Wikipedia:Why secret pages should be deleted
|This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. Essays are not Wikipedia policies or guidelines. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.|
|This essay was created to summarize the arguments for deleting secret pages. The principles espoused in this essay are supported by the policy Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not (Wikipedia talk:What Wikipedia is not/Archive 34#Does WP:NOTMYSPACE apply to secret pages?) and the guideline Wikipedia:User pages (Wikipedia talk:User pages/Archive 7#Secret pages: Ok or not?).|
|This page in a nutshell: Secret pages have been viewed as violations of the policy Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not and the guideline Wikipedia:User pages. There is rough community consensus is that regardless of a contributor's standing in the community, using Wikipedia as a webhost for secret page games is unacceptable.|
Secret pages are often deleted per WP:NOTMYSPACE and WP:UP#GAMES. Examples of secret pages include User:Jump Guru/Secret Page[dead link], User:PieMan.EXE/Secret[dead link], and User:Mattkenn3/Fake Super Secret Page[dead link].
WP:UP#GAMES states that examples of unrelated content to writing an encyclopedia are "Games, roleplaying sessions, secret pages and other things pertaining to "entertainment" rather than "writing an encyclopedia". Such activities are generally frowned upon by the community. Facetious games of no educational value relevant to the project are routinely deleted at MfD." WP:NOTMYSPACE states that "[t]he focus of user pages should not be social networking or amusement, but rather providing a foundation for effective collaboration."
A July/August 2010 request for comment held that "Some consideration was given to being more tolerant toward valued contributors, though the consensus was that diverged standards was inappropriate."
- 1 Arguments for deleting secret pages
- 2 Arguments against favoritism
- 3 Consensus at Wikipedia talk:What Wikipedia is not
- 4 To the creators of secret pages
- 5 Examples of secret pages
- 6 Examples of secret pages MfDs
- 7 See also
Arguments for deleting secret pages
A Stop at Willoughby's rationale for deleting secret pages
|“||WP:MYSPACE, as you know, is a longstanding part of a core Wikipedia policy, WP:NOT. It states:
"Wikipedia is not a social network like MySpace or Facebook. You may not host your own website, blog, or wiki at Wikipedia. [U]ser pages...may be used only to present information relevant to working on the encyclopedia. ... The focus of user pages should not be social networking, but rather providing a foundation for effective collaboration."
Some secret pages are in the userspaces of active editors who did not register a Wikipedia account for the purpose of social networking. However, this policy is clearly applicable to all Wikipedia users, not just users who have registered accounts solely for the purpose of social networking. Therefore, all users must avoid creating material in or adding content to their userspace that is used solely for social networking, instead utilizing their userspace to provide "a foundation for effective collaboration." Some userspace content that is borderline social networking is protected by this "foundation for collaboration" clause:
However, secret pages and other games are not only completely irrelevant to the encyclopedia – they also do not and cannot serve any purpose with regards to "providing a foundation for effective collaboration." They might be acceptable on a site designed for such social networking, such as Facebook or MySpace, but not on Wikipedia. While it is true that, in general, these pages are not described by their creators as "social networking" or "games," I argue that de facto that's what they are. In the long run, it will be helpful to draw a line in the sand here, so WP:MYSPACE will be taken more seriously in the future.
Are secret pages directly harmful? No, they are fairly innocuous. However, we have to keep in mind that most users who have secret pages are not very productive editors in the mainspace or in project maintenance/administration. Let's not lose sight of the fact that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, first and foremost, and therefore we have no obligation to allow those who are not contributing much to use Wikipedia as a playground for social networking. Wikipedia is a community, but it's not a community in the traditional sense where members spend nearly all of their time. If someone wants to social network, they can do so on numerous websites – just not on Wikipedia. That's the essence of WP:MYSPACE.
