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Wikipedia's Strickland affair

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By GreenMeansGo, Markus Pössel, and Chris Troutman
Photograph of Donna Strickland presenting Steve Chu with the Advocate of Optics Award at The Optical Society's leadership meeting in 2013
Donna Strickland and Steven Chu in 2013, among the images freely licensed by The Optical Society and released, with the help of Tinynull, to support volunteer work on Wikipedia
This month's op-ed is presented by three contributors who each have a different perspective on the events surrounding the biography on Donna Strickland, the Nobel Prize winner announced earlier this month.

What Donna Strickland can teach us about the media and ourselves

Black-and-white portrait photograph of Nettie Stevens in 1904 wearing a large black hat and formal attire
Nettie Stevens, geneticist
Portrait photograph of Vera Rubin in 2009
Vera Rubin, astronomer
Black-and-white portrait photograph of Henrietta Swan Leavitt
Henrietta Leavitt, astronomer
Black-and-white portrait photograph of Selma Lagerlöf in 1909
Selma Lagerlöf, Nobel Prize in Literature

All eyes this month were on the newest round of Nobel laureates being announced—that is, all eyes that weren't squarely focused on Wikipedia's coverage of one newly minted Nobel laureate in particular, Donna Strickland, who on 2 October became the third woman ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. As it turns out, we had an article on her previously: it was first deleted in 2014 as a copyright violation. Then, a draft at Articles for Creation was declined in May of this year for insufficient sourcing.

All this caused quite a stir, to say the least. But what was striking, at least to me, was not that it garnered as much attention as it did (the gender gap on Wikipedia is something many of us have been talking about for years), but instead how much of that attention seemed to completely miss the mark and, in many cases, reveal a fundamental misunderstanding among the media about what Wikipedia is and how it works.

Some targets are clearly just too easy. CNN-News18 offered up a mostly laughable collage of grossly uninformed tweets which would have you believe that "[e]very single @Wikipedia editor who voted against an entry for Dr. Donna Strickland needs to have their editing and voting privileges suspended for 6 months", as if we need to have a recount. Needless to say, Wikipedia does not work that way.

Other, more serious journalism still manages their own myriad problems. The Times called Strickland's winning the Nobel "one way to win a Wikipedia editing war", from which we can only conclude that they simply don't know what an edit war is. Fortune originally wrote that the draft had been deleted, while at the same time linking to the draft itself, which could be linked because, of course, it hadn't actually been deleted. To their credit, however, they at least amended their story on 5 October after I sent them an email.

One common theme appearing in a number of publications was that, in all their writing about Wikipedia, no one had apparently taken the time to read our policy on notability (we even have an article on it!) and had no indication how Articles for Creation works. The Guardian lambasted us for determining that Strickland was "not important enough", Business Insider for saying "she wasn't famous enough", with The Daily Beast echoing that she was "not famous enough for Wikipedia". Naturally, if they had taken the time to read our policy on notability, they would have made it to the fifth sentence noting that "[d]etermining notability does not necessarily depend on things such as fame, importance, or popularity" (emphasis in original). All this is notwithstanding the fact that rejections at Articles for Creation are not the end of the line, but are an avenue to provide feedback so that users can improve their submissions, make them ready for the mainspace, and finally publish them. Even Wikimedia Foundation director Katherine Maher, in her piece in the Los Angeles Times, fails to elucidate the difference between non-notable and not-ready-to-publish.

Another common theme was to point out that Gérard Mourou, who shared the prize with Strickland, had an article as early as 2005, as did The Independent, The Cut, and Vox. None of them seemed to notice, as Ian Ramjohn from the Wiki Education Foundation points out in his own post, that "[s]ince 2007, across the fields of Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology and Medicine, 91 scientists have received Nobel Prizes. Twelve of them, including Donna Strickland, didn't have a Wikipedia biography until after their Nobel Prize was announced."

Perhaps my favorite is again from Vox, who opine that "[w]omen scientists like Vera Rubin, Nettie Stevens, Henrietta Leavitt, Rosalind Franklin, and so many others ought to be just as famous." Or, as I like to put it: "Women scientists like Vera Rubin , Nettie Stevens , Henrietta Leavitt , Rosalind Franklin , and so many others ought to be just as famous."

