Blogger rescue

Wikipedian bloggers launch "article rescue" effort

Perceived trends in the deletion of articles led to a new Wikipedia organization after a number of Wikipedian bloggers voiced concerns. Following recent arguments that substantial numbers of articles were being inappropriately deleted, the blog discussion prompted the creation last Friday of an Article Rescue Squadron, dedicated to saving articles on "perfectly notable topics" from deletion.

Ben Yates, who runs a Wikipedia blog, launched the group on the premise that many of the articles nominated for deletion are in jeopardy primarily because they are targeted as being "ill-formed", often by inexperienced Wikipedia contributors, even though the topics they cover would be appropriate subject matter for Wikipedia. A primary concern was that "making sure that articles about notable topics don't get deleted because of writing style, or because they're stubby." His idea drew on examples highlighted by Andrew Lih in a provocative blog post on Tuesday titled "Unwanted: New articles in Wikipedia".

Lih pointed to an entry he himself recently started, about PBS ombudsman Michael Getler, which was tagged within an hour for speedy deletion. The tag used was the {{db-empty}} template, even though the article consisted of a complete sentence identifying the subject, a properly formatted external link to Getler's PBS biography, and a stub template. A quick expansion explaining his background as an experienced journalist and the first ombudsman appointed at a major American television network kept the article from being deleted.

Near the same time several other Wikipedian bloggers posted about deletion issues, including Geoff Burling [1], Urpo Lankinen [2], and Kelly Martin. Martin criticized the deletion of an article on web startup Pownce, a project of entrepreneur Kevin Rose that recently received a round of publicity. Mentioning the fear that Wikipedia is being used to boost the profile of other projects, Martin commented, "Basically, any web property less prominent than Wikipedia itself may not have an article on Wikipedia under the current mindset." Pownce had been through speedy deletion along with both Deletion review and Articles for deletion before Lih stepped in to restore the article.

The Article Rescue Squadron has begun signing up members, including both Yates and Lih along with current arbitrator Matthew Brown and former arbitrator Rebecca. Examples of inappropriate deletions were being collected along with strategies for dealing with the problem. The launch also prompted an extended discussion on the English Wikipedia mailing list. Yates tried to emphasize that the effort is about improving articles that might be threatened with deletion, not mobilizing to control deletion debates, but some thought the concept still fundamentally questioned the judgment of those nominating articles for deletion.

Cultural issues with the overall deletion process, and concerns about the perceived detriment to Wikipedia, have long been fodder for debate. A previous cycle in 2005 was particularly intense, something manifested most dramatically when Ed Poor deleted the page then known as "Votes for deletion" (see archived story). After several previous alternatives stalled, early 2006 saw the introduction of Proposed deletion, a more lightweight process that relieved some of the pressure from the volume of nominations at Articles for deletion.

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I have recently experienced something remarkably similar, between the creation and saving of an outline stub page and returning from the coffee machine with a cup of coffee to find a deletion tag on the article. Sjc 09:55, 17 July 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Sjc is referring to this edit: [3] Haukur 11:35, 17 July 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Examples of inappropriate deletions. This is not an NPOV statement. It should re reworded as Examples of perceived inappropriate deletions . In addition, the Pownce deletion had nothing to do with being "less notable than Wikipedia", and all to do with having nothing to indicate in the article that it was notable, other than its founder. And in fact, the site is still in beta, isn't it? Corvus cornix 17:29, 17 July 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I think it's unnecessarily contorted to write the sentence that way. It's a description of the purpose of their activity, and the purpose is to collect examples of inappropriate deletions, not to collect examples of perceived inappropriate deletions. If there had been active debate about the quality of the examples, I'd have considered including that.
Meanwhile, I'm not here to argue with you about whether proper process was followed with respect to Pownce. I would guess that's part of their point, that following process is sometimes leading to undesirable results — in their view, deletion of "ill-formed" or "stubby" articles on "perfectly notable topics". Like Pownce, if it qualifies as a notable topic, and that's an issue I don't have time for and have expressed no conclusion about. But since you mention it, Gmail is still in beta, isn't it? --Michael Snow 18:13, 17 July 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Good point.  :) But Pownce is in closed beta. Corvus cornix 18:58, 17 July 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Okay, putting it that way makes a better case. --Michael Snow 19:33, 17 July 2007 (UTC)[reply]


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