The article for Jessie Stricchiola was created by account "Stricchiola" in November 2009. The commit message: "Added article for search industry pioneer Jessie Stricchiola". That account made only one other significant edit, which was to link the Jessie Stricchiola article into the first paragraph of "Search Engine Marketing".
Within 15 minutes, Wikipedians marked the article as insufficiently referenced, a probable conflict of interest, and possibly lacking notability. Stricchiola edited the article for the next few days, ignored the warnings, and eventually stopped editing. Other than minor fixes from Wikipedians, the article was basically untouched until September 2009, when user Cantaloupe2 nominated it for deletion discussion.
So as far as I can tell, a search engine marketing person wrote a self-promotional article about herself. Wikipedians immediately warned that the article had a number of issues, all of which she (and everybody else in the world) ignored for nearly 2 years. Somebody eventually noticed; Wikipedians discussed it and decided the article was unsalvageable.
I did sort of chuckle when I realized this was about an SEO/SEM person, though, as I've run into this kind of angry reaction outside Wikipedia as well. If you run a private wiki/forum/whatever, it's not uncommon to run into people attempting to "organically" contribute links to themselves, who seem to think they're being very clever and incognito when in fact their contributions look spammy from a mile away, and then get extremely indignant and try to raise an internet-stink when you delete their contributions.
I hate the tone of this. He knows what should be in Wikipedia, and what they should consider notable under their standards, yet feels put upon by having to know what a "talk page" or "deletion review" is, and assaulted by being informed of a talk page being created for him. In turn, he assaults the random person who tried to help him with his goal by saving his work and giving him directions with more than a half dozen paragraphs of angry, condescending tl;dr like he was reading his list of grievances to the King of Wikipedia.
1. Danny Sullivan hears that his friend Jessie Stricchiola, a pioneer in fighting click fraud, has been deleted from Wikipedia.
2. He somehow gets to a discussion about the deletion of her page on Wikipedia. On it is a debate between 13 people about whether her page should be deleted, and at the top of that page is a detailed explanation by the editor that made the final decision why that decision was made.
3. At the top of this page is an explanation that this page is an archive, and that any comments should be added to the article's "talk page" or a "deletion review". The text for "deletion review" is a link to this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Deletion_review which explains Wikipedia's deletion review policies, and offers a pretty clear six step process for having a deletion reviewed.
4. Author rages and instead writes on archive page. Summary: a. Stricchiola was a founding member of SEMPO, the largest trade group of the search marketing industry. b. Stricchiola was the earliest, and the largest stature person in the area of click fraud. c. Co-authored a popular book on click fraud.
5. Some time later, author gets an email from Wikipedia saying his "talk page" had been created and changed. When he clicks through, he is shown what changes were made, and they are a suggestion by one of the participants in the debate on deletion that his comments will not be read on the archive page, and yet another link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Deletion_review which, again, explains Wikipedia's deletion review policies, and offers a pretty clear six step process for having a deletion reviewed.
6. Instead of following this link, he clicks through the link in the email that told him how to get in contact with the person that edited his "talk page."
7. It clicks him through to a page that it then tells him not to touch. That's really annoying, but it immediately gives him the link to the place to talk to him in the same place.
8. He rages at this user about being asked to go through "some arcane cryptic obscure Wikipedia deletion review process," and asks why this user didn't just do it for him. He tells this Wikipedia editor that the decision to delete Stricchiola's article came from "the insane closed little world of Wikipedia editors, where non-specialist editors pretend to be experts on what’s notable[...]", and refers to his general feeling that "contributing anything to Wikipedia is a big giant waste of time[...]"
I don't know much about Wikipedia, and don't care whether Stricchiola is notable or not, or included or not, except in the general sense that I support the mission of Wikipedia and find it useful, and I hope that they at least keep it as useful as it has been, or make it even more useful. I want friction in my crowd-sourced encyclopedia, and know that it is far less friction than would occur in the World Book, where the appeal process would be far more obscure, and far less democratic. The deletion review process seemed pretty clear and quick to me. There was a lot of copying and pasting involved, it would be nice to have a button for that, but I'm not sure that the free form nature of the debate on the deletion page lends itself well to one. I consider this a flaw in the deletion page, not a reason not to simplify the process, but there is something to say in having a bit of friction in a process to reopen a debate that had already been concluded.
The sense of entitlement in this blog entry astounds me. I'm really surprised that so many people sympathize.
edit: I did skip the conclusion. In the end, he does go to the "deletion review" page. Instead of following the six step process (and notably not including a screenshot of that in his blog entry), he decides that it's the wrong page, and instead finds another page with a banner on top that begins: "Please note that this page is NOT for challenging the outcome of deletion discussions[...]"
More righteous condemnation ensues.
You are my new favorite commenter.
Perhaps you're dropping like a stone because I explained this in my post.
I don't have a sense of entitlement over Wikipedia. I have a sense of disgust.
1. One person at Wikipedia declares a 7-6 vote to be a "consensus.
2. The same person at Wikipedia, when alerted to a comment with and substantial information that hadn't been cited before does nothing.
3. A second person at Wikipedia, also alerted to the same comment, also does nothing other than leave a message that I should do a Deletion Review
If Wikipedia's goal is to make informed decisions around consensus, it has failed on multiple levels.
"Deletion review (DRV) considers disputed deletions and disputed decisions made in deletion-related discussions and speedy deletions. This includes appeals to restore deleted pages and appeals to delete pages kept after a prior discussion."
Further down, under the heading "What is this page for?", in a bold box:
"Deletion Review is the process to be used to challenge the outcome of a deletion debate or to review a speedy deletion.
"1. Deletion Review is to be used where someone is unable to resolve the issue in discussion with the administrator (or other editor) in question. This should be attempted first – courteously invite the admin to take a second look.
"2. Deletion Review is to be used if the closer interpreted the debate incorrectly, or if the speedy deletion was done outside of the criteria established for such deletions.
"3. Deletion Review may also be used if significant new information has come to light since a deletion and the information in the deleted article would be useful to write a new article.
This seems to describe precisely your situation, except that I don't think that you ever tried #1. Correct me if you think I'm misinterpreting this.
>1. One person at Wikipedia declares a 7-6 vote to be a "consensus."
It's good that you put quotes there, because Wikipedia has their own rules for determining what they call a consensus. As far as I can tell, they have to do with unanswered arguments. I can see why, because I'd be able to keep my band in high school on Wikipedia by simply calling my friends and knowing that the against side wouldn't be able to find 50 people who gave a shit either way.
>2. The same person at Wikipedia, when alerted to a comment with and substantial information that hadn't been cited before does nothing.
I don't remember what was in your blog entry, but I don't remember you ever getting in contact with "Mkativerata", the person who decided the consensus, just writing on the closed archive page. He/she most probably never saw it, according to the message helpfully left for you by Metropolitan90.
3. A second person at Wikipedia, also alerted to the same comment, also does nothing other than leave a message that I should do a Deletion Review.
The "second person", who noticed the comment, does nothing but leave a friendly message that told you that your other message would likely not be read, and referred you to the same link that was at the top of the archive page that you edited.
Sounds like nothing but kindness coming from Wikipedia's side, and success at keeping to the standards that they intend to keep to. The only failure I see here is the failure of a person who believes that they have a strong case for the inclusion of an entry in Wikipedia to ever make that case to anyone, through an angry refusal to follow simple directions or to show any respect to people he certainly demands a lot of respect from.
Also, let me apoligize for replying to this again, because you've certainly gotten enough shit for a few misunderstandings during what was obviously a frustrating process for you. I just feel that when somebody completely fails in every way to follow directions, to the point where I feel that you still haven't read them even to answer criticism, and condemns Wikipedia with a broad brush in an article with a linkbait title, I should do my bit to keep that meme from flourishing.
In the end it's not about votes either. We leave long explanations as our points for or against. We weigh the arguments. It prevents the "+1 me too! I agree!" responses from adding to it so consensus by vote doesn't always matter.
Oh wait, another WikiMagicThing is that only some votes count and some votes count more than others and what votes count is completely up to the arbitrary decision of someone who has no accountability for their decisions. Right.
If you see the world in black and white, you're missing important grey matter. ~Jack Fyock
Go read a number of closings of tricky AfDs and you'll soon see that it's the arguments that really matter.
Now, the author feels entitled to barge in without learning anything about how Wikipedia actually works, and complain that it's too hard to find the right place to go and complain. The author even managed to complain when someone helpfully pointed out that he went to the wrong place to revise a pointless and already settled argument.
Seriously, this is a Wikipedia success story. If this person had been allowed to just barge in and trample Wikipedia's policies on who is notable, despite having zero knowledge of how Wikipedia works, that would have been a Wikipedia failure.
If the author had just been willing to spend half an hour learning about Wikipedia's policies instead of bitching on a blog, and figured out how to revive an already-settled issue, he could have successfully managed to waste people's time on this. But no. "I demand to be listened to NOW, and if I'm not, Wikipedia is Closed and Unfriendly."
There is no form for pages that have been deleted. There is a page only (as best I can tell) for pages that are under consideration for being deleted. Once they are gone, they're gone -- unless they were removed for the ill-defined uncontroversial reasons.
