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External links policy

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
Note:You may be looking for the Spam blacklist instead.
See also: Wiki spam

Due to the increasing popularity of the Wikimedia Projects, spamming by external parties has become and continues to be a major problem. This page documents general protocol and policy relating to the inclusion and exclusion of external links in Wikimedia projects.

While many forms of external links are desirable, some less desirable applications involving linkage to external sites include the creating of advertisements masquerading as articles and the pushing of promotional external links. This page mostly deals with the latter.


Adding external links to an article or user page for promotional purposes is disruptive, and is considered to be spam. Although the specific links may be allowed under some circumstances, repeatedly adding links will in most cases result in all of them being removed. It is the behaviour in placing the links rather than the content of the site that may cause concerns.

Cross wiki spam means that a certain link has been added to multiple projects. In this case the URL might be blocked (blacklisted) on a global level, meaning that it can't be added to any Wikimedia project.

As Wikimedia projects use nofollow-tags adding a link to one of them doesn't alter the search engine ranking.



Global blacklist


There is a global blacklist on meta: Spam blacklist. This is a list of domains that have been placed excessively, or which are deemed completely unhelpful to any project, and are therefore blocked on all Wikimedia projects (i.e. you can't link to one of the listed entries from any Wikimedia project). For a domain to be globally blacklisted it generally has to be excessively linked on multiple projects. If it's only added to a single project generally the link should be blacklisted locally (some exceptions exist).

Addition and removal of links can be discussed on Talk:Spam blacklist.



Some links are generally blacklisted on meta, even if the abuse has only been to one project, or when the link has not been used abusively yet:

  1. URL-shorteners/redirect sites (like e.g. tinyurl) as these can be used to circumvent blacklisting of other domains, and it is totally unnecessary to use these (as one can link to the original document directly).
  2. Sites which drop viruses, Trojan horses, etc. etc. on the user's computer (links which, when clicked on, are a threat to the computer the user is on). Blacklisting of these sites is generally temporary, until the problem has been resolved.

Local lists


Each Wikimedia project also has a local blacklist and a local whitelist, for example en:MediaWiki:Spam-blacklist and en:MediaWiki:Spam-whitelist. The former can be used to disallow linking to certain domains on a certain project only. The latter is a means to be able to link to domains on the global blacklist, or to exclude certain documents on a server, while all other documents on that server can not be linked to.

Addition and removal of links can most often be discussed on the local talk page. Before blacklisting all other measured should be explored such as blocking the user or IP or protecting the page. However where this is not sufficient local blacklists should be used whenever possible to manage blocking of external links; the global blacklist should only be used for widespread cross-wiki link placement, where other local options are not effective. The list may also be used for sites that simply are not suitable for whatever reason if there is consensus.

Helping out


If you're interested in helping out by fighting and removing unwanted external links, please see Spam blacklist/help. To get started, you may wish to contact one of the following users:

See also