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Help:Moving a page

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Moving a page means giving the page another name. The page history is then attached to a new name. Another page with the old name is created and automatically redirects to the new name.

There are several reasons why you might wish to rename a page:

  • The title has been misspelled.
  • The title does not follow the wiki's naming conventions (such as Wikipedia's naming conventions or Wikibooks naming policy).
  • The scope of the article has been reduced, extended or otherwise changed.
  • A Talk page may be moved as one of the methods of archiving discussion

Pages in the image or category namespace cannot be moved. To change the name of an image, one needs to upload it again, and copy the image description. To change the name of a category, one needs to change all category tags, and copy the editable part.

How to

Note that on many wikis you have to be logged in, and there may be a set length of time that you will have to have had an account for (often four days).

With the correct page displayed, click on the "move" tab near the top of the page (in default Monobook skin). You'll be asked for a new name for the page, and given the option to also move the page's talk page. NOTE: Unless you know what you're doing, it's safest to say yes. As of MediaWiki 1.5, the reason for the move can be given, like an edit summary.

Click the move button and the page will be renamed to the new title. The old title will become a redirect page, so any links to the old title will still go to the new page. However, note that double redirects (pages that redirect to the original page), will not automatically follow to the new page, so you will have to refer them manually)

  1. after a successful page move, a page will be shown.
  2. Open the what-links-here for that page (there may be a shortcut link on the page-moved summary screen to let you do this, but the what-links-here link will in any case be in the toolbox, which is near the bottom of the sidebar unless you've customized your skin away from the default Monobook);
  3. Open all redirect pages that are indented in the list, and make them redirect to the page you moved to (that is, without intermediate step);
  4. If there are more than 50 pages listed on the "what links here" page, don't forget to navigate to all parts of the list using the "next 50" or other links available.

Page histories

The "move page" function keeps the entire edit history of the page before and after the move in one place, as if the page had always been named that way.

The move itself is recorded in the edit histories of both pages. This feature was introduced in MediaWiki 1.5 and does not work retroactively: older moves are only recorded indirectly, in the page history of the old page name.

You should never just move a page by cutting all the text out of one page, and pasting it into a new one; old revisions, notes, and attributions are much harder to keep track of if you do that. (But you may have to if, for instance, you're splitting a page into multiple topics. If you do, please include a note in the new pages's edit summary and talk page stating where you took the text from.) Also see #Fixing cut and paste moves below.

Moving redirect pages

A page that is a redirect can be moved like any other page. This is however not advised while it has the same detrimental effect on page history as copy-pasting content to a new page, and making the old page a redirect: when moving a redirect page to a new page name, the redirect on the old page (now directing to the new redirect page) will have to be changed in order to avoid double redirects. So the content of the old page will no longer redirect to the page containing the history of that old page. The only effect is that the whereabouts of the page history of the old page (now seemingly a "recently created page") are a bit trickier to find, while on the other hand the new page has a history attached to it not clarifying why it would need to be a redirect page.

If a redirect page does not redirect to the page it would need to be redirecting to, the only viable strategy that respects page histories, is to adapt the redirect on that page, without moving the page.

Moving over a redirect

If the new title already exists but is just a redirect to the old title, with just one line in the page history, the creation of the redirect, then you can rename the page. The most common case in which this applies is that of re-renaming a page back to its original name. As mentioned, this works only if the redirect that was automatically created in the first renaming, has not been edited.

The information about the former creation of the redirect over which the move takes place is lost. If it was the result of an earlier move of the page that is now moved back, that information is still available in the history of that page.

More moves back and forth are possible, and always the page history of the current title shows all moves, and that of the other title only contains the edit line of the latest move.

As mentioned, recording a page move in the edit history of the page itself is a feature introduced in MediaWiki 1.5 which does not work retroactively: therefore of older moves back and forth only the latest is recorded.

Earlier there was a bug, which has been fixed but not retroactively, as follows:

However, if the page is moved back, the edit history of the page with the intermediate title shows the latest move only, with the corresponding user name, but with the date and time of the first move(!). Accordingly, the name of the user who moved the page the first time and the date and time of the second move are lost (except that they appear in the Recent Changes).

Moving over an existing page

Administrators can move a page, deleting an existing page with a name equal to the new name of the moved page, in one step.

If the new title already exists and isn't just a redirect to the old title, with no history, and you are not an administrator, the wiki will tell you that you can't rename the page. You'll either have to manually merge the two pages, or if there's no real content in the page ask an Administrator to have it deleted or list it on your project's "votes for deletion" page in order to make room for moving the page.

Move-protected pages

Administrators can protect pages from moves. If a page is protected from moves only, the "Move this page" link will not be available. In this case, you can ask that an administrator move it for you, or you can manually move the page, by copying the contents to the new page and redirecting the old page to the new page. However, this is generally not recommended, and users are asked to request the moves instead.

