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Father of the moderm tiling WMs proposed for deletion in Wikipedia. (wikipedia.org)
92 points by pmarin on Mar 3, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 93 comments

Wikipedia should disable "non-notable" article deletion for a year and see what happens. The rampant deletionist problem really hurts editor morale. People spend hours working on articles only to have them deleted, often for arbitrary reasons. For a site that lives and dies by its ability to attract new volunteers, they sure do their best to scare people off.

Definitely: I stopped contributing (content and money) to Wikipedia after non-notable deletions ~2006 took out most of my contributions. At the time it was noted that it was easier to list a porn star (anything with a major distributor was automatically considered notable) than an academic who hadn't managed to get a real dead-tree newspaper article written about them (journals, awards, etc. didn't count as much as 2 paragraphs in USA Today). I hope that's changed since then but it definitely killed any interest I had in contributing more time for a uninterested editor to discard without comment.

The biggest problem is that blogs aren't considered a notable source:

> Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason self-published media—whether books, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, blogs, personal pages on social networking sites, Internet forum postings, or tweets—are largely not acceptable. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources#Self...

This makes it really hard to defend open source software against WP:N allegations, since most of your coverage is from these kinds of sources...

Dare Obasanjo, a Program Manager at Microsoft and son of the former President of Nigeria [1], has run into this same issue on his (ahem, non-notable) blog: "[I]t irritates me that I have a Wikipedia entry with a giant banner that claims I'm lying about my parenthood" [2]

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olusegun_Obasanjo

[2] http://www.25hoursaday.com/weblog/2007/03/13/WikipediaWhosYo...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dare_Obasanjo deleted for non-notability....

Kind of amusing given the extreme old-media bias they have for a web-based project: want to bet that a post on an NYT blog would count?

It really is sad how much effort is put into identifying and arguing about what articles to delete. It looks like there are about 100 of these each day.

Especially since there are still so many holes in the encyclopedia. For instance, parallel giant slalom is a snowboarding event in the Olympics. Yet it doesn't have a page on Wikipedia, just a one line mention on a general snowboarding page: "an event that involves head-to-head racing". I would not be surprised if someone had created a page at some point but it was deleted for not being notable or sourced or some other junk.

Wikipedia also lives and dies by it's reputation. People have tried forking Wikipedia with more inclusive policies numerous times (the code base and articles are open source), and they've all ended up filled with junk.

I was involved with Wikipedia very heavily for it's first three years (not been involved for the last 5 years), and there have been periods when it went through more liberal stages of allowing a broader range of content. The policies they have now aren't something that've just been made up. They're policies that have evolved over a decade of seeing what works and what doesn't.

Non-notable articles often end up abandoned and vandalized for long period. Sure the precise criteria for notability and verifiability might be debatable, but there's absolutely no question that those criteria help make Wikipedia a reliable source of data.

Think about the reason you want something in Wikipedia (rather than just say on a Google Sites page or Mahalo, etc). You want it on Wikipedia precisely because of the reputation it has, and that reputation is in a large part down to the criteria of notability and verifiability.

> Non-notable articles often end up abandoned and vandalized for long period.

Yes, but can't we use some other criteria for this than the utterly absurd ones being deployed to destroy all of the articles on open source software? I used to use the Wikipedia to orient myself in that domain, but now it really is practically useless due to the latest round of deletion madness, which is based on the "If it's not mentioned in the New York Times, it doesn't exist" criterion. (For example, I was looking into wikis recently, and found that if I went back 6 months, the articles were much better...) It seems plain that different criteria need to be developed for different domains.

Either the destruction of the `dwm` article follows from the principles being deployed or it doesn't; and either it is worth an article (which it would be simply insane to deny) or it isn't. You don't take a stand on which combination of views you hold, and what the solution is, but only affirm the abstract principle that 'there are limits'.

