Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Article Rescue Squadron

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The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I’m surprised how much discussion there is over the Article Rescue Squadron and how much of it relates to "Inclusionism and Deletionism". I’ve been around on Wikipedia a while and I’ve always been aware of the whole "Inclusionist/Deletionist" debate but over time I thought things have settled. I haven’t seen arguments based on them in recent years, probably because they go directly against the "comment on the content, not the contributor" concept (as explained in Uncle G’s comment). It appears that ARS is the last vestige of the debate. Before my decision to close this, I’ve only been peripherally aware of ARS and the controversy surrounding it. Nevertheless, I have read with interest the thoughts of editors here, and expanded my investigation into past ANI threads, TfDs, DRVs, and all sorts of essays on the subject. I should point out also that I’ve specifically not looked at the list of members of ARS, I’ve taken comments at face value – and whilst I can see who’s on what side of the debate, I don’t know who’s actually a member.

Looking first at the “canvassing” problem - The Devil’s Advocate has put forward a very strong position on why canvassing by the ARS would be an issue for Wikipedia, in that it turns AfD into a battleground and stops meaningful debate. This is undoubtedly true, if the audience is a partisan group, or the message is biased. On the other hand, if the audience is not partisan and the message is not biased, then bringing more eyes to a debate should be considered a good thing. Balloonman points out the difference between ARS and other project delsorts – the others aren’t designed to save the article, but to get expert advice.

There certainly is consensus that some canvassing does happen through ARS, those who oppose the stipulation accept it happens and those who support it concede that it happens less frequently than it used to. There is no consensus that The Article Rescue Squadron frequently serves as a vehicle for canvassing keep votes at AfD. As Ironholds put it in “the Template:Rescue TfD, "Extraordinary assertions require extraordinary evidence, and accusing a large group of users of ganging up to sway consensus in their favour is just such an assertion". I don’t see evidence here that this group is ganging up to sway consensus, I see no analysis of the number of debates they list and what happens to those debates – both in article work and AfD !votes. What I do see is both sides picking and choosing examples of where it has or hasn’t happened, which is meaningless.

On The Article Rescue Squadron's project page provides a biased view of the deletion process that favors ideas considered to be inclusionist., it seems that there is consensus that this is true, but also that it is not problematic. Wikipedia is a meeting of many minds, and so it is likely that people with similar ideas will come together. ARS is a project, just like any other WikiProject, and as Milowent succinctly points out, it focuses on articles at AfD. It is not problematic to hold essays related to that concept, especially ones that match the goals of the project – improving notable topics which currently exist in a poor form.

Beyond these points, it’s worth noting that some editors have put forward some views which have been strongly backed. Scottywong’s point that the problem is with a small number of editors in the group not the group itself and Uncle G’s point that "rescuing articles" means more than signing up to a project, were a pair that strongly backed. These views were echoed in the proposals that got backing, Beeblebrox’s suggestion that people who believed the ARS was partisan should join it to help balance it.

Michael Q Schmidt’s suggestion that the Rescue List was changed into a proper delsort received good backing, and should be a way to proceed forward. Hut 3.5’s suggestion that the ARS should rearrange itself to ensure problematic articles were deleted didn’t gain traction as the “concept was flawed”, though it wasn’t wholly rejected. DGG’s suggestion of upgrading WP:BEFORE was interesting, but out of scope of the RfC. It may be worth starting a further discussion on it.

So, in summary:

  • ARS is used for canvassing, but not frequently
  • The project is biased towards inclusion, but this is not regarded an issue
  • Any problem lies with a small number of members, not the group as a whole
  • The project is designed to improve articles, not participate in AfDs, and members who forget this should be reminded
  • Editors who believe that the group has bias are welcome to join it to make it more neutral
  • Michael Q Schmidt’s suggestion of setting up a proper delsort should be taken further.

Hopefully that puts it all to bed. Took me less time than I thought! WormTT(talk) 15:03, 12 June 2012 (UTC)

Statement of the dispute[edit]

Editors have been raising issues with the activities of the Article Rescue Squadron essentially as soon as the group was created. The main focus has been on concerns about the Wikiproject engaging in vote-stacking at Articles for Deletion through the use of various tools such as the deleted rescue template and currently active rescue list. Some editors have expressed concerns that the group's activities may rise to the level of disruption to prove a point, presumably about deletion policy (sometimes including merges and redirects). At the center of this dispute is one seemingly simple question:

To address that question, evidence of canvassing is presented below as well as proposed solutions to the conduct at issue in this dispute. Focus should be on solutions to a conduct dispute and not personal or ideological battles between editors. Any editors named in this context are to illustrate examples of the conduct concerned, not for the purpose of individual action against those editors.


I would like to point out first that there is some confusion about what qualifies as canvassing. The result of canvassing does not need to be exact. What matters is how editors are notified and the perception about how those editors are likely to vote. To better understand what constitutes a violation of the guideline here is the table from WP:CANVASS pointing to each form of canvassing:

  Scale   Message   Audience   Transparency
Appropriate Limited posting AND Neutral AND Nonpartisan AND Open
Inappropriate Mass posting OR Biased OR Partisan OR Secret
Term Excessive cross-posting ("spamming")   Campaigning   Votestacking   Stealth canvassing

As noted in the canvassing guideline the problem with such activity is "the intention of influencing the outcome of a discussion in a particular way" in violation of the principles of the consensus-building process. For that reason notifications such as delsorts and Article alerts do not serve as canvassing since there is no bias in the alert towards a specific outcome, nor are editors interested in a topic area inherently perceived as likely to vote keep or delete.

The desirable method of getting consensus is to formulate a compromise solution that can satisfy all or, at least, most parties involved. In this respect canvassing represents a form of gaming that seeks to entrench a false consensus to legitimize a bias with regards to a content dispute. Simply put, appealing to editors believed to be of a certain attitude on the dispute with messages arguing explicitly or implicitly for an outcome those editors are believed to favor violates Wikipedia norms on seeking consensus. The greater danger posed by such activity is that it feeds into an existing partisan divide within the community and treats AfD as a battleground that restrains the prospects for a vibrant and meaningful debate within the community. Instead of spreading WikiLove people rush to the respective sides of the "battlefield" and compromise becomes a no-man's land. Such division is only fueled by canvassing and often does nothing to resolve the core concerns of other editors, distracting editors from making improvements to articles. This is why canvassing is a serious problem.

Desired outcomes[edit]

The Article Rescue Squadron should either radically reform its practices or cease all involvement in deletion discussions, interpreted as including discussions about redirects and mergers. Suggestions have been made in the past about how to reorient the Article Rescue Squadron in a way that would prevent such canvassing yet further the desire to improve articles. The following suggestions from before and after the deletion of the rescue tag seem largely satisfactory with regards to addressing that concern:

Examples of wikiprojects that more closely resemble what is desired in one of this nature:

As a point of clarification, the alternative suggestion that they cease involvement in deletion discussion is not intended to stop any editor from contributing constructively to articles or even to stop any editors in the ARS from commenting at AfD. The desire is that the ARS itself not be used as a tool for canvassing deletion discussions. The group ceasing involvement in deletion discussions would not preclude any individual editors from getting involved, so long as they do not attempt to coordinate with other editors off the designated discussion page on ways to "rescue" any material subject to the discussion. Coordinating on the designated discussion page is obviously still acceptable. Cases where an article has been tagged for speedy or proposed deletion would not be included so long as there is an appropriate, existing, non-partisan template such as the under construction tag added and any notice at ARS is removed should the article be nominated for deletion following the period of attempted improvements.

Without severe policing and/or a massive refocusing of the project, however, it is difficult to conceive of a way the Article Rescue Squadron can continue getting involved in deletion discussions as defined above without it leading to canvassing. Until such changes are made it is preferred the ARS not be involved in such discussions.

Background of the dispute[edit]

At the forefront of this dispute is the long-running divide in the community between "deletionists" and "inclusionists" who take different views on the current notability guidelines. Many members of the ARS articulate the long-standing "inclusionist" perspective about use of criteria such as WP:NOT and seek to put a stronger emphasis on WP:GNG with the consideration that even purely local coverage should be counted. One more typical grievance raised by members and supporters is that AfD in itself is a tool for canvassing (articulating support for the perennial "Articles for Discussion" name change proposal). While not all members articulate these views, it is not uncommon for the most active contributors to the group to express attitudes that would be considered inclusionist. Essentially as soon as the group and its associated rescue tag were created there were concerns raised that the group was primarily involved in pro-inclusion vote-stacking at AfD rather than improving articles.

These concerns of being geared towards inclusionist vote-stacking have persisted and lead to my involvement in the case. I nominated several articles for deletion on the basis of them being nothing more than a collection of rumors per WP:NOT. Among those nominations was Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Rumors and urban legends regarding Sesame Street, which got tagged by User:Northamerica1000. When I noticed the sudden influx of keep votes and the rescue tag I attempted to discuss the matter with those editors and failing there went to ANI about the group's actions, having no prior knowledge of the controversy surrounding the group. Many editors commented to agree about the inappropriate use of the rescue tag with one editor noting that Northamerica engaged in mass-tagging often without there being any meaningful improvements to tagged articles. One result of this was a discussion that led to the deletion of the rescue template. Another result was a village pump discussion over ways to reform the wikiproject (moved from and linked to from the ANI discussion) that included one suggestion of restricting members from commenting at tagged AfDs. Just a day after the deletion of the rescue tag, as the village pump discussion was going on, Northamerica created the rescue list.

Unaware of the new list I nominated an article for deletion a couple weeks later on the basis of it being sourced to minor mentions in local news sources. The specifics of that case are provided below, but much like with the previous case the article was listed by Northamerica and the discussion was skewed by several additional keep votes. I initiated an ANI case about the list in response without linking to the AfD or detailing the case, but upon it being closed due to an MfD on the list resulting in keep I created a new discussion focusing on that specific evidence of canvassing. Several editors commented in that second discussion to express concerns that the case involved canvassing and that ANI discussion was ultimately closed as no consensus.



My focus will be on two of the forms of canvassing that are most clearly demonstrated by the ARS: campaigning and vote-stacking. However, I think there is a good argument for saying they demonstrate every form on some level, but they only need to satisfy one to be involved in canvassing.


When it comes to the current rescue list the mere listing serves as an element of campaigning. The directions at the top of the page explicitly instructs any editor listing a page there to provide "specific rationale" for why an article or other content should be kept. Here are a few quotes from typical listings over the past month:

"This topic appears to just meet WP:GNG" - [1]
"WP:GNG is met." - [2]
"Historical prep school, with several notable former pupils." - [3]
"Article is clearly WP:N" - [4]
"The subject passes WP:GNG." - [5]

Ignoring the independent merits of any given listing, the clear pattern is of editors going to this list to argue that an article is notable and thus should be kept. Some of the listings are a lot more severe in their campaigning:

"This seems to be a tendentious nomination of a business-related article." - [6]
"I do not know much about the subject however I saw it was contributed by a new Wikipedian who was immediately bombarded with all kinds of deletion canned notices - a sure way to chase away a newbie from a part of the world we should be encouraging to join Wikipedia." - [7]
"Not clear (to me) what the motive is for deletion nomination." - [8] (key word there is "motive" as a reason for deletion was given)

A clear pattern is established consistent with the instructions provided at the top of the page that listings argue for keeping any article listed. These kinds of messages can only serve to bias editors with regards to an AfD vote.

The project page for ARS also has a strong campaign feel to it. The three paragraphs at the top of the main ARS page make a brief reference to editing articles, but only in the respect of verifying content as opposed to proving notability. However, the rhetoric of needing to save articles is prominently displayed with comments such as this:

Some writer may have worked hard on that article. Some reader can use that article. Those writers and readers, if reached out to, can help us preserve worthwhile content in the encyclopedia.

Another section of the page reads like an op-ed arguing for inclusion complete with an image of a sign saying "Save Notable Topics!" There is no mention of some alternatives to keeping an article, including deletion, in that section. Included in the first paragraph of that section is a dire warning about deletion driving away editors. Only at the very bottom of the project page are merges briefly suggested as an alternative option. Several essays are included at the bottom of the page, with them being there for at least two years. Most of the essays have a distinctively, or blatantly, "inclusionist" tilt:

Several times there have been attempts to cement a connection between the Article Rescue Squadron and inclusionism such as a merger with the Association of Inclusionist Wikipedians attempted by User:Ikip (now Okip): [9] [10] [11]. Northamerica engaged in a similar effort in August and September of 2011 starting out with anti-deletionist edits to the meta pages on the inclusionist and deletionist groups ([12] [13]) and adding material to strongly promot the Article Rescue Squadron ([14][15]). Many of these changes were copied over to the English Wikipedia ([16][17][18]) including the Article Rescue Squadron project page ([19][20][21][22][23][24]).

One of the edits made to the ARS page inserted material on "arguments against deletion" filled with strongly inclusionist rhetoric. This material was removed and sparked off an edit war involving User:Dream Focus and User:Okip. Dream restores the material twice ([25] [26]) and Okip once ([27]). While most of the changes to the ARS page were reverted, the result has been the retention of a small list including two argumentative pleas against deletion such as one arguing against deletion based on WP:NOT. Keep in mind that this is on top of the existing biases of the project page noted above.


This bombardment of information about the consequences of deletion and argumentative pleas for inclusion do not create the prospect for a reliably objective pool of editors. Its claim of being "non-partisan" is belied by this pervasive imagery that favors inclusion almost exclusively. Also, while comments at the various pages try to make assurances that the project is not about voting keep there is nothing convincingly said to discourage this. The "code of conduct" only specifically objects to "vote and scoot" behavior. However, even that comment is weak-willed saying only that editors should "try" not to do that. At the same time editors are repeatedly encouraged to leave comments at AfD throughout the project main page. By creating a pool of editors biased towards inclusion the result of any AfD being listed getting active participation from ARS will, in all but the most obvious cases, result in vote-stacking for keeping an article. Here are some of the more egregious instances where that has occurred with the list (cases where ARS participation appears to play a decisive role in saving a clearly questionable article):

  • Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Stacked (TV film)
    • What is said in the listing is consistent with most others in arguing for the subject's notability.
    • The editor who listed it votes keep at the AfD and provides a diff of him adding a few sources. Aside from the removal of a tag and some changes to spacing, those are the only edits made after the listing. However, the dates clearly provided by all of the sources line up specifically with the pilot episode premiering, indicating WP:ROUTINE coverage.
    • Another ARS member comes in some time later to vote keep apparently citing those sources as demonstrating notability. Based on the sources two editors outside ARS vote keep.
  • Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Mailstorage
    • In this case the real issue is not questionable notability, as the AfD was leaning towards a decision for merging with even the nominator suggesting the possibility of a merge. Even though the dispute plainly appears to be about a potential merge it is not noted in the listing that a merge is being suggested as an alternative to deletion.
    • Within hours, several members of the ARS comment at the AfD to vote keep. One does vote merge but the result is more votes for keeping and the article is closed as keep, without the possibility of a merge mentioned.
    • One of the sources cited at the list and in the AfD is deceptively claimed to be from "Fox News" (implying the cable news channel) when it was in fact a local Fox station in New York covering a local business. The other source similarly is coverage of a local business in the Chicago area.
  • Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Process improvement
    • The listing is the one that starts out with the quote about it being a "tendentious nomination" followed with a comment that the subject is "extremely" notable.
    • As in the above case the dispute centered on a merge, as the first two votes are for a merge to a similar article. Once more, this apparent push for a merge is not mentioned at the listing.
    • Two ARS members comment to vote keep after the listing. Eventually the discussion is closed as keep with only the possibility of a merge, as opposed to being closed as merge.
  • Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Keerthi sagathia
    • This listing is the one that consisted of the quote: "I do not know much about the subject however I saw it was contributed by a new Wikipedian who was immediately bombarded with all kinds of deletion canned notices - a sure way to chase away a newbie from a part of the world we should be encouraging to join Wikipedia." It was a clearly non-neutral message that offered no cause for keeping the article and could only serve to solicit votes.
    • Aside from the editor listing it all the editors who comment at the AfD to vote keep are from the ARS and only comment after the listing. Two clearly comment at the list before commenting at the AfD with another adding the ARS delsort before commenting indicating all three of them looked at the listing before voting.
    • Hours after it was listed one of the ARS members noticed there was a likely WP:COI issue with the article as the creating editor had the same last name. A brief search turns up the editor's name as being the same as the subject's manager and press contact. No further mention is made by any of the ARS members about this issue and none of them bring it up at AfD. While not on its own a reason for deletion, such issues are significant in cases of unclear notability.
    • The article was kept despite no clear claim to notability with five keep votes and two delete votes (including the nominator).
  • Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Sal's Pizza (Dallas)
    • Initially the consensus was clearly for deleting the article. Only Northamerica1000 left a vote for keeping the article and it stood at three delete votes to one keep (presuming you do not count the non-voting comment of the article's creator). After three days with no change North lists the article for rescue.
    • Soon after that listing three ARS members comment at the AfD. One votes a clear keep, another leaves a comment claiming the delete votes do not address why the mentions in local sources fail to prove notability (essentially a keep argument without the vote), and the last does vote delete, but at the time phrases it as a "tentative" delete.
    • Another editor, who is not an ARS member, comments at the list before going to vote keep at the AfD. Only after the list and the AfD were mentioned at ANI did other editors step in and move consensus back towards delete.

General ARS issues[edit]

Improving articles[edit]

One defense often given for the Article Rescue Squadron's present state is that they work to improve articles, however, this defense is not as compelling when put in context. Many members of the Article Rescue Squadron such as User:MichaelQSchmidt manage to improve many articles facing deletion easily enough without this wikiproject listing or tagging articles. In most cases listing or tagging an article leads to little or no action with regards to improving the articles.

  • [28] SCOUT eh! is listed with a message attacking the nomination as POV, after the editor listing it has already made significant improvements. No significant improvements are made to the article by other editors.
  • [29] Aziz Shavershian was nominated on the basis of WP:NOT#NEWS and sees no significant improvements after listing. Result of the listing is that two ARS members vote keep.
  • [30] Corey Smith article gets no significant improvements after being listed.
  • [31] Article on Kenneth Parcell sees no significant improvements after being listed.
  • [32] Patricia Kernighan article sees no improvements after being listed.

A brief thumbing through shows most listed articles either already saw significant improvement prior to being listed or saw no significant improvements at all. Typically the only meaningful result that could affect the outcome of a discussion is a few additional keep votes.


