Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines

This page is about talk page etiquette. For general information about talk pages, see Help:Using talk pages. For guidelines about user talk pages, see Wikipedia:User pages.
"WP:DISCUSSION" redirects here. For Wikipedia's ongoing discussions, requests, and help venues, see Wikipedia:Dashboard.

The purpose of an article's talk page (accessible via the talk or discussion tab) is to provide space for editors to discuss changes to its associated article or project page. Article talk pages should not be used by editors as platforms for their personal views on a subject.

When talk pages in other namespaces and userspaces are used for discussion and communication between users, the same norms will usually apply.

When writing on a talk page, certain approaches are counter-productive, whereas others facilitate good editing. The prime values of the talk page are communication, courtesy and consideration. The following list is designed to help Wikipedians use talk pages effectively.

All guidelines here also apply to Wikipedia discussion pages, such as articles for deletion.

Central points

Maintain Wikipedia policy

There is reasonable allowance for speculation, suggestion, and personal knowledge on talk pages, with a view to prompting further investigation, but it is usually a misuse of a talk page to continue to argue any point that has not met policy requirements. Pay particular attention to Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons, which applies to talk pages as well as to articles: "Editors must take particular care adding information about living persons to any Wikipedia page." [1]

Creating talk pages

Talk pages are generally created by clicking a red "Talk" tab and creating the page, like any other page.

Do not create an empty talk page simply so that one will exist for future use. Do not create a page solely to place the {{ Talk header}} template on it. Template:Talk header and similar discussion warning templates should not be added to pages that do not have discussions on them. There is no need to add discussion warning templates to every talk page, or even to every talk page that contains a discussion.

How to use article talk pages

Although this section is specific to article talk pages, many of the general themes apply to all discussion pages that are used for collaboration.
  • Communicate: If in doubt, make the extra effort so that other people understand you. Being friendly is a great help. It is always a good idea to explain your views; it is less helpful for you to voice an opinion on something and not explain why you hold it. Explaining why you have a certain opinion helps to demonstrate its validity to others and reach consensus.
  • Stay on topic: Talk pages are for discussing the article, not for general conversation about the article's subject (much less other subjects). Keep discussions focused on how to improve the article. If you want to discuss the subject of an article, you can do so at Wikipedia:Reference desk instead. Comments that are plainly irrelevant are subject to archival or removal.
  • No meta: Extended meta-discussions about editing belong on noticeboards, in Wikipedia-talk, or in User-talk namespaces, not in Article-talk namespace.
  • Be positive: Article talk pages should be used to discuss ways to improve an article; not to criticize, pick apart, or vent about the current status of an article or its subject. This is especially true on the talk pages of biographies of living people. However, if you feel something is wrong, but are not sure how to fix it, then by all means feel free to draw attention to this and ask for suggestions from others.
  • Stay objective: Talk pages are not a place for editors to argue their personal point of view about a controversial issue. They are a place to discuss how the points of view of reliable sources should be included in the article, so that the end result is neutral. The best way to present a case is to find properly referenced material.
  • Deal with facts: The talk page is the ideal place for issues relating to verification, such as asking for help finding sources, discussing conflicts or inconsistencies among sources, and examining the reliability of references. Asking for a verifiable reference supporting a statement is often better than arguing against it.
  • Share material: The talk page can be used to "park" material removed from the article due to verification or other concerns, while references are sought or concerns discussed. New material can be prepared on the talk page until it is ready to be put into the article; this is an especially good idea if the new material (or topic as a whole) is controversial.
  • Discuss edits: The talk page is particularly useful to talk about edits. If one of your edits has been reverted, and you change it back again, it is good practice to leave an explanation on the talk page and a note in the edit summary that you have done so. The talk page is also the place to ask about another editor's changes. If someone queries one of your edits, make sure you reply with a full, helpful rationale.
  • Make proposals: New proposals for the article can be put forward for discussion by other editors. Proposals might include changes to specific details, page moves, merges or making a section of a long article into a separate article.

