zero 0000 wrote
> I agree 101%. Deletionism seems to be a sort of mental disease.
More radical incivility.
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For transparency, the moderated user "countpointercount" has the
following message for subscribers to the mailing list:
'Your "moderators" are now claiming that any reporting of abusive
administrators is a "personal attack." This is obvious coverup
This is in response to my rejection of two emails, both of which I
considered to contain personal attacks because they called various
administrators 'abusive' etc. What are the thoughts of subscribers to
the list on this? What would the appropriate course of action have
Marc Riddell wrote
>I have been
> doing minor editing in WP for a year now and, time permitting, would like to
> participate more actively in the project. And, like anything a person is
> considering becoming a part of, I want to get a sense of its beliefs and
> My work and passion has been, is now, and probably always will be, persons
> and their interactions. That is why this issue is so important to me.
An argument I have produced before, is that bad language and aggressiveness as a routine form of interaction appeals mostly to the young and male. It happens that males 20 to 25 might be the most significant group here. I think it is also the case that such forms of verbal interaction and self-assertion are likely to put off many other demographic groups. So civility policy is one way of trying to broaden the base of contributors, or to retain people who profile is not a good match to those who think freedom of speech is mostly about the right to be f****** rude all the time.
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I'd like to propose a simple approach to dealing with article subjects
of questionable notability, which may represent a solution to many of
the conflicts surrounding such articles. I apologize if this has been
debated before; if so, please point me to the relevant
Our policy is simple: We demand reliable evidence for the notability
of a subject. While the scope of such evidence will certainly continue
to evolve, the principle is not negotiable.
We delete articles that fail to establish notability. Deletion hides
revisions from everyone but admins, a very small percentage of our
user base. Importantly, it even hides them from the authors of the
As an alternative to hard deletion, I propose that we redirect a set
of articles, to be defined below, to a page "Wikipedia:Removed article
(notability)" or sth. similar. This page would explain our basic
notability principles, the procedure for adding sources, and how to go
back to the original article and retrieve an older version from the
history to edit.
By using a redirect, we prevent such pages from being counted as
articles. We also force anyone trying to look at the article to read
the notice we put on the page -- which could be much more effective
than user talk messages. We also make the process of restoring the
previous version somewhat non-obvious, which should reduce the number
of instant reverts. The redirects should be liberally semi-protected
if they do become a problem, which still allows for open history
review, debate, and editing by regular users.
The set of articles that would be treated this way would _exclude_:
- vanity articles (gushing style, created by the subject, utterly
obvious non-notability ..)
- anything that is not following the established encyclopedic format
- anything that is remotely problematic in content (legal risks, ethics)
The set would, however, include the typical non-notable computer
program, webcomic, journalist etc. Many of these articles are fairly
detailed when they get deleted, and in my opinion, soft deletion would
be a real alternative to allow people to continue to review the
== Advantages ==
* Reduces AfD workload and admin burn-out; involves more people in deletion
* Allows open review and discussion of soft-deleted articles
* Engages people who are "hit" by deletion rather than putting them in AfD hell
* Encourages actual improvement when such improvement seems possible,
but inclusion is not yet justifiable
* Makes it easier to systematically track re-creation of non-notable articles
* Avoids the process wonkery of undeletion when notability can be
established and reduces the risk of the risk of duplicated effort (nn
article deleted=>someone else re-creates, now with more sources, but
as a non-admin they do not have access to the original text)
== Possible problems ==
* Could be used where it is not appropriate.
Response: By redirecting to a page which gives a _specific_ policy
reason -- Wikipedia:Removed article (notability) -- we would
implicitly whitelist the cases where soft deletion can be used. If the
risk of it growing out of hand is nevertheless perceived too great, we
could limit it to a specific test category at first, e.g. web comics.
* People can still link to non-notable material by linking to old revisions.
Response: This is already possible -- any revision from any article
can be linked to, regardless of the content it contains. The only
exception are revisions deleted for legal reasons. It hasn't been much
of an issue so far, and I doubt it will become one. If it does, we can
make the "old revision" notice at the top more prominent.
