Is the stub message useful?

Not the way it is currently used, I think. Just have a look at Special:Whatlinkshere/Template:Stub - there are several hundred articles that contain a stub message. It seems as if this template is either used too often (added to articles that aren't stubs in the strictest sense and/or forgotten when a stub is expanded) or makes it too easy for editors to not write anything more than just a stub in the first place ("Well, I'll just add this template and someone else might do the job...").

Anyway, this message needs to be removed from many articles in my opinion. Please keep in mind that it is possible to automatically mark links to "short pages" in a different color (preferences -> "stub display") and that it is also possible to find "short pages" via Special:Shortpages. The only task a stub message is really good for is to make possible contributors aware of the fact that an article is considered "incomplete" by someone. In these cases, however, it should be stated on the talk page what exactly might be missing.

My suggestion:

  • edit the template so that it contains a link to the talk page and a phrase such as: "This article is considered incomplete - please see the talk page for more information."
  • Make the following an official rule: "Any stub message may be deleted from an article if the relevant talk page does not offer any further comments about possibly missing information."

Any comments? -- Cid Highwind 18:18, 2005 Jan 16 (CET)

I think the stub message is usefull simply to make other people aware that the article need more attention, information or whatever. The problem I have with them is that is difficult to know when a stub message can be removed. It al depends on your ST knowledge and when in doubt many will keep the message where it is. (me included) Only with small articles where you 'feel' that an article with stub msg makes no sense (I hope I do) the message will be removed. Adding some information to the message so people will use the Talk page to make clear what the article misses seems oke and might prevent the misuse of stub messages. Maby some clarification on the stub message page itself how, when and what to do with those messages ? -- Q 21:28, 16 Jan 2005 (CET)
I think maybe we need to define when an article "graduates" from stub status to a normal article status. Is it when the article has a decent amount of information which would allow a person to get a good idea of the topic, or is it when the article gets to the point of saturation where no further information could really be added? Personally, I think it should only be used if there is a significant amount of information missing, as opposed to a largely complete article (extensive or even just a few sentences) that may be missing a few data points here and there. I agree that a contributor should responsible for explaining why the article is a stub; it should make future edits a lot easier. I agree with the above suggestions, but I also think we should highly encourage the use of the pages needing attention in addition or over the stub in cases where an article has useful information, but doesn't seem complete to an editor. For example, San Francisco. It's listed as a stub, even though there are plenty of references, pictures, and nothing about the subject significantly missing. It would be a better candidate for PNA if one wanted to reorganize the data into locations, people, historical data, etc. Maybe we can create a new page named something like "Pages missing minor data" or a different PNA template message that's a little less obtrusive, something like "This article has good information, but is missing minor data points. Please see pages needing attention (or the talk page) to see what needs to be added." -- SmokeDetector47 21:40, 2005 Jan 16 (CET)
San Francisco is a very good example of what I'm talking about - for two reasons:
First, if you take a look at the history, the stub message was inserted on 2004-08-16. Even that version of the article is not a stub. It is incomplete, but it contains information from 5 different episodes, plus additional links, plus three images. Conclusion:It was wrong to use the stub message in this case, it would have been better to use an "incomplete" message together with a comment on the talk page.
Second, compare that version with the actual one. Even after about 20 edits, made by 9 contributors, the stub message is still contained in the article. Why? Because no one really knows when to remove the message. With the procedure/message suggested below, we wouldn't have this problem: the message can be removed if the issue raised on the talk page was addressed. -- Cid Highwind 16:14, 2005 Jan 20 (CET)

(I wrote this in reply to Q while SmokeDetector made his contribution - seems as if we had the same idea... :) ) Another point I forgot earlier (thanks for mentioning it) is that we also have lists and messages for pages needing attention and pages needing cleanup. Perhaps the whole system of maintaining "problematic pages" needs to be overhauled, including your suggestion to clarify the whole idea. I will try this tomorrow - if you (or anyone else) have any further suggestions, feel free to comment. -- Cid Highwind 21:46, 2005 Jan 16 (CET)