Yes, I think that Wikipedia would welcome having subject expert barge right in when editors who are not subject experts are having a debate and looking for expert advice. I think they'd welcome that very much.
If you actually read the debate on the page I've written about, you'll see the editors don't understand the space that well, cannot find citations to prove or disprove what they're arguing about and in the end someone declares that the lack of an agreement is a consensus.
When I get alerted to this, and I'm trying to share detailed reference based on both first-hand knowledge as well as third-hand resources to actually help them make a decision, there is simply no easy way to do this, not unless I want to spend hours figuring out the insider mechanism to Wikipedia.
That's simply not how it should work. That is a massive Wikipedia failure, that actual expect on a subject cannot easily contribute.
If Wikipedia is designed only to have experts on Wikipedia contribute, then it will continue to succeed as a successful summary of non-expert guesswork.
I think, however, it is more than reasonable that those who are involved in the system take a hard look at how many barriers they've erected and whether the bureaucratic system that has come up couldn't be made more user friendly.
But hey, the next time you register a car at the DMV, and you've got to go from one window to the next, maybe you'll think no, it's your fault for being upset -- that's just the way the DMV works, and you're to blame for not having studied the bureaucracy better.
This happened all the time in my domain of expertise (information security), and it was exasperating trying to beat it back. Some jackass would write an article about himself and then tie up AfD for weeks claiming that the trade press quotes he got constituted reliable source coverage of his notability, while his friends and coworkers would jump on saying "I've worked in this field for 7 years and I can tell you that everyone in information security knows this guy is one of the most important" zzzzzzz Strong delete speedy delete delete with fire.
Whatever trouble you feel like you had with Wikipedia's interface: your friend got a very fair shake in the AfD debate. She wrote a non-notable book, and was quoted in passing in a couple articles, and that's basically it. People took real time out of their day to verify the pretty-obvious fact that your friend doesn't need to be in the encyclopedia. Stop being angry about that.
One of the things novices eternally miss about Wikipedia is that is might be their first time posting/supporting an article, but it is the eleven billionth time Wikipedia has has to deal with somebody like them.
When I got spam in in 1995? I would call spammers on the phone and politely talk them out of spamming. Now? I would happily nuke them from orbit. Most HN readers would.
One of the things on Wikipedia that wore me out is people approaching things like Jessie Stricchiola and Danny Sullivan did. I am sure they are decent people generally, and from their perspective I'm sure their self-promotion and drama spewing seems entirely reasonable. But man, when you're just a volunteer trying to help make something cool, stuff like this makes it get real old, real fast.
What they do make great use of is indirect contributions. If a physicist or a cardiac surgeon writes and publishes a paper on the topic of their expertise, that is fantastic raw material for Wikipedia. Which is precisely the relationship that most subject matter experts have with any other encyclopedia, so it seems reasonable to me.
This is not a Wikipedia failure, the failure is on your behalf. You can easily contribute and in fact someone was nice enough to help you in the right direction.
Your response to this person was to arrogantly insult them and complain that they did not do more to help you.
Once again, the failure here is not Wikipedias.
There are no active discussions on this topic at all. This page took me 5 seconds to find with Google. I also found it on the link they sent you 3 times.
No, the Deletion Review page is for requesting that the debate about a deleted page get re-opened, that is, it's exactly the page you want. This seems pretty clear to me from the text on the page (especially the second paragraph), but if this wasn't clear to you I guess evidently the page could be worded better.
Wikipedia policies exist to facilitate user contributions, not the other way around. Wikipedia itself says as much: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Ignore_all_rules
This is not about entitlement. This is about Wikipedia raising ridiculous bureaucratic barriers to people making good faith contributions of knowledge. In so doing, it undermines its basic mission.
I understand you're trying to defend deletionism from the HN horde but I'm not even fighting that fight.
1. First they missed the delete review that normally waits about 7 days before taking action.
2. Upon discovering that their page was deleted found the archive delete review discussion.
3. Didn't understand what they were looking at and with disregard to the notes posted at the top saying that it's archive and not to edit it, edited it anyways.
4. A bot was triggered to an admin that someone edited a locked discussion and so he happily went to go help and left a message for the user on how to handle things and where to find delete review.
5. The user wanted to send a message to the editor and got confused at another point (the editor's talk page vs their user page).
6. etc etc etc...
It's sad the user is frustrated but lets stop the blame game here. I've been doing vandal patrol on wikipedia for 5 years. It's not some evil hive mind of control or something.
re. 3,5 - there's a lot of confusion here, coming from an experienced web user. If he can't figure out what's going on, is it a user problem, or instructions issue?
At the top of the page is a bread crumb back to the deletion process. (Someone should probably update the template for the archive notice to have a link maybe for those that stumble on to it).
He did quite a lot (i.e. Tried to follow instructions) but was effectively sent to /dev/null. Regardless of whether the original article should be restored or not, I think this points out some interesting facts about how wikipedia works.
Many many many people have had these types of problems with Wikipedia. This isn't an "everybody else" problem, this is a Wikipedia problem. Wikipedia is a success, but it does have serious flaws in the bureaucracies of how it deals with contributors and new content.
> If this person had been allowed to just barge in and trample Wikipedia's policies on who is notable, despite having zero knowledge of how Wikipedia works, that would have been a Wikipedia failure.
Ok, I'll bite. Why would Wikipedia have failed?
Wikipedia has guidelines to ensure that the facts cited in articles are verifiable and accurate. These guidelines are overstrict by design. It's better to have some true information deleted than it is to allow false or promotional material into the encyclopedia.
You don't cry when your patch gets rejected for failing unit tests. Likewise, you shouldn't cry when your article gets deleted for violating Wikipedia guidelines. If you do have verifiable sources and a version of the article that is factual, then it shouldn't be difficult to recreate the article in a manner that allows it to avoid deletion.
Here's (effectively) a first-time user trying to make sense of the process of Wikipedia--this should be a great time for introspection about how to make it more usable (especially when pestering the users for money!).
So--perhaps--it might be worth it to do something other than dismiss his complaint?
that's kind of the point. the author tried to figure out how wikipedia works. they couldn't figure anything out because, as far as i can tell, all wikipedia documentation is designed to scare away anybody who isn't already an established wikipedia editor.
Not to mention that his attitude in the Talk page was reprehensible, I am glad he was not able to contribute to Wikipedia as the last thing it needs is more egotism and arrogance.
Should I take this to mean that the merits of the article in question are secondary to Wikipedia's processes?
Half an hour? You cannot be serious?
Then the user experience designers came along and said that anything that requires more than a modicum of brainpower was a "bad user experience". And everyone bends over and listens to them rather than considering the point that actually requiring people to learn the culture they are going into is a good thing.
Wikipedia's supposed to be open to all and there's nothing that says an expert (in some obscure field we have no knowledge of) is also going to have the same understanding and experience of online communities as us.
It's nothing to do with UI/UX bias and more to do with looking at the processes we currently have from the perspective of someone who isn't us and doesn't have the same knowledge/understanding we do.
Wikipedia at the moment presents it's self as one thing 'an encyclopedia anyone can edit' but attempting to do so can be a daunting and labyrinthine process that does put people off. We're not practicing what we preach.
TL;DR - Go easier on the N00Bs and build a better FAQ.
You sound like the guy Louis CK talks about, complaining about how slow his smartphone is. "Give it a second!", one wants to respond, "It's going to space!"
By this point, Wikipedians have collectively spent hours on the specific article Sullivan's in an uproar about. Many of the volunteers he's addressing have spent years getting good at what they do. And they've collectively spent decades of effort figuring out how best to decide which articles are worth keeping and which aren't. And then documenting that in a fair bit of detail.
If Sullivan wants to tell Wikipedians they're all stupid and wrong, the least he could do is spend enough time to understand whether he has something approaching a point.
My coworkers all got together a few years ago to create a gag article about another coworker as a practical joke. We built a web of subtle edits to associate our friend with some German rock band, a type of haircut, and a bunch of other things.
We eventually got our article up, and there it sat for about a month. Some wikipedia person figured it out, though, and unraveled the whole network of references in a few hours.
Wikipedia does not want to be a primary source. That's what Sullivan seems to have overlooked about why subject matter experts' opinions are not eagerly included—they haven't yet been vetted by any third party. Notability is defended by bringing citations, not complaints.
One of the users who ended up recommending deletion, DGG, is a professional librarian who makes a habit of rescuing biographies from the rubbish bin. The domain here isn't search engine marketing: it's biographies. Plenty of Wikipedians understand that domain, and understand especially well Wikipedia's criteria for inclusion about biographies.
But his point is irrelevant because Wikipedia can't require topic expertise for participation. They have no way of verifying it, and to try ends up with a totally different beast. (For people who have tried the domain-expertise approach, check out Citizendium.) Wikipedia has to be maintainable by non-experts, because that's 99% of the people who want to volunteer significant time to make a free encyclopedia.
Providing the sum of all human knowledge, for free, to the entire world, however, might be better served by making Wikipedia's software and editing processes more accessible and usable to others.
