[WikiEN-l] Re: Deletion policy needed

Alex Rosen arosen at novell.com
Mon Oct 20 22:21:41 UTC 2003

>For the other 20% it works poorly.  These are cases where we end up 
>discussion what Wikipedia is, or how the article space should be 
>organized.  Most of these conversations end up deadlocked, and the 
>outcome is that the articles are kept.  The many "List of," "Slogan,"

>and "biography" discussions are examples of this.  The quality of the

>decision making was low, and the number of Wikipedians made upset in
>process was high.

Yes. But I think this shows that the biggest problem is not with the
deletion policy but with the deletion criteria policy (i.e. What
Wikipedia is Not).

Most of the contentious items on VfD are not *really* arguments about
the particular article, but about the general criteria for including or
deleting certain types of articles. For example, the debate over whether
a certain elementary school should be deleted is not a debate over how
famous that school is - everyone acknowledges that it's not any more
famous than any other school. But some people feel that only
famous/important/notable subjects should be included in Wikipedia, so
they vote for deletion; others think that any true fact should be
included, so they vote to keep it. So the vote gets contentious. Then
the next day (or next hour) another item gets listed, and the same
debate happens again, without ever getting resolved.

Now imagine that we came to an "official" decision that only "notable"
subjects belonged on Wikipedia.* Now the only debate would be whether
this particular elementary school was notable or not, which would
probably not be much of a debate.

I think we need a better process for turning the recurring debates over
individual articles into policy decisions. We have a standard system for
deciding on a particular article (that's what we're debating now), but
to my knowledge there's no standard system for deciding on policies for
entire classes of articles, which I think would have a much bigger
positive impact.

--Alex (axlrosen)

* Although what would really be needed would be a general idea of *how*
notable the subject should be. Of course this would be impossible to
define precisely, but there are a number of ways I can think of that we
could pin it down fairly well. Certainly much better than now, where
there's not even a policy that says whether or not the subject needs to
be notable at all. Also, we'd need to settle the whole "list" question
as soon as possible, and more...

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