wikiHow:Merge Policy

Since this is a collaborative project, our goal is to work together to build one high-quality page on a particular topic, rather than each person focusing on making their own page. Plus, it gives our readers a single place where they can find all the advice we have on a single topic. Here are wikiHow's standards for what makes a topic distinct.

Rule of Thumb

A good way to judge whether two articles should be merged is to look at the titles (not the content) and ask:

Are these phrases interchangeable in all cases?

Either the phrases are synonymous or they are not. If they do not mean the same exact thing, in all cases, in all connotations and all permutations the titles should not be merged.

When to Merge

Here are some examples of titles that are interchangeable and should be merged. Generally, the title that stays is the simplest, most commonly searched one.

  1. Excessive/subjective description:
    • All of the following should be merged to "Be a Popular Girl":
      • Become a Popular Girl
      • Be a Popular Girl - It Works!
      • Be a True Popular Girl
  1. Different ways of saying the same exact thing:
    • "Skip Rope" should be merged to "Jump Rope"
  2. A matter of degree.
    • "Be More Confident" and "Be Extra Confident" should be merged to "Be Confident"
  1. Aimed at a specific age or grade level. (An exception would be a milestone age, such as 50 or 100 years old.)
    • "Look Pretty in 7th Grade" should be merged to "Look Pretty in Middle School"
    • "Have Fun Camping as a 16 Year Old" should be merged to "Have Fun Camping as a Teen"

When Not to Merge

The main reason we base merging on the title and not the content is because when people search the Internet for a specific topic, they're more likely to find us if we have a specific title that matches their query.

  1. One is more specific than the other. Do not merge a more specific title to a more general title, thinking that the information should be combined on a single page. Specific information should have its own page with a specific title.
    • Grow Cherry Tomatoes, Grow Tomatoes
    • Open a Can, Open a Soda Can
    • Use Email, Use Gmail, Use Gmail With Thunderbird Software
  2. Different audience or demographic. The following are all distinct because they are aimed at a specific group of people.
    • Example 1:
      • Be Popular
      • Be a Popular Girl
      • Be a Popular Girl in Middle School
    • Example 2:
      • Be a Farmer - this can discuss the day-to-day life of being a farmer
      • Start Farming - this is aimed for beginners, and can focus on the transition into a new task/routine (However, the word "start" may be already implicit in another title where it is clear the other title is written for beginners, so use of the word "start" in a title is not a hard and fast rule; the context matters.)
  3. Same goal with different methods.
    • Tie Shoes
    • Tie Shoes Using the Bunny Ears Method
  4. Same goal, different materials.
    • Fold a Paper Origami Crane
    • Fold a Cardboard Origami Crane
  5. Difference in time.
    • Clean Your Room
    • Clean Your Room Fast
  6. Task vs. career.
    • Write, Be a Writer
    • Write Lyrics, Be a Lyricist
    • Sing, Be a Singer
  7. Recipes - see How to Handle Recipes on wikiHow

Alternatives to Merging

Merging a distinct title means that no one will ever have a chance to write an article on that distinct topic because the title will be tied up in a redirect. Often it can be tempting to want to merge a page because it has low-quality content. Here are some things you can do instead:

  1. If an article has a distinct title but doesn't have distinct content, try editing the content to make it match the title better. For instance, if "How to Hike in Hawaii" has very general information on hiking, don't merge it to "How to Hike". Instead, find and add some Hawaii-specific hiking information to the page.

    • Alternatively, place an {{accuracy}} or {{attention}} tag on the page, along with a note on the discussion page such as "The content in this article doesn't address the title very well. This article is supposed to be about hiking in Hawaii, but none of the content is specific to Hawaii. Can anyone address this?"
    • If the content is very basic, a better option may be to use the {{stub}} tag, or, if it's really bad, nominate it for deletion as incomplete or inaccurate.
  2. If two articles have interchangeable titles but unique content, consider changing one of the titles. Let's say someone wrote an article titled "How to Sew a Cool Pillow" but the steps outline how you can make a pillow from an old t-shirt. Rather than merge the article to "How to Sew a Pillow", you can change the title to "How to Sew a T-Shirt Pillow" (which better matches the content).
    • If the content is inadequate, add a {{stub}} template as well, so that it can be found by an editor and later improved; this helps us to retain the distinctive title and whatever content it already contains.

The difference between merging and NFD|dup

Merging is when the unique content from one page gets moved over to another page, and then the title of the (now empty) article gets redirected to the other title.

NFD|dup is when one article gets deleted or redirected without moving any information over because it doesn't have any unique information that can be added to the existing article on the same topic.

Note: In some cases it is better to redirect the title than to delete it and leave it open for rewriting when it is inevitable that the same content will be added again and again. Some topics tend to attract rewriting duplication, in areas such as middle school, popularity, look/be like articles, game play tutorials, etc. A redirect in such a case can help to prevent the recreation of "creative workaround" titles that are made to try to include existing information under a different author's name. An example of creative recreation would be: How to Be Popular All the Time when we already have How to Be Popular.

Article Info

Categories: Policy | Merging