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Education The Internet

Call For Halt To Wikipedia Webcomic Deletions 720

ObsessiveMathsFreak writes "Howard Tayler, the webcomic artist of Schlock Mercenary fame, is calling on people not to donate money during the latest Wikimedia Foundation fund-raiser. This is to protest the 'notability purges' taking place throughout Wikipedia, where articles are being removed en-masse by what many see as overzealous admins. The webcomic community in particular has long felt slighted by the application of Wikipedia's contentious Notability policy. Wikinews reporters have recently begun investigating this issue, but are the admins listening?"
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Call For Halt To Wikipedia Webcomic Deletions

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  • Admins to blame? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:20AM (#21181051) Homepage
    As an admin on Wikipedia, I wonder if it really is a problem with administrators. All comics must go through articles for deletion, where the community must decide. An admin just makes the closing decision based on consensus, then either keeps or deletes the article.

    I agree that there are definitely some people who want to delete to readily, but then again there are people who are pushing trivia on Wikipedia, which is not good. It can run both ways.
    • by rdwald ( 831442 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:28AM (#21181085)
      I don't think the admins are being blamed per se, but rather the policies. As it is, one person can nominate a little-read article for speedy deletion, and it will be wiped before anyone in the relevant fan community has had a chance to comment on the deletion page. I think the problem is that the population of people who pay enough attention to Wikipedia to notice and respond to deletion requests is not identical to the population who read and benefit from Wikipedia, so people in the former population can delete articles useful to those in the latter population.
      • by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:30AM (#21181107) Homepage
        In that case, the slashdot summary is misleading. It very clearly says "but are the admins listening?"

        If articles such as webcomics have been deleted due to speedy deletion, then the admin doing the deletion is in violation of policy and should be called to account. However, is there any evidence of that happening? I'm genuinely interested.
        • Re:Admins to blame? (Score:4, Informative)

          by Ornedan ( 1093745 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:57AM (#21181273)
          RTFA [comixtalk.com]. And the comments, too.

          It also seems you're ignoring a lot of votes in favor of keeping the webcomic articles. An example from the aforementioned comments: Checkerboard Nightmare's [wikipedia.org] (though it didn't end up deleted since even after deleting over half of the keep votes, the keeps were still in majority). What the fuck is up with that?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by reybrujo ( 177253 )
            Dang... to mod or to comment... to mod or to comment... well, let's clear this misconception that is so common for people who is not regular at Wikipedia. Deletion discussions, also known as XFD, aren't "votes" where simple majority wins. It is a search for consensus, where everyone states their opinion, and in the end the best argument is used to close the discussion.

            It is the task of admins and other people in the discussion to reveal "single purpose accounts", accounts created just to stockpile in either
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by julesh ( 229690 )
          In that case, the slashdot summary is misleading. It very clearly says "but are the admins listening?"

          I think part of the problem is that to a casual wikipedia user, like most of those who have recently jumped on the webcomic deletion problem bandwagon (it's not like the phenomenon of these deletions has only just started), WP:AFD is a confusing place. It's tempting to think that people who comment there are in some way considered more important than you are. There's a lot of politicking going on behind t
        • Re:Admins to blame? (Score:5, Informative)

          by MythoBeast ( 54294 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @12:05PM (#21184849) Homepage Journal
          I can give a valid example of overzealous deletion. I organize the group that builds the page on Alcoholism. There are about a half dozen notable, reputable organizations that provide counseling and services to alcoholics and their families. Most of them had established pages in Wikipedia, until someone went through and deleted the articles for #2, 3, and 4, leaving AA and a couple that probably were just overlooked by the admins. The reason give was "non-notability", although two of the three have national memberships in the thousands. Deletion reviews for those two were summarily dismissed by a different admin as "blatant copyright violations", even though the content specifically met Wikipedia's copyright guidelines (similar to existing material, but written by the same author). The admin responsible deleted my attempts to discuss it on his user page without a response. I'm very disappointed.
      • Re:Admins to blame? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:57AM (#21181849) Journal
        I have a question here: What does it matter if there is trivia in Wikipedia? Does it take away anything from the "important" articles for their to also be trivial ones?

        It's not like we're talking about a set of books here, where there are limits to how big the set could reasonably be? Is Wikipedia running out of hard drive space?
        • Re:Admins to blame? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by God'sDuck ( 837829 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @08:33AM (#21182151)
          Amen. And if they want to keep it serious, why not have a native fork, like Wiktionary and Wikimedia, where "all that's not yet fit to print" can live? Call it "Wikipop" or "Wikitrivi" and banish, rather than delete, trivial articles. The catch is -- it has to be an integrated with Wikipedia to remain useful -- independent projects don't count.
        • by Eponymous Bastard ( 1143615 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @08:41AM (#21182225)
          If I put up an article on "Eponymous Bastard Webcomic Online" which describes a site with a single stick figure webcomic that I updated six months ago, then the article should be considered garbage and rightfully go for speedy deletion. Nobody wants this kind of useless garbage polluting all the searches on wikipedia, plus it detracts from the more professional look of the site (compare to everything2)

          The problem comes in when someone nominates for speedy deletion an article on a website which has clearly been regularly updated for years and has an active fanbase. Not only is this a request for cleanup but it is also a slap in the face as you're put in the same category as the Eponymous Bastard Webcomic Online. (unfortunately I don't have the list of deleted webcomic and the site is /.ed but there were some long live ones IIRC)

          I'd suggest that any web site that has been online and regularly updated for a year cannot be speedily deleted.

