Wiki Badge

Closely related in meaning to WikiTag, a WikiBadge provides additional context for the text in which it appears. That is, a badge says or suggests something about the current page or the text around it. For example, this page is about Wiki itself, so it has CategoryWiki at the foot of the page (see WikiCategories) or it gives some (special) EditHint.

The fact that WikiBadges are links gives them two properties: if you click on them you can then use the ReverseIndex property of the badge's page to find all uses of the badge and the badge's page may also contain further explanation of its intent, common usage (or lack thereof) and history.

A good WikiBadge is short enough to be unobtrusive, yet long enough to be self-evident in meaning. Ideally it should be part of the flow of the writing: people should be able to figure it out without having to click on it. WikiBadge's are a distraction. They tempt the reader to click on them. Therefore, if they don't add distinct value to the text, they are harmful. Please use sparingly and to positive effect.


Apart from categories and topics, the badge that has been used the most on Wiki is DeleteMe. The number of places in which this particular instruction has been ignored by the rest of Wiki, sometimes for years, is a warning not to use badges as an alternative to clear expression using PlainEnglish.

Almost all proposed WikiBadges apart from categories have been rejected by the Wiki community at large.

In fact, they haven't even got as far as being rejected, they haven't even been tried.

What about "NotExactlyQuoted" [ed: deleted in favour of the English word, "paraphrased"]? Which has been described as a WikiTag. Perhaps a clear distinction should be expressed. Some WikiBadges are verbs expressing instructions, as in: DeleteMe, FixMe, while others are attempts to classify, usually in the form of a noun as in CategoryWiki. Let's try "them" distinctively, before we reduce "them" with no clear definition.

That mainly happens when the author of a WikiBadge is solving a problem that they don't actually have. There are a couple of WikiBadges hanging out there that have only been used a few times. Maybe the problem they solve doesn't come up much, or maybe it isn't really a problem. The only way to really find out is to hang around and watch. It's not worth getting upset about. -- PhilGoodwin

GentlyReduceWikiBadges says that it's pretty meaningless to talk about a "good WikiBadge" in isolation. It can only make sense to say "a good set of WikiBadges". If we continue only to invent new badges and comment on each individually we'll surely miss the mark. See FixMe for a new proposal that was not created by FridemarPache but whose use would surely overlap with both DeleteMe and EditHint in an unhelpful way for refactorers (though I do prefer the current size of description in FixMe). Let's discuss and then advise people to use just one of these little critters, please. My vote continues to be for Fridemar's EditHint (with much reduced description and in the hope that all his other badge proposals will at the same time be reduced to "obsolete"). -- RichardDrake

What is the difference and what is ThePattern?? for usage of the terms "WikiBadge", "WikiTag", "Category", or even the now seldom used "Topic"? It would then give more clarity to expressions of support or opposition to the term(s) and any GentleReduction, based on a clearer sense of the ReducedElement?(s).

Should WikiBadges that are never used be deleted to reduce confusion for newcomers?

Where "deletion" means reduction to one line only. The newly formed Centre for GentleReductionism working with the PlainEnglish subgroup on "witty, meaningful one liners that will only confuse newcomers we don't want anyway" are currently preparing a list of options as diverse as "Defunct WikiBadge", "This WikiBadge failed its recent road test" or WardCunningham's pithy "No definition required". But don't miss the excitement of DeletionDiscussion and GentlyReduceWikiBadges on when and whether to ever do the deed. This dramatic test of nerves makes the drying of paint look increasingly rash and risky. Not for the squeamish.


I don't consider current WikiBadges, though confusing, to be so debilitating to newcomers that they represent a significant barrier to entry to Wiki. I think it's a non-issue. -- PhilGoodwin

Reduction of newcomer confusion is only one of a number of aims set in GentleReductionism. GentlyReduceWikiBadges is only one step among various WikiOnWiki actions that might eventually achieve the aims. Who knows unless we give it a go? -- RichardDrake

Phil, surely there are many more things on Wiki that you don't care about. If labeling unused WikiBadges is a non-issue, just ignore the label. I liken unlabeled defunct WikiBadges to unused code in source code. Sure if you are intimate with the code, you know it is there just for historical or debug purposes (or perhaps a mandate to change as little as possible for a bug fix), but a newcomer has to sort through it all to figure that out. (Yes, not all organizations practice RefactorMercilessly, including Wiki.) Why make them figure it out, when a simple sentence at the top of the page suggests that the page is defunct? --

A message on top is better than nothing. But is no deletion permissible, even for something as noisy as MoveHint?? Only sticking a message at the top of the page, with all the junk left beneath? -- RichardDrake

I object mainly to the deletion of ideas. I'd prefer that the text that expresses them be written as well as possible, but I think that the definition of "well" has to be subject to negotiation. I'd like to see all the WikiBadges written up well. I think that should include comments about their perceived usefulness both positive and negative. That should not result in newcomers being confused.

Having said that, I must admit that I can now see how these pages could be harmful. The fact that they are so numerous (see CategoryMetaWiki), that they appear so continuously on RecentChanges and that they (at least some of them) are so entirely unworkable, does make them a bit of a nuisance. I still think though, that the proper course is to stem the flow and then fix, rather than destroy, the existing pages (insofar as we care to touch them at all).

-- PhilGoodwin

I think a good 3-6 months or so would be plenty of time to give a given WikiBadge chance to 'catch on'. After that, it's game for deletion. After all, it can always be re-created if there's a need in the future. -- RobHarwood (who just created AnswerMe, and so is a little biased... :-)

Are WikiGnomes actually running around letting the placement of WikiBadges steer their refactoring work? I have to say that I never pay attention to the stuff, myself. I find it much more interesting to focus on fixing stuff that is

  1. in my area of interest
  2. right in edge of my understanding

That way the work is less boring, and I actually learn while I'm doing it. And is it really hard to find refactoring work?

Sometimes I feel like WikiBadges are more likely to be left be people who feel like something should be fixed, but aren't willing to take on fixing it itself. Is that an unfair assessment? -- francis

If that was the only case I would say it is an unfair assessment. Perhaps the person doesn't have the time right at this moment to fix it thoughtfully and thoroughly, and is in a sense bookmarking it and possibly linking it to related pages. He'll come back to do it later, unless someone else reaches it first. The stumbling block for a newcomer who wants to help is to figure out what the intent of the badge was in the first place, if there the Badger didn't leave any brief explanation or note.

See also WikiTag

I would find it more useful to reference "WikiTag" right at the top of this page, as the two concepts seem closely related, and one can get a better idea of what this is all about by seeing examples than by wading through all the text. IMHO. -- JohnDowd DeleteMe Sorry for being GratuitouslySelfReferential?

I am British. When I see a badge, you see a pin. When you see a badge, what do I see?

 a1: A patch.
 r1: Ah, like scouts get.

a2: A representation r2: Ah, now I get it.

WikiBadge suggestions: ParkingTicket, ArgumentWiki?, ThoseWhoWereThere.


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