Redirects mask incorrect spellings (misspellings) in articles
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Description

On a site such as the English Wikipedia, editors often create redirects for misspelled versions of page titles so that readers can have an easier time accessing the content they're after. For example, if a reader enters "Barrack Obama" or "Dave Chapelle" or "Steve Carrell" into the search bar, they'll be redirected automatically to "Barack Obama" or "Dave Chappelle" or "Steve Carell" (respectively) automatically. This is a good thing.

However, these redirects can be problematic when editors insert this text into a page in the form of a link and don't get any feedback that the text they've entered is a misspelling (that it's likely wrong and not the text they intended to insert). In fact, the user gets the opposite feedback: they get feedback (a blue link) indicating that they've inserted an appropriate, working link.

These misspelled redirects can be tagged with templates such as "{{R from misspelling}}" which generally automatically categorize them.

I'm not sure what the appropriate behavior here is. I believe that continuing to allow users to insert links to misspelled words or phrases unknowingly is a bug and should be addressed somehow.

There are a few options here, but I'm curious to read what others think about this. The goal here is to reduce the number of misspelled links that are added to a page by giving the user warning or notice that they've tried to insert a misspelled link (e.g., [[Hilary Clinton]] or [[Stephen Spielberg]]).


Version: unspecified
Severity: enhancement
URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Database_reports/Linked_misspellings
See Also:
https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=13595

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MZMcBride created this task.Via LegacyDec 8 2012, 9:13 PM
MZMcBride added a comment.Via ConduitDec 8 2012, 9:19 PM

This is a serious problem on some wikis (thousands of misspelled links): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Database_reports/Linked_misspellings.

matmarex added a comment.Via ConduitDec 8 2012, 9:24 PM

The solution on pl.wiki is not to create redirects from misspelings. The "Did you mean" feature catches these well enough, and educates the reader on his mistake.

(Policy: https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Przekierowanie#Stosowanie_przekierowa.C5.84 , last paragraph)

John_Broughton added a comment.Via ConduitJun 16 2013, 9:52 PM

Google translate didn't turn Comment 2 into anything meaningful for me, so here are four alternative solutions, which could be implemented in the software, one or more of which may already have been suggested above (in Polish).

In articlespace (only):

  1. The software adds an administrative category, "Articles with wikilinks to redirect pages", when an article is saved that has one or more problematical links.
  1. Links to redirect pages are shown in yellow, both when previewing an edit and after saving the page. (With VisualEditor, the yellow coloring would appear immediately after typing the wikilink, which is ideal.) However, the editor can save the page with the (problematical) wikilink still on it.
  1. The software issues a warning when an editor tries to save a page with a link to a redirect page, but allows the editor to override this. (Problem wikilinks need to be highlighted, of course.)
  1. The software issues a warning when an editor tries to save a page with a link to a redirect page, and prevents the editor from overriding this. (Problem wikilinks need to be highlighted, of course.)

Alternatives #1, #2, and #3 are compatible; all could be implemented together. Alternative #4 is problematical in that an editor who is doing a minor change might be blocked from saving that change even though he/she had nothing to do with creating the wikilinks that go to redirects, and he/she may not understand how to correct this. (Think of a relatively new editor, or an IP editor.)

Implementing #1 would be invisible to the reader; #2 might cause a bit of confusion.

  • Or someone could just create a bot that notifies editors that they've made a mistake with their wikilink - as does DPL bot, for links to disambiguation pages. ***
jayvdb added a comment.Via ConduitMay 10 2014, 1:05 AM

(In reply to John Broughton from comment #3)

Google translate didn't turn Comment 2 into anything meaningful for me, so
here are four alternative solutions, which could be implemented in the
software, one or more of which may already have been suggested above (in
Polish).

...

Alternatives #1, #2, and #3 are compatible; all could be implemented
together. Alternative #4 is problematical in that an editor who is doing a
minor change might be blocked from saving that change even though he/she had
nothing to do with creating the wikilinks that go to redirects, and he/she
may not understand how to correct this. (Think of a relatively new editor,
or an IP editor.)

Implementing #1 would be invisible to the reader; #2 might cause a bit of
confusion.

These solutions all presume that *every* link to a redirect is problematic. If that is what the software presumes, it will cause more problems than it solves. There are many instances where a link to a redirect page is appropriate. If they are categorised into a maintenance category, some idiot will try to 'fix' them. If it is more difficult to link to redirects using the VE UI, competent editors will complain bitterly.

  • Or someone could just create a bot that notifies editors that they've made a mistake with their wikilink - as does DPL bot, for links to disambiguation pages. ***

This would be helpful, and the bot author could adapt the logic to understand when links to redirects are desirable. For redirects categorised as spelling mistakes, a bot could also fix them automatically.

John_Broughton added a comment.Via ConduitMay 10 2014, 5:04 AM

(In reply to John Mark Vandenberg from comment #4)

I think we've wandered off topic, for which I'll take some responsibility. The issue is NOT links to redirect pages, which (typically as hatnotes) can be absolutely correct. Rather, the problem is wikilinks to redirect pages that are marked as being for misspellings. So, let me reword the four alternatives I gave, above, to (hopefully) make this clearer.

In articlespace (only):

  1. The software adds an administrative category, "Articles with wikilinks to redirect pages for misspellings", when an article is saved that has one or more of these problematical links.
  1. Links to redirect pages for misspellings are shown in yellow, both when previewing an edit and after saving the page. (With VisualEditor, the yellow coloring would appear immediately after typing the wikilink, which is ideal.) However, the editor can save the page with the (problematical) wikilink still on it.
  1. The software issues a warning when an editor tries to save a page with a link to a redirect page used to fix a misspelling, but allows the editor to override this. (Misspelled wikilinks need to be highlighted, of course; the software could also make it easy to accept a spelling change, since the redirect page points to the correct spelling of the article being linked to)
  1. The software issues a warning when an editor tries to save a page with a link to a redirect page for a misspelling, and prevents the editor from overriding this. (Misspelled wikilinks need to be highlighted, of course.)
  • Addendum:**

I'll also note that since we're concerned with *what the reader sees*, we should ignore wikilinks where a pipe is used, since the software can't (easily) determine if what the reader sees is correct: [[wikilink to redirect|possibly correctly spelled text]].

jayvdb added a comment.Via ConduitMay 10 2014, 5:40 AM

(In reply to John Broughton from comment #5)

(In reply to John Mark Vandenberg from comment #4)

I think we've wandered off topic, for which I'll take some responsibility.
The issue is NOT links to redirect pages, which (typically as hatnotes) can
be absolutely correct. Rather, the problem is wikilinks to redirect pages
that are marked as being for misspellings.

Thanks for clarifying your solutions are for misspelling redirects only.

What I was focusing on was the underlying problem that the software does not have a good way to determine which redirects are marked as misspellings? And the concept of misspelling is IMO too complex to be built into the mediawiki layer.

Surely not by looking for [[Template:R from misspelling]] or [[Category:Redirects from misspellings]] (as was done for disambiguation pages)

MISSPELLING ? That would be equally odd.

Bug 13595 is an interesting idea that records per-redirect custom messages to be used in one context (above target article), but the same approach may be used to provide custom messages to other contexts (such as in VE).

Another approach may be to add misspellings to Wikidata, preferably as a misspellings attribute on the target Qs (similar to labels), rather than have redirects as distinct items in Wikidata (as was done for dab pages).

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