          Another suggestion is to, instead of deleting, move them to a webcomic wiki.

          But in the end, wikipedia has articles on every single pokemon. I'd consider webcomics more interesting than that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jollyreaper ( 513215 )

          I have a question here: What does it matter if there is trivia in Wikipedia? Does it take away anything from the "important" articles for their to also be trivial ones?

          It's not like we're talking about a set of books here, where there are limits to how big the set could reasonably be? Is Wikipedia running out of hard drive space?
          You say it, I say it, but the people who think it IS a paper encyclopedia don't get it.
        • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @09:30AM (#21182829) Journal
          I TOTALLY agree with you. I've written a few articles on wikipedia that were pulled WITHIN WEEKS. When I question the admin, it's always "notability". WTF??? Oh, I see - an article on a local band that played every bar between Maryland and Massachusetts for the better part of 15 years and whose members went on to other cultural exploits, but NEVER PUT OUT A RECORD, is not notable, but the name and identity and detail of every pokemon character IS notable? What a load of shite. I guess data for contemporary anthropology doesn't qualify as "notable" for those asshats.

          I've written many other articles for wikipedia, and none of them were pulled, so it's not like I don't kow how, or I don't know what I'm taking about. However, since there has been this overzealous culling of articles, my production of articles for wikipedia has decreased dramatically, and I no longer consider it my "go to" for general info. Either wikipedia DOES IT ALL, or it has to fess up to the facts: it's not an ecyclopaedia.


        • by vonFinkelstien ( 687265 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @09:31AM (#21182839)
          99% of the time I use Wikipedia is to look up trivia. i don't think I'm alone.
      • by Tom ( 822 )
        Totally. Speedy deletion is massively abused. The only (and I mean only) case where it should ever be used is if a deleted article is restored without agreement. (e.g. AfD says delete, article is deleted, someone puts it up again five minutes later. That's a speedy delete, because the discussion about it has already happened).
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by grimsweep ( 578372 )
        Whether or not the community responds really doesn't matter to the admins. When a personal favorite of mine (8 Easy Bits [8easybits.com], now given up on by the author) was considered 'un-noteworthy', a sizable turnout appeared on the comments section of people voting to keep the comic. It may have been sprite based, but the author clearly took a great deal of time with the plot, it has an established history with the community, and most importantly, it was friggin' funny. However, despite these qualifications, the article
    • Re:Admins to blame? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MostAwesomeDude ( 980382 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:33AM (#21181123) Homepage
      The problem is that deletionism is viewed as an acceptable way of doing things, which is intrinsically flawed due to capricious and arbitrary notability standards. While administrators are sometimes rather wild, they are not the big problem. The big problem is the systemic denial that Wikipedia could eventually be the sum of all recordable knowledge, and the push to try and remove valuable information "in favor of" more notable entries. Wikipedia is not paper; it's possible to both expand a notable entry and keep a non-notable entry.

      And yes, there are problems with administrators. They are neither sysadmins, nor moderators, but mop-wielders; the problem is that many of them forget that their place on Wikipedia is that of the janitor. It's not a position of nobility and honor, but a behind-the-scenes set of tasks that should never be brazenly abused.

      Finally, the community does not have a system in place for culling definitive consensus. The system currently in place is essentially plurality voting: A small slice of the population shows up, registers to vote, and then votes for one of the two candidates (Mr. "Keep" or Mr. "Delete.") Occasionally, there are write-ins, but those are usually viewed as part of the spoiler effect. The administrator presiding over the vote may choose to, at his discretion, nullify or amend the results of the vote. It's democratic, but not quite consensual.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Adhemar ( 679794 )

        One: the difference in perception of relevance between normal Wikipedia users and zealous deletionist administrators.

        I don't think the admins are being blamed per se, but rather the policies. As it is, one person can nominate a little-read article for speedy deletion, and it will be wiped before anyone in the relevant fan community has had a chance to comment on the deletion page. I think the problem is that the population of people who pay enough attention to Wikipedia to notice and respond to deletion r

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nwbvt ( 768631 )

        "The big problem is the systemic denial that Wikipedia could eventually be the sum of all recordable knowledge"

        Thats a reality, not a denial. More is not always better, and frankly it is often worse. The most valuable function a work of reference has is filtering out unimportant irrelevant crap that makes it harder to find what you really want. If when I search for the term "London Bridge" I have to go through articles on every work of literature, popular culture reference, or inside joke between a gr

      • by Tom ( 822 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @09:58AM (#21183167) Homepage Journal
        Mod parent to +10

        That's the whole point. If half of the effort that some people put into finding articles to mark for deletion, deliberating and discussing deletion, checking, verifying and then finally deleting the article - if half of the effort people put into destroying content were instead put into creating or improving content, Wikipedia would be so much better.

