Wikipedia:Portal guidelines

A portal is a "doorway to knowledge" similar to the Main Page, though not limited to its rigid format, but limited in scope to a specific subject. Portals provide a sampling of content, present various navigation pathways into their respective subjects' coverage on Wikipedia, and other subject-based features. Portals also provide "bridges" between the encyclopedia and the Wikipedia community, to encourage the transition of users from reading to editing.

Currently, the English Wikipedia has 1517 portals.

What is a portal?

Portals are pages intended to serve as "Main Pages" for specific topics or areas. They are analogous to Wikipedia's Main Page, the subject of which is knowledge (the broadest subject of all). Portals narrow down the scope a bit to a more specific subject, and they vary in format and approach. Like the Main Page, which itself is not an article per se, portals are supplemental to the encyclopedia, and provide various alternate approaches to exploring a subject. Innovation is desired and encouraged.

Each portal is named for the subject it covers. We have a portal called "Geography", for example. To set them apart from articles, portals have their own namespace, and so the title of each portal is always preceded by "Portal:". So, the one on geography is called Portal:Geography.

It may help to look at a couple definitions for the word "portal" from Wiktionary:

  1. An entrance, entry point, or means of entry. For example: The local library, a portal of knowledge.
  2. A website or page that acts as an entrance to other websites or pages on the Internet.

While these definitions may also fit Wikipedia's regular articles (like Geography, for example), such articles are constrained primarily to presenting a description of their respective subjects. The essence of regular articles is that they are prose overviews. That makes them less than ideal for navigating their entire subject.

When a subject goes beyond the capacity of a single page, that page is called the subject's root article (its title is the name of the broader subject). But, Wikipedia's coverage of subjects goes way beyond what is on a root article's page. For example, there are over 40,000 articles on mathematics. While the article mathematics summarizes the general subject in descriptive terms, it becomes obvious that there can be other approaches to navigating Wikipedia's overall coverage of this and other subjects.

That's where Wikipedia's various navigation systems come in, including portals. Portal:Mathematics, for instance, provides a selection of reading samples and links to delve into Wikipedia's coverage of mathematics further. A good synonym for a portal is "doorway to knowledge".

Please bear in mind that portals must be about subject areas for which Wikipedia's coverage goes beyond the root article. Otherwise, a portal will simply be a reworking of the corresponding root article, which is not the intent of portals.

Speaking of intent, the essence of portals is determined by their purposes...

Purposes of portals

Each portal on Wikipedia acts as an alternative entrance to a subject. Portals supplement the encyclopedia. They support their subjects in various ways, including but not limited to:

  1. Providing a variety of sample content of subtopics ("topic tasters"), from within each portal's subject, that the reader may find interesting. Kind of like a magazine. Like what Wikipedia's Main Page does in general.
  2. Aiding navigation - portals are one of Wikipedia's navigation subsystems, designed to help users find their way around the vast amount of knowledge on Wikipedia to material within a particular subject. So, in addition to sample content, a portal may also present in various ways, links, and lists of links.
  3. Providing bridges between reading and editing, and between the encyclopedia proper and the Wikipedia community, via links to pages in project space (and the other namespaces) that are relevant to the portal's subject. A portal may be associated with one or more WikiProjects; unlike a WikiProject, however, it is meant for both readers and editors of Wikipedia, and should promote content and encourage contribution. Note that portals are created for encyclopedic topics only and not for article maintenance categories.

Portals and the core content policies

Portals are subject to the Wikipedia's five pillars and must comply with Wikipedia's core content policies (neutral point of view, no original research, verifiability, etc.).

References

It is common practice not to include references in portals. As on the Main Page, readers should be able to verify the portal content by following a prominent link to a relevant article, and checking the references there. This is called "follow through".

Content that is unique to a portal may be challenged in the portal, and must then be referenced in the portal, in the usual way, by inline citation using any of the accepted methods.

Content that is transcluded from another article does not need to be referenced in the portal as it should already be referenced in the original article. Any challenges to transcluded content must be done in the original article and not in the portal.

Portal navigation

Portal:Contents/Portals lists all portals of reader-ready quality.

Portals are also largely inter-accessible with users able to navigate from one portal to another. Universal features, such as the browsebar (which links to top-level portals), and the portals template (which links to Portal:Contents/Portals), allow for convenient browsing. Moreover, portals are also categorised according to hierarchy. Portals, in most instances, also link to their Related portals (those lateral to them) and their Subportals (those that descend from them).