Hersfold's rationale for deleting secret pages
|“||The Secret Pages MfD was closed recommending that the worst cases (specifically fake secret pages) can be deleted outright. In this case, I believe all the "fake" pages either have been deleted or never existed. However, the MfD stated that other pages could be examined on a case-by-case basis. I am putting these up for such a review. Secret Pages provide no useful construction to the project as a whole. Wikipedia is not a webhost, it is an encyclopedia. Pages such as this detract from editor's time spent on constructive work. The main nominated page advertises the "Hard" difficulty as taking hours - to be fair, I found the correct link in about 10 seconds, however an editor that is spending hours on frivolous pursuits such as this can quite easily be spending those same hours getting an article up to FA status. Furthermore, using multiple accounts in this manner is not permitted according to WP:SOCK#LEGIT, which lists five potentially allowable uses of alternate accounts. Playing games is not among them.
Yes, I am aware of WP:Editors matter. I am fully aware that we are not only all people, but all volunteers, even those of us who do the often thankless tasks of wielding the mop. However, we are here, above all else, to build an encyclopedia. That is what we all volunteered to do when we created an account here. Those who are here to play games have found the wrong website. We should be rewarding each other for outstanding contributions to the project, not for "who can find a link to some random page fastest" contests. It is an inappropriate use of this site, and pulls those users who have shown themselves to be excellent contributors ... away from the common purpose we are all here to work toward.
Arguments against favoritism
JamesBWatson's rationale against favoritism
- There has been a suggestion that "secret pages" should be tolerated from editors who also make a lot of productive contributions, but not from people who do little else. On the other hand, the opposite has also been suggested: "secret pages" should be tolerated from new editors who have done little or nothing else, but if more established editors make such pages then they should be considered for deletion. The following was a response to both of these suggestions.
|“||I can see the attraction of the idea of distinguishing depending on some assessment of the editor, but if we allow some people to create secret pages, then it will be very difficult to justify not allowing someone else to do it. "Such and such a user has 37 secret pages and nobody objects, but I had 2 and you deleted them". Also it introduces the whole "where do we draw the borderline?" issue, and endless arguments in MfD discussions as to whether a particular editor should be given allowances or not. The idea that established constructive editors should be allowed leeway is not a wholly unreasonable one, but I disagree with it. Firstly, the fact that established and respected pillars of the community are allowed to do something makes it look very unjust to someone with less standing in the community that they are not allowed to do the same. This is exactly the sort of thing which is likely to encourage some people to see Wikipedia as run by a self-appointed cabal of editors who run things just for their own pleasure. I am not, of course, suggesting that that is the intention of those who advocate leeway for established editors, but that is how it would look. Secondly, in my experience not many serious editors spend time on this kind of thing anyway. On the other hand the idea that newbies should be allowed such secret pages, but that after a while they should be stopped, is an odd one. Someone who comes here just to play, and is allowed to do so with smiles from the community, is one day told "Hey, you've done this long enough: all these pages are being deleted". That seems odd, to say the least. Then there is again the "where do we draw the line?" question, and the endless arguments about individual cases, and MfD discussions for old "secret pages" left by users deemed to have passed this stage. Or is the idea that these old pages are left in place, but no more can be created? If so what do we do if the user does continue making them? Delete ones created after a particular date, but leave those from before? And where do we have the stupid arguments about where that borderline should go? And couldn't the time we would spend on this be more usefully employed on other tasks? Then there are the strings of sockpuppets to ensure that there is always a "newbie" account available to play with. For a whole string of reasons it is much easier and more effective to say "no" than to say "well, no, but sometimes yes" and have to deal with the complexities. Finally, I am quite unconvinced by the argument "newbies who are allowed to play with Wikipedia will grow up to be proper editors". I am not saying that never happens, but my experience suggests that far more often people who are allowed to play with Wikipedia think that playing is what one does at Wikipedia, and continue to do so.||”|
Cunard's rationale against favoritism
|“||I believe that secret pages from productive editors should not be tolerated because they are not tolerated for less serious editors. Neither WP:UP#GAMES nor WP:NOTMYSPACE condones Wikipedians with serious edits who use Wikipedia as a web host or as a game. Why should established editors who violate policy be treated differently from less serious editors who violate policy? Shouldn't established editors who have many constructive edits serve as examples to those who have less constructive edits? I believe that all editors are equal and should be treated equally when they violate policy.