A fourth message similar to those three is {{factualerror}} (described on Memory Alpha:Pages needing attention). What those four have in common is that all are meant to make other readers/editors aware of the fact that a page needs attention of some sort. What they don't have in common (and I think this needs to be changed) is the necessary procedure connected to each of those messages. You have to give reasons in some cases. You have to list articles somewhere in some cases. I think this needs to be streamlined. Please read my suggestion below, but add comments in this section. Thanks. -- Cid Highwind 13:42, 2005 Jan 17 (CET)

While this is still being discussed (Yeah, I'm an optimist... ;) ), I will start to remove stub messages from articles that in fact aren't stubs as described on Memory Alpha:Find or fix a stub (that is "one paragraph or less, 200 bytes or less). Feel free to add {{pna-incomplete}} which I just created as suggested below (but without category at the moment) if you think the article is missing something important. -- Cid Highwind 17:18, 2005 Jan 20 (CET)

Well I am not a disscusion type ;) I think the suggested templates are more easier to understand than the old ones as long as they replace them instead of creating extra templates. To much of them and you don't know what to do with them. Connecting them to the talk page is a good thing, messages without accompayning talk pages can be removed. The templates themselves need to be clarified, what and how to use them, on the appropriate page -- Q 19:58, 20 Jan 2005 (CET)
Speaking about the German Memory Alpha, we experienced something similair in an early state: Some articles are declared stub just in order to mark them "incomplete" or "expandable". de:Cardassia Prime for instance is no stub in a technical way but it's far from beeing "complete". At the moment we are creating a "developable article" template for this purposes. That gives us yet another state between "needing attention" (poor information / format) and "stub" (nearly no information). -- Florian K 20:29, 20 Jan 2005 (CET)

Q: Thanks for answering anyway... ;) Yes, my idea was to clarify and replace the existing messages, not to create additional ones. {{cleanup}} could be replaced by {{pna-unformatted}} in most cases, for example. At the same time, the standardized name will make it easier to add new messages if they become necessary.

Florian:I just found the discussion on the german Ten Forward. The "developable article" template seems to be similar to the "pna-incomplete" template I suggested, right? -- Cid Highwind 01:41, 2005 Jan 21 (CET)

True, but without replacing the traditional "cleanup-", "factualerror-" and "needs attention-template". By the way: having categories with automatic generated lists is a big step ahead for keeping track of those. -- Florian K 15:07, 21 Jan 2005 (CET)

Suggestion regarding discussion above

Many articles on MA are identified as "pages needing attention". This includes incomplete, un- or badly formatted and inaccurate articles, probably others as well. Available for each of these "problem types" is a message template and a description of how to handle the problem. This is a suggestion to streamline this...


Available for each "page needing attention" type should be

  • a page describing which articles should be included and which should not
  • a message template, containing the "problem type", a link to the "explanation page", a link to the talk page (where the specific problem has to be explained) and a category link
  • a category page to automatically list all pages containing the message template

The rules should be the same for each of those types:

If you think that a page needs attention of some sort, add the appropriate message template at the bottom of the page and a comment on the article's talk page. The template may be removed by any user if the problem has been solved or a comment on the talk page is missing.

Incomplete article

This article is incomplete.

This page has been identified as needing attention. Please visit the article's talk page to see what needs fixing and feel free to edit this page to assist with this task.
  • Message template: {{pna-incomplete}}
  • Category: Category:Memory Alpha incomplete articles
  • Includes: Any page that misses information about its subject. This might be used instead of the stub-message in many cases.

Unformatted article

This article is unformatted.

This page has been identified as needing attention. Please visit the article's talk page to see what needs fixing and feel free to edit this page to assist with this task.
  • Message template: {{pna-unformatted}}
  • Category: Category:Memory Alpha unformatted articles
  • Includes: Any page that is unformatted or doesn't adhere to the style guidelines. This can replace the cleanup-message.

Inaccurate article

This article might be inaccurate.

