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Programming languages are being deleted from Wikipedia (reddit.com)
430 points by budu on Feb 14, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 269 comments

Here's the main offender:


One of his arguments is that these languages are often only mentioned in conference proceedings.

How you get to be a PhD student in computer science without realising that conference proceedings are the leading distribution mechanism for knowledge in the CS research world is a mystery.

I may only be a humble honours student, but the central importance of conferences over journals has been drummed into me over and over by my professors.

Look at the deletion threads. He knows what he's talking about, but I think he has some agenda. Maybe he failed a functional language course, and wants to kill off his professor's favourite languages?

There's no way that he couldn't just do a google scholar search for "Alice ML functional programming".

Of course I've done a Google Scholar search for Alice ML. There is roughly one admissible source -- "Through the looking glass" in Trends in Functional Programming. Small workshop paper, 12 citations according to CiteSeer. Doesn't show up in the ACM Digital Library. There are a number of other papers on Saarland University's website, but they are either 1) not peer reviewed (tech reports) 2) not cited or 3) not actually about Alice ML. To illustrate #3, consider "A concurrent lambda-calculus with Futures". This is a relatively well-cited paper, and it mentions Alice ML (a sentence or two?), but it isn't actually about Alice ML! It describes a new language construct and models the semantics in the lambda-calculus. In this case, wouldn't it be the construct, not the language that is notable?

I gave the following example in my Wikipedia talk page: the first paper on functional reactive programming is very famous. It describes a DSL called Fran. However, Fran could have not been given a name and the paper still would have been influential, because it wasn't the language itself that had the impact, it was the idea of functional reactive programming that had an impact.

(For the record, I got an A in PL! We used Coq. And proved a lot of theorems, mechanically.)

I think you're confusing the "reliability" of a source (in the peer-reviewed article sense) with its reliability as an indicator of the notability of some subject X.

The peer-review system basically establishes (a) the reviewers believe the result is non-trivial and (b) the reviewers believe the result is correct.

However, I'd say that the very existence of documents such as third-party tutorials/introductions/discussions, etc., can be adduced as evidence of notability. Think of determining notability more as "sociology" than some academic judgement about the intrinsic worth or originality of the topic.

For instance, "article citations as notability" is patently absurd in the case of, say, celebrity or TV show articles (the existence of both of which seems accepted on Wikipedia) or even news topics, and only somewhat less so in the case of PLs, especially those developed outside of academia. (It's arguably a bad criteria anywhere where results aren't very expensive to reproduce, such as population surveys and lab results -- surely many important results in math and physics living only on the arXiv are more notable than some minor topic which generates higher citation counts through constant re-citing by the same group of devotees).

In contrast, the three languages mentioned on the front page were all ones I'd previously heard of.

I see there is a paragraph in the Wikipedia guidelines for notability regarding refereed paper citations, but in line with my above comments I'd suggest that this not be read too literally. Perhaps it's personal preference, but I find such "long tail" articles useful, even if that means WP contains millions of articles on topics I personally find irrelevant.

Perhaps the reason you've incited such anger is that people feel you're imposing what can be seen as elitist and subjective views about how notability is defined (certainly it's not true that everyone's pet/undergrad PL project should have a page, but the three languages mentioned certainly have received wide attention). From this perspective, the question here is not about any particular property of these PLs but what the WP criteria are or should be, so it would certainly be best to err on the side of non-deletion in all cases.

I hope you reconsider your views on this topic (disclaimer: I am not associated with any of the projects mentioned).

> Perhaps it's personal preference, but I find such "long tail" articles useful, even if that means WP contains millions of articles on topics I personally find irrelevant.

So do I. With an encyclopedia of universal scope, there are bound to be articles on things that any particular person doesn't care about. The important thing is that for each article, some people find the information useful.

Wiki is not paper.

Alice has influenced programming languages and programming language research. http://lambda-the-ultimate.org/node/440 being just one example.

PL researchers are most excited about the ideas in the language. It is not surprising at all that they do not go tooting their horn with gay abandon about a particular implementation (or coursework grades). The vehicle of that idea is no less important.The notion of an electron may be more important than the instrument used to discover it, but that does not mean that the instrument has no place.

I would argue that the deleted articles are more important than an articles on, say, Java which does not bring any new ideas and I hear about it all the time. I don't need Wikipedia for it. But I do need it for languages like Pure.

I think it is more important that articles about relatively obscure but influential languages like Alice are preserved. It lets a potential CS student get excited/interested in something and pursue it further. Not everyone will be digging up old PL folklore. Wikipedia is one of the few, largely spam free, venues where on could come in contact with them.

Wikipedia serves an important purpose of disseminating knowledge in an accessible form to all. If any purpose was at all served by the deletion, it is hardly much different from dilettante vandalism: destruction of potential value to a reader.

What about human languages. There could be a human language that has remained isolated for the most part and only few speak it, that in itself will be a fascinating thing to know about. Does it mean that Wikipedia will not have space for an article on it.

Peripherally: many if not most grad students would get an A in PL if they are taking that course, and will prove theorems if one works on theorem proving or verification. I don't see anything special about that.

did you ever stop to think what positive impact the deletion of these articles actually makes? I cant come up with any positive contribution you're making, but I can see that if I saw one of these languages mentioned somewhere (hacker news for instance), you've now ensured I have one less place that I can go to to find out about them.

you're a drain on wikipedia, a source of negative knowledge.

> Did you ever stop to think what positive impact the deletion of these articles actually makes?

As far as I can tell, the only positive contribution that deletionism makes to the welfare of humanity is it makes individual deletionists happy when they destroy other people's work.

I wonder if anyone has done research into possible links between deletionism and mental disorders such as OCPD?

There's lots of pages on Wikipedia that are basically self-promotion, or descriptions of inconsequential "news" events, or "micro-celebrities," or moderately rich people, or other stuff that will have no relevance in 10 years, except to people with OCPD who like to hoard information.

You're arguing that many pages in Wikipedia aren't useful. I don't think anyone is debating that, but are these pages actually harmful?

Yes, some are harmful in that promotion disguised as objectivity is misleading.

That's a whole separate issue from notability, though. On this and many other issues I think the notability bar is set too high. I'm much rather see a wikipedia page on an obscure language than not, and I have read a few in the past.

I like to click on links in Wikipedia articles to find out more about things related to the main article. I consider wasting my time harmful.

I think this is far too harsh.

>"you're a drain on wikipedia, a source of negative knowledge."

Notability requirements are there for a reason. If you think it's notable then there are clear methods on Wikipedia to press your case and establish the notability without stooping to direct personal criticism.

I've not looked in detail but from the couple of posts here it seems the languages in question are esoteric and not especially notable in themselves. Wikipedia is not intended to be a dumping ground for every last bit of trivia.

Unless Alice, for example, has made some profound contribution to CS then it doesn't deserve it's own entry based on the limited number of papers available - even then it may not, the contribution could be listed elsewhere, perhaps on a general page about similar contribution or on the page for the language that has been most impacted.

Wikipedia isn't supposed to be a replacement for use of a search engine.

IMO adding millions of articles which are not going to get beyond stub status and not going to be maintained and take resources (editors) away from other articles is not a wise move.

If you genuinely believe that this is worth effort then there is nothing stopping you from taking the removed articles and starting/contributing to a programming language wiki. http://esoteric.voxelperfect.net/wiki/Language_list appears to be a good place to put this stuff. Or, as I said at the start demonstrating the notability and having the articles reinstated in Wikipedia.

> Wikipedia is not intended to be a dumping ground for every last bit of trivia.

One person's trivia is another person's useful information.

> Unless Alice, for example, has made some profound contribution to CS then it doesn't deserve it's own entry based on the limited number of papers available

If significant numbers of people are interested in the subject, then having an article about it promotes the public good. Deleting the article harms these people.

> even then it may not, the contribution could be listed elsewhere, perhaps on a general page about similar contribution or on the page for the language that has been most impacted.

If you have a phenomenon with its own name, it's better for a subject to have it's own article, rather than be a note in another article, because then it's easier to find.

> Or, as I said at the start demonstrating the notability and having the articles reinstated in Wikipedia.

Why should the onus be on hard-working Wikipedia editors to show their articles are worthwhile? Instead, it should be on the vandals who want to destroy work.

>If you have a phenomenon with its own name, it's better for a subject to have it's own article, rather than be a note in another article, because then it's easier to find.

In a world without word indexing that "easier to find" matters a lot.

Your statement directly contradicts Wikipedia guidelines as linked in my previous entry.

>Why should the onus be on hard-working Wikipedia editors to show their articles are worthwhile? Instead, it should be on the vandals who want to destroy work.

Save your spin and lets stick to the issue. The simple answer is "to maintain Wikipedia as an encyclopedic tome with a usable quality".

If you wish to create a quality work of notable articles then it's necessary, IMO, to require an argument for inclusion rather than demand an argument to exclude something.

AFAIK no one is here to destroy worthwhile information, I certainly haven't contributed to Wikipedia to that end, but for some types of information Wikipedia is not the right place to put it. You'll see I linked to a wiki for programming languages, the info fits there well, it can be linked to from a Wikipedia page on more general programming information; why is it essential to duplicate such information?

As far as I can tell, Wikipedia does not have clear methods (or at least not effective ones) for establishing the notability of things like programming languages, and some editors have failed to use their heads to adapt the guidelines to the situation. The fact that Heather Kuzmich (to save you the trouble of looking up her yet extant Wiki page: She was a contestant on "America's Next Top Model" who suffered from Asperger's) appears to be more notable than Alice ML shows the uneven standards of notability pretty clearly.

35 citations according to Google Scholar.

So to count for notability:

- An article can't be from a workshop?

- It must solely be about a topic?

- It must be peer reviewed?

At this point you must acknowledge that your own complicated rules for notability have diverged a long way from those stated anywhere else.

I agree with peer review as a criterion for being a reliable source, and that you need reliable sources for notability.

But the other criteria are silly.

Is Strachey's non-mainstream but very influential GPM notable? It has only one journal article about it, with a paltry 65 Google Scholar cites, and the other articles that mention it are all mostly concerned with something else.

