Over in Music Fans (Beta) we're getting a lot of tag descriptions submitted that are, more or less, links to band's pages or links to Wiki pages about the band.

I've seen the link-only answer horse getting beaten to death, but I can't find any discussion on link-only tags. Should we let this fly, or should we ask our editors to summarize a little (in their own words)?


Tag wikis were added to create a editable, user-contributed resource for that site. If the wiki is simply sending users elsewhere to find that information, it should be rejected.

Tag wikis are there to help introduce newcomers to the tag. They may also contain guidelines on its usage and often contains frequently asked questions about the subject itself.

Sometimes a wiki might *include* a list of links to valuable resources of interest to that topic — that is acceptable — but if the wiki contain little more than something copied from Wikipedia or a link sending users elsewhere to get that information, it should be removed.

Review | Suggested Edits

Tag Wiki: Reject

This edit copies a significant amount of content from an external source. Generic descriptions such as encyclopedia articles and ad copy do not provide useful guidance; try creating something useful to this community specifically, and be sure to attribute the original author.

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    You approved several of the tag wiki edits the OP, Johnny Bones, asks about in this discussion. Would you decide differently now? Or are such edits not what you mean with this answer? Or might it depend on the site (beta) and activity (low)? – unor Jun 16 '15 at 20:33
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    @unor The entry seemed "value-added" because it was a compilation of references on the subject. That's not quite as bad as saying "See Wikipedia entry on [subject]", but it's not ideal either. – Robert Cartaino Jun 18 '15 at 12:28

We had the same discussion on GIS SE Meta about 18 months ago as Are tag wikis with just an URL ok?

My answer there, which was the most upvoted and accepted, was:

I think a tag wiki with just a bare URL should be rejected so you have my full support on the policy outlined in your Question.

This may sometimes be coming about because new tag wiki writers are trying to write the tag wiki itself where the tag excerpt should go, because it is presented first. Having thus written the Tag Wiki in the excerpt box, all they may have left to write is a URL as reference.

Perhaps we need to try and do more education about the tag wiki excerpt being just the elevator pitch to the tag wiki. Next time I reject a "URL only" tag wiki suggestion, I will try to expand my feedback to its suggestor.

I think link-only tag wikis are bad for exactly the same reasons as link-only answers (and questions) i.e. they contribute no new content to the internet via the Stack Exchange network.

On the other hand, links within tag wikis, answers and questions that also have suitable context can be very useful as a way to lead to further reading on a topic.

I use the same "rule of thumb" for tag wikis, answers and question in that their minimum length should be "about a paragraph". I do not recall ever having reviewed a tag wiki edit that consisted of only "a list of 5 hyperlinks and corresponding labels" but I would view this as being "about four words of content" (the labels) i.e. less than a paragraph.

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  • Just to make sure that we are on the same page (as you don’t list reasons for why you think they should be rejected): This is an example edit the OP is asking about. It’s not "a bare URL", but a list of 5 hyperlinks and corresponding labels. -- In your opinion, should edits like these also "be rejected"? – unor Jun 16 '15 at 20:44
  • @unor I think we are on different pages for this issue, and I encourage you to include a few more words of your own around any tag wikis that you post. There's no need for treatises to qualify as a tag wiki - I think just a few paragraphs is great, and one paragraph is fine as a starter. – PolyGeo Jun 16 '15 at 22:11

(Copying my answer to the discussion on Music Fans Meta, which was started not as discussion about tag wikis that only contain external links, but about if we want to have external links in tag wikis at all. It just happened to be the case that some of the edits in question added only external links.)

I think external links in tag wikis are useful. We are part of the Web, and hyperlinks are its building block. For example, having a tag wiki about a musician and not linking to the musician’s official site is kind of ungracious. You come to a tag wiki to learn more about the topic, and having a curated list of relevant external links is a big and important part of this.

This does not mean that our tag wikis should only consist of external links.

But the tag wikis don’t have to be extensive from the get-go. We should welcome any useful contribution. Tag wikis (should) grow over time.

It’s not just that we are more likely to achieve more if everyone does a little bit (instead of waiting for someone who does everything in one step), multiple (even if small) edits over time also lead to more eyes checking and reviewing the tag wikis, which will lead to better content.

Think of this:

  • Alice reads a question, gets interested, and clicks on one of the tags she doesn’t know a thing about. What is more useful? An empty tag wiki (→ Alice is disappointed and hits the back button), or a (far from complete) tag wiki that only contains a link to a source where she can read the topic’s definition?

