Ringing in the new year: Subject notability guideline under discussion: More than you wanted to know about the massive NSPORTS RfC.
The Signpost

Deletion report

Ringing in the new year: Subject notability guideline under discussion

Contribute  —  
Share this

Well, 2021 is over, and 2022 seems like it is shaping up to be less exciting. The largest AfD in history has been closed, nobody is running around the United States Capitol in a Viking helmet, and anyone in rich countries who wants a vaccine can just go get one. Still, things are happening in the world, and so too are things happening on Wikipedia. This month in deletion, the ever-present issues of political disagreement flare up in unexpected places, an ArbCom case builds up steam, and a silent battle over a subject-specific notability guideline rages in the background.

In the last two deletion reports, I've started by rattling off a bunch of statistics, including fun facts about the wacky and obscure debates of the month, but this month I will do it a bit differently, and sneak in some actual journalism. We'll see how it goes (I will, of course, retain the first AfDs of the new year as well as the list of AfDs with freaky titles).

The winds of change: SNGs up in the air?

At the policy village pump, a discussion was opened on the 19th about the sports notability guidelines that have guided inclusion criteria for many years. For those of us who are not intimately familiar with notability guidelines, I will spare you a ton of tl;dr – Wikipedia articles are generally subject to notability guidelines, which largely govern questions of inclusion (i.e. whether an article is written in the first place, or whether an AfC submission is accepted) and exclusion (i.e. whether an article is retained or deleted at a deletion discussion). Much ink has been spilled over the years defining the finer points of what "notability" means, to the extent that we recognize many "arguments to avoid" at AfD ("the article sucks" is usually ignored, for example, as is "the article is funny").

General and specific notability

On Wikipedia, "notability" means that it's possible to write a high-quality encyclopedia article based on reliable sources concerning a subject, and nothing more. The overall standard for notability, based on the accumulated consensus of hundreds of thousands of deletion discussions, is reflected in the general notability guideline, which says that "a topic is presumed to be suitable for a stand-alone article or list when it has received significant coverage in reliable sources that are independent of the subject". This is straightforward enough, but there exist subject-specific notability guidelines for many types of content. NPROF, for example, allows college professors to have articles even if they fall far short of GNG. Conversely, GNG allows professors to have articles even if they fall far short of NPROF. There are several subject notability guidelines, or SNGs (academics, astronomical objects, biology, books, events, films, geographic features, music, numbers, organizations/companies, people, sports, and websites). There are some SNGs that have been deprecated through community discussions, like WP:PORNBIO (retired after a 2019 RfC), as well as essays treated as de facto SNGs, like NSOLDIER (now deprecated, archived here). Generally, the creation and modification of notability guidelines causes a lot of drama. Some see them as the only way to ensure Wikipedia has reasonable coverage of diverse topics, and the only barrier between us and a project where subjects can only be covered if they're the subject of enough viral tweets to get into the news cycle. Contrariwise, some see them as an underhanded attempt by gangs of nerds to sneak droves of worthless articles about obscure subjects into the project with an end-run around the guidelines everyone else has to follow.

Okay, basically nobody believes either of these things, but they're the extreme points of a spectrum that most people fall on with respect to SNGs. These perspectives are currently coming into play with respect to Wikipedia:Notability (sports).

These notability guidelines, which have existed since 2007, cover a wide variety of sports – 28 of them, from orienteering to rodeo to billiards. They also cover teams, clubs, rivalries, arenas, and collegiate athletes. While the specific criteria differ across sports, the general thrust is that a person is presumed notable if they have played in at least one game at a professional level. This results in some weird edge cases, like an individual page for some guy who pitched a couple innings of a single game in 1890 and nobody wrote down his first name.

The Lewis phenomenon: FAs on the chopping block

Of course, these weird edge case articles can be good. Lewis (baseball), currently a redirect, was previously a quite well-written article. In fact, it was a Featured Article until a contentious AfD in October 2021 (nominated by Therapyisgood, the same editor who had written most of the article). What changed?