Ha, I actually looked through the SERPs that Google Scholar gave me listing 33 citations - 18 were obvious false positives. The other listings appeared a priori not to be a completely different field of discourse (though several looked very dubious from the titles.

I've also now reviewed the AfD comments. It seems that no reason was given for why Alice ML was notable beyond it's inclusion and reference in other articles. The proposer was clearly knowledgable about the subject and had reviewed the available literature. The deletion consideration seemed logical and well founded. The failure if there was one was there not being someone else who knew the subject matter and could provide a good reason for inclusion.

I'm sure that someone has already mentioned this, but "A concurrent lambda-calculus with Futures" is a paper about AliceML. The problem is that the full syntax and semantics of StandardML contain a lot of features which are not very relevant to the discussion of the semantics of futures.

Instead, the authors describe the semantics as an extension of lambda calculus. This is both more compact and more useful to other researchers (who might not be working on an ML dialect).

That said I would be grateful to you or anyone with a backup who could restore the article. Looking at the google cache for this page, it was more than a stub and actually did link to a page with references...

Alice is still one of the first semester languages for CS students at Saarland university. I think it would be advantageous if you could find information about related languages and additional features on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has lost its way. Thanks to the ${nearsighted} people like you who impose artificial constraints on what's in, what's out. It used to be a crowd-sourced collection, now it has managers and pretends to be an encyclopedia designed top-down and filled bottom-up.

/* I would like to use a different word instead of nearsighted, but have to maintain decency. */

Stop deleting knowledge, period. It's not your personal job to police what the world is allowed to know.

I was unbelievably pissed off when I searched for "Alice ML" and found a hit on wikipedia via google and come to see the page deleted.

Deleting a well-written, well-sourced article on the basis of notability reduces the total information of Wikipedia.

I didn't say that. Someone else said it. I just heard it.

I got involved with the deletion debate over the Go! programming language, and was among a handful of people who actually tried to reason out how Wikipedia's notability policies could be improved.

The fact is that Wikipedia is full of articles about people's own pet research projects which have no users and no impact.

Your arguments are solid and worth thinking about, but as you can see, nobody wants to address the wider problem of Wikipedia's poor notability guidelines directly, and have let this devolve into a flamewar.

Yeah, this is probably the most disappointing HN flamewar yet, full of outrage and attacks but very little information or people wanting to educate themselves. There's lots of things that can be improved on Wikipedia, but it requires people to: 1) become familiar with how things work; 2) become familiar with why things came to be that way; and 3) come up with workable proposals to improve things that take into account various problems those proposals themselves could cause.

But pitchforks and flamage are easier, I guess. It's embarrassing how similar this response is to what happens when some minor band's article gets proposed for deletion, and all the angry folks from the band's mailing list show up arguing that Wikipedia Fascists Are Damaging Knowledge.

You're assuming that people don't know how Wikipedia works. I think most people who are angry with arbitrary deletion on Wikipedia have probably at some point read through enough of the WP: articles to understand why it's offensive.

Judging by the discussion so far, I would be willing to wager that most people in fact are unfamiliar and have not read anything.

One experiment that could be useful is for people to just follow the "Articles for deletion" page for a few days when it's not currently focused on something they're personally big fans of. Say, next Monday through Wednesday. Then everyone would be much better informed to explain what's wrong about the process and what to do about it. They'd also have a better understanding about the kind of crap that gets regularly deleted, i.e. why the rules exist in the first place, which is what any reform proposal would have to also account for.

But I think most people are just jumping in because someone said something bad about a thing they're a fan of, hence the mob style.

Except that this happens over and over again.

Wikipedia's policies piss everyone off in turn, but it is in turn. The fact that each new community isn't aware of wikipedia's ludicrous policies isn't their fault, since they've had no cause to wrestle with the problems or nuances.

The fact that wikipedians are tired of the debate doesn't mean that they're right, it means that they've done a bad job communicating the problem, dealing with the consequences, and are frankly out of touch with the majority of wikipedia's readers (who outside of a subset of wikipedians thinks deletionism is a good idea?).

The fact that people defending wikipedia on these issues always treat the aggrieved fans/community with such contempt really is part of the problem.

There are certainly some problems, but I don't think they're all on one side. I think that the fact that people who don't spend any effort understanding the problem or trying to improve things treat Wikipedians with such contempt is also part of the problem.

Figuring out how to write an encyclopedia isn't a particularly easy problem, and a lot of people have spent some effort trying to balance things like, on the one hand, wanting coverage of everything, and on the other hand, not wanting physics kooks spamming up Wikipedia with their fringe theories. Lots of people disagree on how to do it, but I think people should at least make some effort to understand things rather than seeing it through the narrow tunnel vision of "the thing I'm a fan of deserves special treatment and Wikipedians don't see that so they're idiots". As in open-source, it's to some extent a contrib-ocracy; if you don't help improve the encyclopedia at all, but only show up when some external fan community is aggrieved, that sort of "contribution" isn't appreciated any more than it would be at LKML (they get such influxes now and then too, e.g. from fans of a module that wasn't accepted for merging).

> who outside of a subset of wikipedians thinks deletionism is a good idea

I actually see the opposite criticism at least as often! Wikipedia's often attacked in academic literature, and some news stories, for being filled with "Star Wars and Pokemon cruft", and not paying enough attention to reliable sources or people with expertise in various fields. There are also periodic controversies about it including articles on borderline-notable people who object to their inclusion. Most forks, like Larry Sanger's "Citizendium", have been based on the Wikipedia-is-too-loose-with-its-standards criticism, rather than the opposite one. Not that I agree with it, but it does seem to be the most common criticism outside of fan communities.

> They'd also have a better understanding about the kind of crap that gets regularly deleted

Most of it isn't crap.

For example, I looked at the top 5 articles listed on 13th February -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion...

#1 is an internet marketing company. It has a website which verifiably exists. People considering doing business with them would find this useful. It should be kept.

#2 is an academic. That makes the article useful. OTOH, she's hasd death threats and wants the article down. I'm not sure what I'd do here.

#3 is a sportsman. Should be kept: even if he isn't well known, those who do know about him will likely find the article useful.

#4 is about Swiss people in Sri Lanka. If I was Swiss and was considering relocation to Sri Lanka, I might find this useful. Should be kept.

#5 is about "XMLmosaic", something I've never heard of, and has been speedily deleted.

A majority of these articles (at least 60%) are net-useful to humanity and should be kept. If I did a larger sample, I'm sure I'd get similar results.

About 100 articles a day are posted on AfD and most of these (75-80%) are deleted. What good is served by destroying tens of thousands of useful articles every year? None.

One good thing is that it keeps Wikipedia a tertiary source. I personally have a fairly inclusionist perspective, but my perspective is more or less: Wikipedia should cover anything on which any decent third-party source can be found (and it should point the reader to the source, so they can look it up themselves if they want).

There is of course stuff on which internet users can collect useful information, where no current sources exist to cite, but there's no reason Wikipedia has to be the only wiki on the internet. For example, Know Your Meme is an excellent project to document current internet memes, including via original sleuthing by its editors, who try to track down the history of memes and reconstruct their paths. It's not really a tertiary source summarizing the existing literature though; it's a sociological/historical research project. And it's great that it exists. Why does it have to exist on wikipedia.org, a project that has different goals, which don't include doing original research? Of course, memes should also be covered on Wikipedia, but only when Wikipedia can cite some existing published source documenting the information (a news article, a sociology conference paper, anything really).

I guess it seems perfectly fine to me that there's more than one project on the internet dedicated to collecting knowledge, with different goals; I don't see why Wikipedia has to be the union of all possible wikis. If anything, I would prefer more projects with different goals and approaches to exist, rather than everything being so centralized. That way I can go to Wikipedia if I want the tertiary-source take on internet memes, and I can go to Know Your Meme if I want the primary-source take on internet memes. Same with a Wikipedia article on a location versus a Wikitravel article on a location: both useful, but I don't see why they have to be merged into one project (or why that would be helpful).

Would you describe yourself as a hoarder? Applying your argument to personal belongings would appear to mean that unless it's actually completely unusable for anything it should be kept - even excrement is useful (very), as are old drinks cans (perhaps you could make a solar reflector), as are worn out clothes (make rags for cleaning), as are cellophane wrappings (could be heat welded and used as transparent insulation), ... sorry I'm digressing wildly.

Anyhow, the measure of inclusion on WP is not "isn't crap" but "is it notable" and whilst that gives a huge range to argue over it's is still clearly different to the question of "is it crap".

Take your sportsman - do you think that WP should be exhaustive? What is it about them that's notable and can be confirmed from other references?

> The fact is that Wikipedia is full of articles about people's own pet research projects which have no users and no impact.

I browse WP a fair bit. I've never come across any such articles.

Even if they do exist, what's the harm? People not interested in the topic won't read them, people who are interested will find them useful.

Thanks for posting here and addressing the topic.

So after all this outrage, do you agree that maybe you took it just a little bit too far?

> We need better criteria for establishing notability of programming languages: for some reason, a number of people seem to think languages are notable if they are mentioned in a book/third-tier academic paper or have a few people who contribute to/use them.

My favorite part is how he admits the rules he's enforcing are inadequate, and yet continues to enforce them.

     My favorite part is how he admits the rules he's enforcing are inadequate, and yet continues to enforce them.
Sounds like furthering a cause. By the specificness of that cause, I would have to bet:

- Had an article he wrote on a small programming language, possibly his own, deleted for not being notable enough.

- Feels that less notable languages than the one in question were not treated similarly.

- Perceives injustice.

- Takes action.

Hopefully nothing other than some quality encyclopedia writing and anti-deletionist attitude (space is very cheap) comes from this. I don't like how ugly this is already becoming.

I doubt it. Chances are, he's just taking an "I don't make the rules, I just enforce them" attitude. I'm always annoyed by people who don't evaluate rules critically, but I suppose that's just something you have to deal with in life.

So this guy's basically the "small town douchey cop" of wikipedia editors? Is he gonna try to organize sting operations on high school parties next?

