User:Grutness/Stubbing how-to

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    Grutness's guide to stubbing[edit]

    What are stubs?[edit]

    Stubs are simply very short articles - articles that don't provide much more than a basic description of their subject.

    Why do stubs exist?[edit]

    It is rare for a new article to be submitted in full "finished" form on Wikipedia. Many editors write a small amount about a subject to get it started, in the hope that other editors will come along and add more information. Because of this, a great many articles start out as stubs. Sometimes, there isn't much known about a subject, so an article might remain a stub for a long time.

    How are stubs marked?[edit]

    Stub articles are marked with a specific type of cleanup template called a stub template (also called a "stub tag"). This is put right at the bottom of the article after the category links.

    Why are stubs sorted into different types?[edit]

    There are over a thousand different types of stub templates, the simplest of which is the generic {{stub}}. The many different types describe articles in terms of the subjects to which they belong: there are stubs for geography articles, biographies, science articles, articles about movies, and so on.

    There are a huge number of stubs - some estimates put it at 40% of Wikipedia's articles. If all of those were put into one category it would be an impossible task for anyone to find articles which they would like to expand. Everybody specializes to some degree, and this applies to their knowledge as well as their interests.

    When Wikipedia: WikiProject Stub sorting started up, there were about 30,000 stubs in one category. In order to make it easier for editors to find particular types of articles which they would like to expand, the project has been sorting these articles into hundreds of different types so that, for example, someone who knows about the history of France can simply look through a stub category containing stubs about French history.

    How are stub categories different from other categories?[edit]

    To put it simply, the main categories are designed to make it easier for readers. A reader looking for an article on a particular subject can go straight to a category on that subject to see a selection of articles on that subject. Stub categories are for helping editors find articles which need expanding. If an editor knows about a particular subject, they are likely to want to be able to pick and choose between a number of articles they can work on. For that reason, you are unlikely to find stub categories with only one or two articles, like you can with permanent categories. The Stub sorting WikiProject does its best to ensure that stub categories are of a reasonable size - not so big as to overwhelm an editor, but not so small as to make it necessary for an editor to look through lots of categories (ideally, we use about 60-800 articles as a "working size" for stub categories). For that reason, stub categories aren't always identical to main categories, although we aim to make the discrepancy between the two as small as is practical.

    How is stub-sorting done?[edit]

    Stub-sorting is usually done by hand, though bots are sometimes used. The basic tools of stub-sorting are paired templates and categories. A specific stub template will usually put an article that contains it into one dedicated category. In general, when a stub article is made (for example, one on a neighborhood of St. Louis), it will be given a fairly coarse stub template type such as {{stub}} (the most basic template). It will be sorted from there into a more refined category using a more specific template (for example, {{geo-stub}}, since it's a geography-related article) and eventually will be moved into whatever the finest-grained category is for that specific article (in this case, Category:Missouri geography stubs).

    Checks are regularly made by the stub-sorting project to see which categories are no longer optimal in size, and in these cases proposals are made as to how to split any large categories into smaller ones. In addition, editors from outside the project also make proposals if they think up possible useful categories for stubs. The proposal process is only a guideline on Wikipedia, not a rule, but it is useful in that generally the stub sorters have the best idea as to which types of stubs are likely to be most useful, and specifically which ones are likely to clash with existing types. Since there are a very large number of stub types and a general dislike among editors of having too many stub templates on an article, creating a useful stub type can be a trickier process than it sounds. The proposal process often leads to long debate as to exactly what would be the best way of wording a stub template and category to be most useful for editors.

    "Having too many stub templates"?[edit]

    Ideally, it would be great if all stub articles only contained one stub template, but this is not practical, and isn't as useful to editors as having more templates. Although having several templates on an article can look messy, a case can be made for saying that a stub is pretty messy anyway simply for being so short. If an article has two stub templates, it will be sorted into twice as many stub categories, and therefore theoretically twice as many specialist editors will see it. Having too many stub templates on an article is very cumbersome, though, so it's better not to have more than three or (rarely) four stub templates on an article.

    As the number of stub articles has increased, the number of 'cross-referenced" templates has increased, which has reduced the need for multi-stubbing articles a little. For example, at one time an article on a Canadian politician would have needed both {{Canada-bio-stub}} (Canadian biography) and {{politician-stub}}. Now it only needs {{Canada-politician-stub}}.

