Karl Juhnke wrote:
--- "Michael R. Irwin"
>I think that having the Wikipedia Guard or Militia
>routinely deleting empty good titled articles may
>only slow down the growth in bread and depth of
>the Wikipedia. Some people may like organizing
>the link structures and establishing good initial titles
>and interconnections. Why should this contribution
>be routinely deleted? How much subsequent work is
>then lost from contributors who while browsing may
>choose to add an easy paragraph but who will not
>undertake an entire stub and the effort required
>to link it appropriately into an entire encyclopedia?
It is not enough to say that "sombody" should fix the stub. Every
Wikipediholic has pet subject areas that already require more of his
time than he has. We don't mind going into an article to make minor
spelling corrections, but there's always the risk that wandering away
from that task will land us in a new edit war. If your not going to be
that "somebody" there's no need to complain when a useless stub is deleted.
It is interesting that the debate about article
deletion turns on the
contributing habits of other people, not ourselves.
Saying that "somebody" should ... is certainly about other people's
Therefore article deletion seems to be less a matter of
building, and more a matter of public relations. How does the
established community interact with newbies?
The difficulty about newbie work is that it's so variable. Nevertheless
the responsible ones are soon recognized.
Far and away the most important impression for new
whether or not they are part of a vibrant, ongoing interaction. I
still remember the huge rush it was for me to write my first short
article, and discover a few hours later that someone had corrected my
spelling and added a link. From that instant I was sold on the
concept, and began preaching to everyone who would listen that
Wikipedia was the Next Big Thing (TM).
That they changed the spelling was proof that somebody had read what you
By the same token, the worst possible impression
newbies can get is
that nobody cares. I am still smarting from having a change of mine
reversed with no more than a terse comment and no effort at dialogue.
And I remember the disappointment of waiting for days and days to see
what would be done with another contribution of mine, only to slowly
conclude that nobody was going to work on it with me. Each case was a
different side of being ignored. (Of course, by now I realize the
efficiencies of discussing by editing rather than talking about
editing, and realize too that even the most obscure article comes
around for editing eventually, but I didn't have that perspective at
With this in mind, I think that the timing of a delete is critical. If
someone created an empty article a month ago and nothing has happened
to it since, we need have no fear of deleting it. Whoever made it is
long gone. They don't care about it, or they wouldn't have left it.
They won't feel that we are undoing their hard work; they aren't coming
back every week to admire their miniscule efforts.
On the other extreme, if a useless article has been created by a newbie
in the last twenty-four hours, they would likely be extremely gratified
at any attempt at communication, if only appending to their article
"Would you like to expand this a little? See
Good point, This doesn't argue against deleting useless articles, only
against doing so hastily.
I know from my father's reaction to Wikipedia
complete dismissal) how damaging it is to have poor articles, and how
much preferable it would be to have nothing at all rather than garbage
or a pathetic stub. On the other hand, now that I am a contributor
myself, I can see how counterproductive it would be to try to remove
everything that "lowers the average".
This is very interesting. Now how do you convince your father to
contribute?! Perhaps if you could show him occasional printed copies of
articles in his fields of interest that require "small" improvements,
and ask him for his opinion about these; You would then, dutiful son
that you are, add the improvements to the Wikipedia article, print it,
and ask him if it now properly reflects his views and if it properly
"raises the average". Your father is likely the product of an
educational philosophy that promoted the passive consumption of
knowledge. What was then written in the texbooks was undisputable truth
that you only questioned at your own peril. The knowledge explosion, of
which the internet is a big part, has put that notion on its ear.
The best solution I can think of is to make it more
obvious that poor
articles are obviously under construction.
There is a distinction to be made between a poor article, where you are
right, and a useless article that doesn't add to people's knowledge.
It's the latter that are better deleted.