No, of course I know that :( The problem was that the papers mentioned were either 1) not about the subject in question or 2) not cited enough to count. Hopefully your professors also drummed into you that anyone can write a paper and send it to a conference -- the kicker is if it actually makes an impact. Isn't that more-or-less the definition of notability?

None of the articles I nominated for deletion had any reliable sources to back them up. I didn't nominate them for deletion because of hard drive space. I nominated them because there was nothing to say about them barring a superficial overview of syntax.

I honestly didn't think that putting in a few AfDs would cause such a shitstorm, to the point where people are calling me a Nazi/asshole/whatnot on my user page. I also never thought my 15 minutes of fame would be for nominating Nemerle for deletion :) Maybe I should have a Wikipedia article...?

But seriously. Anyone could have commented on the AfD. Anyone could have provided reliable sources. The only thing anyone did was bitch and moan. I didn't delete the articles -- the Wikipedia administrators did. Thumbs down, internet.

My problem with you is you're going to be a professor, a profession devoted to the advancement of human knowledge and educating laymen in this knowledge, and you just erased one of the main mechanisms for disseminating computer science to the general public. You just made it harder to get people interested in programming. Amazing.

Instead of improving the pages (which any self-respecting graduate student could do over a cup of tea and a scone) you just erased them. Unilaterally. Imagine if someone at your university decided to do that to one of your papers because they just didn't like it or because some government thought it wasn't "notable" enough. Hell, your department would have a fit if that happened. I also bet your department publishes just about everything a Ph.D. candidate puts out, no matter how idiotic it is.

Yet, here you are, censoring the work of others in your own profession because of some arbitrary rules of "notability" that only work for dipshits like Lindsay Lohan and not for programming languages like Nemerle and Factor.

So yes, you are behaving like an asshole. You are probably a nice guy in person (any grown man who's into Pokemon has got to be fun), but right now, you're being a gigantic Nazi asshole.

Could you please not call other people “nazis” because they have a slightly different opinion?

The Nazis burnt books. Deleting articles on Wikipedia is an electronic equivalent of that.

While it's quite incendary to call someone a Nazi, I think the cap fits in this case.

Oh, come on. Really?

Making an editorial suggestion is not akin to burning books, not the least bit. If you are a journalist, you don’t get to call your editor a “Nazi” because she decides to not publish your story.

This comparison is stupid and offensive, it trivializes what the Nazis actually did for a cheap and inaccurate insult.

Don’t insult at all, if possible, but if you must pick something less stupid than “Nazi”. Call him “ass”, “narrow minded”, “censor”, “idiot” or whatever, I wouldn’t care at all.

> Instead of improving the pages (which any self-respecting graduate student could do over a cup of tea and a scone) you just erased them. Unilaterally.

Well, technically he and an admin deleted them unilaterally. Regardless, you're correct. The focus should be on building knowledge, not tearing it down.

Unilaterally? Anyone can !vote on an AFD.

Anyone can vote on whether or not an article should be deleted but how many people actually do? I wouldn't be surprised if the vast majority of Wikipedia users don't know, and don't care, about Wikipedia politics.

If something is in the process of being deleted that I don't know about then I can't vote on whether or not I want it to be kept around. Wikipedia is great for jumping from link-to-link to find out new things and if the content is being deleted it's that much harder to learn. I didn't even know about the programming language Nemerle before and now the article is gone.

Knowledge shouldn't be voted on.

It isn't a vote. ("Articles for deletion" used to be called "votes for deletion", when it was a voting-based system, but that was some time ago).

> I wouldn't be surprised if the vast majority of Wikipedia users don't know, and don't care, about Wikipedia politics

If they don't care about the "politics", they shouldn't complain if the direction chosen by the project does not suit them.

I should make a tool that periodically scans the articles for deletion and always votes NO. I could allow anyone else to use this tool as well. Then I think the real voice of the Internet would show that we don't support deletionism!

Voting against deletion means nothing without some reasoning.

>"...you're going to be a professor, a profession devoted to the advancement of human knowledge and educating laymen in this knowledge"

Correction: a professor is a profession devoted to advancing human knowledge and then locking that knowledge behind expensive paywalls so that only elites with institutional subscriptions can afford to read it. Academia couldn't care less about the knowledge available to the average internet user. You could burn all the books in the world and they wouldn't care as long as the copy in their affiliated-persons-only library stayed safe.

...and this is why almost all academics put their papers as PDFs for free on their web sites. Have you even looked? It is times like this when I wish there was an appropriate emoticon to express an eye roll.

In another comment in this thread our deletionist actually mentioned being behind the ACM paywall as a relevant criterion for notability.

It depends very much on the field. CS has the most open culture of sharing information that I know of, which it should be proud of.

Completely off-topic, but there is: e_e

Use your newfound powers of exasperation wisely, my friend.

Academics for the most point don't care about paywalls as long as they are on the right side of any paywalls. University libraries and their institutional subscriptions exist to abstract away the concept of paywalls, so that researchers only need to ask for the article and never need to worry about whether they need to pay for it.

Also, are there really all that many university libraries left that aren't open to the public?

Increasingly so.

At my local university (University of Melbourne) some of the libraries are closed to the public eg the Melbourne Business School Library and the Physics library. In practice you can usually sneak into the physics library, but...

Also, a lot of the journals and even books (eg Ralph Vince's latest book on risk management) are only available online now and require a university logon. So in effect those publications are closed off.

At Melbourne Uni, members of the public cannot access publications in the short-term loans area (4 hour loans).

> Academia couldn't care less about the knowledge available to the average internet user.

Except for just about every elite university, most of which make their courses available online for free.

> Hopefully your professors also drummed into you that anyone can write a paper and send it to a conference -- the kicker is if it actually makes an impact. Isn't that more-or-less the definition of notability?

So now we need two levels of notability. First you must be published and you must have "impact". How is this "impact" thing defined, by the way? Are you agitating for an agreed bibliometric standard for notability?

> I didn't nominate them for deletion because of hard drive space. I nominated them because there was nothing to say about them barring a superficial overview of syntax.

OK, so you thought they sucked.

Did you:

1. Decide to improve them? Nah, not the wikipedia way.

2. Slap on one of the numerous tags saying "this article needs improvement"? Nah, not the wikipedia way.

3. Mark it for deletion because you thought the article was sucky and took no action to improve it? Ding ding ding!

> I didn't delete the articles -- the Wikipedia administrators did.

You action was a necessary cause of their deletion and therefore you are one of the directly culpable persons destroying the long tail of knowledge.

edit: slightly politified per tptacek's request.

I've seen several deletionists try to wipe their hands clean of responsibility in saying "I didn't delete it, I just nominated it!", which always strikes me as really insincere as they (as you pointed out) definitely played a part.


Sorry, you're right. A PhD student isn't an idiot, regardless of how angry they might make me.


Chris, I apologise. I let my anger get the best of me. I'll keep my ad homs to a minimum wherever possible.

> A PhD student isn't an idiot

I have met a few PhD students who weren't the most notable programming languages in the wiki if you get my drift...

From wikipedia's definition of idiot: "someone who acts in a self-defeating or significantly counterproductive way"

I would submit that the aforementioned PhD student qualifies, whatever his I.Q. or programming chops.

You action was a necessary cause of their deletion and therefore you are one of the directly culpable persons destroying the long tail of knowledge.

I am no expert here, but does one person tagging something for deletion make such an impact? He must have convinced the administrators by only good arguments (like lawyer arguments, which are not necessarily moral or anything, just good enough to win the case).

If we can trust the administrators for putting up something, we should trust them for taking something down.

You ever notice how executions always have 10 people doing something that can be done by one person? It's so that individual people don't feel responsible for the execution.

By that same token, it's easier to not feel responsible for deleting a page if it's a team effort. I would imagine that the admin who deleted them would probably say "I was just responding to complaints."

I could be wrong, but the Wikipedia admins aren't responsible for creating pages or accepting pages. That's an "editor", e.g., a standard user. Admins can make pages, but I guarantee it was an interested editor/user who created the Alice ML page, not an admin acting as an admin.

Still, Wikipedia's deletionism is arrant nonsense up with which we should not put.

> Still, Wikipedia's deletionism is arrant nonsense up with which we should not put.

Everyone's a deletionist about something.

I'm generally in favor of keeping any article that's not spam or blatant promotion.

It's an extremely small amount of hard drive space (and becomes less of a burden as they replace drives with increasingly larger ones over the years). At worst, the article sits there unnoticed and unlinked until someone finds a use for it.

> Hopefully your professors also drummed into you that anyone can write a paper and send it to a conference

Sure anyone can submit, but not anyone can get a paper accepted. Conferences in CS are much more selective than journals.

As a Ph.D. student in CS, you should know this.

> the kicker is if it actually makes an impact. Isn't that more-or-less the definition of notability?

No, notability != impact.

My dictionary defines notability as "worthy of attention or notice."

And, how do you measure impact anyway?

By citations? By peer-reviewed papers? By venue prestige? Seasoned academics cringe when these are used as measures of "impact."

You're a Ph.D. student in programming languages. Obscure languages with a handful of users are the norm.

When you're doing a literature search on one of these languages, it's helpful when it pops up on Wikipedia.

You're doing a disservice to the programming languages research community (of which I am a member) by nominating these articles for deletion.

You may be obeying the letter of Wikipedia's policies.

Yet, at the same time, you're being disrespectful to your peers.

If you want to help the community, instead of nominating these pages for deletion, go to conferences like POPL, ICFP or PLDI and ask folks, "So, what's notable about language X?"

They will tell you.

Capture that knowledge and then add it to Wikipedia.

Well lets not do this in the abstract. I'd never heard of Nemerle until now, but a search on Google Scholar and on Google shows many papers, tutorials and general discussion on the language.

I would think an overview of syntax is an excellent level of detail for an encyclopedia to cover a less common programming language. I certainly see no reason to dismiss that in itself.

Proposing that a timely defense to an AfD nomination is a good test of notability in itself is completely absurd. By itself you'd have to consider it a less reliable indicator of notability than someone writing the article in the first place.

If you're doing a PhD in a topic and you decide to take on a section of wikipedia you have at least be willing to take responsibility for your actions.

