[WikiEN-l] We need a policy against vote-stacking

Sigvat Stensholt sigvats at mi.uib.no
Fri May 5 07:16:55 UTC 2006

Jimbo Wales wrote:
>>Ben McIlwain wrote:
>> That would take weeks, and by then the vote-stackers have long gotten
>> away with it.  And I don't think vote-stacking is too subjective.  If
>> you see someone recruiting votes, deal with them.  It's pretty simple.

>I am, again, very much in sympathy with you, but now think about my
>bridge example.  A bridge is placed on AfD.  It looks like it is about
>to be deleted, let's suppose, because idiots are voting on the premise
>of "Well, I have never heard of it, so: nn, delete."

>A bridge expert knows that it *is* an important bridge.

>Now, the right thing to do here, and what used to work, is that our
>bridge expert writes a few sentences:  "This is an important bridge, and
>part of an ongoing project we have in the bridges area to flesh out
>articles on the top 1,000 longest bridges in the world.  This one is
>currently ranked 797.  May not seem important to you, but we have
>verifiable sources and are planning to fill these stubs in over the next
>6-9 months.  Thanks."

>THEN, some admin comes along and says, gee, the vote is 27-3 to delete,
>but frankly, this bridge guy knows what he is talking about, so I am
>going to close it with a keep.

>In today's environment, the admin doing that better be prepared for a
>massive firestorm from process wonks.

>So, what's our bridge guy to do?  Well, one thing he can do is go around
>to all the other bridgipedians (great word, huh?) and point it out to
>them.    Vote stacking?  Maybe, but don't we prefer that these bridge
>people come in and have a say?

This is an interesting case, and the question of experts and expertise on AFD 
has been brought up before, the debate over the validity of articles on 
webcomics is the one which comes to mind. 

My personal opinion here is that an expert should be able to provide a good 
enough argument that a lay-person is convinced to make a "keep" vote.

I want to give some perspective from an "process wonkish" admin who regularly 
closes AFD debates and some of the thought processes which influence my 
choices here.

Now, "nn, delete" votes are REALLY annoying, and I do my best to avoid making 
such votes myself. They are really no more helpful than delete votes without 
commentary whatsoever. Indeed, if the best argument I see for deletion is 
"Delete. Not notable", then I have no trouble with letting a single 
well-argued "keep" vote overruling all of them.

I remember

This debate was a little tough to close, balancing the suffrage of new voters 
with the quality of the arguments they presented. Finally, I decided that the 
argument for keep by the two new keep voters, outweighed the "nn delete" 
votes from the established contributors. Close as a "no consensus". Did I 
wind up in a firestorm because of it?

Well, I got a inquiry on my talkpage from the nominator, and as I recommended 
he brought it to Deletion review. That debate can be read at:


Hardly a firestorm. Indeed, my experience is that closers who provide a good 
reasoning for a possibly controversial close are NOT subjected to firestorms, 
but are usually thanked for their efforts. 

If the article is a good one, the scenario of 27 "nn delete" votes countered 
by three "Keep. This article is on one of the World's top longest bridges. We 
have a number of other articles on bridges much shorter than this" is in fact 
rather unlikely, because 

a) Most people will abandon "nn, delete" reasoning and seriously consider good 
arguments for inclusion if someone throws a strong argument into the debate.
b) We have a number of inclusionists on AFD who more or less reject the notion 
of notability anyway and will vote to keep articles on all roads, streets, 
schools and churches.
c) Most people are loathe to delete well-written articles, even if the 
notability is dubious.

The scenario *could* happen if the content of the article was "This is a 
bridge in Hampshire", but in that case deletion would not really be 
disastrous (We lost only a single sentence and we can always recreate a 
longer and better article without running afoul of the recreation clause of 


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