Wikipedia:Links to other websites

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For the guideline on citation/reference links, see Wikipedia:Citing sources. For the style guide for internal links, see the Manual of Style.

Wikipedia articles may include links to web pages outside Wikipedia. They should not be used in the body of an article. All links to other websites must follow certain formatting rules. Some acceptable links include those that contain further research that is accurate and on-topic, information that could not be added to the article for reasons such as copyright or amount of detail, or other meaningful, relevant content that is not suitable to be included in an article for reasons not related to its accuracy.

Some links to other websites are welcome (see "What should be linked", below), but it is not Wikipedia's purpose to include a long or complete list of links about each topic. No page should be linked from a Wikipedia article unless it meets these guideline and common sense. The person adding the link has to show that it meets the guidelines.

This guideline is about links to other websites that are not citations to sources supporting article content. If the website or page to which you want to link includes information that is not yet a part of the article, consider using it as a source for the article, and citing it. Guidelines for sourcing, which includes links to other websites used as citations, are discussed at Wikipedia:Reliable sources and Wikipedia:Citing sources.

Important points to remember[change | change source]

Shortcut:
WP:ELPOINTS
  1. This guideline does not apply to inline citations or general references. These should appear in the "References" or "Notes" section.
  2. Links to other websites should not be used in the body of an article.[1] Instead, add suitable links in an "Other websites" section at the end of the article, and in the proper location within an infobox, if needed.
  3. Links in the "Other websites" section should be kept to a minimum. A lack of links or a small number of links to other websites is not a reason to add links.
  4. In the "Other websites" section, do not use separate links to multiple pages in the same website; instead, try to find an appropriate linking page within the site.
  5. This guideline does not apply to links to non-English Wikipedia articles. These are added after "Other websites" according to Wikipedia:Layout.

Restrictions on linking[change | change source]

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WP:ELNEVER

For policy or technical reasons, editors are not allowed to link to the following, without exception:

  1. Material that violates the copyrights of others per Wikipedia's copyright policies should not be linked. Linking to websites that display copyrighted works is allowed as long as the website has licensed the work. Knowingly directing others to material that violates copyright may be considered contributory copyright infringement. If you know that another website is carrying a work in violation of the work's copyright, do not link to that copy of the work. Linking to a page that illegally distributes someone else's work casts a bad light on Wikipedia and its editors. This is particularly important when linking to sites such as YouTube. You cannot link to material that violates copyright.
  2. Sites that match the Wikipedia-specific or multi-site blacklist without being whitelisted. MediaWiki's code will automatically block any edits that contain such links.

What to link[change | change source]

There are several things that should be thought about when linking to another website:

  • Is the site content accessible to the reader?
  • Is the site content proper for the article (useful, tasteful, informative, factual, etc.)?
  • Is the link functional and likely to remain functional?

Each link should be considered on its merits, using the following guidelines. As the number links to other websites in an article grows longer, the rules should become stricter. When in doubt about the suitability of adding new links, make a suggestion on the article's talkpage and discuss with other editors.

What can normally be linked[change | change source]

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WP:ELYES
  1. Wikipedia articles about any organization, person, website, or other entity should link to the subject's official site, if any. See Official links below.
  2. An article about a book, a musical score, or some other media should link to a site hosting a copy of the work, if none of the "Links normally to be avoided" criteria apply.
  3. Sites that contain neutral and accurate material that is relevant to an encyclopedic understanding of the subject and cannot be integrated into the Wikipedia article due to copyright issues,[2] amount of detail (such as professional athlete statistics, movie or television credits, interview transcripts, or online textbooks), or other reasons.

Links to be considered[change | change source]

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WP:ELMAYBE
  1. Professional reviews should be used as sources.
  2. Very large pages, such as pages containing rich media files, should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Worldwide, many people use Wikipedia with a low-speed connection. Unusually large pages should be noted as such.
  3. A well-chosen link to a directory of websites or organizations. Long lists of links are not acceptable. A directory link may be a permanent link or just put in place while links to other websites are being discussed on the article's talk page. The Open Directory Project is often a neutral candidate, and may be added using the {{dmoz}} template.
  4. Sites that fail to meet criteria for reliable sources yet still contain information about the subject of the article from knowledgeable sources.

