•••• PEOPLE OF HN: ANYBODY CAN PROPOSE ANY ARTICLE ON WP FOR DELETION. THERE IS NO BAR FOR IT. ••••
If you make comically stupid proposals, like "[Barack Obama] isn't notable and should be deleted", an admin will shut you down. But otherwise, if even an iota of thought is required to make the decision, it will go to AfD and get shouted down.
This AfD is not going close "deleted"; by WP's own rules, it basically can't be deleted. This isn't newsworthy. If we had an HN story any time anyone made a misguided AfD posting, that's all we'd ever talk about here.
Meanwhile, before anyone suggests that they've done the world a favor by directing attention to the AfD: canvassing support for a "keep" vote actually makes the admin's job harder. It muddies the issue. It means that every well-reasoned comment will carry a subtext of "maybe this is a sockpuppeted comment". Not a win.
And: before anyone complains about the damage done to the encyclopedia by the big ugly "this page might get deleted" tag: this article actually is poorly sourced and needs improvement. WP's immune response to non-notable articles is going to end up improving this particular article by inciting WP nerds to dredge up the (numerous) news stories that reference him.
PS: Not for nothing, but WP's coverage of Randal Schartz is wanting, in that it drastically pares back what is notable about him (his felony hacking conviction) in favor of what he is "locally famous" for (his Perl advocacy). This is a consequence of a very vocal FORS contingent that watches that page.
(but to echo tptacek; if you are going to follow this link and comment on the proposed deletion ''please'' take a moment to review the notability policies and make a sensible, valid argument rather than the "this is ridiculous" sort that has already appeared. If anything, that sort of thing usually goes against the article)
First, yes, the "immune response" usually manages to produce some improvement, but often it just produces a deleted article because nobody who might have cared managed to notice. Whenever I observe those processes, I see two primary forces: many people with way too much time on their hands arguing policies without thinking, and people tired of trying to explain common sense via citations to chapter and verse of Wikipedia policy. (See also: wrestling a pig in mud.)
Second, the article links to various policy changes that suggest Wikipedia no longer considers "published author" a sufficient criteria for notability. That seems like a severe problem quite aside from this particular article.
Fundamentally, proposing an AfD means precisely one thing: "I think this article has negative value for Wikipedia, such that deleting it would improve Wikipedia.". All too often I see articles proposed for deletion (and "successfully" deleted) which have clearly positive value for Wikipedia.
I think that's all we can really hope for. In reality, you should say it makes it easier.
Somewhere between "preventing spam, vandalism, and vanity pages" and "delete everything" there's a line; the exact placement of that line seems non-obvious, but individual cases like this seem incredibly obvious (and spam, vandalism, and vanity pages seem rather obvious as well, so it works in both directions).
When Randal Schwartz is actually deleted from Wikipedia, then you have an argument.
An AfD should not get filed unless the article itself has negative value to Wikipedia, and Wikipedia would be better off with the article gone. There do exist such articles, but that should be a pretty high bar.
If you'll forgive a political analogy (which seems appropriate given Wikipedia involves politics): What do Wikipedia, governments, and very young children have in common? You have to watch all of them carefully so they don't do something painfully wrong and injure themselves or others, they have a lot more energy than you do, they don't have or use much common sense, and they keep persisting because they can get away with things if you get tired and look away briefly.
And yes, I do know what I'm talking about; I've participated in Wikipedia for years, dealt with several of its policies, and watched its internal workings extensively with both fascination and disgust.
Every time I think Wikipedia couldn't slide any further
into craziness, I see something like this.
I do agree that there is a line to be drawn, but I am an advocate of erring on the side of vanity. I'd rather have some vanity pages - that cause next to no traffic and don't really take up much storage - than deleting knowledge, however insignificant it might be.
Why is the inclusion of Randal even an issue?
"Reasons for deletion
Any other content not suitable for an encyclopedia"
I like Burn Notice, it's fun and entertaining. But does it need to be in an encyclopedia? More so than Randal L Schwartz? Talk about intellectual mob rule.
So do I, and it's quite handy. But if Wikipedia is to be the host for what is, essentially, mass-media trivia, then why would it not also be the host for arguably less mundane content, such as a page on Randal Schwartz. Or me, for that matter?
It just depends on how Wikipedia's owners decide to handle it. But they're currently defining themselves as an encyclopedia.
Does anyone else find the fact that the Wikipedia talk pages are wiki pages to be about the stupidest thing ever? Wikis are designed for occasional edits, not active discussions. It's very annoying to try to save a comment and find that it is rejected because someone else got an edit in while you were editing.
It seems clear to me that the talk pages should use an HN or Reddit like system, not wiki pages. Or am I missing something?
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion. I did my part (adding a pile of references to places where Randal had been interviewed and presented as a notable authority), and between all our effort, we have a better article than before (hopefully).
Proof that - sometimes - this Wikipedia thing works the way it should. ;-)
to give some idea of relative fame, i'd say he was no less famous in his community that, say, paul buchheit is these days.
[and i'd like to know more details about how the prosecution ended up being expunged - whatever that means. he did time, right?]
That said, I never really understood the effort to purge Wikipedia of vanity pages and the like.
Well, think about it this way. I go to Wikipedia, create a page about myself and bits are cheap so nobody cares. There's nothing published about me, so none of the information there is reliable, but nobody's going to read it anyway, so nobody cares. Then I click over to Michael Jackson's page, scroll down to the "cultural influence" section and chime in that...
* [[C Dwyer]] is a big fan of and has been heavily influenced in his daily life by Jackson. He was really sad when Jackson died. [http://caseysite.com/blog/i-love-mj]
Bits are cheap right? All the world's information is important. Why should anybody reading about Michael Jackson be deprived of my opinion about him?