The purpose of Wikipedia is to make an encyclopedia.
The mechanism by which that happens can, yes, be seen as a giant MMORPG. That is what happens when you try to make a machine out of half-evolved monkeys. Monkeys like to do monkey things.
Wikipedia is indeed putting a lot of effort into making the software and editing process more accessible and usable to others. Smart and dedicated people have devoted years to that very thing. It's not an easy problem, and Wikipedia is doing it on a shoestring.
Jason Scott has a very eloquent description of the problem ,, and Wikipedia's failure in addressing it several years ago; nothing has changed since then, and I doubt it will any time soon, since the Wikipedia administration sees no problem with the status quo. It's sad.
See, from the outside, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. And there's a community there to write an encyclopedia. Sensible, no?
Actually, the community comes first and the encyclopedia is a side-effect. The community functions very politically, and very much like a game as well. The original intention might have been an encyclopedia with the minimum number of rules necessary to make that successful, but ultimately, the rules and red tape turned into the fun part of the game, and the encyclopedia-writing is just the grinding bit.
If all you wanted was a huge encyclopedia unlimited by the constraints of physical book size, you'd have a deletion policy like this: "each statement of fact has to be cited from a reliable source, every article has to be composed entirely of statements of fact, any other content should be deleted". So if there are no reliably-sourced statements of fact about a given subject, you don't get an article about them. If I started a Wikipedia article about my neighbor's cat and wrote a lot of outrageous claims, they would all be deleted and we'd be left with a blank article, which would probably be deleted as a relatively boring matter of procedure.
But what fun is that, when we can have a concept like "notability"? Ah! Suddenly, instead of all that boring shit about citing facts and removing uncited content, and just keeping whatever reliable information we have about something, we can have a massive PvE game where you get to find articles about subjects you don't care about and declare "this isn't notable!", and then you can lawyer a "consensus" of other players into agreeing with you. Or if another player disagrees, suddenly you have a massive PvP battle! Fun! Well, at least for a certain type of person who enjoys lawyering and gets off on will-to-power stuff that motivates one to try and delete articles from an encyclopedia, which is exactly the type of person that gravitates towards the project. And--believe it or not--these kinds of highly-social games, and one's success in them on Wikipedia, are a major factor in getting elected "administrator", at which point your duties now entail judging these lawyering games and actually deleting the articles!
I sure hope it isn't a side effect, because if it is, we need more communities like Wikipedia's.
In one sentence:
"If a topic has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to satisfy the inclusion criteria for a stand-alone article or stand-alone list."
Notability isn't really that much of a judgment call.
Also, it doesn't necessarily apply to the creation of new articles. Stub articles are usually not well sourced at all.
The real story of the article is that Wikipedia's interface really does suck. It really is hard to figure out issues like this. It's even hard to monitor pages you want to protect, or have some interest in.
So, while the Wikipedians involved in the deletion process do have some grounds for their actions, it's left to the wiki-insiders to defend Wikipedia. That sucks. Until the day comes when a non-Wikipedian can arrive on the site, figure out what happened in the deletion process in 30 seconds, and then pronounce whether it was good or bad in some informed manner, we won't have an encyclopedia that truly anyone can edit.
And to be clear we're not talking about cases of obvious vandalism, there's plenty of cases where perfectly WP conformant edits are made, marked for deletion and then the inevitable shit fight where sources are provided clearly establishing notability are provided only to be tossed aside.
If a reason for ignoring the provided evidence is given it almost always surrounds the following terms in the sentence you quoted:
"significant", "reliable", "independent"
This one was sponsored by a very prolific Wikipedian, though, who has a particular affection for the rule that one event doesn't make you notable:
Which is totally outrageous. It's tempting to conclude the nominator was just an idiot, or possibly pursuing some conservative agenda. But by Hanlon's Razor, I assume that the nominator was just less aware of this story than others. Maybe it's a good thing that such articles can be challenged. I wish it had been speedy-kept though; it's embarassing to have the deletion templates on the article.
There is unanimous agreement that the article must be kept, so far. So, the system is working. Kind of.
That article is a problem; if you read it, it is not a biography, it describes an event. Which, I suspect, is the point the nominator was trying to make.
For a reader, the content is better presented in an article on Women's rights in Egypt (or activism in Egypt) with the title redirected there.
Alternatively there is always Wikinews.
When I put it this way to other Wikipedians it usually shuts them up. ;)
95% of the effort that goes into Wikipedia may be nothing more than primate status games among insiders, but those games motivate an extremely large number of people, and because so many people do get involved, the actually-useful work is 5% of a very large number. If some change in policy cut the political bullshit in half but drove away two-thirds of the people who, in between PvP battles, improved the quality of the encyclopedia, it would be a net loss.
Still, there are some useful usability critiques to be made. Even an ugly sausage-making process should let you ramp up into it at the very least, and at the most, should have useful methods of collecting and processing input from novice users rather than rejecting it unseen or outright discouraging it in the first place.
It doesn't work like that.
Cut the "bullshit" by half leads to 47.5k useful edits (95%/2; or at least ones without bullshit) plus your original 5k leads to 52.5k useful edits. Except we've only a third of the people - assuming equal distribution of edits - so 17.5k of edits are now useful. More than a 3 fold increase in useful edits in the same amount of time.
So in fact if you change the system to put off a lot of people in your hypothetical manner you can improve the useful edits.
This is akin to pricing out "toxic" customers. Or having complex methods that filter out the more intellectual as those with most power (arguably the problem being ascribed to Wikipedia in the article).
Assumptions here make the figures entirely unrealistic but I think the general thrust is nonetheless sound?
It's probably true that Wikipedia is a big game of politics but that's just a side effect of community involvement. It may suck sometimes but what other way is more democratic? Do we give one person the ability to be the Decider or do we put up with a lot of ego games? I go for ego. At least in that scenario there can be some people to challenge decisions.
Deciding what really fits in an encyclopedia isn't simple. Wikipedia has spent literally a decade working out a set of rules that balances utility, fairness, quality, and maintainability. Those rules will inevitably seem bureaucratic and opaque to people who haven't worked on a number of articles and then really considered the problem.
Deletion discussions are perennial magnets for non-participants who believe that they or their (friend|band|ancestor|website) belong in Wikipedia. They are inevitably upset. Worse, in Pauli's phrase, they aren't even wrong: they start with the premise the article should be kept and then say whatever they think will let them win.
In this case, the bloggy ranter doesn't get basic Wikipedia fundamentals. E.g. that Wikipedia isn't about what's true, it's about what's verifiable. Suppose he thinks that his pal is the most important person ever. He might be right, but what matters is what can be proven from reliable sources.
Making deletion review more approachable to the personally outraged would certainly increase the number of reviews, but it wouldn't materially change the number of articles kept. What it would do is waste a lot of valuable editor and admin time.
In this particular case, it was quite clear this person existed and that she worked in SEM. There were plenty of sources to back that up. That should be the relevant criterion for whether an article can exist in an Internet-based encyclopedia. There was no reason to delete this article other than "Ha ha, I know the rules of this bizarre system and will throw W:PDQXYZ links at you until you go away".
The resource constraint on Wikipedia isn't electrons; it's the time and attention of conscientious editors. Which yes, Wikipedia has. They also serve as its quality control.
Between phone books and public records, there is evidence that most of the people and all of the buildings (and plots of land) in the US exist. Would Wikipedia be better if they all had articles? How about every garage band, after-school club, casual sodality, and beloved pet?
I say no. And because of something else that people forever bitch about when it comes to Wikipedia: article quality. Unless there's enough material to make a decent article, I think deletion is the appropriate response. If somebody would like a page on the Internet where they self-document their awesomeness, they can make one on their own site.
Let's look at the general notability guideline (WP:GNG):
> If a topic has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject, it is presumed to satisfy the inclusion criteria for a stand-alone article or stand-alone list.
That's it. Simple. Wikipedia wants sources to back up whatever's in the article, it wants significant coverage so it can actually write a decent article using this information, and it wants them to be independent to avoid bias in the source material.
Why it ended up being called "Notability", I don't know. It probably should be renamed - but anything that's sufficiently notable tends to fit this general notability criterion, and vice versa, so I guess it's a decent proxy for notability as well.
See also the Semantic Web/Linked Data resource DBPedia (which tends to have poor uptime, so I am linking the DBPedialite here):
-The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
* The "vice editor in chief" of a Japanese anime magazine
* A list of episodes for a TV show that never aired
* Articles about a no-name iPhone game, and also a no-name video editing tool, presumably both written by the authors of the programs
* A promo for a not-yet-released book
* An article about "Rickstar", a musical artist who had apparently self-released one song
* A strategy guide for The Sims 3
* A bio of a junior league hockey player (albeit one with an awesome name)
* An article about a youth football team
... and it just keeps going on like that.
This particular article was motivated by the deletion of "Jessie_Stricchiola". Let's look at her AfD:
Where we learn:
* This is an article about an SEO consultant.
* It contained a promotional link to the SEO consultant's book.
