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Are the deletion Nazis taking over Wikipedia?

photo of Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwens
22nd July 2007


Finally, finally, Andrew Lih is tackling one of the main deteriorations of Wikipedia, i.e. the emergence of a new breed of vigilantes who use their detailed knowledge of obscure regulations, to nominate articles for deletion. In a previous article, Andrew, who is one of the experienced pioneers of the Wikipedia community, had noted that the growth rate was levelling off, worrying why this may be. Then, 2 personal experiences made him realize a possible reason: the growth of this new breed of vigilantes, who, based on their scarcity mentality, are denoting for deletion a whole series of articles (rather than contributing of making them better).

Andrew Lih is pretty harsh on the effect such people and practices are having on the project:

“If anyone knows all the codes on the Deletion Criteria page, you are a danger to Wikipedia. You are a menace. Because it used to be that users thought about the value of an article first. As a thinking individual and Wikipedian, you were expected to decide based on its merit, rather than trying to shoehorn it into a deletion category.

It was never like this before. What’s happened?

In a drive for article quality, there have been new policies: citing references, writing biography of living persons and picking reliable sources. They are all good things, but if and only if they are coupled with existing community values that built Wikipedia — assume good faith, don’t bite the newbies (or even oldies), use the talk page, open lines of communication and support each others’ work. We’ve lost these values. The community has gotten so big you cannot recognize people anymore. It lost the village feel a while ago, but it’s not even a town or city anymore, it’s on the cusp of becoming an impersonal bureaucratic slog depicted in Apple’s 1984 video.”

Andrew proposes a campaign, one article at a time, to restore such articles as a way to fight this deterioration.

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