Good practices for all talk pages used for collaboration

These guidelines apply specifically to discussion pages which are used for collaboration, which includes just about all talk pages other than user talk pages. The application of these guidelines to user talk pages should be governed by common sense and should not supersede guidelines and policies specific to those pages.
  • Ensure there is not already an existing section on the same topic before starting a new discussion. Duplicating the same discussion in multiple sections on a talk page, or on multiple pages (see WP:FORUMSHOP) causes confusion, erodes general awareness of points being made, and disrupts the flow of conversation on the topic.
  • Comment on content, not on the contributor: Keep the discussions focused upon the topic of the talk page, rather than on the personalities of the editors contributing to the talk page.
  • Sign your posts: To sign a post, type four tildes (~~~~), and they will be replaced with your username and time stamp, like this: Example 13:21, 9 May 2008 (UTC). Please note that it is impossible to leave an anonymous comment because your user name or IP address is recorded in the page history. [2]
  • Be concise: Long, rambling messages are difficult to understand, and are frequently either ignored or misunderstood. If you need to make a detailed, point by point discussion, see below for how to lay this out.
  • Keep the layout clear: Keep the talk page attractively and clearly laid out, using standard formatting and threading. Avoid repetition, muddled writing, and unnecessary digressions. Talk pages with a good signal-to-noise ratio are more likely to attract continued participation. See Talk page layout.
  • Use separate subsection headings to discuss multiple changes: If you arrive at the "discussion" part of the WP:BRD cycle, and the subject involves a number of separate changes you would like to see, try to break down the different changes, and your reasons and reliable sources for each one, under separate subsection headings (===Example===). Mashing it all into one long post makes methodical progress almost impossible.

  • Keep discussions focused: Discussions naturally should finalize by agreement, not by exhaustion.
  • Read the archives: If you are a new editor to an article, be sure to read the archives. Not only are content disputes valuable examples of talk page behavior, but they contain a lot of expert knowledge surrounding the topic. You may quickly find your questions and/or objections have already been answered if you try searching all the archives for that article at once using the prefix parameter.
  • Be welcoming to newcomers: People new to Wikipedia may be unfamiliar with policy and conventions. Please do not bite the newcomers. If someone does something against custom, assume it was an unwitting mistake. You should politely and gently point out their mistake, reference the relevant policy/guideline/help pages, and suggest a better approach.
  • Use the minor flag for minor changes only: The minor flag in your edits should be used as it is with article pages and should only be used for superficial differences between the current and previous versions such as typographical corrections, formatting and presentational changes or rearrangement of text without modification of content. Adding new text to the talk pages should not be marked as minor.

  • Avoid excessive emphasis: CAPITAL LETTERS are considered shouting and are very rarely appropriate. Bolding may be used to highlight key words or phrases (most usually to highlight "oppose" or "support" summaries of an editor's view), but should be used judiciously, as it may be interpreted as a raised voice. Italics may be used more frequently for emphasis or clarity on key words or phrases, but should be avoided for long passages. Exclamation marks similarly should be used judiciously for emphasis. Remember that overuse of emphasis can undermine its impact! If adding emphasis to quoted text, be sure to say so. Italics can also be used to distinguish quoted text from new text and, of course, book titles, ship names, etc. The use of markup to increase the font size on talk pages is another form of shouting.
  • Use English: It is preferable to use English on all talk pages of English Wikipedia so comments may be comprehensible to the community. If using another language is unavoidable, try to provide a translation of the comments. If you cannot translate the comments, third parties or Wikipedia:Embassy can help.
  • Avoid posting the same thread in multiple talk pages: This fragments discussion of the idea. Instead, start the discussion in one location, and, if needed, advertise that in other locations using a link. If you find a fragmented discussion, it may be desirable to move all posts to one location, and linking to it. Make sure you state clearly in edit summaries and on talk pages what you have done and why.
  • Avoid repeating your own lengthy posts: Readers can read your prior posts, and repeating them, especially lengthy posts, is strongly discouraged. In some cases, it may be interpreted as an unwillingness to let discussion progress in an orderly manner.

Behavior that is unacceptable

Stay in the top three sections of this pyramid.

Please note that some of the following are of sufficient importance to be official Wikipedia policy. Violations (and especially repeated violations) may lead to the offender being blocked or banned from editing Wikipedia.