    Are all short articles marked as stubs?[edit]

    Most of them are. Disambiguation pages aren't, lists usually aren't (they have their own related template, {{listdev}}), and sometimes an article will be fairly complete even if it is very short. Note that only articles are stubs - categories are never marked as stubs (again, there is a related template for them, {{popcat}}), and pages in other namespaces like User pages and Talk pages aren't marked as stubs.

    There is a tendency to mark article that are hardly stubs, but could use development as stubs, such as Luton Town Hall. While the stub discussing a complex topic could be long, such as the current Law of France, which can reasonably be called a stub (Compare Law of the United States, and remember half of the "Law of France" is a bibliography.), a stub is an "article that is too short to provide encyclopedic coverage of the subject, but not so short as to provide no useful information." In that sense, Luton Town Hall is not a stub, but Law of France is. Circeus 20:04, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
    True. There is a separate template, {{expansion}}, which is used for articles which aren't stubs but still need expanding. An example I often use is the article on the village where I once lived, Croughton, Northamptonshire. It's short, but isn't a stub, whereas if the article on London or New York was that long, it definitely would be. Grutness...wha? 21:57, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
    {{expansion}} is far overused (and the fact it takes so much place is not helping), in my opinion. I delete it whenever there is no element on what is lacking at WP:RFX or the talk page. Besides, as far as Wikipedia is concerned, all articles are permanently requested for expansion!Circeus 17:48, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
    That is true, but it's not nearly as over-used as {{stub}}, and still has a useful purpose for articles that are of high priority when it comes to expansion (such as near-stub articles on topical current events). It's moderately widely used by WP:WSS to replace stub templates when an item is clearly not a stub but of significantly high importance. Grutness...wha? 03:55, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
    typical abusive use of {{expand}}. Circeus 15:11, 20 November 2006 (UTC)
    Point taken. Grutness...wha? 21:31, 20 November 2006 (UTC)

    Where can I find out more?[edit]

    Wikipedia:Stub is the most obvious page to look at. Others include Wikipedia:WikiProject Stub sorting and its subpages, and also the deletion process page Wikipedia:Stub types for deletion.

    How can I help?[edit]

    The simplest way to help is to make sure that any articles which seem very short are marked with a stub template, even if it's only the basic {{stub}}. The full list of stub types (at WP:WSS/ST) is pretty daunting even for regular stub-sorters, but even learning just the basic few (like bio-stub, geo-stub, hist-stub) and the way the names are normally created (shown at WP:WSS/NG) will give you a rough guide to how things can be marked. If you're willing to help out in a big way, the stub-sorting WikiProject is one of the busiest in Wikipedia and is always on the lookout for more keen helpers.

    Further discussion on stubbing[edit]

    If you have any questions for Grutness that don't fit in any of the sections above, please feel free to post them here. -- TT 11:26, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

    I have a comment. You really didn't emphasize enough the fundamental importance of stubs and short articles. The stub-stompers, like their cousins the redlink-wreckers and the short-article incorporators and deleters, are going backwards. History shows that Wikipedia grew from these shorter works. Wiping them out hurts this growth process. It's not like raking leaves, but more like pruning buds. We are not trying to Bonzai Wikipedia. A stub or redlink may not add any print information, per se, but often its very existence adds information, in that it shows that somebody once thought the subject was important enough to be emphasized and fleshed out later (though they didn't have knowledge or time to do it right at that moment). So the act of placing emphasis is important enough to deserve respect. People who want to make their calling, the sleeking down and trimming up of Wikipedia, fundamentally don't really understand that they're mowing the lawn. That's not how you make rainforests, jungles, or good comprehensive encylopedias, which all need to grow to seed. Redlinks and stubs sometimes have no immediate use, but as Faraday said in regard to his new electric generator, neither does a newborn baby. Leave these things alone! (Unless they are pathological, i.e., duplicates or mispellings or alternate terms requiring a redirect, or something clearly in need of fixing). Somewhere, this should be official Wiki policy. Otherwise, those of us who understand the process will have to go on fighting the trimmers and pruners forever, as we do vandals. SBHarris 15:47, 17 May 2007 (UTC)