Wikipedia:FLAG-PROTOCOL

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The problem addressed by this protocol ...

A new editor creates a "work in progress" article that gets tagged for proposed deletion or speedy deletion by Some Other Editor as part of their New pages patrol activities ... when the author returns a week later (or sometimes just a few hours later, in the case of a CSD) and the article has been deleted, their only clue is the courtesy warning message left by the editor who tagged it, so they become the author's first point of contact to find out WTF happened.

That occurs so frequently that I had to create a "boilerplate greeting" just to deal with it. This essay introduces a Protocol to minimize friction from proposed and speedy deletions, and hopefully reduce the Serious Bad Karma sometimes caused by simply not knowing how things work here on Wikipedia.

Although I am a deletionist, I believe that inclusionist editors will also find these protocols handy for flagging articles that require more work, since the act of adding {{Flag-article}} will automagically add the article to Category:Flagged articles, so you don't even have to clutter your Watchlist to keep track of them! :-)

Remember that lack of Attribution by itself is not grounds for a speedy deletion ...

Sometimes citations from Reliable sources will appear in an article within hours of the warnings being posted, and the Notability concerns are addressed without the need for a proposed deletion or WP:AfD.

Essentially, an editor must make a choice: "Is this article unredeemable, or could it be improved with some time and research?" That makes the difference between a speedy delete and a PROD. There are automated tools for tagging articles that are "broken", and this protocol is designed to address articles that might merely be "damaged" and easily repaired.

Remember that your opinion about deleting an article is just that; your own. Consider involving Some Other Editor who either has some expertise in the subject area, or whose experience you trust over your own ... they may decline your PROD, or they may second your opinion with a {{Prod-2}}. Either way, you will have a better idea of how well your opinion matches the current consensus, which tends to change over time.

And also remember that it is just plain rude to tag an article for deletion and not notify the author:

Why the templates are so verbose[edit]

These are pre-emptive warnings of your intention to re-assess the article on some later occasion, and then make a decision to either (a) try to improve it, or else (b) try to get rid of it … you are still considering what to do, and it is assumed that the newbie contributor is so green that they don't even know about watchlists, and may only see one of the warnings, so some of the information is duplicated.

{{Flag-article}} and {{Flag-editor}} are designed for the questionable articles that (a) you are considering for deletion if they are not improved Real Soon Now, and (b) were authored by editors who are creating their first article. On a subsequent visit, you might look more closely at the external links provided and discover that the article is a copy&paste from their publicist's website, a clear copyright violation, which results in a G-12 speedy deletion … you just didn't have time to determine that on the first visit, when you placed these flags.

You would not be expected to use this protocol and templates for obvious {{Db-nonsense}} or {{Db-attack}} articles, or for responding to previously identified trollish editors … BTW, these templates can be used to document such behavior on their talk page.

There will be three possible ways to delete an article in the 3rd Step (PROD, speedy, or AfD), but you won't know which one you'll decide to use when you flag it and notify the author with these templates … if it's an obvious kill it before it grows article, then you go straight to a speedy deletion, and then MOVE ON … you don't need a protocol for that. :-)

These are also First Impression templates … assume that this is some newbie's first article, and they haven't read WP:FIRST … this is stuff they never heard of before, and need to know … that's why the templates use a Ambox warning blue.svg icon instead of Ambox warning yellow.svg or Ambox warning pn.svg ("Get their attention, but don't frighten them!") … they don't know what's going on, and we're trying to bring them up to speed and guide them, so we need to hold their hands, not slap them … how often have you seen nuggets removing a {{Db}} tag, putting {{Hangon}} on an AfD, or simply UNDO an AfD tag, just because they didn't know any better?

Anywho, that's where these templates are coming from … they just say, "Hey, Grasshopper, one of two things might happen if you don't improve this article Real Soon Now (either a seven-day probation, or else delete on sight) … here's what's wrong with it, and some tips for improving it." … then they point the newbie to the already established Deletion policy.

Finally, there's Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers … the templates (as worded) let them know that a PROD or AfD is not necessarily a Bad Thing, because it buys them time (a week) during which it cannot be speedy deleted … think of these templates as a Velvet Glove on the Iron Fist of Deletionism.

Take a look at this example of using {{Flag-article}} with the FLAG-BAND protocol … it's less verbose and more specific than the default example.

Now imagine that you have just written your first article about your favorite, but non-notable subject, one that you would probably tag with a {{Db}} if you saw it today contributed by Some Other Editor … imagine that this template warning was your First Contact that you had done Something Wrong, advising you that the article was probably going to be deleted.

How would you want someone to point you towards the Correct Path to creating an article worthy of inclusion in Wikipedia? That's what these protocols and templates are for; to guide the newbie contributors who are on the Wrong Path … and you just can't do that in 25 words or less.

Protocol to minimize friction from proposed and speedy deletions[edit]