  • No personal attacks: A personal attack is saying something negative about another person. This includes:
    • Insults: Do not make ad hominem attacks, such as calling someone an idiot or a fascist. Instead, explain what is wrong with an edit and how to fix it
    • Personal threats: For example, threatening people with "admins [you] know" or with having them banned for disagreeing with you. However, explaining to an editor the consequences of violating Wikipedia policies, like being blocked for vandalism, is not considered a threat
    • Legal threats: Threatening a lawsuit is highly disruptive to Wikipedia for reasons given at the linked page
    • Posting other editors' personal details: A users who maliciously posts what he or she believes are the personal details of another user without that user's consent may be blocked for any length of time, including indefinitely.
  • Misrepresentation of other people: The record should accurately show significant exchanges that have taken place, and in the correct context. This usually means:
    • Being precise in quoting others
    • When referencing other people's contributions or edits, using " diffs"— the advantage of diffs in referring to a comment is that the diff will always remain the same, even when a talk page gets archived or a comment gets changed
    • Generally, do not alter others' comments, including signatures – exceptions to this are described in the next section.
  • Do not ask for another's personal details.
  • Do not attempt to impersonate another editor
  • Do not claim to be an administrator or to have an access level that you do not have— user access levels can always be verified at Special:ListUsers by anyone.
  • Do not use the talk page as a forum or soapbox for discussing the topic: the talk page is for discussing how to improve the article, not vent your feelings about it.

Editing comments

Others' comments

It is not necessary to bring talk pages to publishing standards, so there is no need to correct typing/spelling errors, grammar, etc. It may irritate the users whose comments you are correcting. The basic rule—with some specific exceptions outlined below—is that you should not edit or delete the comments of other editors without their permission.

Never edit or move someone's comment to change its meaning, even on your own talk page.

Striking text constitutes a change in meaning, and should only be done by the user who wrote it or someone acting at their explicit request.

Cautiously editing or removing another editor's comments is sometimes allowed, but normally you should stop if there is any objection. If you make anything more than minor changes it is good practice to leave a short explanatory note such as "[possible libel removed by ~~~~]". Some examples of appropriately editing others' comments:

  • Personal talk page cleanup: See the section § User talk pages for more details.
  • Removing prohibited material such as libel, personal details, or violations of copyright, living persons, banning, or anti-promotional policies
  • Removing harmful posts, including personal attacks, trolling, and vandalism. This generally does not extend to messages that are merely uncivil; deletions of simple invective are controversial. Posts that may be considered disruptive in various ways are another borderline case and are usually best left as-is or archived.
  • Off-topic posts: If a discussion goes off-topic (per the above subsection § How to use article talk pages), editors may hide it using the templates {{ collapse top}} and {{ collapse bottom}} or similar templates—these templates should not be used by involved parties to end a discussion over the objections of other editors. This normally stops the off-topic discussion, while allowing people to read it by pressing the "show" link. At times, it may make sense to move off-topic posts to a more appropriate talk page. It is still common to simply delete gibberish, comments or discussion about the article subject (as opposed to its treatment in the article), test edits, and harmful or prohibited material as described above. Another form of refactoring is to move a thread of entirely personal commentary between two editors to the talk page of the editor who started the off-topic discussion. Your idea of what is off topic may be at variance with what others think is off topic; be sure to err on the side of caution. The template {{ rf}} can be used as well as to denote the original source page of the content.
  • Attributing unsigned comments: You are allowed to append attribution (which can be retrieved from the page history) to the end of someone's comment if they have failed to sign it. This typically takes the form —[[User|USERNAME]] TIMESTAMP OF EDIT (UTC). The template {{ unsigned}} or one of its variants can be used to do this more explicitly: {{ subst: unsigned|USER NAME OR IP|DATE AND TIME}}, which results in —Preceding unsigned comment added by USER NAME OR IP ( talkcontribs) DATE AND TIME. However, the attribution of signatures to recent unsigned comments is typically done by a bot.
  • Signature cleanup: If a signature violates the guidelines for signatures, or is an attempt to fake a signature, you may edit the signature to the standard form with correct information (—{{ subst: User|USERNAME}} TIMESTAMP OF EDIT (UTC)) or some even simpler variant. Do not modify others' signatures for any other reason. If the user's signature has a coding error in it, you will need to contact the editor to fix this in their preferences (but see " Fixing layout errors", below).
  • Fixing format errors that render material difficult to read. In this case, restrict the edits to formatting changes only and preserve the content as much as possible. Examples include fixing indentation levels, removing bullets from discussions that are not consensus polls or requests for comment (RfC), fixing list markup, using <nowiki> and other technical markup to fix code samples, and providing wikilinks if it helps in better navigation. Another helpful template is the Talk page Reflist, {{ reflist-talk}}. The template should be placed after the discussion that includes the references, as it will include all references before the template.
  • Fixing layout errors: This could include moving a new comment from the top of a page to the bottom, adding a heading to a comment not having one, repairing accidental damage by one party to another's comments, correcting unclosed markup tags that mess up the entire page's formatting, accurately replacing HTML table code with a wikitable, etc.
  • Sectioning: If a thread has developed new subjects, it may be desirable to split it into separate discussions with their own headings or subheadings. When a topic is split into two topics, rather than sub-sectioned, it is often useful for there to be a link from the new topic to the original and vice versa. A common way of doing this is noting the change at the [then-]end of the original thread, and adding an unobtrusive note under the new heading, e.g., :<small>This topic was split off from [[#FOOBAR]], above.</small>. Some reformatting may be necessary to maintain the sense of the discussion to date and to preserve attribution. It is essential that splitting does not inadvertently alter the meaning of any comments. Very long discussions may also be divided into sub-sections.
  • IDs: Where sectioning is not appropriate, adding {{ anchor}} or {{ Visible anchor}} for deep linking.
  • Section headings: Because threads are shared by multiple editors (regardless how many have posted so far), no one, including the original poster, "owns" a talk page discussion or its heading. It is generally acceptable to change headings when a better heading is appropriate, e.g., one more descriptive of the content of the discussion or the issue discussed, less one-sided, more appropriate for accessibility reasons, etc. To avoid disputes, it is best to discuss a heading change with the editor who started the thread, if possible, when a change is likely to be controversial. It can also sometimes be appropriate to merge entire sections under one heading (often preserving the later one as a subheading) if their discussions are redundant. In order to ensure links to the previous section heading (including automatically generated links in watchlists and histories) continue to work, one should use one of the following templates to anchor the old title: {{ formerly}}, {{ Visible anchor}}, {{ anchor}}. Link (or template) markup may be removed from section headings, but the link should be recreated at the first use of the term, or in a hatnote.
  • Removing duplicate sections: Where an editor has inadvertently saved the same new section or comment twice. Note: this does not mean people who repeat a point deliberately.
  • Disambiguating or fixing links, if the linked-to page has moved, a talk page section has been archived, the link is simply broken by a typographical error, etc. Do not change links in others' posts to go to entirely different pages. If in doubt, ask the editor in question to update their own post, or add a follow-up comment of your own suggesting the alternative link. Only fix a link to a template that has been replaced or deprecated if the effect of the new template is essentially the same as what the poster used (otherwise, simply allow the post to red link to the old template, as a broken post is preferable to one with altered meaning). Internal links made using full URLs may be converted to wikilinks or protocol-relative URLs (by dropping the part before the "//"), so that they will work across protocols (http:// vs. https://) and between our desktop and mobile sites.
  • Hiding or resizing images: You may hide an image (e.g., change [[File:Foo.jpg|...details...]] to [[:File:Foo.jpg|...details...]] by adding a colon) once discussion of it has ended. This is especially appropriate for "warning" and "alert" icons included in bot-posted notices which are usually quickly resolved. Another common and acceptable image-related edit is re-sizing images that were posted in full size and take up too much room on the talk page.
  • Deactivating templates, categories, and interlanguage links: You may prevent templates from being transcluded (e.g., change to {{ tl|template name}}) if the poster clearly intended to discuss the template rather than use it. You may deactivate category links (e.g., change [[Category:Foobar]] to [[:Category:Foobar]] by inserting a colon) to prevent the page being inappropriately added to a discussed category. You may deactivate interlanguage links (e.g., change [[it:Foobar]] to [[:it:Foobar]] by inserting a colon) when the link to a page on another language's Wikipedia is meant to appear inline rather than to serve as an interlanguage link for the page.
  • Hiding old code samples: You may redact (replace with a note, or collapse) large code samples once discussion of the sample has ended; for instance fulfilled {{ Edit fully-protected}} requests.
  • Review pages: Peer reviews, good article reviews, and featured article candidates are collaborative processes in which a reviewer may provide a list of comments on an article; most editors expect the responses to be interspersed among these comments. An example is here; note that you should not modify the comments themselves in any way.
  • If you have their permission.
  • Removing or striking through "support" or "oppose comments of editors subsequently blocked as socks. Comments with no replies may simply be removed with an appropriate edit summary. Striking through with a short explanation immediately after the stricken text is done when other editors have replied to the comments. e.g. Support per nom. (Striking !vote by blocked sock.)