In addition to the above cases where an AfD was clearly favoring a merge before the ARS became involved, there have been attempts to get the ARS more formally involved in merge discussions. As it concerns the list, User:Dream Focus made such an effort with regards to an article on the Avatar character from Ultima that had been merged to a list of characters several years ago. When an editor recently reverted the merge Dream listed the article. Dream made a brief request for sources, but the listing started out with and mostly consisted of complaints about the previous discussion from several years ago. A response to the listing by User:CallawayRox described mergers as a "sneaky deletion" in supporting ARS involvement.

A discussion was initiated at the village pump objecting to this expansion of ARS activities to merge discussions. Several ARS members commented to express a view that merges are a form of deletion with one complaining that the editor initiating the discussion is interested in "limiting freedom of speech" by objecting to the expansion of the ARS scope to include discussions about merging articles.


The Article Rescue Squadron does, as many would concede, occasionally do good work with articles facing deletion. However, as the above illustrates, the group in its current form is just as often, if not more often, engaged in canvassing keep votes for deletion discussions. Many editors do the same or better work at improving articles and rescue them from deletion without needing a rescue list or tag. If anything, the emphasis of the ARS on getting involved in deletion discussions distracts from the more constructive pursuit of improving articles so that they don't ever have to face the risk of deletion. A show of good faith on the part of the wikiproject, through instilling a non-partisan attitude on the project pages and strongly advocating against voting (explicitly or implicitly) at deletion discussions, is the only measure that can demonstrate the group should remain involved in articles nominated at AfD. Widespread community input on this issue is likely to be the only thing that can compel such change.

Applicable policies and guidelines[edit]

  1. Wikipedia:Neutral Point of View
  2. Wikipedia:Consensus
  3. Wikipedia:Canvassing
  4. Wikipedia:Gaming the system
  5. Wikipedia:Do not disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point
  6. Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not#Wikipedia is not a battleground

Users certifying the basis for this dispute[edit]

  1. In full disclosure, this RfC is being initiated by me after a decision at AN banned me from raising issues about the Article Rescue Squadron elsewhere. However, this RfC was allowed because a significant number of editors signaled their desire for such a discussion about the issues involved.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 17:04, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
    Given the size of involvement in previous discussions, such as the TfD, and the group's frequent involvement in AfD I have added this to centralized discussion.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 19:22, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. I am going to go ahead and co-certify this RfC. Prior to my closing the above mentioned ANI report, I hadn't had any material involvement with ARS for years and didn't know TDA. (I think my last encounter with ARS was 3-4 years ago.) The ANI discussion convinced me that there was enough interest in a community discussion on this subject to warrant an RfC, thus my co-certification. It should be noted to the closing admin of this RfC, that when closing the discussion that I asked that TDA's partial block from ARS subjects be reviewed to determine whether it should be increased to full block, remain at partial, or eliminated entirely. That being said, I do not think this RfC should be about TDA or specific users, but rather about appropriateness of behavior. Does ARS engage in the activities described by TDA? Are they acceptable? Should they be modified/curtailed/allowed? Note, as this discussion originate at WP:AN, I have posted a note there that the RfC has begun.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 17:35, 12 March 2012 (UTC)


Statement on Canvassing[edit]

The Article Rescue Squadron frequently serves as a vehicle for canvassing keep votes at AfD.


  1. Clearly serves as a method of canvassing.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 17:04, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Eagles 24/7 (C) 18:05, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. I do not support everything in this RFC, but I do believe that the ARS -- or, perhaps more specifically, its Content Rescue List tool -- frequently serves as an inadvertent vehicle for canvassing. I do not believe this is the intent behind the tool, although I'm not confident that that's a particularly salient point. I also note that the ARS frequently (but not always) self-polices by declining to act on more baldly canvassing-in-nature Rescue requests but, again, I'm not confident that that's a particularly salient point, either. ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 18:18, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. Agreed. Too frequently ARS is "rescuing" for rescue's sake alone, not for content improvement. Shadowjams (talk) 22:19, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. Yes, though this is now less common Nick-D (talk) 09:41, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. --Guerillero | My Talk 17:56, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. It does happen. Hut 8.5 00:11, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. It's not as bad as it has been, but yes, it does happen. Reyk YO! 01:02, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. Less common than previously, but still more common than it should be. NULL talk
    01:03, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. Article RESCUE Squad are only here to 'save' articles almost independently of how bad they are, and there's no Article Deletion Squad nor could there really be one. Therefore, raising it at ARS is an inherently unbalanced idea, it's automatically vote stacking.Teapeat (talk) 14:51, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  11. Very much so. Stifle (talk) 21:36, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  12. Unfortunately, yes, more often than it should.--Yaksar (let's chat) 22:25, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  13. Unfortunately one of the reasons I stopped editing here was because of this kind of behavior. I feel that it's wrong and not the Wikipedia way. --CrohnieGalTalk 13:49, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
  14. Yes, this is quite clearly what the ARS is all about. There is good work done by the ARS, but in my experience this is good work that would get done without the ARS. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 02:02, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
  15. yes, too often I see ARS members turn up after marked for rescue and give vague reasons for keep. LibStar (talk) 14:57, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
  16. The ARS is clearly using AfD as an ideological battleground between the inclusionist and deletionist fronts. While community consensus is a neutral form of input (law of large numbers says that on average there will be an even number of inclusionists, deletionists, and neutral), the ARS is disrupting that by vote-canvassing similar to that of partisan politics. BlowingTopHat 17:56, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
  17. I feel much the same as headbomb; If ARS didn't exist, participants could (and would) still be able to do the same good stuff as individuals (ie. fixing up some of the minority of articles which are sent to AfD but which have great promise nonetheless); the difference is that they'd be doing it without an easy mechanism for bringing new people into an AfD solely on the basis that these new people tend to !vote "keep". We should not credit ARS for work that "inclusionists" would do even if ARS didn't exist: Making judgements on the margin, ARS is a canvassing tool. bobrayner (talk) 14:20, 5 April 2012 (UTC)
  18. Yes, they do. Unfortunately not the only group to do so. -- ТимофейЛееСуда. 00:15, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
  19. Delsort is not canvassing because it is not biased. All that it does is separate AfDs by topic. Anyone can go from topic to topic choosing keep or delete. The ARS squadron is an inclusionist group started by inclusionists and has mostly all inclusionists. Now that is biased. SL93 (talk) 00:42, 11 April 2012 (UTC)
  20. Per Ginsengbomb (talk · contribs), support inadvertent. For example, one member added an entry requesting "editors ... to assist me in expanding the 'Analysis' section", not to "go to the discussion and offer support". Three ARS members showed up at the AfD to offer support, while none engaged in content development. Goodvac (talk) 17:17, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
    I see three people working on the article, one of them only something minor though. [33] And the nominator agreed the work was sufficient and withdrew the nomination. MichaelQSchmidt got there first, first to say "keep" in the AFD, and found sources and did a lot of work on the article. So not much work to be done after he was finished. Dream Focus 17:33, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
    Diego found his way to the AfD through Special:RecentChangesLinked/Category:AfD debates (Fiction and the arts), not the rescue list, so I'm not including him. Nevertheless, the only ARS member who did substantial work there was MQS. That's why I suggest that the rescue list inadvertently causes canvassing. MQS sought assistance in developing the article and got only votes. Perhaps that article wasn't the best choice for a listing. Goodvac (talk) 17:49, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
  21. The blatant canvassing is less disruptive than it was several years ago. But the whole group's purpose skirts the line too closely, in my opinion. ThemFromSpace 03:16, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
  22. Strong support: They used the Rescue tag to get out ARS and ARS-sympathetic members to vote !Keep at AfD. When that was deleted, they created a list that does the same thing (and therefore should also be deleted) pbp 18:13, 30 April 2012 (UTC)
  23. In my experience, when someone adds an ARS tag to an AFD discussion, the usual result is that a few ARS members to come to the discussion and !vote "keep". I have never yet seen an ARS tag result in anyone from the ARS actually going to the article and improving it. Personally I pride myself on my own article rescues, but I do them by making improvements to the occasional article that seems rescuable. If I can't improve the article to Wikipedia standards, I !vote delete or merge. If that was the reaction to the ARS tag I would be all for it, but in fact the usual hope seems to be that, by drumming up a few "keep" !votes, the article will be closed as "no consensus" which defaults to "keep". This may be a failure of AGF on my part, but in my opinion that is the usual motivation. Now that I say that, I have an idea for a proposal which I will make below. --MelanieN (talk) 22:48, 28 May 2012 (UTC)
  24. Trivially true. Hipocrite (talk) 10:36, 29 May 2012 (UTC)


  1. Does it ever happen? Yes, just like canvassing happens other places on wikipedia. Is it "frequent" and do we encourage it? No. Even if we could try it, too many "deletionists" keep us honest. Citing examples where not a single editor opines delete and other editors reverse their delete votes due to article improvement is absurd.--Milowenthasspoken 18:12, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Anybody can monitor the on-wiki list—inclusionist or deletionist. Reaper Eternal (talk) 18:47, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. I've certainly seen it happen in the past. I don't think it happens to the same degree or with the frequency that it used to do, and I don't think it's a serious problem with the current state of the project. I've also seen it happen in the reverse direction - I've definitely seen delete !votes attracted by an ars posting. I would hope that closing admins evaluate focused enough on the basis of the strength of the arguments presented that !vote stacking, where it does occur, has little or no effect. (Also, any group of people truly interested in canvassing would be doing so offwiki in a nontransparent fashion anyway.) Kevin (kgorman-ucb) (talk) 18:56, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. CallawayRox (talk) 19:18, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. Convert the ARS Rescue List into a proper delsort list to bring it more in line with existng projects... and as a delort offering such transparency, it is no more canvassing than is any other project's delsort. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:05, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. TDA's focus on this to the exclusion of every other aspect of ARS's activity is indicative, to me, of the biased and closed-minded attitude he brings to this issue, which he has parlayed into disruption in various places on Wikipedia. He really needs to stop, now, or be removed from the project by force, since his focus is not where it should be, on improving the encyclopedia. 04:54, 13 March 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Beyond My Ken (talkcontribs)
  7. Oppose - Mix equal measures of myth and personal vendetta and this is what you get. It's time for the extremist opponents of ARS to Assume Good Faith. Their template is gone — terrible and misinformed decision though that was — and yet the onslaught continues. Stop this stupidity or verily I say: the boomerang shall strike ye! Carrite (talk) 17:12, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. The so called evidence presented is exceptionally weak and suffers from selection bias. Only examples where several ARS members ended up !voting for keep were listed. There are many other times when an article was listed for rescue and got zero !votes for keep. There is a more plausible explanation compatible with AGF for this dichotomy than canvassing - namely that several people come to the same conclusion about the article's merits. Quite possibly because they are right about the subject's merits for inclusion. --ThaddeusB (talk) 23:33, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. Notifying at the ARS articles to be rescued and refuting the deletion arguments with policy-based ones are the current recommended actions in the Article for Deletion instructions (and have been this way for years), instructions which the creator of this RfC has squaredly admitted to not having read in detail. Diego (talk) 23:41, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. The ARS is a collection of people, such that the question is not even properly addressing the proposed problem. Still, it's not an accurate statement even read in the most favorable possible light. Jclemens (talk) 03:51, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  11. Most of the members of the ARS rarely !vote on AfD at all. If one would want to canvass, listing an article here is not an effective way. DGG ( talk ) 04:02, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  12. I tried listing Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of most highly populated countries for attention by the ARS and it has been mostly ignored by them. Instead, we have a large number of delete !votes by incorrigible deletionists which seem to be superficial in nature, not being based on the facts of the matter nor our policies. AFD's main problem is that it is mostly deserted and the number of relisted discussions makes it resemble a shuttered high street or ghost town. Occasionally, you'll get a mob showing up for a discussion but the result is rarely edifying and the ARS seems to play a very minor part in this. Warden (talk) 18:45, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
    Warden, please stop saying things like "incorrigible deletionists." It only adds to the semi-hostile atmosh of the page. - Aaron Brenneman (talk) 23:03, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
    Note that Aaron Brenneman deleted that article soon after posting that comment. That seems to be an act of petty vengeance but so it goes at AFD. The incident demonstrates that the supposed canvassing power of the ARS is negligible compared to that of their opposition. Warden (talk) 18:13, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
    I have issued a formal warning to Warden for this comment. Continued battleground language is not acceptable, and blocks for disruption will be forthcoming if it doesn't stop. - Aaron Brenneman (talk) 00:33, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
    it has been mostly ignored by them. Apart from the two ARS members who turned up to support your position, you mean? Hut 8.5 00:10, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
    It only looks like there are more deletionists than inclusionists on AfD because most of the articles there really need to be deleted, hence the general delete votes. It may look like an oppressive mass of deletionists but it's just the general community responding to articles that really do not belong in an encyclopedia. BlowingTopHat 18:04, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
  13. If someone really want to canvass, listing an article here does not have any impact as Most of the members of the ARS rarely vote.Hindustanilanguage (talk) 17:54, 15 March 2012 (UTC).
  14. Oppose Do we really need to keep having this constantly? I see my name mentioned as being someone who reverted someone who never participate din the ARS but decided to remove a chunk of our project page without consensus or even discussion. I was in my rights to revert them. I, along with others in the ARS, have voted to delete at times, and none of us show up at every single article tagged for Rescue. This has come up time and time again. Dream Focus 00:35, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  15. I haven't seen this happen "frequently" in AfDs, and the evidence of canvassing presented above is very weak. For the record, I am not a member of ARS. Gandalf61 (talk) 09:10, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  16. The group's work is not primarily focused on weighing in on AfD discussions, as noted above; not a vehicle for canvassing. – SJ + 12:48, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  17. Of course there are occasional abuses of any system. But balancing the pros & cons, the Article Rescue folks are clearly providing a tremendous net benefit to WP. I've personally seen dozens of notable articles that were tagged for deletion, and the rescue editors researched and added material to improve the article. Reform: Sure, any "keep" votes in an AfD need a specific rationale, but that has always been required, for all voters. One remedy is: the closing admin should notice non-rationale-based "keeps" (esp from Rescue crew) when closing. --Noleander (talk) 14:25, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  18. Yes, evidence was presented it happens. I don't canvass. I don't see it frequently enough to worry us. De minimis non curat lex. Bearian (talk) 15:20, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  19. Idiocy. The entire canvassing policy is badly worded, and causes more trouble than it's worth, but in either case, editors are allowed to seek others of similar interests and discuss issues with them. If they weren't, all WikiProjects and heck, even RFCs and such would be "bad". And anyway, no policy should stand in the way of free speech. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 15:33, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  20. People will misbehave, but that is the fault of individuals and not of the project. BOZ (talk) 17:09, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  21. If "canvassing" means gathering people to improve articles, yes, otherwise, no. extransit (talk) 00:42, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
    Canvassing means gathering a biased or specific group of people (or notifying them) who may influence/sway a discussion or a vote. Most often this is inappropriate because the end result does not reflect consensus. BlowingTopHat 18:08, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
  22. I've read the Article Rescue page, and the project is quite explicitly aimed at improving articles, not at organizing people to "vote." I haven't seen any evidence that the project "frequently serves as a vehicle for canvassing." Any project could be used for canvassing. If there is an allegation that a particular user is canvassing, file a complaint about that particular user. Fagles (talk)
  23. I just reviewed a bunch of listed articles chosen at random and the evidence of canvassing is somewhere between weak and nonexistent. Certainly nothing to justify the "desired outcome" of "The Article Rescue Squadron should either radically reform its practices or cease all involvement in deletion discussions, interpreted as including discussions about redirects and mergers." (emphasis in original). How many more times do we have to listen to the same complaints that failed to gain traction the last twenty times he made them? I note that in the AN decision comments were made such as "too many fishing expeditions and divisive, disruptive, and time-wasting threads in various forums", "endless discussions and tenaciously holding on to sticks" and "I don't think TDA is willing to drop the issue and it would appear that he intends to simply continue this same mess in an RFC." When this RfC is closed he needs to stop. He needs to trust the other editors to monitor ARS for misbehavior and take action if needed. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:50, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
  24. There is very little about this proposal that makes sense. While I was a member, there was nothing about ARS that was intended to force a particular consensus on AfD. Indeed, the debates about the proper neutral wording were quite heated and I think ultimately beneficial. The purpose seemed entirely to catch articles that had been nominated without proper screening or an attempt to improve the content. In particular, it helped to redress inappropriate behavior by presumed deletionists. Regards, RJH (talk) 18:43, 5 April 2012 (UTC)
  25. I've spend a lot of time on AfD recently, and have seen little evidence of this problem (and nothing that I would definitely attribute to ARS people). Canvassing on AfD seems to come from external sources (e.g. a business or band getting their fans to weigh in) and tends to be counterproductive because the arguments are weak or irrelevant. On the other hand, if by "canvassing" you mean actively encouraging people to find sources and improve articles, I don't see much evidence of that happening either, but were it to happen it would be a good thing not a bad thing. --Colapeninsula (talk) 11:08, 10 April 2012 (UTC)
  26. AfDs are not votes. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 20:41, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
  27. It happens less than it once did, and I think that now to characterize it as "frequently" is inaccurate. Paul Erik (talk)(contribs) 01:26, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
  28. In over two years as an ARS member I have not once been canvassed to any particular AfD. My76Strat (talk) 07:41, 9 June 2012 (UTC)


As noted is the description above, canvassing is not limited to how people vote. Going to a group and saying an article nominated for deletion is "notable" and encouraging editors to save it, is not a neutral notification. That is not only the common message provided at the list, but is the kind of message editors are instructed to leave. Obviously, it gears people towards voting keep to tell them the basis for the nomination is wrong or in some way misguided. Comments like that are fine at the AfD page, but not in notifications to other editors.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 20:08, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

A proper delsort does the exact same thing... notifying ANY interested party that an article under their purview warrants attention... yet no one decries adding AFDs to other such project-specific delsorts as canvassing. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 04:04, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

It should be noted that of the above votes opposing the statement, only one is from someone who is not a spirited defender/member of the Article Rescue Squadron and that editor has also pretty regularly defended the group on a more tepid basis.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 00:19, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