Nemerle is a beautiful example of a programming language that lets the programmer hook into the compiler's pipeline and add arbitrary new syntax.

For example, here's what the developer needs to do to add the LINQ syntax (introduced in C# 3.0): http://nemerle.googlecode.com/svn/nemerle/trunk/Linq/

It definitely belongs to Wikipedia simply because it's an interesting language, that doesn't have an easy replacement. It's of special interest to language designers looking for ideas or for students learning about programming languages.

Also, comparing the Nemerle page to your would-be biography on Wikipedia is pretty lame, as people would actually learn something when reading about Nemerle.

It reduces the overall usefulness and quality of Wikipedia to delete leaves that are referenced from other Wikipedia pages. Nemerle is an example: there are several references to it from other PL pages, that before your "improvement" could be resolved w/in Wikipedia, but now require going outside of Wikipedia to determine that "Nemerle is a high-level statically-typed programming language for the .NET platform."

This kind of "cleaning-up" seems detrimental to wikipedia and, frankly, a waste of your time.

"several references" is over 50 references

It takes me but a few minutes to figure out whether I am going to nominate an article for deletion. A single hit that looks like it might possibly be a reliable source and I'm outta there. In other words, the articles I am proposing for deletion are the lowest of the low hanging fruit. I honestly didn't think anyone would care, and to be honest, most don't -- the only reason anyone even took note of what I'm doing is because I proposed Nemerle for deletion.

I disagree that the clean up is detrimental to Wikipedia. I like to browse Wikipedia for new programming languages, and it is very difficult for me to do so when the "good stuff" is buried in WP's lists and categories. More information is not necessarily better :(

What I find most interesting about this is that you are "cleaning up" Wikipedia so that you can better find new programming languages. You've mentioned this a couple of times.

Do you assume that everyone uses it for the same purpose?

What makes you think that is a valid reason for "cleaning" up the articles?

If I embarked on a "clean-up" project like this and found others' reactions weren't as I predicted, I'd consider that maybe I'm not representative of others; that others may use Wikipedia differently from myself. I would undo what others see as harm and find a less contentious way to improve a shared resource. Rather than trying to fit Wikipedia guidelines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability) to my own preference (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion...), I'd consider that maybe my interpretation of those guidelines needs to be re-examined.

In the case of Nemerle, a cursory search of academic and practitioner sites demonstrates it deserves a Wikipedia page. Put it back and go hack on that better wikipedia UI you mentioned.

Does your browsing use-case typify how the average user is consuming the wikipedia? I find far often more than I'm hitting something because I searched for it directly (in which case, I find it notable to my own interests automatically since it is what I was explicitly searching for), or indirectly via a link on another page (and if such does not exist, then there is no distraction or loss).

Isn't this actually an argument for a better UI for wikipedia?

Perhaps, but no one has come forth and developed one. But what would such a UI look like? Would it filter based on user-given notability criteria?

A hyperlink.

I remember, before Wikipedia, there was a big debate on the original C2 Wiki about the usefulness of category pages. There is a fairly widespread opinion that categories are a waste of time, because no ontology can usefully classify the body of information that's out there. While it's natural to want to categorize things, people inevitably use very different systems of categorization (as seen by the dozen or so tags that many Wikipedia pages get), and so they'll never be useful to more than a small subset of people. See also Shirky - "Ontology is Overrated":


At the time I left the C2 community, the debate was still raging, but there were still a number of vocal anti-category people. Evidently Wikipedia went the opposite way, but I'd argue that whether it's policy or not, categories are still useless. I always enter Wikipedia via Google; I browse around within it by hyperlinks. The value of Wikipedia is as a store of content, and not as a form of organization.

Counterpoint, I have on occasion found category pages on wikipedia to be enormously useful. I'm not aware of any other way to see in one stroke a huge chunk of specialist vocabulary associated with a single topic. Real-world use case, I was looking for a good name for a project that focused on security. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Medieval_defences is a treasure trove of rather more obscure starting points in a way that http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle is absolutely not. An alternative use case would be a choice of Java or .NET as a platform, a list of available languages is absolutely helpful in that case.

Category pages are useful as a supplement to good (not-deleted) primary pages.

I've found categories very useful; See Alsos and List ofs only go so far. (Most recently, I used them to close a number of predictions about 2010; for example, looking for whether there were any successful terrorist attacks in the US. Hard to google a negative, but looking at a small or empty category is much easier.)

Categories may be less useful than many people think, but the very fact they are widely used implies there may be a place for them in a wiki, especially an all-encompassing one like wikipedia.

Does it need to be at all sophisticated? What's wrong with categorizing lists according to "well-known" and "lesser-known"?

It's interesting that, presumably in valiant defense of the ready availability of potentially relevant information, HN users have here voted the extremely relevant airing of a not wildly unreasonable argument, directly from the central figure in an internet-wide debate and the personal topic of this thread, down to -4.

I usually dislike and cringe at whinging about downvotes, but I think whatever pattern of thought is at work in such a decision is genuinely relevant to the topic at hand.

> it is very difficult for me to do so when the "good stuff" is buried in WP's lists and categories. More information is not necessarily better :(

Category too crowded? Sure let's just delete a few.

May I suggest you just add a new category for "notable programing languages"?

>More information is not necessarily better :(


I agree. In the case of wikipedia more information IS better, especially if it's accurate and well written. What kind of person in academia believes that less information, even in this context is a good thing?

> 2) not cited enough to count

I look forward to your explanation, to other academics, of why their work doesn't "count" because it isn't "cited enough".

I also look forward to you explaining to us why you're qualified to determine whether a paper that you didn't write "counts".

> I honestly didn't think that putting in a few AfDs would cause such a shitstorm, to the point where people are calling me a Nazi/asshole/whatnot on my user page. I also never thought my 15 minutes of fame would be for nominating Nemerle for deletion :) Maybe I should have a Wikipedia article...?

Infamy is not the kind of fame that you want.

This comment is totally uncalled for. You're participating in a discussion about someone's effort to remove "non-notable" articles from Wikipedia. That someone actually took the time to comment on HN, for the first time, for this one story. Attempting to chase that person off HN by saying "get over yourself" decreases the quality of HN for everyone. Please don't do that.

I edited it out before you commented, because I agreed upon a reread of my own comment.

It's not that their work doesn't "count" in the more general sense of the word, it's that their work has not had enough impact at the moment to establish the notability of the topic. I'm sure the researchers in question did fine work, and in the future their work will be widely recognized.

I'm as qualified as any other PL researcher (or Wikipedian) to determine the validity of a source. I didn't delete the articles based on my own opinion :( The purpose of the AfD process is to get the opinions of others so that a consensus can be established! I'm sorry -- I really am -- that the Alice ML and Nemerle communities were offended by my AfD. My nomination of a language for deletion does not speak for my opinion of the language itself. I figured if I was doing the wrong thing, that the AfD would result in a keep, and at the very least, sources that I had not found would be found by others to improve the article. One of the basic tenets of Wikipedia is "assume good faith", and very few have done so so far. I am completely open to civil discussion about any aspect of my work, and I would love to develop more concrete/relevant criteria for assessing notability of a programming language.

> One of the basic tenets of Wikipedia is "assume good faith"

Stylistic note: try not to assume that people you're dealing with outside of Wikipedia aren't intimately familiar with Wikipedia. It comes off a bit condescending.

I'm aware of WP:AGF, and I'm also aware of WP:IGNORE. You're selectively choosing which tenets to subscribe to: deletionism benefits nobody, because the opinions of the participants in the AfD (yes, opinions) are influencing the availability of information to everyone. Your actions are not benefiting Wikipedia, whether you want to lay claim to them or blame the Internet as you did in this thread. Rather than try to improve what was presented to you, you are pursuing an idealistic utopia of programming languages on Wikipedia, where only programming languages with a wide audience that you can observe get blessed with a mention on the site.

I don't have any stock invested in any of the languages you've nominated, but I do see the benefit of a resource describing them for people to find via Google. Some of the languages you've nominated are very new, and are finding a community - you've basically just issued a big "you don't count" to every single person that uses those languages. It has happened to companies I work for, too. I work for a very large contender in a specific market, which has had several "of impact" (to steal your term) media mentions including Dr. Dobb's Journal. They've been deleted from Wikipedia on more than one occasion due to not proving notability to the editor of the week that feels like nominating the article. It's a joke.

I find it really hard to digest that you subscribe so hard to the notion of notability (a very subjective concept, might I add), admit that your criteria for evaluating notability need improvement, then nominate languages and successfully get them deleted anyway.

I don't know if I am accusing you of bad faith or not, by wikipedia standards. I just find that your approach (move to delete without, so far as I can tell, trying to directly improve the entries) to be destructive to wikipedia's purpose of expanding the availability and interconnectedness of knowledge.

Why was wikipedia, and the public at large, better served by deleting these entries?

So many people create pet programming languages and add them to Wikipedia that the PL lists and categories are essentially useless. Most of the languages I propose for deletion have almost no information available about them, and therefore, one can't write a useful Wikipedia article about them. More information isn't necessarily better.

Anything I am not 95% sure about I add a notability tag to or simply leave alone. There are a number of articles that I did in fact find interesting citations for while trying to decide notability. Napier88 is a good example of such a language -- the papers on it received hundreds of citations, yet I had never heard of the language. I've been working on an entire rewrite of Napier88 in my spare time, which has understandably become even more "spare" recently :)

> So many people create pet programming languages and add them to Wikipedia that the PL lists and categories are essentially useless.

OK, so some of them might not even pass my standard of notability (which would be almost embarrassingly lax).

But it strikes me that you're using notability to solve a user interface issue -- that you find it difficult to navigate the programming language section.

More generally, it strikes me as horribly inefficient to rely on what one might call "outrage-driven notability" to correct for what were, you may now realise, erroneous selections for deletion.

Maybe I'm a dolt for blaming you; you're acting rationally within a broken system.

> So many people create pet programming languages and add them to Wikipedia that the PL lists and categories are essentially useless.


What's useless about that?


I don't see many pet projects here...

