Orphan Page

An OrphanPage is a Wiki page with no inbound links. Creating them is discouraged. On the other hand, see WikiContentGenerationProcess.

OrphanPages can come about in two ways:

  1. a page can be born an orphan by pointing the wiki?edit URL to a nonexistent page that's not one of the WantedPages
  2. a page can become an orphan when all pages that link to it are deleted

There are several ways to find OrphanPages: ShortWikiPages are often OrphanPages.

If you find an OrphanPage, consider:

Exceptions: Since it's not really possible to find an OrphanPage unless you specifically set out to look for one, you could also consider.. If you do decide to muck about in the OrphanPages, consider trying to RefactorLowHangingFruit. LowHangingFruit may include:

Note: when sowing links, avoid if at all possible building nests of "See: FooBar, BarBaz?, BazQuux?, QuuxJulie?, etc." at the bottom of pages. If the link cannot be added in a natural way, you have either chosen the wrong foster-parent or the OrphanPage is in need of refactoring.

OrphanPages that are difficult to deal with are those that are OnTopic, long, have one or very few contributors, and come at a problem from an idiosyncratic or biased angle. Deletions will be restored, but merging or even linking are difficult to do in a coherent way.

OrphanPage knots (a.k.a. dead cycles)
Pages with mutual links among themselves (keeping them from being orphans) but no other links into the set. (WalledGardens)

Identifying knots requires defining a root set; any page reachable from the root set is by definition not part of a knot.

One probably should exclude things like RecentChanges and various searches from the root set. OTOH, categories might be part of the root set; any page with CategoryWhatever? is non-orphan because it shows up in the category. (I wouldn't give this special treatment to other BackLink searches.)

The CultureOfRecentChanges? makes popular pages sprout many links out of them, but few links into them. For the not-so-popular pages, they might have only outward bound links. Once they move off RecentChanges, it is very unlikely that anyone will ever see them again, except by searching specifically for them with FindPage, or by following BackLinks. But since they are unpopular, these methods are unlikely to cause anyone to browse them. If people did not sign their contributions, then many of the UserName pages would be OrphanPages. In fact, many people do not sign their contributions, or have never made a contribution except for their UserName. This is just to show that OrphanPages are at least fairly common on Wiki.


Q: Are OrphanPages killed after some time? An author might use a OrphanPage for minimizing the chance of inadvertently overwriting recent changes on a page made by another Wiki author.

A: No. There is only one way to delete pages. See HowToDeletePages.

What do you do when you think of a topic that's great for the Wiki, but you don't know how to place it OnFocus, because you can't think of a good launching point? Not an OrphanPage, but an UnbornPage? (I'm thinking of PettinessWillKillYou, which now has a parent).

All new pages are linked to RecentChanges, and my guess is that there are enough RecentChangesJunkies that it will slap the page on the bottom and get it screaming and breathing. Unless its ApgarScore (which was also an orphan but now has a parent) is too low, I suppose. We'll just see about this...

Contrast: CulDeSac

CategoryWikiStructure, CategoryWikiMaintenance

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