Well, it almost goes without saying that standards have evolved on Wikipedia over the last twenty years; even a critically important topic like oxygen looked like this in early revisions. And the bar to becoming a featured article was lower back in the days when they were called "brilliant prose". But Lewis wasn't some holdout from 2005 – it was promoted to FA in 2020 and appeared on the Main Page in March 2021. Its October AfD nomination was part of a larger trend of sports FAs – previously upheld as the highest standard of quality on Wikipedia – being nominated for deletion, and then being deleted.

Doug Ring with the Australian cricket team in England in 1948 was previously a featured article (despite an attempted AfD in 2015). It was turned into a redirect following a second AfD nomination in October 2021 by Trainsandotherthings, who this month made a fifteen-article batch nomination of Australian cricketers, including six featured articles and five good articles. Some articles survive the process – the batch nomination was withdrawn, and List of players who appeared in only one game in the NFL (1920–1929) developed a consensus to keep. However, many do not – Ron Hamence with the Australian cricket team in England in 1948 (2nd nomination) was almost unanimously merged this month. The winds of change seem to be blowing, and blowing fast.

Sixty thousand words of NSPORTS discussion

At the subpage created to host this discussion (split off from the main VPP thread on the 25th), there are a whopping 400,000 bytes of text. The core of it revolves around a proposal, made by RandomCanadian, to abolish the current version of NSPORTS, citing "needless conflict, pointless AfDs and DRVs, and above all bureaucratic waste of time". A pre-RfC discussion was held to determine what aspects of NSPORTS are most problematic. Major categories of complaints include the presumption of notability as used in AfD arguments, the presumption of notability as used in article creation, confusing guidance, the granting of indefinite amounts of time for SIGCOV to be located, and criteria that often fail to correctly predict GNG coverage. Currently, there are six subproposals for guideline amendments outlined on the page.

Notable discussions of the month

Normally, I give the largest AfDs of the month by the highest !vote count and the largest character count. This month, something a little confusing happened: the highest !vote count AfD had the second-largest character count, and the largest character count AfD had the second-highest !vote count. While about seemingly-unrelated subjects, both ended up at the center of sometimes-acerbic arguments pertaining to gender politics.

This article was nominated by Orange Mike on January 18, who said it was "possibly a WP:POVFORK for Male privilege to justify the snowflake sensitivity of self-styled 'masculists'". Discussion immediately popped off. Among the members of the discussion, including several extremely new editors who offered their opinions, subjects ranged from civil rights to evolution. At times, it seemed unclear whether the article was about a political concept or a biological one. A few people looked for sources. Nevertheless, the indents grew deep. Various parties made accusations (or implications) of tendentiousness, censorship, sexism and fringeousness. Despite this, it still ended up being closed (by AssumeGoodWraith) after just a week. Surprisingly, it was a non-admin close – and even more surprisingly, everyone seems to have been satisfied with a "no consensus" close. That said, it's only been four days, so we'll see what develops.
What developed, about five seconds after publication, was a DRV reopening the AfD, after which Stifle re-closed it as "no consensus".
Amid the ongoing discussions of subject-specific notability guidelines across the project, it's perhaps unsurprising that an AfD on the subject would end up one of January's most contentious. This one, nominated on December 28 by BlameRuiner, seemed at first like a typical NFOOTY case: Dennis had played just one game at a senior level prior to announcing her retirement, and sources for the article were quite thin. However, within the first couple !votes, the threads began to deepen. The precise meaning of the unfamiliar terms "broso" and "woso" made for some contention, as well as the reliability of student newspapers. One commenter opined that "clearly the subtext" for people who !vote to delete women's sports articles was: "I'm a bigoted incel. I'm angry at the world because I have a micropenis and/or my mom never cuddled me enough." Ultimately, the argument from the "keep" !voters was that WP:GNG/NFOOTY was clearly passed, and the argument from the "delete" !voters was that sufficient sources didn't exist to write a genuine encyclopedia article. A couple weeks later (on January 14), closer Star Mississippi said:

The result was no consensus. and none likely to emerge with established editors making policy-based cases for both sides of the issue. [...] ETA following conversation about my close with JoelleJay, I am explicitly noting that I have no issue with this being renominated if participants or nominator think a different outcome is likely quickly. This appeared to be cleaner than an additional relist.

