Wikipedia:Relist bias

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Below is an example Articles for Deletion discussion.

  • Delete. Obviously fails WP:GNG. Only source is a press release from the company, and I'm unable to find any online sources that even verify the company's existence. Their claims pass WP:A7, at least, but they're not covered in reliable secondary sources. ~ Experienced Editor #1
  • Delete, mostly per the above. The press release is only available via the company's cookie-cutter website. This could even be a hoax, for all we know. ~ Experienced Editor #2
  • Keep. If they deliver the product they're promising, this would revolutionize the world! Wikipedia would look backwards if it failed to cover this. ~ WP:SPA #1 / article creator
  • Keep. As the CEO of the company, I can guarantee that we're for real. Email me at <redacted@company.com> if you need to verify. ~ Apparent CEO
  • Keep. We're real and here to stay. ~ SPA #2
  • Delete. No sourcing indicating notability. Fails WP:GNG and WP:NORG. ~ Experienced Editor #3

An experienced admin would properly close this discussion as "delete", as all policy-based rationales clearly favor deletion. Non-admins can't close as "delete", however. Faced with the options of keeping, relisting, or walking away, a non-admin closer often chooses to relist the discussion. Their rationale for relisting is that the vote tally was close, and at least relisting is better than doing nothing. In another week, maybe the tally will be more one-sided and assist the admin in closing as "delete".

That's relist bias. Non-admins are welcome and encouraged to close deletion discussions, but they're unable to close most XfDs as "delete". Because of this, it's possible to intentionally or unintentionally develop a bias toward alternative outcomes, such as relisting. This is harmful to the project.

By relisting a discussion which has already fully debated the merit of the article, the non-admin has unintentionally wasted the times of any other editors who stumble upon the open discussion before it is next closed and the time of the next closer. As more-and-more discussions are relisted, they can also unintentionally cause a backlog to develop, as closers a week from now will need to close all of that day's discussions in addition to the relisted discussions which should have been properly closed the first time around.

Non-admins can prevent themselves from developing a relist bias by doing the following:

  1. Don't relist discussions unless there is a clear reason to do so. For instance, if new information shows up late in the discussion, relisting is usually appropriate.
  2. Make use of "no consensus" closes when appropriate. If all points have been fully debated but no consensus has emerged, closing as "no consensus" is preferable to relisting.
  3. As a non-admin, don't close discussions you think should be closed as "delete". If an admin will eventually need to close the discussion as "delete", they might as well do so now. Kicking that close a week down the road isn't helpful.
  4. Participate in the discussion. Review the issue in question, research, form an opinion, and post your interpretation of the issue. Help make the closing decision a little more clear for the next editor/admin who comes along.
  5. Don’t relist discussions with low or no participation. For articles, admins can treat them as expired proposed deletions and should be allowed to evaluate the arguments.

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