User:Daniel Quinlan/deletion

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Deletion is a tool

Deletion is a tool like any other. I don't believe anyone who has voted on VfD to "delete" an article has proposed that any bad article be deleted. A few people vote to keep articles nearly 100% of the time, but since there aren't too many in comparison to everyone else, the strategy seems to be to push to end deletion. I suspect they equate deletion with censorship or believe that all information is worthwhile, but before I go too deeply into anti-deletionism, I'd rather talk about why deletion is a valuable tool.

Let's talk about bad articles. In evolution, maybe we'd call them unfit individuals. For any Wikipedia article, there are two basic attributes that make it: (1) the title and (2) the content.

How do we improve bad articles?

  1. we rewrite them (original content becomes history)
  2. we redirect them (original title becomes secondary)
  3. we delete them (both title and content are destroyed)

I'd hate to see one of our most basic tools removed.

Using redirection instead of deletion can never fix a POV title, a vandalism title, etc. When someone creates 17 redirects to their own personal article and makes it impossible to find someone with a similar name, redirection can't fix that either. Deletion takes bad articles off of the radar of search engines and that's a good thing. And yes, it destroys really bad content too and that's a good thing.

I suspect much of the growing distress of some people over deletion is that as Wikipedia grows, the frequency with which new articles need to be deleted may be increasing, but I don't stress about it. No medium is perfect. There are more people on the internet, more people finding Wikipedia, and making contributions, etc. That has really helped improve Wikipedia and if it side-effect is that more vandals and non-helpful people find us, I think we've dealt with it pretty well.

Deletion also exerts a lot of evolutionary pressure on editors. If you write a really inappropriate unencyclopedic article (like "politician So-and-so is evil"), it might be deleted. A lot of horrible articles are rewritten regularly and removed from VfD because there's pressure to delete them. That's good just like having polar bears eat cute baby seals is good. If the content is worthwhile it will come back and it can still be easily undeleted (actually, much more easily than it can be deleted, I helped write both guidelines). Of course, vandals generally don't ask to have their articles undeleted. :-)

Daniel Quinlan 03:15, Nov 7, 2003 (UTC)