Templates for deletion

Deletion of metadata icons debated

A number of templates that place icons on articles were put up for deletion this past week, amid criticism of the practice of incorporating metadata into articles. Some of the more popular templates appear likely to survive, but community sentiment seemed to indicate that the practice should be restricted to special cases.

On Wednesday 17 May, featured articles director Raul654 nominated the {{featured article}} template for deletion, along with the similar {{Spoken Wikipedia}} template. These templates place a small icon at the top right of featured articles () and articles with a spoken version (). Raul654 criticized the templates for being metadata, adding clutter to the page, and breaking the layout in some skins. But as the discussion unfolded, considerable sentiment emerged in favor of keeping both icons, although some people felt more strongly about one or the other. Raul654 withdrew his nomination on Monday 22 May, but discussion continues on the talk page of the {{Spoken Wikipedia}} template.

The implementation of these icons was controversial when it began, and at the time Raul654 already objected because he believed it would lead to proliferation of similar templates. Another template for "good articles" was deleted in April, after a contentious debate that included complaints about spamming talk pages to influence the "vote". Two newer templates, {{Japan article}} and {{Hong Kong article}}, were both nominated for deletion last week as well. In these cases, the trend seems more clear, as comments so far strongly favor deleting the templates.

In certain skins, the star icon also appears in interlanguage links to designate the equivalent of featured articles in other Wikipedia languages, using {{Link FA}}, which was also nominated for deletion. This particular template continued to have support, but beyond that a number of people favored restricting their use. CBDunkerson commented that "we need to severely limit these 'icons' to, if anything, a handful of topics central to Wikipedia as a whole." For cases like the Japan and Hong Kong examples, Cynical observed that "we have categories to do this sort of thing."

Previous discussion of template locations generally concluded that metadata (in this context, information about the encyclopedia article itself, rather than the subject of the article) should be kept out of the article space. Sam Korn called the inclusion of such information in the article itself "semantically awful." The appropriate place for metadata is considered to be the talk page, although some exceptions are made. These primarily apply to notices that are considered useful for readers and not just editors, such as various warnings indicating potential flaws with the content of the article.

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