I think people miss this subtle point, which is it's about volunteer's time and effort, not disk space. I want Wikipedia to contain as much information as humanly possible (and by "humanly" I mean across our species), but I recognize that it's a finite number of volunteers managing all of it. For that reason, it's inevitable that some articles will get cut.

If people are complaining about their articles getting cut, doesn't that mean that they care about those articles and would maintain them? Wikipedia is actively spurning volunteers and reducing that "finite number" with deletionism.

Not necessarily. I think people are more likely to complain than do the grunt-work of active maintenance. It's certainly easier to do so. And creating an article doesn't indicate commitment.

I think there are problems - from what I've seen, people outside of an area can be too quick to judge notability. But I find the attitude that nothing should be deleted naive.

After a WP article about writer Alan Cabal was deleted, following many AfDs, I re-wrote it from scratch as a Squidoo lens, probably for the better: http://www.squidoo.com/Alan_Cabal

The WP article does still lie in userspace waiting to be resurrected, but it's a complete waste of time to try and get it back into mainspace: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:MichaelQSchmidt/sandbox_Th...

There are other options out there. Citizendium? If the article about dwm is deleted, re-write it at Citizendium. Why not?

Wikipedia is so 2001-2009. Its time is over, I think.

It seems to me that deleting an article should require nearly 100% "delete" votes, for if even a small group of people wish to keep it, it is obviously useful to them, and it gets in no one's way.

This does seem right. The really stupid articles -- "Hi I am George Smith I was born in Brooklyn" -- who would defend them?

George Smith and his friends.

Notability is a bit of a spectrum. On one end you have articles like "World War 2", on the other you have articles like "Sir Chompsalot, the fourth cat of the Doe's in Manchester, Aberdeen Ave." If we can agree that the latter shouldn't be in Wikipedia, then we have to build some sort of guideline for sufficient notability. That's what http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-notable is trying to do. It's likely more productive to try and change that first instead of railing against specific AFDs.

If you think all articles including the absurd example given above should be included, notability isn't the only thing brought into question. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Wikipedia_is_not

Ultimately, the content is yours to fork if you'd like. As mentioned elsewhere in these discussions, it's really the community that's the main workhorse, something which can't be forked (split perhaps, but not forked).


This page is a lovely example of why I don't contribute to wikipedia anymore.

All the arguments are along the lines of, we should delete/keep this, because (WP:A, WP:B, WP:NO, WP:YES, meatpuppets, sockpuppets, random wikipedia lingo, inuslt to people who do not know wikiepda lingo)

I agree shared vocabulary helps communication, but on wikipedia it has become an active tool to discourage new editors. Sad as at one point I believed wikipedia to be the best thing to happen to Internet.

You do realize WP:N, WP:ATTP, WP:RS, etc. are all links to the policies being referenced, right? You're complaining that they're linking to policy pages to defend their opinions. If lawyers provided hyperlinks to every law they mentioned, I'd be ecstatic.

Lawyers at least have to argue their points in front of a jury of laypersons. On Wikipedia, the only audience for this kind of thing is other wiki fanatics, so it just becomes more and more insular.

Also, that is kind of like the ultimate wiki defense: "any obscure terms are linked so my writing doesn't have to be clear".

Lawyers are barred from making legal arguments directly to the jury. Judges hold the prerogative of instructing the jury on the law. Lawyers only make arguments about evidence, motivation, etc. to the jury.

Yes, but I am not a (wikipedia) lawyer, and so I dont need/want/have the inclination to justify my actions with an alphabet soup. I just want to contribute, (and hopefully want to see is stay).

Out of curiosity, are there any Wikipedia forks?

*BSD guys had a lot of similar arguments and they ended up with many flavors of BSD (OpenBSD, NetBSD, FreeBSD, DragonFlyBSD etc.)

There is the Levitation Project which attempts to port Mediawiki to a Git backend. It was spawned out of pretty much this very same discussion in the German Wikipedia.