  1. If it looks bogus (e.g., it reeks of Vanispamcruftisement), or it fails a quick scan for Attribution (e.g., no references or citations whatsoever), then:
    1. Put {{Flag-article}} on the article's Discussion page (to get the ball rolling.)
      Note: This is a generic "Article lacks WP:A to satisfy WP:N" boilerplate message, so you should also include any other arguments for deletion, both to begin a discussion and as background for any administrator who investigates the flagged article after it has been tagged.
    2. Put {{Flag-editor}} on the author's User Talk page.
      Note: This is also a generic warning that you are considering placing a tag on the article requesting that it be deleted ... you can always come back later and update/correct the warning if it's the wrong one, or add a {{Proposed deletion notify}} or {{Nn-warn}} after you've tagged the article.
    3. Put either {{Prod}} or {{Db}} on the article's Main page.
      Note: This is a judgment call: either (a) give the author a few days to reconsider a "Good Idea, Bad Decision" or, if it appears to be an incomplete "work in progress", to improve its case for it not being deleted, or else (b) you think that it's irredeemable and we should "Kill it before it grows!"
      Note: It's rather pointless to do a PROD on a contested article, because anyone can simply remove it.
    4. MOVE ON.
      Note: At this stage, Some Other Editor may change a {{Db}} to a {{Prod}} (or take it directly to AfD) to allow more time for improvements.
      Note: Consider adding a {{Prod-2}} if you agree with a PROD made by Some Other Editor, or an {{Old prod full}} on the Discussion page if you contest a PROD.
      Note: The {{Hasty}} tag should be added to the article's Main page if you feel that it is Too Soon for a CSD.
  2. If {{Db}} is removed by the author, then:
    1. Revert (UNDO) the article page (with an appropriate edit summary)
    2. Put {{Drmspeedy}} on the author's User Talk page.
    3. Document the incident on the Discussion page (sign your post)
      Note: At this stage, an article might get deleted Too Quickly, in spite of a {{Hangon}}, and have to be restored by an admin ... this can sometimes be mistaken for flagrant disregard of warnings on the author's User Talk page
      Note: The author may just give up at this stage and blank the article, in which case ...
      1. Put a message stating "author blanked page (CSD G7)" on both the Discussion and the author's User Talk pages
      2. Put {{Db-author}} on the article, not {{Db-empty}}
      3. MOVE ON.
  3. If {{Db}} is removed by Some Other Editor (even an admin), then:
    1. Document the incident under the "lacks WP:A to satisfy WP:N" message on the Discussion page, along with any other arguments for deletion
      1. Consider expanding WP:N to a more specific WP:BAND, WP:BIO, WP:CORP, WP:WEB, etc.
      2. If WP:BIO or WP:BLP related, then add {{WPBiography}} with class=Stub to the Discussion page.
    2. Put {{Notability}} and either {{Unreferenced}} or {{Primarysources}} tags on the article.
    3. Put any other appropriate tags and Categories on the article, e.g., {{Orphan}}, {{Original research}} (consider using the {{Multiple issues}} template instead of multiple tags), and Category:Year of birth missing (living people) or Category:Place of birth missing (living people) (or both), if appropriate.
  4. If either a {{Db}}, {{Prod}}), or {{Notability}} gets summarily removed (i.e., without any comment or improvement), then regardless of who did it:
    1. Start leaving messages on the other editors' Talk pages.
    2. Adding a {{Talk header}} or {{First article}} is optional, depending on how courteous you feel towards this alleged newbie.
    3. Put a comment about the incident on the Discussion page, along with any further arguments for deletion.
  5. There is no 5th step.
  6. At this stage, I usually still assume good faith, so I do some "Monkish" WikiGnome stuff to the article, like:
    1. General spelling/grammar/format cleanups and wikilinks.
    2. Researching ISBNs and publishers on Amazon.com.
    3. Adding {{cite book}} and {{cite web}} templates as examples of stylistic representations based on consensus.
    4. Changing external links to a {{cite news}} that uses the URL provided by Some Other Editor
      Note: The amount of research done does not have to extend beyond the resources available on Wikipedia, such as when the publisher of a cited reference can be linked to an existing article, e.g., it only took a few minutes to find one and change a {{cite web}} from

      "Meet a Weight Loss Icon". www.smdailyjournal.com. 

      into a {{cite news}} like

      Murtagh, Heather. "Meet a Weight Loss Icon". San Mateo Daily Journal. 

      simply by entering "smdailyjournal.com" in the Wikipedia search window (which provided an internal link to the article about the publication), and following the supplied link to identify the author's first and last names.
  7. If any tags are removed or there is no movement after a few days, e.g., the time during which a {{Prod}} would have expired, then:
    1. Put a comment on the Discussion page (this should ping anyone who has the article on their watchlist.)
    2. Put {{Prod}} on the article.
    3. Put {{Proposed deletion notify}} on the author's User Talk page.
    4. Ping Some Other Editor to consider adding a {{Prod-2}}
  8. If the {{Prod}} is removed by Some Other Editor, then either:
    1. Take it to Articles for deletion, or else
    2. MOVE ON.

Like I said, I try to follow these steps, but sometimes I just contact an admin for an early intervention before it escalates ... this protocol allows time for improvements, because haste is the Dark Side of the proposed and speedy deletion processes ... so I encourage all New pages patrol, Recent changes patrol, and Counter-Vandalism Unit editors to try it for a while, and don't bite the newbies! :-)

Paradigm shift ... Flag the author's Talk page before you tag the article for proposed or speedy deletion ... that way, the warning will still be in your edit history even after the article is deleted, when all references to it evaporate from everyone's edit history ... also, the author's Talk page will contain documentation of the incident, so "pity the fool" who tries to recreate it after deletion.

The point is to be sure and leave a paper trail ... if it ever becomes necessary to voice your opinion in Articles for Deletion discussions, or Three-revert rule arbitration by the Senior Partners, then you can simply say,

"Please see the article's Discussion page and the author's User Talk page for my prior unsuccessful attempts to resolve this matter."

'Nuff Said!The Bipolar Anon-IP Gnome (talk · contribs) 23:41, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Common CSD A7 protocols[edit]

Here are some of the most common speedy deletion categories ... the WP:FLAG-xyz protocols are essays that contain boilerplates to make copy&paste editing and application of the flag templates easier ... the idea is that you pop one of them open in another TAB in your web browser, and switch between the boilerplate examples and the talk page to which you are adding the templates.

See also: Flag templates for deletion warnings