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Wikipedeletion - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle

Mar. 16th, 2007

01:51 am - Wikipedeletion

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Reading yet another discussion on Wikipedia of whether someone or something is "notable". In this case, Matt Harding, the dancing guy in the Where the hell is Matt? videos. I'm reminded once again of the Wikipedia editors' recent deletion rampages, like when they went through and deleted a whole bunch of articles about webcomics. (Is there an article about your favorite webcomic? Go check!)

So why do they keep doing this? Wikipedia's not a physical book. If I want to read an article about, say, limestone, I don't have to flip through hundreds of pages about webcomics and rock bands and Australian cricketers and fancruft. I just type "limestone" in the search box, and it takes me right there. How does the existence of 9,718 articles about anime and Pixar films, even if most of it is fancruft, hurt this process? It doesn't. Perhaps it might slow the search down a tad (but hey, if they're serious about hosting an encyclopedia, one hopes they'd have a nice big beefy search engine). Perhaps I might get a disambiguation page with a whole bunch of silly things on it, like "Limestone may refer to: A mineral. A webcomic. A rock band. The Limestoneers, another rock band. Harry Limestone, an Australian cricket player. etc." But still, hey, the first link in that list is the one I want, as usual, no problem! One extra click to get there is nothin'.

One possibility is that they're running short on server space. Granted, not everybody can set up huge server farms like LiveJournal or YouTube. But seriously, if they're that hard up, I wish they'd just come out and say so.

Or perhaps they want to be taken seriously by traditional media. If so: c'mon, guys, you're "the online encyclopedia anyone can edit". Quit acting like you're the frigging Encyclopedia Britannica.

Or maybe they don't want redundancy. I hear there's a wiki for webcomics called Comixpedia, and maybe the Wikipedia editors think articles about webcomics belong there instead. But once again, if that's the case, I wish they'd come out and say so. "It is recommended that this article be moved to Comixpedia" would be so much more useful and polite than "This article has been BALEETED."

Or maybe some editor is just deleting stuff he doesn't care about. In which case, what a jerk.

Actually, I can think of one Wikipedia feature that would be hurt by too many non-notable articles and fancruft: the Random Article link. But who even uses that, unless maybe they're bored?

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Barenaked Ladies - Sound of Your Voice

Comments:

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From:shelbystripes
Date:March 16th, 2007 06:56 am (UTC)
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It is absolutely and completely arbitrary. Some guy high up the Wikipedia ladder just doesn't think webcomic artists and YouTube celebrities are "notable" enough to be featured, and he's gonna keep purging them until he retires, 'cause it's his belief and he's sticking to it. Or something like that.

Being mentioned in Wikipedia is by no means a benchmark of notability (though it would be pretty cool to be mentioned there).
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 16th, 2007 07:00 am (UTC)
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Well then... dammit!
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From:masem
Date:March 16th, 2007 01:29 pm (UTC)
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I'd also say because there are other sources in a similar wikipedia format for things like Internet memes, Wikipedia tends not to want to duplicate that information.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 17th, 2007 01:22 am (UTC)
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If that's the case, I wish when they delete something they'd suggest a more appropriate wiki to move it to. In fact, why not move it there themselves (and provide a link to the new article)? Wikis are, after all, editable by anyone, or supposed to be.
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From:octan
Date:March 17th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
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That would be a great idea -- Wiki mods actually taking the responsibility of transferring Wikipedia's own articles to other wikis. It'd be a lot of help for some, especially the Simpsons Wiki.
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From:shelbystripes
Date:March 16th, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
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But it's not a "pure democracy", and not just beyond those who vote vs. those who don't. There are people who have greater influence than others in Wikipedia. The case of Essjay, which was just in the news recently, is a good example. He was a well-known editor who used his academic credentials as weight to throw around and win debates over what should and shouldn't be in articles of his particular interest. The problem was, he made his academic credentials up; far from being a doctorate, he was a college dropout.

The point is, there are definitely people in Wikipedia who get more weight than others. There are some people who I'm sure others will follow with their votes, and that gives them influence and power. Like any democracy, power will inevitably congeal around those who seize it, and without checks and balances, will become more authoritarian, with democracy remaining only as a front.

