Commons:Talk page guidelines

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Shortcut: COM:TALK

There are two types of talk pages – standard talk pages are used to discuss a Commons page or File, while user talk pages are used to communicate with other users or leave them messages. Every page has an associated talk page, except pages in the Special: namespace. If there is no discussion of a page, the link to its talk page will be red. You can still discuss the page - you will just be the first person to do so.

This page provides guidelines on using standard talk pages and user talk pages on Commons.


  • Proceed vertically: The further down the contribution to talk, the later it was made.
  • Use indenting to keep the conversation straight: The first contributor is all the way to the left, the next person starts with one colon (:), the next person starts with two colons. Then, when the first contributor responds, they start at the left margin again, and the second and third persons continue to mark themselves with one and two colons respectively. In that way, who is saying what is clear. Other indentation systems are also widely used.
  • Separate discussion topics: Put each new topic under a different headline (== Subject ==). The "Post a comment" feature accomplishes this automatically when you enter a subject line. The edit summary is automatically the same as this header. Thus every thread is a section. This allows section editing of the thread in question (see w:Wikipedia:Sections).
  • Use whitespace when making a point by point discussion: While conciseness in a talk page discussions is always desirable, sometimes, when engaged in point by point discussions, it is impossible to be brief. In such cases, use paragraph breaks when you've reached the end of your discussion of one point. This results in a much clearer post, that is also easier to respond to.


  • Sign your posts: Signing your post is a common courtesy which allows people an easy way to see who is speaking; unsigned posts are confusing. To sign and date a post, type four tilde characters (~~~~) or click the signature button in your edit toolbar.
  • Avoid markup: Don't use a lot of Italic text, Bold text, or CAPITAL LETTERS. These are considered SHOUTING, and contribute to the view that you are RANTING!!!!!
  • Voting: Various pages invite you to vote on a topic. Using the posting conventions of this section, add your vote as a bullet (*) underneath the relevant topic and bold (''') your actual vote. (You may use one of the polling templates.) Your vote will typically not carry much weight unless you include your rationale for the vote. Make sure to sign your post (~~~~), as described above.

Headings on talk pages

Refrain from using headers to personally address people on talk pages. Headers should be used to facilitate discussion by indicating and limiting topics related to the article. For instance, you could make a header whose title describes in a few words one problem you have with the article. This will make it easy for people to address that issue, work towards consensus, and eventually resolve the issue or dispute and improve the article.



Archive rather than delete: When a talk page's content has become extremely large or the discussion of the issue in hand has simply died down and no one has a reasonable chance of adding to it, create a new page and move the content there. (See Help:Starting a new page and w:Wikipedia:How to archive a talk page for details.)

Manual archiving
  1. Create the archive page in the talk or Commons talk namespace - usually as a subpage of the original talk page. Give it an explanatory name. Often people simply add "archive" to the original name, for example User:Example/Archive 1. If it's not obvious from the page name, explain on the archive page where the text you plan to archive will come from and provide a link. Cut the relevant content from the original page and paste it into the new page. Add the {{Talkarchive}} template or the {{Automatic archive navigator}} template at the top.
  2. Replace the text on the original page with a link to the archive, or use a template such as {{Archive box}} at the top of the page. In some cases it may be appropriate to summarise Summarize ("refactor") the discussion and provide a link to the version with the full text.
Automated archiving

  • MiszaBot provides an automated archiving service. Instructions for activating it for a page are at w:User:MiszaBot/Archive HowTo. For pages other than your own talk page, first ensure there is a consensus for automated archiving. To quickly use a standard setup to archive your user talk page, see User:MiszaBot/usertalksetup.

Communication good practice

What may talk pages be used for?

Talk pages are not for general chatter; please keep discussions on talk pages on the topic of how to improve the associated article.

For issues which have an verifiably correct and relatively undisputed answer, please do feel free to use the talk pages to facilitate fact checking (which sometimes includes resolving disputes over factual accuracy).