This comment is neither accurate, nor helpful. Additionally, it is hardly surprising that those who have disagreed with accusations of canvassing w/o anyone actually providing valid evidence of such a serious offense continue to do so when you too fail to provide valid evidence. --ThaddeusB (talk) 01:18, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Just want it to be clear that so far there is no consensus of uninvolved editors. Naturally one expects supporters of the wikiproject to continue being supporters. I didn't want an RfC to get the opinions of the Article Rescue Squadron on its activities.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 03:02, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
You cannot begin an RFC about how ARS should discuss policing itself and then state you do not want the opinions or thoughts of those you have decided to single out. That's not how it works here. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 08:11, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
I mean, I want some actual outside input.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 14:19, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
I am thinking that many editors are simply not offering opinion because they are tired of the continued drama based upon articles you sent to AFD being tagged for rescue. Your own words: "...each of these instances was prompted by an article I put at AfD getting tagged by ARS" (far bottom of page).[34] If any article was subsequently kept after being sent to AFD (and not all were), it may perhaps be due to a possible lack of BEFORE when you decided to send them. The issues here then should actually be about your maybe being more careful in what you send to AFD, and your subsequent disagreement with those closes. If you felt the closes were wrong, why did you not take those keeps to WP:DRV to have them reviewed? If anyone closed incorrectly, there are other means of resolution rather than blaming the innocent hundreds of a project for the AFD opinions of a few, no matter how they arrived at the discussion. And I wish it noted that on the talk pages of other projects we always have editors asking for assistance in improving problematic articles. Guideline allows and encourages discussions seeking input from those willing and able to address issues, without such talkpage requests being automatically declared as canvassing. If your problem is with individuals, deal with individuals. Open discussion on their talk pages and counsel them in Wikipedia processes. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 21:10, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Schmidt, trying to make this about me is not going to change any of the issues here. Anyone is free to look over my contributions at AfD and judge me accordingly, but insinuations about me based off your own suppositions are not welcome. Sure, I only noticed the ARS because they popped into two separate AfDs I started where they voted keep. That does not mean my concerns are illegitimate by any measure or are not being raised in good faith as you are implying. It certainly does not mean this issue is not of wide community concern. All but two of the discussions mentioned above were started by other editors so it would be diversionary to focus on just the ones I started.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:50, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes... other editors who themselves saw probelmatic behavior in another... just as you assert we have here. We are a community of individuals after all, with each member of the community taking responsibility for their own actions or lack without blaming someone else. And without my having to dig through reams of page history for the answer, can you elucidate on what measures you might have taken to educate or counsel others? I grant that its never required that you counsel anyone ever, but as you perceive problems with individual behavior and then link those individual's behavior to their membership (or not) in a project trying to improve content, I am wondering if you chose other, less flambouyant means by which to address them Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:07, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I think the entire idea of "inappropriate canvassing" is wrong. The more people participate in AfD discussions the better. Speaking more generally, we must encourage all types of communication in this project, not to discourage them. My very best wishes (talk) 16:40, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
    I'm afraid you're confusing appropriate canvassing with inappropriate canvassing. You are right, the more people are participating, the better, but the canvassing has to take place at a neutral, unbiased area. That would be appropriate since all editors would see it, not just a group of editors who could be/are biased. The inappropriate canvassing taking place in the Article Rescue Squadron is geared towards article rescuers who may have a bias to vote "keep". If instead you put the canvassing/notifications at Wikipedia:Contested Articles for Deletion it would be more appropriate since the general community (all editors) would be able to see it. Of course, if the page was biased towards the Article Rescue Squadron, it would have to be deleted and shut down. BlowingTopHat 18:21, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I revised the lead[35] to make it clear that the project itself does not support canvassing. -- Uzma Gamal (talk) 16:56, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Falling more toward the "inclusionist" side (although not a member of ARS), I would like to make two points. The first point is to the anti-ARSians, please pay attention to the primary motive for resisting deletion: so that no information is lost. That seems a noble goal to me, and if another motive is suspected it should be stated. My second point is to the other side, to those who are doing the alleged canvassing, which is that, if you're not careful, you will encourage speedy deletions by zealous deletionists who want to avoid an argument. Listmeister (talk) 16:50, 16 April 2012 (UTC)

Statement on Project Page[edit]

The Article Rescue Squadron's project page provides a biased view of the deletion process that favors ideas considered to be inclusionist.


  1. What is not said about alternatives to inclusion, together with all the rhetoric and essays about inclusion support this.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 17:04, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Eagles 24/7 (C) 18:05, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. Yes, the ARS comes from an inclusionist worldview, that improvement is better than deletion whenever possible. There is nothing sinister about this, its a legitimate viewpoint for a group on Wikipedia to promote. Just like Wikipedia:Unreferenced BLP Rescue did.--Milowenthasspoken 18:10, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. This is clearly true to the point of almost not warranting a mention. I personally think the inclusionist rhetoric should be dialed down to the point that the project is a more plainly welcome one for non-inclusionists such as myself (I am an ARS member, but much of the rhetoric on ARS project pages is not exactly agreeable to me). I'm one of the more-than-a-few who would support renaming the project altogether to get away from this pseudo-heroic "rescue" concept. ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 18:21, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. Unsurprisingly, it is true. Reaper Eternal (talk) 18:49, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. True, but not a problem. Kevin (kgorman-ucb) (talk) 18:58, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. The ARS is necessary to counter the process's inherent bias towards deletionism. CallawayRox (talk) 19:28, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. True, but not an issue. People are allowed to have a POV in Wikispace. Using the first project alphabetically as an example, Wikipedia:WikiProject Aircraft is welcome to think Aircraft articles deserve more attention than articles of other types. That isn't a "neutral" position, but is a perfectly acceptable viewpoint. --ThaddeusB (talk) 23:40, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. It's true, but I wouldn't agree that it's a problem. Reyk YO! 01:03, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. That is true, but then again the "everything must be deleted" standpoint is also a bias. In the end the groups do balance each other out. I have never been involved in ARS related issues apart from when one member some time ago got into some talk page trouble but from a distance always believed them to hold a standpoint close to my own. Apart from the rubbish that comes in at the gates there are a lot of articles where notability is poorly expressed or sourced. When articles are "saved" by addressing these issues, I can't see why anybody should see a problem with that. Agathoclea (talk) 23:25, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  11. Yup. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 02:05, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
  12. They are biased towards inclusionism but that in itself is not bad, it's mostly a few problem editors in the group. Inclusionism is not bad, it's the inappropriate canvassing of problem editors that is. BlowingTopHat 22:54, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
  13. This is correct but the true problem lies in the group's canvassing nature rather than its ideology. ThemFromSpace 03:21, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
  14. Also true, but not the problem. Hipocrite (talk) 10:37, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
  15. Support: Anybody who makes deletionist comments is shouted down over there pbp 21:51, 30 May 2012 (UTC)


  1. I oppose this witch hunt. Carrite (talk) 17:17, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Convert the ARS Rescue List into a proper delsort to bring it more in line with existng projects... and as a delsort offering such transparency, it is no more canvassing than is any other project's delsort. Problems with any individuals is addressed by educating those few indivuduals, not by chastising the other 300 who do good work. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:08, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. Nothing that endorses established content retention standards, such as Verifiability and Notability, and encourages editors to help articles meet those standards, is inappropriately inclusionist. Jclemens (talk) 03:53, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. It represents the process fine, except that it is polite enough not to discuss the operations of those who routinely inappropriately nominate articles for deletion. DGG ( talk ) 04:04, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. Anyone can go there and look at the list, just like any Wikiproject. Some determined people with a favors ideas considered to be deletionist have followed the list for months at a time, going every day there, and finding cases of saying delete in those articles far more often than not. Dream Focus 00:38, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. Technical oppose because of the use of the perjorative word "biased". For the record, I am not a member of ARS. Gandalf61 (talk) 09:16, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. It seems to represent the process fairly. – SJ + 12:53, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. I see ARS as what it should be -- a place to post articles for improvement -- and not some cabal of inclusionists. Please assume good faith. Bearian (talk) 15:23, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. The only bias I see is one in favor of improving articles instead of deleting them. Which is a Good Thing. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:54, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. I've not had any issues with ARS on any AfDs I've been involved with. A Quest For Knowledge (talk) 20:43, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
  11. Read the introduction, it is about improving articles so they meet inclusion criteria. It has never in my two years as a member been about preventing the deletion of an article that couldn't be brought to standard. My76Strat (talk) 07:52, 9 June 2012 (UTC)


@Milo I mentioned the BLP rescue project above as a good template for ARS because it is not narrowly limited to deletion discussions, instead focusing on all articles with a specific issue, and explicitly suggests deletion as a reasonable way of dealing with an article. That is much different from the Article Rescue Squadron.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 20:08, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

  • Well, the BLP rescue project arose out of the attempt to wholesale delete something like 60,000 unreferenced BLPs in early 2010. The project was dedicated to going through all unreferenced BLPs and sourcing them if possible. We recognized some would have to go into a deletion process because they couldn't even meet WP:V. Similarly, the ARS focuses on another category of articles heading for deletion -- articles at AfD. I founded the BLP rescue project based on my experience at ARS--but I think the reason it was less controversial is because AfD itself has long been a source of controversy, and partially because of what Beeblebrox is hinting at -- who participated and did the work.--Milowenthasspoken 20:32, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
I can't speak for anyone else, but my reasons for not objecting to that group is just what I stated above. The project page for BLP rescue is non-partisan, giving equal weight to all possible outcomes. Just as importantly, the project does not have a narrow focus on influencing discussions, with the main focus instead being on providing sources and improving articles that are simply at risk of deletion at some undetermined point in the future.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:20, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  • In other news flashes, WikiProject Conservatism's page features content that may be deemed Conservative, WikiProject New York's page features content that some might consider New York-centric, etc. Nobody is going out of their way to label Articles from Deletion as "imbued with a biased sense of deletionism," even though that is equally true. Of even more concern is the deletionist bias of Deletion Review — but nobody's starting a war over that, are they? Carrite (talk) 17:16, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
The page on WikiProject Convervatism does not have a bias ingrained into its pages. It basically says "this is about improving articles related to conservatism" and that does not suggest anything with respect to AfD. As to AfD, it is actually only biased towards deletion in the respect of its name and the fact the nominator argues for deletion. The page for AfD does not encourage deletion and instructs editors to check for sources or see if the article can be improved before nominating. The problems with AfD would be relatively simple to fix and do not require a "shadow AfD" for the more inclusionist-oriented members to combat the bias. As I have said several times to other editors, if you have a problem with AfD you should brainstorm on a solution to that problem rather than creating new problems to prove the problem exists.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 18:10, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  • @MQS: Does your oppose to this statement reflect comfort with leaving the ARS WikiProject pages biased in favor of inclusion so long as the Rescue List tool is converted to a neutral, non ARS-hosted delsort? ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 23:27, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
    • Ahh, back to the issue. ALL projects that encourages the building and improvement of articles (IE: Project Film or Project Actors) to make them better for the prohect, are inclusionistic. And as long as their thoughts on such issues is kept on their talk pages, I see no problem with that inclusionism. The problem here is that the current destination of the delsort template {{subst:Rescue list}} is to the naturally inclusionist discussions at Wikipedia:Article Rescue Squadron/Rescue list, when they should be going to a properly neutral delsort just as with any other project. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 08:39, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Even if this is true, so what? This is totally acceptable per our policies. I could argue that the entire deletion process favors deletionism, btw (with the exception of the undeletion process, obviously). --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 15:35, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

  • The project page reflects an inclusionist view of the deletion process, but does not appear to be inappropriately "biased." It appears to be fully consistent with the governing Wikipedia AFD policies. Fagles (talk) 02:39, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I revised the lead[36] to focus on the Wikiproject's content efforts.-- Uzma Gamal (talk) 16:58, 24 March 2012 (UTC)

Statement by Scottywong[edit]

I've been involved with the ARS for several years, and much of my early involvement was spent "battling" against what I perceived as a canvassing loophole created by the now-deleted {{Rescue}} template. During the time I spent fighting against this perceived injustice, I eventually came to the conclusion that the problem is not with the ARS, but with a small proportion of the editors who are active members of the ARS. Not only that, but the problem has been substantially reduced recently.

Therefore, I think this RfC is fundamentally flawed. First of all, the deletion of the {{Rescue}} template significantly diminished the potential for inappropriate canvassing, while significantly increasing transparency so as to make any canvassing much more visible and trackable. Second of all, canvassing is an editor problem, not a wikiproject problem. The stated mission of the ARS is not to maximize keep votes at AfD's, it's to improve articles. If there is an editor who behaving inappropriately, or who is not pulling in the same direction as the rest of the wikiproject, then that editor needs to be dealt with on an individual basis.

There is absolutely no sense in proposing that all ARS members should be essentially topic banned from voting at AfD's, just because two or three of their members occasionally behave questionably. The goal of the ARS is to improve articles that are facing deletion, which is a noble goal. Would it be ideal if all ARS members focused primarily on improving articles and less on voting at AfD's? Of course. The 2 proposals of mine that DA linked to above (which are now mostly irrelevant and quite old, from when the rescue template was still around) clearly show this as my opinion. Is there a need (or even a practical way) to litigate this through additional bureaucracy, i.e. to forcibly prevent ARS members from voting at AfD's? Clearly the answer is no; and particularly moreso now that the rescue template is no longer a factor.

The ARS is not a perfect wikiproject, but it represents an important safeguard in the deletion process of WP. While some might agree that reform is necessary, the proposals of this RfC are not the kind of reform the wikiproject currently needs. Perhaps some more of the long-time members of the ARS should step up and suggest some changes, rather than allowing the wikiproject to be unilaterally and incrementally tinkered with by the one or two of its most active members. —SW— confer 19:03, 12 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. Agree. We do not essentially topic ban the entire membership of a project simply over unproven allegations of canvassing of a few of its menbers. We instead deal with the indviduals themselves through the processes in place for doing just that if actually true. Convert the ARS Rescue List into a proper delsort list to bring it more in line with existng projects... and as a delort offering such transparency, it is no more canvassing than is any other project's delsort. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:10, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. The deletion process inevitably bites many newbies, some of whom stay anyway, and some of those gravitate towards ARS. How we channel those editors and their enthusiasm to help into saving the articles that can be saved and are worth saving is an ongoing exercise. But if ARS didn't exist we would need to invent it anyway, and gently guide new members into ways of finding sources and spotting the rescuable. ϢereSpielChequers 22:29, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
    Which is why I wrote WP:PRIMER and WP:NAY. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:47, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. Hear hear: The ARS is not a perfect wikiproject, but it represents an important safeguard in the deletion process of WP. Carrite (talk) 17:18, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. Well put. If someone or some group of people is acting inappropriately (and this has certainly not been demonstrated to be true), the problem lies with the editor or editors. To blame a WikiProject for an individual's behavior is ridiculous. If ARS did not exist, there is little doubt that its members would be equally interested in AfD and !vote on similar articles (the ones worth saving in their POV). --ThaddeusB (talk) 23:47, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. I can agree with this view. The ARS can be improved, and it should be done by consensus building, not by topic-banning all its editors. Diego (talk) 23:48, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. Agreed, the topic ban idea is a complete non-starter. Unworkable, easily gamed by the few users it would be intended to stop as they could just quit, and a precedent, i.e. topic banning an entire group of users who are "guilty" only by association that we shouldn't even be considering setting.. Topic bans are for specific users, not large groups. Beeblebrox (talk) 01:27, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. And indeed, the editors who have a non-conformist view of notability aren't themselves a problem, provided they engage respectfully, appropriately, and are prepared to be accorded appropriate weight based on the strength of their arguments as judged against consensus inclusion guidelines. Jclemens (talk) 03:55, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. Certainly. Reyk YO! 01:04, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. I agree here. I'm a "member" of the ARS and I think most people would consider me more deletionist than inclusionist, since I favor strong reforms of the subject-specific notability guidelines. I even created one of the now-deleted rescue templates at one point. There's a small minority of people in ARS who believe that we should be far more inclusionist, and I think that's a valid position, albeit not one I agree with. I don't think it's disruptive for them to have an opinion, even if it's an unpopular opinion and one that I disagree strongly with. Gigs (talk) 14:14, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. I also agree with what Scotty has written (and if you had asked me if that was possible a year ago, I would have laughed quite heartily!). The problems this RfC seeks to address are not systemic to the ARS. They are limited to certain editors. Jim Miller See me | Touch me 16:14, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  11. It would begger belief to suggest that historically there has not been a problem with the way that certain members of ARS voting as a block but any distortion to the deletion process would only have come from admins counting votes rather then measuring arguments. What I have seen over the years is the ARS acting as a rallying point for inclusionist editors - and given them a platform while they have grown into an acceptance and understanding of how we judge inclusion. I cannot see how this can be considered a problem. The page they are currently using coordinating rescue requests is a model of policy based rectitude with no evidence whatsoever of votestacking and more then a little evidence of careful discrimination of what they work on. Strongly support. Spartaz Humbug! 16:26, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  12. Completely agree. For the record, I am not a member of ARS. Gandalf61 (talk) 09:18, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  13. Very well put. – SJ + 12:54, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  14. Paul Erik (talk)(contribs) 13:32, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  15. Cy pres to my opinion. Bearian (talk) 15:25, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  16. Reasonable. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 15:37, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  17. BOZ (talk) 17:11, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  18. This is exactly what I was thinking: "If there is an editor who behaving inappropriately, or who is not pulling in the same direction as the rest of the wikiproject, then that editor needs to be dealt with on an individual basis." Amen. Fagles (talk) 02:39, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
  19. Hit the nail on the head. --Guy Macon (talk) 03:57, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
  20. I think you summarized my feelings on the matter. There is nothing wrong with ARS per say; the problem I had with it was the activities of certain aggressive (and, to me, radical) inclusionists who took the principles too far. (I left the project because of that issue.) As with most things it needs a proper balance. But ARS as a whole did a decent job of addressing articles that didn't undergo a proper WP:BEFORE check. Regards, RJH (talk) 18:35, 5 April 2012 (UTC)


  1. Partly because this statement still retains the misleading statement that I was suggesting a "topic ban" from AfD for members of the group. I have clarified several times, including in the desired outcomes section and the comments section below, that it is not suggesting any editor be banned from AfD. Simply put, the idea would be that the wikiproject itself stay out of AfD i.e. no listing or tagging of articles that are at AfD. That would only be necessary if there is not reform. Additionally, I take issue with the idea that canvassing is solely an issue of individual editors. Is anyone going to honestly say a wikiproject page cannot advocate or facilitate actions that violate policy just as easily as an individual editor? Finally, I think the only valid safeguard in the deletion process is open and fair discussion where editors arrive there without any preconceptions about the discussion. Anything else only disrupts the process and I do not believe the ARS meets the standard for a safeguard by any measure.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 22:03, 16 March 2012 (UTC)


I should note Scotty, that I found out about those proposals from looking at the Village Pump discussion mentioned in the background of the dispute. The comment where you mentioned those proposals was after the tag got deleted. While they were old, you did mention them even in light of the tag's deletion.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 20:16, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