All this quickly resulted in Ed Erhart publishing his own response in the new Foundation website, attempting to summarize the events. Meanwhile, in her LA Times piece, Maher rightly recognizes that the gender gap is a serious issue that many people are working hard to combat, not least of whom are people in the vanguard like WikiProject Women in Red and WikiProject Women scientists. As she points out, these efforts have culminated in 86,182 new English-language biographies of women, which "works out to 72 new articles a day, every single day, for the past three and a half years." That is only 17.82% of biographies, however, so we've still got a ways to go.

But the relevant timeline the Foundation gives us, mirroring that offered by a number of sources, is this:

I'd like to propose an alternative timeline:

Among the content released by The Optical Society is this video, which was relicensed for upload onto Wikimedia Commons, with subtitles added in six languages

So while the media spent the days following the Nobel Prize announcement decrying an article we were missing, editors from around the world, who share no common language and have likely never interacted with each other, got busy; and they created resources for public access to free knowledge across multiple platforms, in dozens of languages, each of which will last—for all intents and purposes—forever.

We are working hard, and we are good at what we do. If we weren't, they wouldn't be writing about us; they'd be talking about our competitor, except we have no competitor. There is no one who tries so hard to give away free knowledge, and manages to give it away well enough that they're even in same ballpark as us, barely in the same game. For people who can't afford books, don't live near a library, barely have internet access, or have grown up with free knowledge being the standard, we are that standard.

If you're concerned about the gender gap in Wikipedia, you're right to be concerned, but as Fortune put it in the one thing they got unequivocally right, "anyone can write an entry in the gigantic online encyclopedia ... What are you waiting for, get busy."

If you've ever wanted to be a part of something unprecedented, we're doing it right now. Let's get to work.

Riled up: seeking changes to the academic notability guideline to help prevent a repeat incident

The Donna Strickland case has a number of Wikipedians riled up, myself included. First, it would have been much better if we had an article on Strickland before she won the Nobel prize for physics, not after. It should give us pause that an article draft submission stating Strickland's basic biography was declined as late as May 2018 as non-notable. While some male Nobel laureates have lacked an article about them until after their prize announcement, and the statistics for the past decade bears this out (neither gender fares better), there is a significant difference: if you look at the early versions of the male Nobel laureate biographies whose articles existed long before receiving the Nobel, a number of them were in worse shape than the Strickland draft that was declined in May.

Second, the wider issues are certainly worth discussing. Two perspectives on it can be found above and below: one from GreenMeansGo acknowledging the gender gap and, rightly, pointing out that anybody can contribute to fix it; and another, a polemic defense of the status quo by Chris Troutman. For my part, however, I want to focus on one specific issue that is more general than the Wikipedia gender gap. Namely, I think a lesson can be drawn from the Strickland case, and it has to do with how we assess the notability of academics.

The May 2018 Strickland draft submission was declined not because Strickland's career at that point didn't indicate she was notable, but because that notability was not attested in independent sources. Strickland was notable: she had been president of The Optical Society, a major scientific society with more than 20,000 professional members; and had also been a fellow of that society—a selective fellowship that singles out individuals "who have served with distinction in the advancement of optics and photonics". But there had apparently been no, or at least no easily accessible, media coverage of those two facts. If that was indeed so, it would be unsurprising—both facts are not usually considered to be of interest to a more general readership. That is why Bradv declined the draft submission, using a template that describes the submission as not showing "significant coverage (not just passing mentions) about the subject in published, reliable, secondary sources that are independent of the subject".

If we change one aspect of the guidelines for assessing the notability of academics such that it could have helped in this particular case, we can—much more importantly—facilitate future such assessments without compromising our standards.

