[WikiEN-l] deletionism in popular culture

Gwern Branwen gwern0 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 3 12:20:05 UTC 2009

On Fri, Oct 2, 2009 at 4:09 PM, Charles Matthews <charles.r.matthews at ntlworld.com> wrote:
> Gwern Branwen wrote:
>  >Charles Matthews wrote
>>> Counterfactually, suppose you had a team of "universal" researchers you
>>> could assign to work on articles. What relative weight would you give to
>>> various types of work?
>> I realize it isn't one of your options, but if I really had such a
>> crack team? I'd dispatch them to AfD.
> Oh, but it was meant to be a sub-option of "(d) researching for articles
> where the initial submission was clearly under-researched". Because the
> discussion is meant to be about rescuable articles. And if the topic is
> just nonsense, you can't rescue it with refs. It seems clearly wrong to
> wait for the AfD nomination before upgrading, so this is the broad form
> of class of articles that we are thinking about here.

Oh. OK, then, I'm fine with it being '(d)' if you are.

>> All the other areas are ones where effort would be repaid with no
>> multipliers. In a way, if an article hasn't been created on an old
>> topic yet (your red links, your topic lists), then that alone shows it
>> isn't important. Likewise, if a longstanding article needs work, then
>> doesn't its longstandingness show that it isn't apparently all *that*
>> awful because someone would've fixed it up if it was so bad and they
>> cared about it?
> Tell me this isn't true. No, really, encyclopedias do not consist of
> "important" topics only.

Shh - don't tell the deletionists that!

> And in fact being comprehensive is our
> strongest suit anyway. (And don't tell me there are no important
> geographical articles we're missing, because that is definitely false.)
> The article that gets of the order of a few thousand hits a year may not
> look like much to a traffic snob. The point I would like to make is that
> 50,000 of those make up a huge total number of hits.

I would say, as a general approximation over more than 3 million articles, my assertions are more true than false. Important articles, with lots of traffic, will tend to fix up important issues (with enough eyes...); that's the wiki model.

>> Worse is Better. Nobody will think better of Wikipedia if some old
>> article gets a dozen references and some tags removed. But the editors
>> of an article *will* remember it if an angel swooped in and saved
>> their article and laid the groundwork for improvements.
> Depends on your priorities. It being all about editors and not at all
> about readers is not what I believe, certainly.
> Charles

If you care about the latter, you will prioritize the former. Which came first, the editor or the reader? Readers go wherever Google & other readers tell them to go, and that's where maintained content is. How do you get maintained content? Editors. Take care of the editors, and the readers will follow.

Same ultimate goal (the point of the wiki is to be *used* after all, not play nomic), but very different emphasis in the means.

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