Also, Scotty, please read the desired outcomes a little more carefully. There is no proposal to ban anyone from AfD. It is a suggestion that, without reform, the wikiproject should not be getting involved. Members such as DGG and MichaelQSchmidt contribute to AfD frequently and constructively and I see nothing wrong with them continuing to do that regardless of the outcome of this RfC. Simply put, tags and lists that use skewed messages to direct members to these AfDs are at issue.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 20:22, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
The "Desired Outcomes" section of this RfC talks at length about the ARS ceasing all contributions to AfD's. "The Article Rescue Squadron should either radically reform its practices or cease all involvement in deletion discussions..." Unless I'm misunderstanding your intent, I don't see that as significantly different than banning the ARS from AfD. As for the mention of my proposals at VP, I clearly noted that I was only mentioning them to stir discussion, not as an attempt to see them implemented. —SW— yak 20:43, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
If you look a little lower you will see that I said "the alternative suggestion that they cease involvement in deletion discussion is not intended . . . to stop any editors in the ARS from commenting at AfD."--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:12, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
As you use me as a example of an editor who repairs article that have not been on the ARS list, I appreciate your alerting me to your RFC on my talk page. Of course, my repairing articles NOT on the ARS list could just as easily be used as evidence that other project's delsorts act as canvassing just as you claim the ARS's list does. Making your RFC about inclusionists versus deletionists, and then using only examples of a few select comments in your nearly TLDR presentation from a few select and non-typical "inclusionists" does not give a properly balanced picture. I counter-propose (as I have both above and in earlier ANIs) that we convert the ARS Rescue List into a delsort to bring it more in line with existng projects... and as a delort ofering such transparency, it is no more canvassing than is any other project's delsort. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:14, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
There is a significant difference between a delsort for project X and ARS. With ARS there is the intention of saving the articles. With other projects, the intention is to bring people familiar with the subject to the AFD to provide expert opinion on the subject. Project X delsort isn't intended to "save" the article and will often result in users from Project X coming over to !vote delete because they realize that the subject isn't notable.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 22:21, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
A valid point, but I suggested a delsort in the first place in order to maintain the neutrality that TDA seems to feel the ARS project lacks. It really breaks down to perceptions toward individuals. Educating editors is far preferred over sanctions against an entire project. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:51, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but have we ever placed any such restriction on an entire project before? I'm thinking not, because it is an insane premise. i have always been of the opinion that it is only a small minority of ARS members that cause the vast majority of the problemsand indeed it is those very users who are the least involved in work that actually improves content, they just argue at AFD. They think they are in some great battle and they want to win it. The rest of us, whether self-identified rescuers or not, are more concerned with improving the encyclopedia than winning. And it would be absurdly easy to game such a restriction anyway. Beeblebrox (talk) 01:34, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Schmidt, stop misrepresenting what has been suggested. Reform, real reform not the cosmetic changes you have proposed, takes precedence over any form of restriction. However, even there it is simply to say the group should not get involved as opposed to individual editors. Just because editors might get around such a restriction does not mean Wikipedia should make it easier to engage in such activity. Of course, significant reform would erase the need for that.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 03:06, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
It takes time and patience. We start by dealing with perceptions and then work toward education. Stating so is not misrepresntation. Rome was not built in one day. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 21:56, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
TDA, there's no possible difference between banning the group or banning individual editors, because the group is made of individuals. This has always been a gaping hole in the logic of this RfC. Either members of the ARS can fully participate in deletion discussions or they can't. If they can, you have achieved nothing, since "the group" does not have a user account to write opinions at AfDs; if they can't, you have banned hundreds of individuals. Diego (talk) 07:17, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Of course there is a difference. The project page is being used to direct people to AfD. Ceasing to be involved would be a simple matter of changing the wording on the project page to not mention involvement in AfD and preventing editors from directing people to AfD from the project page. Individual editors would be free to go the AfD page, or associated delsort pages to contribute. At that point it would become a matter of monitoring behavior by individual editors who would no longer be able to hide behind the ARS. If the ARS refuses to fix the canvassing issue with the project, then the only way to satisfactorily prevent it from being used for canvassing is to expunge all mention of deletion discussions from the project pages.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 17:36, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Apparently, you ARE the one monitoring individual behavior... but are blaming a project to which individuals belong, rather than blame any one individual behavior. ALL proper delsorts act to neutrally direct their project members to articles at AFD that are of interest to their memberships and, as being properly neutral delsdorts, we do not call those delsorsts "canvassing". As you noted above, it was User:Northamerica1000 that created the Rescue List and placed it on the ARS project page. This is ONE individual's actions that apparently re-fired your ardour... yet you have chosen, in yet another discussion instituted by you about the ARS within a very short span of time, to request sanction of the entire membership of hundreds of individuals based upon your perception of the utility or use of the list created by one individual. While it might have been more prudent to suggest NA1k move his list to a subpage of his userspace, your chastising hundreds of others and an entire project is not helpful. You speak about how the ARS should do this or do that as if the ARS were one person or as if their was a clear hiearchy of management to that project. You fail to acknowledge that you are actually spaking about hundreds of different individuals. That NA1K has been active in trying to revamp the project so as to encourgae that weak articles get improved while their clocks tick to zero, is laudable... but if you have issues with THAT individual or how HE seeks to address the very real problem of certain notable topics being sent to AFD when thay might indeed be improved to serve the project, then deal with THAT individual. Or is the true bone of your contention the argument that ALL projects should not have delsorts and that ALL projects should not be allowed to discuss weak articles on their project talk pages? Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 20:03, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
See my response pretty much everywhere else on this page about the claim of "wanting sanctions against all members" and about delsorts. A few of those responses were made to you before you made this comment so I have a hard time seeing how you could not notice that I have already addressed those issues several times. As to North, he was the one who created the list, but he is far from being the only editor to have used the list. Many members, and non-members, have used the list. Clearly that is not a matter of individual editors or even individual members since anyone can post on the list.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:25, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
NA1K's list belongs on the ARS talk page for its members to then discuss issues, or in his userspace. It is not a proper delsort. And as this page is a changing and mutating discussion, and in its being quite long, with various remarks and comments spread all over the place, it's a bit difficult to answer each of your many comments in only one response in only one location. I read the aforementioned ANI where you were topic banned.[37] I read the statements you made that were subsequently struck out. I see a repeated behavior of your not liking that ARS menbers and non-members alike addressed issues with articles you sent to AFD. I see you complaining about the whole ARS based upon a few weak examples that do not actually prove your contention of blatant canvassing. I see that while complaining about the AFD closes, you have not taken the closes to DRV. I also see that you do not agree a neutral delsort that emmulates the neutral delsorts of other projects is a reasonable beginning to assessing perceptions, in that you want it ALL FIXED NOW and do not agree that projects are allowed to discuss solutions to problematic articles on their talk pages. My perception is that we are here because you do not wish to respect the consensus arrived at at a few AFDs, and while not feeling the closes correct you have still not taken the steps to have those closes reviewed. We do not burn down the house because one person may have seen a mouse. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 21:52, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
I would like this to be my last response to you since you seem intent on making baseless and irrelevant insinuations about me even though most of the cases provided above see no involvement on my part. Now, see my additional statement about the delsort and the example given on WP:GAME. Even if you could provide a neutrally-worded delsort, it would be meaningless without changes to the ARS page itself as you would effectively have a partisan notification to members directing them to the delsort, thus negating the neutrality of the delsort itself.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 23:08, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Statement by Uncle G[edit]

I heard about this rescue list, so I thought that I'd try it out. I found copious sources for an article during an AFD discussion, but didn't have the time to do a rescue myself. So I listed it at Wikipedia:Article Rescue Squadron/Rescue list#Fair-Value Accounting's Role in the Subprime Mortgage Crisis, complete with a hint as to what source I would start with in structuring and improving the article and where the sources for opposing views were. Dthomsen8 (talk · contribs) replied by saying "Being a member of WP:ARS does not mean to always say Keep.". My immediate thought was Quite right. It should mean doing article rescue. I didn't ask you to vote. I asked you to write.. In the end, no rescuers took up the challenge of writing from sources that I'd handed over on a platter.

I've said it before, that part of the problem with the article rescue squadron is the people who don't write articles and aren't actually article rescuers. Article rescue isn't about voting. It's about writing. I dislike having to say it, but if anyone knows what it involves, it's me, given that I've been doing article rescues for approaching a decade, now. I include another of my big green boxes:

You don't get to be an article rescuer by signing up to some club. You get to be an article rescuer by actually rescuing articles. You may think that you're an article rescuer by dint of listing yourself on some membership roster. You do not. If you don't write articles, you aren't an article rescuer. Conversely, people who actually do perform article rescues are article rescuers no matter what some club membership might say.

There are actual article rescuers who are part of the "squadron". But equally there are some editors there of whom I've never seen it said "keep after rewrite/vast improvement by User XYZ" in an AFD discussion.

By the way, here's another thing that I've said before: You want Wikipedia's answer to Godwin's Law? You've got it:

The only times that people use "deletionist" and "inclusionist" is to call other editors names. Their use has never improved a discussion. Any editor who resorts to such name calling is indicating that xe has run out of proper, valid, arguments to make.

That applies in spades to this RFC. I'm amazed at people not realizing, for example, that the "associations" on Meta were originally intended as nothing but jokes. Stevertigo had a dozy idea. Angela took the mickey out of it. And far too many people who came along later didn't realize that it was all the result of nonsense originating from the same stable as the baloney that is Project:Concept limit does. The "dirty -istas" are names for name calling. They aren't and weren't ever genuine philosophies or valid analyses of Wikipedia editors. Uncle G (talk) 21:59, 12 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. Agree wholeheartedly. Despite ARS' professed purpose of improving articles at AfD ("The project is not about casting !votes (and therefore not about vote-stacking). For example, if you work on an article that has been listed for rescue, try to add reliable-source references and edit the content to address concerns raised in the AfD discussion, rather than just 'vote and scoot.'"), most ARS regulars do little to no content work on articles raised at the rescue list. They just show up at the AfD to vote keep and when the article is kept, label it a valiant rescue. A minority actually work on articles, revamping and sourcing them. Goodvac (talk) 22:17, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
    • Actually, most of the majority who improve articles have learned to avoid discussion like these. And many of the more vocal minority of experienced editors who were first involved in the ARS have left Wikipedia entirely. So it appears it is the behavior of an uneducated minority or of unschooled newcomers that has brought us to discuss the ARS once again. Education is better than sanctions. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 04:37, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
      • Some of those who "vote and scoot" are neither uneducated nor new. They have been established editors for quite some time, and I wouldn't expect them to be amenable to education. Goodvac (talk) 16:36, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Mostly per the second green box, which coincides with my thoughts perfectly. (The rest makes sense, too.) The labels "inclusionist" and "deletionist", while arguably sometimes accurate, are inherently polarizing. Their widespread use promotes an us-against-them mindset that can make the process of reaching consensus more difficult. Rivertorch (talk) 05:11, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. The second box is bang on. We do have free speech here. But these are two words that never improve the quality of the discussion. Inherently polarizing indeed. Shooterwalker (talk) 06:22, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. per above --Guerillero | My Talk 18:01, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. Been watching this RfC and wasn't going to comment, but I have to agree with this, though without agreeing that everyone involved in the project doesn't improve articles. And I think WP:BEFORE is lacking when looking at noms, as well. It unfortunately seems to be far easier for someone to nom an article than to actually work on that article. IDONTLIKEIT/IDONTWANTIT is just as much a "voting" problem as the reverse. Just more examples of "Winning Wikipedia the game".- jc37 00:46, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. Yes, though I feel that replacing the rescue template with the list has been a huge step in the right direction. The list facilitates discussion, the template never did. Reyk YO! 01:08, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. Most of what Uncle G said mirrors my one experience with the ARS. I nommed an article, members of the ARS appeared, the focus of the article changed, and I withdrew the nomination. This should have been a win-win all around. We could have ended up with an interesting article on a former historic bridge (or even decided to merge the info somewhere useful). Instead, I had such a bad feeling from the experience that I didn't work to improve the article even though I went to the actual brick and mortar library to find sources. So it is still a pathetic stub that still doesn't show why it was notable. Note that members of ARS did not make much of an effort to improve the article and seemed mostly focused on winning. They won, and I took my toys and went home. I admit I was in a bad mood that day, but it would have helped if the "keep" people had done more work on the article and had the skill to better interpret the available sources. Their apparent focus on "winning" makes them seem rather hostile, rather than collaborative and productive. Valfontis (talk) 18:08, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. Fully agree. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 18:21, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. Stifle (talk) 21:37, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. Here, here. I think a lot of the problems described here would be lessened if people would refrain from joining 'sides' and focus on improvement. I think ARS should do a better job of policing its own, reminding those who appear to vote and run that that behavior is unacceptable and only serves to sully the ARS' reputation. Bonewah (talk) 23:39, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  11. This. My personal approach to AfD is to vote based on policy, not on an -ism. And I love to write, but hate to research, so I would welcome someone hand-delivering sources on a platter that would allow me to improve an article. Yet I won't touch ARS with a ten-foot pole, due to the reputation the project has earned, and personal experience with !votes by ARS members at AfD which, in my opinion, are based on -isms, not policy. I've been party to too many AfDs where ARS members drive-by the discussion. It is a shame that there isn't a neutral place where researchers and writers can connect and collaborate. LivitEh?/What? 02:01, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
  12. I wasn't originally going to bother with this RfC either, but I agree completely with the second green box, which is spot on. Case in point: contrary to what is implied in the opening remarks of this RfC, I wrote Wikipedia:Potential, not just current state a long time ago to make a valid interpretation of standing policy and to generate further debate, not to advance the interests of "inclusionism" and to battle "deletionism". The most common label it has gotten from other editors is actually "eventualist", but I have never given it a label, as I think deletionism vs. inclusionism and immediateism vs. eventualism are both ultimately false dilemmas which advance an ideologically driven and personalized debate. CT Cooper · talk 23:35, 2 April 2012 (UTC)
  13. Count me in. I joined ARS and used it to locate articles that needed work. Now I use SuggestBot. Rescue does not mean participating in AFDs - it means writing. Jojalozzo 02:19, 3 April 2012 (UTC)
  14. As one of the founders of ARS back in the day, I hope it means something when I say that Uncle G gets it about what ARS was supposed to be: a way to alert people that an article that shouldn't be deleted was about to be because it was written so poorly. Unfortunately, humans being humans, we find that it is far easier to slap templates or add an opinion to debates on WP:AfD & WP:AN/I, or nominate crappy articles for deletion, than to actually improve stubs or crappy articles. Then there is the issue that articles are saved from deletion, but are ignored until someone decides to nominate them again for deletion. Reasons like these are why ARS hasn't succeeded as we hoped it would. (FWIW, almost all of the articles I have saved from deletion have not been as part of ARS, just spending the time & effort to do what was needed to save them from being inadvertently deleted.) -- llywrch (talk) 23:43, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
  15. +like ThemFromSpace 03:24, 20 April 2012 (UTC)
  16. Per the pretty green boxen. Only kidding.... somewhat. As long as it's done seriously, I see no major issues with ARS. The template was used, as Llywrch points out, to alert concerned users, but it has been abused as a loophole to canvassing. 00:35, 31 May 2012 (UTC)


  1. I have a lot of respect for Uncle G's views as he impresses me more than any other editor that I have encountered on Wikipedia. But most editors are not capable of operating at his level of excellence and so his advice seems too much a counsel of perfection. Even he is not omnipotent and he was himself unable to find the time to work upon the fair value accounting article that he put on the rescue list. I did some research on the issue for the AFD and went back to the article after the close to wikify the article by adding a lead in our usual format. I was able to do this because I am familiar with accounting jargon and have a technical interest in the matter but such know-how cannot be expected of our volunteers in general. The staff of the ARS is tiny and will often be intimidated by the difficulty and effort required for a serious rescue. If members are only able to offer moral support and verbal encouragement, then this should not be scorned because we are just volunteers. No-one is paying us to engage in this work and so it is the collegiate spirit of our enterprise which must suffice.
As for deletionism/inclusionism, this seems to be a well-recognised phenomenon and it does not seem sensible to pretend that this ideological difference does not exist. AFD is structured as an adversarial process and the division between the keeps and the deletes happens as naturally as the division between hawks and doves; left and right; prosecution and defence. Uncle G seems to have an extreme unitarian philosophy which he takes so far as to use non-standard pronouns so that the division between he and she may be avoided. This seems quite utopian and so again represents a perfectionist ideal rather than pragmatic practicality.
Warden (talk) 21:07, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't think the use of gender-neutral pronouns has anything to do with his (I'm assuming) opinions about ARS. Valfontis (talk) 17:15, 20 March 2012 (UTC)


