In the Wikipedia glossary, an orphan is defined as "an article with no links from other pages in the main article namespace". These pages can still be found by searching Wikipedia, but it is preferable that they can also be reachable by links from related pages; it is therefore helpful to add links from other suitable pages with similar or related information. De-orphaning articles is an important aspect of building the web.
More colloquially, editors also sometimes use "orphan" to refer to pages that do not have as many incoming links as they ought to, even if they do not meet the technical definition for orphan status.
There are several factors that can classify an article or other page as an orphan:
Orphaned articles, since they have no links to them from other pages, are difficult to find, and are most likely to be found only by searching, or by chance. Because of this, few people know they exist, and therefore, they receive less readership and improvement from those who would be able to improve them.
In particular, if the topic is more obscure, this may make it difficult for many to locate. If not for links to a page, the only way such an article can be found is by a person who knows the topic entering it into Wikipedia or doing a web search, browsing a category in which it is contained, looking at the edit history of a contributor to the page, or having it show up by chance as a random article.
An article is orphaned if no other articles link to it.
In Wikipedia's early days, editors added Template:Orphan to mark both orphaned articles and articles with relatively few incoming links. The use of the template has since been restricted. It is now recommended to only place the ((Orphan)) tag if the article has zero incoming links from other articles. The template is only shown temporarily, under certain circumstances. Adding this template to any article is not strictly necessary, and many editors prefer to add it only when they believe that the article should be linked from many others.
A single, relevant incoming link is sufficient to remove the tag. Three or more incoming links will help ensure the article is reachable by readers. Editors may also remove the tag from any article if they believe that de-orphaning is unlikely to be successful, or if they have attempted to provide incoming links. See § What if I can't de-orphan it? below for more information.
The following pages do not count as incoming links:
The following pages do count as incoming links:
Neither soft nor hard redirects should normally be tagged as orphans.
Disambiguation pages themselves often should be orphaned. The only mainspace pages that should link to them are other disambiguation pages, and articles with hatnote links to them (via templates such as ((Other uses))). Please do not place the ((Orphan)) template on disambiguation pages. See also Wikipedia:Disambiguation § Links to disambiguation pages.
Pages containing the templates ((Surname)), ((Given name)), ((SIA)), and any other set indexes also should normally be orphaned, as incoming links should usually be amended to target one of the items listed. Please do not place the ((Orphan)) template on these pages either.
Some very long lists are split into multiple sub-articles. The sub-articles are not orphans as long as they are interlinked amongst each other and also linked to from the first article in the series. See WP:NCSPLITLIST.
See the section below titled § Articles that may be difficult to de-orphan.
Lists of orphaned articles can be found in the following places (in order of priority):
If the article has an ((Orphan)) tag, then you can follow the hyper-linked words "related articles", which will take you to Wikipedia search. This will produce any articles which mention the name or part of the name of the orphaned article. If the page lists other names or has redirects, consider searching for those terms as well.
Consider using Edward Bett's Find Link Tool to search Wikipedia for linking opportunities.
Highly related articles are typically linked in the uppermost lead of an article, in its "See also" section (if existent) and the automatically suggested "RELATED ARTICLES" below the article. Sometimes, the highly related terms aren't yet wikilinked despite a Wikipedia article existing so it is often a good idea to do a Google search of related terms found this way. Furthermore, the article's categories might contain related articles as well.
Often the most effective way of finding related articles and sections is to search the Web for related terms and appending the word
site:Wikipedia.org to them.
Another way to find related articles is intersecting categories using the PetScan tool, or reviewing various categories at the bottom of the article.
If this doesn't help, then a little more research is required. First, read the article. Then, follow some related-looking outgoing links from the orphan to other articles, and do a Web-wide search for the article topic. Doing these will give you a much better idea of what it relates to. Not only will it probably give you information you can use to add meaningful links from other articles, but it will probably give you enough info to flesh out and improve the orphan itself. (This is, after all, the main purpose of Wikipedia.)
Be careful to check that the search results refer to the topic of this article, and not something else of the same name. When you find an appropriate parent, insert a meaningful link to the orphaned article.
When adding a link to an orphaned article, please use this edit summary:
Once the article has one or more links that fit the criteria, remove the tag, if one is present. Make sure to update the edit summary to reflect the article has been de-orphaned.
You may use this edit summary:
For biography articles, there are several posslble options:
Some year articles exist or could be redirects. These are a few examples using the Wikipedia Search box:
An article being an orphan is not in any way, shape, or form a criterion for deletion. At worst, an orphan is just an article created by a less experienced editor who does not understand that it is necessary to provide sources, links or even categories, or by a more experienced editor who simply cannot find any other pages that can link to the subject. Or it may be a relatively new article that the creator is planning to link from other pages, but has not identified other articles or otherwise carried out that task yet (a page generally should not be tagged as an orphan until it has been around for a little while). Being an orphan is not a reason to delete an article, only to fix whatever issues it has.
