[Foundation-l] Biographies of Living People: a quick interim update

Birgitte SB birgitte_sb at yahoo.com
Tue Mar 10 13:21:07 UTC 2009

--- On Mon, 3/9/09, Sue Gardner <sgardner at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> From: Sue Gardner <sgardner at wikimedia.org>
> Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Biographies of Living People: a quick interim update
> To: "Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List" <foundation-l at lists.wikimedia.org>
> Date: Monday, March 9, 2009, 4:59 PM
> 2009/3/8 Nathan <nawrich at gmail.com>:
> > On Sun, Mar 8, 2009 at 5:12 PM, Sue Gardner <sgardner at wikimedia.org>
> wrote:
> >
> >>
> >> 1)  There is a big unresolved question around
> whether, if
> >> marginally-notable people ask to have their
> articles deleted, that
> >> request should be granted.  My sense -both from
> the discussion here
> >> and other discussions elsewhere- is that many
> Wikipedians are very
> >> strongly protective of their general right to
> retain even very
> >> marginal BLPs.  Presumably this is because
> notability is hard to
> >> define, and they are worried about stupid
> across-the-board
> >> interpretations that will result in massive
> deletionism.  However,
> >> other people strongly feel that the current
> quantity of BLPs about
> >> less-notable people diminish the overall quality
> of the encyclopedia,
> >> reduce our credibility, and run the risk of
> hurting real people.
> >> There seems to be little consensus here.  
> Roughly: some people seem
> >> to strongly feel the bar for notability should be
> set higher, and
> >> deletion requests generally granted: others seem
> to strongly feel the
> >> current state is preferable.  I would welcome
> discussion about how to
> >> achieve better consensus on this issue.
> >>
> >>
> > I would quibble with this statement a little bit.
> There is a difference in
> > my mind between raising the notability bar and
> granting weight to subject
> > requests for deletion. There seems to be a growing
> agreement that marginally
> > notable subjects make for bad biographies and greater
> risk; there is very
> > little appetite for beginning deletion discussions or
> deleting articles upon
> > subject request.
> >
> > So these two issues need to be separated, because
> indeed they are quite
> > separate.
> Totally agreed, yes - thanks Nathan. In future I will
> separate these
> two points.
>  One asks whether the subject of an article (be it a
> person,
> > corporation, or any other entity with living
> representatives) should be
> > afforded some control over encyclopedia content, even
> as little as the
> > ability to request a deletion nomination; most
> Wikipedians would be against
> > this, I believe.
> Hm. That's interesting.
> As a basic principle, that makes sense to me - that article
> subjects
> shouldn't have control over the content of the
> encyclopedia.  But
> -perhaps this is a little bit of hair-splitting- OTOH I
> don't think we
> should take deletion requests any _less_ seriously than
> complaints
> from disinterested observers. In other words - someone
> saying "the
> article about me is awful and shouldn't be in an
> encyclopedia" should
> be taken equally as seriously as someone saying "that
> article about X
> is awful and doesn't deserve to be in an encyclopedia." In
> both
> instances, the article needs be assessed on its own
> merits.
> I say this because sometimes I think people may be tempted
> to refuse
> deletion requests _because_ they come from the article
> subject. If
> that indeed happens, I believe it's a mistake.

That is why I think we should process deletion requests by the subject without any special notice if they have a chance being deleted. And if they are obvious cases where they will be kept, simply tell the person we don't delete on request.  Putting these articles at AfD with a note that the subject requested deletion is going to make things worse most of the time. It will attract people to the discussion who are interested in putting on a show for the announced audience and who would not show up at a basic AfD. I don't think listing an AfD as a subject request will change the overall result of the discussion, but just make the path to that result more difficult for the subject. 

Birgitte SB


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