        And the second problem is also very much true. I've seen articles marked for deletion where the decision was made (either way) based on 3-4 "votes". Hello? You are deciding to keep or delete an article for millions of visitors based on a random sample of 0.00001% of them? That is not democracy. Democracy is having everyone vote (or at least have the opportunity). Democracy is not running your country (or website) by the opinion of the first three people you meet on the train that morning.
    • by jaaron ( 551839 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:39AM (#21181161) Homepage

      I agree that there are definitely some people who want to delete to readily, but then again there are people who are pushing trivia on Wikipedia, which is not good.

      Why is trivia bad?

      Seriously. What's wrong with more articles? Why would wikipedia ever reject a voluntary contribution?

      Extra articles don't clutter up wikipedia. They simply don't get looked at. So what? Who cares? Let them sit there. If someone wants to improve them, let them. If no one looks at them, then they aren't harming anyone. The elitism that's taken hold in wikipedia is an antithetical to the very principles on which it was founded.
    • by One Childish N00b ( 780549 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:42AM (#21181171) Homepage
      Is trivia not information? Are trivia sections that detrimental to Wikipedia's credibility that they must be stamped out wherever they may be found? I really don't think they are, perhaps you could clarify the reasons why you do. (I'm not flaming, merely curious - I've never had a chance to ask a wikipedia admin that question).

      As far as I see it, Wikipedia is less an encyclopaedia and more a burgeoning store of all world knowledge. Obviously there has to be a lower limit to the notability or notoriety of a subject before you want to waste the few kb's of storage space on it (a One Childish n00b entry, for example, would be pointless, but an article on the debate over whether trivia sections should or shouldn't be allowed would be worthy of a mention on Wikipedia's Wikipedia page - Ironically, probably in the trivia section), but as far as I see it, eliminating trivia sections is destroying large swathes of interesting facts because it doesn't fit an encyclopaedic style.

      The problem that arises from that is you are removing knowledge that people might want to read. Wikipedia is not a valid academic reference and I doubt it ever will be due to the fluid nature of it's contents, so removing interesting trivia tidbits to make articles look more academic or 'encyclopaedia-like' strikes me as taking form over function.
      • Re:Admins to blame? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:48AM (#21181231) Homepage
        Well, firstly, I'd like to inform people that admins shouldn't be seen as more important than other members of Wikipedia. :-)

        However, as you did ask, it's interesting that you note that removing info that people want to see if a bad thing. I would agree. But if the information is interesting, informative and on-topic, then it's not really trivia.

        One thing I would like to point out is that list of information is frowned upon by many, many Wikipedians. Trivia sections are generally disliked because they a. are about trivia (i.e. information that is generally not important or germane to the topic) and Wikipedia is trying to be an encyclopedia, and b. we try to encourage excellent prose and brilliant writing in articles. List of unrelated information do not encourage that, and in fact can make an article less readable as they encourage sloppy and lazy editing. It's far easier to write a list of points than it is to carefully incorporate the information into prose. We don't want to encourage that sort of thing.
        • by hucke ( 55628 ) * on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @08:58AM (#21182431) Homepage

          One thing I would like to point out is that list of information is frowned upon by many, many Wikipedians. Trivia sections are generally disliked...
          Are they?

          Trivia sections have the support of many, many Wikipedians, as is evidenced by the large number of them that exist and continue to exist.

          Some months ago, it was decided by a tiny percentage of Wikipedia editors - those who take part in the policy discussions - that trivia sections were to be marked as discouraged. In thousands (tens of thousands?) of articles, someone inserted a little box in the trivia section saying that trivia sections were discouraged.

          For most of the editors who actually work on the articles in question, this was the first time we were aware that there was a crusade to eliminate trivia.

          And months later, those boxes are still there, and so are the trivia sections. It seems that the people who actually edit articles don't take kindly to random persons coming in and barking orders about how to edit an article. We scroll right past those annoying little boxes and continue to edit and add to the trivia sections.

          So much for "consensus". Consensus on wikipedia is a sham - it means consensus among people who spend their time reading and editing WP:* pages, not among the community as a whole.

          It's far easier to write a list of points than it is to carefully incorporate the information into prose. We don't want to encourage that sort of thing.
          The "In popular culture" and "trivia" sections are loose collections of facts about the subject, or references to it in other media. Converting a list into a paragraph would make it almost unreadable. If I want to find out what television shows were filmed in a particular location, for example, a list is by far the best way to present this information.

      • Trivia isn't always (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wytcld ( 179112 )
        20th Century physics is based on mathematical trivia from centuries before. See Why Beauty Is Truth [amazon.com] and Fearful Symmetry [amazon.com] for popular accounts of how stuff that appeared to be total trivia - even to most of the mathematicians who indulged in it - turned out to be the basis of our best equations for describing reality.