> So many people create pet programming languages and add them to Wikipedia that the PL lists and categories are essentially useless.

Surely a simpler solution to that is to make a list that you feel describes the languages you consider important. Maybe "List of programming languages notable in academia" (which would include things like FeatherweightJava but probably not regular Java). People who want to find languages that meet that criteria can find them all in one place.

Meanwhile, people like me who are interested in new languages, or languages that experiment with syntax but don't push the academic envelope, don't have that knowledge outright taken away from them by you.

I'm as qualified as any other PL researcher (or Wikipedian) to determine the validity of a source.

Meh, as a researcher and grad student myself I wouldn't say that. You earn the qualification to judge notability of scholarly works after defending your dissertation and publishing significant work for the community. That's kind of how the system works.

I'd say that when someone 'earns the qualification' is much less important than whether they 'have what it takes'. It's a bit arbitrary to suggest someone only has what it takes after a bit of paperwork has been completed. Failing a dissertation defense is rare and after having published the first work of minor notability, you're as good as set. By that standard, he is probably right that he is qualified.

Has he published anything? I'm not saying he hasn't or that he won't, but I don't see his name on any of the Frenetic papers [1], he doesn't have anything listed on his site [2], and I couldn't find anything by him on Google Scholar. So, even by your definition of qualified, I don't think he is, yet.

[1] http://www.frenetic-lang.org/papers/ [2] http://monsan.to/

> I'm as qualified as any other PL researcher (or Wikipedian) to determine the validity of a source.

I request you to discontinue your actions, despite whatever high opinion you may have of yourself. Maybe you can create a separate page called "Relevant Progamming Languages" to which you add only languages that you think are relevant.

How many of the folks who commented on the notability of the programming languages in question actually had the qualifications or knowledge to do so?

I'm not questioning your actions, although I think deletionism is a prima facie bad thing; I just doubt most people who would comment on such things are knowledgeable about them.

I would love to have some statistics on how often an AfD recommendation results in a "keep".

Ruby was released in 1995, and there was no documentation available in English until 1997. Ruby's popularity outside of Japan didn't even gain any kind of momentum until 2000 and on.

Obviously no one can say for sure, but I am sure an un-notable language could possibly gain even more popularity with a Wikipedia entry as it helps people learn more about a small obscure language that might grow in to something bigger - even if it takes years to do so.

While it might be argued that a page with little to no information should be deleted, I don't think that pages with adequate information to get someone the general idea about some new (possibly just new to the reader) programming language should go anywhere. It's a valuable resource and losing that kind of information from Wikipedia is a shame.

Please keep that line of thought in your AfD's - and think about the "notability" that Frenetic may get in the future.

What that means is that Ruby simply wasn't very notable until 2000. Trying to make obscure things more notable is not a legitimate use of Wikipedia. It's already struggling against a tide of marketing abuse. And there can't possibly be any objective measure today of what independent sources in the future may be writing about.

> It's already struggling against a tide of marketing abuse.

I'm sure. And that's why deleting the pages of languages with peer-reviewed literature is a vital and useful way to prevent marketers from abusing Wikipedia.

> Trying to make obscure things more notable is not a legitimate use of Wikipedia.

Consider a person P who doesn't know about X but would benefit from X if he/she did know about it.

I hypothesize that for each P there is on average more than one X. This suggests to me that making things more notable can aid overall welfare, and therefore ought to be a goal of a universal encyclopedia project.

Notable != noticed.


Worthy of attention != getting attention.

Ruby was notable, just not noticed.

Ruby lacked verifiable evidence of notability from independent secondary sources. Wikipedia strenuously avoids making subjective judgment calls about whether anything is notable despite somehow failing to have been noticed.


Hopefully your professors also drummed into you that anyone can write a paper and send it to a conference -- the kicker is if it actually makes an impact. Isn't that more-or-less the definition of notability?

Hmm, not entirely. The problem is that certain publications are destined to be cited over and over again. Actually, entry into the elite publications at all can be a signal of significance. Anything published in Nature or SIGCOMM is pretty much notable. On a whim I checked the publication in front of me ("Inside the Bird’s Nest: Measurements of Large-Scale Live VoD from the 2008 Olympics") and it only has one citation but is clearly an important paper.

I won't speak about the people whining or the Wikipedia deletion policy (which I fundamentally disagree with) but clearly citation count is not how notability is derived. Even a quick search of Google Scholar shows ~7 citations for the Nemerle language. How many citations is enough for you?

    > None of the articles I nominated for deletion had any reliable sources to back them up
You didn't look very hard, did you?

For instance, the Alice ML homepage lists an entire page of papers. http://www.ps.uni-saarland.de/alice/papers.html - including nine thesises at various levels, something that wouldn't happen to something non-notable.

For Nemerle, Google Scholar has 81 results, http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=nemerle&hl=en&bt...

  None of the articles I nominated for deletion had any reliable sources to back them up.
Alice ML has more than a handful of papers on its design, semantics, implementation, and related concepts. Are peer reviewed publications not reliable? As a PhD student, I'm sure you disagree.

The best you could do is add those citations to the article, instead of the chosen course of (in)action.

>None of the articles I nominated for deletion had any reliable sources to back them up.

Really? The following discussion page says you're a liar. It's sad that despite the majority being for keeping the article, you actually won in the end even though you didn't reply to any questions asking you what exactly you personally consider to be notable. Same goes for the replies that linked to computer magazine articles about the programming language in question, you've completely ignored those. If you think what you're doing is good, then you're delusional.


That's actually an interesting question. Should a topic be presumed notable in the English version of Wikipedia if basically everything specifically written about it was in a Russian magazine?

That was just an example, the Russian magazine isn't the only source talking about the language in question. I mentioned it because he complained about that source and then just started ignoring it when people translated the thing.

Of course. Being written in another language doesn't affect notability; it just means in practice, foreign sources aren't as desirable as native ones. (They are harder to find, harder to understand, harder for other editors to verify, etc., and naturally you will see less of them at any time.)

None of the articles I nominated for deletion had any reliable sources to back them up.

Impact is not a measure of whether a source is reliable, peer review is. One can argue that journals with higher impact factors are likely to have more rigorous peer review, but the AfD's have not talked about journal impact factor.

Note that TOPLAS, a source for the Nemerle article, had an impact factor of 1.92 in 2010, the highest PL journal, and among the higher CS journals overall.

Also note that the high-impact CS conferences are peer reviewed. This fact, and the general importance of conference publications in CS, appeared to have escaped the participants in the AfDs I looked at.

The article was deleted for lack of reliable sources: what does the number of citations that this or that article has have to do with that?

Nazi/asshole/whatnot - These people are pathetic. Don't be put off by them.

There's a big debate to be had about the utility of journals in 2011, but when a Wikipedia editor writes about TOPLAS that "I'm not sure about this journal [TOPLAS], more research would be necessary, it may have a low impact factor as it does not have a wikipedia page, which indicates that the journal itself is not notable." then you know you're in trouble. I'm only sorry that my articles which referenced Nemerle wern't enough to save its Wikipedia page - I hope it's reinstated. I don't know whether all of the articles deleted were worthy or not, but Nemerle, in my opinion, has justified its place in the world.

I don't think they are pathetic. I think they are at a loss for words.

Besides, the word "nazi" has regrettably come to be used loosely to describe someone who is too strict with respect to an agenda ("grammar nazi" etc), which I would say is quite applicable here. Still a bad choice of a word, in my opinion; at least a veneer of decency should be maintained.

I think a lot of people over-reacted. When people see the title of this article, he/she would immediately think you are trolling and doing this for no concrete reasoning.

(I am not that your actions are justified, but I am just pointing out that a lot of people are acting before they have considered both sides of the story)

HN people, while I whole-heartedly disagree with chrismonsanto's actions here, let's not do any personal attacks.

From wikipedia: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greys_Law)

"Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

It's been (properly) folded into http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarks_Law

Link broken. I thought it was deleted

fixed link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greys_Law

Nope, it's gone.

Chris You became notable as most inadequate moron. YES ! You are.

Let's put them back on there and add a chapter titled 'controversy over Wikipedia deletion' - plenty of sources there :-)

(I am only half kidding in fact, I remember something like this happening a while ago but don't remember what the precise article was about)

There was a restaurant in South Africa, or so. And it only gained so much attention, because Jimbo was involved.

> to the point where people are calling me a Nazi/asshole/whatnot on my user page

If someone calls you a Nazi, they're probably a bad person. But if lots of people call you a Nazi, that should suggest to you that your behaviour may be at fault.

From the tone of his posts I can already tell he's a smug little b. A cynic would think that he's doing all this deletionism so that when his own pet project FRENETIC is done, it'll be easier to distinguish from other languages.

Accidental upvote

Haha, I love the edit war on his profile regarding his "non-notable" website: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Christopher_M...

Which is making him a little handful of money daily: http://w3spy.net/site/smogon.com

Chris, I suggest you pay GoDaddy the extra $10/year and hide your address.

Regardless of whether you agree with Monsanto's actions that are the focus of the reddit submission, that stuff is a dick move.

What is Wikipedia's policy on personal offsite URLs on user pages? I think it's just people editing his profile out of spite due to this issue. I agree that it's not done with good intentions.

You are also welcome to include a simple link to your personal home page

Although, that's not a policy page; it's a guideline, but I realize you weren't using a strict definition of the term wrt to Wikipedia.


Thanks for the info.

A Ph.D. student in the field of programming languages, no less. Their grad student directory points to this rather thin homepage: http://monsan.to/

I can't find anything in citeseer, though.

I am a humble cs undergraduate student too but I can already tell that PhD != Bright.

Christopher is a PhD student at Princeton under advisor Dave Walker.

If anyone here has connections to Princeton or Dave Walker, I really encourage you to bring this to his attention, as he is hopefully someone Christopher respects enough to listen to advice from. Given that Dave's CV includes designing several esoteric programming languages, I suspect he would have a personal stake in this issue.

Oh no, please, let's not sic the internet mob on these people.


He's already turned up on this comment thread. I think would be inadvisable to ask somebody to talk to him IRL. At worst it can look like intimidation, which is not cool.