An orphan, especially if it has been created by a newbie, may need to be flagged with other article issue tags. See ((Multiple issues)) for a list of issues with which an article can be flagged.
It may be the case that some articles currently just cannot be de-orphaned. If this is the case then please do not try to 'force-fit' by adding unrelated links to articles where they don't belong just for the sake of de-orphaning. Always keep in mind that our primary goal is to improve the reader's experience, not satisfy the editor's indulgence in statistical achievements. Your priority when adding links should be to maintain article quality by adding relevant and useful links wherever possible.
Take a look on the article's talk page and see if there is a WikiProject message box. If not, add an appropriate WikiProject template. More than one message box can be added if needed. This should bring the article to the attention of subject contributors who may be able to help de-orphan.
For Talk page of orphan articles, add the following notice to increase the orphan visiblity.
((Notice|((see also|Wikipedia:Orphan|Wikipedia:WikiProject Orphanage))))
When adding a notice to the talk page, please use this edit summary:
Some orphaned articles may not meet Wikipedia's notability guidelines. If a thorough search for significant coverage in reliable sources is unsuccessful, appropriate action may include tagging the page with ((Notability)), a proposed deletion or deletion nomination.
When you do encounter an article that you are unable to de-orphan, but still feel that it is possible to be de-orphaned, then add the date you tried to de-orphan it to the orphan tag using the att parameter. The "att" is an abbreviation for "attempt", as in "I attempted to de-orphan this article but failed". The rationale is that although you were unable to de-orphan the article, it is often the case that someone else may be successful. However, if you are certain the article is unlikely to ever be de-orphaned then simply remove the tag.
To use "att", update the ((Orphan)) tag with:
|((subst:ATT)). If there are already other cleanup tags and they're within the ((Multiple issues)) template no special considerations are generally required.
There are several benefits of using the de-orphan attempt (att) parameter. It is a placemarker for those trying to do initial de-orphaning (i.e., indicates that somebody tried it and when). Also, articles where de-orphaning was tried quite some time ago may be easier now (many articles become easier to de-orphan once more articles in related areas have been filled in). You can be sure you won't end up looking at the same orphaned article twice because once it's tagged with
|att=October 2022 it gets removed from the category it's currently in (Category:Orphaned articles from October 2022) and gets placed into the attempted de-orphaned articles category (Category:Attempted de-orphan from October 2022). This category may be a place for those de-orphaners who want an extra challenge. Remember that only a single incoming link is required in order to completely remove the orphan tag, but any additional links will certainly help ensure the article is not isolated, so the attempted de-orphans category may also be a place to hold those articles where you feel there is potential for more incoming links.
Also, when placing the
|att= parameter, it's unnecessary to remove the pre-existing
|date= parameter, as they are two separate and distinct parameters that complement each other. Instead of replacing
|att= simply place it in addition to it. This gives editors the added benefit of knowing when the orphan tag was first placed on the article. Note that this does not double-categorize it, the
|att= takes precedence and, as was mentioned above, the article is moved to the attempted de-orphan category for that date, so you're not having to revisit the same article twice when browsing through the monthly orphaned articles category. However, the all-inclusive Category:All orphaned articles still remains regardless; this is deliberate and is needed to categorize the article as still being an orphan.
You may use this edit summary:
Although a bot or script is capable of regularly checking articles to see if they are orphaned, you can help too manually. When reading an article, you can check what other pages link to it by clicking "What links here" in the toolbox. You will then be provided with a list of pages that link to that article. If it meets the criteria, and you don't have the time or knowledge to de-orphan it right away, you can add the ((Orphan)) template to the top of the page, marking it as an orphan. If you use AWB when tagging, be sure to read the page "AWB and orphans".
When creating a new article, it is best to prevent them from being orphans from the beginning. Advice can be found at Wikipedia:Drawing attention to new pages. Finding possible links may be time-consuming. Don't worry if you cannot make all the necessary edits on the same day, as long as you keep your plans in mind!
There are presently a lot of orphaned essays. An essay is defined as "orphaned" if none of the following types of pages link to it:
Deletion discussions, talk pages in any namespace, lists and directories in project space, and subpages do not count toward meeting the minimum.
An orphaned essay is much harder to find than an orphaned article because there are fewer alternative methods available than there are for articles.
An essay that is orphaned should be marked with the template ((Orphaned essay)) immediately below the ((Essay)) template. This will automatically place the essay in the category Orphaned Wikipedia essays.
The ((Orphaned essay)) tag and the criteria used for orphaned essays are completely separate from orphaned articles. Although the guidance on this page may still apply to orphaned essays, they should be considered less of a priority.
See Wikipedia:WikiProject Orphanage § Templates for more.