        If progress had depended on Wikipedia, it wouldn't have happened. And it's not just in hard science - an art historian could provide countless examples of what became major movements in art that
    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:44AM (#21181193) Journal
      I agree that there are definitely some people who want to delete to readily, but then again there are people who are pushing trivia on Wikipedia, which is not good. It can run both ways.

      One flaw with that...

      Wiki has evolved into a useful resource for looking up information - Not always the authoritative source, but if I don't recognize a concept, I'll usually check Wiki first.

      Now, in the long run, every article should evolve into something well-written and fully referenced. In the short term, even a two-sentence summary of something only briefly popular does a world more good than nothing. Yeah, what amounts to a promotional blurb for a minor webcomic doesn't exactly qualify as high-quality reference material - But as opposed to a blank page?

      In the loooooooong term, humanity itself fails the "notability" requirement. Unless Wiki evolves into a math and physics oriented reference, calling "WWII" notable and "Full Frontal Nerdity" not, amounts to nothing less than purely subjective discrimination.
    • Re:Admins to blame? (Score:4, Informative)

      by someone1234 ( 830754 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:44AM (#21181195)
      There are people who boost their ego by counting the pages they managed to wipe.
      Considering that these people are permanent visitors to wikipedia, while those who could defend a page are not necessarily, this is a slightly uphill battle.

      On the other hand, who said wikipedia must have an exhaustive list+synopsys of all webcomics, films, etc.

      Maybe the problem is that it isn't clear what wikipedia must have.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kyz ( 225372 )
      Yes, it is. It's predominantly admins that are running amok through the articles and setting them up for deletion. If it's not Dragonfiend purging comics articles, it's Improv deleting all the articles on brand names.

      Being an administrator on Wikipedia is a serious position of responsibility, yet 12 year olds are free to get themselves voted into the clique by ingratiating themselves with other admins and doing nothing but minor edits. If they actually knew the effort needed to research, source, verify and
    • by Random832 ( 694525 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @09:50AM (#21183083)

      As an admin on Wikipedia, I wonder if it really is a problem with administrators. All comics must go through articles for deletion, where the community must decide. An admin just makes the closing decision based on consensus, then either keeps or deletes the article.
      You're conveniently ignoring that the closing admin also gets to decide what the consensus actually is.
  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:32AM (#21181111) Journal
    This is a case where it's of utmost importance to see the both sides of the coin clearly: Wikipedia is also growing a more and more important platform for many webmasters to advertise there stuff on.

    If there is one side you should not listen to on if web comic X should be put there, it is the web comic writers. Because these are already biased.
    • by Rachel Lucid ( 964267 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @09:04AM (#21182505) Homepage Journal
      So, we should be fair and balanced on slashdot, except when someone actually stands to benefit from a change?

      Look, I write a webcomic. I admit it. I also know that as it stands, I have a snowball's chance in hell of getting a Wikipedia article, and probably will remain at that point for another year, minimum. I don't care about getting an article for my comic there right now because either way I don't stand to profit in any form beyond some eventual respect for what I do, so my impact is reduced to whatever stir I can make.

      I don't want the guidelines removed; I want something a little less capricious than "Must have been reviewed in dead-tree format". If truly notable comics like Evil Inc. and Checkerboard Nightmare are deleted from Wikipedia, and Schlock Mercenary's status on wikipedia is somehow 'tainted' because his series of books is self-published as opposed to going through some publisher like Scholastic, then how the hell am I supposed to know when mine is notable? More importantly, WHEN? Does a review in my college's paper count? The AJC? Does every webcomic have to be featured in the New York Times to be notable? Or can I just go "I have X number of comics in my archive and X amount of fanbase, is this enough?"

      The concept that all online content is suspect is a holdover from Compuserve days. Surely we have evolved beyond this.
  • snobs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scudsucker ( 17617 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:38AM (#21181157) Homepage Journal
    I remember when the entry for the "Juggernaut Bitch" video was deleted for lack of notability, nevermind that at that point over a million people had seen it, and was notable enough for for the producers to put it in the frikkin movie. Yet you'll have no problem finding lengthly articles on obscure Final Fantasy [wikipedia.org] or Star Wars [wikipedia.org] characters. "Notability" seems to be a completely arbitrary standard that admins use to remove articles they don't like.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mkro ( 644055 )
      Yep. Brian Peppers was a pet peeve of mine for a long time. Notability was given as an excuse, and pointing out the number of Google hits ment nothing. If you have Firefox with the Google field in the top right corner, start typing "Bria", see what suggestions you get. But no, you have to understand it should have been in PRINT media.
  • Trivipedia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ykardia ( 645087 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:42AM (#21181177)
    Why don't they just move all the non-notable articles into a Trivipedia? Wouldn't that make both overzealous editors and fancruft-fans etc happy?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Seconded. I use the Wiki right now to look up references from other countries that I might not know about, read more on interesting subjects, and in general I enjoy following the trivial (according to Wiki standards anyway) links from the articles.