In general

To avoid communication problems, try to keep yourself on the top sections of this scheme.
  • Assume good faith: In other words, try to consider the person on the other end of the discussion is a thinking, rational being who is trying to positively contribute to Wikipedia — unless, and only unless, you have firm, solid, and objective proof to the contrary. Merely disagreeing with you is no such proof.
  • Communicate: When communicating on a talk page, answer if somebody asks for further explanation of your edits. Don't just repeat yourself instead.
  • Be concise: If your post is longer then 100 words and is not a detailed, point by point discussion, consider shortening the result. Long, rambling messages are frequently difficult to understand, and therefore difficult to deal with appropriately. As a result, rambling posts are frequently either ignored, or misunderstood.
  • Keep the discussion readable: Do not edit or remove comments made by other people unless they are offensive, uncivil or otherwise violate the guidelines or policies of Commons. Otherwise, such edits are rude and make it difficult for others to follow discussions. When it is necessary to edit or remove comments, explain your reasoning in your edit summary. Often it is clearer to strike a comment, rather to change or delete it, especially if it is followed by a response. Use <s>struck through comment</s> to generate struck through comment. This guidance applies to discussions other than on your own user talk page, but is good practice on your page, also.

Other conventions

  • Make links freely: Links to articles are as useful on talk pages as anywhere else, and links to non-existent articles can help get them onto the most wanted pages list.
  • Use UTC when referring to a time, e.g. the time of an edit or page move.
  • When discussing the name of the page, cite the current name: if the page is moved afterwards, the Talk page is usually also moved, so then it would not be clear what you were talking about and people may think e.g. that you are suggesting to change the new name, while you were referring to the old one.


If you are having a disagreement or a problem with someone's behavior, please read w:Wikipedia:Resolving disputes.

How to avoid abuse of Talk pages

Most people take pride in their work and in their point of view. Egos can easily get hurt in editing, but Talk pages are not a place for striking back. They're a good place to comfort or undo damage to egos, but most of all they're for forging agreements that are best for the articles they're attached to.

Here are a few things to bear in mind

  • If someone disagrees with you, this does not necessarily mean that (1) the person hates you, (2) the person thinks you're stupid, (3) the person is stupid, etc. When people post opinions without practical implications for the article, it's best to just leave them be.
  • A talk page post may not be necessary. Before initiating discussion, ask yourself: Is this really necessary to discuss? Could I provide a summary with my edit and wait for others to quibble if they like?
  • You can always take a discussion to e-mail or to your user page if it's not essential to the article.

A few more tips on polite discussion

  • Always make clear what point you are addressing, especially in replies.
    • Quoting a post is O.K., but stating how you interpreted it is better. Before proceeding to say that someone is wrong, concede you might have misinterpreted him or her.
  • Don't label or personally attack people or their edits.
    • Terms like "racist," "sexist" or even "poorly written" make people defensive. This makes it hard to discuss articles productively.

Other words of advice

An outline for a Wikicovenant from Kingturtle:

  • Make others feel welcome (even longtime participants; even those you dislike)
  • Create and continue a friendly environment
  • Turn the other cheek (which includes walking away from potential edit wars)
  • Give praise, especially to those you don't know (most people like to know they are wanted and appreciated)
  • Forgive.

User talk pages

Can I do whatever I want to my own user talk page?

Most users treat their user talk pages like regular talk pages, and archive the contents periodically to a personal subpage -- either when the page gets too large, on a regular schedule, or when they take a wikivacation. Others delete comments after they have responded to them (but this practice is no longer recommended - archiving is preferred). To easily and quickly set up automatic archiving there are standard setups available (see above).

Actively erasing personal messages without replying (if a reply would be appropriate or polite) will probably be interpreted as hostile. In the past, this kind of behavior has been viewed as uncivil, and this can become an issue in dispute resolution.

Do not attempt to redirect your user talk page to a talk page on another Wikimedia project. Not only do such redirects not work, but they also inconvenience others for the sake of one's own convenience, remove Commons-related discussions from Commons, and cause problems with message templates which are only available on Commons. If you do not visit Commons regularly, you can edit your preferences to enable e-mail notifications for new talk page messages (go to Preferences and look for the “Email options” section; see also Help:Email notification). Redirecting your user talk page to another page on Commons (whether meant as a joke or intended to be offensive or to send a "go away" message) can also be considered a hostile act.

Feel free to decorate your personal pages as you see fit, but keep in mind that your user talk page has the important function of allowing other editors to communicate with you. People will get upset if they cannot use it for that purpose.

How to keep a two-way conversation readable

If you are writing messages back and forth between user talk pages, the resulting text can be hard to following. Here are two systems for making what would otherwise be disjointed comments easier to follow:

  • Copy the text you are replying to from your user talk page to the other person's user talk page. Put your reply right underneath it, but indent the reply section so it stands out. (Just like a regular talk page.)


  • Put a notice on your user talk page that you'll reply there unless they ask otherwise. Do this for conversations that other people start.
  • Watchlist the other person's user talk page and tell them they can reply there. Do this for conversations you start.

See also