Help:Moving a page

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MediaWiki Handbook: Contents, Readers, Editors, Moderators, System admins, Researchers +/-

Moving a page means giving the page a different name.

There are several reasons why you might wish to rename a page:

  • The title has been misspelled.
  • To correct a title that does not follow the wiki's naming conventions (such as Wikipedia's naming conventions or Wikibooks naming policy).
  • The subject of the page has changed its name. For instance, a page about a person might be renamed if the person changes their name.
  • The scope of the article has been reduced, extended or otherwise changed.
  • A Talk page may be moved as one of the methods of archiving discussion (see w:Help:Archiving a talk page)

Move is the same as rename[edit]

The terms "rename" and "move" mean the same thing when talking about a wiki page. You can use these instructions to do either. In fact, the two terms are just different ways of picturing the same operation:

  • Rename: Keep the page but give it a different name. The edit history of the page carries on under the new name. At the same time, a page with the old name is created. That page's edit history records the renaming. That newly-created "old" page starts out as a redirect to the new name.
  • Move: Move the contents and the edit history to a new page. Change the old page into a redirect to the new page. Change the edit history into one that only records the renaming.

Both of these are doing exactly the same thing. It's just different words and different ways of thinking about what is accomplished.

For those interested in the technical details which aren't apparent to regular users of the wiki, internally the wiki software uses the "rename" model. The system marks the page that had the old name as now having the new name. (The entry in the page table connects a new page name to the page ID. The revision table just gets entries about the move, nothing else, because the relation between page ID and revision IDs remains the same.) This model avoids "changing the history", a kind of "historical revisionism".

Permission[edit]

In order to be able to move or rename a page, the wiki software must know that you have permission to do so. If you don't have permission, you will not see the "Move" tab needed to do so.

Some wikis are set up to allow any user to move pages. But many restrict the "move" user right to certain user groups. Some wikis (such as the English Wikipedia) allow only users who have logged in to move pages.

If the wiki does not allow you to move a page, first try logging in, if you aren't already. If that doesn't work talk to one of the administrators. Assuming it fits with their policies, they will have to add you to a user group that has the "move" privilege or add the "move" privilege to a user group you are already part of.

On many wikis you have to be logged in, and there may be a set length of time that you will have to have had an account for (often four days), along with a minimum number of edits having been made from that account (often zero). On these wikis you are automatically given the "move" privilege after these criteria are met.

How to do it[edit]

To move or rename a page:

  1. On the page you want to change, click on the "Move" tab near the top of the page (placement depends on your settings).
  2. You'll be asked for a new name for the page, and given the option to also move the page's talk page. Enter the new page name.
    • Unless you know what you're doing, it's safest to say yes to moving the talk page as well.
    • As of MediaWiki 1.5, the reason for the move can be given, like an edit summary. Note however that the inputbox seems to accept an unlimited number of characters while not more than 255 characters are actually recorded in the move log.
  3. Click the move button and the page will be renamed to the new title.

Moving doesn't change links[edit]

When you move a page to a new name, any other page which had a link to the old name will remain the same. Those old links will not change to the new name.

The old links to the old name will however work -- they'll access the page under its new name. This works because a redirect is automatically created from the old name to the new name.

Sometimes you'll want to change the links on all those pages to be links to the new name. Other times you'll decide you can leave them as is. If the old page name is no longer a valid alternative name for the page (e.g. it was a misspelling), you'll likely want to change it on any pages that linked to the old page name.

You can find all the pages that link to the old name by clicking on "what links here".

Moving creates redirects[edit]

When moving a page, a new page under the old name is automatically created. That page contains a "redirect" to the new name. Any reader that tries to access the page under the old name will automatically be redirected to the page under the new. For instance, any links to the old title will still go to the new title instead.

Most often, having a redirect automatically created is what you want. But in some circumstances you may have wanted to move a page so that you can create a new page with different contents under the old name. You can change a redirect into an a regular page and add your content.

Note that the wiki software does not support double redirects (Page A redirects to Page B which redirects to Page C). In such a case, accessing Page A will show Page B and the user will have to click on a link to see Page C. This could be a problem when moving the page, if there are already redirects to the old page name. Renaming a page once and then renaming it again will cause a double redirect.

After moving a page, you should check for and fix double redirects.

Page histories[edit]

The "move page" function keeps the entire edit history of the page before and after the move in one place, as if the page had always had the new page name.

The move itself is recorded in the edit histories of both pages. (This feature was introduced in MediaWiki 1.5. Older versions recorded moves indirectly, in the page history of the old page name. Upgrading to 1.5+ does not retroactively fix the recorded histories.) The move log's recorded reason is not always completely shown in the edit histories; there is a maximum size to this message.