      If Wikipedia wants to constantly delete, then shuffle the smaller articles to a Triviapedia. You might find some interesting statistics about what the people of the world (and not necessarily the Wiki) actually want to see.
  • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:46AM (#21181215)
    ... as well as other superheroes, some of whom were so obscure they could be used as weed-out questions at a comic geek version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and yet had about as much written about them as topics of minor societal importance such as Catholicism, Argentina, and friction, I don't see how they can possibly justify excluding works of minor writers as "insignificant". Even accepting the snobbish "We want to be Brittanica-lite, no comics, video games, or fantasy literature unless it would shame us not to include them" POV for the sake of argument, after you've got a featured article on Tom Bombadil and Matter-Eater Lad (no, really -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matter-Eater_Lad [wikipedia.org]) you have already gone well past the point of no return for subjects of trivial import.
    • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:27AM (#21181409)
      I don't see how they can possibly justify excluding works of minor writers as "insignificant"

      The problem, you see, is that Wikipedia has positioned itself as _not making judgements of importance of a particular subject_. Yet they use a word, "notability", that is a synonym of "importance".

      Whether a wikipedia article is allowed to exist is supposed to be judged by a somewhat objective standard: whether or not other writers of reference works considered reliable have considered the subject important enough to write and publish about.

      Unfortunately, the result of this rule is (1) subjective squabbling over which works are considered reliable and (2) a distinct bias against topics that are on the fringes of culture. Webcomics have suffered due to both of these: works that write about webcomics have largely been considered to be unreliable, and because they are often fringe subjects there aren't many works to choose from.
  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:49AM (#21181237) Homepage Journal
    Mens rights groups have been trying to put info into wikipedia for years, a few (actively proud feminists in their wiki bio's) have pulled the nobility card, and no support, so Deleted! Topics like MGTOW (Men going their own way) the slogan and world wide group has been deleted, because its not a non-profit group. The mens rights and misandry pages are stripped down due to disagreements, it cant be expanded by people who actually run MRA sites and written books on the subject, because its not Notable? That makes no sense, its like saying a founder of black panthers cant put in information.

    It's sad that even famous authors and events in history are removed due to notability, if simpsons episodes and 4chan can be in it, so can best selling authors from the 80s. I Tried to add Twyana Davis as an article, just for it be deleted for notability reasons, mostly because a couple 20'ish editors never alive in the 80s, read the newspapers or watched tv. So its not notable to them. One of the largest rape scandals to happen.

    I've seen editors say text was copyrighted, when it was released under creative commons, and proof provided, still deleted. An editor deletes because stub articles should be put into other articles, which makes no sense. Information goes in, it gets edited by everyone as time goes on, thats what makes a wiki powerful.

    Its a freaking political nightmare, if someone doesn't agree with you, they can delete it for a numerous reasons, and people are finally seeing that. Notability is sighted as the number 1 excuse for deleting an article that someone doesnt agree with.

    Ha, take a look at the pit bull article, its a warzone, editors dont agree with the AKA and the National society of veterinarians.

    Wikipedia while useful, is horribly ingrained in thought control by editors. Its suppose to be a collection of human knowledge, not "Only knowledge that we agree with". Those who control the information, as the saying goes....

    So, I wont donate until they change their rules and behavior. Groups have set up their own WIKI's due to this political/social moderation.

  • by Carbon016 ( 1129067 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @05:59AM (#21181291)
    When will people start understanding Wikipedia is a summary of already published, reliable sources and not their personal webcomic advertisement forum? It's simple: if people write about your subject in the press or other reliable sources, you put that information up. If not, you don't. Notability only serves as a duck test for reliable sourcing - chances are good that if something looks non-notable it lacks any sort of primary/secondary source to back it up in the first place. Why can Penny Arcade have a Wikipedia page? Because the news reports on it.

    There's a reason it's called Wikipedia and that is to be a tertiary source like any other encyclopedia. There is nothing new or unique about how encyclopedias work, and since notability is a subset of reliable sourcing, why doesn't this point get hammered into the minds of the general public when Wikipedia is one of the most used online resources?

    Admittedly, Wiki itself doesn't make the distinction, and it's further hampered by Jimbo Wales going out and making asinine statements about how Wikipedia aims to be "the sum of all human knowledge" [wikipedia.org]. But some of the fault has to lie with the public. I suppose a lot of (mostly younger) people have never owned an old-fashioned encyclopedia in their life, and are used to more casual websites where anything goes.
    • by Ronald Dumsfeld ( 723277 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:45AM (#21181479)
      Where are mod points when you need them?

      There are two issues. The first is that a lot of fancruft and garage band stuff is inappropriately entered. Zapping stuff like that kinda numbs the admins to deletion, it becomes a routine thing to do.

      Along comes someone wanting to create an entry on Wikipedia about a comic, but they haven't a clue how to cite references - or where the media has failed - actually know that you should source everything in an encyclopedia.