* Could lead to constant edit warring over non-notable topics.
Edit warring is usually quickly dealt with, and reverting redirects
without cause could be considered a bad faith act even without an
actual edit war taking place. In practice, it is unlikely to be a very
different problem from the re-creation of articles once they have been
* Red links become blue.
If the subject is not notable, why is it linked to in the first place? :-)
Peace & Love,
DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.
"An old, rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open,
free and exciting is waking up." -- Ming the Mechanic
Nature has published an article on studies on Wikipedia editing patterns.
I have added some highlights of the article:
Instead, there is an abnormally high number of very highly edited entries.
The researchers say this is just what is expected if the number of new edits
to an article is proportional to the number of previous edits. In other
words, edits attract more edits. The disproportionately highly edited
articles, the researchers say, are those that deal with very topical issues.
And does this increased attention make them better? So it seems. Although
the quality of an entry is not easy to assess automatically, Wilkinson and
Huberman assume that those articles selected as the 'best' by the Wikipedia
user community are indeed in some sense superior. These, they say, are more
highly edited, and by a greater number of users, than the less visible
Who is making these edits, though? Some have claimed that Wikipedia articles
don't truly draw on the collective wisdom of its users, but are put together
mostly by a small, select élite, including the system's administrators.
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has admitted that he spends "a lot of time
listening to four or five hundred" top users.
Aniket Kittur of the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-workers
have set out to discover who really does the
They have looked at 4.7 million pages from the English-language Wikipedia,
subjected to a total of about 58 million revisions, to see who was making
the changes, and how.
The results were striking. In effect, the Wiki community has mutated since
2001 from an oligarchy to a democracy. The percentage of edits made by the
Wikipedia 'élite' of administrators increased steadily up to 2004, when it
reached around 50%. But since then it has steadily declined, and is now just
10% (and falling).
*Weight of numbers*
Even though the edits made by this élite are generally more substantial than
those made by the masses, their overall influence has clearly waned.
Wikipedia is now dominated by users who are much more numerous than the
elite but individually less active. Kittur and colleagues compare this to
the rise of a powerful bourgeoisie within an oligarchic society.
This diversification of contributors is beneficial, Ofer Arazy and
colleagues at the University of Alberta in Canada have
In 2005, when *Nature*'s news team arranged for expert comparisons between
articles in Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica online, the experts found
only a moderate excess of errors in the Wikipedia
(The idea that the two sources were broadly similar was vigorously
challenged by the Encyclopaedia Britannica; see
http://www.nature.com/news/2006/060327/full/440582b.html.) Arazy's team says
that of the 42 Wikipedia entries assessed in the article, the number of
errors decreased as the number of different editors increased.
The main lesson for tapping effectively into the 'wisdom of crowds', then,
is that the crowd should be diverse. In fact, in 2004 Lu Hong and Scott Page
of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor showed that a problem-solving
team selected at random from a diverse collection of individuals will
usually perform better than a team made up of those who individually perform
best — because the latter tend to be too similar, and so draw on too narrow
a range of options5<http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070226/full/070226-6.html#B5>.
For crowds, wisdom depends on variety.
I just had dinner with [[Scott McCloud]], and, unsurprisingly, the
conversation turned to webcomics, and, eventually, to Wikipedia's
treatment of them. (This was partially spurred by the Kristopher
Straub debacle, about which I will say only that it demonstrates the
degree to which the bias is overwhelmingly towards deletion across
many areas of Wikipedia right now)
McCloud is somebody who knows comics. He quite literally wrote the
book on them. In the course of the conversation it became clear that
he was pretty well completely fed up with Wikipedia. And it should be
noted, this comes from someone who has been on the forefront of
digital technology debates several times. He makes clear his
admiration for the concept of Wikipedia. He makes clear his
admiration for how Wikipedia got started. His problem is with how it
The problem he has? Notability. Specifically the arbitrary and
capricious way in which AfD targets things, questions their
notability, and uses guidelines that make no sense from the outside.
