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Cruftcruft or meta-cruft (a reduplication of the word cruft to mean "cruft on the topic of cruft"), is a term used to refer to editorial and policy issues often encountered in the course of dealing with Articles for Deletion (AfD).
What is cruft?
Before moving on to "cruftcruft", one must first analyze "cruft" on its own. An example !vote at AfD might say:
- Delete as cruft. –Crufthater 03:03, 3 March 2003 (UTC)
"Cruft" originated in hackerdom, where it was used to mean "something which [is] badly designed, poorly implemented, or redundant." It was picked up in popular culture, where it has been defined as "useless junk or excess materials", and ultimately to describe "material which is typically lacking in quality, selectively biased, of a poor nature and of interest only to a small audience."
Unfortunately, this definition's lack of any objective criteria leaves "cruft" in the eye of the beholder. Rather than being anything meaningfully unencyclopedic, "cruft" can become any topic, subject or article that the beholder is uninterested in.
Don't call things cruft
While declaring something to be "cruft" in itself is not a rational argument for deletion, vast amounts of specific information on topics of little notability are not acceptable for Wikipedia. Although "cruft" is often used as a shorthand term for failure to meet the above criteria, and should not necessarily be treated as a bad faith dismissal of the information, use of the word can cause offence as it is "needlessly aggressive and needlessly insults the contributors ... It also gives the impression that the invoker is on a quest to remove all detail related to various fandoms. This forces the dissenting arguer into an aggressively defensive position which hinders communication and impedes civil discussion." Editors, instead of simply declaring something to be "cruft", should take care to explain in their rationale for deletion why they think the material should be removed.
Wikipedia editors are a pretty diverse bunch and as such pretty much everything is hated by some editor somewhere. Hating a music style is no reason to argue that an article on a band who play that style of music (providing they meet the relevant verifiability and source criteria) should be deleted, as music tastes are incredibly subjective and one person's cacophony is another person's symphony. The same applies to any issue of personal preference; some editors hate trivia, but what constitutes trivia is a subjective opinion and as things stand there is no concrete policy setting down what is and is not trivial, nor is there a policy stating that trivia should be deleted. Other editors hate fair use images and text, but again, unless a policy is adopted that prohibits fair use material on Wikipedia, the fact that an image is fair use, or an article contains a lot of fair use media, is not grounds for deletion provided fair use criteria are met.
Arguments that the nature of the subject is unencyclopedic (for example individual songs or episodes of a TV show) should also be avoided in the absence of clear policies or guidelines against articles on such subjects. Perhaps the most common example of this kind of argument is the oft-used argument that articles/categories/whatever should be deleted as cruft. While the "cruft" label is often used for any or all things of perceived minor interest, it is worth considering carefully whether or not so-called "cruft" has potential.
Characteristics of cruftcruft
- Almost always used as justification for a delete !vote in an Article for Deletion discussion.
- Options other than delete not often considered.
- Often accompanied by the two-letter abbreviation "NN" (non-notable) as a justification for deletion.
- Use of the word "Cruft", commonly found in portmanteau forms, such as "listcruft", "gamecruft", and the nearly all-inclusive "Vanispamcruftisement".
- Wikipedia policies and guidelines are seldom referenced.
Various essays have been created to describe supposed variations of the "cruft" problem:
Editorial and policy issues of cruftcruft
Cruftcruft covers editorial and policy issues including the following, though anything corresponding to relevant Wikipedia policy is traditionally ignored:
- Wikipedia:Neutral point of view
- Wikipedia:Conflict of interest
- What Wikipedia is not:
- Criteria for Speedy Deletion
- Conflicts of interest
- Guidelines on external linking
Other Wikipedians' commentaries on this area
- Wikipedia:Complete bollocks
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not for things made up in school one day
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not Google™
- Wikipedia:Spam Event Horizon
- Wikipedia:I wouldn't know him from a hole in the ground
- User:GlassCobra/Essays/What Wikipedia is
- Wikipedia:Wikipedia is a work in progress
- Wikipedia:Article development
- Wikipedia talk:Notability (fiction)/Archive 35#Why inclusion matters
- Wikipedia talk:Notability/Archive 24#Why inclusion of fictional subjects matters
- Wikipedia:What Isn't Grounds for Article Deletion