A personal stake? I don't see any reason to believe Prof. Walker is so lacking in perspective that he would automatically regard every esoteric language he works on as notable enough to deserve a place in Wikipedia.

Hm, that was probably the wrong phrase to use. I was just thinking that as a researcher on programming languages, he would have more insight into the issue, and have an idea which languages were influential.

'Only mentioned in conference proceedings' is actually a fairly decent criterion for exclusion from a general encyclopedia - which is the sort of thing all the deletionist/notability teacup storms revolve around.

The importance of conference proceedings in distributing CS research doesn't seem particularly relevant.

> The importance of conference proceedings in distributing CS research doesn't seem particularly relevant.

So, because computer science does things differently from other fields, it is at fault?

What? You seem to be very focused on being upset about something and I can't quite follow what it is. Have you read any of the endless verbiage on notability?

There is a (hotly debated, etc, etc) wikipedia policy that article topics have to be 'notable'. If a topic is only covered in academic literature, one can make a perfectly sensible argument that it's obscure and not 'notable' enough for a general encyclopedia.

You don't have to agree with the policy (I, personally, am totally indifferent to the whole topic) but you write as if the very idea that something that's only mentioned in conference proceedings is obscure (CS or not, doesn't seem all that relevant either) is somehow irrational and worthy of great indignation.

It's relevant to CS because in CS, unlike in other fields, conference papers and proceedings are the main way to report on findings. In other fields conferences take a backseat to journals; CS is unusual in this respect.

As for the broader issue of whether academic entries are notable, surely the massive body of mathematics entries on wikipedia indicates that material which is never mentioned in the newspaper is notable.

The implication of deletionism as a philosophy is that readers cannot be trusted to make up their own minds about the merits of an article even if it contains positive and negative feedback markers.

The whole deletionism fiasco at Wikipedia is ultimately a software and UI failure. Misguided people who in most cases could never write a good article (or even improve an existing one) themselves are running amok because the system is re-enforcing the belief that their only talent, destroying information, is also a valid form of contribution. It is no statistical accident that rampant wiki deletionism is even more intense in ..."strict" countries such as Germany.

At the same time it is important to note that a lot of articles have serious shortcomings and are in need of improvement. While deleting them is in my opinion unforgivable as long as they contain useful information, I believe Wikipedia could profit from a more modern approach to article rating and validation. If substandard articles were allowed to continue existing albeit with low ratings and missing validation tags, Wikipedia as a process could focus more on improvement as opposed to gleeful pruning. If they concentrated on more constructive measures and included better ways of gathering user feedback for quality control, they could also provide former deletionist users with a UI option that simply prevents them from ever having to see an article that is below a certain quality threshold. Everybody would win.

As it stands today, Wikipedia increasingly fails at its stated mission of being a repository for the world's knowledge. Sadly, I don't believe it is possible to change Wikipedia in any way, ever. Someday, someone will have to come along and fork it.

> Wikipedia increasingly fails at its stated mission of being a repository for the world's knowledge.

This is the problem. Most of us just assume that Wikipedia's mission is being the repository for all human knowledge. But it's not. The last time rampant deleting happened (and I lost a page related to one of my projects) they clearly made the argument that being an endless repository was not their goal. Their goal is simply to be an encyclopedia. And even I had to admit that the page on my project is useful information but it would never belong in an encyclopedia.

If anyone wants to start a project that contains all human knowledge, on all subjects, without any constraint -- I think that would be a very interesting idea -- but that project is not Wikipedia.

Well, that project could be wikipedia if the community so decided. They would just need to seriously loosen/eliminate the notability criterion.

> a project that contains all human knowledge, on all subjects, without any constraint

I would have said that's (one of) the role(s) of the internet.

Only wikipedia has the critical mass necessary to maintain a human knowledge project, otherwise I'd offer to build such a thing.

The main problem with deletionism in WP is the fact that the notion of notability is very subjective in some cases. There are situations that are very clear (people who have competed in Olympics are a shoe-in, garage bands that have never charted are not). Then there are cases like these where notability might be tied to a research or theoretical niche for example, and is hard to establish with enough solidity to break through the wikilawyering crud. And believe me, if they can out-lawyer you with WP:THIS and WP:THAT, the article you're trying to preserve will be deleted. Worse, the avenues for recourse are thin and usually controlled or influenced by the same people that you went against to begin with.

Maybe notability is not the best criterion to use. Perhaps a decision about inclusion or exclusion of an article could be based on other criteria.

> It is no statistical accident that rampant wiki deletionism is even more intense in ..."strict" countries such as Germany.

Any sources?

Yes. Citation needed, eh?






Ah, you know what, you can google the rest... Ich glaube auch es ist schlecht möglich, dass man als Deutscher noch nie etwas vom Löschwahn gehört hat, ehrlich gesagt.

This is a missed opportunity for "[citation needed]."

I had already used up my daily quota of humour. I don't want my German citizenship revoked.

In reading about this I came across a few things that I honestly wasn't aware of for Wikipedia, which made me feel these deletionists are even more silly than I prior thought



The Notability guidelines often both me really, as they are a somewhat silly set of 'rules' in many ways and not everything fits into a nice and tidy system. For example, Christopher M seems to feel that his understanding of the requirements if that all languages must be cited in well published and cited academic papers and there is no other way around it. That's just silly. There could be new and growing languages that are of importance, or older ones that were important at the time, but that there weren't papers for and aren't being actively used. Do they each have a purpose and for the people who is researching things via the Wikipedia important? Yes. They are.

I feel that there is more to be lost by most deletionist activity than there is to be gained. The risk evaluation here almost always (except in cases of spam and self edits, which are frequent) should lean on the side of having more information available, not less.

The one thing that has always blown my mind on Wikipedia is that they have "votes" all the time where people edit in their opinion, but then a decision is made which may or may not take the votes into account. They're actually pretty clear on this: there's a policy that says something to the effect of "yeah, we'll take votes, but the person acting on the vote doesn't have to listen to the votes because Wikipedia isn't a democracy. You're lucky if we read the votes and take them into account!".


Wikipedia's rules are all non-rules, except when they aren't.

They are not "votes", and the rules are pretty clear about that. The goal of wikipedia debates is to discuss and achieve a consensus, which doesn't work at all when people turn individual debates into anti/pro-deletion flamewars, appeal to outside websites to rally the troops, who then arrive and restate the same tired old arguments (eg. lack of storage space) instead of actually reading the rules and being constructive.

I'm not sure what the solution is, but something seriously needs to be done about the requirements Wikipedia has in place. Especially when applied to open source software, the notability requirement, combined with the definition of reliable sources, make invalid assumptions about the common media for discourse.

Yes, yes, a million times yes. Everybody knows that the existing Wikipedia Notability guidelines have serious issues when it comes to dealing with software and technology issues. I know I fought tooth and nail to get the Steve Yegge article back on Wikipedia a while back, and Steve is pretty damn notable in his community.... to the point that a WP article on him is a no-brainer. Now imagine anybody just a hair less well known, or a project with no celebrity leader or that isn't sponsored by $MEGACORP.

Software just isn't cited generally in the New York Times and the kinds of sources that they want... that doesn't mean it isn't notable, it just means that it's "noted" a different way. Notability in our world is based on blog posts, mailing list posts, github commit logs, etc.

Now how to get Wikipedia's policies amended to reflect that? Good question... I know it's been tried before and failed, but maybe it's time somebody built a coalition to make a serious, coordinated effort to get something done (no, I'm not volunteering, unfortunately.)

Edit: My memory is failing, it was the Yegge article I had that big battle over, not Zed. But the point remains the same.

Yep. The thing is that just about everything is notable at a local enough level--whether local in the sense of geography or some other community. People who tend towards the deletionist side of the debate tend to try and get around this by falling back on verifiability--but that just, ironically, ends up favoring the sort of things that get printed on dead trees somewhere however obscure. As a result, it's much easier to make a case under Wikipedia rules that some selectman in a small town who is periodically mentioned in the local newspaper is notable than someone who wrote a widely-used piece of software but hasn't been the subject of news stories. (And, of course, there's no consistent practice either. I have to assume that lots of entries about obscure toys, games, and TV shows are largely original research.)

I wrote a blog post about the whole Yegge thing.


The thing that makes Wikipedia useful in my opinion is not the notable topics I can lookup somewhere else. It's these long tail articles about esoteric programming languages and non-mainstream topics.

Useful and enjoyable. The idea that there has to be top-tier publications on a language for it to be on Wikipedia will leave us with a lot of boring Wikipedia topics.

I tend to contribute money to certain projects. I won't give to Wikipedia because they treat conference proceedings with less respect than an episode of Gossip Girls.

I don't remember who said it, but I read something recently which I thought was amusing and not serious (paraphrasing):

> All that donation money, and they still can't afford enough hard drive space to avoid deletionism.

The guy allegedly doing the flagging has responded on his user page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Christopher_Monsanto

Edit: The quoted comment was in jest, and too many missed this, so I'll reinforce that by adding 'and not serious'.

Wikipedia already rightfully boasts that space isn't an issue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:What_Wikipedia_is_not...

The problem is, without a notability policy that's decidable, the policy is useless and contradicts the above link.

lets not confuse the issue. Deletionism has nothing to do with storage capacity. http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Deletionism#Rationale_for_del...

edit: meta: the broken-down score on this post is something like +27-20, what an emotional topic!

Missed the amusing?

Nobody would rightfully assume that storage is the problem. I know how much storage costs. The commenter I'm quoting wrote that tongue-in-cheek, and I thought I had given enough of a hint there that I was repeating it in jest as well.

I calculated that each article might cost them a thousandth of a cent to store.

Let's assume it's Enterprise Grade Storage and quintuple the price. Now it costs them a breath-taking five one thousandths of a cent to store.

Would you be willing to pay me five one thousandths of a cent for every article I could create?

No, because of a clear agency problem. But I'd be prepared to donate the several dozen thousandths of a cent required to keep the deleted articles.

Several dozen? What about several million? Several billion?

Deletionism isn't a hard drive space issue. All deleted articles remain in the database and can be restored by admins.