The editor who rejected the draft, Bradv, has written a thoughtful essay about this that is worth reading; it is also featured as this issue's opinion piece. As Bradv notes therein, the discussion of his decision that followed the Nobel prize announcement included some editors (along with Bradv) who argued that, on general principles such as notability requiring verifiable evidence and the reliability rationale behind requiring independent sources, declining the draft was the correct decision. Others have argued that the no original research policy, in its section on primary sources, permits the use of reputably published primary sources so long as they do not require interpretation or analysis (which would amount to original research).

When it comes to assessing academic notability (according to the specific criteria defined for that purpose), there is a number of similar situations where highly reliable primary sources could be used. If an academic won a major prize, we will find reliable information about that on the website of the prize-awarding institution. They know best who won their prize and they have no incentive to provide false information; likewise for an academic holding a named chair in a department. If anything, the official staff listing for the department website is as reliable as it gets for that particular bit of information! Other similar cases include who was given a specific fellowship and who is editor of a specific academic journal—the sort of bare facts that are already routinely cited in articles. Nonetheless, a number of editors will hesitate to use that information when deciding whether to decline an article draft or when evaluating notability during a deletion discussion, since it is not from an independent secondary source.

What I propose—or, rather, have proposed (permanent link)—is that we insert into the guidelines for the notability of academics explicit language stating that it is sufficient for those specific sources to be used when deciding on whether or not a person fulfills the notability criteria in question. In other words: having been given a prize, having a distinguished chair, being an editor at a major journal, holding an office at a major scientific society, and having been given a prestigious fellowship should all count toward notability, even if sourced to a non-independent reliable primary source.

I emphatically do not propose that we should accept the word of these primary sources on anything beyond the simple yes-or-no information about a named chair, fellowship, and so on. For instance, of course we should not accept an organization's own word on whether one of its prizes is "prestigious" (which is necessary for the prize to lead to academic notability); however, we should be able to take their word for it when it comes to whether or not their prize has been awarded to a specific person. What is the alternative conclusion? That the university or organization is falsely reporting who their own chairs, fellows, and editors are? To what end?

Some commentators have argued that this addition to the guidelines is redundant—that this is already implied in the current language. I think that the editors mentioned in Bradv's essay, who argued that secondary sources are necessary in this specific case, shows clearly that it is not. Will the addition weaken our criteria for notability? I do not see how it might. The specific criteria (prestigious fellowship, named chair, etc.) touched by this will still be exactly the same; we merely will be allowing additional (reliable!) sources for documenting and fulfilling those criteria. But is this just instruction creep—would this amount to specifying something everyone should already know? I think not. Reviewing Articles for Creation is a thankless task as is; for someone not familiar with what is and isn't reliable in the academic world, the proposed additions will make the job easier.

While inspired by the Strickland case, where the proposed criteria would have made it easier to come to a conclusion that would, not least with hindsight, have been the right thing to do, the proposal will probably affect numerous future cases of academic biographies—biographies that might otherwise be kept out of Wikipedia, not because their subjects would not have been notable academics by our criteria but because it would have been hard to show that they were, according to a not uncommon interpretation of our present standards. I think it will be a good outcome of the Strickland discussion if we can ensure, in this way, that more academics who deserve to be included, are included.

So please, head over to the proposal and tell us what you think! Echoing GreenMeansGo, we are working hard and we are good at what we do. At our best, that includes a realization of where we can do better. I think this is such a case. Let us please find a consensus on this.

Donna Strickland wasn't allowed her article and Wikipedians are to blame!

Regarding the much-discussed "missing" Wikipedia biography of physicist Donna Strickland, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the journalists who laid these charges know nothing about Wikipedia (they keep insisting we have moderators) and are not, in fact, interested in Wikipedia so much as they seek to push a narrative about patriarchy for their naïve readership.

Please allow me to correct this mistaken viewpoint evidenced by imprecise newspaper and magazine language. No one "has an article on Wikipedia." Rather, Wikipedia has articles about people (and other subjects). A Washington Post piece laments that "Donna Strickland didn't have a Wikipedia page." The Independent talks about "a Wikipedia page for Strickland." The Guardian implies Strickland deserved "her own page" while The Observer rhetorically asks "What does a female scientist have to do to get her own Wikipedia page?". The Atlantic claimed that "unlike her fellow winners, Strickland did not have a Wikipedia page." The Times of India exclaimed that "Strickland didn't have her own page until after her win." Even the Wikimedia Foundation's Twitter account identified Strickland as a Nobel "laureate who didn't have a @wikipedia article" before her Nobel Prize. And Ed Erhart—who should know better—spoke for the WMF, saying that "[d]espite Strickland's positions and groundbreaking research, she did not have an article about her on the English Wikipedia."