Links to portals are often found in the "See also" section of relevant articles. Links to portals may also be found at the top of an article's talk page (as part of WikiProject banner templates). Portals for top-level subjects are also linked from the Main Page.

You can also use the Special:Search box below to locate Portals and sub-pages.

Portal maintenance and development

How to get involved

Just as with Wikipedia at large, portals can be edited by anyone. However, it is important to pay due regard to the established work of others. Editors are always needed to maintain individual portals; if you would like to participate in the upkeep of a particular portal, note your intention on its talk page, list yourself as a maintainer in the directory of portals, then get to work – thank you!

A WikiProject on Portals has been founded to coordinate portal activity. The current objectives are to develop standards for all portals and to ensure maintenance. Other tasks include the integration and categorisation of portals.

Immediate attention is needed at portals listed in Category:Portals under construction and Category:Portals needing attention.

How to add portal links to articles

Within articles, this template is meant to be placed at the bottom of the article in the See also section. If there is no See also section, you can put it in the External links section instead; there is no need to create a new section just to house this template. If there is no External links section either, just put it below the article text in the place that seems most appropriate. There are no particular rules about the placement of portals on other kinds of page.

Entering the link at the top of the section will allow it to sit on the top right. Add a portal link by typing to the left by preceding it with a ":"

How to make a good portal

Most portals present the following:

  • A selected article and/or picture;
  • Links into the main category for the topic and possibly subcategories (some portals actually appear in the description page for the main category);
  • General information about the subject, or links thereto;
  • Links to other related portals (using templates);
  • (mainly for editors), Links to related WikiProjects;
  • {{Sister project links}} can be used to add Wikimedia sister-project links to a portal;
  • Links to specific showcase articles within the scope of the portal topic;

You may want to embark on an effort to fill the related categories with appropriate articles if this has not been done already (or add it to the portal's "to do" list so visitors can help out).

How to create a portal

Before creating a portal, check to see if the subject is already covered at Portal:Contents/Portals (look for synonyms), and be sure to read Wikipedia:Portal/Instructions.

There is no single standard design for portals, but the most widely used layout is the "box portal". The use of this design is recommended due to the ease with which it can be created and maintained. For further ideas on portal design, browse existing portals. For step-by-step instructions on how to set up a new portal, refer to the instructions page. Unlike WikiProjects, portals should not be created for article maintenance category, but only for encyclopedic topics.

Once you have created the portal, please update the {{number of portals}} template.

What content to include

Scope

A completed portal should cover the full scope of the title topic as currently available on Wikipedia. Not all articles need be featured on the portal, but there should be a reasonably comprehensible and accessible way or ways to discover all the related content.

  • When it is not obvious from the portal title or the introduction section, an explanation or definition of the title and scope of the portal can be useful to the reader.
  • There are several ways to link to articles within the scope of the portal. Any or all of them may be used.
    • A category tree is automatically updated, and easy to include, but not particularly user-friendly.
    • Project navboxes are also easy to include, are updated independently, and may be more familiar to some users.
    • An outline or index list must currently be manually updated, but can easily be transcluded into a portal, either as a whole or in sections relevant to the associated portal sections. This is similar but not identical to a category system, and is more focused. A fully developed portal can be considered as an augmented implementation of a hierarchical topic outline, where the basic listing is embellished to make a more entertaining and user-friendly interface.
    • Other methods may exist and should be listed here if they can be practically implemented. Methods that would be useful but are not currently practicable should be discussed on a portal project talk page, as there might be someone around who can make them work.

A portal intended to cover a particularly broad topic, such as Life, Art, Culture, or Science may require the use of multiple sub-portals to cover the full range of the topic. This should be explained in the introduction, possibly in addition to a transcluded lead section from the root article, and links provided to all of the sub-portals, possibly in a dedicated section. The root portal can be considered complete if all subtopics are linked to sub-portals, though the sub-portals may not necessarily be complete. Each directly subordinate subportal could (and probably should) be featured as a section in the main portal. It is not necessary for all subtopics to have a portal, if they are relatively small, the subtopic's articles can be featured directly.

If a portal is a sub-portal of another, a link back to the containing portal should be provided. This can be done once the containing portal has been identified on the putative sub-portal's talk page. More than one containing portal may exist. Any disputes as to whether a portal is legitimately contained as a sub-portal of another can usually be settled by consensus on a talk page of WikiProject Portals. (link to appropriate talk page)

As a general guideline, if a portal is a sub-portal of another, only the higher level sub-portal needs to be included as a sub-portal of a yet higher level portal. For example Life may contain Animals, which may contain Birds. It is not necessary to provide a section for Birds in Life.