I will provide an example to illustrate why it is harmful to hold double standards. Let's say that Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Some Person/The Real Secret Page and Secret Barnstar is closed as "keep" because Some Person (talk · contribs) is considered an "productive editor", whereas Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Fiddlekid's secret pages is closed as "delete" because Fiddlekid (talk · contribs) is an "unproductive editor".
Fiddlekid returns to Wikipedia after a lengthy hiatus. He notices the "new messages" banner, clicks on it, and is surprised to discovers that his secret pages have been deleted. Fiddlekid clicks on Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Fiddlekid's secret pages and discovers links to WP:NOTMYSPACE and WP:UP#GAMES which explain why the page has been deleted.
Then, Fiddleclick starts contributing to articles more and less to games and Myspacing. One day, he finds a secret page from a "productive editor" that has not been deleted. Believing that all editors are treated equally when they violate policy, Fiddleclick nominates the secret page for deletion whereupon users flood the MfD page saying "Keep. This editor is productive and is here to build the encyclopedia so the page should be kept."
How would Fiddleclick react to that? Perhaps he would think: people support keeping this user's page because he is better and more popular than I. Why else would people delete my page and not his?" Would Fiddleclick wish to contribute to this project anymore? I think not.
Is this the message we want to be giving new users? That tenure, content contributions, and a high number of edits to the mainspace "buys" them the right to host secret pages on Wikipedia's servers? I hope not, which is why I am strongly against deleting secret pages for some editors and then keeping them for a "clique" of "productive editors". Editors matter. As such all editors should be treated fairly and equally—all secret pages should be accorded the same treatment.
Consensus at Wikipedia talk:What Wikipedia is not
On 10 August 2010, SilkTork (talk · contribs) summarized the request for comment held at Wikipedia talk:What Wikipedia is not/Archive 34#Does WP:NOTMYSPACE apply to secret pages? as the following:
|“||There is a consensus here and at the linked discussions - MfD and User pages - that secret pages are seen as a distraction from the main purpose of the project, and create an inappropriate ethos. There was some support for the view that such pages can assist in creating a relaxed working atmosphere, though that was felt to be overweighed by the concern that allowing such playful activities might attract users more interested in game playing. Some consideration was given to being more tolerant toward valued contributors, though the consensus was that diverged standards was inappropriate. As the link to GAMES has been returned to the WP:NOTMYSPACE section, there is no action needed from this closure.||”|
To the creators of secret pages
In a July/August 2010 policy discussion (at Wikipedia talk:What Wikipedia is not/Archive 34#Does WP:NOTMYSPACE apply to secret pages?), community consensus was that the policy Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not does prohibit secret pages. The deletion of this page is not a reflection on you; instead, it is a reflection of the changing community consensus that secret pages set an inappropriate ethos at Wikipedia.
Examples of secret pages
- User:RobHoitt/3/2/4/3, User:RobHoitt/1/1, User:RobHoitt/1/1/1/5, and User:RobHoitt/1/1/1/2
- User:Jump Guru/Secret Page
- User:Mattkenn3/Super Secret Page Challenge, User:Mattkenn3/Fake Super Secret Page, User:Mattkenn3/Fake Super Secret Page2, User:Mattkenn3/Secret Search page, and User:Mattkenn3/Super Secret Search page
Examples of secret pages MfDs
- Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/Secret pages (closed on 5 April 2008 as nominate on a case on case basis)
- Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Rascal the Peaceful/Secret Page Challenge (closed on 30 September 2009 as delete)
- Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Tezero/Secret Page (closed on 4 December 2009 as delete)
- Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Midnight Comet/Sandbox (closed on 2 October 2009 as delete)
- Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Spider1224/SandboxOWL (closed on 17 April 2010 as delete)
- Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Montgomery '39/contact me (closed on 17 April 2010 as keep)
- Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Hi878/Secret Page List (closed on 17 April 2010 as no consensus)
- Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Some Person/The Real Secret Page and Secret Barnstar (closed on 4 August 2010 as delete)
- Wikipedia:Miscellany for deletion/User:Smashbrosboy/Talk (2nd nomination) (closed on 31 August 2010 as delete)