      So, you now have a rather crufty "Comic X" article, which comes to the attention of this deletion-numb admin. Knows nothing about the subject, plugs it into Google, gets a few hits but not a lot. It gets tagged for deletion, when perhaps it should have been tagged as lacking sources. This last option is a step away from deletion and a far better solution.

      Oh, and *please* do donate. Wikipedia is the 9th most visited site on the Internet, and the Wikimedia Commons is growing at a rate of 5,000 images a day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vertinox ( 846076 )
        Oh, and *please* do donate. Wikipedia is the 9th most visited site on the Internet, and the Wikimedia Commons is growing at a rate of 5,000 images a day.

        I'm sorry, but unless they clarify their the whole notability issue and crack down on crusading deleters, I don't think I can give them any more money. Personally, I've only written one article from scratch about an obscure Japanese island which eventually got improved greatly and has never been deleted, but I like to read a great deal and found several art
    • by grommit ( 97148 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:16AM (#21181613)
      That's a shame then. Wikipedia could be so much more and yet it decides to limit itself to just be an encyclopedia.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grumbel ( 592662 )
      ### why doesn't this point get hammered into the minds of the general public when Wikipedia is one of the most used online resources?

      Because that is *NOT* how people use it. A lot of people, me included, use it to find information on topics that *aren't* to be found in an encyclopedia, the small barely notable details that anything printed on paper would never included (Pokemon details, TV episode summaries, etc). Wikipedia is not printed on paper and I really don't see any good reason why it should try to
  • wikisnobs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:04AM (#21181315) Journal
    They should get a clue and realize the reason why I (and I suspect many other people) use wikipedia is because it's NOT a dead tree encyclopedia. If I really wanted a dry academically written encyclopedia I've one in my home which I've not touched in years.

    Just the other day I saw that "People Eating Tasty Animals" was marked for deletion twice. While it's not as notable as "roe vs wade", IMO it was an important case (whether or not you liked the verdict).

    Also, there are plenty of articles which are not written in an "encyclopedic way", but those are the bits I like.

    for example: "Deed of change of name" (which was recently brought to my attention)

    Edited snippet:
    "There are various reasons why a person would want to change his or her name:
    * to replace a frivolous name given by their parents (e.g., old name James Bond, new name Jason Bond; a well known example is Elton John, who changed from Reginald Kenneth Dwight in favour of a career in the Music Industry)"

    The last bit is definitely not "encyclopedic in style", but I like it :). If the "encyclopedia" policy was followed strictly that bit would be replaced/removed.

    The way wikipedia currently works, I think only spam or vandalism articles should be deleted. Because with deletion you lose a LOT of stuff permanently. There is no history etc. They could always leave the page and history there, then replace the final page with a standard "deleted/not notable/<other reason>" and people can go to history to see the article if they want.

    If it's a namespace/clutter issue, why don't they just move all the stuff they consider not notable in a "not notable" section.

    e.g. /wiki/notnotable/webcomic1/

    Anyway, I don't really care if wikipedia destroys their own usefulness - IMO the wikipedia has become successful in spite of the policies, power-mad admins and "leadership" than because of it. It's a wiki, lots of people used it and it grew. If wikipedia doesn't want to hold "nonnotable" stuff I'm sure someone eventually would and a decent search engine should help me find it.
  • by rx-sp ( 1161741 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:22AM (#21181399)
    Here's the problem in a nutshell: Deleting is too easy. It's also strangely enjoyable. People who can't create often like to destroy, and Wikipedia gives them this ability. More than that, it makes them that feel they're doing good by destroying articles! I would even say there are two types of contributor to Wikipedia: Those who create, and those who destroy. A surprising number of "editors" (I use the term loosely) have never actually written anything. Instead of deletion, editors should actually "edit" and work to improve the article. They should post constructive comments on how it can be improved or, gulp, actually get in there and improve the article themselves. Deletion should be the last option. Here's my story: I wrote a lengthy summary of a complicated novel. It took me from dinner time until midnight, because I did it properly and quoted sources. It was deleted (reverted) instantly for reasons of 'copyright' -- quite literally after around a minute of being online. The comment from the "editor" was littered with poor grammar and bad spelling, so I didn't even feel I was being overruled by a superior intellect. That's five hours of my work destroyed instantly by somebody making an arbitrary decision. OK, I thought, I'll condense my piece into a series of plot points that's shorter, and spent more time doing this. No good. Instant deletion again, by somebody else, this time apparently because what I'd written wasn't relevant. (Somehow the plot points have been reincorporated and are there right now but who knows for the future?) Wikipedia is a broken machine that's held together by the sheer ego power of its contributors, most of whom are college kids who think they're changing the world. I just can't wait for this bubble to burst so that people will stop quoting Wikipedia at me, as if that's the end of the matter. It isn't. It's not even the start.
  • by DJRikki ( 646184 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:28AM (#21181415)
    Mainly due to articles I created or helped amend being deleted, and unless you check back all the time on everything you do there is no warning sent out saying "this is up for deletion".