Strongly recommended

  • Introduction – A short summary of the topic. If possible, this should contain an attractive image emblematic of the topic.
  • For geographical entities, a map or maps showing where it is, and if relevant, major subdivisions.
  • At least one Selected article section. Some portals have more than one. Their titles vary, such as Selected article, Selected biography, Selected location, and so on. Be creative, as subjects have their own prominent things. So, Portal:Mammals might have a Selected mammal section. Portal:Juanes has a Selected article, a Selected song, and a Selected album section. Remember that in order to be in compliance with WP:NFCC, non-free images cannot be used outside of articles.
  • A Selected picture section, if reasonably practicable. Images should have captions detailed enough for viewers to understand the context. Be sure to test the size to be sure images are not too large. Remember that in order to be in compliance with WP:NFCC, non-free images cannot be used outside of articles.
  • Categories – Links to the most important categories related to the topic.
  • Wikimedia – Links to material on other Wikimedia projects.
  • Portals footer – The brief {{portals}}.

Recommended

  • Additional Selected articles sections (see above).
  • Additional Selected picture sections. Name the section by the type of thing presented. Selected picture of a reptile, for example.
  • Subportals or Related Portals (if there are any) – Some portals have these appear near the top, just below the "Introduction" (e.g. Arts or Technology). Others have them appear near the bottom (e.g., Biology or Literature). This section is not required if a topic-specific browsebar is used (e.g., Religion).
  • Topics – Links to the most important articles related to the topic.
  • Get involved – Links to relevant WikiProjects and other support pages for the subject.
  • There are several templates which allow the user to cycle through a carousel of randomly sorted article excerpts or images, instead of displaying just one and requiring a purge to change the display. These make the portal more useful as an introduction to the topic, and may encourage the user to make more use of the portal by sampling more pages.

Other possibilities

For any given topic some of these may not be applicable or sufficiently useful to be worth including.

  • Browsebar – The general {{Portals browsebar}}
  • In the news – Frequently updated headlines related to the topic (e.g., Politics). See the Wikinews Importer Bot for a method to automatically update a portal news section from Wikinews items.
  • Did you know? – Interesting trivia related to the topic (e.g., Science). The number of entries should be fixed,[clarification needed] with old entries moved to a Read more archive. See the random subpage template for a method to display a list of randomly selected items from a group of numbered subpages (e.g., Sustainable development). This template also can be used to randomly rotate items such as images within a section (e.g., the Philosophy of science introduction).
  • Selected biography – Follow the same conventions as for "Selected articles."
  • Selected anniversaries or On this day – These should be updated automatically based on the date. For broad topics, daily content is preferable (e.g., War); for more specific subjects, monthly may be appropriate (e.g., Scouting).
  • Selected quotes - Add some good quotes on the topic, it can be a good additional asset to your portal (e.g. London).
  • Many other content boxes are possible. For ideas, see London, Cricket, and the other featured portals, or browse through other complete portals. Be creative.
  • Section indexes – An index or outline list for the set of articles associated with the section title. This can be in a dropdown list format so it is only visible on demand. They can be transcluded as excerpts from sections of an outline article for the portal topic in a collabsible list format.
  • Can you come up with new and interesting features? Please do.

Style

Portal content should follow the Manual of Style for portals (currently a draft). This is generally compliant with the Manual of Style for articles, with a few significant exceptions.

How to categorize a portal

  • For a simple portal, simply add a specific subcategory of Category:Portals to the bottom of the portal page.
  • For a complex, multi-page portal, a portal category is needed.
  • Portal categories are generally named [[Category:TOPIC portal]] where the portal itself is named [[Portal:TOPIC]].
  • Portal categories are categorized under Category:Portals subcategories just like portals.
  • Portals with their own categories are only categorized in that category, which in turn is put into the other categories that the portal would have been in.

History of portals

Portals originated in the Polish and German Wikipedias. In early 2005, the concept was imported to the English Wikipedia and the first Wikiportals were established. Later that year, a special namespace (Portal:) was created for portals.

The Featured portals process ceased operation in 2017, and at that time there were 176 featured portals.

An RfC] to end the use of portals was held in early 2018. The result was Keep. There exists a strong consensus against deleting or even deprecating portals at this time. A number of problems with the portals was highlighted during the RfC, including lack of maintenance and in some cases, questionable relevance. The project was subsequently relaunched with the intention of making it possible for portals to be automatically-updating, while allowing manual maintenance as an option, providing that maintainers are willing to do the work.

Other Languages