* That SEO consultant had been quoted in a number of stories, but never written about in any of those stories; the only reliable information to be gleaned from any source about her was "once gave a quote about click fraud to a trade press journalist" (or in one case a reporter at WaPo).
It took two weeks for Wikipedia to determine that this article should be deleted. During that entire time, her article stood with a very prominent notice saying it was going to be deleted, with a prominent link allowing people to argue in favor of keeping or, better yet, locate a real reliable source backing up any claim to her notability. Two weeks. Read the AfD. Read DGG's exegesis of the sources cited in this article --- the guy found out how many libraries carried her book.
Now, think about this: Jessie's article wasn't a marquee deletion event. Nobody gave a shit. It was just one of many pages up for AfD that week, alongside the founder of a political party nobody has ever heard of and 3 members of non-professional football clubs. In every one of those retarded articles, someone had to marshall real arguments, chase down real sources, and in many cases defend those arguments against both bona fide Wikipedia contributors and also sockpuppets of the subjects of the article. Every time.
Anyone who can snark that Wikipedia is a knee-jerk or arbitrary culture is betraying a deep ignorance of how the most successful Internet reference project in the history of the Internet actually works.
Something I don't get about people on HN and their attitude towards Wikipedia. None of you, not a one, expects Linus Torvalds to accept arbitrary contributions to the Linux kernel simply because that code could be disabled by default and wasn't going to bother anyone (unlike a bogus Wikipedia article, which taints the encyclopedia and also Google search results). People with experimental or long-shot Linux contributions (at least, people besides ESR) tend to set up Github pages instead of writing long-winded rants about the "deletionism" rampant in the world's most successful open source project. But Wikipedia kills an article about an SEO consultant, and you're up in arms.
Mostly, this comment I'm writing is just bitching. So, to repay you the kindness of reading my own windbag rant, I offer you this gift: THE VERY FEW SIMPLE RULES OF THUMB YOU WILL EVER NEED TO AVOID FRUSTRATION OVER THE "Deletionism" OF WIKIPEDIA:
RULE NUMBER ONE: DO NOT WRITE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLES ABOUT YOURSELF, YOUR COMPANY, PROGRAMS THAT YOU WROTE, OR YOUR UNPUBLISHED SCI-FI NOVEL.
RULE NUMBER TWO: IF YOU HAVE TO ASK, DO NOT WRITE WIKIPEDIA ARTICLES ABOUT YOUR FRIENDS, YOUR FRIENDS' COMPANIES, PROGRAMS THAT YOUR FRIENDS WROTE, OR YOUR FRIENDS UNPUBLISHED SCI-FI NOVEL.
They should just put those two rules on the edit box on the site, I agree; would make everyone's life easier.
I can put together a well-sourced piece outlining the importance of a variety of subjects which i am indirectly involved in, and give a dispassionate description of its relevance to the community it serves and the world at large.
Wikipedians, instead of saying "do that and have neutral 3rd parties check over your work", instead say "we do not value your contribution, and will delete your work".
As such, wikipedia isn't a place where knowledgeable people can contribute matters of expertise. And that really freaking annoys me.
Concrete example: The Knight Foundation's wikipedia page is incredibly sparse, and contains little or no information about the efforts they fund, or the substance of the work they do. This is unfortunate, because the foundation has been around for decades, is an integral piece of newspaper and journalism history, and currently funds a massive amount of the innovation taking place in journalism, including the project i work on, DocumentCloud (which the Knight Foundation entirely funded).
But, by the rules of Wikipedia, i shouldn't contribute to the subject. Meanwhile, there are plenty of startups and essentially irrelevant companies that already disregard the rules and write their own freaking wikipedia pages anyway. That's ultimately the real problem. Wikipedia is so capricious in the enforcement of the rules, and there's so little stopping people from breaking the rules, that deletions do seem arbitrarily and inconsistently enforced. I'm entirely unsurprised that there are so many cries of "injustice!" so often.
Part of it is intent, I think. I mostly talk to academics about it, and of those who don't regularly edit Wikipedia, some, when they hear that I edit Wikipedia, do want to learn how to use it to promote their work, or a research agenda they're closely involved in. If you come at it with that mindset, it's less likely that a neutral article will result. On the other hand, if you think of an area you know a lot about but is not directly tied to your work---i.e. is not the work of yourself, your supervisor, your specific sub-sub-field, or university---then it's much more likely that you might write a not-self-interested article genuinely intended to neutrally inform people.
That shouldn't be hard for most people to do. For example, there are such wide swaths of theoretical CS not yet covered well that, if your area is theoretical CS, there's no need to start with your own research or your advisor's research or the particular corner of the world in which you're personally involved in acrimonious within-field debates. Better to start with some important foundational work that you're closely familiar with but don't have strong personal investment in promoting. When I tell that to people, many lose interest, because to them, the self-promotion was why they were interested in the first place, while writing good articles about Theoretical Computing 101 (or 201) is just work. In which case, they may not have been coming with the right intentions...
Wikipedia also encourages editors with COIs to write on the Talk pages for relevant articles to provide corrections, suggestions, additions, etc. Ideally your article has someone paying attention to it who would be interested in checking and integrating your contributions.
(It actually looks like one of the main editors of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_S._and_James_L._Knight_Fou... works for the Knight Foundation, disclosed on his user page - and his contributions look reasonable except that he didn't add sources.)
I'm a longtime editor in general and I now also fix articles related to my work, very carefully, and I'd be sad if I couldn't. I agree that Wikipedia has problems with inconsistent enforcement of rules though. Some of that comes from the relatively innocent problem of "too many articles, not enough editors" but some of it is caused by editors being grumpy and/or interpreting rules unreasonably, and that definitely discourages other people from wanting to participate.
Don't oversimplify, though. This isn't a simple problem, and we have no right to expect it to be. There isn't a Wikipedia rule preventing you from writing about your company or the organization that funded it.
I been vandal patroller for years. I follow the AfDs and other actions and contribute to actions in different wikiprojects. I can say for a fact that there is no clear line between any of the two camps.
Admins don't have the time to push agendas. They are way to busy with chores as a whole to really get into silly battles like that.
People rise to being admins by editing wikipedia themselves enough and trying to maintain a few articles at a time after putting a lot into them. They grow into being admins. It's not some special power some people get arbitrarily. Everyone edits and everyone moderates. Just some that have been doing it long it enough have been voted by the community as being of sound mind and good faith to have a few extra privileges to carry out more tasks. If you ever seen a request for admin, it's extremely brutal the level people pick at your every decision. You have a problem with an admin that can't be solved, there is ARBCOM (arbitration). You won't normally see a nomination for anyone that doesn't have a few thousand edits themselves at least.
So no. Your comment makes no sense at all. Everyone helps "make the big decisions". I just joined a vote on changing the image thumbnails across all the pages. I'm not an admin. No body gets special privileges like that.
You draw a false distinction between: " the people who make the big decisions and the people who are building wikipedia." Both the "people who make the big decisions" and the people who contribute content are "the people who are building wikipedia". They are two complementary, but seldom complimentary parts of the machine.
It's now up to an independent third-party to edit the wikipedia page to make it correct.
The pge is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenhagen_Suborbitals
I think that's a pretty good way of doing it.
I've been through the AfD process 30 to 40 times myself. I normally don't see it because I spend most of my time on vandal patrol where I've contributed code and countless hours to that effort over the last 5 years. Most of my deletes are speedy deletes for vandalism and not notability except where it's clear and someone is trying to make wikipedia their personal homepage. It's a massive multi-gigabyte site and it takes a lot work to maintain it. That's why admin's have an icon of a broom.
I've seen this same type blog post all over the place. Someone burt hurt around an AfD. I've seen full campaigns to try and tarnish Wikipedia as having some kind of secret underground conspiracy against another group. It really doesn't work like that. You see that quickly if you get really involved in the site.
> if you get really involved in the site
When I meet wikipedia people here in SF, they say, "Get involved!" Then, when I have tried to get involved, I get endless bureaucracy and everything eventually deleted. I've only managed to ever get 1 article on wikipedia (a bio of an expert in behavioral economics / negotiations) and that was after many deletion reviews.
So while I agree that the blog author's actual article under discussion may deserve to be deleted, that's not the point. The point is, it's extremely difficult to participate, and I don't want to need to spend a bunch at Wikipedia reading countless rules trying to figure that out. The process needs to be simplified.
Wikipedia itself great, the creation/editing process is not. To all those who call for more participation in Wikipedia, don't ask me to participate in or like a process that sucks, fix the process first, just as the blog author suggests.
The few exceptions are when we as a community feel there is a gray area left to interpretation because the action is large enough to possibly effect a good number of editors. We hold a discussion in those cases. This happens more often than not around page deletions, page merges, category deletions, category merging, tag merging, cross included template changes that effect a large number of pages, changes in process, and other huge things.
There isn't any extra processes and bureaucracy on wikipedia then there has to be or then the community feels is necessary.
I ask honestly: why should it be easy to participate?
> and I don't want to need to spend a bunch at Wikipedia reading countless rules trying to figure that out
You don't want to spend time contributing, you just want readers to accept your contribution? I hope I'm misreading your intent, as it sounds like you feel you're above the vetting process? I've made some modest contributions to OSS, and I've never expected anyone to accept a patch based on the fact that I feel like I'm a competent programmer.
