Wikipedia:Relevance of content/Content policy analysis

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This is an attempt to analyze all of Wikipedia's policies and procedures covering removal or retention of content so as to identify potential flaws in them, and to discuss how those flaws might be fixed.

Articles for deletion[edit]

AfD's biggest flaw is its built-in forum-shopping process. If you dislike an article, just nominate it over and over until you get a jury and/or judge (closing admin) that votes "delete". Such deletion is effectively permanent, unless WP:DRV turns up some procedural technicality. Worse still, such deletions are precedent-setting: Wikipedia:WikiProject Deletion sorting/Popular culture has become a memorial page.

Perhaps a solution is, propose to add to Wikipedia:Disruptive edition that a person who nominates an article for deletion more than twice a year (I just picked a figure - if after discussion hee people thinks it is a good idea, there should be discussion on the DE page and on the deletion policy page) may be considered a disruptive editor? Slrubenstein | Talk 10:20, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Nah, it's more systemic a problem than that. Lots of articles tend to get re-nominated by different people, who are probably working independently, unless there's some deletionist cabal or sock master out there. Doesn't matter: articles can be "tried" an indefinite number of times until executed. In other words, AfD permits double jeopardy. Perhaps there should be a limitation of "one AfD only" per article, unless some kind of special condition is met. Those who rely on being able to abuse the AfD process in this way would fight that change bitterly, however.--Father Goose 23:22, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
I think only one AfD ever is a bit too constraining, but some kind of limit is a good idea. How about a limit per article instead of per person? ie, the same article can only be nominated for deletion once every 6 months? 23:35, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, how often do articles survive AfD that really have no place on Wikipedia? Not just the "some think yes, some think no", but the ones that are real losers? Slowing it down would help some, but AfD would remain an "unpopularity contest". Having things like 14 deletion discussions of Daniel Brandt is just a train wreck. That article's fate should have been decided in one conversation, unless new conditions necessitated a new discussion. Controversial AfDs are eventually, through endless appeals, decided in favor of deletion.--Father Goose 03:33, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I see your point. Maybe deletions should be non-prejudicial then, meaning that articles could be recreated afterwards; perhaps after a certain amount of time passed. That way both sides of the controversy would have equal recourse. Otherwise I'm not sure what else to do. What do you suggest? 05:44, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
Articles can be recreated afterwards, but only if they are substantially different from the deleted ones. In cases where the article wasn't fundamentally flawed -- just disliked -- few changes are needed, and recreation isn't permitted under current rules.
A few ideas in my head right now are a) only one AfD per article (excepting "changed circumstances", not that I know what that means); b) AfDs should be left open after "initial closure", and the deletion or retention can be overturned if the "votes" swing the other way over time; c) damn, I forgot what idea I had here; or d) anything else at WP:PWD or Wikipedia:deletion reform, which apparently failed to gain traction.--Father Goose 08:47, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Theoretically notability is considered permanent at WP, and when we are assessing notability we are assessing the notability of the topic not the quality of the article, so I don't foresee many situations of "changed circumstances". It seems to me that the notability can not diminish if it is once demonstrated by AfD; therefore, I don't see a need for any provision for multiple AfD processes if a conclusion is rendered. If an AfD is found lacking in the process (e.g., too few participants, incorrect assessment of consensus, or deception) the recourse should be deletion review even months later -- perhaps the reviewer could call for an new AfD. If the closer determines that there was no consensus in an AfD, then I think a repeat AfD or extension of time with advertising is appropriate. The analogies would be double jeopardy and retrial after a hung jury (no consensus). --Kevin Murray 17:13, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
That might be workable. Nominating something for deletion following a prior unambiguous "keep" should definitely be shot down.--Father Goose 18:16, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
The "theoretically" is the part that bothers me. I've seen a few articles deleted for quality rather than topic notability. Maybe there should also be an automatic, uniform notice on top of every AfD reminding people of what exactly they're supposed to be voting on. 21:03, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree. A short summary with a link to the criteria for deletion. It is way too much WP:ILIKEIT etc. There is also a lack of consistency in the closing criteria. --Kevin Murray 21:35, 3 September 2007 (UTC)
