Wikipedia:Content forking/Internal

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Discussion forks[edit]

Discussions should not be forked to multiple talk pages, noticeboards, or other venues, but centralized in a single place. Opening duplicate discussions wastes editorial time, scatters editorial input, and can even lead to conflicting outcomes. Intentionally forking discussions may be interpreted as forum-shopping or canvassing.

It is sometimes useful to relocate a discussion to a more appropriate page; this is usually effectively done by posting a pointer to the new discussion from the old one, though if discussion continues in the original location, it may be appropriate to close it, for example with:
     {{Discussion top |result= {{Moved discussion to | [[Other page name#Thread name]] }} }}, then a closing {{Discussion bottom}}.

When advertising a discussion to other talk pages, you can help prevent discussion forking at the locations of these notices by prefacing them with {{FYI|Pointer to relevant discussion elsewhere.}}, immediately after the section heading for the notice. It is also helpful to spell out the location of the discussion (e.g., "Please see Wikipedia talk:Identifying reliable sources#Sample topic.") rather than effectively hide it with a piped link (e.g., "here").

Exceptions[edit]

In most cases an open discussion is preferably kept at the place where it first began, with split-off discussions closed and retargetted to the oldest open discussion. However, in some of the exceptional cases described below it is also possible, depending on circumstances, that both old and new discussion are kept open concurrently, or that the older discussion is closed rather than the newer one. Examples:

  • When a discussion moves from an article talk page to WP:Dispute resolution noticeboard (WP:DRN), the article talk topic is hardly ever formally closed;
  • When a discussion moves from that noticeboard to another noticeboard, it is always the older DRN discussion that is closed in favour of the newer one.

An advice for closers of discussions is that it is in most cases best to not leave participants in a discussion guessing where to go next after a discussion has been closed, e.g. at WP:AE it is mostly indicated by the closing admin where and after how much time a decision can be appealed.

Content issue vs. behavioural issue[edit]

Some pages are not suitable to discuss behavioural issues (e.g. article talk pages, WP:DRN); Other pages are not suitable to discuss the content of a particular mainspace article (e.g. user talk pages, WP:ANI). If an issue of a different nature turns up in a discussion that by its nature is in the appropriate place, the former issue can be split off to an appropriate venue.

Escalation to a broader venue[edit]

If a local WP:CONSENSUS fails, and all parties in a discussion agree that nothing more can be expected to continue the discussion in that place, the discussion may be brought to a more appropriate, broader venue, e.g. whether or not information based on two sources can be included in an article can, if the discussion remains unresolved, be escalated to WP:RSN, or, if the content regards a living person, to WP:BLPN, etc.

Patently wrong venue[edit]

If a new discussion topic is opened in a venue where it doesn't belong (e.g. an issue regarding the biography of a 19th-century person at WP:BLPN), the topic may be closed and/or moved to a more appropriate venue. See also: {{Wrong venue}} and {{Moved discussion to}}.

Policy forks[edit]

It is never constructive to attempt to create a new page or section of WP:POLICY-style material (at an existing or proposed policy, guideline, supplement, information page, wikiproject advice page, help/how-to page, or other material meant to provide advice to editors) that conflicts with or contradicts an existing one. Even one which is simply redundant will not be accepted, but merged or deleted, as retaining separate pages covering the same issue would inevitably lead to diverging advice and avoidable conflict between editors. The same concerns apply to modifying an existing page of this sort to conflict with another existing one. In particular, forking topic-specific guidance to conflict with site-wide norms is against the Consensus policy.

When summary style is applied to such material – e.g., with one narrow page summarizing the applicable guidance of another, broader one – the original page or section should be linked to from the summarizing one, and it may be appropriate to use a {{Main}} template atop the summarizing section to point to the original prominently.

If you disagree with the wording or interpretation of any policy material (broadly defined), the appropriate process is to open a discussion on its talk page and seek consensus to change or clarify it. While an attempt to just boldly change the content without prior discussion is not forbidden, there is a high likelihood that it will be reverted, because changes to these materials require an elevated level of care.

Wikipedia essays that serve an op-ed purpose are often forked intentionally and permissibly, to provide differing perspectives. However, a few essays, and other types of pages with the authority level of essays (i.e., below policies and guidelines) are informational not opinional, and are well-accepted by the community, representing a broad consensus. It is not constructive to do something like draft up your own opposition version that directly contradicts something like WP:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions, Help:Images, WP:Compromised accounts, WP:Core content policies, or WP:Five pillars (humor pages aside). If you disagree with something in a page like this, it is more productive to propose a change to the current version at its talk page.

Process forks[edit]

Process-forking (or procedure-forking) is generally a poor idea. Process is important (both as to benefits and costs), so a new process should not be created (especially not a conflicting one) without a community consensus that there's a need for it. Unnecessary process is undesirable and counter-productive. No one is going to take it seriously if you create a "WP:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents/Biochemistry" as a topical alternative to WP:AN/I; it would be deleted quickly. Many wikiprojects have found that after creating an "/Assessment" or "/Peer review" process subpage that no one ever uses it; try to create sufficient editorial interest in running a peer review process for it to be practical. Similarly, it is strongly discouraged to create a new wikiproject or taskforce/workgroup without a consensus at Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Proposals that it will be useful and will have sufficient participation.

Disruptive process-forking: Creating a new process page in opposition to an established one will almost certainly be interpreted as disruptive, and get sent to WP:Miscellany for deletion (MfD). Wikiprojects are a form, or at least locus, of process. A bogus wikiproject set up as a "canvassing farm" – to oppose a consensus, lobby for changes to policy, over-control article content for a specific viewpoint, or any other activity antithetical to Wikipedia goals and smooth operation, will be deleted with prejudice at MfD.

Some process forks can have incidentally disruptive effects – usually a result of insufficient competence with Wikipedia norms, procedures, and maintenance tools. An example is the creation of new (or modification of existing) content assessment classes, which breaks compatibility with various templates, bots, and categories. Another example is the creation of a wanna-be noticeboard on a micro-topical basis; it is not within a wikiproject's scope or authority to set up a kangaroo court of a dispute resolution and sanctions venue to enforce its viewpoint on content matters. A similar example is the creation of a bogus pseudo-process inside a wikiproject to change article titles to suit the preferences of the project participants, and bypass established WP:Requested moves process; one project trying this caused a tremendous amount of disruption over several years until a move review and an RfC reversed them.

Remember that a "local consensus" among a small group of editors can't override site-wide consensus – including about how Wikipedia operates – absent a very good reason that the community accepts.

Some process forking has been organic, with different but confusingly dissimilar procedures evolving over time for different but parallel processes. These have countervailing tendencies to sometimes normalize towards each other or to become ingrained and ossified. The former is preferable since it reduces the number and peculiarity of rules and systems that Wikipedians are expected to learn and comply with.