Until a dev accidentally deletes the deleted-table. (This happened to en once back in 2005 or 2006, I was told, and apparently for a long time deleted images weren't even held onto; hope you didn't want to restore anything from back then.)

Christopher has posted this update on his profile:

Dear internet,

You guys win. I will stop nominating pages for deletion.

I wasn't doing this to troll or to slam any language community. I was just trying to help -- I read the WP guidelines for inclusion, and whenever I came across a language that didn't seem to meet said criteria, I nominated it for AfD. I think, with respect to Wikipedia's established notability guidelines, my arguments for deletion were airtight, which is probably why the articles were eventually deleted. I'm not sure my actions warranted the kind of internet-hatred I received as a result. If anyone thought what I was doing was wrong, they could have just sent me a friendly message and I would have politely discussed the issue. Few took this route, and I am sorry that due to time constraints and an overwhelming amount of invective I could not reply sensibly to everyone.

Since the internet seems to care more about keeping these articles than I care about deleting them, I'll stop. I personally think a lot of the articles should have been deleted. I think that ALL articles I nominated for deletion fail to meet Wikipedia's general notability guideline. Here's a challenge, then, for the internet: instead of spamming my Wikipedia talk page (which I don't really care about), why don't you work on fixing WP's notability guideline for programming languages? Otherwise, some other naive editor will eventually try to delete them. Perhaps they won't have as much experience dealing with trolls and flamebait as I have had, and will become very hurt and confused. Nobody wants that :(

This was fun. Now back to real work, I guess...

One deletionist got a clue. Nice! But the process or the practice is still broken, and there's a lot more good articles being lost. Hopefully someday we'll have a better wiki (my wishlist: long-term archival, forking, mergeing and fuzzy links) with a less harmful community.

I'm working on a reference knowledge-base to complement Wikipedia that will loosen the 'notability' requirement in favor of 'true and useful'. Otherwise, it will share the same licensing and a wiki-centric edit model.

The project codename is 'Infinithree' ('∞³'), and I'm discussing it pre-launch at http://infinithree.org and (Twitter/Identica) @infinithree.

Sounds like an interesting project. I really don't like the name though.

I'm sort of surprised by the surprise here. As a graduate student myself, my peers and I have all come to the sad conclusion that Wikipedia is good for breadth and bad for depth, at least in CS (I cannot speak for other areas). The primary issue seems to be the combination of deletionists and campers. The former we see in this case.

The latter is something my theory friends complain about. According to two of them who have tried, attempting to expand or correct any of the fringe topics in algorithms and graph theory is futile because of the instant-reverters who will simply revert any change they make.

Of course, what's most disturbing to me about this is... dear gods, man, you're at Princeton! If you don't understand what the contributions of Alice ML are to the field, walk down the hall and talk to Andrew Appel! Or David Walker, if Andrew is too hard to track down. I would hope that by this point this student has learned that there is a lack of fidelity in the search engines for anything published in the 90s and earlier, as the scanned PS converted to PDF is neither as well-indexed nor as comprehensively available (e.g. Springer-Verlag work from that time is frequently not indexed in scholar/citeseer due to a lack of non-subscription links, particularly if published by someone who is no longer in academia).

Fortunately, most of the work in PL was done in the lifetime of people still working. If you're too busy to do a thorough search of relevant work, you can sit down and talk with the people who were there when concurrency was first being introduced and formally modeled to understand Alice's place and contributions (or lack thereof, if that's the conclusion you come to).

What is most surprising is the claim on the Alice discussion that Ph.D theses are not reviewed.

Nemerle has 209,000 results on Google, and the first few pages are stacked with relevant, well-written articles. How is this not notable?

I played with this language a few years back and thought it had great promise(when C# was much less capable). I have read the exact Wikipedia page you deleted, and it got me to write some code in Nemerle.

* Btw, this might get some publicity for Nemerle (and the other languages).

Ahh, time for another Wikipedia deletionist pie fight! On the one side, elitist editors who are so saddened by even a single unnecessary HD spin that they want to clean clutter. On the other side, fans of (supposedly) esoteric knowledge.

The narrator of Foucault's Pendulum, when he decides to be freelance researcher, says that his main principle will be that all information is equal, nothing is more precious than the other.

  all information is equal, 
  nothing is more precious than the other
I am glad Google disagrees.

Not all information is equal. But all information deserves to exist.

I find it funny that the guy hasn't made a single contribution to Wikipedia. All his edits either directly remove content or nominate it for deletion. Apparently besides the dislike for programming languages, he also hates it when certain scientists have "Dr." next to their names on their Wikipedia articles.



>Raj Reddy ‎ (dr. is so unnecessary)

>Randy Pausch ‎ (dr is unnecessary)

>Benjamin C. Pierce ‎ (Don't need dr.)

and so on

He also apparently thinks that once a dedicated article gets deleted, all mention of that particular subject should be removed (as is evidenced by the fact that he went on a removal spree and removed most mentions of Nemerle from other Wikipedia articles as soon as wiki:Nemerle was deleted - he didn't just delete links pointing to wiki:Nemerle but the actual mention of it). That is not a WP policy.

Reread the comment. tty is not referring to changes like

  - …[[Nemerle]]…
  + …Nemerle…
He or she is claiming mentions of Nemerle being completely excised from other articles.

Oh, my mistake. I didn't read carefully and assumed tty was referring to the usual backlink removal done by a bot after AfDs - I saw one of them for Nemerle on my watchlist today before I came here.

The solution to this problem that mollifies wikipedia admin culture is to make these pages into sub-pages of huge articles. E.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_in_The_Simpsons .

This is a lot less useful way of doing things but it flies almost completely outside the deletionist radar. There is little cultural dance pertaining to the the concept of notability for mentioning something in a list, and no bureaucratic pseudo-procedure for a deletionist to wield against such practice.

Whoa, hold the phone: List of animals in The Simpsons is notable but Nemerle isn't? How does that remotely make sense? The man hours undoubtedly expended in maintaining that list boggle my mind.

Scroll down to the List of One-Time Animals section if you really want your mind boggled

A mergist! You guys still exist? (http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Mergism)

But seriously, merging into a list can be a very bad idea when you're dealing with a deletionist. Because 'notability isn't inherited', the list is no more notable than any of its items. Theoretically, you can also claim notability if RSs discuss the list (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability#Notability... ), but I've never seen this successfully done - what source will discuss 'List of animals in The Simpsons'? How do you show they are discussing your list without engaging in OR? It's basically impossible.

So a list just makes life much easier for the deletionist - one easy target to AfD rather than 20 or 30. (This happened to me recently with [[Neon Genesis Evangelion glossary]]. The nominator would have taken months or years to chew through each entry if they hadn't been merged, with any luck burned out before the end, and I might have been able to save individual articles.)

If the problem is pollution of the main lists of programming language articles by entries that Mr. Monsanto considers to be inappropriate for listing...wouldn't an appropriate compromise be removing them from these programming languages lists? This seems like a shortcoming in Wikipedia's policies? This way the data is preserved, but not related to the main search spaces. If you look a language up on Google, it will still be there because it will be indexed.

Otherwise, Mr. Monsanto has every right to push his agenda on Wikipedia insofar as it is within the bounds of legal play on the site. Attacking his character gets nobody anywhere, and probably adds credence to whatever he's doing. If you're really concerned about deletions of your favorite PL articles, sit on them. If a request for removal/deletion (I don't know the wiki-jargon) pops up, just dump all over it. Even better, improve the articles. He can't get something deleted that's not mediocre. Agents like Mr. Monsanto will actually improve the quality of your average article one way or the other. I'm impressed that somebody would bother reading so many articles and post meta-data about them....especially on a topic that so few people engage in.

It's curious that pages that don't meet Mr. Monsanto's criterion of having been cited in a 'top-tier' publication. There are so many articles on Wikipedia that do not have ties to anything real. Is it really fair to hold PL topics to academic-level standards? What if somebody considers PL an art, or something other than semantics and formalisms? This does happen, and people who create new languages from languages that aren't considered much in the PL community might actually fall into these categories.

I think Mr. Monsanto would do well to spell out his criteria for what isn't desirable in precise and formal terms.

While reading Nemerle's deletion discussion page, I can't help but notice what seems to me to be some degree of racism on the part of the deletion advocates, particularly Christopher Monsanto. Where the many sources in English, instead of Polish and Russian, I can't help but think that perhaps they would not have been dismissed out of hand. RSDN.ru being dismissed as a "mere tutorial"? Ugh! Read it yourself and make up your own mind though.


The notability requirements do not sufficiently cover "expert" subjects like PLs. Chris mentioned this himself, yet used it as a justification for these articles, this is known as Doublethink (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doublethink) and clearly indicates a second agenda.

Not anyone can invent a programming language, it's not comparable to your pet rock band. Chris, you clearly displayed that you are not capable of handling this subject satisfactory and you've displayed arrogance in response to peoples distress.

Simply put - marking the articles for deletion was rash, and in the larger sense unjustified.

All anyone needs to do about this is find reliable sources to improve the articles that are being nominated for deletion. Really. If some wikipedian who knows about published, reliable sources about each of the languages simply adds some source citations to the articles, all will be well.

Fun fact: I left a note for the guy asking why he doesn't do that (hunt up citations and improve articles).

His response was to go complain about how "ironic" that was on some other well-known deletionist's page, and whine about how he's "martyring" himself for Wikipedia.

In other words: there's basically no reasoning with the guy who's behind this.

Because : "He will not reply to senseless accusations any longer. Don't bother nominating him for conflict of interest or vandalism or whatnot, it's already been tried and didn't work."

Funny. I didn't make senseless accusations, didn't nominate him for anything. Just asked, matter-of-factly, why he was putting his energy into AfDs instead of into looking up references and trying to improve articles.

At which point (check his history if you care), he wandered over to another user's page to recruit help, saying:

One commenter even suggested I search for references to improve the articles in question, as opposed to nominating them for deletion (the sheer irony).

So, yeah, apparently asking him to channel his energies into something that's one of Wikipedia's main goals is "ironic" as well as "senseless"?