I just took a look at Wikipedia:Deletion policy, and there's no mention of topic notability being the sole criteria. It basically only states content-related reasons. So the first step would be to change that policy. However, I'm not even so sure it should be changed; As it stands now, the policy is that articles consisting of only unencyclopedic content be deleted. Maybe it would be better if we just changed that to "articles whose content can not aid in forming an encyclopedic article should be deleted". The only problem with deleting an article on a notable topic is that the information contained in them is lost -- but the topic is not lost, because the article can always be recreated. It's just a question of saving the content of the article so that it can be used to form a better article. Thoughts? 03:39, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
I didn't see a problem with WP:DEL offhand, and WP:N is reasonable on its surface, although it has a glaring blind spot when it comes to lists. Lists relating to a subject are not a subject themselves, and thus have no inherent notability. Only pre-existing lists (Nobel prize winners, etc.) are "notable" subjects by the terms of WP:N. Lists of verifiable instances of [notable thing] are clearly useful in augmenting our coverage of that notable thing, but have no explicit acceptance anywhere on Wikipedia. So one of the things we need to do is establish when these augmenting lists are considered okay, either via WP:LIST or a new guideline, and have WP:N broaden its whitelist to permit them.
Where pop-culture-related instances are concerned, there's a double-whammy, as primary sources are not permitted as a form of verification. A huge number of American editors could confirm that there's an animated gecko out there trying to sell us car insurance, but unless some newspaper has actually written about that gecko, Wikipedia would treat him as though he doesn't even exist. This is another thing I think must change: one must be permitted to use a widely-available primary source to describe the contents of that source. Analysis of the source (i.e., WP:OR) is not appropriate, but if multiple editors can check a source and come up with the same description of its contents, that should be treated as a reliable source for what the source contains. As I said below, that this is not permitted is nuts.--Father Goose 05:45, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
*digs deeper into policy* Crikey, such sourcing is permitted. No wonder I never noticed it before: it's in "No original research", not "Reliable sources", and most of the language that pertains to primary sourcing is not even in the paragraph about primary sources (it's below "tertiary sources). And apparently nobody else has noticed it either, because of the absolutely villified status of primary sources on Wikipedia.
However, I am encouraged -- thank goodness, a sane policy is actually there. We just have to get people to actually pay attention to it. A bit of rewriting and a lot of evangelizing is the way forward.--Father Goose 07:55, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
This was discussed recently at WP:N. It seemd that the consensus was that primary sources were not sufficient demonstration of notability, but certainly legitimate sources for demonstrating verifiability. People frequently confuse primary sources with primary research. --Kevin Murray 14:09, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
To bring this back to the AfD process for a moment, Kevin, you had said that AfDs are supposed to focus on topic notability rather than content quality. The deletion policy doesn't say anything about that, so I'm wondering where that came from -- not to challenge you, but if it really does say that somewhere, it'll be useful in AfD discussions. 14:44, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
I'll have to look at those again. I'm not sure whether there has been a change or whether my impression is based on discussions at WP:N, which were extensive for some time. Although WP:N is now stable, it was in turmoil for about 6 months. --Kevin Murray 15:15, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
If the result of the notability discussion was that topic notability trumps content quality, then maybe the deletion policy is in need of a makeover to reflect that. 15:37, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
My understanding is that the only absolutely fatal flaws which result in deletion are: (1) a topic which is not notable and (2) violation of BLP. Lack of content, lack of sources to support or increase the content, and erroneous content can be overcome by research. Poor writing can be overcome by better writers. --Kevin Murray 21:59, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
This is the deletion policy which was in effect when Notability was revamped early in the year [1]; however, editors have been busy as beavers rewriting etc. since then. I like the table toward the end of the older version. The latest version suggests some applications for deletetion, but the key phrase is "not limited to." Without spending some time I couldn't say whether the nuts and bolts have changed that much. I think this continues to illustrate my point that there are way too many rules for mainstream editors to oversee. We have encouraged a breed of WP policy politicians, and we will need WP attornies to sort out the ramifications. A shitty mess. --Kevin Murray 22:15, 7 September 2007 (UTC)

