Wikipedia talk:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions

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"I'm sure"[edit]


I think it might be worth mentioning that a statement like "I'm sure there are sources" isn't good enough, there has to be actual evidence of sources. Siuenti (씨유엔티) 21:46, 10 April 2017 (UTC) Likewise with "I know it's notable" Siuenti (씨유엔티) 21:48, 10 April 2017 (UTC)


Moved this new section here for discussion:

PR sources only


  • Delete All of the sources are PR. – PRonly, 00:00, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
  • Delete All of the sources are promotional, because newspapers and magazines published the articles. – All-sources-are-the-same, 00:01, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Delete The articles provide positive coverage about the company, so they all must be PR. – Positive=negative, 00:02, 1 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Delete The articles are published in reliable sources, but they are all PR-based because I say so. – Isayso, 00:03, 1 January 2017 (UTC)

Sometimes users claim that all of the available sources for a topic are derived from PR as an absolute, but provide no proof for such claims other than proof by assertion, hunches, personal opinion and unresearched speculation. In general, an indication of legitimate news coverage is an article published with a byline from a staff writer of a publication with editorial oversight. One means of determining whether or not a source is a press release is to perform a search in a search engine using the title of the article. Oftentimes, legitimate news articles published by reliable sources are hosted on the publisher's website and a limited number of affiliate websites, as well as some unauthorized "copycat" websites. Conversely, press releases may have the same article hosted on many various public relations websites such as PR Newswire, Marketwired, Business Wire and the like. See also: WP:CRUSADE.

It seems like the key issue here is "but provide no proof for such claims...", but that's an issue with any argument. It is the case that, sometimes, most or all of the sources about a subject (a company's awards ceremony, a new internet company...) come from press releases or other PR work, and that is an important point to make. — Rhododendrites talk \\ 05:11, 2 August 2017 (UTC)

  • Support the removal: this argument is rooted in the notability guideline. It is actually a very good argument for deletion discussions that is often used correctly currently. While I respect Northamerica1000's view that it contains guidance for finding PR sourcing, I don't think that's justification for having a policy-based argument in this essay. TonyBallioni (talk) 05:28, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
  • I added a bit more content to WP:PRONLY to balance it out more and provide more perspective. North America1000 05:39, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
    • The section as still written effectively asks for !voters to go through every possible source and explain why they are PR. If challenged, I think that should happen, but I don't think it is necessary in most AfDs to say more than I've reviewed the available sourcing on Google News and in the article. It all appears to come from one or two press releases, which does not meet our notability criteria., which is a brief analysis, but one that does show that the reader has read the sourcing (or at least claims to have, which we should AGF on). I typically do more than that in my !votes or nominations, but if a participant makes it clear they've read the sourcing and found it likely to be PR, that is a policy based argument. Having this in here discounts a policy-based argument while not reflecting what is actually the standard at AfD. I don't see a good reason to have it. TonyBallioni (talk) 05:46, 2 August 2017 (UTC)
      • I don't get why would belong here. It's advice on how to decide if a source is self-published or independent. That belongs at Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources. If sources are all PR, then it's a good argument to delete. If they're not, then it isn't. The question is whether you identify the sources correctly, or fail to identify them. This type of argument doesn't need to be avoided, so long as you aren't making errors in the facts that underpin your argument. But any type of sound argument can be wrong if it's based on errors of fact.

        Advice on recognizing astroturf PR could be added to Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources, along with scraper sites that indiscriminately aggregate questionable content, or lazy, understaffed news blogs that take press releases and give them a light paraphrase. All RS stuff, not arguments to avoid. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 05:56, 2 August 2017 (UTC)

  • Per the discussion herein, I have removed the content from the page (diff). North America1000 07:04, 2 August 2017 (UTC)

All coverage equal addition[edit]

Bold additions to this arguments to avoid page are fine, but this is the second time recently we've had one that begs the question "What counts as a source?" If you have the correct answer to that question, then your argument based on it is valid. One should not avoid arguments in the form "sources a, b, and c demonstrate notability". That's about the best possible argument. The question is, is the premise of that argument valid? Meaning, are sources a, b, and c good enough, and are there enough of them? The policy Wikipedia:Notability covers these questions, along with WP:RS. Here is not the place for yet another essay on what these policies mean.