Sticking with my original conclusion that this is not someone who responds well to reason.

I would love to do that! The problem is that for the articles I nominated, no citations exist :(

That statement is false.

Take Factor for example. It has been hosted at several conferences, has an active community of users, and has an academic paper published in ACM.


Perhaps what you meant to say is that no citations exist that meet your own apparently arbitrary standards of approval?


It appears that it was another individual who recommended wiki/Factor for deletion. I apologize for my inaccurate accusation, but in my opinion that still does not excuse recommending the removal of Nemerle.

Or that he didn't spend enough time looking:

> It takes me but a few minutes to figure out whether I am going to nominate an article for deletion. A single hit that looks like it might possibly be a reliable source and I'm outta there.


Reassuring description of the process, there...

But I didn't nominate Factor for deletion...

I apologize for the confusion, but that still doesn't change much. See these papers on Nemerle:



Ouch, this is really sad because it took me ~10 seconds on Google Scholar and I found the Nemerle papers. I'm on your side too (if a language seriously has no users and no publications, why have an article on it), but your research skills are giving us grad students a bad name ;)

One suggestion I'd make (following up on my directing you to WP:POINT on your talk page) would be to research the history of Improv's famous spree, wherein he speedy-deleted a bunch of articles on different brands of cookies. You may learn some useful things about when to be strict on policy and when not to.

I don't think the solution is as simple as that, but references do help.

Programming languages are like Pokemon. Only a few of them are strictly notable in isolation (Pikachu). But there are hundreds of others that small communities are interested in, and the metavalue of having all of them described on Wikipedia is high.

I don't understand what the cost is. Why don't you make a list of "notable" programming languages so that people who want to browse around can skip the less influential / new ones like Nemerle. But to delete hundreds of languages (and if you apply these rules, you need to delete hundreds of languages, you've missed lots of them) is a travesty.

@chrismonsanto has this thread (and the reddit thread) caused you to reevaluate what we, the programming community, consider 'notable'?

The easy reaction would be to focus on the flamers, harden your heart and drive ahead. The wise man, here, stops and thinks for a bit.

Restore Nemerle.

He's a wikipedia admin. It is commonly recognized fact that all wikipedia admins are on egotistical power-trips, what do you think is going to happen?

You will never see an admission of wrongdoing.

Thankfully, he is not an admin.

He is not an admin and he did not delete the article.

It's about time someone created a anti-deletionist (inclusionist?) Wikipedia overlay that keeps copies of pages that have been deleted. Perhaps some kind of framing, while ugly, could be used to keep server load to a minimum while allowing people to access all of Wikipedia through that overlay site.

The vast majority of deleted pages are utter crap. While what you suggest would be interesting I don't see it having much value, unless you manually selected which pages to include. Even then, they'd be 99.9% stubs, with nobody editing or expanding them.

We just need to deal with deletionism.

I found that some things deleted were just petty though. For example, before Cuil came about I added a page about Anna Patterson co-founder of Cuil and was previously known as creating the biggest index using internet archive.

Cuil becomes big news and then she was removed with the note that she wasn't really of note. Then the details about her were removed from Cuil's page. Quite odd.


I was even expanding on the page, and it even had a few other contributions from other people.

Don't get me wrong, it's a big problem, I'm just not sure the proposed solution is workable.

Since you got voted down, I see where you're coming from, and past discussions about Wikipedia on HN has revealed that a non-trivial number of HN members have only a surprisingly superficial understanding or experience with Wikipedia, I'll attempt to further explain.

The Anna Patterson one is absolutely a case of where the proposed solution achieves the desired effect (in my opinion). redthrowaway hasn't mentioned whether he or she agrees about the Patterson situation, but that's fine, because it's neither here nor there.

What happens on Wikipedia is that people drive by and will literally create an aritcle like "Shitfuck" and will literally write something like "a shitfuck is a guy named jason form cedar springs". seconds later the page content is changed by them again to something like: "a shitfuck is a guy named jason from cedar springs he really likes to shit but he never gets to fuck".

The proposed solution is to retain all deleted articles. redthrowaway points out this isn't a realistic approach in light of these types of new articles. Opposition to redthrowaway here seems to be in the case where multiple someones somewhere care do care about the information in the Anna Patterson article. Is the Anna Patterson article at all similar to the shitfuck incident? Is someone somewhere going to come along and constructively improve that one?

In case you're wondering, "yeah, but how often does that kind of thing really happen?" It happens. A lot.

"The vast majority of deleted pages are utter crap."

So fucking what?

Bits are so cheap they're damn near free, and we have pretty good search technology these days. Who gives a shit if there is some crusty data that nobody cares about lying around?

Who precisely is hurt by this?

There's a big difference between CSD ("Criterion for Speedy Deletion") and AfD ("Articles for Deletion") here.

Something like Nemerle is obviously an interesting article and a failure of the AfD process. I've never done a DRV (Deletion Review) before, so I might look through Christopher Monsanto's deletions.

But there ARE good reasons to delete content. I new page patrol on English Wikipedia and see thousands of articles created which are nothing more than:

"asdfasdfasdf tim in year 6 of somesuch high school is teh GAY!!1"

and they should rightly be deleted. Usually they are CSDed within minutes and usually deleted very quickly thereafter.

The CSD process works for this kind of thing. And occasionally things slip past the CSD process and need PROD/PROD BLP/AfD. But I do think the Nemerle deletion was definitely an example of the fallacy of deletionism.

Yeah, because 65 bytes is a hell of a thing to waste.

It isn't a hard drive space issue. All deleted articles are kept in the database.

Are you seriously advocating that if someone comes and posts an article in main-space which is nothing but an advert for a crappy little garage band or some kid creating an article about how his friends are gay or whatever shouldn't be deleted?

How about instead of deleting them they are blocked from crawlers and all links are rel=nofollowed? That way the information is still available to anyone who knows it exists, but it won't show up in searches. I'd be fine if this is done via an overlay site with Wikipedia as the backend, or better yet, like showdead on HN (which I keep enabled, since sometimes an account gets killed for a single post and the other posts are interesting).

Yeah, so what? No harm is done. Revert bad changes to articles people care about, and ignore articles that nobody cares about. If people actually someone start visiting these 'bad' articles, that means nothing more than you've just identified another avenue for expansion.

That turns Wikipedia into geocities, which is not its role or purpose. There have to be criteria for inclusion. If you have a bunch of articles with unverifiable information, you aren't doing your job as an encyclopedia. Quality matters.

Wikipedia relies on volunteers to do updates, corrections, and repair of vandalism. Storage is cheap but their time on this thankless work (just look at this thread—and we're relatively civil!) is a limited resource, and the thinner you spread them, the more unusable (outdated, mistaken, and actively misleading) the results will be. If you want a boundless supply of crap content, the union of everything anyone ever bothered to write, we already have one: the web.

If tyrannical admins didn't chase away all possible contributors by deleting their work, perhaps this would no longer be an issue.

It's not the admins. There are relatively few of them, and they really don't nominate pages for deletion very often. When a page is nominated, it's the community that argues and the admin only deletes if there's clear consensus. The problem is that deletionists flock to AfDs like it's Mecca, and inclusionists are too busy writing content.

Probably instead of deleting, this articles should be moved to sublayers. In this case "programming sublayer". If you don't subscribe to it, you won't see the article and links to it.

http://deletionpedia.dbatley.com/ archives deleted Wikipedia articles.

Getting people to rally around anything that someone is trying to have deleted is a sure-fire way to get it deleted, protected from recreation, and basically never coming back. It is like some kind of 'defend the hive' kind of reaction.

It's interesting that there is no longer a Nemerle article on the English Wikipedia, but there is one on the Japanese, Polish, Russian, Finnish, Tajik, Ukrainian, and Chinese Wikipedias.

You can see this by going to, e.g., the Japanese article (http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemerle) and looking at the language links at bottom of the left sidebar.

So if you are a speaker of one of those languages, you're still in luck :-P

I'm Russian and I almost never read Russian wikipedia articles about programming.

Reasons: a) Terminology is English and looks very unnatural in Russian. Terminology translation is even worse - when I read in Russian I need to make double translation to understand.

  b) Most Russian wiki articles - is just translations from English wiki.

Wikipedia is about power and the kick you get out of it.

Well, it certainly seems to lack sufficient guards against people who are on a power trip.

When a graduate student, a researcher, spends so much effort in order to delete knowledge (or, more precisely, hide it), I find it mind-boggling. It goes against the very essence of science.

But it's right in line with the worst petty academic pissing matches.

Like the California math professor who was recently arrested for repeatedly peeing on his colleague's office door.

I certainly oppose deleting programming languages, obscure or not, from wikipedia. I went to the site to try to register a complaint but could not find a way to do that. It seems that meta-comments are not really handled well withing the wikipedia framework. Or did I just miss the right link.

I think wikipedia (like some other sites I have tried to use) is intentionally obscure; it gives the "Wikipedia is my life" types more control.

Oh, come on, now. It's just that the wiki paradigm is used throughout. Talk pages, for example, are basically no differently editable from their respective articles; Talk:Transport_in_Nagpur is just a plain ol' wiki page that's been created at that name. Hanlon's razor, et cetera, et cetera.

It seemed to me that everything is tied to a particular page or entry/ There did not seem to be any appropriate place to bring up a pervasive action involving a multiplicity of pages.

I recently created an article about Sunder Katwala (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunder_Katwala) who is the head of the Fabian Society (a prominent UK think tank).

The article had been up for less than a month when someone requested speedy deletion, despite the article having ample evidence of the subject's notability. Deletionists are out of control on Wikipedia, and need to be stopped. I've thought about writing articles and though "no, why bother, some deletionist will just delete it." and I'm sure many others have been similarly dissuaded.

To this end I'm building an inclusionist fork of Wikipedia. The main difference it will have is there will be no notability guidelines, only verifiability ones.

That's never been tried before. Except with Citizendium, Deletionpedia, Knowino, Wikinfo, Includipedia...

The Nemerle article is up for deletion review (DRV), and there is at least one admin supporting overturning the decision:


Information on these type of languages is exactly what I expect to find in an encyclopaedia.


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