Tricki
a repository of mathematical know-how

Stubs

Stubs

I want to draw attention to the fact that we mean by a stub something slightly different from what is meant on Wikipedia. Here an article has to be more content-free to count as a stub: basically, the idea is to protect readers from following links and finding that there's nothing there. But if an article contains enough of an explanation to make it clear what the trick is, then even if it is still far too small, I think it shouldn't be a stub, because there is a chance that the reader can get from it what is promised by the title.

In fact, perhaps that's the point: it is irritating to click on a title and get more or less no reward at all for that effort. But to get some kind of mathematical insight, however inadequately explained, is much less irritating. I suppose the ideal would be to have two symbols, one for a stub according to this definition, and one for a Wikipedia-like stub, but perhaps that's getting too complicated.

A second point about stubs is that there is a very good argument for having stubs rather than dead links. The argument is that several people could have similar ideas about an article that was needed, and all give dead links with different titles, and the mess could take a long time to sort out. But if the first person writes a stub, then in theory people can check whether an article exists before they write a stub themselves. (Of course, for that the article has to be well categorized.)

What I am saying is open to disagreement – that is why I am putting it on a forum rather than directly dictating it as Tricki policy. (At some point, however, we plan to have a few pages of this kind of policy: things like recommended layout, advice about titles, categorization, what is a stub, etc.)

I agree with Tim's suggested classification. I have looked over a couple of pages that were categorized as stubs, but seemed to be more than that to me. (They had a brief sketch of the idea, even with some sketch of examples.) I think that in this case it is better to have a

Note icon Incomplete This article is incomplete.

note then a stub tag.

Perhaps it should be possible to get a list of all articles which have an ``article incomplete" tag; or even a label, analogous to (but different from) the stub label. The purpose of the list would be so that potential writers could find articles to contribute to. The purpose of the label would be to warn a reader that they are going to an incomplete article, and so to not get their hopes up too high. (This might be a varient of the ``Wikipedia-like stub" classification that Tim mentioned; but since people are already using article incomplete tags quite systematically, it wouldn't involve adding another attribute.)