Forum Index > Wiki News > Inter-wikia links
Posted by 452 on 2014-09-13 23:32:29

Required reading: Forum:Always ask questions, Help:Interwiki links.

Since May, I've been attempting to find out the reasons behind the wide-spread use of using interwiki links to link to other Wikia wikis.

Star saints

For the remainder of this post, I will be using the term "interwikia link" to mean "An interwiki link to a Wikia wiki"


Special:LinkSearch is used to search for external links. Interwiki links do not appear in the list, because they are not registered as being external. This is a known disadvantage listed on Meta:Help:Interwiki_linking

I have not been able to find any advantages to using interwikia links.

During my search, I have been called "dumb" for using external links instead of interwiki links, a "fool" for not learning that "I should just do what everyone else does", and had my inquiry thread on Community Central locked for dismissing suggestions were not relevant to my question.

Most reasons behind using interwiki links are related to non-wikia issues, and using interwikia links is something that appears to have happened due to people starting on wikipedia, or on a wikia wiki which copies the conventions of wikipedia closely.

I also think part of the reason why many people default to using interwiki links might be that they look similar to internal links, and those are better than external links to the same wiki, so it's ingrained that links starting with "[[" are "better" than links starting with just "[". (The reason behind that is different, and valid.)

There is nowhere that states any reasons why interwiki links should be preferred, or indeed anywhere that states they're preferred at all. The help pages only state that they exist, without saying why they should be used.

Don't get me wrong, users of this wiki should know that I love shortcuts - I've made a bunch of templates to save time for myself and others - but the fact that a shortcut exists doesn't automatically mean it should be compulsory to use it, especially if using said "shortcut" would take longer than the alternative with no other benefit. (Obviously if a template has other benefits, such as categorisation or DPL listing, it should be used.)

When I asked Wikia Staff, their only suggestions were:

  • "Hiding external link icons"
    • I regard this as a disadvantage, as off-wiki links should be clearly marked. If it is necessary to hide external link icons, that can easily be done with CSS.
  • "Shorter wikitext".
    • "This is not necessarily an advantage, it is only a fact: "interwiki links are shorter than external links". While I personally reword things to be concise, I do not do it simply to "save space". This is not a telegram: We are not being charged per letter.

Other suggestions I have encountered include:

  • Because they exist
    • Drugs exist too, but that is not a reason to do drugs.
  • The personal convenience of typing fewer characters
    • Personal convenience is dependent on whether you're typing or pasting. I personally always paste external links rather than type them. "Personal convenience" for some users is not a reason to require all users to use them.
  • Making Special:LinkSearch shorter by making interwiki links impossible to monitor.
    • The help page, and I, consider this a disadvantage. It's called LinkSearch for a reason: for searching. LinkSearch exists to monitor links, so all links should be able to be monitored.
  • Theoretical portability if a wiki changes address
    • Likely irrelevant to Wikia wikis, as redirects are always left when they are renamed.
  • Theoretical SEO because interwikia links do not have "nofollow" set, but external links do
    • This is completely false. External links to both wikipedia and wikia do not have "nofollow" set.
  • There is a "you are leaving this site" popup for external links, but not interwiki links
    • This is largely false. Some wikis have this, like Memory Alpha, but it is not the default.
  • "Interwikis should be set only for trusted and extensively used sites only."
    • Whether or not the interwiki links point to trusted sites is not relevant.
  • All external links should be in the external links section
    • I'm not even sure what the point of this one was, but it doesn't apply to this wiki.
  • "if it ain't broke don't 'fix' it".
  • "All the cool kids use them"
    • AKA "That's the way things are done around here"
      • Response: "Why is it the way things are done?"
    • AKA "That's the way everyone does it"
      • Response: "Why it is the way everyone does it?"
    • AKA "It's a standard/convention"
      • Response: "Why it is a standard or convention?"
    • AKA "That's how they do it on wikipedia"
      • Response: "What are the reasons wikipedia uses them?"
    • AKA "That's how they do it on the Blakestone Wiki"
      • Response: "What are the reasons Blakestone Wiki uses them?"

For all of these, I direct you to: Forum:Always ask questions.

From the outset, I was perfectly well aware that "all the cool kids use them". The question has always been: why?
Answering the question "Why do all the cool kids use them" with "Because all the cool kids use them" shows that the reason is unknown.

The entire purpose of asking about the benefit of interwiki links was to examine why this was common on other wikis.

As you can see, it has not stood up to examination. They may be a good idea on elsewhere, but that does not automatically mean they are a good idea here. Every single reason suggested has little or no bearing here.

It has been brought up that external links are "longer" than interwikia links, so I have addressed this by creating {{w}}, which is very similar to the existing {{wp}}, which has been in use for some time.

I propose to change all interwikia links to external links use {{w}}, so that they appear on Special:LinkSearch.

The policies regarding use and changes will be exactly the same as policies regarding use of templates instead of tags.

  • No-one is required to use {{ref}}, or to change <ref> to {{ref}}.
  • No-one is required to use {{w}}, or to change interwikia links to {{w}}.
  • No-one gets into trouble for using <ref>, but if someone uses it frequently, they are informed that {{ref}} is available.
  • No-one gets into trouble for using interwikia links, but if someone uses it frequently, they are informed that {{w}} should be used instead.
  • If any confused users change {{ref}} to <ref>, they are informed that use of the template is preferred.
  • If any confused users change {{w}} to interwikia links, they are informed that use of the template is preferred.
  • There is absolutely nothing wrong with simply copy/pasting an external link instead of using the template, just as there is nothing wrong with copy/pasting an external link to wikipedia instead of using the wp template, although more experienced users will likely change it to use the template afterwards, just as experienced editors on wikipedia change <ref>s to one of the many references templates in use on wikipedia.

If no-one can offer any disadvantages of doing this, I will begin mass-changing them on October 1st.

452 - 2014-09-13 23:32:29

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.