Larry Sanger (co-creator of Nupedia and Wikipedia) forked it into Citizendium in an attempt to re-infuse a healthy respect for elite, specialist, academic, or otherwise expert knowledge. Hasn't really taken off and Larry Sanger is now emeritus.

Some spammers mirror it.. But that's about it.

If you can work out a good way to share most edits between the forks --- because most edits won't be a source of argument --- then you have a fighting chance.

It could be as simple as mirroring wikipedia but never propagating the deletions. Trying to edit an article would redirect one to wikipedia; trying to edit a deleted article would instead edit the local copy (in the event of the article being recreated on wikipedia at a later date there could be an automatic upstream merge).

This might be a good start. Though you will also want to keep links to the deleted articles alive.

If you took half a second to look through the "New pages" feed, and saw not only the hideous quality and dubious nature of nearly all newly created pages, but also the vast quantity of new articles created every few minutes, you might rethink your position on keeping all deleted articles. Many new articles deserve speedy deletion.


Ok, so only add pages to the mirror that are older than N days or have more than M (non-reverted) edits. Probably you'd also need to have tracking for when page names change. It's not a deal-breaker.

That's a good point. I'll have to think about this.

I started an inclusionist fork called includipedia -- http://www.includipedia.com/ -- though I've not developed it fully.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Miami33139 is trying to remove every free software from wikipedia (ejabberd, many IM clients, dwm…).

Interesting how in his/her user-page, Miami33139 puts forth a defensive claim of being 'inclusionist'.

Also interesting how Miami33139 uses Ubuntu.

How does he? (I feel a bit creepy stalking him like this on the internet.)

It says on that on that page.

{{User :OS:Ubuntu Netbook Remix}}

... yet xe is a member of Category:Wikipedians_who_like_Futurama

Yes, deletionism is getting ridiculous on WP. And it's only going to get worse, due to evaporative cooling of group beliefs.


But what to do about it? Various people have mentioned the idea of a WP fork. This has been tried before, a number of times. These tend not to go anywhere. The problem seems to be getting a critical mass of people to work on it.

Another idea I've been wondering about: start a movement to get inclusionists back into WP. It should have its own website, discussion area (inside or outside WP?), etc. Someone should write up ideas on how WP can be changed (e.g., vote NO on all deletion polls, not as a statement that any particular article should not be deleted, but rather simply to set a higher standard for deletion).

Thoughts? (Or has this also been done already?)

From what I've read, this kind of thing (an organized movement of people planning to get into Wikipedia and influence votes) would make a lot of editors cream their pants in anticipation of all the bans for "canvassing", "sockpuppetry" and "meatpuppetry" they'd be handing out and how heroic they'd be defending wikipedia against such heinous infiltration.

> Someone should write up ideas on how WP can be changed (e.g., vote NO on all deletion polls, not as a statement that any particular article should not be deleted, but rather simply to set a higher standard for deletion).

Speaking as a former admin and an eventuo-inclusionist: if I went to close an AfD and saw that particular tactic being used, the keep side would've just lost at least 2 votes' worth of influence.

I personally can't see why any article should be deleted unless it's obviously erroneous, its not like they're short of disk space. Obscure articles will likely remain as such, due to lack of references to them; deletion seems rather draconian.

As an aside I wonder if Wikipedia will ever be forked due to this apparent increasing bureaucracy.

Indeed the disk space argument is frivolous given the amount of discussion generated around deleting articles, besides which I wouldn't even be sure that articles are permanently deleted. This ignores the cost in time and morale to contributors.

I don't think anyone is arguing that articles need to be deleted because of concerns over disk space (even though if all criteria for inclusion were dropped, the number of useless articles would skyrocket).

The real problem is the danger of relevant articles becoming lost between (and becoming filled with links to) the more numerous irrelevant ones.

Stuff like this makes me really want to publish a magazine called "Citation Needed" or "Articles for Deletion" that would just contain short articles by experts on whatever was speciously put up for deletion that month, just to flip off feckless deletionists. It would be worth it for the Wikipedia citations alone.

