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> The Deletion Process at Wikipedia
timbo
post Wed 2nd November 2011, 5:53pm
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I found an interesting article buried in the footnotes of the Oct. 31, 2011 edition of The Wikipedia Signpost, an academic study dealing with the deletion process at Wikipedia. The pdf for the piece, entitled "Participation in Wikipedia's Article Deletion Processes," by R. Stuart Geiger and Heather Ford of UC Berkeley, is published under a Creative Commons license and is freely available:

http://www.wikisym.org/ws2011/_media/proce...p201-geiger.pdf

Takeaways are that approximately 60% of all deletions at WP over the past 4 years have been done by Administrators as speedy deletions and that "A7: No indication of importance" is overwhelmingly the most commonly-cited reason for the speedy — indicating that such deletions are of generally encyclopedic material.

With respect to the "Articles for Deletion" process, the authors found that AfD debates were dominated by a relatively small number of long-time WP participants and more or less echoed anecdotal evidence that "the deletion process is plagued by highly-nuanced standards and norms, substantial use of jargon and categorization, compartmentalization of related processes, and a significant imbalance between the number of procedurally-oriented administrators and procedurally- unaware newcomers."

The discussion question I have: how big of a problem is this? Is the "A7 Speedy Deletion Criterion" being abused by administrators?

Further: Does the makeup at AfD of experienced editors, apt to spout jargon and sometimes obscure policies and standards, negatively impact the project — or does it add an aspect of quality control that would be lacking if these debates were dominated by newcomers driven by narrow single interests separate from established policy?

t

This post has been edited by timbo: Wed 2nd November 2011, 5:58pm
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Tarc
post Wed 2nd November 2011, 6:31pm
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QUOTE(timbo @ Wed 2nd November 2011, 1:53pm) *
Further: Does the makeup at AfD of experienced editors, apt to spout jargon and sometimes obscure policies and standards, negatively impact the project — or does it add an aspect of quality control that would be lacking if these debates were dominated by newcomers driven by narrow single interests separate from established policy?

t


I think the process is aided more by people who know about notability thresholds and such that articles need to meet as opposed to the passionate fan that just cannot believe why his favorite indie band in the world isn't loved and instantly article-worthy. I do try to avoid tossing out naked wiki-acronyms in the course of a discussion as I think that can be off-putting to those unfamiliar with the process. e.g. "We can't have this article because of [[WP:OR]] and [[WP:RS]] concerns" as opposed to "We can't have this article because of our guidelines on not allowing personal opinions not attributed to reliable sources", with the appropriate wikilinks piped somewhere.
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thekohser
post Thu 3rd November 2011, 2:25am
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To the Annex!
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carbuncle
post Thu 3rd November 2011, 2:47am
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QUOTE(timbo @ Wed 2nd November 2011, 5:53pm) *

Takeaways are that approximately 60% of all deletions at WP over the past 4 years have been done by Administrators as speedy deletions and that "A7: No indication of importance" is overwhelmingly the most commonly-cited reason for the speedy — indicating that such deletions are of generally encyclopedic material.

Can you please explain how you arrive at that conclusion?
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Detective
post Fri 4th November 2011, 2:59pm
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In an ideal world, the best way to deal with deletions would be to have an expert review panel that could draw on specialists in the subject. You might argue that AfD regulars are sort of an expert panel, though of course like anything to do with WP the experts aren't very expert and specialists get short shrift. It would be nice to debar POV warriors from such discussions, but how could that be done?
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thekohser
post Fri 4th November 2011, 6:29pm
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One thing that still tickles me about Wikipedia is that they reviewed the status of a List of U.S. ticker symbols, which would actually be a very useful list, and very easily maintained by investors.

But, because most Wikipediots are too young and broke to even consider things like stocks, they ignored all the "Keep" votes, and the list was deleted.