Links normally to be avoided[change | change source]

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WP:ELNO

Except for a link to an official page of the article's subject, one should generally avoid:

  1. Any site that does not provide a unique resource beyond what the article would contain if it became a featured article.
  2. Any site that misleads the reader by use of factually inaccurate material or unverifiable research, except to a limited extent in articles about the viewpoints that the site is presenting.
  3. Sites containing malware, malicious scripts, trojan exploits, or content that is illegal to access in the state of Florida (since Wikipedia's servers are located there).[3]
  4. Links used to promote a website, including online petitions. See Wikipedia:Spam.
  5. Links to individual web pages[4] that are mainly to sell products or services, or to web pages with objectionable amounts of advertising. For example, the mobile phone article does not link to web pages that mostly promote or advertise cell-phone products or services.
  6. Links to sites that require payment or registration to view the content, unless the site itself is the subject of the article, or the link is a convenience link to a citation.[5] See below.
  7. Sites that are inaccessible to a substantial number of users, such as sites that only work with one browser or in one country.
  8. Direct links to documents that need external applications or plugins (such as Flash or Java) to view the content, unless the article is about such file formats. See rich media for more details.
  9. Links to any search results pages, such as links to individual website searches, search engines, search aggregators, or RSS feeds.
  10. Links to social networking sites (such as Myspace and Facebook), chat or discussion forums/groups (such as Yahoo! Groups), Twitter feeds, Usenet newsgroups or e-mail lists.
  11. Links to blogs, personal web pages and most fansites, except those written by a recognized authority. (This exception for blogs, etc., controlled by recognized authorities is meant to be very limited; as a minimum standard, recognized authorities always meet Wikipedia's notability criteria for people.)
  12. Links to open wikis, except those with a substantial history of stability and a substantial number of editors. Mirrors or forks of Wikipedia should not be linked.
  13. Sites that are only indirectly related to the article's subject: the link should be directly related to the subject of the article. A general site that has information about a variety of subjects should usually not be linked to from an article on a more specific subject. Similarly, a website on a specific subject should usually not be linked from an article about a general subject. If a section of a general website is devoted to the subject of the article, and meets the other criteria for linking, then that part of the site could be deep linked.
  14. Lists of links to manufacturers, suppliers or customers.
  15. Links to sites already linked through Wikipedia sourcing tools. For example, instead of linking to a commercial book site, consider the "ISBN" linking format, which gives readers an opportunity to search a wide variety of free and non-free book sources. Map sources can be linked by using geographical coordinates.
  16. Links that are not reliably functional, or likely to continue being functional. For example, links to temporary internet content, where the link is unlikely to remain operable for a useful amount of time.
  17. Affiliate, tracking or referral links i.e. links that contain information about who is to be credited for readers that follow the link. If the source itself is helpful, use a neutral link without the tracking information.
  18. Links to other websites on Wikipedia navigation pages such as disambiguation, redirect and category pages.
  19. Links to websites of organizations mentioned in an article—unless they otherwise qualify as something that should be linked or considered.[5][6]
  20. Links to other websites as sole entries in stand-alone lists and embedded lists.[7]

Advertising and conflicts of interest[change | change source]

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WP:ADV

It is true that a link from Wikipedia to another website may drive Web traffic to that site. But in line with Wikipedia policies, you should avoid linking to a site that you own, maintain, or represent—even if WP guidelines seem to imply that it may otherwise be linked. When in doubt, you may go to the talk page and let another editor decide. This suggestion is in line with WP's conflict-of-interest guidelines.

Wikipedia uses the same standards for evaluating links to websites owned by for-profit and (real or purported) non-profit organizations. Links to potentially revenue-generating web pages are not prohibited, even though the website owner might earn money through advertisements, sales, or (in the case of non-profit organizations) donations. Choose which pages to link based on the immediate benefit to Wikipedia readers that click on the link, not based on the organization's tax status or your guess at whether the website's owner might earn money from the link.

A few parties now have a spambot which can spam wikis from several different wiki engines, similar to the submitter scripts for guestbooks and blogs. If you see a bot adding links to other websites, please consider checking the other language wikis to see if the attack is widespread. If it is, please report it on Meta; they can put in a Wikimedia-wide text filter. Sysops will block unauthorized bots on sight.

In biographies of living people[change | change source]

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WP:ELBLP

In biographies of living people, material available solely in questionable sources or sources of dubious value should be handled with caution, and, if they make negative comment, should not be used at all, either as sources or by linking to other websites. Links to other websites in biographies of living persons must be of high quality and are judged by a higher standard than for other articles. Do not link to websites that do not meet this guideline or that contradict the spirit of WP:BLP.

