User:Aldrich Hanssen/Tragedy of the commons

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Often, people will strenuously object to their userpages or Wikipedia namespace content being deleted, saying, "But I'm a good editor here! Why won't you let me keep this page!" And people will respond, "You don't own pages on Wikipedia. Get your own web server."

This is true, the servers used to store and transmit the data are owned by Wikipedia. Ultimately, no one has a legal basis for forcing Wikipedia to keep those pages. But is it desirable to let groups of self-appointed deleters come along and remove any content, at any time, as long as they have enough strength of numbers to overpower the content's creators?

I would compare it to a large public park, so big that there is room for all who use it to have their own private little space off to themselves, if they wish. Suppose there are groups of volunteers that periodically come and pick up trash, and help with any building projects that may be going on, all for no pay. On a winter day, one of these groups decides to play in the snow, build some snowmen and snow forts, and start snowball fighting.

Then some bullies come along and knock down the snowmen and kick apart the snow forts. When the volunteers object, the bullies say, "You don't OWN this park, and you don't OWN that snow. Besides, you guys are supposed to be working instead of playing." What do you think that will do to the volunteers' morale, especially if that kind of thing happens on a regular basis? It would be better if there were a rule (perhaps even an informal social norm) in place saying that it is not appropriate to interfere with other guests to the park if they themselves are not forcibly interfering with others.

The problem is, Wikipedia has not allowed any form of homesteading at all, and so we have a situation in which overzealous deletionists are allowed to butt in and destroy others' userpages, essays, etc. for whatever reason they wish. Thus, much as bullies will tend to chase away "nice" people from any public space they are allowed to take over, deletionists have chased away many good editors. This should be corrected by providing that it is inappropriate to delete any pages from userspace or the Wikipedia namespace, with the exception of copyvios and such that for legal reasons must be deleted. Userspace should essentially be inviolate, and reversible methods such as pure wiki deletion, redirects, historical tags, categorization, etc. should be used to take care of pages in the Wikipedia namespace whose merits seem questionable.

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