Biographies of living persons[edit]

Messy situation concerning self-published links, which clashes with Wikipedia:External links.

Lists[edit]

Between WP:NOT#INFO, WP:NOT#DIR, and WP:NOTABILITY, list articles on Wikipedia take a pounding. Notability isn't aware of the existence of list articles, and doesn't include language explaining when they might be notable. Thus there is no way to establish the notability of lists, making the default policy "delete".

Wikipedia:Overlistification is a proposed Wikipedia policy, guideline, or process. The proposal may cross over with Wikipedia:Proposed guideline for lists of people by ethnicity, religion, and other cultural categorizations at some points, relating to content.

One solution is to insist that "categories" replace lists. I bet many of the list articles developed before the categorization scheme. Perhaps lists had an early value in Wikipedia when there were not many articles. Lists would have much red - and an incentive to create new articles. Since that time the number of article has increased exponentially. The virtue of categories is that a category tag can be added to an article only if content in the article justifies it; it also means editors of an article police whether an added category is appropriate, helping to divide the labor in ensuring it is an appropriate choice. If there is considerable support for this process here, I would suggest raising it on the listserve and village pump, and if there is no opposition, perhaps creating a wikiproject to propose to delete list articles as comparable categories are created Slrubenstein | Talk 10:27, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Hard to generalize. Some lists are useful because they put it all in one place, together with explanatory material, in a readable format. A naked list with a couple paragraphs could be moved to category space. But some lists serve a special purpose had have some specific rules for inclusion, annotations that are made with respect to why each member is on the list, etc. One annoying thing is that editors often summarily delete lists within articles, say when you describe an institution and then you list cities where that institution appears. It's a pointless exercise to delete them because this information is best presented in list form - there is a reason why that format exists in the world. Prose simply is not a good way to communicate a list. Wikidemo 19:28, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

No original research[edit]

Wikipedia has an enormous bias against the use of primary sources as well as non-print (or non-online) sources. It has become impermissible to reference a primary source to describe the content of that primary source. This is, in a word, nuts.

My interpretation has been that primary research is prohibited not primary sources. Primary sources are discouraged as examples for establishing notability, but any verifiable source is acceptable for referencing content. I support that as policy, but if the policy has become more stringent, I would be in opposition. --Kevin Murray 02:18, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
That's how it ought to be, but in practice all primary sourcing is treated as non-sourcing; see Wikipedia:Featured article review/Bulbasaur/archive2. Homer's Phobia squeaked through FAR only because The Simpsons has a fair amount of secondary sources (books, official plot synopses, trivia on the BBC website). I understand refusing speculation about things in primary sources, but even in cases where multiple people could independently verify the contents of a primary source, it's generally shunned. To a limited degree, it seems to be accepted for print sources (such as The Lord of the Rings#References).--Father Goose 03:28, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Well I share your concern. I think that the rules are bent frequently to support POV of the consensus at any particular topic. As I continually say, the rules at WP have become cumbersome and contradictory. I really think that we should work hard to simplify and condense the rule set for consistency and clarity. I see this effort as a potential step in that direction as long as the method is merger and fine tuning rather than adding yet another additional page. --Kevin Murray 09:31, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
The policy has never made the use of primary sources impermissable. Wikipedia will always attract people with strong views who will try to skirt the actual policy in one direction or the other (for example, some people think that NPOV means that every sentence in an article must be vfollowes by one that stars "According to others, ...") All policies rely on editors using good judgement. No revision of a policy will ever change this or make up for bad judgement. Se Wikipedia:The role of policies in collaborative anarchy. Slrubenstein | Talk 10:31, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

Notability[edit]

"I haven't heard of it" defaults to "delete".

I think this is an index of another problem: the lack of willingness of many editors to do serious research. By serious I mean anything that extends beyond using a dictionary, encyclopedia or the web itself. I suspect that this is because many editors do not have access to a decent library, but the fact remains, the quality of most articles hinges on access to specialized sources that are generally available only in large libraries, libraries with respectable electronic data bases, and sometimes even a librarian expert in research to helpo someone use data bases to generate a literature review. I suspect part of the problem is editors who fail to read this part of the notability guideline: "or if it meets an accepted subject specific standard listed in the table to the right." However, perhaps we need to add to the notability article a section, or a link to something else, on the importance of research. There is a LOT of knowledge out there and the sad fact is, most people have no idea how notable something is unless they have taken a recent college course on it or have a higher degree in it or are active members of a profession or participants/hobbiests in an activity. For example, a lot of people rely on googling to judge notability sometimes this is appropriate but the limitations are obvious. here is a suggestion: before determining that something is not notable, go here] and do a subject or keyword search. This is just one way of finding out "what is out there" - not a bad way, for academic topics and literature, but not the only way and perhaps not good for other things. But Notability needs to have a section on research, I think. Put simply, I would say this: because of NOR, if an editor wants to add a claim, the burden of proof falls on the editor to provide a source. But if someone wants to deleted an article for lack of notability, the burden of proof should fall on that editor to demonstrate that it is not notable through appropriate research (which may require going beyond a dictionary, encyclopedia, or web-search) Slrubenstein | Talk 10:42, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
no, that's too high a burden for many articles. Inclusionist though I am, i wouldn't support it. I would support a statement saying that a some reasonable effort must be made and documented--that a nom must at least say where he looked. The place to suggest this one is the afd talk page, or perhaps the village pump--its been suggested and rejected or ignored several times, but the way to effect policy change is to continue to show interest in it. If you go ahead with this, let me know. DGG (talk) 17:47, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
"Notability is entirely commercial" defaults to "this is spam / advertisement" or "Wikipedia is not a business directory." Wikidemo 19:30, 14 September 2007 (UTC)