The so-called journalism about this topic often makes this linguistic error, probably because they remain ignorant of ownership. I insist here because correct language leads to correct thought: how Wikipedia decides to write (or not write) an article about associate professor Donna Strickland is a different discussion than why Strickland doesn't get to have an article on Wikipedia. The former premise correctly talks about our institutional inclusion decisions. The latter premise falsely assumes that a woman scientist deserves something that Wikipedia chooses to withhold. Had these so-called news outlets asked the question about why Wikipedia did not prioritize writing about scientists like Strickland, the answer may have been revealed that Wikipedia is not a leading indicator but rather a trailing indicator of notability.

Regardless, some Wikipedians (as well as a few folks at the WMF) fell for that propaganda and are now embarrassed. They express regret that Wikipedia got caught without an article about Strickland prior to the announcement from the Nobel Committee, as if a mistake was made or an injustice was committed. Bradv declined a draft about Strickland months ago at Articles for Creation, and rightly so, but some point to Strickland's fellowship in The Optical Society as proof of the subject is an "elected member of a highly selective and prestigious scholarly society or association" as specified in our notability guidelines for academics; our article about The Optical Society doesn't make clear the group's "highly selective and prestigious" status in the way articles about any of the National Academies might have.

The WMF's Ed Erhart opines that had an expert Wikipedia editor like Quantumavik, a post-doctoral researcher in quantum physics, looked at that draft instead of rank dilettante Bradv, the subjective importance of the society (and by extension, Strickland) would have been recognized. The aforementioned journalists, as well as Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales himself, publicly threw Bradv under the bus rather than defend Bradv's application of notability criteria. He became the scapegoat for Wikipedia's alleged misogynist sins. Honest Wikipedians will admit that Strickland failed the general notability guidelines and "any biography" criteria, and did not clearly satisfy academic notability criteria prior to her Nobel win—and yet, some editors think that what must have been Wikipedia's cruel, premeditated snub of Donna Strickland evinces a problem needing solving.

Spurred by this perceived loss of face, some foolishly call for unneeded inclusionism, perhaps forgetting that we cannot write a decent article without good sources. I doubt we can provide any subject—but especially biographies of living persons—a fair assessment, or the reader a respectable product, if we allow subpar sourcing in pursuit of a silly social justice mandate. Subjects and readers deserve better than a subjective article with slipshod sourcing all to meet a quota. Wikipedia's detractors value quantity over quality, prioritizing their preferred narrative as opposed to responsible authorship. The WMF has stupidly played into this practice, by making the easily quantifiable number of articles in Wikipedia the unit of analysis while forgetting the qualitative results of well-performed article-writing. As an immediatist, thousands of poorly written Stub- and Start-class articles have no value for me, unless all you want is a fig-leaf stub article to hide behind lest some media outlet accuse us.

Rather than push back against thoughtless newspapers and educate the public with this opportunity, the WMF unwisely called upon readers to "do something about it", as if activist editors would help the situation. The WMF, like WikiProject Women in Red, embraces this tribalist right-great-wrongs mentality by pursuing ill-thought slacktivism. While perhaps some of the articles created through populist efforts might meet our notability guidelines, to encourage more bias to counter a perception of systemic bias is reprehensible. Any article we write about a living person has to be based upon multiple, independent, reliable sources. To do otherwise would risk writing either hagiography or libel.

Those of us who are serious about our contributions should resist the shrill voices of ignorant commentators looking for clickbait. An article on Wikipedia is not the final determiner of fact: we do not hand out recognition as if we, alone, decide which subjects are worth attention. I not only caution against leaving the status quo, but also understand that Wikipedians—Bradv first among them—are owed an apology.

