[WikiEN-l] deletionism in popular culture

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Oct 8 16:01:48 UTC 2009

At 04:34 AM 10/8/2009, Ray Saintonge wrote:

>Fixing an article involves a lot more work than deleting it. The firemen
>who would do that are further discouraged by the crowd that is hurling
>rocks from the rooftop.

For a while, I would try to fix articles that I thought could be 
rescued, then I noticed that sometimes, too often, finding reliable 
source had no effect at all on the discussion, and, in spite of hours 
of work finding sources and thus improving the article, it would be 
deleted. Writing an article that meets the high standards of scrutiny 
that are often applied at AfD can be a lot of work. The wiki model 
was that, you know about a subject, you write an article, at least 
that was half of it. The other half was someone went to a library and 
created an insane number of half-assed articles that were sourced, 
all right, but written, too often, by someone who didn't understand 
the topic.... Ideally, these two streams would merge and articles 
that were good to someone who knows the subject would also be 
sourced, but if the article is deleted first, the process can't 
happen. The original wiki model didn't even contemplate deletion 
beyond what Sarsaparilla/Absidy/etc. called "Pure Wiki Deletion." 
Which is simply blanking, an ordinary editorial decision, leaving 
everyone free to see the article who wants to.

I gave up. Eventually I came across a controversial topic that 
particularly interested me, where I had the background to understand 
the sources and where my research radically changed my mind. So I 
started working on it, I even bought a pile of books about it (on all 
sides of the controversy), and a major recent and very expensive 
mainstream work on it was donated to me, and I became much more 
vulnerable as a result, since I now had an opinion and a POV, based 
on reading the sources, and I started asserting content based on the 
most reliable of the sources, especially peer-reviewed secondary source.

The information necessary for my major shift of POV is much more than 
most editors could absorb with some light reading. There exist 
secondary sources that cover the field that, if editors would trust 
them, would make it easy, but .... they don't trust these sources, 
even when published by independent, non-fringe publishers, since what 
they say contradicts the easy positions of ignorance. After all, 
doesn't everybody with a background in science know....? Reliable 
source guidelines, if followed, would address the problem, but are 
useless against entrenched opinion, because editors will invent this 
or that excuse for disregarding them, so that the article doesn't 
fall into their view of undue weight.

So ... I'm no longer a Wikipedia editor, I'm now working off-wiki, 
with real knowledge and research in the field that interested me, 
and, as well, on the kind of voluntary structure that I see as the 
only way out of trap that Wikipedia has fallen into. It's much 
easier, though, of course, it all takes time. I still have an 
account, and the block will expire, and I'm not burning any bridges, 
but .... once I realize that a wall definitely exists, I don't butt 
my head against it. I walk around it or dig under it or climb over 
it, if I actually want to get to the other side, or I do something else.

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