Sites requiring registration [change | change source]

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WP:ELREG

Outside of citations,[5] links to other websites that need registration or a paid subscription to view should not be used because they are of limited use to most readers. Facebook and many online newspapers require registration to access some or all of their content, while some require a subscription. Online magazines often need subscriptions to access their sites or for premium content. If old newspaper and magazine articles are archived, there may be a fee for accessing them.

A site that needs registration or a subscription should not be linked unless the website itself is the topic of the article (see Official links below) or the link is part of an inline reference (see Wikipedia:Citing sources). References should be to the most authoritative source, adding a link to a free version if one is available.

Non-English-language content [change | change source]

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WP:NONENGEL

Outside of citations,[5] links to English-language content are strongly preferred in Simple English Wikipedia. Links to a non-English-language site can be used if an official site is unavailable in English; or when the link is to the subject's text in its original language; or when the site contains visual aids such as maps, diagrams, or tables—per the guideline on non-English-language sites.

When linking to a site in a non-English language under the exceptions above, label the link with a language icon, available for most languages, using two-letter language codes: for example, {{es icon}}, {{fr icon}}, etc. Place the language label after the link (e.g. [http://de.wikipedia.org/ German Wikipedia] {{de icon}}).

Note that this guideline does not apply to references. These can be in any language, though English is preferred if available and equally reliable. See Wikipedia:Verifiability#Non-English sources for Wikipedia's standards for published sources that are not written in English.

Redirection sites [change | change source]

URL redirection sites are not to be used. Examples of these sites include tinyurl.com, tiny.cc and the .tk top level domain. Most of these sites are listed in the m:Spam blacklist because they are frequently abused by link spammers, which means that it is not possible to save a page that contains such a link. Because URL redirection sites are added to the blacklist whenever abuse occurs, you may create problems for future editors by using them. Adding links to web proxies is prohibited for a similar reason. Instead, one should add a link to the original URL.

It is best to link to the exact destination of a link. For instance, if example.com is an automatic redirect to tripod.com/example, it is better to link to the exact page, even if the webmaster considers the redirect address to be more official.

Rich media [change | change source]

It is acceptable to link to pages using normal HTML or plain text, but this is not always the case with pages using rich media formats (which may not work with many users' settings and browsers). Check that the content type of the linked page is text/html, text/plain, or application/xhtml+xml (or another XHTML content type) as some pages may instead be rendered solely by platform-dependent plugins. Try to avoid directly linking to any content that needs special software, or an add-on to a browser. It is best to link to a page using normal HTML that contains embedded links to the rich media.

Where a link to rich media is necessary, either as a direct link or embedded within an HTML page, you must let users know which technology is needed to access the content, as in the following examples:

Linking to user-submitted video sites[change | change source]

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There is no complete ban on linking to YouTube or other user-submitted video sites. The links must follow the guidelines on this page (see Restrictions on linking and Links normally to be avoided). Many videos hosted on YouTube or similar sites do not meet the standards for to be included in "Other websites" sections, and copyright is of particular concern. Many YouTube videos of newscasts, shows or other content of interest to Wikipedia visitors are copyright violations and should not be linked. Links should be evaluated for inclusion with due care on a case-by-case basis. Links to online videos should also identify additional software necessary for readers to view the content.

Avoid undue weight on particular points of view[change | change source]

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WP:ELPOV

On articles with multiple points of view, avoid providing links too great in number or weight to one point of view, or that give undue weight to minority views. Add comments to these links informing the reader of their point of view. If one point of view dominates informed opinion, that should be represented first. For more information, see Wikipedia:Neutral point of view—in particular, Wikipedia's guidelines on undue weight.

Official links[change | change source]

Shortcut:
WP:ELOFFICIAL

An official link is a link to a website or other Internet service that meets both of the following:

  1. The linked content is controlled by the subject (organization or individual person) of the Wikipedia article.
  2. The linked content primarily covers the area for which the subject of the article is notable.

Official links (if any) are provided to give the reader the opportunity to see what the subject says about itself. These links are exempt from the links normally to be avoided, but they are not exempt from the restrictions on linking. For example, although links to websites that require readers to register or pay to view content are normally not acceptable in the Other websites section, such a link may be included when it is an official website for the subject.

