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Portals revisited

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By DannyS712

Portal related-discussion are still ongoing (see previous and current Signpost coverage). This month we revisit a piece from April of last year, where Pythoncoder reported on the then-ongoing proposal to eliminate the portal namespace, presenting arguments from both sides of the still-relevant issue. That discussion was closed with consensus against deleting or deprecating portals. Since then, WikiProject Portals has been relaunched, and the creation and maintenance of portals has been simplified through new templates such as {{Basic portal start page}}.

The future of portals

by Pythoncoder, 15 April 2018
The Current Events portal, one of Wikipedia's most popular portals.
The Arts portal, seen by some as a model for portal automation.
The Prehistory of Antarctica portal, a portal currently up for deletion at MfD. It had not been updated since 2016 before the discussion.

Are portals to be open or closed?

There is an ongoing discussion about whether to eliminate the Portal namespace. Portals are lists of topics formatted similarly to the Main Page. They contain featured articles, pictures, Did You Know sections, and other content. They were first introduced in 2005 after the concept was initially used on the German and Polish Wikipedias. Portals are generally maintained by the relevant WikiProject, such as the WikiProject Mathematics that runs the Mathematics portal. The biggest portals are linked at the top of the Main Page, and articles often contain links to their associated portals. Other portals, such as Portal:Contents and Portal:Current events are not based on a specific topic; instead, they contain pages of special interest from many topic areas. There are currently 1,515 portals[1] and 149,069 total pages in portal-space[2] (this number includes subpages of portals).

Since this discussion started, WikiProject Portals has been re-activated with a focus on "revitalizing Wikipedia's portal system". The previously inactive WikiProject was relaunched on April 17, 2018 by The Transhumanist.[3]

The discussion is currently taking place at the Village Pump under Ending the system of portals. It will run until "around May 8".[4]

Arguments for eliminating portals

Proponents of eliminating portals point out that many are rarely edited and often contain outdated information. Supporters of elimination also claim that since Wikipedia is not a social media site the argument of connecting users with common interests is irrelevant.[5] Galobtter, who launched the RfC, says that "In essence, portals try to straddle reader-facing and editor-facing stuff, but are terrible at both."

Arguments for keeping portals

Supporters of keeping portals mention that some portals have been designed to require little maintenance, by randomly cycling through timely featured content (such as with the Arts portal). They see this as a model that could be brought to other portals. Portal supporters also argue that they are a good way to connect users who share common interests (see the above section for the anti-portal rebuttal). In addition, they point out that the biggest portals can receive thousands of page views. Therefore, deleting them would be a disservice to the readers, whom they see as the portals' main audience.

Alternative proposals

Other users think that instead of deleting all portals, some or all of them should be marked as historical. Some believe that specific portals such as Portal:Contents should stay, with the rest removed or marked historical. Still others suggest moving portals to Wikipedia space, under the page of the relevant WikiProject.


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