They delete that, but they keep more important lists like:
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_characters_in_the_Pok%C3%A9mon_anime_series
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._military_vehicles_by_supply_catalog_designation
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_undersea-carried_planes
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_topics_related_to_Belgian_punk_rock

It's deletion decisions like these that make me realize how hopeless Wikipedia is.
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Abd
post Fri 4th November 2011, 8:48pm
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QUOTE(carbuncle @ Wed 2nd November 2011, 9:47pm) *
QUOTE(timbo @ Wed 2nd November 2011, 5:53pm) *
Takeaways are that approximately 60% of all deletions at WP over the past 4 years have been done by Administrators as speedy deletions and that "A7: No indication of importance" is overwhelmingly the most commonly-cited reason for the speedy — indicating that such deletions are of generally encyclopedic material.
Can you please explain how you arrive at that conclusion?
It's explained in the article.
QUOTE
While further study is certainly necessary on this issue, our preliminary findings indicate that the deletion process is heavily frequented by longstanding users, even though one would assume that an article being nominated for deletion would bring in editors who worked on that article to defend it. In analyzing the rationales given for speedy deletions, it is apparent that the vast majority of articles deleted in such a manner are not spam, vandalism, or „patent nonsense,‟ but rather articles which could be considered encyclopedic, but do not fit the project‟s standards. The A7 CSD criteria in particular shows how many articles are deleted not because the topic was explicitly judged to be unimportant, but rather that such importance was simply not indicated. Yet the participation rates in AfDs suggest that new users who likely do not know that they must specify such importance (or the discursive techniques and technical practices required to, say, add citations) are certainly not entering AfD debates to defend the legitimacy of their newly-created articles.
Wikipedia has not enabled email notification of edits to watchlisted pages. (meta has this.) So if you are an occasional user who only checks Wikipedia infrequently, you will never see the AfD, and you may well never notice that your article is gone. And if you do, if you are like the vast majority of users, you will have little idea of how to appeal, and, in an appeal, you will be up against a coterie of highly-experienced editors who know how to manipulate discussions. The system is heavily stacked against newcomers.

What has been happening, long-term, is that Wikipedia has been fouling its nest. It's not particularly visible on-wiki, because these users, those who notice the deletions, most often simply go away believing that Wikipedia is arbitrary, uncaring, inflexible, and often they also think it's hostile and biased, and sometimes they are right. And they tell their friends, on occasion, if "Wikipedia" comes up.

Wikipedia could easily have developed what I called "junkyard space," after the old junkyards that are really recycling centers. The junkyard would be for material that is not considered adequately notable for inclusion in the encyclopedia, but which is legal. Another variant on this that was proposed is WP:PWD, "Pure Wiki Deletion," i.e., blanking, or replacement with some kind of generic notice page that content may be read in history. All these would have made exclusion from the encyclopedia, i.e., mainspace, into ordinary editorial decisions, not requiring administrative tools. What would properly be a classification or information organization task, was turned, instead, into a black and white decision (Keep/Delete), a formula for dispute and division.

While, in theory, deletion is reversible, DRV isn't necessarily any better than AfD, it may be even more dominated by the obsessives.

Bottom line, Wikipedia structure was a setup for what happened. There was, indeed, some serious vision involved in the creation of Wikipedia, but it was naive. My view has long been that some relatively simple changes (actually, modest additions to structure) would have preserved the original vision and addressed the resulting problems, but there is what has elsewhere been called the "Lomax effect," because I was writing about it long before I was involved in Wikipedia.

If the structure of an organization favors a faction, and it is proposed to change the structure to distribute power equitably, the faction will likely oppose it, and, by the terms of the problem, they have excess power. In real examples I've seen, the faction believes that they understand what the organization needs, better than the average member, and they might even be right. But holding on to power in that way (rather than by natural leadership) often ultimately weakens the organization, and tends to burn out the faction, which then blames everyone else for not supporting them adequately.

Most sane people just walk away, so organizations afflicted by this (and that's many) lose organizational intelligence and the dysfunction increases with time, until something upsets the applecart. In businesses, this might be a competitor. Wikipedia is interesting to me, for the long term, because a competitor could with relative ease appropriate all the content (and with some approaches, all the deleted content, too, it's all been released except for that deleted for copyvio.) The difficulty is in start-up, but as Wikipedia itself becomes more and more difficult to approach, for newcomers, someone just might appear to eat their lunch.
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TheKartingWikipedian
post Sat 5th November 2011, 11:31am
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QUOTE
The difficulty is in start-up, but as Wikipedia itself becomes more and more difficult to approach, for newcomers, someone just might appear to eat their lunch.


I wondered about this. Why doesn't the likes of Bauder at Wikinfo just take a full copy of Wikipedia instead of exepcting people to import individual articles - with all the redlinks - and then have to build on it.