Also, this entry was 800+ words long, which is about five times as long as the other entries, on a page that already really long. If there is consensus to add this it would need to be much shorter. If there is that much to say about this a new essay page should be created for it. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:34, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

Request for Comment on inclusion of section on COI & paid editing[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Opposed for a variety of reasons.Given the staleness, it's rational to not expect any more participation.Winged Blades Godric 11:37, 7 September 2017 (UTC)

Should this page include a section on conflict-of-interest/ paid editing? If so, how might it look? KDS4444 (talk) 12:32, 19 August 2017 (UTC)

  • Nominator comment--I'd like to see a section that went something like this, under a section:--

Someone got paid/ COI edit


  • Delete This article was written by someone who was paid to create it: Wikipedia article space is not for sale. - AlwayzFree 08:22, 4, February 2016 (UTC)
  • Delete Obviously a promotional piece, creator has even admitted having a WP:COI on the talk page! - ISpyCatch22 09:25, 4, February 2016 (UTC)
  • Delete with extreme prejudice Wikipedia is not here to make your or your client rich. Get a real job and stop editing Wikipedia for pay. - Jabjab Binks 10:45, 5, February 2016 (UTC)
  • Delete and block This article is a perfect example of why paid editing is prohibited on Wikipedia. The client should get his money back after we finish deleting this. - Refund or Die 12:35, 5, February 2016 (UTC)
  • Delete It looks like the subject's husband wrote this article, and since he definitely has a conflict of interest, I see no reason for us to retain this. Even if he declared his COI on his user page. - Hang'em 'til He Chokes 14:13, 6, February 2016 (UTC)

Wikipedia has very strict guidelines with regard to paid editing, and paid editors are expected to follow those guidelines to the letter, including making full disclosure of their roles as paid editors. This allows other editors to track such contributions carefully and to remove/ delete them if they are fundamentally promotional or if it is discovered that adequate disclosure was not made. Sometimes paid editors may attempt to hide their identities by editing from throwaway accounts, which is a violation of Wikipedia's rules with regard to sockpuppetry, and if this is discovered it can result in an indefinite block being placed on the puppet master and all sockpuppet accounts. Any paid edit is likely not a neutral edit.

However, the reason Wikipedia has these policies with regard to paid editing is because paid editing does happen and will happen, and the project is better off knowing by whom and where paid editing is taking place rather than attempting to ban it entirely. A paid editor is presumably as capable of writing an article on a notable subject as any other, and by declaring his/ her role has adhered to the disclosure requirements. Paid editors should not be punished for being honest— if that were to happen, then paid editing would sink underground and become untraceable. But it would still take place.

We may not like it, but edits made by a paid editor who has properly declared his or her role should only be evaluated in terms of their neutrality and suitability for inclusion, not on the paid nature of the edit. There are no policies which forbid paid editing per se, only policies which forbid concealing it. Also, keep in mind that many paid editors are also prolific contributors to Wikipedia in their roles as unpaid volunteers. We don't want to drive away individuals whose writing is talented enough to have attracted offers of payment, we want to encourage— even demand— the disclosure of their paid edits and then treat them just like anyone else.

This goes for edits for which no one has been paid but which still represent a conflict of interest. So long as the party with the conflict fully discloses this fact and only submits edits through the {{edit request}} template on the article talk page, that person's honesty warrants heightened scrutiny, not shame, and is not a basis for !voting to delete an article.

I've seen editors make such arguments, and I don't think they are legitimate ones to be brought up in a deletion discussion. Am open to suggestions for changes to the text, obviously, as well as the examples, but my bottom line is that it seems we should have a section that specifically mentions the fact that a COI or "someone got paid" argument is not, by itself, a valid one for deleting an article. Thoughts? KDS4444 (talk) 12:41, 19 August 2017 (UTC)

  • This is an essay, expressing several opinions about the COI guidelines and the paid editing policies, and the fact that the essay is so much longer than the rest of the entries on Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in deletion discussions reveals how far this is from having wide consensus. This is more a rephrasing and rewriting of the COI rules to suit one editor's opinions of them. Instead of using 'arguments to avoid' to publish a modified version of these rules, go to Wikipedia:Conflict of interest and propose changes. It could probably stand to be better written.

    As far as the basic idea that you can't argue for deletion of an article because it was written by a paid editor, it's not that simple. The first two paragraphs above reveal this: if the paid editor didn't properly disclose, then there may be an argument for deletion. Did they or didn't they? That's arguable, hence the AfD discussion. It's not out of bounds to argue it. If it is necessary to discourage ongoing violations by a COI editor, removing their edits, even if otherwise acceptable, is sometimes a tool used for that purpose, explained in WP:DENY. An argument on that basis is valid.