Pages that are protected from editing are automatically protected from moves.

Other notes

Redirects to redirects aren't automatically followed (this prevents infinite loops and spaghetti linking). Always check the What links here for your page, and if there are multiple levels of redirects, (indented and also labeled "(redirect page)"), go fix the links to point to the new location directly. But this can be troublesome because your new moving might be reverted soon. Take some time to make sure there is no objection to your moving; always check the talk page first.

Avoid moving a page while the edit box of the corresponding Talk page is open: when you hit "Save page" you overwrite the redirect to the new talk page (you do not get the usual warning that the page has been edited while your edit box was open) and get a duplication of the contents of the talk page, with your latest addition added to the old instead of the new one.

It is useful to copy the message "Page ... moved to ..." to the new talk page, especially if there has been discussion about the name of the page.

Moving a page shows up in Recent Changes under "Move log", which links to a log of all moves. However, moving a watched page does not show up on the watchlist; after the move both the old and the new name are watched.

Subpages, such as the archives of a talk page, and the documentation page of a template, are not automatically moved along with a page move.

Undoing a move

To undo a move from page A to page B, simply move page B back to page A.

Note that usual "undo" link on history or diff pages does not work on moves. An easy way to rename the page back is clicking "viewpagelogs" from the history page, and then "revertmove" link from the corresponding record in Special:Log.

The software requires that the redirect be pointing to the page you're moving it from. Therefore, if a vandal moved Page A to Page B to Page C, you cannot simply move C to A, you have to:

  1. Move page C to page B
  2. Move page B to page A

If page A has subsequently been edited, or the move software is behaving weirdly, only an admin can sort things out:

  1. Delete page A (make sure it has no useful history - you may wish to add an explicit author credit on a talk page to compensate)
  2. Move page B to page A.
  3. Delete page B (should be a history-free redirect to page A)

"Move wars" are highly unproductive, and leave vast numbers of pointless redirects littering the place, which some poor soul will have to fix.

After undoing a move, if you do not need B as a redirect, tag it for deletion (using the appropriate process on the wiki you're using, for instance 'speedy deletion' or 'votes for deletion'), or (administrators only) just delete it.

Swapping two pages

To swap pages A and B, including history:

  1. Move page A to page C (previously non-existing)
  2. Tag A for deletion (the method of doing this depends on the wiki), or (administrators only) just delete it.
  3. Move page B to page A (allowed because A is deleted)
  4. Delete B as above
  5. Move page C to page B (allowed because B is deleted)
  6. Delete C as above

Some large projects have a separate page (called "Requested Moves", or something similar) specifically for requesting help with these (and also for discussing potentially contentious moves).

Fixing cut and paste moves

Many past renamings took place before the move page function was created by our hard-working developers, and others are done by people not aware of this function. Such manual moves were done using cut and paste. As a result, the page history of an article or talk page can be split among two or more different pages.

In some circumstances, administrators are able to fix this by merging page histories.

Warning: this procedure may only be undone by an administrator, by spending quite silly amounts of time: to undo a merge, every single version has to be manually reassigned to the correct source page (by deleting the revisions that are in the correct location currently and moving the other revisions to their new correct location, then undeleting the revisions that were in the correct location). Do not do this if you are not sure what you are doing.

Follow this procedure to merge page histories:

  1. Suppose we wish to merge edit history from Alabama/History (old title) into History of Alabama (new title):
  2. Delete History of Alabama, with comment deleting to merge page histories - back soon.
  3. Move Alabama/History to History of Alabama, using the move tool.
  4. Help:Administration#Restoring pages|Undelete the History of Alabama article.
  5. Edit History of Alabama to restore the most recent version (or use administrator rollback).

Note that the page history will often look wrong until the last step here is carried out, because it doesn't update after an undeletion until the next time the page is edited.

Move vs rename

The terms "rename" and "move" mean the same in this context. They just refer to different models for picturing the operation:

  • rename: keep the page but give it another name; the page history is now attached to the new name; a new page with the old name is created which redirects to the new name and whose page history records the renaming.
  • move: move the contents and the page history to a new page; change the old page into a redirect; change the page history into one that only records the renaming.

Since the system marks the page with the old name as new page, it applies the first of the two models. (The entry in the page table connects a new page name to the page ID. The revision table just gets entries about the move, nothing else, because the relation between page ID and revision IDs remains the same.) This model avoids "changing the history", a kind of "historical revisionism".

Automating multiple page moves

As of January 2008, a multiple page move facility is not available within the MediaWiki software which powers Wikipedia. It is possible that this facility could be implemented with a bot similar to the bots previously used to repair multiple level redirects. No bot is yet known to implement this functionality robustly. A bot would be able to automate link repair for inbound links to the moved pages, sparing much of the manual labour.