[Wikipedia-l] Deletion of Articles with No Content

Michael R. Irwin mri_icboise at surfbest.net
Sun Aug 25 23:51:54 UTC 2002

Fred Bauder wrote:
> Ok, Yes, Toby's suggestion that an article with a good title but no content
> should be deleted is good policy.

It seems like silly makework to me.

The article will be recreated again anytime anyone
clicks on one of the links leading to it.

If it is a good title then it is an invitation
for anyone who encounters it to add to it.

A poor title seems of no loss.  However, unless
it is replaced with a good title which it previous
links are edited to point at, it seems likely
that it will reoccur quickly.  

Somebody had to code the initial link to the poor 
title to create the article in the first place.  
It seems to me that the only solid way to eliminate 
poor titles is  track the links and recode them to 
a better title.   If the new title is a new article 
then  unless someone undertakes a research project it
will likely be fairly empty or stubby for a while.

I think that having the Wikipedia Guard or Militia
routinely deleting empty good titled articles may
only slow down the growth in bread and depth of
the Wikipedia.   Some people may like organizing
the link structures and establishing good initial titles
and interconnections.   Why should this contribution
be routinely deleted?   How much subsequent work is
then lost from contributors who while browsing may
choose to add an easy paragraph but who will not
undertake an entire stub and the effort required
to link it appropriately into an entire encyclopedia?

Some areas of the Wikipedia already feel pretty
circular and concise.   They have no sloppy or poor titles 
hanging out for random fortuitous contributions from
readers.   They have a concise complete feel to them
that screams static encyclopedic overview with no place
for further detail.

To summarize, I am unconvinced that routine pruning
of good article titles is useful to attaining our
goals of depth, breadth, and reliability.  Rather, I think
it may actually be harmful.

Mike Irwin

P.S.  It might be an interesting experiment to build a
detailed maze of good article titles and stubs in some
underdeveloped subject area of the Wikipedia and toy around
with some twikification techniques.  If a couple of 
regulars cooperated in an area of common interest
it might convince newcomers that Wikipedia is truly alive
with sufficient utilization to keep its content dynamic
and growing.  As it is I think the first multi Wikipedian
contact in near realtime of many newcomers may often be in a 
negative atmosphere of panic and anger as the mailing list 
is attracted to some  poor content locus for deletion sprees.

P.S.2  To address the issue of the most wanted list.  Perhaps
its code could be enhanced to provide a weighted list or
set of lists.   Thus two paragraph stubs referenced 26 times
which have little or no outbound links would get some 
attention from people who prefer checking most wanted lists
rather than subject browsing or random inspection for 
twikification efforts.  Perhaps we could identify some syntax 
factors that make a good Wikipedia article such as 
(perhaps):  length, median word size, median sentence length, 
average paragraph length, number of commas, number of inbound 
links, number of out bound links, editor rating, reader 
rating, etc. An advantage of this approach is that eventually 
various automated quality scanning tools could help people 
target material needing their particular gifts or interests.

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