In this issue
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Discuss this story

"from which we can only conclude that they simply don't know what an edit war is"

Or, perhaps, the author doesn't know what sarcasm is. Maury Markowitz (talk) 19:20, 28 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]

I think an underappreciated aspect is that by and large the incentive is for AfC reviewers to decline. It seems far more likely that an AfC reviewer will catch flak for accepting an article than the reverse. Therefore the incentives make decline the "easier" option for reviewers. This is not a comment on Brad's actions specifically, just on the overall state of AfC. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 21:13, 28 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
I've been here from the start and I don't understand the rules any more, and you're complaining that the rest of the world doesn't? One cannot imagine a better illustration of the problems the Wiki is having. 13:06, 29 October 2018 (UTC)
I understand where you are coming from. There was a time where people who have made a significant contribution in their field and with a source to back it up are notable. The Chirped pulse amplification was deemed to be notable and I see no reason why the inventors cannot be notable, the issue of AFD then is not necessary. I like the response of the foundation, because if you edit enough you realise, internally, wikipedia editors give an image that they have created a great system but it is an imperfect system and acknowledging the imperfections and moving when you cannot do anything about it is fine. A key imperfection is we do not have enough expert content writers and most of us are not experts, but we all do our best and we move on.Alexplaugh12 (talk) 00:28, 3 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • I'm quite sure Chris chose the word "slacktivism" deliberately because we discussed this prior to publication. I'll let him speak for himself further on this subject. ☆ Bri (talk) 01:40, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
@DGG: I think your estimate of the best reviewers having an error rate of 1-2% is correct. Based on your experience how would you say those errors are distributed? Is the error rate more likely to be in declining notable submissions or accepting ones that aren't? Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 03:41, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
At AfC, I think it's at least 3/4 erroneous declines. The usual cause is reviewing too fast or when tired, and the very large number of totally unacceptable submissions at AfC creates considerable skepticism. To see that something is not hopeless requires thinking. For my more extended comment about this, see [1] I note that the reviewer of this particular article does not think they made an error in declining it, [2], but I consider them unambiguously wrong in their interpretation of our guidelines. The guideline for accepting drafts is that as an article it would probably pass AfD, and this would, because the referencing inadequacies were easily fixable. The reviewer thought they had to be fixed first. (There's also disagreement over whether they were adequate even as they were in the declined version, [3]) DGG ( talk ) 04:22, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
@DGG: I am obviously familiar with the Stickland incident - we are leaving comments to an article all about that after all. What I find interesting is that if your 75% estimate of errors in declining is true, my guess is that AfC reviewers receive 75% (or more) complaints about articles they've accepted rather than rejected. This feels like a structural problem that only reinforces what mistakes there are. Best, Barkeep49 (talk) 04:28, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Erroneous declines probably vary by subject area. For academics it is probably like 80% or more since many reviewers have a disdain/disregard for WP:NPROF/the actual standards at AfD for academics, while for corporations it is probably much lower since the standards are actually (and should be) high on sourcing. I agree on there being a structural problem; because NPP and many people review accepts, erroneous or quick accepts get flak while quickly declining hundreds of drafts with many incorrect ones can easily be missed/ignored, because most of the declines are correct because of the sheer number of unacceptable drafts, and any complaints from the AfC submitters are swept away into obscure user talk pages (and how many people are going to still be active to complain two months later when the decline is done?). Galobtter (pingó mió) 06:27, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
I can only talk about mine: most objections I see on my own talk p. are about articles I declined. Most of them are by coi editors; a few convince me I may have been wrong. Almost nothing I accept has ever been challenged successfully at afd. DGG ( talk ) 05:17, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
  • +1. What the honest Wikipedian should admit is that, whether one likes NPROF/the way it is interpreted at AfD, the article 100% would have survived AfD. Galobtter (pingó mió) 16:44, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