Official links are still need to follow standard formatting rules, such as rich media labeling and not placing links in the text of the article. When an official website is used as a source to verify a self-published statement in the article text, it should be formatted like any other reference used in the article.[5] Official websites may be included in some infoboxes, and by convention are listed first in the Other websites section. Use of the template {{official website}} is optional.

No official link exists for many articles. "Fansites", including everything from websites run by fans of a musician to a charitable organization supporting patients with a disease, even if they are endorsed or authorized by the subject, are not official websites because the subject of the article is not able to control the information being shown. Links to websites that are not official websites may still be allowed under other sections of this guideline, e.g., Links to consider #4.

Minimize the number of links

If the subject of the article has more than one official website, then more than one link may be appropriate.[8] However, Wikipedia does not provide a comprehensive web directory to every official website. Wikipedia does not attempt to document or provide links to every part of the subject's web presence or provide readers with a handy list of all social networking sites. Complete directories lead to clutter and to placing undue emphasis on what the subject says.

More than one official link should be provided only if the links give the reader unique content and are not prominently linked from other official websites. For example, if the main page of the official website for an author contains a link to the author's blog and Twitter feed, then Wikipedia does not need links to all three. Instead, provide only the main page of the official website in this situation. In other situations, it may be appropriate to provide more than one link, such as when a business has one website for the corporate headquarters and another for consumer information. Choose the minimum number of links that provide readers with the maximum amount of information. Links that provide consistent information are strongly preferred to social networking and communication services where the content changes rapidly and may not comply with this guideline at any given moment in time.

Longevity of links[change | change source]

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WP:ELDEAD

It is very important that the link is likely to remain relevant and acceptable to the article in the foreseeable future. For example, it is not useful to link to a webpage that changes often and merely happens to have a relevant picture or article on its front page at the moment. Consider locating and linking to "permalink" versions of web content, and trying to find resources which have a commitment to keeping content available at the same address.

What can be done with a dead external link[change | change source]

See also: Wikipedia:Link rot

Links to dead URLs in a list of links to other websites are of no use to Wikipedia articles. Such dead links should either be updated or removed. Note however, that the matter is different for references: see Wikipedia:Citing sources#Preventing and repairing dead links.

Note that some dead links are caused by vandalism (for example, a vandal disabling links to products competing with the vandal's favored product): it is worth checking to see if there is a working version of the link in an earlier version of article. Some vandalism of this type is quite subtle, such as replacing ASCII letters in the URL with identical-looking Cyrillic letters.

Hijacked and re-registered sites[change | change source]

URLs can be "hijacked" or re-registered for a different purpose after a registration expires.[9] While the URL remains valid, it no longer points to the desired information, so it needs to be treated as a dead link.

How to link[change | change source]

See also: Help:URL

Link with no text (code and example output):

[http://example.com/]

[2]

Link containing text:

[http://example.com/ The RFC-mandated example.com website]

The RFC-mandated example.com website

All text following a space is taken as the text to use for the link. Embedding wikilinks into the link text is incorrect; instead choose the appropriate words to link.

"The [[RFC]]-mandated [http://example.com/ example.com website]". 

"The RFC-mandated example.com website".

If there are no meaningful words that can be used for the link, a link with no text is preferred to using self-referential link text, such as "click here" or "this link". These types of self-references should be avoided.

The URL must begin with http:// or another internet protocol, such as ftp:// or news://.

Other websites section[change | change source]

If an article has links to other websites, the standard format is to place them in a bulleted list under a primary heading at the end of the article. The listing should show the link and briefly describe the website's contents and why the website is relevant to the article. The heading should be "Other websites" (plural) even if only a single link is listed. If several websites are listed and the subject of the article is a living person, organization, web service, or otherwise has an official website, it is normal practice to place the link to that site at the top of the list.

If you link to another website, you should give your reader a good summary of the site's contents, and the reasons why this specific website is relevant to the article. If you link to an online article, try to provide as much meaningful article information as possible. For example:

== Other websites ==
* [http://example.com/link_1 Link 1]
* [http://example.com/link_2 Link 2]

Most links to other websites should show different details from citations. A short description of the contents and a clear indication of its source is more important than the actual title of the page, and access dates are not appropriate in the "Other websites" section. Because citation templates were not designed for use in the "Other websites" section, editors that use citation templates in this section should be careful to make sure the description is suitable for a link to another website.