Avoid copy and paste[edit]

Except in rare circumstances, you should always rename a page rather than using copy and paste because:

  • It's easier! The software does the actual moving for you, and even turns the old page into a redirect to the new one.
  • Talk pages stay in sync. Unless you tell it not to, or there's another talk page there already, the software will move the article's talk page to match its new title.
  • The edit history is retained. If you copy and paste text, it is no longer possible to see who edited that text when, because those edits didn't happen to the same article. If you rename a page, however, the entire history remains intact, giving previous editors the credit they deserve.
  • It is easily reversible. If a page is renamed in error, the software will allow it to be renamed back to the old name, even though the old page exists (as a redirect). This is very tidy, since the erroneous name will now be a redirect with no edit history, and may be deleted with no loss if that redirect will not be useful.
  • People's watch lists will be updated. If you turn a page that someone has on their watch list into a redirect, they may not notice, and will not then see edits on the new page. If you rename the page, however, the new page will automatically be added to their watchlist.
  • It will show up as a move on "recent changes". OK, so you could put this in your edit summary if you remembered, but it's nice to have it automatically having a consistent label, right?

The rare circumstances where copy and paste is appropriate, include:

  • unmovable pages.
  • when splitting a page into multiple pages. If you do, please include a note in the new pages's edit summary and talk page stating where you took the text from.
  • when you're not actually moving or renaming a page, but truly want to preserve the old page while making a copy.

See "fixing cut and paste moves" below.

Page move restrictions[edit]

The wiki software cannot move certain types of pages, or restricts renaming of them to certain user groups.

Pages in the "Image:" namespace can only be moved by people in the file mover user group (which generally includes admins). Pages in the "Category:" namespace cannot be moved at all. To change the name of a category, one needs to change all category tags on the pages that are listed in that category. Then copy the editable part of the old category to the new category. And finally delete the old category page.

Moving redirect pages[edit]

A page that is a redirect can be moved like any other page. This is however not advised while it has the same detrimental effect on page history as copy-pasting content to a new page, and making the old page a redirect: when moving a redirect page to a new page name, the redirect on the old page (now directing to the new redirect page) will have to be changed in order to avoid double redirects. So the content of the old page will no longer redirect to the page containing the history of that old page. The only effect is that the whereabouts of the page history of the old page (now seemingly a "recently created page") are a bit trickier to find, while on the other hand the new page has a history attached to it not clarifying why it would need to be a redirect page.

If a redirect page does not redirect to the page it would need to be redirecting to, the only viable strategy that respects page histories, is to adapt the redirect on that page, without moving the page.

Moving over a redirect[edit]

If the new title already exists but is just a redirect to the old title, with just one line in the page history, the creation of the redirect, then you can rename the page. The most common case in which this applies is that of re-renaming a page back to its original name. As mentioned, this works only if the redirect that was automatically created in the first renaming, has not been edited.

The information about the former creation of the redirect over which the move takes place is lost. If it was the result of an earlier move of the page that is now moved back, that information is still available in the history of that page.

More moves back and forth are possible, and always the page history of the current title shows all moves, and that of the other title only contains the edit line of the latest move.

As mentioned, recording a page move in the edit history of the page itself is a feature introduced in MediaWiki 1.5 which does not work retroactively. Prior to MediaWiki 1.5 if there were several moves back and forth, only the latest was recorded.

There was a bug in earlier versions of MediaWiki that caused inaccurate dates in edit histories. In these versions of the software, if a page was moved over a redirect, the edit history of the newly created redirect would show the latest move with the correct user name, but with the date and time when the overwritten redirect was created. The date and time of the actual page move was therefore lost (though it appeared in the recent changes list). See this comment at talk:PETA on the English Wikipedia for a demonstration of this bug.

Moving over an existing page[edit]

Administrators can move a page, deleting an existing page with a name equal to the new name of the moved page, in one step. The associated talk page will not be moved if the target talk need to be deleted as well.

If the new title already exists and isn't just a redirect to the old title, with no history, and you are not an administrator, the wiki will tell you that you can't rename the page. You'll either have to manually merge the two pages, or if there's no real content in the page ask an Administrator to have it deleted or list it on your project's "votes for deletion" page in order to make room for moving the page.

Move-protected pages[edit]

Administrators can protect pages from moves. If a page is protected from moves only, the "Move this page" link will not be available. In this case, you can ask that an administrator to move it for you, or you can manually move the page, by copying the contents to the new page and redirecting the old page to the new page. However, the latter is generally not recommended, and users are asked to request the moves instead.

Pages that are protected from editing are automatically protected from moves.