Certainly Wikipedia is becoming more and more "difficult to approach", especially in contentious areas. Some of my adversaries over there spend just about all of their time reverting other editors, especially editors new to an article or an "issue", and tag teaming (very effectively in some cases) to push their POV. It drives away genuine, competent editors like me who wish to make serious contributions (i.e push my own POV).
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radek
post Tue 8th November 2011, 5:32pm
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QUOTE(thekohser @ Fri 4th November 2011, 12:29pm) *

One thing that still tickles me about Wikipedia is that they reviewed the status of a List of U.S. ticker symbols, which would actually be a very useful list, and very easily maintained by investors.

But, because most Wikipediots are too young and broke to even consider things like stocks, they ignored all the "Keep" votes, and the list was deleted.

They delete that, but they keep more important lists like:
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_characters_in_the_Pok%C3%A9mon_anime_series
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._military_vehicles_by_supply_catalog_designation
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_undersea-carried_planes
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_topics_related_to_Belgian_punk_rock
It's deletion decisions like these that make me realize how hopeless Wikipedia is.


The discussion you link to has it as Keep. what happened?
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thekohser
post Tue 8th November 2011, 8:00pm
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QUOTE(radek @ Tue 8th November 2011, 12:32pm) *

The discussion you link to has it as Keep. what happened?


What happened was a second crack at it. Cogent arguments from people with such illustrious names as "Flying Hamster" won the day.
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radek
post Tue 8th November 2011, 9:58pm
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QUOTE(thekohser @ Tue 8th November 2011, 2:00pm) *

QUOTE(radek @ Tue 8th November 2011, 12:32pm) *

The discussion you link to has it as Keep. what happened?


What happened was a second crack at it. Cogent arguments from people with such illustrious names as "Flying Hamster" won the day.


Where did all the previous "Keep" votes go this time? This does smell funny. At the very least they did the "hush hush wait and then fly the AfD under the radar" thing (pretty common).
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Catfish Jim and the soapdish
post Fri 11th November 2011, 9:48pm
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QUOTE(timbo @ Wed 2nd November 2011, 5:53pm) *
The discussion question I have: how big of a problem is this? Is the "A7 Speedy Deletion Criterion" being abused by administrators?


A7 is abused in general. Mostly by inexperienced new page patrollers. I decline about 75% of the A7 nominations I look at.

It's simple... Speedy deletions are for uncontroversial deletions. A7 is for articles about people or "things" for which there is no notability asserted...

"Asserted" not "demonstrated".

The bar is really quite low. If there's any inkling of notability whatsoever, then the new page patroller should be proactive and see if there's any possibility of improving the article by adding references. Only if it's obvious (after checking) that this cannot be done should the article be nominated for deletion and it should be via PROD or AFD.

My pet peave is people nominating articles about bands for deletion because they've never heard of them... even though the article clearly asserts notability as per WP:MUS. Grrr.

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GlassBeadGame
post Fri 11th November 2011, 10:01pm
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QUOTE(Catfish Jim and the soapdish @ Fri 11th November 2011, 4:48pm) *

QUOTE(timbo @ Wed 2nd November 2011, 5:53pm) *
The discussion question I have: how big of a problem is this? Is the "A7 Speedy Deletion Criterion" being abused by administrators?


A7 is abused in general. Mostly by inexperienced new page patrollers. I decline about 75% of the A7 nominations I look at.

It's simple... Speedy deletions are for uncontroversial deletions. A7 is for articles about people or "things" for which there is no notability asserted...

"Asserted" not "demonstrated".

The bar is really quite low. If there's any inkling of notability whatsoever, then the new page patroller should be proactive and see if there's any possibility of improving the article by adding references. Only if it's obvious (after checking) that this cannot be done should the article be nominated for deletion and it should be via PROD or AFD.

My pet peave is people nominating articles about bands for deletion because they've never heard of them... even though the article clearly asserts notability as per WP:MUS. Grrr.


Yeah, fucking pack of A7 losers.
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Catfish Jim and the soapdish
post Fri 11th November 2011, 11:29pm
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QUOTE(GlassBeadGame @ Fri 11th November 2011, 10:01pm) *
Yeah, fucking pack of A7 losers.


Only if there's no assertion of notability, otherwise it might be PROD losers...
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