Help:Maintenance template removal

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Many Wikipedia pages display maintenance templates addressed to problems with the topic or content of the page. You may have arrived at this page after you clicked on a link in just such a maintenance template, that said "Learn how and when to remove this template message". These maintenance templates are added and removed by volunteers, and this help page explains the process through which this happens.

Overview

Maintenance templates (or "tags") are never removed automatically. If you fix the issue, the tag will still remain until you or someone else manually removes it. The mechanics of removal is usually as simple as clicking edit at the top of a page or in the section involved, removing the code that produces the display of the template, leaving an edit summary, and saving the page. However, it is not okay to remove maintenance templates until the issue flagged by the template is remedied first.

Wikipedia works because of the efforts of volunteers like you and their bold edits to assist us in building this encyclopedia project. Fixing problems and then removing maintenance templates when you're done is important in that effort.

Addressing the flagged problem

We don't know which maintenance tag brought you to this page, and thus what problem needs attention. However, every maintenance template contains links to help pages, policies, guidelines, or other relevant pages that provide information on the problem the template was placed to flag. You may also find guidance on some of the more commonly seen templates below.

Many common templates address problems with article citations and references or their lack—because reliable sourcing is the lifeblood of Wikipedia articles and at the core of all of Wikipedia's content policies and guidelines, such as notability, verifiability, neutral point of view and no original research. But there are a host of other issues that may be flagged, from tone and style of writing, to structure and formatting, lack of links to other articles or of links to the article at issue, compliance with Wikipedia's manual of style, the lack of a lead section and others.

Fixing the issue is the condition you need to fulfill before removing the template, and that does require some effort on your part—to understand both the problem and its solution.

An example

If the issue flagged by the maintenance template is that the article contains no references, the template used might be {{Unreferenced}} – typically placed by the code that you would see when editing: {{Unreferenced|date=July 2017}}. It is important to understand that what you see when reading an article, and what you see when editing it, is different. Thus, this code, only seen when editing, results in the display when you are reading of the 'called' template below:

This template contains a number of links indicated by words and phrases shown in blue. Three of these links are pages that when explored, should provide context and resources for you to understand why the template belonged, and how to address the issue of the article being unreferenced:

Whatever maintenance tag brought you here should likewise contain relevant explanatory links addressed to whatever its issue is. Read these explanatory and contextual pages to learn about the problem and what it is you need to do to take care of it. This particular template, being very common, is further addressed in the specific template guidance section below.

When to remove

Most templates are not meant to be in articles permanently. Any user without a conflict of interest may remove a template in any of the following circumstances:

  1. When they have addressed the issue the template raises;
  2. When they determine that the issue has been resolved (perhaps by someone else);
  3. If it reasonably appears that the template did not belong when placed or was added in error (discussing the matter with the original placer of the template is advised, though if the user is no longer active this becomes moot; however, if the issue appears contentious, seek consensus on the talk page);
  4. When there is consensus on the talk page (or elsewhere) as to the flagged issue;
  5. When it reasonably appears that the template is no longer relevant, such as a {{Current}} template appearing in an article that no longer documents a current event.
  6. Some neutrality tags such as Conflict of Interest (COI) and Neutral point of view (POV) require that the tagging editor initiate a dialog (generally on the article's talk page), to sustain their placement.[under discussion]

When not to remove

A template should not be removed if any of the following applies:

  1. When the issue has not yet been resolved;
  2. When there is ongoing activity or discussion related to the template issue;
  3. When you do not understand the issues raised by the template;
  4. When you simply disagree with the template (seek consensus first).
  5. You have been paid to edit the article or have some other conflict of interest.[under discussion]

Removal

Okay? You carefully read the help pages and have thoroughly fixed the problem? Alternatively, you have made a considered determination that the template is not, or is no longer, applicable? Good. Thank you!

Now, to remove the maintenance template:

  1. Either click on "edit" at the top of the page, or if the maintenance template is not at the top but somewhere in the body of the article, you might use instead a section edit link;
  2. Remove the template code. The template code you will see in edit mode will usually be in the form (as in the example above): {{Name of template|date}}
  3. Leave a descriptive edit summary, e.g., "removed [insert the name of template] as I have fixed the issue."
  4. Click Save page.

That's it.

Changing template

In some case it may be more appropriate to switch the template to another applicable one after your changes, rather than just removing it. Some templates flag highly discrete issues where this would not come into play. For example, if an article is "orphaned" – no links from other pages in the main article namespace link to it – then once that is taken care of by introducing such links, the issue is gone entirely and the tag's removal is unambiguous. However, for some types of issues, the problem flagged may imply secondary problems that will still exist after you take care of the main issue.

Case in point is the template example used of {{Unreferenced}}. It is directed at pages with no references. Thus, adding just one suitable reference renders that template no longer applicable. However, if that is the "fix", it does not take care of the overarching issue of poor sourcing. In that case, depending on the type, quality, depth and manner of sourcing added to fix the issue, a change to a different template may be appropriate, such as {{refimprove}}, {{No footnotes}}, {{Primary sources}} or a host of others listed at Wikipedia:Template messages/Sources of articles.

In some cases, it may be helpful to request that the tagging editor provide the section version of the template to the section(s) where problems still exist, or use inline notation for finer clarity.

Specific template guidance

This section provides guidance on how to address some of the more common specific templates that may have brought you here. These are by no means all the types of templates you may encounter.

Researching the tagged issue

The template may have links to guidance on its face and more specific information can be found with a Wikipedia search. When viewed in the Edit interface, header maintenance tags are typically placed in the first lines of the article. The first parameter is the name of the template, some templates may have additional parameters such as the month and year it was placed. Example: {{Unreferenced|date=July 2017}}

Additional guidance on the tagged issue can be found by searching the Wikipedia, with the Template: suffix, followed by the template's name. For example, searching the Wikipedia for Template:Unreferenced will take you to the guidance at Template:Unreferenced. The accompanying documentation for all maintenance templates can be located this way.

Still need help?

If you've read through this page and are still confused about what needs to be done to fix an issue on a page and remove a maintenance template, try asking at the Teahouse, a page designed for new users to ask questions. Alternatively, you could try the more general Help desk, or seek live assistance at the IRC channel: #wikipedia-en-help.

See also