In the past, it was standard practice to "summarize" talk page comments, but this practice has fallen out of use. On regular wikis with no "talk" tab, the summary would end up as the final page content. Wikipedia has separate tabs for article content and discussion pages. Refactoring and archiving are still appropriate, but should be done with courtesy and reversed on protest.

Own comments

So long as no one has yet responded to your comment, it's accepted and common practice that you may continue to edit your remarks for a short while to correct mistakes, add links or otherwise improve them. If you've accidentally posted to the wrong page or section or if you've simply changed your mind, it's been only a short while and no one has yet responded, you may remove your comment entirely.

But if anyone has already replied to or quoted your original comment, changing your comment may deprive any replies of their original context, and this should be avoided. Once others have replied, or even if no one's replied but it's been more than a short while, if you wish to change or delete your comment, it is commonly best practice to indicate your changes.

  • Any deleted text should be marked with <s>...</s> or <del>...</del>, which renders in most browsers as struck-through text, e.g., deleted.
  • Any inserted text should marked with <u>...</u> or <ins>...</ins>, which renders in most browsers as underlined text, e.g., inserted.
  • Best practice is to add a new timestamp, e.g., ; edited ~~~~~, using five tildes, after the original timestamp at the end of your post.
  • To add an explanation of your change, you may add a new comment immediately below your original or elsewhere in discussion as may be most appropriate, insert a comment in square brackets, e.g., "the default width is 100px 120px [the default changed last month]", or use [[WP:CURRENTSECTION#New section|<sup>[corrected]</sup>]] to insert a superscript note, e.g., , linking to a later subsection for a detailed explanation.

Ignoring comments

Persistently formatting your comments on a talk page in a non-compliant manner, after friendly notification by other editors, is a mild form of disruption. After you have been alerted to specific aspects of these guidelines (such as indentation, sectioning, and signatures), you are expected to make a reasonable effort to follow those conventions. Other editors are under no obligation to address the content of additional posts that flagrantly disregard the talk page formatting standards.


If you have a disagreement or a problem with someone's behavior, please read Wikipedia:Dispute resolution.

Closing discussions

Closing a discussion means summarizing the results, and identifying any consensus that has been achieved. A general rule of thumb is that discussions should be kept open at least a week before closing, although there are some exceptions to this.

Any uninvolved editor may write a closing statement for most discussions, not just admins. However, if the discussion is particularly contentious or the results are especially unclear, then a request specifically for a closing statement from an uninvolved administrator may be preferable.

Requesting a close

Any participant in a discussion may request that an uninvolved editor or admin formally close any type of discussion (not just RFCs), if any one or more of the following criteria are true:

  • the consensus remains unclear to the participants,
  • the issue is a contentious one, or
  • there are wiki-wide implications to the decision.

Please do not request a closing statement from an uninvolved editor unless one of these three criteria have been met.

You may request that an uninvolved editor formally close a discussion by placing a note at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Requests for closure. Please ensure that any request there seeking a close is neutrally worded, and do not use that board to continue the discussion in question. If you are requesting attention specifically from an admin, then please state that clearly in your request.

Marking a closed discussion

When an issue has been resolved without controversy, this may be marked simply by adding the {{ Resolved}} template at the top of the thread, adding a brief statement of how the issue was dealt with. If you took action yourself to resolve the issue you may instead use the {{ Done}} template in your own final comment stating what you did. Adding one of these templates will help future readers to spot more quickly those issues that remain unresolved.

When a more complex discussion has been closed, to discourage any further comments you may optionally use the {{ Archive top}} and {{ Archive bottom}} templates (although some particular types of discussion, such as those which concern whether to delete or rename a page, have their own specialized templates). For example:

Discussion text...

A closed discussion looks like this:

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
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