References and citation[change | change source]

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WP:ELRC
See also: Wikipedia:Citing sources and Wikipedia:Spam#Citation_spam

Sites that have been used as sources in the creation of an article should be cited in the article, and linked as references, either in-line or in a references section. Links to these source sites are not "other websites" for the purposes of this guideline, and should not normally be duplicated in an "Other websites" section. Exceptions—websites that can be both references and "Other websites"—include any official sites for the article topic, or websites that are specifically devoted to the topic, contain multiple subpages, and meet the above criteria.

Linking to databases[change | change source]

Further information: Wikipedia:Template messages/Links

When linking to large database-driven sites like the Internet Movie Database, try to use an external link template. If the URL format of the database ever changes, it is sometimes possible to quickly fix all links by rewriting the template.

Maintenance and review[change | change source]

Inappropriate and duplicative links may be deleted by any editor; if the reason for the deletion is not obvious, please explain on the article's talk page.

Templates may help organize a link maintenance project. The {{external links}} template is for providing notice that the list of links may have grown to an inappropriate length or contain inappropriate links. {{Cleanup-spam}} warns of suspected non-compliant links.

Inline templates may be useful for flagging individual links that you want to further discuss on the article's talk page:

  • {{Copyvio link}} – to mark links suspected of violating copyrights
  • {{Off-topic-inline}} – to mark links that seem off-topic or irrelevant
  • {{Dead link}} – to mark links that do not appear to be working

If a page attracts many links or inappropriate links, a note in the "Other websites" section such as {{subst:no more links}} may discourage the addition of links.

If a new or unregistered user continues in adding an inappropriate link to one or more pages, please consider leaving a message for User:XLinkBot. This bot will automatically revert listed sites if added by non-autoconfirmed users, but permit other editors to add them. For malware or serious spamming, please read Wikipedia:Spam blacklist and Wikipedia:WikiProject Spam to recommend site-wide blacklisting.

Searching for other website links[change | change source]

Special:Linksearch is a tool for searching for links from Wikipedia articles to sites outside Wikipedia. For example, all Wikipedia pages linking to Yahoo.com

Handling disputes[change | change source]

Shortcut:
WP:ELBURDEN

This guideline describes the most common reasons for including and excluding links. However, the fact that a given link is not actually prohibited by this guideline does not automatically mean that it must or should be linked. Every link provided must be justifiable in the opinion of the editors for an article.

Disputed links should normally be excluded by default unless and until there is a consensus to include them.

Related pages[change | change source]

Syntax

References[change | change source]

  1. There are some exceptions. They include use of templates like {{visualizer}}, which makes charts on the Toolserver, and {{external media}}, which is only used when non-free and non-fair use media cannot be uploaded to Wikipedia.
  2. This does not permit you to link to any page that is violating someone else's copyright. This means that if you cannot include the material in the Wikipedia article because it is copyrighted, then you may link to the copyright owner's page.
  3. Most of Wikipedia's servers are located in Florida.
  4. Web pages, not websites. Evaluate the specific page that the link takes the reader to, regardless of other pages in the website.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 This guideline does not stop linking to websites that are being used as sources to provide content in articles.
  6. Links to websites are permitted when the website has been used as a WP:Reliable source, but not to direct readers to the organization's website or merely to verify that the organization exists, or that it has a website.
    No: "The Red Cross issued a press release that said..."
    Yes: "The Red Cross issued a press release that said...[1]"
  7. Especially in very long lists, URLs are sometimes listed as reliable, primary sources that verify the fact that a company, media outlet, website, etc. actually exists and belongs in the list. Do not remove strangely formatted but legitimate WP:Inline citations to reliable sources under this criteria, because citations to reliable sources are not external links.
  8. Situations in which multiple official links are used include:
    • The biography of an elected official might link to both an official government website and the official's political party or campaign website (see, e.g., Barack Obama, David Cameron).
    • A retailer may have separate websites for the corporate office and for consumers (see, e.g., Walmart, J. C. Penney).
    • A person who is notable for more than one thing might maintain separate websites for each notable activity, (e.g., one website for music and another website for a book).
  9. "Porn Sites Hijack Expired Domain Names". http://www.pcworld.com/article/87824/porn_sites_hijack_expired_domain_names.html.