  • " part of the problem with the article rescue squadron is the people who don't write articles and aren't actually article rescuers." Exactly. voting at AFD is not equivalent to working on an article. Linking to a Google search with your AFD comment isn't equivalent to improving an article. Accusing someone of not properly following WP:BEFORE is not equivalent to working on an article. Yet these are all tactics (and that is the right word for them) used by the problematic minority of ARS members. Beeblebrox (talk) 22:24, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
    • There is nothing wrong with pointing out that a nominator failed to find sources when a trivial search turned up plenty. The point of BEFORE is to preclude nominations of articles which have obvious encyclopedic potential, and nominators who ignore it entirely are doing a disservice to the encyclopedia. Jclemens (talk) 03:59, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  • "Fair-Value Accounting's Role in the Subprime Mortgage Crisis". I write on lots of obscure crap, but there was no way I was wading into that. Plus its a content fork (maybe a reasonable one) on articles about the subprime mortgage crisis, so its not like any good content wouldn't have a home.--Milowenthasspoken 04:24, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
    Agree. See THIS "bold" edit. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 04:30, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
I appreciate the sentiment, but that doesn't even change anything. Cleanup is an improvement, but it doesn't make an article worthy of keeping. Pretty much all the problem editors you talk about make some form of improvement to articles. The issue is that those improvements often do not address the concerns raised at AfD. What you added also does nothing to discourage canvassing. Honestly, the insertion seems hasty and hostile more than anything.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 18:22, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Your solution of wishing to essentially topic ban an entire project seems a bit more "hasty and hostile". We cannot dictate how editors edit, only educate them in our processes and encouurage them to edit constructively. And then use the in-place processes to deal with those whose actions or edits are disruptive. The blockquite was set as a caution, one that that may actually be heeded... or perhaps ignored. By it stating boldly that from thinking that membership is just such a free pass. We take it one day at a time and do not burn down the house because someone claims to have maybe seen a mouse. Wikipedia and the slow evolution of its various wikiprojects is an ongoing work in progress. And as an encyclopedia built over years and through the efforts of thousands of individual personalities trying to work together, we strive for, but do not expect nor demand immediate pefection... of the encyclopedia, its projects, or of ourselves. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 09:24, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
I don't know why I have to keep repeating this, but my preferred solution is that the wikiproject page is changed so that it ceases to bias editors towards a certain outcome in deletion discussions. Focusing it on improving article rather than getting involved in discussions is another part of that preferred solution. I suggest the group stay out of such discussions only if the members resist such radical reform, and it would need to be radical given the project's current state. Saying that it is a "work in progress" is not a justification for its current state and not a reason for failing to make immediate and significant change. Sure you can't make people abide by WP:CANVASS, but you could sure try a hell of a lot harder to persuade them against it.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 17:31, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
Actually, "Work in progress" indicates my understanding that even Wikipedia grants that it is not immediately perfect and that allows improvements to be performed over time and through regular editing... and that this understanding that patience is encouraged applies to its various ongoing wiki projects just as to individual articles.
A few simple questions:
  1. Do you agree or disagree that a neutral delsort serves the project?
  2. Do you agree or diagree that the edits of any one or two or three editors must be dealt with at the individual level and does not require the barring from AFD hundreds of others who have not exhibited problematic behavior?
  3. Do you agree or disagree that discussions on how to address article issues belong on various project talk pages?
  4. Do you agree or disagree that we begin addressing issues by changing how the ARS presents itself?
  5. Do you agree or disagree that the changes to how ARS presents itself cannot happen instantly?
  6. DO you agree or disagree that problems with individual behavior, no matter where such occurs, should be dealt with by dealing with those individuals?
  7. Do you agree or disagree that changes usually take time and that demanding it all happen NOW is not reasonable?
Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:38, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Well-stated, even if I can't agree with more than 90 % of it, and very funny besides. Bearian (talk) 15:27, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

Statement by a random dude[edit]

Me thinks you all need to worry less about a group of wikipedians who improve articles and worry more about building better content, fighting vandalism, and nuking copyright violations. (talk) 22:04, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

Imagine how many articles might have been improved and rescued in the time it took to research and prepare this RFC. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:20, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Be that as it may, the RFC is open so we might as well discuss how to improve the situation. Anyone who thinks that is a waste of time is welcome to do something else instead. Beeblebrox (talk) 22:27, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Michael is absolutely correct. This whole thing is a dramafest and should be immediately deleted. Those who opened this should be cautioned from further disruption of Wikipedia. (talk) 22:28, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
So far we have been having a relatively polite discussion on a subject that has repeatedly been the subject of debate. Trying to resolve those issues in a civil and polite manner is not disruptive, and there is no policy based reason to delete this page. Beeblebrox (talk) 22:42, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
So far, no shouting. And TDA has already been sanctioned about involvement and drama with the ARS. This RFC was introduced only after he got permission. I think we best resolve this with education of only a few editors. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 23:01, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
That would apply to any case where someone files a report on misconduct. It would also apply to admins who get distracted from editing to deal with misconduct. Maybe Wikipedia would be better if admins stopped dealing with misconduct and just edited articles. Note: This editor is totally being sarcastic. --The Devil's Advocate (talk) 00:02, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Maybe Wikipedia would be better if you were less obsessive about the ARS and re-focused on the primary purpose on being here, improving the encycylopedia. Note: This editor is being entirely serious, and is pretty annoyed that this circus has yet to leave town, despite the community being quite clear in its displeasure with the continued harping on the subject from one disgruntled editor. Beyond My Ken (talk) 04:58, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

Additional statement by The Devil's Advocate[edit]

The suggestion for a delsort would not satisfy concerns about canvassing and would in many ways aggravate the situation. Without changes to the project page itself, adding a delsort (even if it could somehow be worded neutrally, which is not itself a given) would not satisfy WP:CANVASS as the project page would remain in its partisan state. In fact, this kind of proposal is almost exactly the same as an example of gaming the system noted in the relevant guideline:

If no other changes are made, under the proposal for a delsort, the project pages would still provide an audience favoring an inclusion-oriented outcome of the discussion and then direct them to discussions through the delsort. Transcluding the discussions on to the project page would also only serve to encourage "vote and scoot" behavior as the discussions would be the first thing presented to ARS members, not the article needing improvements, and it would still be incredibly difficult to trace as votes would show up as contributions to the AfD page itself. At the same time this would only resume the drive-by tagging that the rescue tag was known for as editors would be able to just plop the delsort at the AfD and bounce away, without even having to look at the article. Even more, as delsorts typically show as smaller text they are more likely to be ignored than the annoyingly obvious billboard that was the rescue tag. It seems this delsort proposal takes the worst parts of the list and rescue tag, then puts them together.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 18:08, 14 March 2012 (UTC)



  1. Accusation of current canvassing are not proven, so saying canvassing will continue is baseless. --ThaddeusB (talk) 18:21, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Editing habits of a few will continue no matter what project they belong to or not. No basis for such bad faith assumptions. The answer that ultimately improves the project is education in its processes. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:37, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. Ordinary user behavior is being misinterpreted as canvassing. TDA says "The suggestion for a delsort would not satisfy [his] concerns about canvassing", but at this point it is pretty clear that only changing ARS so that it is no longer ARS will satisfy his concerns about canvassing. --Guy Macon (talk) 04:28, 29 March 2012 (UTC)


  • Existence of canvassing has been shown, but again, it's so infrequent as not to be an issue that requires shutting down ARS. In fact, raising this RfC may deter some who would abuse canvassing, add random sources, and make other such faults. Bearian (talk) 15:33, 20 March 2012 (UTC)

Statement by JimMillerJr[edit]

I was not anxious to make a statement in this RfC due to what will clearly be perceived as support from an obvious supporter of the wikiproject. It has become clear that statements will only come from those who are clear supporters, or outright opposers of the ARS. The vast majority of Wikipedia editors simply do not care about the subject at hand enough to interrupt their actual editing to take part in this process. This RfC paints with far too broad a brush to be useful. The current ARS membership listing shows over 300 editors who self-identify as members of the ARS. Articles listed for rescue do not automatically receive 300+ keep comments. If the ARS simply a tool for canvassing, it has very poor results.

As a typical member, I find that the author of this RfC seems to have a particular problem with 2 or 3 members or 1% of the total membership of the wikiproject. The ARS is a tool, and as with any tool, has the potential to be misused. Such misuse is properly addressed through RFC/U process. This attempt at chasing the low hanging fruit of the ARS seems to be forum shopping due to the relatively high bar of getting the desired result from the correct process. If the OP wishes to address the actions of some editors, this RfC should be withdrawn and the proper steps for addressing user behavior should be followed. Jim Miller See me | Touch me 13:56, 16 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. I disagree that only strongly interested editors will participate here, that doesn't seem to be the case, with myself as an example. That said, I agree with the thrust of your comments. I'm listed on that ARS roster, though I am not heavily involved with AfD lately, and when I am, I'm generally more likely to vote delete than keep (as should be the case, if the nominators are doing their job right). ARS is supposed to be about improving articles during the AfD period, and I don't think anyone objects to that. Gigs (talk) 14:30, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Jclemens (talk) 07:45, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. Suraj T 09:01, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. The community seems to be subjected to an anti-ARS thread several times per year and has always found the group's continued existence is justified. Taking the complaints to yet another forum is a complete waste of time. --ThaddeusB (talk) 16:52, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. Agree. Problems that the author has with the behaviour of individual editors should be raised with those editors and then, if necessary, escalated through the steps outlined in WP:DR. This RfC, which is targetting a whole group and trying to draw battle lines between "inclusionists" and "deletionists", is unhelpful and unnecessarily combative. For the record, I am not a member of ARS. Gandalf61 (talk) 09:30, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. Here, here! Bearian (talk) 15:36, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. Paul Erik (talk)(contribs) 17:04, 24 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. Oppose because TDA should not be encouraged to continue this fight in Yet Another Forum. He needs to stop and let other editors (there are plenty of ARS critics) deal with any individuals. I urge those who support this to please reconsider whether to encourage TDA to redouble his efforts in a new venue That's what AN did, and here we are. --Guy Macon (talk) 04:35, 29 March 2012 (UTC)


Statement by Rich Farmbrough[edit]

  • WP:Canvas says: "However canvassing which is done with the intention of influencing the outcome of a discussion in a particular way is considered inappropriate. "
  • Clearly the ARS list is intended to influence the outcome of the discussion.
  • Technically it is therefore (WP:CANVAS) inappropriate canvassing, if it is canvassing at all.
  • Nonetheless (if we AGF) it is attempting to influence the out-come by making the page under discussion clearly eligible for inclusion, not by recruiting discussers.
  • Improving the encyclopaedia by making articles better sourced and more balanced trumps a guideline, even if they were meant to cover this, which I think they clearly are not.
  • Therefore I say that ARS should be commended for improving a significant number of articles, some of which have been deleted, and some of which would have been deleted without their efforts.
Rich Farmbrough, 14:56, 20 March 2012 (UTC).


  1. Yet another example of when a badly designed and worded policy (canvassing) has a potential to hurt good editors and a worthy project. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 15:40, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. BOZ (talk) 17:14, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. "[ARS] is attempting to influence the out-come by making the page under discussion clearly eligible for inclusion, not by recruiting discussers" --Guy Macon (talk) 04:39, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. The key is to work with those individuals who try to rescue that which is not worth rescuing and show them how to find reliable sources and spot the articles which are worth rescuing. ϢereSpielChequers 05:50, 30 May 2012 (UTC)


  1. Improving articles is great and not canvassing, but that is not the sole purview of the ARS. Engaging in discussion at AfD is clearly endorsed by the project and thus it does become a question of canvassing to influence the discussion's outcome. Serious reform is a simple way to address the concerns about canvassing.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 18:24, 20 March 2012 (UTC)


The canvassing guideline clearly refers to discussion, not edits to articles. It exists because when you set aside all the bureaucracy and policy, the reality is that this whole endeavor is guided by consensus, which is inherently meant to be impartial. Any activity that disrupts or inhibits the move towards consensus must not be abided. Notifying editors in a way that biases them towards a conclusion or only notifying those of a certain persuasion impedes the achievement of a true consensus. Canvassing is clearly intended to target that behavior of seeking to influence the discussion towards a favorable outcome.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 18:24, 20 March 2012 (UTC)


Proposal from The Devil's Advocate[edit]

The Article Rescue Squadron should initiate a discussion about a significant refocusing of the wikiproject and invite the outside community to make proposals on how to reform the group in a way that would effectively address concerns about canvassing and bias, while providing for the group to continue making valuable contributions to articles.


  1. I have some ideas, as do other editors, on how to change the focus of the ARS to make its activities more acceptable and less controversial.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 17:04, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. As someone who has seen at least two AfDs he opened dramatically change course due to the interference from the ARS (Stacked (TV film) and Cecil Newton, Sr.), I support this proposal. Eagles 24/7 (C) 18:10, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
    I support this, as I think the status quo is going to keep leading us back to the same place of controversy, but please note my comments in the section below. ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 18:24, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. Support per the slew of opposes I can't even fathom how a group of editors, when faced with the concerns of a larger community, go "I refuse to address your concerns, and don't care for your suggestions". That the refusal to initiate a discussion on how to improve the ARS to alleviate concerns of canvassing is so drastic, despite the concerns of so many, is prima facie evidence that there is something very rotten here... Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 02:12, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Or its prima facie evidence that there's not. But as a member of the Article Deletion Squadron, I guess you disagree and that's your right.--Milowenthasspoken 04:40, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
  • People initiate discussions all the time. Usually very long ones that they drag out forever and keep trying to restart before finally giving up and letting us have some peace and quiet for short periods of time. You don't need the community to tell you its alright to start a discussion on a talk page of a Wikiproject, just don't beat a dead horse. WP:DEADHORSE Dream Focus 00:58, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I see no "concerns of a larger community" here; instead, I see something closer to a personal vendetta. Headbomb's argument seems to be that because the ARS refuses to agree with DA's allegations and his paper-thin "evidence" then clearly they must be guilty as charged. I believe this can be paraphrased as "When did you stop beating your wife ?". For the record I am not a member of the ARS. Gandalf61 (talk) 09:01, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
The problem is you see this in terms of WP:BATTLEGROUND and a personal vendettas, and dismiss ~40% of feedback with a back of the hand because 'it's just people who agree with DA, so their concerns obviously don't matter'. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 15:02, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
Headbomb - I don't think I have ever written the words that you attribute to me above, or expressed any opinion that is similar to that in any way. I think you are making things up. And I don't believe that is an acceptable or civil way for you to contribute to this discussion. Gandalf61 (talk) 16:20, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
  1. Much needed, unless a significant change can come from this RfC. ThemFromSpace 03:28, 20 April 2012 (UTC)


  1. TDA's focus on the ARS borders on being disruptive, and appears to be, to some extent, unreasonable and compulsive. You need to put away this issue and edit articles. Beyond My Ken (talk) 04:49, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. It is not the place of us outsiders to force groups which they disagree with to do anything. If the proposer wants to change ARS, I would invite him to join the group and to initiate changes through normal internal decision-making processes. Carrite (talk) 17:22, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. The current consensus in Articles for Deletion is that it's proper behavior to request the help of the ARS in the task of rescuing articles where the "topic is valid and encyclopedic", and it recommends that editors should "defuse the deletion arguments" using "policy, guidelines, and examples from our good and featured articles". This consensus has been uncontested for more than four years, so it doesn't make sense to require the ARS to refocus their goals as this proposal suggest. It should be the burden of those willing to change this long-time consensus to provide convincing arguments to change it, not the other way around. Diego (talk) 23:23, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. Per Diego, if people feel the community consensus about the project should change, it is their responsibility to work for change, not just mandate the project change because they want it to. (Any one else see an ironic parallel here?) --ThaddeusB (talk) 23:58, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. No problem requiring such intervention has been articulated. Jclemens (talk) 04:01, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. Perhaps they might want to focus their efforts differently, but m,ainly on getting more effective responses from their members, most of whom are there merely to express goodwill. DGG ( talk ) 04:39, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. No outside intervention will be of any use. Guess why the UK joined the EU ..... Agathoclea (talk) 23:30, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. The Devil's Advocate was given a "temporary banned from initiating any actions relating to ARS"] Wasn't he given a permanent ban also somewhere? He argued nonstop about totally changing it to something totally different than what it was, dragging it out to many places across Wikipedia, with everyone frustrated and telling him to stop. How many ANI did we have he started and then had the majority of people against him for doing so? Someone who doesn't participate in a wikiproject at all, but is determined to either destroy it or change it into something different, shouldn't be allowed to mess around with it. Dream Focus 00:57, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. Not a helpful way forward. For the record, I am not a member of ARS. Gandalf61 (talk) 09:32, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. ARS are capable of deciding a change in project scope themselves. Time to drop the stick I think. Rich Farmbrough, 15:31, 20 March 2012 (UTC).
  11. BOZ (talk) 17:55, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  12. The horse has been dead long enough to really stink up the place, and yet TDA just keeps trying different sticks. --Guy Macon (talk) 04:43, 29 March 2012 (UTC)


Such a discussion could be another RfC or a VPP discussion. In any event I think there needs to be some significant outside input to insure any refocusing actually deals with the concerns often raised about the ARS. Attempts by members to reform usually never take off, or make cosmetic changes that do not diminish the issues with the group. Wider community input would serve to compel the reforms to be implemented.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 17:04, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

I support all three points in this RFC but, to be clear, I do not support any draconian solutions such as those proposed in the Desired Outcomes section, at least to the extent that they reach as far as excluding ARS members from participation in deletion discussions. I also note that Diego has started a discussion at the ARS talk page regarding an ARS refocus to address many of these concerns, and some of that thinking may be applicable here. ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 18:29, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

The suggestion was the group avoiding involvement, not individual editors and I tried to make this clear above. Basically, if the ARS cannot commit to serious reform it should not be directing people to AfD discussions from its project page. As to Diego's suggestion, it would not really change anything and suggested something that reads a lot like a POV fork of AfD. To repeat what I said there, if he sees a problem with AfD he should get other editors to brainstorm on a fix to AfD itself. I would encourage a change to the AfD process to make discussion more neutral and open-ended i.e. not geared toward an up-or-down vote on inclusion or deletion.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 19:10, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
I think you misunderstood my proposal. It was not intended to direct people to AfD from the ARS project page, but from guidelines and projects like Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias and Wikipedia:AfD Patrol that currently suggest the ARS as a related noticeboard. I suggested replacing the Rescue List with a neutralized version, which basically removed everything that you described as problematic in the Campaigning section in your draft version of this RfC. Diego (talk) 21:50, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
No, I did not misunderstand it. Your proposal still suggested that the ARS be involved in such discussions, but that it would be specifically involved in a new noticeboard spun off from the list called "disputed deletion discussions" that plainly reads like a POV fork of AfD.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 22:40, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
The current rescue list SHOULD be set up as a neutral page as is done for other wikiprojects listed HERE, and its current content sent to their talk page where such specifc discussions toward improvement of specific articles belong, and where the more experieced members can guide newcomers who may misundertsnad the improvement or AFD proceses. Education is the answer, not sanctions. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 04:55, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  • @DA: That's the whole point of a community noticeboard, that everybody can participate. Can you explain exactly what's wrong with that? Diego (talk) 06:30, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
If you can't see how a project page that bombards people with messages favoring inclusion directing people towards a noticeboard called "disputed deletion discussions" is not a real change then that just goes to my point above that internal reform by ARS will achieve nothing but cosmetic fixes without addressing the actual problem. You yourself admitted that proposal was due to fearing the outcome of the RfC and not wanting to test it.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 15:01, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
And how about a noticeboard with a perfectly neutral wording and open for all audiences that listed "deletion discussions of unclear status", which is what I actually proposed? (The name "disputed deletion discussions" was just a catchy witticism to generate commentaries, placed in parentheses and with an interrogation sign, so nobody could in good faith think that it was a firm proposal for the noticeboard name). I didn't fear your proposal, I though it would be much more cumbersome and unproductive that it's actually being and utterly dislike your desired outcomes so I proposed a consensus building alternative. The Proposal from Michael Q. Schmidt is exactly what I was aiming for, but I forgot to keep it simple and didn't think of the stroke of genius that is using the deletion sort format. Diego (talk) 16:12, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
DA, if a "project page that bombards people with messages favoring inclusion directing people towards a noticeboard called 'disputed deletion discussions'" were what's being proposed, I'd be inclined to agree that that's not a change. That is, however, not what is being proposed. ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 16:53, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
I am talking about the ARS page itself. Diego's proposal did not involve changes to ARS, but just spinning off the list to "take the heat off" of the ARS. He clearly suggested the ARS would be involved with the proposed noticeboard. Any sort of "disputed deletion discussions" noticeboard would be a problem in itself, but proposing that the ARS retain its POV-orientation while still being involved in the noticeboard is not a solution. It's a shell game.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 17:08, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
And why should I have proposed changes to the ARS in a proposal explicitly designed to be detached from the ARS, mind you? Diego (talk) 17:35, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Probably for the same reason you edited the AfD page to promote the rescue list.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 18:35, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Oh you mean to update the obsolete content that was already there? Diego (talk) 20:48, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
So your point is that the ARS has been using the AfD page to promote itself for a while. Ok.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 21:40, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Surely people participating in AfDs had something to say about the content in that page, so it was there by consensus? (linking to policy is funny). Diego (talk) 22:02, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
And the funniest thing is that you're arguing against something that has been part of the instructions for deletion since (at least) january 2008 (the instructions to improve the article were already present by then) and which nobody (not even yourself) objected before you now, today. Diego (talk) 22:25, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Maybe no one who would object noticed until, you know, today.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 22:34, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Well that's the definition of consensus, isn't it? Diego (talk) 23:10, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────When did the definition of consensus change to mean "sneak this in without anyone noticing"?--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 00:23, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Yah, I'm sure no one has read that page in 4 years. </sarcasm> --ThaddeusB (talk) 01:14, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

Proposal from Beeblebrox[edit]

In the past I have been one of the users demonized as a rabid deletionist by certain members of the ARS. And that has always been the problem, it is not the project as a whole, but certain members of it, that engage in the very worst sort of combative behavior, giving the entire project a bad name when in fact there are users involved with it who are doing some pretty awesome stuff, such as actually doing real research, finding sources, and this is the important part: actually using those sources to improve the article as opposed to just using them for tactical purposes to "win" at AFD. Those people should be encouraged to keep up their good work, while at the same time those who just do a Google search and add anything they can find to the AFD and/or the article without checking to see if the source has any real value need to be discouraged.

