Wikisource:Red link guidelines

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Guidelines for the use of red links on Wikisource. A red link is a link to a page that does not currently exist.

A red link, like this one, signifies a link to a page that does not exist on Wikisource.[1] Sometimes it is useful in editing texts and other pages to create a red link to indicate that a page will be created soon or that a page should be created eventually. Red links show works and authors that could, and should, exist on Wikisource but are currently not present.

A 2008 study relating to the sister project Wikipedia showed that red links helped that project grow.[2]

When to create red links[edit]

Main namespace[edit]

  • Long works may start with just a table of contents, with links to each chapter as a subpage. Red links in the table show which chapters or sections have been added and so give an approximate gauge of the degree of completion.
  • Next and Previous links in the header, mainly for subpages, will also be red links if no previous or subsequent section exists.
  • Author names in the header will be red links if no corresponding author page exists.
  • Other works and authors that are referenced within a work may be red links if that work or author does not exist on Wikisource.

Author namespace[edit]

  • Red links can be used to show works by the author that could be added but that do not yet exist.
    • If a scan of the work exists elsewhere online, an external link can be added after the red link as an available source for any other Wikisourcer who wishes to add the text. This can be just the URL or the {{ext scan link}} template may be used.

Portal namespace[edit]

  • Red links can be used to list works on a subject or from a publisher that could be added but that do not yet exist.
    • With portals, it is especially important to include external links to show that a scan exists and that the work could be added to Wikisource. Otherwise, portals could soon fill up with red links with no indication as to whether any of the linked works as plausible or possible for addition to the library.

Index namespace[edit]

  • Index pages will automatically create red links for each page that has not yet been created.
  • Red links can be used for the title and author of the work. The title is especially likely to be a red link at first as the text from the DjVu file has not be proofread.

When not to create red links[edit]

Do not create red links to works that will never be created, including articles that do not comply with Wikisource's naming conventions. Note that the illustrative red link created at the beginning of this article is an example of this type of normally unwanted link.

Works that are still under copyright should not be red linked in an author or portal page as these works cannot be added to Wikisource.

Portals are primarily navigational aids, intended to guide readers to works and pages that are already part of the Wikisource library. Red links can and should still be used to indicate missing items in the Wikisource collection but there should not be so many that they obscure the other wikilinks; a wall of red links may be off-putting to readers.

Dealing with existing red links[edit]

In general, a red link should be allowed to remain if it links to a term that could plausibly be a work hostable by Wikisource (see Wikisource:What is Wikisource?).

A red link that links to a work, author or other page that could be added in the future should be left alone if that page cannot be created in the present.

An existing red link can indicate one of the following things:

  • A new page is needed. When a Wikisourcer adds a page (such as an author page, portal or the table of contents of a new text), it is common practice to link texts, authors or chapters, even if those pages don't exist on Wikisource yet. This has several applications:
    • This helps to guide Wikisource volunteers to texts that can be added to Wikisource.
    • Such a link prepares the page to be fully supported. At any time, a Wikisourcer may independently add a text and, when this happens, there's already a link ready and waiting for it. The red link also gives readers the opportunity to click on it to add the needed text on the spot.
    • The red link may identify a need to create a redirect to another page, but only if that page is an appropriate match for the link.
    • The special page Wanted Pages lists red links on Wikisource.
  • The link is broken and no longer leads to a text (perhaps because the underlying work was deleted or moved). In such a case, the link usually needs to be removed or renamed to point to an existing article.
  • The link may have been made by someone who wasn't aware of to what should and should not be linked. Always evaluate whether or not a red link is linking to a page that actually needs creation.
  • The red link may be a typo—e.g., someone wanted to link to Author:George W. Bush, but instead typed Author:George W. Bussh. In this case, try to figure out the intended article and fix the link. If it looks like a common misspelling, you may want to create a redirect to the correct one, but you should still correct the misspelling even though it would no longer appear red. Note that mispelling in the source text should never be corrected; use a piped wikilink instead.
  • The red link may be an intentional misspelling and should be treated as any other vandalism.


  1. Using user preferences, a user can format red links so that they instead show up as question marks. This option is under my preferencesAppearanceAdvanced options.
    Example: The Colour of Magic?
  2. "Most new articles are created shortly after a corresponding reference to them is entered into the system." Diomidis Spinellis and Panagiotis Louridas (2008), "The collaborative organization of knowledge", in Communications of the ACM, August 2008, volume 51, number 8, pages 68–73, 10.1145/1378704.1378720. See also inflationary hypothesis of Wikipedia growth on Wikipedia.