For technical documentation about redirects, please visit dedicated help page on Mediawiki.org.
Redirects have different use cases through Wikimedia wikis.
Some projects have policies on what redirects should exist. For example, on the English Wiktionary, most redirects are prohibited by policy.
On many wikis administrators simply delete them, but it is sometimes useful to keep a broken redirect and wait for the creation of the target, or to set a new target.
Purposes of a redirect
- Allow access in the case that a page name is provided:
- which is an alternative name for the subject
- which is a name for a subtopic (in this case one may use a redirect to a section)
- which uses alternative capitalization and hyphenation
- which uses alternative spelling
- which has a common misspelling
- Provide a way of conveniently going to a page (shortcut).
- Keep links to a page active after it has been moved (even if internal links are updated, this still applies for links from outside; also for links in edit summaries).
- Conveniently linking indirectly to a page, without the need for a piped link. However, a piped link is in some respects even better than relying on a redirect.
- Allowing a link title independent of the final link target; one creates a page whose name is the desired link title, and which redirects to the desired target page. See e.g. w:Template:Ft, containing [[30.48 cm|ft]], with the page w:30.48 cm redirecting to w:Foot (unit of length). The link title "30.48 cm" informs in the hover box about the unit "ft" even without following the link to the article about this unit. See also Help:Advanced editing for another technique with a similar result.
When creating new redirects, bear in mind that creating too many redirects can clutter up the search results page, which can hinder users. Also, don't spend too much time creating redirects. Often it's more important to spend time improving the quality of the target page. A piped link is another way to make a link to a page with a name which does not occur in the first page.
Using redirects for inexisting but expected pages
When an inexisting page Subtopic could be created as a subtopic of Topic page, there are the following possibilities:
- Redirect Subtopic to Topic, use the backlink to go from A to B (disadvantage: not very inviting to create a new content page B; inconvenient if A has many backlinks).
- Insert a red link in Topic to Subtopic as invitation or preparation for creating page Subtopic; use the backlink to go from Subtopic to Topic (disadvantage: not obvious for newbie, much less convenient than automatic redirect, especially if B has many backlinks).
- Both (indirect self-link on Topic). To go from Topic to Subtopic, click the link from Topic to Subtopic, which brings you back to Topic, and use the link in the redirect message (for detecting a redirect see hereinbefore; however, there is no distinction between a redirect back, and an onward redirect) (disadvantage, as far as not yet mentioned: not obvious for newbie).
- Ditto but with a soft redirect from Subtopic to Topic, i.e. a page only containing something like "See [[Topic]]"; one can see at Topic that Subtopic is very short using the stub feature (disadvantages: a soft redirect is non-standard; people who do not know about its reason may change it in a regular redirect; is a little less convenient than automatic redirect; requires stub feature setting)
- Subtopic is a redirect, link from Topic to Subtopic with "
redirect=no" parameter, or link to Subtopic's edit page, e.g. Template and start page Template, respectively.
In the 3rd and 4th cases, especially if Topic has a list of links to pages Subtopic, one can mark the links with more info, e.g. by bolding, and explain the marking.
- Detecting links to redirects using the stub feature
- Don't delete redirects
- Redirects in search results - proposed software changes
- Redirected user pages considered harmful
- Double redirect fixer
- Page database table manual for how redirects are stored