This is a message I wrote in another mailing list. I'm forwarding it
to enwiki-l at Jimbo's suggestion.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kelly Martin <kelly.lynn.martin(a)gmail.com>
Date: Mar 30, 2007 11:15 AM
Subject: Re: [Otrs-en-l] [SPAM] info-en vs info-fr
To: English OTRS discussion list <otrs-en-l(a)lists.wikimedia.org>
(Comments from another contributor redacted; the discussion was
related to how inclusionist tendencies tend to lead to large numbers
of unmaintained articles.)
This was the gist of my recent blogpost on maintainability as the
proper criterion for inclusion. I freely admit to being an
inclusionist -- I would love to see proper articles on all rysorts of
random topics of even marginal interest -- but I temper that with the
understanding that having unmaintainable articles harms the
encyclopedia as a whole, and the recognition that the Wikipedia
community is not currently capable of maintaining even the articles it
has, let alone all the articles it could possibly have.
My attitude on such people is that the content should be sequestered
in a nonpublic place and reviewed upon notice that the individual in
question has died. If we never receive notice, then that's probably
because the person was not interesting enough in life to justify an
article anyway. Yes, we might sequester an article for decades under
this policy, but I'm an eventualist as well.
However, don't mistake my eventualism for being support for the idea
that we should leave crap articles sitting out there in public view
(which is a point of view commonly attributed to eventualists). I am
firmly opposed to leaving low-quality articles on the public wiki when
doing so will bring disrepute onto the subjects of those articles or
bring harm to Wikipedia as a project. I am therefore very much in
favor of deletion of any article for which there is no established,
committed process for maintenance.
The problem with this is that there is no established, committed
process for maintaining ANY article on Wikipedia. All article
maintenance on Wikipedia, and in fact virtually all process on
Wikipedia, is haphazard. We are just starting to get comprehensive
vandalism management using centralized tools, or so I am told. We
still have no mechanisms for coordinating even so much as article
categorization or article sourcing, both of which are crucial aspects
of article maintenance.
The infrastructure to maintain over a million and a half articles has
never existed on Wikipedia. Until it does, every new article is
another paper cut, bleeding us a bit more each day.
As I see it, the following absolutely must be done:
* All articles must be categorized. A bot can be used to generate
lists of uncategorized articles, and the articles found in this way
presented to volunteer categorizers using a workflow approach.
Articles not categorized within a reasonable time (say, seven days for
new articles, and three months for existing articles) will be deleted.
My understanding is that there are bots that are capable of making
"good guesses" at categorization, so this may be less painful than it
* A mapping of categories onto Subject Working Groups needs to be
established. Each Subject Working Group is responsible for the
maintenance of all articles which are categorized within categories
assigned to that SWG. (If an article is within the scope of multiple
SWGs, an arbitration process, with both automated and deliberative
components, will determine which SWG will be primarily responsible for
* Editors, most of whose edits are made to articles categorized within
a specific SWG, will be identified and asked to form a SWG (or
formalize an existing informal one).
* SWGs will have the responsibility to ensure that all articles within
their ambit are properly sourced, cleaned up, etc.
* Any article which remains unsourced for one month will be deleted.
A bot will detect unsourced articles and notify the responsible SWG of
the article and the need to source it.
This is all entirely orthogonal to vandalism management.
There are already a lot of SWGs on Wikipedia, with varying degrees of
organization; many WikiProjects qualify as such. However, both the
automation and the sense of group responsibility is not currently
present, and needs to be cultivated. We need these people to feel
personally responsible for the quality of all of the articles in their
This is a response to the scaling problem. The English Wikipedia's
community has grown too large to function organically the way it used
to three years ago. It is my belief that breaking it up into multiple
subject-oriented communities will help to combat the scaling problem:
the members of the SWG will all know one another and are far more
likely to remain collegial and productive with one another. A SWG
that gets too large can be subdivided further, which means this
provides an ongoing solution to the scaling problem, not just a
Please feel free to refine this idea or just tell me it's a load of hooey.