nonsense. PROF says nothing about "two papers with over 1000 citations in Google scholar and half a dozen more with over 100" because it's very subjective. PROF says nothing about h-index, numbers of citations, etc. Bradv made a call and I agree. I'd've !voted to delete that article, too. Chris Troutman (talk) 17:24, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
I mentioned three criteria. You are arguing against only one of them. Even that argument would fail, badly, at any actual academic AfD. And your personal ignorance and repudiation of our academic notability standards does not justify your claims that people disagreeing with you must be dishonest. —David Eppstein (talk) 17:58, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
I also would have !voted to "keep" per WP:PROF#C1, #C3 and #C6. Had the draft come to my attention back in May, I would have promoted it to main space, with some cleanup work. XOR'easter (talk) 21:20, 29 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
It is nonsense to claim that Strickland ... did not clearly satisfy academic notability criteria prior to her Nobel win. Take a look at her citation profile on Google scholar which can be viewed by anybody with an Internet link [4]. It shows that over 8000 other scientific papers had cited her work before she was awarded a Nobel Prize. There were 8000 sources: no more were needed to give notability under WP:Prof#C1. The mistaken decline of the AfC came from the failure to follow the WP:SNG WP:Prof guideline. However, there is no gender bias here. I see many BLPs of male (and female) academics taken to AfD at Wikipedia:WikiProject Deletion sorting/Academics and educators on similarly spurious grounds. Such things happen frequently, and the AfD nominators usually get away with a WP:Trout. The reviewer in the Strickland case had the misfortune to be caught in the headlights. Xxanthippe (talk) 00:13, 30 October 2018 (UTC).[reply]
Surely Troutman meant that the Strickland article did not meet the notability criteria! --John Maynard Friedman (talk) 12:53, 31 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
@John Maynard Friedman: Please read the relevant criterion more carefully. It is entirely about the achievements of the person the article is about, and not about the state of the article. —David Eppstein (talk) 16:16, 31 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
to clarify, I agree with StarryGrandma that this has been unfair, and I apologize for overly strong language myself. There is a range of way to do reviewing, and the way Bradv does it is well within the accepted way, and his determinations are in general similar to mine. DGG ( talk ) 05:24, 30 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
@Fences and windows: "You may as well have called them "fake news" but that's not what I did because that's not what I mean. I think Wikipedia and its many left-leaning editors deserve better than to be pilloried for imagined misogynist bias. My so-called "wagon-circling rhetoric" has brought condemnation from editors like you, so please remind everyone I am merely trying to defend this institution where we volunteer. I meant to deride partisans who act based upon political beliefs rather than stick to the facts. Chris Troutman (talk) 02:04, 31 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Unfortunately he misunderstands the issue. Before her Nobel Prize, Strickland qualified for a pass of the WP:Prof#C1 guideline with flying colors on the basis of her science citation record [5]. The omission of her article was not due to any systematic bias in Wikipedia, but because an editor did not follow the guidelines. Xxanthippe (talk) 22:04, 31 October 2018 (UTC).[reply]
@Xxanthippe: It is you that misunderstands. PROF is a subjective criterion. It does not specify how many citations are enough to pass, just as it does not specify which academic societies are prestigious enough. Your belief that she passes PROF only exists in your imagination. Bradv was not wrong to come to a differing conclusion and you should apologize for your accusation. Chris Troutman (talk) 22:30, 31 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Almost all of our criteria are subjective criteria. There is nothing special about WP:PROF in this regard. (Or did you somehow think that the "in-depth" part of GNG was purely objective?) In all cases, what the criteria mean is how they are interpreted at AfDs and AFCs. And according to how these criteria have been interpreted in the vast majority of past academic AfDs, the declined draft was an easy pass of multiple criteria. Your hand-wringing about how we can't specify anything completely objectively so we can't use these criteria at all and must hold blameless the people who interpreted them badly comes off as casting around for excuses rather than a worthwhile argument. —David Eppstein (talk) 22:47, 31 October 2018 (UTC)[reply]
The interpretation of guidelines, as is everything on Wikipedia, is established by consensus. In the case of WP:Prof, the consensus has been established by hundreds of AfDs and over a decade of debate on the WP:Prof talk page. By that consensus Strickland was a clear pass before her Prize. Before editors enter a new area they would do well to familiarise themselves with consensus that exists there. For any area in Wikipedia, the more prior knowledge that an editor has, the better will be the edits they are likely to make. Xxanthippe (talk) 00:09, 1 November 2018 (UTC).[reply]