Because the alternative is massive systemic bias.
This issue has been discussed to death and I won't argue anything here, but the point is that having a thick coat of process encourages a _certain kind_ of editor to participate in Wikipedia. Thus, proponents claim, the largest reference work on the internet is biased, in a very nonobvious way.
This wouldn't be an issue if Wikipedia was some niche forum where "facts" are taken for granted to be opinions. But for (what I suspect is) the majority of people these days, Wikipedia is the de facto source of truth. Therein the problem lies.
You've got to accept that some topics, biographies for example, are inherently subjective and can't be purely objective.
Wikipedia is the most rigorous source of 'truth' available to the masses, and the complaints of bias are about bias which may indeed be present, but are markedly subtle. Where is the source of 'truth' that's anywhere near as objective as the offerings of wikipedia?
Academic articles maybe, other articles, not so much. I run a website / forum in a niche area of animal husbandry, and one part of the site links to useful descriptions / information on different breeds. We've had no choice but to ban links to Wikipedia articles on individual breeds because they are simply factually incorrect, to the extent that even pre-teen site members find them funny and point out errors on our forums. Seriously, we have 10 year olds on our forums linking to Wikipedia articles and making fun of them - they really are that full of nonsense.
Still, if it's causing that much trouble in your community, why not fix the articles? Rather than spend time making fun of it, why not spend time fixing it - which is a double-barreled solution: not only do you lose the incorrect links, but people not associated with your group benefit from more correct advice.
You don't really read many quality technical books, do you?
Perhaps because the tagline of Wikipedia is "The free encyclopedia anyone can edit", not "The free encyclopedia anyone can edit after conducting 20 hours of intense self-study into the arbitrary bureaucracy and 'standards' that let us have a page for every Pokemon and Justine Ezarik's 300-page iPhone bill but not a page for a band that's won 15 local music festivals and produced 3 records"?
These are Pokemon we're talking about right?
This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulbasaur can have a page but a local, but very popular band cannot.
Whenever I've written articles about music groups that do have good references, I've never run into problems, even if they're obscure groups. For example, I recently wrote one on a minor 1980s punk band, with citations to the book American Hardcore (a history of 80s hardcore), which I doubt anybody would challenge. I do think there's an awkward gap around subjects that clearly should have secondary sources, but for some reason don't, because music historians and journalists have somehow neglected to write about them, or just haven't done it yet (musicology tends to lag). I can see why people get pissed off in those cases, but I do think it's basically no-win for Wikipedia, because in cases where good sources don't exist, it's not possible to produce an article up to what Wikipedia claims are its standards, a tertiary-literature article solidly referenced to the existing literature; because the problem is with the secondary literature itself being deficient (http://www.kmjn.org/notes/wikipedia_notability_verifiability...).
Nowadays I mostly do my Wikipedia-editing source-first: I find a good source or two about something, and then decide, hey, this is a good basis for a Wikipedia article. So for example, I'll pick up a book on the history of hip-hop, and use it to write articles about hip-hop musicians. Doing it that way, I have a remarkably laid-back, trouble-free Wikipedia-editing experience. It's still theoretically possible to read some policy pages in a way that could cause me problems: there might be some minor band that I've written a well-referenced article on, but is somehow still "too minor" to deserve a Wikipedia article under the Notability policies. But in practice, those objections almost never come up in the case of well-referenced articles; I think Verifiability basically trumps Notability these days, and that the deletionists who argued for a more strongly curated encyclopedia have lost that battle.
A poster mentioned elsewhere in this thread that Wikipedia's articles on animal husbandry are laughably incorrect, to the point where children can spot the errors. If someone knowledgeable in the field were to come in and try to correct this nonsense, what exactly would they cite?
Academic journals? Because information on animal husbandry is a frequent subject of academic debate. Newspapers and magazines? Surely a smash hit topic there.
This is why Wikipedia's quality is highly correlated to how well this subject is documented online. Physics, math, and computer science? These articles are top notch - because information is widely available online already, just begging for a Wikipedia editor to cite it.
Anything that isn't common online? Fuggetaboutit. Worse, anything that isn't the regular subject of newspapers and magazines?
Surely there must be books on animal husbandry that can be used to improve the articles? There has to be something, because I don't think Wikipedia should let you just cite "trust me, I know this". As a reader, I don't want to have to trust Wikipedia; I want Wikipedia to point me to somewhere where I can follow it up.
I do agree that there is a huge pile of stuff only covered in books that is under-covered on Wikipedia currently, due to nobody having gone to the library and dug up the information yet. It's got 3.8 million articles in English, but I think is not even halfway "done".
If you recall the great programming language AfD wars of recent. The problem was precisely that the editors exhibited an extraordinary bias against two things:
a) references of printed material -- because they didn't have a copy so they couldn't verify it, and/or the proceedings were not perceived to be notable enough on that particular editors radar to be counted
b) references of printed material in another language - as odd as it may seem, people who communicate in other languages do have something to say and produce material that can be referenced. But because the editor couldn't read that language, it was dismissed.
I'd believe what you posted, the trouble free utopian life of a contributor, maybe 5 years ago when one could actually contribute to WP without having all their changes reverted followed by snide comments from capricious editors. But the reality is that there are very large numbers of people who won't even be bothered contributing anymore (and you can see a fraction of a percent represented in the comments here) because the experience of doing so was shamefully poor.
I mean, you don't have to believe it, but I would guess that if you pick up a solid book, and write some well-referenced articles based on it, you aren't going to have problems either.
I don't get your point. Of course there are academic journals on animal husbandry, as well as trade magazines and textbooks. Why would their be any difficulty finding material to cite on animal husbandry?
It should be easy to participate because that is what is being asked for, it is after all "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit."
However, I am being asked to contribute, and asked to encourage others to contribute, such as noted here: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/wikipedia-loses-contr... Or more directly, read the statements from Jimmy Wales here http://www.firstpost.com/tech/wikipedia-in-india-we-needs-mo... where he says Wikipedia's interface needs to be simplified and asks for more regional language contributors. I've tried to turn on Indian friends/co-workers to editing Wikipedia, but they found it extremely daunting.
This is in sharp contrast to open source projects I've contributed to, such as Drupal, which I'll note I have quite a few contributions there, so I'm certainly no stranger to putting in a lot of work to participate in something.
The difference with Drupal is that there are very clearly defined rules for how to participate, clear instructions for how to do so, and new contributors are helped along in the process to get their code right, rather than being told their contribution is worthless, which is the attitude I get anytime I try to contribute something on Wikipedia. And that's not to say there isn't attitude in the Drupal community, there still is, but at least there one can still contribute despite it, whereas at Wikipedia, it just becomes a lost cause.
But there are also clearly defined rules for how to participate in Wikipedia, which you just disregarded as rules made "such that only the elite who have busted their chops should be able to [contribute]". You see, if you write an article without any sources or references, badly formated, without interlinks etc, it's really of no help to us -- getting it into shape (i.e. formatting, finding sources) will take more time than rewriting it from scratch. We can create crappy articles about not notable subjects ourselves, thank you. Do you also think that Linus Torvalds is wrong with rejecting patchs which do not meet guidelines? Do you think it's unfair to make people read and care about Linux guidelines? Do you think it will make Linux a dead community?
It seems you speak of the group of people that is already used to writing wikipedia articles, and you are in this way enforcing a divide between them and potential contributors. Shouldn’t the ‘we’ who wrote Wikipedia be all of us?
Of course it should -- we are very happy to accept contribution. The only thing we ask for from contributors is to make some effort and spend hour or a half on reading Wikipedia rules, otherwise their contribution becomes a burden on us -- because people who don't care enough to read and follow the rules are not likely to stay longer, it's enough for them to create their promotional article and leave us with maintaining it.
Wherein "the elite" is anyone with internet access to Wikipedia and "busted their chops" means spent a few hours on Wikipedia reading how the editing and review processes work.
I agree with you, though I've also experienced the encouragement to participate as nowarninglabel has:
>> When I meet wikipedia people here in SF, they say, "Get involved!" Then, when I have tried to get involved, I get endless bureaucracy and everything eventually deleted.
I think this is where the frustration stems. Wikipedia, understandably, wants participation. But it's not just any ole participation. It wants, and needs, _quality_ participation. Unfortunately, quality is a subjective measure; what one assumes is quality is rubbish to another.
I sympathize with the huge task Wikipedia has in trying to police an enormous amount of content, though I think it's entirely understandable that there are many people who are unhappy with how that policing is being done, rightly or wrongly.
I think the word/phrase you are likely looking for is "fanatic dedication".
Do you feel one has to be fanatically dedicated to HN to know why "reply" links don't always appear right away?
Almost by definition, high quality participants are such because they have spent an inordinate amount of time in their area of expertise. They don't have the time to deal with "the WP way", Even contributing an article to WP is a "big deal" for these kinds of people because of the time it takes to do it.