Apart from those, the largest discussions by character count were as follows:

While WP:ARBGS topics are certainly a hot potato, those at least have the benefit of falling under an arbitration case that's already closed. This was not the case for the CIIG, whose 14 January AfD concerned groups at the center of the ongoing Skepticism and coordinated editing case. Chess, in their nomination, said that it failed WP:NORG, was full of promotional content, and its sources failed WP:SIRS; alongside the nomination came a massive 72-entry source assessment table examining each reference in detail. Many of the participants in the discussion were also parties to the arbitration case, and many issues were common to both processes. Of course, I'm hardly uninvolved, as I made a preliminary statement in the case urging it to be accepted. On that note, I will refrain from mouthing off about it in the Signpost, and leave you with RL0919's closing statement:

The result was delete. Sources analyzed in the discussion don't appear to satisfy the WP:NORG standard and there were not alternative sources put forward. Since this article and its redirects have been around a long time, as an editorial action I'm going to recreate them as redirects to Center for Inquiry.

This AfD, opened on 15 January by Star Mississippi, concerns a high school in Airdrie, Alberta with an enrollment of approximately a thousand students. Three sources support a three-hundred-word article, previously PRODded in December; Star Mississippi says in the nomination that they were "unable to find sourcing required to meet ORG", with available sources lacking depth and "limited to event listings and mentions of return to live schooling and similar". The distribution of "keep" and "delete" !votes remained fairly even for a while; after a relist on the 23rd, however, Cunard dropped a whopping 35 sources into the discussion. Since then, a lively argument has been running between them and another commenter; as of press time, the discussion remains open.
Just four days old, this AfD about an Indonesian celebrity (nominated by Dan arndt) is already adorned with a {{afdanons}} template, which usually indicates a gong show is in progress. Indeed, an account registered the same day as the nomination made a vast number of comments at the discussion before being p-blocked from the AfD, the article, and the article's talk page. Despite this, it's not a total wash: a number of established editors have recommended keeping the article, and it's anybody's guess what ends up happening. As of press time, there are about three days left before it's either relisted or closed.

The AfDs with the most !votes cast were:

Speaking of sports, this one involves a bit of inside baseball. The article was in a DYK queue for the Main Page at the time of its nomination by Gamaliel following an extensive conversation at the DYK talk page regarding profane hooks. This would eventually culminate in a thread on ANI regarding the creator of the article, The C of E. Meanwhile, out of twenty-four !votes that accumulated in the AfD, an overwhelming majority favored merging it into Motion Picture Association film rating system; it was closed by Sandstein on the 18th.
This article, previously nominated in 2017, was brought to AfD a second time on January 3 by TrangaBellam, who cited WP:NOTNEWS. The incident in question, a riot in West Bengal's Nadia district which led to the death of five people and was called "the worst communal riots in recent times" by OneIndia, was noted as being remarkably difficult to find reliable sources for. Over the course of the next twenty days later, twenty !votes came in, offering various arguments for and against the sustained notability of the event since 2015. On the 24th, it was closed as "delete" by Justlettersandnumbers, who noted the close was "without prejudice to subsequent creation of a redirect".
What a wild ride. The nominating statement here is struck out, as are a good number of the comments. The nominator was indeffed under a combination checkuser and inappropriate-username block just two days later, and the discussion was closed as a snow keep by Curbon7 the day after that.

Ringing in the new year

What counts as the "first AfD" of the year depends on your perspective (and on your time zone). But even then, there are a few different "firsts".

Note that, as a gentleman of culture, I use 24-hour time to avoid ambiguity.
The first nomination after the ball dropped in New York City was Levente Révész, a race car driver from Hungary whose article's only claim of notability was him signing up to compete in an event that hadn't happened yet. No reasonable sources were found, and the discussion (nominated by HumanBodyPiloter5) was closed as "delete" seven days later by Premeditated Chaos.
The first nomination after the Joya no Kane rang in Tokyo was List of animated television series of 2023, whose three-paragraph nomination by Bearcat proved persuasive (and resulted in a "delete" close from RL0919 seven days later).
The first nomination after I took a shot of whiskey in California was Lathan Toland, a BLP of questionable notability whose subject requested the article's deletion on IRC and got an AfD nomination from JavaHurricane. No !votes were cast, and eventually a close of "soft delete" was made by Explicit.