Clearly, there's a point where this becomes ridiculous. Notability has to be resolved sooner or later, so why not resolve it from the start? What makes Wikipedia intriguing is that articles can be interlinked to expand on and enhance each other. If an article cannot benefit other articles, much less does more harm than good, why include it?
I'm not a Wikipedia editor nor much of a Wikipedia user and I don't personally care how they conduct their business. If I were in charge of maintaining the integrity of something like Wikipedia, however, let's just say it would focus a whole lot more on quality than quantity than it currently does.
Would I include an article about Randal L. Schwartz in a general purpose encyclopedia? No. Would I include it in an encyclopedia about computer history and computer science? No. An encyclopedia about the history of Perl? Maybe a footnote.
This is a pretty naïve argument.
Take, for example, the recent brouhaha about Sarah Palin and her comments about Paul Revere. Barring a future where the comments have massively effected misconceptions in the common perception of Paul Revere (let's say, on the order of Columbus's voyage and the flat earth myth), there's basically no grounds for arguing that Palin's comments should be mentioned in the Revere article. But they absolutely are deemed appropriate for the Palin article.
Well there are certainly different degrees of ``inclusionism'' but I have read plenty argue that absolutely nothing is too trivial for Wikipedia. I don't care who's wrong or right, but given the standard the Foundation is attempting to set for themselves, it's clear to me why ``deletionism'' rules.
Indeed, and backpropagating this principle through time, with a few other rough assumptions, suggests there are at least 1 million people who were once notable who will never get their own Wikipedia article. There is, however, a userspace article to commemorate these 'Unknown Notables':
Wikipedia is not suggesting that Schwartz be deleted. One random guy is. FILM AT 11.
This has been addressed, somewhat, but I'll say a bit more about it.
This is, sorry to say, a wrongheaded approach. Editorial decisions should be made with some prescience, or at least an attempt at it. To suggest that a contrary approach is an acceptable one has a couple of negative effects:
1. There's the obvious problem, which is that it says after a threshold has been reached, it's okay that this stuff will be lost. Not even through neglect or inaction, but as a matter of policy and very deliberate action. This is, in a word, dumb.
2. It encourages people to spend unfortunate levels of effort on ephemera that's just going to disappear. To put it another way, it squanders an already-scarce resource on stuff that doesn't matter in the long run. That's a lot of churn, and there's enough as it is.
Isn't this why encyclopedias exist, and exactly why this entry shouldn't be deleted?
Personally, I'm in the 'keep' camp, I can't understand why people would want to delete this, unless it's a manifestation of the trolling culture that seems to be springing up in a variety of places.
What seems to be missing from Randal's wikipedia page is his karaoke skills. Perhaps those are best left to wikimedia instead.
Aside from that, this is still only a proposal for deletion, like many others have said. I don't think this is any real cause for alarm.
I call "troll".
And while I'm here... I am tired of all this the "trust" thing. Stuff is either verifiable or not, and if you haven't verified, you should remain suspicious of it for ever. Hoping to make Wikipedia safe for gullible people to read is a bit like trying to create languages like Java, with all sorts of mechanisms to try to prevent bad programmers from making bad code. It doesn't really work.
Never thought I would have the guy who taught me Perl get mad at me on the Internet... Sorry again Randal
If I was somehow involved in some notable event (like, oh...say I go on a large-scale bank robbing spree), there is an argument to be made that even if that event should be included in Wikipedia, a separate page just about me shouldn't be.
(I also don't think his article should be deleted, but I don't think it's nonsensical to have a distinction between a notable event and a notable person).
EDIT: Included the link, as mentioning the position of the comment doesn't make any sense when comments order changes.
Who's saying you should? And what's different about "these days" versus, I don't know, 2005? Feel free to substitute there your favorite year from any point on the timeline of Wikipedia nostalgia.
Edit: Goddamn. I really hate to do it, but challenges, please?
The notion that you can/should/could ever trust Wikipedia is some weird inference that has been tacked on by uninvolved bystanders following Wikipedia's success, and does not originate from within Wikipedia. Wikipedia's stance on the reputability of itself and other tertiary sources is as well documented as the limitations of liability in GNU software.
Even assuming yours is the saner of the two--that your "trustworthy" and "credible" mean to say that Wikipedia is reliably accurate--well, I'll first note that this was not the topic at hand.
Since you've appealed to common opinion twice, can I presume that your own use of Wikipedia is also a typically casual one? That is, that you rarely if ever make a point to verify the claims made in articles by:
i) Cross-checking the cited sources, and/or
ii) Independently verifying things in some other way
If I'm permitted to make that presumption, then for my second point I'll note that unless you've done these things, the statement that Wikipedia is "trustworthy" and "credible" is a vacuous one.
I'll also note that I deliberately made a point of saying who's holding this opinion when I wrote that it's a "weird inference that has been tacked on by uninvolved bystanders following Wikipedia's success, and does not originate from within Wikipedia". There is, I think, a fairly realistic view of Wikipedia within the Wikipedia community, especially from those who were involved early. The "vast majority of the internet and wikipedia users" are not Wikipedia editors.
To revisit the point I made in the edit to my initial reply to bugsy, I'll say that there's a reason every page on Wikipedia links to a page that says the following, the formatting of which I can neither accurately reproduce nor adequately convey here:
> WIKIPEDIA MAKES NO GUARANTEE OF VALIDITY
> That is not to say that you will not find valuable and accurate information in Wikipedia; much of the time you will. However, Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here.
(emphasized in the original)
It is odd that Wikipedia is voting whether he is generally of no account or value worth mentioning. It would make more sense for Randal to vote on whether Wikipedia is of value and worth mentioning, or should be deleted instead. No doubt Wikipedia is notable, but mostly in the sense it is notorious.