This page has been identified as needing attention. Please visit the article's talk page to see what needs fixing and feel free to edit this page to assist with this task.

Pages needing attention

This article needs attention.

This page has been identified as needing attention. Please visit the article's talk page to see what needs fixing and feel free to edit this page to assist with this task.
  • Message template: {{pna}}
  • Category: Category:Memory Alpha pages needing attention
  • Includes: Any page that needs attention, but doesn't fall in one of the problem categories above. The category can be the supercategory of all other "pna"-categories.

de-stubbing articles (moved from Memory Alpha:Ten Forward)

There seems to be continuing confusion over what constitutes a stub, and what is a pna. In fact, in our zeal to get rid of our "massive stub count", archivists are just going through and removing the stub message from dozens of incomplete articles at a time -- sometimes without adding new content or a "pna" message -- the stub message was added to show that someone thought the article still needed work, in a lot of cases this seems true.

Even if an article subject was only mentioned once, in passing, in a single episode -- there is still the matter of describing the context the article subject appeared or was mentioned in: who mentioned it, what were they talking about, where was this thing? -- these are all missing factors in many article which people have been removing the attention messages from

I thought the stub message was there to gather attention for articles that could use this information added, I'd support either leaving the stub messages in the article, or replacing them with "pna-incomplete"s. -- Captain Mike K. Barteltalk

Can you provide an example of such articles? I've been going through some of the stub articles recently, but I've always attempted to add as much content and context I'm aware of to the page before removing the {{stub}} plate... if there are still things missing, anyone can, of course, add a {{pna}}. Otherwise, I haven't really noticed a large volume of articles being de-stubbed without purpose in the recent changes. -- SmokeDetector47 17:23, 5 Jan 2006 (UTC)

Well, I'm talking about changes made in recent weeks, so its probably been nothing i've noticed since the holidays -- I didn't want to enter a discussion previously because i wasn't sure it would be well received, and felt an admin presence might be counterproductive -- I did end up re-stubbing or pna-ing a certain number of articles over the past few months, but now that there is increased interest due to the stub template on the recent changes header, i thought i'd float this out and see (again) where we should draw the line between stubs and pnaincompletes -- but emphasize that either way i feel articles could and should be marked when they could be expanded.

One article I noticed today is Rectyne monopod -- an archivist asked why the article was marked as a stub, as it contained all of the technical information about the animal that we know -- its weight. However, I feel the context is greatly improved by listing the fact that Chief O'Brien described a situation where monopods were being herded with painstiks. The article is about three times as long now (even if it is still only a paragraph or two), and I feel this is a good situation for leaving an article marked for expansion (that is, when it lacks context of how the subject appeared, acted, or came up in conversation). -- Captain Mike K. Barteltalk 18:46, 5 Jan 2006 (UTC)

Unnamed Species Stubs

For this discussion, I'm not talking about unnamed species that we actually have a reasonable amount of information on (eg. Overlooker).

What I am concerned with is the great number of articles about unnamed species known only because of one or two characters. (eg. Krole's species, Kostolain native).

About half of the in-universe stubs are of this type: see Category:Memory Alpha stubs. However, if you look at Category:Unnamed species, you can notice that some species articles NOT stubbed contain about the same level (lack) of information (eg. Homn's species, Grathon Tolar's species). What's the deal?

As far as I can tell, the ONLY information that could be present in these articles is the following:

  • Distinguishing features
  • "Character X was of this species"
  • Their general location (ie. from Alpha/Beta, Gamma, or Delta Quadrant)

In my opinion, any of these articles that meets the above criteria is not a stub.– Cleanse talk 12:09, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

One suggestion was to merge all of these ones and just meld 'em together. Oh, and just because something isn't stubbed, doesn't mean that it isn't necessarily a stub. Same goes the other way around.
Having said that, for most of the "unnamed species" type articles, the information there is really rather basic, and can likely be juiced up a bit. For example, citing which episode(s) they were seen in, whether they encountered the Federation, and who they encountered, and yes... distinguishing marks. -- Sulfur 12:28, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
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