    It might be helpful to add a brief mention of dealing with paid content under the WP:RUBBISH section, on the question of whether paid content is salvageable, or if it is stealth advertising that cannot be kept. There's no simple answer but it's worth mentioning. Similarly, a brief mention of COI or paid editors in the WP:ADHOM section might be worth adding, since that is where this addresses ad hominem. Instead of all this bombast about what we ought to think about paid editors, it boils down to: creation by a paid editor alone isn't a reason to delete, but if the article is blatant adverting, or the paid editor didn't properly disclose, then it might be. We can agree on that without having to agree on whether or not paid editors are valuable or a pain in the ass, or whether or not we would want to drive them away. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 17:33, 19 August 2017 (UTC)

  • Oppose per WP:DEL4, WP:NOTSPAM, and WP:DEL14, WP:BLP (we get defamatory paid editing around here too!), WP:G5, and WP:DON'T PRESERVE. Yes, there are actually very strong policy based reasons for deletion of COI and paid editing articles, and while who the contributor is should never be the only reason we delete, promotionalism can be (see DEL4 and G11), and the status of the contributor is in fact relevant: Wikipedia is the 6th largest website in the world. Simply having an article here can be promotional if the subject is of borderline notability, and the intent behind the article is something to weigh in these discussions. Also, re: the TOU: while they may allow declared paid editing, that does not exempt local en.Wiki policy, which clearly states Those promoting causes or events, or issuing public service announcements, even if noncommercial, should use a forum other than Wikipedia to do so. (WP:NOTSPAM). Using the TOU to override local policy should be discouraged at all cost, and this essay is not the place to encourage it either. TonyBallioni (talk) 21:13, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
Regarding length: the current sections on WP:ITSLOCAL, WP:ITSA, and WP:WAX are each at least as long as what I have proposed here— I am also not sure why this length is evidence that it doesn't have wide consensus, as consensus is what I had created this RfC to try to obtain. Changes to WP:COI are about as easy to make as changes to WP:V, and the page is pretty much inviolate. My intent was to make clear that arguing to delete on the basis of COI/paid concerns is by itself not a reason for deletion, just as arguments to delete "They don't like it", or "It's an old article" are not by themselves reasons for keeping/ deletion. If an author has declared a COI, then there is no debate on that point— the debate is on whether or not that declaration means the article should be deleted (on the basis of the COI). I have no problem removing the bombast, as you put it, on paid editors. But you agree that adding some text to say that disclosed paid edits should not be deleted on the basis of having been paid would be a good idea? The part about blatant advertising is already pretty well covered in other parts of Wikipedia's guidelines. My sense is that editors may be tempted to make a knee-jerk response to seeing a paid edit and to place a !vote to delete based on nothing more than the paid nature of the edit, and I wanted to have that situation addressed. Perhaps the ad hominem section will work just as well for such a purpose. KDS4444 (talk) 21:24, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
I would oppose any addition to any section of this policy without a strong consensus. It has become an acceptable practice at AfD to do so: this essay is for documenting arguments that are generally agreed to be flawed, not arguments that some users think are weak, but are not uniformly regarded as such by the community as a whole. TonyBallioni (talk) 21:32, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
Also, I'm assuming that this has some connection to the arguments at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Stewart Levenson. TonyBallioni (talk) 21:36, 19 August 2017 (UTC)
Changes to policy pages aren't that hard, if the change isn't radical. If it means the same thing but makes it clearer, that isn't so hard. So I suspect that the reason this wouldn't be so easy to get accepted as a proposal to change WP:COI is that it isn't a small change, and it isn't just a clearer way of saying the same thing as the existing guidelines. It goes further than that, and consensus to go that far is not obvious. Maybe it has merit, but that doesn't mean any AfD argument whose basis is something other than this interpretation of the COI guidelines is invalid on its face. 'Arguments to avoid' are things that are so fallacious, irrelevant, or orthogonal to the deletion criteria that they are certain to be ignored if the discussion is closed correctly.

From the comments so far, I think there's probably consensus so say:

  1. An argument to delete that based entirely on creator's paid or COI status is ad hominem.
  2. An argument do delete because of a COI creator coupled with other circumstances, such as that they violated the rules, blatant or stealth advertising, or that notability is borderline, to name a few, might be a good argument.
I'd try again, but without saying all that other stuff. Stick to the slam sunk assertions we all definitely agree on. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 00:40, 20 August 2017 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.