Wikipedia:Improve the junk
|This unofficial guidance essay contains comments and advice of one or more Wikipedia contributors. It is not a Wikipedia policy or guideline, though it may be consulted for assistance. It may contain opinions that are shared by few or no other editors; potential measure of how the community views this essay may be gained by consulting the history and talk pages, and checking what links here.|
|This page in a nutshell: Wikipedia lacks articles on a lot of notable subjects, and theoretically it should be possible to create an encyclopedic article on any of many as-yet written topics. We as editors should strive to improve articles to show they have merit and to have them better serve the project and its readers.|
Occasionally, an article on a notable topic might find its way to deletion discussion because of either lack of diligent research on the part of its nominator, or because the nominator has otherwise decided that an improvable but as-yet-unimproved article has no redeeming qualities unless improved by someone else. Through a diligent research in both online and offline sources, editors should be as proactive as possible in improving such articles to better them for both the project and for its readers.
Being an online database, Wikipedia can maintain improvable articles with potential so that willing editors are better able to improve them through the course of regular editing. Editors should always strive for quality... but unless something is in blatant violation of existing policy, we need to respect the efforts of others and their contributions. This means our not assuming that another's work has no merit simply because it is imperfect, and means that when finding an article that needs help, we editors should do our diligent best to improve the article so that all benefit.
As a community, it is up to us all to take a responsibility for improving articles. When or if an editor decides that fixing something is beyond his ability or beneath his dignity, and chooses to then relegate an improvable article to deletion, this makes the tasks of others in building this encyclopedia that much more difficult.
No need to delete improvable articles only to have to recover them later
It is worse to have an improvable article on a notable subject deleted, than to make no effort to fix perceived problems. Wikipedia accepts that it is itself a work in progress, that it is imperfect even while striving for perfection, and does not demand that everything be immediately perfect.
If an article has the potential for improvement, it serves both the project and its readers to get off our butts and actually fix the problem, rather than decide it's someone else's problem. It is not somebody else's problem – it is ours... together... as a community. If an article contains information that is misleading, or slanted, or lacks sources to verify the text, or is inaccurate... the answer is to fix it if at all possible, before considering deletion. If the problem has existed unaddressed for a length of time, that lack of attention should act as an even stronger impetus for an editor to fix it, rather than decide to delete it out of laziness, or because the subject is not one of your own favorites, or because one thinks others should do it. The beginning of addressing concerns is to do the digging to find and use the footnotes that lead our readers to the outside source of article statements... for a reader's easy verification of presented facts and to improves a reader's understanding of the topic... and if difficult, then editors should speak toward possible improvements on the article's talk page... or contact the article author and offer to help.
While since 2007, a deleted article can be restored, it is far better to actually take personal initiative and fix a problem when found, rather than either ignore it or propose an otherwise improvable article for deletion... making the work of actually building this encyclopedia someone else's concern.
Wikipedia IS a community and not an desert island... and as a community we are far stronger working together than any one individual alone. It is important to remember that proposing the deletion of an improvable article can sometimes act as a slap in the face to the editors who performed the initial research or to those who've made contributions to the article. And although yes, deleted articles can be restored, there is no need to unnecessarily foist work on others when, as individuals within a community, we can work together for improvement. When/if someone recreates the deleted work of others, unless they choose the exact same article title, they will not know that their work is a recreation of someone else's deleted work. And if unknowingly recreated by a newcomer, such new editors rarely know where or how to request that a deleted article be restored... or about the processes in place that then negatively flag their efforts as a recreation of deleted content.
While something in violation of WP:NOT or WP:BLP might well be considered for a quick deletion, deletion should be the last resort for fixable articles with the potential for improvement... and only after all diligent and honest efforts have been made to address concerns in the first place. Everybody wins if an article is properly improved, rather than deleted.
- Wikipedia:Somebody Else's Problem
- Wikipedia:Why should I care?
- Wikipedia:Bare notability
- Wikipedia:What "Ignore all rules" means
- Jimbo Wales' statement of principles