How to do that? As has been suggested before the best way is to join the ARS. It's a wikiproject, there are no barriers to joining, you don't have to be a radical inclusionist like the users causing the poor perception of this project, you just have to want to improve Wikipedia, and don't we all want that? If enough users join up who don't exhibit these problematic behaviors, the whole tone of the project will change, users who cause disruption instead of actually working on articles will be shunned, articles will get improved, the project will do what it was intended to do, and we won't need the torches and the pitchforks. The best way to force this change is from inside, not out. It's a win/win for the project and the encyclopedia as a whole.


  1. Beeblebrox (talk) 18:26, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Well said. Alpha_Quadrant (talk) 18:31, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. Indeed! ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 18:32, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. Of course. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 18:34, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. Reaper Eternal (talk) 18:50, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. A noninclusionist, nondeletionist member. Jojalozzo 20:12, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. I always appreciate calm reason. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:22, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. Rationality is always appreciated (or should be, anyway). Beyond My Ken (talk) 04:46, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. Thank you. It's much more fun (and less work) to use RFCs to make annihilating attacks though, so I don't expect this very sensible proposal will gain much real world traction. Carrite (talk) 17:25, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. Armbrust, B.Ed. Let's talkabout my edits? 17:55, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  11. Couldn't have said it better myself. --ThaddeusB (talk) 00:00, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  12. No Wikiproject is restricted to one viewpoint. Consider Wikiprojects covering contentious political and social topics, for instance. Jclemens (talk) 04:02, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  13. I can get behind this. --Guerillero | My Talk 18:07, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  14. And at this point a plug for Wikipedia:HighBeam/Applications might be useful for the rescuers for are looking for not ready available sources on a regular basis. Agathoclea (talk) 17:56, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  15. I agree, although I think Beetlebrox might not agree with me. Bearian (talk) 15:29, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  16. All projects need more members, so this is a helpful idea. With the provision that the editors who join would be interested in rescuing the articles, not in sabotaging ARS work or such. AGF, of course. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 15:42, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  17. BOZ (talk) 17:57, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  18. Moral support. I can only handle belonging to one project, but as a person who has done a few non-AfD, non-ARS rescues ([38], [39], [40], [41], [42], [43] is how it's done, folks) I'd be willing to actually help improve articles the ARS has taken an interest in--if they are worthy of inclusion in an encyclopedia. (I guess I'm a Whatever-That-Absurdly-Long-Acronym-Is -ist.) Valfontis (talk) 18:00, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  19. Agreed, though I think that more people would join if it were renamed "Article Improvement Squadron." In that case, it could still have as one of its stated goals "to improve articles at AfD to the point that most reasonable editors would !vote 'keep'." First Light (talk) 20:23, 23 March 2012 (UTC)
  20. Paul Erik (talk)(contribs) 17:07, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
  21. Welcome conclusion. ```Buster Seven Talk 05:46, 5 April 2012 (UTC)


  • OK, I'll be the negative voice here. I actually do rescue articles that I find at AfD or unreferenced BLP when I find them worthy of inclusion. I do this by improving the article. I used to display the ARS banner on my userpage. However, I removed it. I came to the conclusion that the important thing is to actually improve articles, not to slap a label on myself. I never had any helpful interaction with the ARS, and I have seen people abuse the ARS tag at AfD. Beeblebrox said it well: people responding to a rescue tag rarely seem to use their sources to improve the article, as opposed to just using them for tactical purposes to "win" at AFD. --MelanieN (talk) 20:08, 30 May 2012 (UTC)


Ok, I don't intend to get too involved in this RfC, but this proposal has to be commented on. I mean, this proposal is really kina academic isn't it? It is one of those nice sounding platatudes, but it really amounts to nothing? Would TDA be any more effective changing the ARS if he put a box on his page saying that he was a member? No. Would the others who have had issues with ARS be more effective at getting changes if they "joined the club"? No. People generally don't join groups that they have philosophical differences with. Telling a deletionist to join ARS if they want to see change is tantamount to telling a Pro-lifer to sign on to the staff at Planned Parenthood. It's a nice sounding tidbit, which on the surface is easy to support... but in the end is really meaningless. Changing subcultures here at Wikipedia is not just a matter of adding a box to one's user page, it is sometimes virtually impossible. I mean, how many years have people been complaining about RfA and how that process is broken? The biggest changes I've seen in this community have not come as a result of "self reflection" and internal realization, but rather from outside forces calling out problems. Sorry, this proposal sounds nice and grand... it sounds like it is challenging people who disagree to do something positive... but it ultimately is meaningless.---Balloonman Poppa Balloon 22:17, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

I don't mean "joining" in the sense of just putting a userbox on your page, that doesn't do anything more than putting a "I support our troops" bumper sticker on your SUV in Idaho does for troop morale in Afghanistan.
I mean actually participate in trying to find real, usable sources for articles identified as needing rescuing, and, in those cases where such sources cannot be located, be blunt with the members about the reality of the situation. Your abortion analogy only makes sense if you buy into the nonsensical theory that there really is a philosophical struggle of great importance at play here, a theory which I reject utterly. This is a project that has always drawn the most extreme to it, extreme inclusionists because they don't want anything deleted if it was mentioned once in a high school paper, and so-called deletionists because they want to criticize or even destroy it.
Neither of those positions is in line with mainstream users of Wikipedia, most of whom prefer to take each article on a case-by-case basis and delete it only if it really cannot be demonstrated to be about a notable subject. If more mainstream users join the project, the project will become more mainstream and the extremists will be seen as what they really already are, individuals who don't actually speak for this group. It's just that the current group is small enough that this minority is able to hijack its voice and represent it as something it is not, or at least should not be. Beeblebrox (talk) 22:40, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
While I respect the sentiment, it is not entirely practical. Some cases listed at AfD are not really a question of sourcing (cases of WP:NOT for instance) and several of those have ended up getting tagged or listed by the ARS, including the one that first brought them to my attention. Other times it is not a simple matter of "keep" or "delete" as "merge" is an effective option. They are not always simple cases either. The grey areas are where the ARS is most decisive, and also the ones where canvassing can cause the most damage. Honestly, I think there is need for a big change with AfD given the concerns some ARS members and supporters have expressed, but that is what needs to be done. If the system is broken, the solution is not to make it even more broken until people get the point. AfD should probably be seen less as a procedure for sanctions on an article and more as a form of dispute resolution regarding its contents. The former mindset feeds into this kind of activity where people think there is a need to find people who will vote a certain way.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 23:41, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
But therein lies the problem:
  • has always drawn the most extreme to it, extreme inclusionists because they don't want anything deleted
  • If more mainstream users join the project, the project will become more mainstream
As an outsider, who isn't familiar with the current operations of the project, I see those comments as somewhat disturbing.
As for people joining the project, they join the projects that they are interested in. If the project is so extreme as to frighten people off from joining, then that is problematic. But not everybody is up for ARS type work... there are different people each with different skills/attributes that come to WP and contribute where they are needed and beneficial. They should not have to join a project to reform it. (talk) 03:35, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

Proposal from Michael Q. Schmidt[edit]

I propose that we finally convert the ARS Rescue List into a proper delsort to bring it more in line with other existng wikiprojects... and as a delsort offering transparency, it will no more be "canvassing" than is any other project's delsort. If this RFC was created as the result of the behavior of a few typical or atypical individuals, then we discuss those individuals and their behavior in another forum, rather than take an entire project to task for perceptions over the actions and words of a few. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:28, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

And a note, due to past events where ARS members were targeted simply because of that userbox banner they placed on their userpage, I decided to retain my membership while instead creating a differnt userbox which can be seen on my userpage... among others for other projects. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 22:44, 12 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. Great idea, we have dozens (hundreds?) of delsort lists, we should absolutely make this one of them and treat it like any other. Beeblebrox (talk) 23:10, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Yup, hundreds. As below in comments, discussions curently at the non-standard ARS Rescue List can be moved to their talk page and the current list can be transcluded properly to a real ARS Delsort. On the ARS talk page editors who will benefit from education can be singled out for schooling about the what and why and how to actually improve articles. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 23:41, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. A good idea. Beyond My Ken (talk) 04:50, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. MQS proposes something very reasonable and fair here. It would reduce many of the problems, perceived and real. Shooterwalker (talk) 06:19, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. This may be the only practical and actionable advice I've yet to read in this discussion, and would solve all drama instantly. It would be simpler to implement and get rolling than my more elaborate proposal. Convert the list to the existing accepted standard format. Diego (talk) 06:32, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. This is such a naturally good call that it verges on being obvious. Yes. This. ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 14:54, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. No reason not to, although I doubt it will alleviate any concerns about (imagined) canvassing. --ThaddeusB (talk) 00:07, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. Standardization can both eliminate the unfounded complaints about the list's purpose, as well as attract more editors to the listed articles. I regularly watch about a dozen delsort lists, and haven't looked at the raw AfD logs in ages. Jclemens (talk) 04:05, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. Good idea. For the record, I am not a member of ARS. Gandalf61 (talk) 09:35, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. Sortlist, presumably with Article Alerts notification, is never a bad tool. It could be watchlisted by any editor, not only ARS members. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk to me 15:43, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  11. BOZ (talk) 17:58, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  12. Support, as a great and (now) obvious idea. First Light (talk) 02:18, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
  13. Great idea. Ironholds (talk) 03:36, 9 April 2012 (UTC)
  14. No reason not to try this, even if its in addition to another method of organization. ThemFromSpace 03:31, 20 April 2012 (UTC)


  1. First establish the combined deleting sorting list. THEN we'll see if ARS has been rendered obsolete. Under no circumstances should the project be externally liquidated in favor of an untried, untested "alternative" structure. Carrite (talk) 17:28, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
    Not at all suggesting liqudation. If article currently on their ARS Rescue List is at AFD, then we add those articles to a proper and neutral delsort list. The discussions currently on the ARS Rescue List are then moved to their ARS talk page so ARS editors might still share and discuss article issues and concerns transparently. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 20:16, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I don't understand, are you suggesting having two lists in parallel with exactly the same purpose but just slightly different formats? Diego (talk) 17:47, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Nope. The current "list" is simply a set of discussions or requests for rescue and not a proper delsort. Discussions are best served on the project's talk page. Artcles at AFD are best served by being in proper delsorts. I propose to separate the two to elminate future issues. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 20:16, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  • If converting the Content Rescue List to a neutral delsort is equivalent to "externally liquidating" the entire project, we've got a much bigger problem here than I thought :). The ARS is more than the Content Rescue List. Or, at least, it's supposed to be. ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 18:03, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
No recomendation for liquidation from me. Create the proper and neutral delsort to emmulate other projects. Move the various discussions from their "rescue list" to the project's talk page where they belong. Put the ARS to work. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 20:16, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Understood -- I was suggesting to Carrite that your proposal != liquidation. Your proposal is simple and effective. And, long-winded argumentative gasbag that I often am, I hate you for it. :D ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 23:23, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  1. Oppose because there are no criteria for what constitutes a "rescuable" article. Anybody can slap this label on any AfD discussion. All the other delsorts have some basis; they relate in some way to what the article is about - be it music, or France, or politicians, or whatever. That allows the people who have interest or expertise in music, or France, or politicians, to zero in on discussions where they might have interest or be able to contribute. But the "rescue" delsort tag would be totally generic; theoretically it could be added to every single article at AfD. IMO when someone sees an AfD about which they feel passionately enough to want to rescue it, they shouldn't scream for the cavalry - they ought to rescue it themselves, by improving the article. Or they ought to post something in the actual discussion, saying "Here are some sources, I don't have the time or expertise to add them to the article, would somebody please add them if you find them persuasive?" It could be much more effective. There actually are people who patrol the AfDs, or particular delsort areas, looking for articles that need some help. Far better to appeal to them than to some generic "come and save me!" patrol. --MelanieN (talk) 00:52, 31 May 2012 (UTC)


What would this actually entail? Just a requirement to add Note: This debate has been included in the list of articles to be rescued by the Article Rescue Squadron. to every AfD that appears on the rescue list? Anything else that would need to change? —SW— confess 22:43, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

That exists already: {{subst:Rescue list}}. Goodvac (talk) 22:47, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Wow. I was never informed that User:BrownHairedGirl created this last month.[44] Do we have the delsort page for this as well? And cautions about how and when the template can or should be used? Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 23:05, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
And to note: I do see that the template links back to Wikipedia:Article Rescue Squadron/Rescue list, but that page itself does not resemble the more common delsort pages that simply list articles of interest to their various projects. If THAT inconsistancy is addressed, we have a winner. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 23:10, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Agreed, make it work like any other delsort list, just a list of transcluded AFDs for those interested. If consensus at the ARS talk page is that a particular item shouldn't be on it it can be removed and the delsort notice struck out of the AFD. Beeblebrox (talk) 23:13, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Support Discussions curently at the misformed ARS Delsort can be moved to their talk page and the current list can be transcluded properly. On the ARS talk page editors who will benefit from education can be singled out for schooling about the what and why and how to actually improve articles. . Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 23:37, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Does anybody know how to transclude the AfDs tagged with rescue list?Diego (talk) 16:19, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

This is, of course, not a solution. In many ways it would be worse than the rescue tag and the current rescue list. At least those direct people to the article first. This would take people right to the AfD and, if transcluded to the ARS project page, would make the bombardment of keep votes mind-numbingly easy. You would see the return of that drive-by tagging, except it wouldn't be so blindingly obvious. The rescue tag, with all its faults, had one thing going for it: it was about as subtle as a gay pride parade. A tiny bit of text in an AfD may get noticed by the initiated, but it will be much harder to notice for those not familiar with the issue.

All this talk about "it would be just another delsort" is completely ignoring a huge chunk of the concerns being noted above. Notifying people interested in movies that an article about a movie is being nominated for deletion doesn't inherently bias the discussion towards any specific outcome. However, notifying people at a project page that is biased towards inclusion is an entirely different matter. The suggestion is that the ARS move away from voting at AfD and more towards improving articles, but this suggestion is going in the exact opposite direction.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 17:36, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

This delsort is for notifying people interested in Wikipedia guidelines of a discussion where the applicability of existing guidelines is unclear. That doesn't preclude nor bias towards any specific outcome, since anybody following the list will have their own interpretations of how guidelines should be interpreted, and everybody is free to follow the list whether they agree with the project goals or not, and everybody is free to join the project and change its goals. Your suggestion that ARS move away from voting while its members may participate in discussions is not even logically sound, because the ARS is made by particular individuals. Diego (talk) 17:44, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Saying "everybody is free to follow it" completely ignores a huge chunk of the objection. When you inundate people with information favoring a certain conclusion, the inevitable result is you get more people favoring that conclusion. It is why WP:CANVASS requires a neutral notification. A delsort that just plops the AfD up at the ARS page does not address that issue one iota.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 18:28, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
The "objection" here is for the most part yours. The discussions currently at the "ARS Rescue List" belongs on the ARS talk page, and should not be pretending to be a delsort when it is not. And then we need the creation of an actually neutral delsort page that emmulates those of other projects. And any such neutral notices about articles in that delsort will be just as guideline and policy instruct. You are aware that there is a neutral notification template that WP:AFD suggests be used?
And if you do find actual cases of canvassing by an individual, rather than innuendo and allegation, deal with THAT individiual, and not any of the projects to which he might belong. It's that simple. And if we are trying to make ARS and its delsort as neutral as possible (which seems to ne your goal), why fight us doing so?? And in looking over your responses to folks here when they offer ideas for addressing your concerns, do you really wish the issues addressed or are you just blowing smoke up our skirts? We address issues one at a time and do not burn down the house simply because someone thought he saw a mouse. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 08:28, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I don't object to this happening, but I don't see that it would make any difference. The idea that if the ARS were to do this then listing a debate on such a delsort category would be no different from listing it under any other is flawed. Every other page in Category:Wikipedia deletion sorting sorts articles by subject matter, something that would not be the case for a hypothetical ARS delsort list. If putting a debate in a list for the attention of the ARS is canvassing then it does not matter where that list is located or what format it takes. If you want to implement this on its own merits then go ahead, but don't offer it as a solution to the canvassing problem. Hut 8.5 00:18, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

  • Canvassing (at least as "defined" by TDA and not the guideline) is apparently running rampant across Wikipedia. It can be seen by the discussions on other project pages (such as examples found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) that use of their project pages to promote action on articles (even of some at AFD), is not a problem restricted only to the ARS, as these others also "inundate people" with information often favoring a certain conclusion or suggested outcome. Shall then widen the focus of this RFC to include the broader suggestion that all these other projects' members refrain from offering opinions at AFD unless and until these other project's pages are modified to never provide or request member input on issues? What a nest of vipers TDA has uncovered! </sarcasm>. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 06:31, 15 March 2012 (UTC) this tongue-in-cheek suggestion is made without any serious desire for encyclopedia-wide sanctions to any and all projects that offer information and seek discussion on their talk pages, as alerting their memberships to ongoing issues is what ALL projects do, and no project can dictate what their members do with the information provided on their pages. THAT calls for education of individuals.

