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This essay was written in December 2005 in support of added transparency and ease of use within the deletion process. Since then, the introduction Wikipedia:Proposed deletion has addressed some of these ideas. However, I would still support the ability of the general public to view deleted content; much as they are able to view deleted revisions in existing page histories.
If currently involved in wiki deletion process review, please take a moment to add any notable changes to meta:History_of_wiki_deletion_process. Thanks!
Please go ahead and edit, but do not be surprised if I revert. I have deliberately placed this in the user namespace to avoid confusing the issue with edit warring. Feel free to discuss on the talk page!

Notes on Wiki Deletion[edit]

The current WP:AfD system works. I'm nonetheless interested in fully exploring the options. I have found recent public discussions of this matter to be dysfunctionally heated and shortsighted. Furthermore, the volume of existing discussion is much too large to expect newcomers to read -- or even find. Hopefully I will be able to summarize a wide range of history and viewpoints. My goal here is extremely biased toward the deletion system I like best (tbd). This is not a discussion of what to delete, only how to do it.

Quick and dirty[edit]


Roughly prioritized, subject to change in order.
  1. All histories available to everyone, unless illegal.
  2. Process is as easy as applying a template and/or blanking the page.
  3. Easily revertable by anyone after any amount of time.
  4. Easy to use forum for contested cases, likely centrally indexed and time limited, as WP:AfD.
  5. Forum is a discussion, not vote.


Conversation involving these ideas will likely be omitted entirely
  1. Points/Credits/Versioning
  2. Binary votes (i.e. Must use keep or delete, no exceptions)


  1. Deleted articles with public histories are fully transparent and reversible. (Patent wiki)
  2. According to Dragonsflight’s 100 days survey, 58.2% of all AFD nominations resulted in uncontested deletions. No one, not even the creator, voted to keep those articles. (from Uncontested deletions)


  1. At least 50% of AfDs should never be listed, and be reversibly blanked.
  2. Any editor may choose to blank immediately, mark and delay, or send to AfD.
  3. Contested cases should be sent to AfD or kept and discussed on talk page.
  4. AfDs closed as delete, should be reversibly blanked.


Italics and bold likely added.


comment from Jimbo on meta, 2003, diff

If a page has to be removed for a legal reason, then it should not be viewable by the general public. ("legal reason" would most often be copyright, but also libel would be possible.) If a page is removed for other reasons, then there is no reason to hide it from users who want to investigate and oversee changes.


comment from Brion (July 2003 diff )

For comparison with some other wikis: on the original WikiWiki at, anyone can mark a page for deletion by replacing its text with a link to "DeleteTestAndWelcome" or another such page beginning with "Delete" which describes why the page is being deleted. To make the deletion permanent, any other user can edit the page and resave it, which erases the stored backup revision. To instead cancel the deletion, any user can edit it, call up the backup copy, and save it. Actual intervention from Ward would be very rare.

MeatBallWiki has a somewhat similar system, but being UseMod-based it has KeptPages (like our page history, but the older revisions are culled after some time) and so greater ability to revert. Permanent deletions are made automatically after some period of time without being edited if left in the 'DeletedPage' state.

What we basically have to ask ourselves is: what is the benefit of instantly deleting pages with no ability for all but a select few to see and judge what was deleted and restore it if appropriate? The most worrisome cases of delete-worthy pages we have are probably the suspected copyright violations, since their presence in Wikipedia and distribution from our web site and in our backup dumps has potential legal implications. Yet, we've apparently decided as a community to *not* delete such pages immediately.

So what benefit is there to having the (perm delete) ability? It's a temptation to use it where it might not be appropriate; oversight is limited; and most significantly it promotes ill-will among those who aren't in the club. That's un-Wiki.

Very occasionally it is useful to delete some junk page immediately to fix up certain renaming operations, or to delete and immediately restore a page to recombine broken page histories. These are very rare administrative actions, which could probably be worked into a better interface which is more specific to the task.

The general case does _not_ require instant deletions, and would be better served by an open, reviewable, reversible process that does go ahead and take automatic action aftera timeout with no objections.

-- brion vibber (brion @

Further comments[edit]

Common criticism[edit]

See Wikipedia:Pure_wiki_deletion_system#Common_objections_and_responses.

Hopefully I can further summarize here.

Experimental Deletion (WP:XD)[edit]

Often disputed venue for experimenting with various deletion methods.


  1. Lack of regular cleanup / purging of target articles.
  2. Inappropriate to remove content due to lack of central oversight / review.


  1. Cleanup occurs naturally as deletions are confirmed or contested.
  2. These reversible edits are no different than major edits on any page.

I especially like this comment by Friday from [[1]], which I think applies to many issues commonly brought against ideas involving blanking. I'll emphasize only that easily reversible is central to all these ideas.

XD'ing a page (assuming you leave a template there) is no more "page blanking" than is applying a redirect. And it's a heck of a lot less extreme than actual deletions, which occur all the time, sometimes with unfortunately little scrunity. In bad cases, XD can do harm, sure, but so can any other edit. Your objections don't seem to be against XD- they seem to be against allowing anyone to edit. Friday (talk) 04:39, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

Sorted proposals[edit]

prioritized by perceived quality


These proposals involve immediately removing aticle content.
  1. XD6
  2. Wikipedia:Pure wiki deletion system -- extensive discussion!
  3. XD1
  4. XD2, XD4


These proposals involve marking the page and waiting N days before removing article content.
  1. Oct2005 - Wikipedia:Deletion_reform/Proposals/Uncontested_deletions (active)
  2. XD5
  3. Aug2005 - Wikipedia:Deletion_reform/Proposals/Butt_simple (inactive)


  1. Aug2005 - Wikipedia:Requests for deletion - Add Category:Delete and discuss on talk page.


  • Further survey existing discussion
  • Survey other wikis and wikimedia projects
  • Collect additional common criticism and responses
  • Finish sorting historic proposals to help consolidate discussion.

See also[edit]

On english.

On meta.