Guidelines[edit]

Before you rename page, consider whether you're following the guidelines for the wiki involved. Most wikis have guidelines similar to these:

  • If you want to experiment, use a sandbox first. Note: A sandbox page often starts out blank. The purpose of this blank page is to be used as a whiteboard for your experiments.
  • Choose your new title carefully.
  • Review the conventions of the project you are working in regarding e.g.:
  • Take some time to make sure there is no objection to your move; always check the talk page first.
  • Avoid moving a page while the edit box of the corresponding Talk page is open: otherwise when you hit "Save page" you will overwrite the redirect to the new talk page (you do not get the usual warning that the page has been edited while your edit box was open) and get a duplication of the contents of the talk page, with your latest addition added to the old instead of the new one.
  • It is useful to copy the message "Page ... moved to ..." to the new talk page, especially if there has been discussion about the name of the page.

Other notes[edit]

Moving a page shows up in Recent Changes under "Move log", which links to a log of all moves. However, moving a watched page does not show up on the watchlist; after the move both the old and the new name are watched.

Subpages, such as the archives of a talk page, and the documentation page of a template, are not automatically moved along with a page move. Administrators can automatically move up to 100 subpages along with the basepage.

Undoing a move[edit]

To undo a move from page A to page B, simply move page B back to page A.

Note that the usual "undo" link on the history or diff pages does not work on moves. An easy way to rename the page back is clicking "View logs for this page" from the history page, and then "revert" link from the corresponding record in Special:Log.

The software requires that the redirect be pointing to the page you're moving it from. Therefore, if a user moved Page A to Page B to Page C, you cannot simply move C to A, you have to:

  1. Move page C to page B
  2. Move page B to page A

If page A has subsequently been edited, or the move software is behaving weirdly, only an admin can sort things out:

  1. Delete page A (make sure it has no useful history - you may wish to add an explicit author credit on a talk page to compensate, or undelete those versions after the move)
  2. Move page B to page A.
  3. Delete page B (should be a history-free redirect to page A)

"Move wars" are highly unproductive, and leave vast numbers of pointless redirects littering the place, which some poor soul will have to fix.

After undoing a move, if you do not need B as a redirect, tag it for deletion (using the appropriate process on the wiki you're using, for instance 'speedy deletion' or 'votes for deletion'), or (administrators only) just delete it.

Swapping two pages[edit]

To swap pages A and B, including history, as administrator:

  1. Move page A to page C (previously non-existing), without redirect
  2. Move page B to page A (allowed because A is non-existent), without redirect
  3. Move page C to page B (allowed because B is non-existent), without redirect

If you are not an administrator, ask for help. Some large projects have a separate page (called "Requested Moves", or something similar) specifically for requesting help with these (and also for discussing potentially contentious moves). There may also be a template for this.

Fixing cut and paste moves[edit]

Some more complex cases are explained at Wikipedia:How to fix cut and paste moves

Users sometimes move pages manually using cut and paste, either because they are unaware of the page move function, or because they are unable to use it. As a result, the page history of an article or talk page can be split among two or more different pages.

In some circumstances, administrators are able to fix this by merging page histories.

Warning: this procedure may only be undone by an administrator, by spending quite silly amounts of time: to undo a merge, every single version has to be manually reassigned to the correct source page (by deleting the revisions that are in the correct location currently and moving the other revisions to their new correct location, then undeleting the revisions that were in the correct location). Do not do this if you are not sure what you are doing.

Follow this procedure to merge page histories:

  1. Suppose we wish to merge edit history from Alabama/Music (old title) into Music of Alabama (new title):
  2. Delete Music of Alabama, with comment deleting to merge page histories - back soon.
  3. Move Alabama/Music to Music of Alabama, using the move tool.
  4. Undelete the Music of Alabama article.
  5. Edit Music of Alabama to restore the most recent version as shown in the page history before the merge (or use administrator rollback).

Note that the page history will often look wrong until the last step here is carried out, because it doesn't update after an undeletion until the next time the page is edited.

Merging page histories of pages with many revisions[edit]

Suppose that the page Music of Alabama had too many revisions to be deleted or deleting it may cause other disruption. The following procedure can be used to merge page histories in this situation:

  1. Move Music of Alabama to Alabama/Music with a move summary like "history merge, will be back at correct title soon". Answer yes when asked to delete the Alabama/Music page.
  2. Undelete the revisions of Alabama/Music containing the page history.
  3. Move Alabama/Music back to Music of Alabama.
  4. If needed, undelete the remaining revisions at Alabama/Music.

Automating multiple page moves[edit]

Administrators and other users with the "move-subpages" right are also given an option to move up to $wgMaximumMovedPages subpages and talk subpages can be moved along with a move target if enabled. Currently this is enabled for all Wikimedia wikis with $wgMaximumMovedPages set to 100 by default, but raised to 500 for Wikibooks wikis, which have a greater need for this ability.

For this to work, all target titles for the subpages (and their talks) must be free; no mass move over redirect or overwriting (with deletion) is allowed.


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