don't worry about performance (which is written by, or at least checked by, the developers). If you want to keep it as an essay - fine, but then the links that imply it is an opinion held by more users than its author should be removed (for instance the one in Template:Purge). /SvNH 18:34, 13 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

:-( I think it's a reasonable technical essay and useful, but if you don't think it's worth having, then update any links to it in other essays to point to the shorter Wikipedia:Transclusion and it won't be referred to as much any more, or file an WP:MfD about it. But you can't just unilaterally delete a WP page just because there's a shorter one. • Anakin (talk) 16:52, 14 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]