  • There is the band named Death and there is the band named Death. There is nothing more powerful to identify a topic than by pointing to a URL.

  • Even if we’d love to, we will never be able to get complete and up-to-date tag wikis for every tag we have. Think of all the musicians that might only be known to a very small circle, or maybe only in their home city etc. And then think of discographies, tour dates, biographies. We won’t be able to cover everything. But other places might. Let’s link to them.

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  • External links in tag wikis are useful. I agree with that. But creating a tag wiki for Skrillex that consisted of nothing more than his birth name and 3 links... Well, that wasn't useful. And the same for Van Morrison. I'm curious why you've spent 9 hours arguing this when you could have just re-written those wikis using more information in a fraction of that time? Why is it so important that minimal effort be accepted? Don't you care about the quality of the information in our community, or are you just submitting these to game a badge? – Johnny Bones Jun 16 '15 at 20:13
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    @JohnnyBones: I think it is useful (for example, for the three mentioned reasons: Alice, Death, coverage). +++ My discussion over on Music Fans and the "9 hours [spent]" were not about discussing if edits that only add links (or if tag wiki that only consist of links) are useful, but if we want to have external links. I came to the conclusion that you had a problem with the external links specifically, because you edited them out, instead of rejecting the edit. – unor Jun 16 '15 at 20:27
  • You are correct. they should have never been accepted. I was hoping you'd get the hint and put more effort into them, but I should have been more direct. – Johnny Bones Jun 16 '15 at 20:38
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    @JohnnyBones "I'm curious why you've spent..." - Because it's not just about arguing two simple rejected edits but about finding a general conclusion and consensus. That discussion always was about the bigger picture and not just a user crying over some rejected edits. And such a discussion is always fruitful and never just wasted time. – Christian Rau Jun 16 '15 at 23:12
  • @ChristianRau - See my tag wiki on Skrillex. I wrote that in 20 minutes, mostly from what I knew although a little came from online sources. Now, should we pander to a poorly written set of links, or should we encourage more like my example? As I said before, this isn't grade school where everyone gets a gold star for participation. SE wants to be the de facto source of info. We don't accept low-quality answers, so why should we accept low-quality wiki edits? Does the fact that quality matters really need to be explained and discussed? – Johnny Bones Jun 20 '15 at 14:33
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    @JohnnyBones I'm not sure why this comment is a response to the comment I wrote. Your tag wikis are fine and I'm not arguing that they're better. All I said in my comment (which is entirely unrelated to the whole problem if link-only tag wikis are good or not) was, that admonishing the user for supposedly wasting his time on a useless discussion instead of just improving the tag wikis seemed very strange when he is actually searching for general consensus instead of arguing about some few small edits. Your comment showed quite a strange attitude of "discussion is bad, just do as you're told". – Christian Rau Jun 20 '15 at 16:12
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    And in fact this last comment showed the same misunderstanding of the reasons for his meta discussion. He simply wanted to understand what the policy is and how future tag wikis are to be treated and why the edits were rejected. And this is important to know. What the actual resulting policy is is utterly irrelevant to the fact that talking about it is fruitful and just ignoring something he didn't understand just because it doesn't hurt or he could as well spend the time doing something else is the wrong approach. – Christian Rau Jun 20 '15 at 16:15

While links are ok to put in a tag wiki epically when it comes to citing sources, it's kind of silly to have wikis just be links to other sites epically when they are the first few search results in Google.

Our tag wiki should for the most part be self contained. Someone shouldn't have to go somewhere else to get basic information about a topic.

Let's just I didn't know anything about the band Guns N' Roses and I was curious about the band and clicked on the tag guns-n-roses and the learn more section, the only information I would get is this:

External links

They aren't necessarily bad sources, but from our wiki alone I don't know more about the band without going somewhere else which kind of defeats the purpose of those wikis and isn't much better than leaving it blank. For bands and artist, we should strive to include basic information about them including:

  • Genre
  • Members
  • Years active
  • Notable Songs/Albums
  • ect.

None of that information is seen directly in the tag wiki and someone will need to go somewhere else for the information. We can and should add much, much more to these tag wikis over time and we should be able to maintain all of our tags without just relying on outsides sources or just pointing to them.

If you want to see an example of an over the top tag wiki that has all the information you would ever want about C#, check its wiki. There are plenty of useful links in the wiki, but the wiki itself is not just those links and inform the users a lot about the topic.

Original post on Music Fan SE meta.

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