Proposal from Hut 8.5[edit]

The problems with the ARS - including the allegations of canvassing - derive from something more fundamental: the group's aims. The purpose of the Squadron is to get stuff kept at AfD. Nowhere on the project's page is the rescuer urged to even consider whether the deletion nomination might be valid, and if an ARS member were to !vote Delete at an AfD for an article marked for rescue they would not be acting in their capacity as a member of the ARS. While such behaviour may be justifiable (when done on content that really should be kept, for instance, it's fine) it is easy to see how this philosophy could lead to some members trying to use whatever methods necessary to get as much content kept as possible.

Compare this to other Wikiprojects that have been mentioned. Unreferenced BLP rescue, which I participated in, was there for the purpose of emptying Category:Unreferenced BLPs, a task in which it eventually succeeded. Members had no problem with sending articles through the deletion process if no references could be found, and the project's efforts resulted in hundreds of articles being deleted. Wikiproject Notability is there to empty Category:Articles with topics of unclear notability, but members are taught to evaluate the notability of the article subject and act accordingly, rather than trying to get as many as possible deleted or kept.

My proposal for the ARS is simple: turn it into a project which aims to ensure the right decision is made in deletion discussions which are brought to its attention. This is a worthy aim, since there are many AfDs which would benefit from wider scrutiny, especially from editors with substantial experience in the deletion process. There would be no reason why our less inclusionist editors could not join such a project, which would remove concerns about partisanship. And any concerns about canvassing would be greatly reduced since bringing an AfD to the project's attention would not make one outcome more likely. Hut 8.5 23:46, 12 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. Hut 8.5 23:46, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. --Yaksar (let's chat) 00:22, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. Beeblebrox (talk) 17:58, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. Nick-D (talk) 09:43, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
    Comment - Shouldn't editors placing their name here be also explaining what parts of the the statement they support and why? This is supposed to be a discussion where arguments are the thing to be taken into account, but I don't see arguments by anyone else than Hut 8.5. Diego (talk) 23:16, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
    There isn't necessarily any reason for people to do that. If these people do agree with everything I said then there's no reason why they must add additional arguments or caveats. Hut 8.5 00:25, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
    True, but in that case their agreement doesn't add anything new to the discussion. Diego (talk) 09:56, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
    Why should a support vote be expected to add anything to the discussion? Malleus Fatuorum 05:39, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
    Maybe because consensus (even at RfCs) is achieved through discussion, not votes? That's why they're called not-votes. Diego (talk) 14:34, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. Begoontalk 00:43, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. Obviously. Malleus Fatuorum 05:35, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 02:13, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. Indeed. Stifle (talk) 17:18, 1 April 2012 (UTC)
  9. Weakly support. Although The purpose of the Squadron is to get stuff kept at AfD. isn't true according to the group's definition; some of its most prominent members have an anti-deletion mindset that doesn't fit in with the norms of Wikipedia, and they use the group to further this ideology. ThemFromSpace 03:35, 20 April 2012 (UTC)


  1. The editor misunderstands the fundamental purpose of the ARS. Beyond My Ken (talk) 05:00, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. I think the sentiment is just, but there is a fundamental misconception here. ARS is about sourcing out what can be sourced out and saving what can be saved. Closing administrators are not supposed to count votes, they are supposed to weigh arguments. If all Administrators did their jobs properly, as most of them usually do, all this "canvassing" nonsense would be exposed for what it is — a bogeyman believed to be under the bed that isn't really there. Carrite (talk) 17:32, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
    As TDA rightly points out several times here, canvassing has nothing to do with the result. Whether administrators properly do their job or not is entirely beside the point. ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 17:59, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. The insinuation here is that it is somehow improper to get encyclopedic articles kept at AfD. I would argue instead that any attempt to delete encyclopedic content--including articles on encyclopedic topics with the potential to meet inclusion criteria through normal editing--is an attempt to damage the encyclopedia. Jclemens (talk) 04:07, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. The goal is not to get every article kept. The goal is to get all articles kept that ought to be kept. The people supporting AfD here are not adverse to deleting articles. JClemens is ranked 64th in the number of deletions by all 1400 admins, with over 19,000; I am 88th, with over 16,000 [45] DGG ( talk ) 17:03, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. Fundamentally, the goal of ARS should not be to influence AfD's, even though that is a likely side effect. The goal should be to improve borderline articles which are facing deletion, with the intention of establishing their notability. If the AfD nominator's concerns are addressed through editing, then the AfD will change course naturally, and in many cases, the nominator will simply withdraw their nomination. There isn't a need for ARS to "ensure the right decision is made in deletion discussions which are brought to its attention." If the article is sufficiently improved, then the right decision will be made naturally, without the need for any coordinated effort to force the "right decision" to be made. —SW— converse 20:29, 14 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. The proposal suggests that only a deletion is the right outcome of a deletion discussion, thereby ignoring the willful and even pointy suggested deletions of notable material which does far more damage to the project than keeping the odd borderline case because of ARS. Agathoclea (talk) 07:41, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. Suraj T 09:30, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. Para 1 of ARS project page says "articles about non-encyclopedic topics should be deleted" - job done I think. Rich Farmbrough, 15:24, 20 March 2012 (UTC).
  9. BOZ (talk) 17:59, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. Ho hum. Just another description of what is on the ARS page that bears no resemplance to the acual page. --Guy Macon (talk) 04:49, 29 March 2012 (UTC)


I find the premise of this to be flawed, so I'm a tad confused. Reading the first three paragraphs of Wikipedia:Article Rescue Squadron, it is clear that the aims of the group are to keep notable articles. The fundamental premise of the ARS seems to be that some articles are notable but in a poor state, and that therefore they should be improved rather than deleted. This doesn't seem to correlate to the claim above that the ARS (as a project) believes that all articles need to be saved, irrespective of encyclopedic value or notability. - Bilby (talk) 02:24, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

From what I read it seems the contention from Hut is similar to my own, in that the ARS pushes for keeping an article that is listed and the project's pages don't allow that the nomination may actually be right. It is very hard to see how even the mere act of listing something there could be construed as anything but canvassing. Members may not vote the way someone listing a page desires, but that is because most of them aren't androids, I presume, and typically try to vote based on the evidence. All the same, the message still has an influence. If words and imagery alone couldn't persuade people, advertisements would be a lot more boring.
Someone seeing a neutral notification is more likely to examine the merits of the case objectively, while someone seeing a biased notification will be inclined to voting a certain way. When said people are screened through a page full of biased language and imagery favoring that sort of vote before even getting to the message, the inclination will be even greater. If those Budweiser commercials had people going "Here we go!" then banging their heads against walls in a drunken stupor, vomiting on one of the pin-up gals, passing out on the coach, and waking up the next day with nothing but a foggy memory and a piercing pain in their heads only to find out three weeks later that they got a girl pregnant, viewers would be more inclined to drink Coke.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 04:25, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree with User:Bilby that the proposal (and your very firrst sentence in response to him) is flawed. ARS does not promote that ANY article be automatically kept simply because it is on their list, only that it be improved as rapidly as possible in the face of a ticking clock. Nor do they promote kneejerk "keeps" for problematic articles. And as there are many non-ARS-related AFDs where editors opine keep or delete using poor arguments, it would seem that this lack of understanding is not limited to some few ARS members. That some editors, ARS members and non-ARS members alike, do not (yet) understand the processes of article improvement or AFD discussion is a call for education, not sanctions directed at one project in partcluar simply because they are apparently alone in the current crosshairs. Schmidt, MICHAEL Q. 05:08, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
(In reply to Bilby) I did not say that "the ARS... believes that all articles need to be saved". I said that that the purpose of the ARS is to get articles kept. I did not say "all" or "every" article. It seems from your comment that you agree with this. One thing that is not part of the purpose or mission of the ARS is to evaluate whether a deletion nomination placed before it is valid and act accordingly. (Or, to put it another way, ARS members do not ever look at an article on their list, decide the deletion nomination is valid and argue the thing should be deleted. Even if a project member were to do this he or she would not be doing ARS work.) Hut 8.5 09:51, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
The difficulty is that when you are selective, as is the ARS, in saying that your role is to save articles that are notable, then there is an extension by which you are not there to save articles which are not notable. So the ARS doesn't serve to automatically state keep, but it is, by its aims, supposed to evaluate articles and act to keep those which meet the notability requirements.
Your assumption that an ARS member will never vote delete is, I think, unsound. I see no reason why a member shouldn't vote to delete an article - nothing in the ARS's description suggests that it is opposed to deleting articles, only to deleting articles which are encyclopedic and meet the notability requirements. So anyone voting delete in regard to articles which fail those requirements are not acting against the ARS, but simply outside of its area of concern. They would only be acting against the aims of the ARS if they voted to delete an encyclopedic or notable article, where such could be established to be the case. - Bilby (talk) 15:13, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
There's nothing in the ARS's description which states that members should oppose deleting articles, no, but equally there's nothing in there which suggests that members should !vote to delete articles where the deletion nomination is valid. I'm aware that's "not its area of concern", that's what I'm proposing to change. Hut 8.5 16:52, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
That's where the problem comes in. Given that there is nothing in the ARS to say that it is wrong to argue to delete non-notable articles, I can't see an argument as to why the ARS should increase its remit to actively delete articles. I guess what you are asking for is a project dedicated to deleting and saving articles, but in a sense, that would be what AfD already is. - Bilby (talk) 22:15, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
My opinion, as I said in the proposal, is that the reported problems with the ARS derive from this one-sided nature. A project which tried to ensure the right decision was reached in deletion discussions would attract a broader membership, so it would no longer be an inclusionist club. If members did always try and get articles deleted if that's what they thought the right outcome was then it would alleviate concerns about canvassing. AfD is not a project dedicated to deleting and saving articles, that's like saying Wikipedia:WikiProject Wikify duplicates Category:Articles that need to be wikified - a process is not the same thing as a project to organise or promote work on that process. Hut 8.5 23:15, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

Proposal from Goodvac[edit]

Currently, the rescue list entertains any request to get involved in an AfD. The lack of discrimination often results in votes at the AfD without improvements to the article.[note 1] The purpose of ARS is to improve notable topics whose articles are in danger of deletion, a necessary foil at AfD, but when votes just roll in, this purpose is forsaken.

My proposal is as follows:

  1. The scope of the rescue list needs to be refocused to only entries that detail specifically why the article is rescuable and should be enforced by uninvolved editors taking the initiative to remove entries that fail this qualification. Several entries that are not rescuable have just wallowed on the rescue list with no discussion but have attracted keep votes without any improvements to the articles. For example, Foot hockey and Template:Infobox dava would be outside the scope of the rescue list and would be removed under this proposal.
  2. The culture of the rescue list should be to encourage editors to improve articles before or in lieu of voting, but a mere encouragement won't do. Something with more teeth needs to be implemented in this regard, but I don't know what. If someone can improve the article such that other editors agree the topic is notable, there is no need to vote. I've done this twice at AfD (Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Dr. Franklin's Island and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Micromechanical Flying Insect) and left a comment noting my improvements to the article. Not voting didn't hurt me.

Clearly, the solution isn't to ban the entire WikiProject from AfD, as there are useful editors there who actually improve articles in addition to/instead of arguing on the AfD, but rather to (1) clearly define a scope for the rescue list and enforce it and (2) stress the importance of improving articles over voting.

  1. ^ By improving articles, I mean rewriting, revamping, sourcing to meet WP:V and WP:RS, etc—major changes typify a true rescue. I do not mean wikification, copyediting, or other minor changes, while they are necessary and helpful. The key thing is the article's content, not the style (unless it's promotional).


  1. Goodvac (talk) 08:31, 15 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. NOT BURO. We have enough problems getting people to improve articles without getting people to approve that articles need to be improved. For most of the ones that are truly hopeless, we have WP:CSD. Should someone attempt to prove an article that can't be improved, they will not succeed, and the AfD will proceed to delete them. DGG ( talk ) 16:30, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
    The only part of your comment that is relevant to my proposal is "NOT BURO". However, bureaucracy is not always bad. WP:BURO states that the principles are of paramount importance. When the unenforced principles—in this case, improving articles instead of voting—are ignored in favor of just voting, it becomes necessary to implement a system that will uphold these principles, which were created by the project in the first place. Goodvac (talk) 23:38, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. If anything were to change, it would be that any participant in an AfD should be required to independently evaluate the sources and come to their own conclusions, essentially per BEFORE. If an editor comes upon an AfD, does that, and believes the article should be kept even in its current state, why the requirement to attempt to improve the article? Jclemens (talk) 07:49, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. By improving do you mean adding links to reliable sources, or by rewriting everything? Either way, that's just ridiculous. We're there to help find reliable sources to prove the article is notable. If you want what is found to be added to the article, then do it yourself, don't expect others to do things for you. Dream Focus 16:52, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
    It is lamentable that some ARS members aren't interested in laying even a finger on articles, in fulfilling the project's putative purpose—content writing. Goodvac (talk) 18:29, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
    Not sure when that was added, but don't really care. For years it wasn't there. We are about finding sources to prove an article is notable and should be kept, thus rescuing it from pointless deletion. Dream Focus 18:48, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
    It was there from the beginning—"If everybody who cares about preserving important topics glances at 1 deletion discussion per day (or even one per week), reads through the imperiled article, and rewrites it if it's deserving, the whole culture of deletion will change." Goodvac (talk) 00:46, 21 March 2012 (UTC)


  • This is a better suggestion than others, but would require severe policing, possibly from outside editors. It also would still require modifying the project pages among other changes. "Rescue" is not very objective terminology for this situation either and should disappear from the pages altogether. What messages would be left are also an issue. A message saying "this subject is notable" is not appropriate as it lends itself to a certain outcome of the discussion in violation of WP:CANVASS. Noting what issues are being raised about an article in a non-partisan manner and suggesting improvements to the article should be all that is allowed. Attempts to push for keeping the article, attacking the nominator, or any other argumentative messages like the ones I noted above should be strictly prohibited and treated rightly as violations of WP:CANVASS. On top of that, strongly discouraging votes as you suggest would be a good step.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 15:50, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
    • I agree: this would require stringent policing (not sure what form this would take and who would do the policing though) and self-restraint from editors who wish to "vote and scoot", in the words of Northamerica1000 (talk · contribs). The exact requirements for a listing at the rescue list needs to be refined; for example, more specific comments including how the article can be improved, what sources are available, what's lacking from the article, etc would be helpful. And the perceived canvassing can be eliminated by prohibiting bad faith comments about nominators and combative messages, creating a more "non-partisan" environment. Goodvac (talk) 19:00, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
  • It would shock me if Foot hockey is not notable, Ottawahitech's comment in that AfD honestly moved me. As to the specific proposal, I invite The Devil's Advocate to monitor the rescue list, and comment on entries as to his personal opinion as to whether its an appropriate listing and what should be done with it. People may disagree with him; but this is how actual article improvement (or appropriate deletion) gets done -- through grunt work, not RfCs.--Milowenthasspoken 17:46, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
    • I did not say that Foot hockey was not notable. My intention was to point out requests that are outside the scope of the rescue list. Ottawahitech, in clarification of why he listed the article, said that contributors to the article "may feel rejected if this article is deleted", so this appears to be a call for keep votes and would be removed under my proposal. However, I would not object if someone were to reinstate the entry with specific details of why the article is rescuable, the original requirement I proposed.
      I agree: "actual article improvement ... gets done ... through grunt work", not votes. Goodvac (talk) 18:49, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
You're being overly technical, clearly Ottawahitech thinks the subject may be notable. It was an appropriate listing. But if you think his listing on the rescue list is not sufficient, by all means, go comment to that effect. The ARS does not go around removing listings unless they are utterly silly. We actually can be nice, we silently ignore some listings. And then they get cited in this RFC for the ARS not doing anything.--Milowenthasspoken 23:20, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Ottawahitech's comment at the rescue list, as well as that at the AfD, was based on editor retention, with not one word about notability. Even so, thinking a subject may be notable isn't enough. Having done research, presenting one's findings, and explaining how ARS can help is. Of course, the requirements I propose for a listing is not set in stone. It is the enforcement of a carefully prepared scope that I think will be beneficial.
I understand that ARS currently doesn't remove listings, but my point is that if ARS is truly interested in improving articles—its central purpose—then they should remove listings that do not qualify. But nothing would preclude someone from reinstating the entry if s/he can meet the requirements for a listing. Then ARS can help.
And then they get cited in this RFC for the ARS not doing anything. ARS actually did do something—offer vote(s). It's fine if they ignore the entry completely (no votes, no improvements), but if they just show up to vote, particularly when they are alerted to the specific discussion, that's different. Votes don't improve the encyclopedia; article improvement does. Goodvac (talk) 00:19, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
"ARS actually did do something—offer vote(s)". What? Dream Focus? The ARS is not Dream Focus.--Milowenthasspoken 01:42, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
The ARS is not Dream Focus, but Dream Focus is in the ARS, and frankly, he probably does more damage to its reputation than just about anyone else. —SW— verbalize 13:56, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
The funniest thing about this RfC, though, is that there are so few people who are active in ARS. There is Dream Focus, who drives you all crazy because he will vote "keep" in AfDs, though always providing a rationale you can either agree with or dispute. No closing admin is persuaded by a single Dream Focus vote by itself (unless he votes delete or something other than keep.) He doesn't singlehandedly improve many articles in whose AfDs he participates, but frankly the vast majority of everyone who participates in AFD is EXACTLY LIKE THAT. That's a huge problem at AFD. So, put aside Dream. We have NorthAmerica1000, who is very inclusionist, but does work on lots of articles and works hard to find sources and improve articles. Yes, he tags/lists more articles than others, but he is consistent and rational even if others disagree with him. 75% of this RfC seems driven by Dream and NorthAmerica1000. Then we have a rotating cast of other ARS types, who I like to refer to as "What the average wikipedian was like in 2006." There's Warden, who's an independent inclusionist, who also improves many articles but drives people crazy when he completely rewrites an article because that somehow destroys the sanctity of AfD. DGG and MichaelQSchmidt are respectable elder statesmen who get along with everyone. There's me, a bit of a whacko, generally inclusionist, but I have done a lot of good AfD work that no one disputes, and of course I'm always right just like everyone not in ARS. There's other folks like Feyd and Carrite (and others who I forgive for omitting, but this comment is way too long, I still love you all) who are very personable and certainly not a cause of this RfC despite their good article work. The whole thing just amuses me. A few people are chanting "ARS" like its "ACORN" controlling the world. Scotty, you used to be one of them, but I think we've all moderated a bit over time and things are relatively smooth right now since the template was deleted. ARS is a very well-intentioned project that does some good work on a massive project with almost 4 million articles. A few deletionists help keep us honest; participate with us, share your views, you'll see we aren't satanic.--Milowenthasspoken 14:32, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
I generally agree, per my comments above. —SW— chat 15:26, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
Right, Dream Focus isn't the ARS; that was a poor word choice on my part. But he voted at the discussion because of the rescue listing, which vindicates my point of the rescue list begetting votes without improvement of the article.
Setting aside the disagreement over the requirements for a listing, what are your thoughts on the basic idea of the proposal—enforcing a well-defined scope? Goodvac (talk) 15:54, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Proposal from DGG[edit]

This is a modification of the proposal by Goodvac, While commenting, I realized we already have a way to do it without additional work, or bureaucracy.

