[WikiEN-l] Deletion of user subpages

Fastfission fastfission at gmail.com
Fri May 19 15:19:59 UTC 2006

>From my reading of [[WP:USER]], it seems to me that a subpage in the
user namespace which expresses opinions about Wikipedia or admin
behavior, or one which is the beginning of an attempt to organize
users towards one goal or another (a pre-born Wikiproject), should be
totally legal, irregardless of whether other users think the idea is a
good one or whether or not it "takes up resources".

And yet, at [[Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion]], there have been a
number of cases lately where things are nominated for just this
reason. People seem to vote without any consideration other than
whether they think the subpage is "a good idea" or a "waste of
resources" (of course, the MFD votes often taken up almost exactly the
same amount of database space as the pages in question, but let's not
let logic get involved here).

There are two things I think we should do here. One is to try and
hammer out if all user subpages must be "useful to the encyclopedia"
(as many claim they must, when they are on the chopping block), and,
if so, ADD THAT to the user page guidelines. If we DO want to go down
that path, we should come up with some clear cut guidelines for what
counts as "useful". Must it be useful for writing articles? For
organizing research? For telling others about yourself? Does something
which facilitates the community count as "useful", even if it does not
directly apply to article writing?

For example, I have a page on my subpages which is a list of all free
images I have drawn for Wikipedia. It serves no direct purpose except
maybe for me to feel good about my accomplishments, and to encourage
others to feel good about them too. Does that make it "useful"? Maybe.
Since I'm not getting paid monetarily for my contributions (which take
hours to create, mind you), a little ego stroking is a good way to
make sure that I (and others) keep working at it. So in that sense,
the page is very "useful": it guarantees that I will keep coming back
and spending my valuable time on this project. (I of course do not
mean this to refer only or even directly to "me", but mean it as "the
hypothetical editor".)

But where do we draw the line? Is a page which criticizes the
implementation of Wikipedia policy "useful"? Is a page which
criticizes the policy outright "useful"? What if it makes blanket
statements about the actions of "admins"? Does that go too far? Where
does "useful criticism and disagreement" end and "personal attacks"

I of course do not expect there are simple answers to these questions,
but I've been really quite disturbed over the last week by the way
some people have been voting to delete (or even speedying) pages in
the userspace which in my mind were not a problem at all. (On
speedying: I think if a reasonable number of people do NOT think a
page is an "attack page", it should not be speedied under the "no
attack pages" CSD. I am happy to "trust admin judgment" but in
ambiguous cases, if we trusted the judgment of all admins, we'd end up
with endless wheel-warring.) The reasons given were poor, in my mind,
and people were labeling criticisms (however misguided or incorrect)
as "attacks", criticized one page for creating "factionalism" (because
it was trying to organize people to support a policy change, which
would inevitably create some disagreement), and voting down pages
because there was "no need for them" and they weren't "useful to the

This dismays me. Not because I think my user subpages, of which there
are a few, are ever going to be on the chopping block. It dismays me
because reaching into what others perceive to be "their territory" --
and yes, I know that nobody "owns" any pages on WP, that WP is not a
webhost, etc., but it cannot be denied that people feel a little
proprietary about their userspace, and that this is not entirely
discouraged -- is a rather presumptuous thing to do, and I think
should only be done in cases where it is CLEARLY warranted. I think
the "bad blood" created by nominating someone's stillborn Wikiproject
for deletion is completely unnecessary -- if it is not "doing
anything", then just ignore it! Perhaps this makes me a little more
old-fashioned "if it ain't your business, don't mess with it", but I
find it really hard to stomach when a group of people can vote down
someone's user pages, often for reasons which have NOTHING to do with
any of our user page guidelines.

Personally, I don't care if people want to write little half-baked
essays relating to Wikipedia policies on the subpages. If someone
wanted to write a little essay about why free content is dumb, let
them do it. Who cares? It's not going to change the world, it's not
going to sink the project (and if it did sink the project, then that
indicates far bigger problems than one little essay). We don't have
any "right to free speech" on Wikipedia, but I don't think people are
out of line to expect that they have the ability to criticize things
they don't like, as long as they don't cross over that fuzzy line to
being "attack" (I think accusations of "attacks" should be reserved
only for those things which are *clearly* personal attacks, and not
just personal criticisms).

I think our user page policy needs an overhaul, and I think we need to
have better guidelines for the deletion of pages out of the user
space, because I think it is a place where feelings of others can get
pointlessly trampled on. Who cares about feelings? I do. Not because
I'm a bleeding-heart sort of person -- because I believe that
Wikipedia runs on good will. People will only contribute well when
they feel wanted and appreciated. The people who are happy to
contribute even when they feel they are not wanted are, for the large
part, pretty problematic (most POV-pushers know they aren't wanted,
for example, but have decided it is their "crusade").

By all means -- edit the article namespace ruthlessly. Delete like
crazy, if there is reason to. But I think we need to be a little more
careful with the user namespace, and develop some explicit guidelines
which say as much.


More information about the WikiEN-l mailing list