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The cult of "deletionism" insists that hard drive space is so precious at wikipedia it can't possibly be used for entries that Joe-Little-Kid-Wikipedia-Bigshot hasn't heard of.

Always funny (and sad) when they get it this wrong. Jason Scott speaks of it better than anyone else:


I think that's misleading. The folks who go around deleting articles are not the ones who have to worry about things like server capacity. They do it because they think it keeps the standard of quality higher.

The article's not in Google's cache anymore, but as far as I can tell from the snippet, it apparently consisted only of the sentence: "Tom Preston-Werner is the creator of Gravatar and co-founder/CEO of GitHub." That's more information than I knew from reading the headline of this post, but it's a far cry from an encyclopedia article. I don't see what's lost by deleting it until someone's willing to put in the effort to write something substantial.

> I don't see what's lost by deleting it until someone's willing to put in the effort to write something substantial

He's mentioned as creator of Gravatar and co-creator of Github in their respective Wikipedia articles. When someone is mentioned as a prominent figure in connection with something that is Wikipedia-worthy, it is quite natural for someone reading that article to wonder "what else has this guy done?" and want to click his name to find out. Now people who ask that question have to resort to the search box.

Deleting articles like this also, I suspect, reduces the chances that someone will put in the effort to make a more substantial article. Someone thinking of doing so will see that there once was an article and it was deleted, which will discourage them as they might worry that their work too will be deleted. Better, I think, to leave it there as a seed from which a more substantial article might grow.

Wikipedia articles aren't intended to express a graph the way a "who's who" database does. Every article in the encyclopedia is expected to do a good job summarizing it subject and providing a guide to reputable sources on that subject.

The problem with stub articles about people that serve only to map a person to every Wikipedia subject they've touched is WP:BLP.

To sum that up: every article about a living person has to meet a higher standard of "not being wrong about that person", because when Wikipedia lists something wrong about (say) Tom Preston-Werner, it's plastering that wrongness at the top of every Google SERP, and this tends to piss people off. For obvious reasons, BLP articles are also a magnet for the most insidious kind of vandalism WP deals with: negative claims about real people that are difficult or impossible to refute "automatically", which is how virtually all vandalism on WP is handled. WP BLP articles thus incur a liability for the project.

Often, that liability is more than offset by the value of the article itself. But here, it seems like much of the value of a T.P-W article is simply in making it slightly easier to search for T.P-W in WP. But WP already does a pretty good job of doing that. Marginal value, maximum liability.

appreciated - this deletionism mentality, i feel is slightly incorrect. would it not be better to have an attitude of accuracy? whereby ensuring the content is accurate. if the wikipedia servers cannot handle the strain of amassing the knowledge of the world then should we feel comfortable with their role as custodian of this knowledge?

It's an ongoing living project, the largest of its kind in the world. The problem isn't the accuracy of any article at any one moment in time; the problem is the difficulty of ensuring the article remains accurate, so that 2 years from now, when people stop caring about the WP article about T.P-W, the project can still be sure that what's on that page (and thus the top of Google's SERPs) is accurate.

As an aside: I'm not sure you're entitled to be comfortable with Wikipedia's role. They didn't ask your permission to start the project; they just did it. The Wikipedia project, it seems to me, is entitled to set its own norms. If you don't like them, start a competing project. There's a whole big Internet out there to build on top of.

Many of the problems hackers seem to have with Wikipedia seem more like problems hackers have with encyclopedias. For instance, hackers want facts and ideas that they can verify from first principles to have a home on Wikipedia, but encyclopedias are never supposed to be venues for original research (they're supposed to be guides to the existing research). So, before you chime in and say "Wikipedia has an insurmountable first-mover advantage as the Internet's encyclopedia", ask, "do we want to be investing the content we're hoping to build in an encyclopedia, or do we want to create some kind of new venue that wouldn't even compete with Wikipedia but instead augment it, instead"?

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