The point is he gets the main point - she was failing GNG because of the media's lack of coverage. The technicalities of whether deletion was correct in the light of BEFORE/PROF and such are secondary. I could as well note that in theory, PROF cannot override GNG, through of course, yes, it often does. IMHO, the draft was poorly written, it was essentially declined because in the AfC process it was reviewed by someone with above-average requirements. It could've been accepted, and if it was submitted to namespace without AfC process it probably would'be never been considered for deletion. But bottom line it was a poor draft, because it was hard to find good sources for her, and she was not famous until she got the Prize. Wikipedia still is missing articles on many people with borderline+ level of fame, just like she was (until she became famous). The problem is not that we occasionally err on the side of caution, given the spam/vanity flood we are facing. The problem is that we lack volunteers to write more content. If we had people writing this, up to and including people interested in gender-gap related issues, there'd be no problem. The media coverage which implied the article was deleted because we are sexist was plain wrong, as SB points out, we are no more sexist then the world's coverage at large. Wikipedia is the reflection of the worlds' gender gap problem, not a source of it. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 06:49, 1 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
I could as well note that in theory, PROF cannot override GNG, through of course, yes, it often does. Incorrect. The Notability page itself says that a topic "is presumed to merit an article [if it] meets either the general notability guideline below, or the criteria outlined in a subject-specific guideline listed in the box on the right" — the very first of which is WP:PROF. XOR'easter (talk) 14:26, 1 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
Yes, and I'd very much like to see where the consensus for that is, because the most recent RfC I'm seeing on the relationship between SNGs and GNG concluded There is clear consensus that no subject-specific notability guideline, including Notability (sports) is a replacement for or supercedes the General Notability Guideline. GMGtalk 14:36, 1 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
WP:NSPORT is not WP:NPROF. The former says that it is a supplement to the GNG; the latter says that it is an alternative. XOR'easter (talk) 19:06, 1 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
And the RfC seems to have reached a pretty clear consensus on SNGs generally. GMGtalk 19:07, 1 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
An RfC that spent almost all of its time talking about sports figures reached a consensus that has apparently had vanishingly little impact on later, lengthy debates on the same topic (see also here). I don't think that's much of a consensus, particularly when the RfC was listed as being about whether the criteria of WP:NSPORT should be tightened or not. And, on general principle, I'm fine with different notability guidelines playing somewhat different roles. Sometimes, we're trying to make judgments about topics that get a lot of news coverage on a regular basis, and sometimes, we're not. So, sometimes the relevant question is, "How much coverage until it counts?" and sometimes it's "What, other than mainstream media reporting, indicates significance?". XOR'easter (talk) 19:21, 1 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
It is indeed presumed to merit an article, and then WP:GNG is needed to prove that it actually does merit an article. The point of having specific criteria is just to make our life easier, since someone who meets WP:PROF or WP:NFOOTY is very likely to meet the general notability criterion, and it is much easier to check these criteria than to perform a thorough literature search (and remember sources could be in other languages, offline, or behind the paywall, and often need an expert to understand what they are saying). If someone really insists on checking the article no WP:PROF would save it. In the case of Strickland (which I know because I am a physicist and in a related field) there must be some specialized review articles which say that the chirped pulse technique was first proposed by Strickland and Coumou and is a widely used method in ultrafast optics. Just to dig them out, one needs an expert in ultrafast optics.--Ymblanter (talk) 17:08, 1 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]
It is indeed presumed to merit an article, and then WP:GNG is needed to prove that it actually does merit an article. That does not reflect the practice of actual deletion discussions. Nor is it indicated by the plain wording of WP:N. Presumption refers to the fact that a "more in-depth discussion might conclude that the topic actually should not have a stand-alone article", but would instead be better treated as part of another article. XOR'easter (talk) 18:55, 1 November 2018 (UTC)[reply]


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