Most new articles are created shortly after a corresponding reference to them is entered into the system.

Spinellis and Louridas, "The Collaborative Organization of Knowledge"[1]

A red link, like this example, signifies that the linked-to page does not exist—it either never existed, or previously existed but has been deleted.

Add red links to articles to indicate that a page will be created soon or that an article should be created for the topic because the subject is notable and verifiable. Red links help Wikipedia grow.[1] The creation of red links prevents new pages from being orphaned from the start.[2] Good red links help Wikipedia—they encourage new contributors in useful directions, and remind us that Wikipedia is far from finished.

In general, a red link should remain in an article if it links to a title that could plausibly sustain an article, but for which there is no existing article, or article section, under any name. Remove red links if and only if Wikipedia should not have an article on the subject. It may be possible to turn the red link into a redirect to an article section where the subject is covered as part of a broader topic (see Notability – Whether to create standalone pages).

Articles should not contain red links to files, to templates, or to topics that do not warrant an article, such as a celebrity's romantic interest who is not notable in their own right. Red links should not routinely be made to every chapter in a book, or to all the people mentioned in an article. Red links should not be made to articles deleted because the topic was judged unencyclopedic or lacking notability. Red links may sometimes be created to articles deleted for some other reason. In addition, even if a page has been deleted because it does not meet Wikipedia's guidelines, you may make a red link to the term if you intend to write an article about an entirely different topic that happens to have the same title.

Creating red links

A red link appears whenever double square brackets [[ ]] are placed around a word or phrase for which Wikipedia does not have an article, disambiguation page or redirect.

When to create red links

Create red links whenever a non-existent article with more information would help a reader understand the content of the article in which the red link will appear. An easy example is a technical term that merits a treatment beyond its dictionary definition, to help support its role for its existing context. A technical term could qualify because it is probably "notable" and should have that obvious title.

Before adding a red link, make sure that its subject does not already exist under a different page name. The topic may well be covered in a section of another article; it could even be buried in several paragraphs nearby. So it is the responsibility of the person who creates a red link to scan for the topic's coverage. The category links at the bottom of that page will link to virtually all related articles, and the search engine provides features for advanced queries that can pinpoint matching text anywhere on Wikipedia. Both search methods employ MediaWiki features crafted to find information on Wikipedia. They can help us build Wikipedia, red link by red link.

Take care when creating a red link that it has a valid title and that its subject meets notability guidelines for topics (including those for people (WP:BIO), web content (WP:WEB), businesses (WP:CORP), etc.).

After creating an article, (a) use What links here to find any red links that your new article turned blue, (b) check whether those links refer to the topic of your new article, and (c) change any links that refer to a different topic.

Avoiding creation of certain types of red links

Do not create red links to:

Because they are useless in navigation aids, do not create red links in:

Red links may be used in navboxes which also contain links to existing articles, but they cannot be excessive. Editors who add red links to navboxes are expected to actively work on building those articles, or the links may be removed from the template.

Biographical articles

As with other topics, red links can be created to biographies of people who would likely meet Wikipedia's guidelines for notability. All the rules that apply to our biographies on living people equally apply to red-linked names.

Checking incoming links is particularly important when creating new biography articles. There have been cases in which a biographical article was created for a person with the same name as an existing red link, but the article was for a different person. For example, in 2012 a red link was placed in the article about the book Extra Virginity to link to a future article about the book's author, Tom Mueller. In 2014 an article was created for a different Tom Mueller, a rocket scientist who co-founded SpaceX, without checking for existing incoming links. The red link in the Extra Virginity article thus became blue, but the link was to the wrong person. The error was not corrected until 2016.

Disambiguation pages

Main page: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Disambiguation pages § Red links

Use of red links on disambiguation pages should be limited. The whole point of a disambiguation page is to help the reader arrive at the correct existing article from a choice of articles with similar titles. Since a red link is a link to a non-existent article, using red links in disambiguation pages is usually discouraged. Red links can be used in disambiguation pages if existing encyclopedic articles (i.e. not disambiguation pages, because disambiguation pages are not considered encyclopedic) have such red links.

Dealing with existing red links

See also: Wikipedia:Creation of example red links as pages

In general, a red link should be allowed to remain in an article if it links to a term that could plausibly sustain an article, but for which there is no existing candidate article, or article section, under any name.

A red link to an article that will plausibly be created in the future should be "left alone rather than being created as a minimal stub article that has no useful information." An example of a plausible red link might be to driving in Madagascar, since an article on driving in the United States exists, and country-specific driving articles like these are a likely area for future creation. However, it is better to leave this link red than to create a "placeholder stub" that says only "There is driving in Madagascar", with the sole purpose of turning the red link to blue. Editors should create stubs with a usable amount of content, or else not create the stub at all. Red links serve the purpose of notifying readers that a need exists in Wikipedia for the creation of a new article with at least minimal information content; the creation of minimalist marker stubs simply to get rid of a red link destroys this useful mechanism.

Likewise, a valid red link term like driving in Madagascar should not be dealt with by removing the link brackets, simply to temporarily reduce the amount of red text in an article. However, red links to articles that have since been deleted should usually be unlinked.

An existing red link can indicate one or more of the following things:

Red links and interlanguage links

See also

Lists of redlinks

References

  1. ^ a b Diomidis Spinellis and Panagiotis Louridas (August 2008). "The collaborative organization of knowledge". Communications of the ACM. Vol. 51, No. 8, pp. 68–73. doi:10.1145/1378704.1378720. Most new articles are created shortly after a corresponding reference to them is entered into the system. See also Wikipedia:Inflationary hypothesis of Wikipedia growth.
  2. ^ Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2009-01-31/Orphans