There are things that occur from time to time that may be mistaken for content forking.
Note that meeting one of the descriptions listed here does not preclude something from also being a content fork.
There is a difference between article forking within Wikipedia and the legitimate practice of project-level forking. The latter occurs when someone wishes to create their own wiki, according to their own standards and practices, but they want to use Wikipedia's content as a starting place. As long as the new project adheres to their legal obligations under the CC BY-SA
in exchange for use of this content, as set out at Wikipedia's copyright policy
, this is perfectly acceptable. Project-level forks are not bound in any way by Wikipedia's community policies or customs, like the five pillars
. Project-level forking is discussed in more detail at Wikipedia:Forking FAQ
Article spinoffs: "Summary style" meta-articles and summary sections
There are two situations where spinoff subarticles become necessary, and, when done properly, they create the opportunity to go into much more detail than otherwise permissible:
- Articles where the expanding volume of an individual section creates an undue weight problem
- Large summary style overview meta-articles which are composed of many summary sections
In both cases, summary sections are used in the main article to briefly describe the content of the much more detailed subarticle(s).
Sometimes, when an article gets too long (see Wikipedia:Article size
), an unduly large section of the article is made into its own highly detailed subarticle, and the handling of that subject in the main article is condensed into a brief summary section. This is completely normal Wikipedia procedure. The new subarticle is sometimes called a "spinoff" from the main article ("spinout
" leads elsewhere); Wikipedia:Summary style
explains the technique.
Even if the subject of the new article is controversial, this does not
automatically make the new article a forbidden POV fork. However, the moved material must leave
summary section of that material behind. If it doesn't, then the "spinning off" is really a clear act of POV forking: a new article has been created so that the main article can favor some viewpoints over others and ignore one viewpoint.
A common situation is when a particular controversial incident gets a lot of attention from reliable sources representing different points of view, expanding until every item of evidence is included and referenced. This kind of detailed examination of a single incident in a general article will usually be considered to give undue weight
to the incident, so it is more appropriate to break that section out as a separate subarticle and just leave a summary section in the main article.
Here are some examples:
Summary style meta-articles, with subarticles giving greater detail, are not POV forking, provided that all the subarticles, and the summary sections, conform to WP:NPOV. Essentially, it is generally acceptable to have different levels of detail of a subject in different articles, provided that each provides a balanced view of the subject matter.
Here are some examples of "summary style" meta-articles where many or most sections are summaries of more detailed subarticles:
Article splits are permissible only if written from a neutral point of view and must not be an attempt to evade the consensus process at another article. On the other hand, having a separate article on a controversial incident may give undue weight to that incident. For this reason Mel Gibson DUI incident
was folded back into a Mel Gibson
However, it is possible for article spinoffs to become POV forks. If a statement is inadmissible for content policy reasons at an article [[XYZ]], then it is also inadmissible at a spinoff [[Criticism of XYZ]]. Spinoffs are intended to improve readability and navigation, not to evade Wikipedia's content policies.
Articles whose subject is a point of view (POV)
Different articles can be legitimately created on subjects which themselves represent points of view, as long as the title clearly indicates what its subject is, the point-of-view subject is presented neutrally
, and each article cross-references articles on other appropriate points of view. Thus Evolution
, Biblical literalism
and Criticism of the Bible
, etc., all represent legitimate article subjects. As noted above, "Criticism of" type articles should generally start as sections of the main article and be spun off by agreement among the editors.
Articles on distinct but related topics may well contain a significant amount of information in common with one another. This does not make either of the two articles a content fork. As an example, clearly Joséphine de Beauharnais
will contain a significant amount of information also in Napoleon I of France
; this does not make it a fork. Another example is where two articles cover the same topic, but are clearly directed at different audiences
. In such cases, one of the articles will be prefixed by the text "Introduction to ..."
, for example General relativity
and Introduction to general relativity
One technique sometimes used to reach consensus on difficult articles is to create a temporary copy which people can then edit to show others proposed rephrasing or other changes. This can be helpful for controversial subjects or controversial changes; editors can show others exactly what their vision for a proposed change is – without the controversy of having that new proposed version automatically replace the existing version.
However, just as "spinout" articles have sometimes been mistaken for POV forks, temporary subpages have been mistaken for POV forks. Care should be taken on both sides to minimize such mistakes. New drafts should be written in the "user:" or "talk:" namespace
and not in the main namespace
; however, accidents happen and those who think they have found a POV fork, in turn, should check to see whether the article title indicates a temporary subpage and whether the talk page of the main article indicates that this is a place to work on consensus rather than to dodge it.
can be formatted as tables
or without using the table syntax
. Tables don't work well on various devices (hand-held screens, omitted when using Wikipedia's PDF export function,... and the "sortability" advantage is lost in some cases). For that reason it is often a good idea to retain a structured list (or bullet list, or numbered list, ...) even when a table is provided with basically the same content. However, having two list pages with roughly the same content, one of them presenting the list content in a "sortable table" format, and the other not using table syntax for the list content, is only possible when:
- There is no other way to avoid a WP:PAGESIZE problem
- There is a true advantage to presenting the list as a sortable table
- It is worthwhile to put (usually considerable) maintenance efforts in two pages that roughly cover the same topic
- There is no notability issue for either of the pages