But because WP invariably turns almost any submission, no matter the quality, into a situation of content defense, quality participants simply don't have the time to:
a) waste defending perfectly good material
b) waste learning the ins and outs of WP on how to defend the perfectly good material and manage it through a multi-week AfD process -- possibly several times.
Sure there's lots of junk that ends up submitted to WP, and if you read through the comments here, nobody is really up in arms about that, it's when the actual high quality material (which might represent dozens or hundreds of hours of high quality work) is tossed out because some WP editor has trouble functioning in society and decided that they couldn't handle invaders on their patch of electrons that we end up with the problem you see here.
So no, the only ones who are able to have any sort of impact on WP are the ones who are able to have fanatical dedication to learning the ins and outs of WP and are able to manage an edit through the tortured, arbitrary and capricious bureaucratic processes that define WP today.
This discussion resulted from a specific blog post about a specific article. Do you consider the Jessie Stricchiola article to be "actual high quality material"?
What is your proposed alternative process, and how does it help to build a useful, reasonably accurate encyclopedia?
If Wikipedia's process is so bad, why hasn't anyone forked the contest and done it over better?
Because that's a core fundamental part of wikipedia practice. That's why every page says "the encylopedia anyone can edit" and why you don't need to create an account to contribute.
Because WP advertises itself as being easy to participate in.
It's absolutely retarded that discussion pages are just wikipages where you have to handle comment threading and nesting yourself with indentation syntax. It's absolutely retarded that you have to learn tons of policy and dozens of acronyms before you're deemed qualified to discuss whether an article should be deleted. And it's absolutely retarded that by default, unless you spend the time and energy to learn dozens of acronyms and policies and "get really involved with the site", your input is at best ignored and at worst openly suspected of bad motives.
I really shouldn't dignify your comment though, because it dubs "absolutely retarded" a process that got a non-notable SEO consultant's book considered by someone who could find out how many libraries carried it, and no money changed hands to make that happen.
Seriously: the interface you're complaining about? Even if it had been perfect: that article wasn't a keep. Jessie Stricchiola doesn't belong in an encyclopedia; at least, not yet. Maybe she'll fix all of click fraud, instead of commenting about it; then she'll be notable.
You could try to comprehend my comment first, instead of interpreting it as an indirect ego-attack. Wikipedia's software and community aren't magically immune from criticism, especially from a usability standpoint, just because they produce a lot of useful content.
But of course, I don't think this is actually a UX discussion at all; the participants here are:
* An SEO consultant who may have written her own promotional article on Wikipedia
* Her friend, who was upset at the experience he had attempting to convince Wikipedia to keep that article
* Hacker News, which is convinced that Wikipedia suffers from "rampant deletionism" (despite --- for the most part --- never having seriously participated in anything at Wikipedia) and viewing every story about Wikipedia through that lens.
If you're of the opinion that Wikipedia should be an insular community, than maybe they should be more honest about it, disable anonymous edits, and save everyone a lot of time. If you think Wikipedia should be accessible, well, it isn't, and that should be fixed, too. Either way, there's room for improvement.
In other words, deletion isn't just about notability - it's also about gauging whether the article will be maintained. Wikipedia's procedures, while sometimes rather obtuse, serve as a first-pass filter to help gauge whether people who are Serious About Wikipedia will actually take care of the article (and of course, even if you are a person with zero edits to your name, reading up on wikipedia's procedures is a good way to prove you might actually care enough about the article to take care of it after it is undeleted).
I will admit that the user messaging feature is _awful_ however. Wiki format is not the right thing to use for a point-to-point conversation.
Mediawiki, and Wikipedia's incarnation of it in particular, is outmoded and obtuse. But it's not hard to do things on Wikipedia. If anything, it's too f'ing easy.
You should read downthread; other people have taken a closer look at Danny Sullivan's real experience working with Wikipedia's processes. This isn't a good case study to make a stand on. Give it a few weeks; Wikipedia will inevitably do something genuinely dumb we can get outraged about. It appears not to have here.
Yeah, this guy was probably wrong, and this particular subject probably isn't notable. Wikipedia still could have given this guy a better experience in the process of figuring this out, and writing this guy off as worthless and not worth listening to is just arrogant and unproductive.
You say that it's ridiculous that to revert a community decision on a major international knowledge resource, someone should have to learn about their policies.
Is it really that 'retarded'? I actually went and followed the instructions while actually paying attention, and I found that the header of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Deletion_review fully explains the situation, and within 2 clicks you can be instructed on what to do and where to do it.
This process is only opaque or difficult if your attention span is such that reading two paragraphs is a strain. Given that the writer of the original article didn't even bother to read the email he was sent then I think we can assume that the fault lies there.
Or you could have a deletion policy that's less complicated in itself. When I was a heavy contributor to Wikipedia and actually knew all these dumb policies, people argued that notability shouldn't be a criteria and verifiability was the only truly necessary criterion for including content. I find it hard to argue with that.
I'm actually not convinced of that. That is, I'm not convinced it's a bad thing that people have to learn policy and acronyms in order to participate in a discussion. Wikipedia is - like any large, distributed group effort - entirely dependent on its processes. Without those processes, I don't think it could function. Your argument, as I understand it, is that people shouldn't have to become familiar with the processes that enable Wikipedia to function in order to be a part of how it functions. That seems contradictory to me.
I went to Google, typed in "Wikipedia deletion policy" and got what seems like some good documentation:
Imagining it from Sullivan's perspective, I read down to the bit that says "If you disagree: Take the matter to Wikipedia:Deletion review", which leads me here:
Reading down a bit, I find this bit in bold: "This process should not be used simply because you disagree with a deletion debate's outcome [...]" which seems to directly address his condition.
I agree that one needs a basic facility with Wikipedia and Mediawiki to usefully participate, which is definitely a barrier to novices. Which certainly makes it seem murky and hard to follow. It's also somewhat stochastic; a lot of outcomes depends on who happens to show up and participate.
A lot of these problems, though, are things you personally could fix. Anybody can edit the documentation and get involved with processes like Articles For Deletion. If you think it could be better, please get involved!
And if you don't like it and won't get involved, then please keep in mind that much of Wikipedia's software and all of its content comes from volunteers. Telling people that they aren't doing enough free work for you is unlikely to improve much of anything.
Yes, thanks. I have no particular opinion; I just said that was the complaint, and it's not the first time I've heard it. I've never made more than casual and minor corrections to Wikipedia, and I've never been notable or known notable people who Wikipedia deemed worthy of deletion. And I do know spam and loathe self-promotion by meaningless hordes, so I can understand where Wikimedia editors are coming from. But I also know when a culture is not particularly outsider-friendly, and I stay over here, thank you.
I might add that complaining that I'm not doing enough free work to fix Wikipedia is also not going to help. I'd love to delve into the history and process of Wikipedia's culture, but I'm going to get about six minutes of sleep tonight already.
People who argue about the campaigns to tarnish Wikipedia's name and repeat the fact that Wikipedia still manages to be respectable and successful are right! The same things the author rails against are the very things that keep the riff raft out.
The author didn't get his way after a lengthy, well reasoned, and obviously thoroughly thought through debate. Not every website needs a reworking of their user experience. Sometimes we make you jump through hoops for a reason. This process weeds out the people who would use Wikipedia to advertise. At the end, despite the author believing his submission was fitting of its own Wikipedia page, the community still disagreed.
I call sour grapes.
Suggesting more efficient processes for Wikipedia is a never ending tarpit that doesn't get anywhere, no matter how committed you are and how established you are in the community.
Any hidebound culture filled with red tape has horror stories and experiences that seem to justify every broken thing they do. If your answer to a usability critique is "they should learn the last several years of Wikipedia history, which isn't documented anywhere, and understand where all these rules came from", isn't that just a concession that you might as well not even bother unless contributing to Wikipedia is going to be one of your primary hobbies for the foreseeable future?
I would ask why it's so very important for his contribution to be accepted? This really isn't about the process as much as it is the OP not getting his way. He just shields himself with an argument over user experience as an excuse to whine. It's all there in the subtext.
Wikipedia does not manage to be respectable when ill-informed people debate whether to delete an article that Wikipedia itself started and reach a "consensus" to do so without there being a consensus.
What looks to you as a well-reasoned and thoroughly thought debate looks that way because you're probably not an expert in search marketing. It's like an amateur watching two programmers debate whether some other programmer is "notable" or not. If you're not a programmer, you probably have no idea. And the references that might seem reasonable perhaps aren't, if you're more educated.
The Wikipedia "community" hasn't agreed with my assessment. The Wikipedia "community" that made this decision was one person, who when someone else raised the fact that I posted new, fresh arguments, decided unilaterally that if I thought those should be considered, I should submit a review request.
The way it should work, he should have put that request in himself. At the very least, it sure should be a lot easier for anyone to put in such a request.
As I detailed, I found it actually impossible to do so, because you can't request that a page that's been deleted to be reviewed on the review deletion page -- that page is only for pages in the current process of being reviewed.
I call a confusing system that needs overhaul.
The other part of the article - the critique of the usability of the site looks much more useful and contains issues that could be addressed.