    When questioned one of the deletee's simply replied "well it was marked for deletion and no-one said anything so we deleted it".

    So when you spend your own free time to help out and have some idiots just click away on the delete button it really makes you think "why bother" and since then, I havent.
  • by tingeber ( 1129619 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @06:37AM (#21181445)
    I may be saying something already known or discused, but a filtering system like on /. could in fact be the answer. People give points instead of voting for deletion, and the user could set his/her threshhold on any level, ths being able to see only the greatly approved stories or also the less known ones. Storage space could be a problem, though.
  • by sadangel ( 702907 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:13AM (#21181591)
    Every porn star who has appeared in a single movie is considered worthy of a Wikipedia article. Search for them, they are there en mass. Yet, to be worthy of an article, a webcomic has to be in the top what . . . 10? 20? I can't say I know really. Like many aspects of Wikipedia, it's inconsistent. I think every webcomic has had an article at one time. Some are well-entrenched, others continue to exist only because their notability is not even worth the effort of deletion.

    The idea that any actor, even an actor in a cheap porn filmed in a barn in Idaho, is worthy of an article because it exists in the space outside of Internet culture while a webcomic has to meet a meaningless standard of notability outside of its primary sphere of influence and existence is evidence that the notability requirement, while well-meaning, is fundamentally flawed.
  • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:27AM (#21181665)
    I was reading through the comments, and the last one of the guy who quit submitting because they delete without even informing those who have submitted... It made me think: Is there a Delete Storm coming? Where people just go to every page they can find and hit delete on everything?

    Slashdot tends to draw attention to things in a massive way, and that Delete button is pretty high-profile right now.

    I'm not saying people should do it, but if they did... Would it cause a policy change? A LOT of useful articles will disappear if it happens.

    Personally, I think Wikipedia is only good for the non-obvious stuff... You know, the stuff you -can't- find in a 'real' encyclopedia. Anything I could find in a real one, I'd go there first, since I'd likely want to cite it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I know the feeling. I discovered tourettesguy.com recently, and went to wiki for confirmation that this guy was a fake, and found out that wikipedia deleted his page because of the notoriety rules.

      That would've saved me an hour or two.
  • by GrahamCox ( 741991 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @07:45AM (#21181777) Homepage
    I've largely given up on Wikipedia as a contributor. Partly it's just a getting over it kind of thing, and on that I'm obviously not alone, judging from recently publicised stats. However, it's much more to do with the very demoralising feeling that having contributed much time and effort in drawing illustrations, taking photographs, writing articles and generally getting caught up in the original spirit of the project, I'm now frequently having my work deleted (particularly images, which in all cases are completely fine and freely given by me) by non-creative finger-wagging types who have taken over the whole thing and turned into a sort of "no ball games allowed" boot camp.

    Fuck you, tossers - I'll save my creative time and effort for someone who can appreciate it.
  • I watched 28 Days Later [wikipedia.org] a few days ago and then read its article on Wikipedia. I was intrigued by the virus in the movie [wikipedia.org] and noticed that its article needed a little cleaning up, so I did so [wikipedia.org]. Oh well. They decided that it's just fanfiction [wikipedia.org] and now it's marked for deletion.

    OK, so it's just an unimportant article about a fictional virus [wikipedia.org], but darn it, I found it interesting reading to the point that I wanted to add to it. I'm a Republican [wikipedia.org] and not interested in the Democratic candidates next year; maybe I should delete their article. Baseball [wikipedia.org] is just a game; delete. I'm not Catholic [wikipedia.org] - gotta go. I like turtles all the way down [wikipedia.org], so dark matter [wikipedia.org] can bite it.

    My point is that everyone values and takes interest in different things. If it's not costing Wikipedia a lot to host minor pages on diverse subjects, then why not? Part of that huge diversity is what made Wikipedia popular. You'd think they'd heard of the network effect [wikipedia.org] and the long tail [wikipedia.org].

    At any rate, they can delete the article I like if they want, but if they're still going to ask for my money [wikimediafoundation.org] afterward, they can bite me [wikipedia.org]. Incidentally, that last article is the plot summary of an episode of a non-mainstream TV show. Hope I didn't draw the attention of the delete-happy admins.

  • by Floritard ( 1058660 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @08:41AM (#21182227)
    And yet they have an article about Patrick Swayze's younger brother [wikipedia.org]!?
  • by Tom ( 822 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @09:40AM (#21182967) Homepage Journal
    I really couldn't agree more. The notability rule is stupid, pointless and overzealously applied. It needs massive toning down.

    For example, in a world that's going more and more online, the requirement for a website, online game, etc. to be "notable" is that it must be mentioned in at least one offline source (magazine, newspaper, etc).

    Now, Wikipedia might not have noticed, but magazines and newspapers are going online. There are already online editions of many noteable, respected magazines that never make (in whole) it to print, where the online edition contains more content.

    Plus, of course, the simple fact that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to delete content from Wikipedia. What, really, is the point? All the arguments I've heard so far about search relevance, etc. are easily addressed (mark a page as "minor interest" and make the search reduce the relevance of such pages so they show late in the search, for example).