Definition: Encyclopedia (from wikipedia) a comprehensive written compendium that holds information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge

!#@!@^% deletionists are ruining Wikipedia. They'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

Reminds me of the Hitchhiker..

I cannot agree with deletionists, but it's still important that articles cite reputable sources. Unfortunately, those same reputable sources are by and large the same ones needed for notability.

About a year ago, there was a mini-campaign on HN to save the article about Fravia. It narrowly avoided getting deleted, but look at it now - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fravia - it's still a terrible, rambling mess, with almost every citation leading to Fravia's own website. The information in the article may or may not be true, and we don't really have any way of knowing.

It really seems like something has to reach a certain level of notability before it's possible to write an article of sufficient quality about it.

Again, you don't speak to the criteria. It seems that dwm may actually meet the criteria these people are now employing. If so, a principal lobe of the brain of the open source movement is being cut out ... by itself.

No, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_(window_manager) is the Father of modern tiling WMs

I also have stopped contributing to Wiki. It's not worth it after hours of work being deleted. They only want popular articles.

I'd say Ion is the father of modern tiling WMs.

I was about to say... dwm was more like the grandson of modern tiling WMs.

Hell, it was fork from dwm author's _own_ project wmii.

Acme was written in the '80s, and the author of wmii and dwm states it inspired his ideas. Acme was based on Oberon, which Wirth wrote so long ago that he had to build his own hardware to run it on.

larswm predates ion by a few years, and that was inspired by Rob Pike's acme programming environment for Plan 9 ( http://acme.cat-v.org ), which was preceded by Help, which in turn was influenced by Oberon.

Don't have the patience to read the whole deletion policy page. Why would they want to delete such a thing? Is it inconceivable that some day somebody might stumble across the word "dwm" and look it up on Wikipedia?

As it happens, I watch [[dwm]] and [[dmenu]], and when they went up earlier today, I did my usual searches. Turns out there are quite a few dwms, and all the ones in places like Google Books are not this dwm.

People don't want Wikipedia to be dump for all possible information.

Yes they do.

Personally I want EVERYTHING in it, even if it's not notable, I don't care. The guideline should be: would 1 other (un-involved, un-related, etc) person on the planet be interested it? Then put it in.

I want to see a page on tips and techniques on laying brick, and page on the history of the coffee house down the corner from where you live. Everything.

They are opposed to its encyclopedic nature?

Grrr. Wikipedia protocols for notability are just terrible for FOSS projects, which is rather ironic. I'm still kinna peeved about the deletion of the StumpWM article.

I'm sure these policies are designed to keep up quality. Deletion is a great incentive for improving articles. Perhaps the best thing to do in this case is to fix the article at the moment there is little content. If you care, fix it :-).

Deletion isn't about improving articles. It is about removing them. If an article covers an obscure topic or person, what of it, so long as the article is properly referenced? There are many topics out there that are definitely arcane and of little interest to most people. Does this mean that Wikipedia ought to be a knowledge base for nothing but pop culture? I sure hope not.

Have you read the article? It reads like a blog entry rather than an entry to an encyclopedia. Wikipedia has been criticized before for not being well researched and factual. The problem with the article is it may as well be someone's opinion on the WM. I'm all for more pages but this does not read well. My point is if you care, make it read like it belongs in there. Wikipedia is not supposed to be an internet archive it's supposed to be factual.

There are flags that can note the article is poorly written so that noone mistakes it as authoritative in its current state. Indeed in this manner people interested in the subject can be attracted to improve it.

I am all for cleaning up bad content. But I think we have to make a distinction between a Wikipedia entry with poor structure or citations, and this notion of an "unworthy topic"

As for this entry, specifically, I have read it. And I'd go back to what I mentioned about cleaning up bad content. The article can be fixed. It does not need to be eliminated.