If it's not a single person, then it's likely a small group. Like you said, a vocal minority. And if the voting system ends up giving them that much power, does it matter whether you call it democratic or authoritarian? That group still has the power, either way.
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From:patcat
Date:March 16th, 2007 08:36 am (UTC)
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[citation needed]
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From:nefaria
Date:March 16th, 2007 12:21 pm (UTC)
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Yeesh, internet censorship takes another leap forward. I'd rather wade through spam than see quality content deleted by morons.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 17th, 2007 01:25 am (UTC)
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You don't even have to wade through spam, like I said! Type "automobile" in the search box, and page after page of fancruft about Star Trek: Enterprise will miraculously fail to pop up and clutter your screen.
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From:orv
Date:March 16th, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC)
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Wikipedia is full of turf battles like that. Generally there are one or two people who will jealously defend any given page against contributions from anyone else. That's one reason I avoid the site. The other is that I think "the wisdom of crowds" is a complete oxymoron.
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From:deckardcanine
Date:March 16th, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC)
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If they delete pages because they don't want redundancy, it's still foolish. It's not like hardcopy encyclopedias try to cover only what their competitors don't.

Quit acting like you're the frigging Encyclopedia Britannica.

As I recall, one published study said that Wikipedia is actually a better source of info than Britannica. Maybe that study has gone to the editors' heads.

This is only the second time I've seen "baleeted," and the first time was earlier today.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 17th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
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It is! Wikipedia can have detailed articles about all kinds of things I wouldn't expect to find in Britannica (such as my first example above, the "Where the hell is Matt" guy). There is no reason for their notability standards to be fully as strict as a print encyclopedia.
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From:normanrafferty
Date:March 16th, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
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I think it's a shame that they can't spare one paragraph for a stub on a web-comic, but the ridiculous deconstructions of every single episode of a fan-favorite TV show can stay.
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From:yakko
Date:March 16th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
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Related: Sinbad is dead because Wikipedia vandals say so

Also, "Random article" is the ONLY way to browse certain wikis, like Conservapedia.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 17th, 2007 01:36 am (UTC)
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This is why if I'm researching something important, I don't stop at Wikipedia. I check their sources. If sources are not given, I go looking for some.

But if I'm just curious about how custard is made, Wikipedia is usually good enough.
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From:qaianna
Date:March 17th, 2007 03:59 am (UTC)
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Wiki normally suggests you do it that way, if for nothing else than that it *is* folks who just see something and scribble it in--sometimes well-meaning scribbles, but whether they're accurate or not is up for debate (often).

And yeah, revert wars can happen. Like they say, full democracy doesn't always work.

And which is more useful, then, Wikipedia or the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (not to be confused with h2g2, a BBC-run Wiki-like site!).
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 17th, 2007 04:37 am (UTC)

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*MOSTLY* harmless?!
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:March 18th, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC)
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Indeed. I'm still the type that if I had to research something important, my first source is still the public library and printed materials, but webpages are a close second. Wikipedia is in htere, but not of course as the be-all-end-all.

Curious, though, if you did research something using Wikipedia as a starting point, once you're done your research, would you go back to the Wikipedia article and update it and improve ti to add all the stuff that you found that was lacking when you first went?
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 18th, 2007 10:43 pm (UTC)
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I just might, at that.
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From:zorro456
Date:March 16th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
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Kind of dumb, The whole POINT of the Internet is how things relate to other things hence that is why the Internet has links.

Wikipedia would be far better off being a living web source that updates to cover the latest rather than try to be a traditional encyclopedia.

They are about 200 years late to be trying to beat the encyclopedia Britannica.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 17th, 2007 01:50 am (UTC)

Wikiproject Webcomics

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See, that doesn't sound like a bad idea. But then why do I keep seeing webcomic artists who complain about these deletions and have never heard of Wikiproject Webcomics? Seems like what we have here is a failure to communicate.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:March 17th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
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Actually, I can think of one Wikipedia feature that would be hurt by too many non-notable articles and fancruft: the Random Article link. But who even uses that, unless maybe they're bored?

I use random article a lot actually when I am bored. It is kind of a shock after about an hour of browsing up on my general knowledge by reading well-writen, substantial articles on mainstream encyclopedia topics (and some not, but still well-written and substantial) and them hitting "random" and seeing stub after stub after stub after stub after stub ... I don't think I saw anything close to an "ideal" article at all when hitting "random". This does make me wonder just how many stubs are out there.

I would say if there's a lot of stubs (ie small article without enough people knowledgeable enough for the topic to make it more than a stub), then it's a prime candidate for deletion, even if it is something as esoteric as a fanboy article (though I doubt most of the ones KT is raving about are stubs, but rather presentable articles). However, I"m guilty of this - I've been considered a leading expert on national anthems (which tells you just how little of them there must be!) and I leave most of the stubs on anthems as just that, stubs. Mainly because I have very little time to edit them (and I have my own anthems page which is also suffering from neglect) and there are several Wikipedians I know who have more time that are knowledgeable about anthems that I hope will improve them. I know, it's like that story of the Good Samaritan ("I don't want to do it, let someone else do it"), but it's the sad case when I have a busy life.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:March 21st, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
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Sorry, I don't know. I've never even heard of Eyak up to this point...
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