There are a few firsts that I wasn't able to suss out, mostly because I don't feel like spending two hours on database queries. These include the first !vote of the year, as well as the first nomination/closure for each time zone.

AfDs with freaky titles

In the tradition of WP:DAFT, here is some wacky stuff I found while compiling this month's report.

Deleted articles with freaky titles:

List of video game franchises with baseball bats · Aminoff Entropy definition of Human Happiness and Suffering · Lucius Vibullius Rufus (son-in-law of Herodes Atticus)

Kept articles with freaky titles:

Criticism · Solomon Islands–Spain relations · For the love of Christ · My Bra

Merged articles with freaky titles:

One-fuck rule · List of abandoned properties in Hayden, Arizona · Neighborhoods of West Lafayette, Indiana

Redirected articles with freaky titles:

Pantyhose for men (2nd nomination) · You say you love; but with a voice

No consensus articles with freaky titles:

Infinity plus one

Open AfDs for articles with freaky titles:

Stations with no exit · Minor League Baseball players who committed suicide · Cradle of Erotica · List of VFA/VFL wooden spoons · List of mayors of Apex, North Carolina · List of mayors of Carrboro, North Carolina · Hello, sailor

Procedurally closed AfDs that were closed "speedy keep" for being nominated in the incorrect venue, but later opened at RfD, relisted there a week later, and closed as "no consensus" with freaky titles:

Why Wikipedia Sucks
In this issue
+ Add a comment

Discuss this story

(I should've pinged JPxG in my original comment.) FeRDNYC (talk) 20:50, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On the assumption that was supposed to read, "...fall far sort of NPROF.", I've edited it that way. If that was incorrect, please fix my mistake. FeRDNYC (talk) 20:59, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yeah, this is what it was supposed to say -- although I'm sure some would argue that the original mistaken version was more correct in practice ;) jp×g 21:03, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@JPxG: I confess my quick correction was... not not motivated by a desire to avoid providing that community with any additional ammo. FeRDNYC (talk) 21:13, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oof, the hazard of proofreading (my error in this case): letting the eyeballs see what it should say and not what it does say. ☆ Bri (talk) 22:00, 30 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

FAs on the chopping block

I was informed that I was directly mentioned in this article (I would have appreciated being pinged, since it directly discusses my actions) so I figure I might as well explain my rationale a bit. The AfD for Doug Ring 1948 was a long time coming - it was TFA in October 2021, and a number of editors expressed dismay that the article even existed at its FAR which was opened on October 19th. Eventually, consensus there became that the article quite simply should no longer exist, and I was the one to pull the trigger and launch an AfD. Following that one closing with a strong consensus to merge, I've been evaluating the other forks on "Player name with the Australian cricket team in England in 1948" within this featured topic, many of which seem ridiculous to me. There were some very on point comments in 2015 at the first AfD for Ron Hamence 1948:

More of these will likely end up at AfD in the future, whether nominated by me or someone else. Trainsandotherthings (talk) 15:39, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Have you got the feature to notify you on new userpage links turned off? I used those (instead of {{noping}}) for user mentions in this article, so that people would get notifications. jp×g 20:19, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I checked my preferences, and notifications for new userpage links are on. Not sure what happened, but I was not pinged. Trainsandotherthings (talk) 22:36, 31 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Okay, this is the diff -- looks like I spelled it right. I may need to go make a sock and test this (or read the documentation for how userlink pinging works)... jp×g 01:00, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I vaguely recall there being some rule where pings don't work unless included with a signed comment, could that be what happened? Trainsandotherthings (talk) 15:04, 1 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Yes, a ping is only sent if the link is in a new line and followed by a signature. See WP:MENTION. Nardog (talk) 07:25, 2 February 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The Signpost · written by many · served by Sinepost V0.9 · 🄯 CC-BY-SA 4.0