The thing that this guy writing this post didn't do that any reasonable person could have been expected to do: click the name of the admin who deleted the article and ask him on his talk page what to do about the deletion. The admin would have answered, because if he hadn't, one of several rival admin factions would note his failure to follow process and bankrolled it as ammunition in some upcoming admin war.
Instead, he followed the instructions on the automated email that Wikipedia sent him, which said “To contact the editor, visit [the editor’s page]”. His reward for following those instructions was a box telling him that actually, that page isn’t the venue for sending a message. The box told him to “use” the talk page instead. You and I know that user talk pages are “used” by just editing them, but he didn’t, and nothing above the fold on that page told him what he should have been doing.
I think Danny Sullivan is being disingenuous. Mediawiki is an obtuse piece of software; he knows that, and we know that, and he's using it as a fig leaf to conceal the fact that he wasn't able to push his friend's article onto the encyclopedia. I'm only able to say that because I don't know anything about Sullivan; he's just an abstraction to me. I certainly don't mean for him to take this personally. But I do not believe him.
Notability is naturally one of those that is hard to do hastily. In a rew rare cases it's obvious, like if some trying create a page about their dog or local lawn care business, per SNOW (not a snowballs chance in hell) the page can get speedy deleted.
I derive this assumption from your statement that his contribution, effort and attitude was "wrong", "minimal", and "poisonous". I don't see any of that. I see a rant following a genuine effort to contribute, a contribution worth considering, and an attitude that started off with the best intent but got punched down in the process. Who wouldn't turn sour after such an experience? It's called cause and effect. Of couse you'll be pissed if something as ludicrous as this happens to you.
Unless you're so caught up in your little world of the 'inner circle' that you don't tolerate outsiders. Unfortunately, that's not how the world works. That's also not how Wikipedia is supposed to work, I hope. That doesn't sound like the spirit that Wikipedia tries to portray at all. It sounds like the exact opposite.
On your "consensus" argument: since when is a 7-6 vote a consensus? That's a nearly even split. Please.
Contributions to Wikipedia aren't reserved for people already involved, but following prominently posted instructions and reading some documentation are requirements, for good reason. This is not the story of a mature and reasonable person whose hard work was unfairly dismissed by the secret Wikipedia cabal. This is the story of a temper tantrum thrown by a self-proclaimed "expert" when his ego was damaged.
Instead, that information is scattered over a few different pages (and thus there's lag between them when there's a change); there's differing standards for different things (Elected national politicians are automatically notable because they're elected, Olympic athletes are not notable.) Deletion process is incredibly bitey; I don't care that people doing deletion have floods of shitty articles to plough through, they should realise that destroying (even justifiably) someone's work is going to be hard for that person and is not going to encourage them to contribute to the process, and that this is an (a tricky) opportunity to get new editors.
Combine this with weird rules about other stuff (The software stops me creating this name (which means some things are hard coded), so I read the rules, and create another name, and get newbie-bitten by some over enthusiastic 17 year old who claims that my real name is offensive or that the pseudonym I chose instead is "confusing" or whatever. My name goes in front of how ever many different username discussions they have now, where I argue my point and am "allowed" to edit.)
There are huge differences between things like the five pillars and the rest of the obscure processes.
I agree it would be great for him to have a lot of love and handholding to get to the point where he realizes that he's in the wrong. And equally that it would be great for him to get enough support that he goes on to edit other things.
But honestly, I don't expect that he would ever do that. He's a legitimately busy and important guy, and he also clearly thinks he's pretty darned important. He wasn't really willing to engage seriously with Wikipedia or to take a little time to understand what was going on. All he really wanted to do was bitch until he got his way, or until he got tired of bitching.
So although I agree with a lot of your concerns about Wikipedia's user-hostile software and newbie-hostile community, in this case I'm not so sure there's a problem. I have actually spent time calming people like him down on AfDs; it's a thankless job. Maybe it's better for everybody if people promoting their pal's pages just go off in a huff immediately without further taxing the patience of Wikipedia volunteers.
Those are pretty much the only people who'll have the time or patience to play the wikipedia game as it is now.
I then spend more time trying to figure out exactly where I should submit this information. The instructions were to submit to a talk page, but as I noted, the page no longer had a talk page, since it had been deleted. The review deletions page, as I also noted, has instructions that are unclear.
So I wasn't "really willing to engage seriously" to take a "little time" to understand what was going on and simply wanted to "bitch?"
No. If I wanted to just bitch, I'd have tweeted Wikipedia had its head up its ass about killing the page or maybe done a blog post about the removal and left it at that.
Instead, I did research to help them make an informed decision, using my knowledge of the space to ferret out information they'd been unaware of and clearly missed. I spend time trying to figure out how to submit it despite the insane system there.
Perhaps it would be better for you, since you appear to be connected with Wikipedia, to not dismiss things as people in huffs trying to promote friends pages and instead find a way for Wikipedia to better accept information that it should be using to make for a better resource.
What you have isn't a case study here about someone bitching for a friend. What you have is a case study about how Wikipedia does not make fully informed decisions due to the bureaucracy it believes protects the system.
I appreciate the effort you put in (and encourage you to do it with existing articles you think need improving), but no, I don't think you were there to engage seriously. I think you came in with a personal motivation (help a pal), a conclusion (her page should be there), and an attitude (you people are crazy and do shoddy work) and worked backward from there. You acted thoroughly entitled and created a lot of drama, showing little understanding and no respect. Which is, sadly, the typical MO of somebody who doesn't know much about Wikipedia but is sure, sure, sure that article X obviously belongs there.
I agree with you that Wikipedia should find a better way to work with subject matter experts, and am on record as having pitched a couple of them over the years. But I don't think deletion review is high on the priority list. For basically the same reason than an appellate court doesn't need a drive-up window for filings from random passers-by.
"Please don't use uppercase for emphasis. If you want to emphasize a word or phrase, put asterisks around it and it will get italicized."
I imagine the deletionism of wikipedia comes from the fact that it is very hard to pay the bills. But in my opinion, every piece of information (yes, even pages about fictional furry characters which clearly state that they are fictional and their context) should be preserved.
However, I think wikipedia in its current structure falls short to achieve such objective. A "distributed wikipedia" (where everybody can contribute disk space) would be the the natural step IMO.
Three things I will add to the current wikipedia
1. Distributed storage, process.
2. Completely avoid deletionism
3. Use Article rating (there is some rating going on, but no straightforward way to use it [like filtering pages with less than 4 stars).
Have you noticed that almost all Wikipedia articles are formatted in uniform way, categorized, templatified, infoboxed, interlinked, divided into sections, etc? Almost all contributions from new Wikipedians contain none of these things, and they all require to be cleaned up by someone more experienced. Contrary to what some people here say, this is the real problem, the difficulty of learning the technicalities of Wikipedia, and not policies. We believe that everyone has to read the most important policies, but not everyone should be forced to learn the Wikipedia markup and other technical stuff. This is what the Wikimedia Foundation works on, not on trivializing the policies.
Besides, I thoroughly believe that Wikipedia should allow far more articles in, and people can make their own decisions whether to read them or not.
It was deleted because of systematic racism in Wikipedia's notability policies.
I am against those policie not because of this article, but because of all those which have been deleted on similar grounds which I will never know about.
Do you have the same disappoval of me and my beliefs that you seem I have for the OP?
You are overestimating your average hacker news reader.
MediaWiki is great software for collaboratively editing documents. It is lousy software for workflow management. All the Kafkaesque dead-ends he describes are wiki pages that try to use other wiki pages as a medium for controlling the process of creating wiki pages.
Requesting a reinstatement of a deleted page in a properly designed UI should take no more than a couple of clicks and 1 minute of reading, tops. Navigating a twisted web of broken or confusing or incorrect links with walls of text at every step does not a good UI make.
All of the UI frustrations the op experiences snowball into a frustrated response, which only aggravates and frustrates the editors who receive such responses. This, in turn, further snowballs things until everyone is aggravated, nobody wants to contribute, and Wikipedia stagnates.
So, fix Wikipedia's UI. It's in everyone's long term interests to do so.
That assumes that it would be beneficial to have people who don't understand anything about what makes an article worth keeping making requests like that.
It also assumes that requesting deletion review is Wikipedia's most valuable place to spend developer and designer time.
Neither is true.
What I'm hearing you say is that usability barriers are a good thing because they stop people who don't understand the system from using the system, which is the refrain of all defenders of bad UI design. We've seen plenty of disruption in the area of software UI design in recent years that disprove such a theory.
In this case, the right system would be one that makes it very easy for deletion review to process requests. It would also make sure that only well-formed, well-thought-out deletion requests make it to the deletion reviewers. The UI of that submission process could be made easy, but it's an essentially hard problem. You're supposed to think carefully, come to grips with the careful balance that Wikipedia has struck around deletion, and then submit a reasoned argument.
It's not possible that someone will do that in 1 minute of reading. This is like a submission to an appellate court: you have to know what you're doing or there's no point.
