User:Mike Cline/The Inclusionist's Guide To Deletion Debates
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Deletion is a necessary part of the Wikipedia experience. Unlike Las Vegas where the popular promotion touts: What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas, not everything that gets put into Wikipedia stays in Wikipedia. For many valid reasons, many contributions to the encyclopedia in the article space, talk spaces, and project space, etc. need to be and end up being deleted. Wikipedia to that end has a robust three tier deletion system. The Speedy Delete WP:CSD is designed to deal with those contributions that just have to go with little delay and few obstacles. Time for debate on speedies is short to non-existent. The second or middle tier of deletion is the WP:PROD. PRODs or Proposed Deletion represent the middle ground in deletion where typically someone thinks a contribution ought to be deleted but there’s no big hurry. If no one cares, there is seldom any debate about it. If someone does cares, the PROD can be contested, the proposal removed and again there’s seldom much debate about it. The real debate in deletion come into play during the AfD or Articles for Deletion debate. This third tier is where contributions—someone’s article—is nominated for DELETION. After a reasonable period of time (at least a week) of editors and admins weighing in on the debate with their KEEPs or DELETEs, and COMMENTs an uninvolved Admin makes a call. What’s the consensus? Keep, Delete or No Consensus (defaults to Keep). The article goes or it stays.
Deletion is an emotional process
Whether you are an inclusionist or a deletionist in the scheme of Wikipedia, or even somewhere in-between, no one likes to see their contributions, their articles deleted. Although no one owns any Wikipedia article individually, a great many editors are foster parents for different genera of articles through Projects and other mechanisms in the community. When an article that editors are interested in goes into the AfD hopper, those editors come to its defense. When an inclusionist sees an article under siege by the deletionists, they to come to its defense. Here are some tips for editors who see themselves as inclusionists when defending an article in a deletion debate.
- If an article’s subject is not-notable and you know it, don’t try to make it so or make hopeless arguments that it is. Move on to other articles that honestly need rescuing from the wheels of deletion.
- On the other hand, if you sincerely believe the article’s subject is notable, and the article’s sources when viewed in the light of WP:Verify confirm that, make your case strongly. If the article is poorly sourced, but you firmly believe its notable, find those sources, improve the article on the spot and make your case in the deletion debate.
- The inclusionist is adept at the application of WP:Verify, WP:NPOV and WP:OR policy in deletion debate discussions and resists attempts by deletionists to claim sources are not reliable, content is POV and/or content is OR without clearly citing rationale consistent what these policies really say. WP:OR is one of those arguments easily made when someone has created and organized an article from a variety of sources, where they’ve synthesized those sources into a coherent, well organized article, whose content is not solely verifiable by a single source. This type of synthesis is just plain good encyclopedic research and writing. As long as the article content does not make conclusions or assertions synthesized from multiple sources that cannot be verified by a reliable source on their own, the content is not OR. So whenever the deletionist claims OR, force them to identify specifically what conclusions or assertions are made at the article level that cannot or are not supported with reliable sources.
- The inclusionist is also adept at evaluating articles, not only on their current merits but future potential as well. When the inclusionist is confronted with a deletion debate and the article needs improvement, actively mentor those editors interested in the article in the ways it can be improved and saved. Take the time to re-write lead-ins, find and cite reliable sources, and suggest to interested editors other ways in which the article can be improved.
- Although canvassing of potential supporters soliciting their support in a deletion debate is a direct violation of WP:CANVASS, soliciting that support through WikiProject pages is actually an efficient and effective way of giving visibility to a deletion debate that will likely generate additional support for keeping the article. Many projects have templates that will identify the AfD as a discussion item in the project space and on the AfD page as well. Inclusionists should always attempt to broaden support of worthy articles by adding appropriate project discussions to the AfD itself.
- In many deletion debates, those in support of deletion, are very adept at citing every possible WP policy, guideline or manual of style that might be in play hoping (I suspect) that at least one will stick and sway the debate. Too often many of these chuck and hope they stick citations aren’t even rationally supported. It is very east to say Wikipedia is not a directory WP:NOTDIR without ever actually explaining how the article violates this guideline. For the inclusionist, this is a golden opportunity to ask this question: How specifically does this article violate WP:NOTDIR and which of the seven criteria does it violate? If it is clear that the article does not violate any of the 7 WP:NOTDIR criteria, strongly point that out.
- The one argument in a deletion debate that seems to only throw gas on the flames of deletion is to say something to the effect that you find the article useful. Arguments to Avoid in Deletion Debates is very clear on this. Usefulness is a bad argument, so don’t use it. Despite the fact that WP exists as a free encyclopedia of knowledge that fundamentally, people USE WP to expand their knowledge on subjects they are interested in, usefulness is no reason to keep an article in WP. Therefore saying something is useful just gives the deletionists another guideline to chuck and hope it sticks.
- Many articles are re-nominated for deletion multiple times. The deletionist is quick to point this out because one suspects they believe this adds credibility to their deletion desires. The inclusionist should just ignore these claims and defend the current article on its current merits. It is absolutely irrelevant what an article looked like when first nominated. Even though it survived the debate, it is the current state and future potential of the current article that must be defended and evaluated in the AfD.
- Above all, the inclusionist must take the high ground and assume good faith on the part of those desiring deletion. Don’t attack the deletionist’s motives, attack their logic with civility and adept interpretation of critical policies—WP:Verify, WP:NPOV and WP:OR. When others attack motives, not merit, be quick to come to the defense of those being attacked whether they support your position or not. The most effective deletion debates are the ones where civility prevails and the merits of an article take center stage.