    I, personally, think it's fear of some wiki admins who can't cope with the sheer scope that "their" project has reached, most importantly with the fact that it isn't "their" project anymore, it's ours (as in "all of us").
  • by Larry Sanger ( 936381 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @09:49AM (#21183073) Journal

    We ( Citizendium [citizendium.org], Slashdotted yesterday [slashdot.org]) have no "notability" policy. Like much that is conceptually confused on Wikipedia, that policy was invented after I left.

    Of relevance: we do have a maintainability policy [citizendium.org]. I'm not sure what our stance toward webcomics might be, but I suspect it would turn out to be more permissive than Wikipedia's. Just note that we do have a strict rule against self-promotion [citizendium.org]. This means that a webcomic would have to be at least important enough for someone else to want to start an article about it. Fair enough, no?

    In other news, the Citizendium has just started its own funding drive [groundspring.org]. If you're boycotting Wikipedia over deletionism, but you want to support free knowledge, why not give to an outfit that really needs your money? :-)

  • by CritterNYC ( 190163 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @10:12AM (#21183315) Homepage
    Wikipedia seems to be having some issues with admins deleting articles in connection to their notability guidelines lately. PortableApps.com [portableapps.com], the website that makes available portable software that runs from removable media (like a portable version of Firefox) was recently deleted under the notability guidelines with very little notice (aka speedy deletion). This despite the fact that it's the most popular portable platform (more popular than the commercial ones), in the top 10 on SourceForge, in the top 5,000 websites in the world and has been extensively covered [portableapps.com] in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, LA Times, PC Magazine, PC World, Wired, etc.
  • by Ray Radlein ( 711289 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @12:55PM (#21185557) Homepage
    Once upon a time, I was a big part of the Webcomics Wikiproject on Wikipedia.

    Like other Wikiprojects, we worked together to establish a consistent framework of notability requirements for webcomics; we culled out freshly-minted vanity cruft; we welcomed and nurtured new articles; we maintained lists of deserving webcomics which did not yet have articles; the works. Most importantly, we had a process, carefully arrived at through discussion and consensus (involving some of the premier names in webcomics study and criticism, I might add), under which everyone could operate reasonably.

    It worked.

    I myself ran some entries through the AfD (VfD then, but still) process because they didn't fit (one that I recall was a webcomic with four pages, two of which were single-image "splash" pages); on those occasions, I took the trouble to carefully explain the community criteria involved, and encourage the overly enthusiastic contributors to keep working on their comic, and to stick around and contribute more to Wikipedia in the meantime.

    For comics which did fit the inclusion criteria, I would go to the comic's forum, where inevitably someone would have just posted a "Hey, I just created an article about [xxxx] on Wikipedia!" message, and I would welcome them to Wikipedia, explain the process involved and why their webcomic was suitable for inclusion, explain how to get started editing, and how to avoid the standard eager-puppy newbie editing mistakes.

    Like I said, we had a mutually-agreed upon framework in place; while not perfect, it succeeded in keeping WP free of vanity cruft, and, at the same time, kept contentious disagreements to a minimum.

    And then I took a little vacation.

    At the same time, a couple of the other major contributors took a break; as a result, there weren't enough people minding the store when two people, who had no real knowledge of webcomics, swept in and started tossing articles to the VfD buzz saw, right and left. Never mind the established process; never mind the carefully-negotiated group consensus -- they simply swept in, substituted their notions of notability for those of dozens of previous contributors to Wikipedia, and eviscerated the webcomics field.

    After which, of course, most of the people who cared about webcomics simply gave up on Wikipedia. Some of their efforts moved over to the GFDL Comixpedia, but its user base, obviously, lacks the scale of Wikipedia's. Mostly, the folks who had devoted so many hours to webcomics articles simply found themselves deflated by the whole experience. In my case, it more or less chased me away from Wikipedia for a couple of years; and even now, I'm very careful about which articles I work on; I only have just so much time and attention I can spend, and I cannot afford to play guardian angel to every article I work on, to make sure that someone doesn't just delete it.

    Since the dawn of the Great Webcomics Purge, Wikipedia's history with webcomics articles has been one long string of increasingly absurd "Oh my Gawd -- can you believe they {deleted, tried to delete} that?" moments. Time and again, articles have been proposed for deletion which would normally have served knowledgeable webcomics experts as reductio ad absurdam examples of articles which could never possibly be proposed for deletion.

  • by Trixter ( 9555 ) on Wednesday October 31, 2007 @03:39PM (#21187663) Homepage
    That's not inflammatory, it's simply the truth. You don't go advertising yourself as "the sum of all human knowledge" and then go deleting articles because some asshat thinks they're not worth documenting. Every single defense of "Notability" is bogus. Space? Delete one day's worth of editing history and free up half a gigabyte. Don't think it's worth documenting? Not to the person who spent the time on the article.

    Plagarism is a real concern. Notability is just petty.

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.