If the content of the user submission should be carefully thought out prior to taking the action, that's fine, but you shouldn't be deliberately throwing obstacles in the way just for the sake of slowing them down. What ends up happening when you do this is that knowledgeable people (who generally happen to be busy) won't bother contributing. I've seen this sort of situation occur countless times on Wikipedia (in general, not just with the deletion process).
MediaWiki is open source BTW. I would do this if I could, but alas, my UI skills are not quite there. Are there any sharp UI designers who want to do this? It would be a hell of an addition to one's resume, not to mention the world :)
For it to get added as a special page, it has rise to a general enough thing to be needed by everyone using Mediawiki or something so pressing that could never or should never be on a Wikipage. Meta concepts usually only fit that (like permissions and stats and new page reviewing).
And that's actually a big part of the problem. You're extending a paradigm far beyond what it's good at. When you're researching, you're looking for all of those deep nuggets of information that you'll get from poring over reams of data. Those tangental links are a joy to discover.
For a user trying to accomplish something quickly, however, it doesn't work. Reporting an issue, contributing to discussions or even FINDING them, navigating a voting page... Basically everything PROCESS related is a place where a wall of text is the most unwelcome thing you can be presented with.
It's great that you dogfood; just remember that the old unix hacks ate their own dogfood too. But rather than make things friendlier for people, it just made the unix hacks more defensive about their unfriendly system.
Wikipedia was run on a shoestring for many years. Developer time was in incredibly short supply, and was mainly spent on keeping the site alive. However, there was a massive surplus of labor from people who could work a wiki. People did what they could with what they had.
Had they put more of there developer time into lower-priority features (e.g., a fancy but unnecessary discussion system), they could well have blown up. Or they could have tried to get more developer labor by increasing revenue sooner. But that would have meant ads, which could have destroyed Wikipedia in a different way.
Going forward, Wikipedia should definitely be more friendly, and the Mediawiki Foundation is devoting substantial resources to that.
If a lengthy discussion has already reached conclusion on a matter, having someone jump through a few hoops and provide a good reason to reopen that debate doesn't seem unreasonable.
Making someone jump through hoops (beyond a simple warning page) as a deliberate policy is even worse than organically grown bureaucracy.
(although; I agree, improvements to certain processes would be very handy)
I have met some of them; they are smart and competent.
People's expectations about Wikipedia's development speed are all out of whack. The main problem is that Wikipedia is run on a shoestring compared with any other top site. A major contributing problem is that for much of Wikipedia's history it was run by a handful of people, all of them struggling mightily just to keep up with traffic growth. That means a lot of work has to go into paying down technical debt.
My comment about taking forever was not really to do with the lack of developer time (which, as a developer myself I totally understand!) but more about the difficulty of meshing two communities of people.
In much the same way that an outsider struggles to understand the Wikipedia system, many Wikipedians have difficulty understanding how development works, and how to interact with developers.
This disconnect means that requests for even simple things can take a while :)
I can highlight this disconnect; the idea given in the GP is smart and sensible and would help make the deletion review process a lot easier for newbies. This would certainly help with editor retention as well as being widely useful.
On the other hand, one dev recently wrote and deployed "WikiLove", which is a script for helping people give each other "Barnstar" awards.
Ok, so perhaps the GP's idea did not come up in discussions of "what should we improve next". But if the WP community proposed something like this it would probably sit gathering dust whilst the next WikiLove would appear on our screens.... :)
"The result was delete. As far as I can tell, the numbers are split about 7-6 in favour of delete. That's not normally going to lead to a consensus to delete unless there are unusual circumstances, such as one side having significantly stronger arguments than the other, so much as that can be ascertained objectively. In this case, the final three unchallenged delete !votes—DGG, ItsZippy and Metropolitan90—demonstrate such strength.
DGG and Metropolitan90 highlight a number of fundamental misconceptions behind a number of the keep !votes, such as the inaccuracy of the assertions that the subject's work was covered significantly in The Google story and that The Google story is a Pulitzer prize-winning book. DGG also demonstrates with clear evidence that the subject's own book is not as prominent as asserted, without any evidence, by some on the keep side. ItsZippy is the only editor in the debate, on either side, to comprehensively discuss the sources on offer as opposed to making generalised assertions about the sufficiency of the sourcing.
That those delete !votes have stood for between 7 and 13 days without any challenge leads me to conclude that there is a consensus to delete"
More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion....
Two thoughts: yes, the back pages of Wikipedia are tricky to navigate for non-experts, it took me a while to find that link. No, Wikipedians are not all unfriendly deletionists.
Since then I stopped making edits unless something is incorrect.
(And it's on Wikipedia itself, natch.)
It's both. HN is unfriendly to new users who are used to the kind of interactions that predominate elsewhere. It is in many ways a close reddit analogue, and yet even veteran redditors will find themselves downvoted to oblivion here. I certainly did, when I first signed up.
Like HN, Wikipedia requires getting used to. There is a "Wikipedia Way", which is very different from how people interact on other parts of the Internet. It can seem bureaucratic and neurotic, and it is, but it keeps things running relatively smoothly for the regulars, which is the important part. The people who take the time to learn the ropes are the ones who end up ensuring that the content is useful and informative. Yes, some people will be put off by the fact that only reliable secondary sources can be considered when determining the notability of a subject, but the restriction is there for a reason: it keeps the crap out.
None of this means that Wikipedia is not open. If you waltzed into the Linux dev channel and insisted that something be done a certain way, you'd be banned. Linux is similarly complex, and there is a "Linux Way" of doing things. Take the time to learn that way and contribute, and you'll be welcomed. Insist they're wrong and write blog posts about how wrong they are, and you'll be ignored.
I get the "simple is better" approach, but by now, there should be enough conventions, and there's certainly enough complexity, to warrant at least a basic structured forum.
There was a nearly complete effort to rewrite talk pages: https://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/Extension:LiquidThreads But it turned out to have atrocious performance, and the few times I used talk pages on wikis with it enabled, I wished they really hadn't enabled it.
So a standard discussion system really only benefits people who aren't smart or who aren't willing to put in a little time. But in making it easier for clueless noobs to express their opinions, will that help Wikipedia? Or will it hurt it by soaking up the time of people who do know what they're doing?
As an example, consider Danny Sullivan's experience. If it had been easier for him to kick off a deletion review, he would have done it. But that would have been a waste of time, as he didn't have anything to say that would have changed the outcome. And that's true because he wasn't willing to take any time to understand what was going on.
Or as another example, consider YouTube comments. How does it help Wikipedia to make it easier to let those people comment?
Wikipedia avoids original research for a very good reason: to keep out physics cranks and the like, who would infest WP otherwise.
Now, we all know a Wikipedia page doesn't have the weight of other sources and can be crap at times but so far it's a total class act and it has a lot to do with these policies.
I'm sure you know that Wikipedia has to constantly police itself for large companies trying to mess with competitor's pages and how there are armies of political operatives out there trying to rewrite history through Wikipedia. This is why even experts like the OP are so scrutinized.
I've been on the other end of this. The shitty little start-up I worked on for many years somehow managed to squeak past the finish line of notability and keep its shitty little Wikipedia entry from being deleted (despite the fact that it was mostly written by the marketing department). And you know what kind of difference it made? Absolutely none. To the best of my knowledge, precisely 0.0% of the site's traffic came from the 'external link' in the Wikipedia entry. We got precisely 0 phone calls or emails from potential customers who heard about us on Wikipedia. VCs did not magically dump piles of money on us because we were listed on Wikipedia. Engineering candidates -- even bad engineering candidates -- never spontaneously sent us their resume after reading our Wikipedia entry.
Conversely, given that my startup benefitted not one bit from having a Wikipedia entry, I'm quite confident that if a competitor had wasted 15 minutes of his time to deface our Wikipedia article, it would have hurt us as a business not one lick.
It is a fact that these things happen and whether it's harmful or not it isn't right and it's the reason for these policies.
But why? If there's an article about your company in a legitimate publication, I don't see why there shouldn't be a Wikipedia article about it. How would it make Wikipedia a less useful or lower-quality resource? Are you saying it would get in the way of finding information about more "notable" subjects? I don't understand how.
Sure, my attitude would make the disambiguation page for "John Smith" much longer, but I think it would still be reasonable as long as it's well-sorted into categories (as it is now).
The problem is that getting rid of the notability requirement would lead to lots of people putting up pages with nothing more than opinion. It wouldn't be spam. It'd be more dangerous than that. It'd be unsourced opinion disguised as factual information.
There's also the fact that Wikipedia is much more of a finite resource than, say, Google. Google has millions of server and a data center staff of thousands, backed up by even more thousands of programmers dedicated to making things run smoothly. Wikipedia is 400-odd servers and a staff of less than a hundred. Opening things up like you say would quickly overload Wikipedia's infrastructure, degrading the encyclopedia for everyone.
It seemed like the person the blog post was referencing passed that requirement as well, but was deleted.
If you can refute this, please follow the very clear instructions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Deletion_review#Instr...) for doing so. For the deletion review to have any chance of succeeding, it _must_ go over some new point that the previous AfD ignored. Giving new references that are specifically about the person in question would probably work. Simply saying "but, but, she's important!!1! :( :( :(", on the other hand, won't go over well.