WP:BEFORE is required before listing an article at AfD or PROD.

In order to delete an article properly, someone has to check whether it can be improved or not. At present the burden in practice falls on all of the people who comment at the AfD, or who review the Prod. The person to best do this though, is the person already examining the article in the first place. Nobody is supposed to list an article for deletion in good faith if it need not be deleted, and the ways it which it might not need to be deleted are listed at WP:BEFORE: a check that there are not further sources, a check that there is no way of using a merge or a redirect. A check that there is no practical way of removing or rewriting problematic content that makes the article unkeepable.
The check necessary to see whether an article should be deleted is also the check that gives material that might improve it so it does not have to be deleted. Assuming everyone working on deletion has the basic competence with the googles and basic editing, they can all find sources and rewrite articles in light of what they find. (If they do not have these skills, they should learn them before judging other people's work.) Sometimes they will find problems which are fixable but which they cannot fix, or a need for references they cannot access; the proper course is then to list it on the project page for the subject where those most likely to fix it will give it a try.
Some keepable articles will still end up at AfD because the resources needed are not obvious or the possible fixes beyond routine editing. Then the statement at AfD or Prod of what has been tried and failed will guide the community in looking further. As someone who can sometimes find such resources, someone doing the basic work is enormously helpful, for at present, I cannot assume that it has been done.
Why should it be the nom? Basically, because they have gotten there first, and have no business listing it otherwise. Nor does anyone have the ability to !vote in a AfD discussion unless they either do this or know it has been done. One person doing this saves work for everybody.
Some people doubt the inclusionists who try to improve articles will be willing to nominate them for deletion under any circumstances But I have deleted over 15,000 pages at this point, about 2/3 articles. The first thing I do at Wikipedia each day is check CSD; the last thing I do at night before stopping is check CSD. And most of my AfD closure are deletes. Some other admins who have commented for supporting the ARS in its present form have done even more than I. Some might doubt that the generally deletionist people would or could try to improve articles. I know many of the ones who have commented here are people who can and do engage in this, at least sometimes, and for some of them , very often. I assume (and in some cases know from the excellent editing) they have an equal degree of good faith as my own, and equal abilities. DGG ( talk ) 16:51, 16 March 2012 (UTC)


  1. Albeit, this is a proposal for a fix to AfD and not directly relevant here, I still think there needs to be a much stricter application of WP:BEFORE. Unfortunately, the use of Twinkle has also worked against its application as editors are not explicitly informed about the need for WP:BEFORE. Of course, it should really be common sense that one should check if something is notable or worthy of improvement before suggesting it be deleted.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 22:15, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
    Don't blame Twinkle. Twinkle makes it just as easy to do things right as to do things wrong. And if we ever did make such a step obligatory, Twinkle is I think sufficiently flexible to incorporate it. Unfortunately, now that Twinkle is a gadget we do not have any technical way of preventing people from using Twinkle when they persistently use it incorrectly. Perhaps this should be seen as a bug. DGG ( talk ) 22:55, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
    Not blaming it, just saying that it contributes to people ignoring WP:BEFORE by not directly informing them of it. It should go without saying, but a reminder can help.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 23:47, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. With the way AfD participation is going, if WP:BEFORE is not followed, we are going to completely break AfD. Many discussions sit three weeks and get only one or two comments. Nominators need to make good nominations; when they don't they add unnecessary burden to the process.--Milowenthasspoken 02:27, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. Although I would like to see it simplified, because BEFORE contains all sorts of possibilities, when all we really want is a relevant Google News archive search in most cases, since in my experience that is the single search most likely to uncover RS'es if any exist for most topics up for AfD. Jclemens (talk) 07:43, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
    Further comment: Several of the opposes ignore the intentional tension between BEFORE and BURDEN: BURDEN applies to individual assertions within articles, which can and should be removed if not sourced. BEFORE applies to entire articles, which should only be removed from non-admin view after a detailed review has ascertained that there is no encyclopedic potential. Jclemens (talk) 03:34, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. While this is unenforceable as long as consensus opposes ending nominations on purely technical grounds, something needs to be done so that it becomes as least as much work to delete as it is to create. If an article gets through NPP and CSD to even make it to AfD, then it deserves some effort to bring it up for deletion. Nomination for deletion without BEFORE is the equivalent of drive-by tagging. At least we are finally seeing some progress on promoting the removal of tags that are not explained either by template parameter or explanation on the talk page. We have a long way to go until we treat these edits with the disdain they deserve. I have to support this in spirit because BEFORE really just describes the absolute minimum that should be done prior to deletion, not the optimum. Jim Miller See me | Touch me 19:50, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. I agree that the proposal is off-topic, but something clearly needs to be done to decrease the number of notable subjects nominated for deletion. --ThaddeusB (talk) 17:02, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. Uncle G knows much of the early history of the project and, according to him, the deletion process was deliberately made something of a chore so that it would not be abused. Twinkle has subverted this design by making AFD trivially easy - just a matter of clicking a button and giving any kind of half-baked reason to delete. In particular, it is easier to start an AFD discussion than to start a discussion on the article's talk page. Such local discussion ought to be the pre-requisite for action as this is our general principle of dispute resolution - to try to resolve matters locally before escalating to global noticeboards. Warden (talk) 20:27, 18 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. BEFORE shouldn't be ignored just because deletionists find it inconvenient. CallawayRox (talk) 18:20, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  8. I've seen many AFDs where people show up and say delete without clicking the Google news archive search at the top and seeing if there are sources. If no one appears on the scene to do that, then a perfect notable article gets deleted. At least a brief search should be required. Dream Focus 10:00, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  9. Bearian (talk) 15:38, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  10. BOZ (talk) 18:02, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  11. This remains largely unenforceable, but I think it should be "required". You should be darn embarrassed to put something at AfD when 10 seconds of looking would have shown that the topic is notable. And if it happens a lot, there is (and I think most would agree) a WP:COMPETENCE issue. Hobit (talk) 16:59, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
  12. I would like to see this proposed in the appropriate forum, as I think it's important enough to be "required" in spirit. That it is not 100-percent enforceable is beside the point; many of our policy requirements are not perfectly enforceable. I support DGG's comment Why should it be the nom? Basically, because they have gotten there first, and have no business listing it otherwise. Nor does anyone have the ability to !vote in a AfD discussion unless they either do this or know it has been done. Also agreeing with Jclemens' comments above, and I would further note that Wikipedia:Deletion policy essentially asks that someone has searched for sources for an article before it can be deleted as "non-notable". Paul Erik (talk)(contribs) 01:40, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
  13. I do think a reasonable stab at WP:BEFORE should be required of anyone nominating an article for deletion. I particularly hate to see articles get AfD'd within literally minutes of their creation, because it means that the nominator almost certainly didn't follow WP:BEFORE; the lapse of time between creation and nomination was not enough for them to do any research. --MelanieN (talk) 22:56, 28 May 2012 (UTC)


  1. For several reasons.
    a)All previous attempts to upgrade WP:BEFORE to policy have failed. And rightly so. See this discussion, and this one for relevant threads.
    b)This is the wrong venue to be discussing WP:BEFORE. This RfC concerns the Article Rescue Squadron so it's way off topic. This proposal could possibly be interpreted as a cynical attempt to upgrade WP:BEFORE by a sneaky back-door route, though I'm sure that's not actually true. It just looks a bit off.
    c)The problem I have with WP:BEFORE is how it is used as a club to attack AfD nominators. This is inappropriate behaviour because it shifts the focus from articles to people. It also makes the utterly, utterly false assumption that WP:BEFORE trumps WP:BURDEN. Reyk YO! 00:02, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  2. Per Reyk, I'm fed up with people at ARS discussing the nomination or the nominator rather then the article. Its a dishonest way to progress business as it propogates the battleground mentality that is AFD and doesn't noting to improve the content under discussion. Public humiliation/approbation are most certainly poor tools to teach lazy AFD nominators how to do it properly. Spartaz Humbug! 06:00, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  3. I agree with the above that this is a distraction from the purpose of the RfC, and that if implemented it would result in many AfD discussions degenerating into attacks on the nominator rather than discussing the merits of the article in question. The idea has been proposed and rejected many times before. People sometimes leave comments along the lines of "Keep, nominator didn't follow BEFORE because there's a source here", but the fact that particular source hasn't been brought up doesn't mean anything. Possibly the nominator did look for sources but didn't find that one because of slightly different search terms or techniques, not looking in a certain location or because of an honest mistake. Possibly the nominator did find that source but discounted it because they didn't think it was reliable, independent or constituted significant coverage (topics editors disagree about all the time). We could require that nominators give an exhaustive list of everything they did to satisfy BEFORE, but that would be excessive bureaucracy and the AfD process is already quite difficult for editors who haven't seen it before to figure out. Hut 8.5 14:00, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  4. While I agree that WP:BEFORE should be satisfied by anyone nominating an article for deletion, to attempt to actually require it is unenforceable. As Hut describes above, just because someone didn't find any sources doesn't mean they didn't put forth a good faith effort to search for them, and there is no way to prove it one way or the other. Also, I agree with Reyk that this proposal is somewhat off-topic. —SW— communicate 15:37, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
  5. The responsibility for finding grounds on which to retain content rests with those who believe the content is worth keeping. This applies both as a matter of principle (see WP:BURDEN) and also as a practical matter: people who believe that a particular article should be deleted are likely to be less motivated to conduct a thorough search; that is something for which those who are of the opposite view are better suited. Separately, as has been noted, AfDs should discuss the merits of the content at issue, rather than those of the nominator. This proposal would, on the opposite, incite AfD participants to make contested AfDs even more confrontative and vitriolic than they already are.  Sandstein  17:59, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  6. Dipping WP:BEFORE in gold and demanding fealty before it has long been a pet cause of the ARS, but it is simply not going to happen; IMO this should be about ready to be listed at WP:PERENNIAL. Blatantly bad faith nominations of a clearly notable subject can be handled in the proper venues, there's no need to raise this to policy to address that. Tarc (talk) 18:15, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
  7. Per Reyk and Tarc. Sorry, DGG, but your persistent campaign to hobble deletion nominators has already been rejected and rightly so. Stifle (talk) 17:19, 1 April 2012 (UTC)
  8. WP:BEFORE is one of those sounds-great-in-theory-works-poorly-in-practice things -- rather akin to many of the complaints about the ARS, in fact! It's bad enough that it's already used as a sneaky way of assuming bad faith without actually coming out and assuming it with respect to AFD nominators. It's also an extremely subjective thing. I've had WP:BEFORE thrown in my face in the past when I have absolutely done a good faith search for sourcing -- only to have someone else look at the same sources I'd dismissed, deem them acceptable, and then assume that I hadn't bothered to check for sources before nominating the article. I've seen this done to a number of other people as well. This is usually accompanied by a nails-on-chalkboard snide "all you have to do is click the Google News button up top" comment. Wonderful stuff! WP:BEFORE should only ever exist as advice, not as anything with actual force to it. ɠǀɳ̩ςεΝɡbomb 17:02, 6 April 2012 (UTC)
  9. Per Reyk, Spartaz, and Hut 8.5. Of course you should always check for sources, but until the invention of a mindreading device this will be impossible to police and arguing over the extent of a BEFORE search will only serve as a distraction in AfDs. ThemFromSpace 03:41, 20 April 2012 (UTC)


  • Should all users follow WP:BEFORE? Of course they should, but it is not policy and Reyk is correct that making it one is well outside the scope of this RFC. Frankly it is one of the tools most often use by the problematic minority of ARS users to attack the integrity of other AFD participants. Ironically, they choose to ignore WP:BURDEN, which is in fact a policy, and will often use WP:REFBOMB/WP:PUFF tactics to try and "win" at AFD without ever actually improving an article at all. I think those issues are more in the realm of what this RFC should be trying to resolve. Beeblebrox (talk) 00:10, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
It is outside the scope of the RfC, but I think it would be good if one of the results is that we get some real move toward reforming the AfD process. The current state of AfD appears to be one of the main reasons for the kind of activity we see with the ARS and they make a few good points about it.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 13:20, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree with TDA here; not within the scope of this RfC, but we could come away with a shared desire to consider a separate proposal. – SJ + 13:00, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
That's an interesting sentiment. I proposed somewhere else that deleted articles should usually not have their history automatically removed as long as the AfD doesn't have BLP or Copyvio concerns; and there's precedent for that outcome. If the history was not unnecessarily removed and thus the content not lost to the wiki, that would remove a lot of drama to the AfD discussions, and a lot of the reason to !vote "keep" on dubious articles. I could expand that to a proposal if the idea has followers. Diego (talk) 14:48, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
  • This proposal comes up often enough that it's worth commenting on. I don't think anyone is opposed to the principle of WP:BEFORE. The question is what it means in practice. If someone says "I looked for sources and I didn't find any", and someone pulls out sources, is the nominator in trouble? What if the sources found don't provide direct and detailed coverage as required by the WP:GNG? Now we're not just arguing about whether to delete the article, we're also accusing the nominator of acting in bad faith and having a discussion of the nominator's conduct. Conflating a conduct discussion with a content discussion is against our policy on dispute resolution, and a generally bad idea. Is this what we're trying to achieve by turning WP:BEFORE into policy? I might suggest a more specific option, which is that participation *and* nomination in AFD is contingent on understanding community standards. If someone blindly nominates good articles OR blindly votes !keep on bad articles, and they get it wrong a disproportionate amount of time (say, more than 50% wrong), they should be kindly told to smarten up (or stay out), with further sanctions waiting in the wings if they don't. Shooterwalker (talk) 19:20, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
In practice WP:BEFORE means that a nominator should take at least a couple minutes to run a Google search to see if there are sources out there. As long as they make a good faith effort to take a peek, that's all anyone can ask. The automation-driven "I don't see any good footnotes so I'm gonna nominate this for deletion - WHAM!" nominations are what we should all be seeking to avoid. Fewer bad nominations means fewer squabbles over what needs to be kept — ARS doesn't function in a vacuum. Bad, upsetting nominations are the real issue, not some mythical chronic tendency of ARS to campaign for "keep" votes in a process that is more akin to a trial than an election... Carrite (talk) 06:09, 22 March 2012 (UTC)
  • I think it is not entirely accurate to say this would be unenforceable. There are many actions which can be cause for sanctions that are not easily proved most of the time. However, in some cases the violation is obvious or sufficiently clear. Should someone continuously make bad nominations, either due to invalid rationales or an abundance of readily available sourcing, it would be nice to have something that clearly this is inappropriate behavior. Really, it can amount to disruptive editing.--The Devil's Advocate (talk) 04:43, 24 March 2012 (UTC)
Here is an example of a user who continuously makes bad nominations:Wikipedia:Requests for comment/TenPoundHammer Sure looks unenforceable to me... --Guy Macon (talk) 04:58, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

Proposal from MelanieN[edit]

Granted, AfD is not a vote, but it often gets treated that way. In particular I have long suspected that the motivation of someone who tags an article for rescue is not to actually get a consensus to keep the article, but rather to drum up a few "keep" !votes so that the article will be closed as "no consensus" - which of course defaults to "keep". This is basically gaming the system so that it becomes impossible to delete anything. So my proposal is that if an article has been tagged for rescue, and if most or all of the "keep" !votes were made after the tag, then "no consensus" should not apply - or should default to "delete". --MelanieN (talk) 23:02, 28 May 2012 (UTC)

Comment: JClemens makes a good point below. If the "keep" votes are "based on improvements to the article" then my suggestion above would not apply. This proposal is for cases where there have not been significant improvements to the article, simply arguments like "passes GNG". --MelanieN (talk) 13:56, 29 May 2012 (UTC)


  1. --MelanieN (talk) 23:24, 28 May 2012 (UTC)
  2. This is the classic modus operandi of the ARS, though it has diminished somewhat since the heady days of the banned A. Nobody among others, it is still a problem here and there. Tarc (talk) 01:05, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
  3. pbp 21:52, 30 May 2012 (UTC)


  1. There aren't that many active ARS members at any given time. Articles we participate in are deleted sometimes regardless of us showing up. The regular ARS members don't say keep unless they find sources, and at times even say delete. I nominated an article for deletion recently [46]. We are not a bunch of "keep everything" fanatics as some try to make us out to be. We are certainly not gaming the system to do a deadlock. Gaming the system would be someone renominating the same article a month after its previous AFD, or the same person who failed to get the results they wanted nominating it a second time. That happens far too often. Dream Focus 00:05, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
  2. this proposal is an awful discarding of good faith and I am incensed by it. also this RFC has long been over.--Milowenthasspoken 23:36, 30 May 2012 (UTC)
  3. What an absurd suggestion. Toa Nidhiki05 01:03, 31 May 2012 (UTC)


  • This RFC is a joke. I hope it never ends.--Milowenthasspoken 01:25, 29 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Even if it were still a valid RfC (the tag has long since expired and been removed) this proposal ignores modification to an article, and would potentially penalize improving it. It's a "solution" searching for a problem that doesn't actually exist. Jclemens (talk) 05:06, 29 May 2012 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.