Red links and degrees of separation

Hello fellow Chroniclers!

We hit another major milestone this weekend, as the wiki's article count passed 2,500! Thanks to everyone who's been helping out with that, whether by making typo and grammar fixes or working on the Campaign Setting Inclusion Initiative. We're now listed among Wikia's Big wikis hub and I've requested the wiki be featured in one of the Wikia Spotlight ads that pepper the margins of the site.

I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss red links and hyperlinking within the project.

Obviously, red links are going to happen. They're a sign of a growing wiki. It means we're making articles and planting the seeds for new content.

But they're also ugly and can signal a weak or undeveloped project if there are too many of them in one place. As such, I think we should put in an extra effort to eliminate red links whenever possible. While it's great to have a large article count on the left side of the screen, it's even cooler if those articles are all part of an interlinking and useful database. Check out our Orphaned pages to get an idea of how many of PathfinderWiki's 2,505 articles aren't linked to by anything—at present, I count 212. That's almost 10% of the project's content that no one is going to see because nothing links to them. Meanwhile, we have a current count of 272 wanted pages with four or more red links to them.

It's important that we fill in these gaps as best we can. Certainly, many of these red links will remain red until Paizo releases official content on their subject, but in many cases we can include several sentences and sometimes even full articles, with what we already have. When going through Alkenstar as part of the CSII, I made a list of all the proper nouns listed in the two-page spread on the topic in the Campaign Setting, and then I wrote as complete an article on each of those topics as I could. But I then made sure to link to as many of these from the primary Alkenstar article as I could. The result is a dense article full of blue links that a reader can follow to more detailed articles. At present, there's only one red link on the whole page (and even that should, I think, be eliminated by writing the article).

I think that every article should be reachable in as few clicks from the Main Page as possible. That means that, through the seven portals we currently support and the various root articles we link to in the body of the Main Page itself, a reader should be able to navigate to a desired article. Some might say that Lord Gyr is a somewhat obscure article, but it can be reached in just a matter of clicks: Main Page → GeographyAbsalom → Lord Gyr. If this were the Kevin Bacon Game, he'd have a Bacon Index of 3. But if the main Absalom article didn't mention him, he'd have 4 or higher. I'm not saying every "root" article needs to be full of links, because some articles will simply be less prominent than others, but everything should be linked to from somewhere, and preferably from as general an article as possible. And the more general an article is, the less red links it should contain.

As we carry the wiki into 4710 AR, the stewards of this great resource, let's try to keep this in mind and make Golariopedia not only the most comprehensive source of information on the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting, but also the easiest to use. The more people use the site, the more likely they are to contribute, and we all benefit from that. We've come a long way and made an incredible encyclopedia, but there's always room for improvement. So let's get chronicling!

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