See also Timothy Noah's recent article on Slate for this - it gives a
good view of how notability guidelines look to the outside. In this
case, it's how they look to the subject of the article, but I assure
you - they look similar to people who are familiar with the subject.
In short, they appear a Kafka-esque absurdity.
This is a new problem - these are major figures who are sympathetic
to Wikipedia but fed up with its operation. And I can tell you, the
tone among people I talk to in that real life thing I maintain is
pretty similar - great respect for Wikipedia as a concept, reasonable
respect for Wikipedia as a resource, no respect for Wikipedia as
something anyone would ever want to edit. The actual editorial
process of Wikipedia is rightly viewed as a nightmare. Hell, I view
it as a nightmare at this point - I've given up editing it because
the rules seem to have been written, at this point, with the
intention of writing a very bad encyclopedia.
Our efforts to ensure reliability have come at the cost of a great
deal of respect - and respect from people we should have respect
from. We are losing smart, well-educated people who are sympathetic
to Wikipedia's basic principles. That is a disaster.
And it's a disaster that can be laid squarely at the feet of the
grotesque axis of [[WP:RS]] and [[WP:N]] - two pages that are eating
Wikipedia alive from the inside out. (And I don't mean this in terms
of community. I mean that they are systematically being used to turn
good articles into crap, and have yet to demonstrate their actual use
in turning bad articles into good ones.)
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a
boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.
The New Yorker recently added an editor's note to an article they
published in July:
This has been noted by Nicholas Carr and Stephen Dubner (of
Freakonomics), and I imagine it will be picked up by others:
This is the editor's note:
The July 31, 2006, piece on Wikipedia, “Know It All,” by Stacy
Schiff, contained an interview with a Wikipedia site administrator
and contributor called Essjay, whose responsibilities included
handling disagreements about the accuracy of the site’s articles and
taking action against users who violate site policy. He was
described in the piece as “a tenured professor of religion at a
private university” with “a Ph.D. in theology and a degree in canon
Essjay was recommended to Ms. Schiff as a source by a member of
Wikipedia’s management team because of his respected position within
the Wikipedia community. He was willing to describe his work as a
Wikipedia administrator but would not identify himself other than by
confirming the biographical details that appeared on his user page.
At the time of publication, neither we nor Wikipedia knew Essjay’s
real name. Essjay’s entire Wikipedia life was conducted with only a
user name; anonymity is common for Wikipedia admin-istrators and
contributors, and he says that he feared personal retribution from
those he had ruled against online. Essjay now says that his real
name is Ryan Jordan, that he is twenty-four and holds no advanced
degrees, and that he has never taught. He was recently hired by
Wikia—a for-profit company affiliated with Wikipedia—as a “community
manager”; he continues to hold his Wikipedia positions. He did not
answer a message we sent to him; Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of
Wikia and of Wikipedia, said of Essjay’s invented persona, “I regard
it as a pseudonym and I don’t really have a problem with it.”
William Pietri <william(a)scissor.com>
In Jimbo's 2005 "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia" post, he described the
purpose of the project:
Wikipedia is first and foremost an effort to create and distribute a
free encyclopedia of the highest possible quality to every single
person on the planet in their own language.
Does this still hold true? There have been a lot of major changes in
policy in the months since, which, we all hope, are supportive of our
fundamental goals. I think almost everyone who contributes to the
project agrees completely with this mission and wants to maintain it.
But if you think about it, the statement actually contains several
* (create an) encyclopedia
* of the highest possible quality
* (distribute) to every single person on the planet
* in their own language
In fact, these goals occasionally conflict. For instance, machine
translations are considered "worse than nothing" because of their poor
quality, so it would seem that "of the highest possible quality" is
more important than "in their own language".
If Jimbo's statement is still valid, which objectives override the
others? Can they be arranged (preferably by Jimbo) in order of
Can this statement or the principles it represents ever be repealed or
changed? Who has the power to change it? Is this simply a top-down
authoritarian mandate that can't be challenged, or do regular
Wikipedians have a say when changes are made to the ultimate goals and
priorities of the project?