User:Xyzzyplugh/Articles about words

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The vast majority of Wikipedia articles are about subjects, the people, concepts, places, events, and things that their titles represent. Giraffe is about the long-necked African mammal. However, we also have some articles which are about words. Thou is about the actual word "thou", its etymology, past and present usage throughout different parts of the world, and so on.

Wikipedia editors have not come to any consensus as to what should be done regarding articles about words. Some believe we shouldn't have any articles on words, a few that we should have articles on all words, some that we should have articles only on notable words, although what constitutes a notable word is unclear. In fact, most have never given the subject any thought at all. As a result, no overall policy or guideline regarding articles on words has been created. We do have Wikipedia is not a dictionary, which states that Wikipedia articles should not be mere dictionary definitions, but this says nothing about articles on words which go beyond what one could expect to find in a dictionary.

There is, however, a common practice on what we do with word articles, a general way that we tend to handle these articles. It stems from the fact that our philosophies on how we handle subject and word articles are quite different.

Articles on subjects are looked at in terms of Eventualism; we will keep a poorly written, misspelled, unsourced and generally terrible article, with plans to rewrite it eventually, as long as there is reasonable evidence it can one day become a good article. Articles on words, however, are looked at in terms of Immediatism. We're not sure if we even want articles on words at all, and so we only keep them if they are already decent quality articles.

So, an article we come upon about a new slang term, or any article at all on a word which is no longer than a typical dictionary definition, these will be copied to Wiktionary and then deleted. We place little or no value on stub articles on words, or on the endless number of new slang terms which appear and quickly go out of fashion, and we treat them accordingly. If someone does create a decent sized, nicely formatted, well written and well sourced word article, though, we hate to turn such a thing down; it does indeed get kept.

While the above description makes it sound as if this were a well-planned and intentional practice, it is instead the accidental byproduct of Wikipedia is not a dictionary combined with our desire to keep any quality articles which are written. Word articles which fall somewhere inbetween a dictionary definition stub and a lengthy well-written and well sourced article are treated in an entirely random and haphazard fashion, and might be kept and expanded, rewritten into something different, redirected, deleted, or who knows what else, based on the personality of the editor who finds it, the particular group of editors who wander into the article's AfD page, or perhaps the phase of the moon that day.

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