It's not being deleted due to lack of content. The main argument for deletion seems to be the lack of external non-primary sources.


In dwm with Mod1-m. Mod1-b if you want to hide The status bar.

Haha, oh the irony... I once had my very own WM articles deleted on the portuguese wikipedia by a proposition of guy that... cataloged guava varieties.

The pro-deletion side come across as dicks, but I think they're right.

Does every piece of software ever written need a Wikipedia page? If you don't like where they're drawing the line, where would you draw it?

Personally I think the more obscure something is the more reason to have it on Wikipedia. If I want to find out about Photoshop there are plenty of places I can go to, many of them more authoritative. If I want to find out about some obscure image editor that was briefly popular on the Amiga and then disappeared, then Wikipedia is the perfect place to start looking, since it's not like they still have (or ever had) a homepage.

Exactly! I find Wikipedia most useful for things that are obscure or trivial.

What's wrong with every software ever written having a Wikipedia page if someone cares enough to make one?

We need more than one person to maintain a Wikipedia page. Multiple people should be able to vet an article's accuracy. I think the concept of notability sometimes isn't that the topic doesn't deserve an entry, but rather that there aren't enough sources to make the entry obviously accurate.

(Granted, I understand sometimes the argument is that a topic doesn't deserve an entry.)

In that case, why not just accept a bulk-import of Freshmeat or download.com into Wikipedia? (Rationale: someone cared enough to write the description text on those sites, so it seems a safe assumption that they'd care enough to write the same text into Wikipedia were it allowed.)

Otherwise, someone would have to make their own fan site for stuff like this:


The article has been translated to 10 languages and many other articles have a reference to It.

The comprehensiveness IS one of the things on which Wikipedia has all other encyclopedias beat. Why in the name of hell would you want to take that away from it?

What would be the drawback?

It wastes 4K of storage that might otherwise be devoted to something more "notable", like a plot summary for last night's episode of Lost.

You're the only one that, however obliquely, answered my question ("Where would you draw the line?") so maybe you can explain to everyone else why you feel plot summaries from TV shows are not worthy, when the popular opinion seems to be that there is no reason to delete anything from Wikipedia.

I dare say he was being sarcastic. While there is perhaps some minimal bar on notability, it seems that it has to be a very low bar on a site that, as noted, has entries for things like episodes of TV shows or obscure cartoon characters.

Which is just as well (I hope you agree) - if people care enough about those cartoon characters, however obscure, let them have a wikipedia entry.

I think at some point it would turn Wikipedia into a huge advertisement. You'd have every person who ever came up with a product create an article about how theirs does all these great things and is better than the others. If you've ever taken a look at the recently created articles list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:NewPages) you can see examples of this. People copy-paste text from press releases (which violates Wiki's policy on copyright because all articles are technically released under CC-BY-SA) and write text that's really heavily on the advertisements. And I think that there really needs to be some threshold in place, if only to keep that stuff at bay.

Then these articles would be flagged as commercials or violating copyright - it's a separate issue.

Wikipedia tries to have "no personal point of view" and neutral articles. Advertising would still not be ok. That is a different issue.

I myself would be fine with articles about This-andthat Inc's latest gadget if there are facts and information inside.

Meta note: This comment in my opinion asks a good question and furthers the discussion, as is evidenced by the many replies. I don't agree with it, you may not either, but that's not a good reason, in my opinion, to downvote it.

Almost every porn star has one. Why not software?

Yeah, I don't get it, what's wrong with every single open source software being a valid topic for a Wikipedia article. Every piece of open source software is of more interest than any pop singer.

The whole point of Wikipedia is to be an open source encyclopedia i.e. they're trying to open source expert's knowledge. There's no point in open sourcing open source knowledge, as you can't get reliable sources (i.e. acknowledged experts) to talk about that kind of thing much, and it's already open source anyway.

What about the one I wrote in my basement?

Has anyone else besides you used it? Is anyone else on the planet interested? They yes, put it in.

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