Monday, September 22, 2008

The Debate Over "Deletionism" at Wikipedia...

Wikipedia may be the world's largest reference source based on user submissions, but what rarely gets talked about is how many entries get deleted from the site. Editors often delete entries for a host of reasons - including copyright violations, pages with serious libel problems, and pages which set out to offend others. This may not be a surprise, except that they also delete entries for "being uninteresting" or if they're deemed "the result of manipulation by political and business interests".

These are obviously criteria that are severely open to interpretation, so as a result, a new website called Deletionpedia was created to host all of the deleted Wikipedia articles. That way we don't miss out on gems like "List of Films with Monkeys in Them".

But on a serious note, what's become a real point of contention is the actual Wikipedia article describing Deletionpedia. Some editors are trying to remove it, sparking a raging discussion on whether that's a wise move. As Cyndy Aleo-Carreira observes, "it appears that the impetus for removal isn't so much due to insignificance... as it is due to perceived criticism of Wikipedia itself."

This opens a pandora's box of questions. Have the editors at Wikipedia taken on a censorship role? If so, how does that conflict with the website's characterization of being user-driven? To what extent does this case illustrate the ongoing inclusion vs. exclusion debate in cyberspace?

Most people are completely unaware that Wikipedia even deletes entries at all, let alone that it's now deleting entries on deleting entries. What we really ought to be asking is who exactly are these censoring editors and how did they obtain their positions of power over the rest of us?
  

12 Comments:

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Harold Fowler said...

LOL, Wikipedia is a JOKE. It is run by a bunch of Fascist moderators that only allow posts to appear that THEY believe in, whether it be truth or not. I avoid anything Wiki like the plague and urge others to do the same as it is chalk full of INACCURATE information.

Jiff
www.FireMe.To/udi

 
At 12:44 PM, Blogger Plutor said...

I don't see why an article about Deletionpedia should be held to a lower standard than articles about other websites that aren't about Wikipedia. Are you working on an article about this blog entry, since the lack of one would apparently indicate some sort of dark conspiracy of censorship?

 
At 12:47 PM, Anonymous James said...

"it is chalk full of INACCURATE information."

chock, lol. I love people who sound out idioms.

 
At 12:48 PM, Blogger dasil003 said...

@harold - Time for a reality check. All information is controlled by somebody.

 
At 1:07 PM, Blogger Rob Domanski said...

Plutor - The lack of a Wikipedia entry about a website certainly doesn't translate into a conspiracy against that website. However, if, as has been suggested, Wikipedia has removed the entry solely because it criticizes Wikipedia, then it's very fair to question the move.

You do raise an interesting thought though... If people started writing wiki entries about their own blog articles, would that make them "meta-blogs"?

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger cj_ said...

What's the issue? It was nominated for deletion, and the decision was to keep it. This happens to all kinds of articles, it's part of the vetting process.

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger Torley said...

LOL, I find it funny that films with monkeys is any less valid than the list of films with time travel ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Time_travel_films ), which got to stay. Maybe if there had been more monkey-movies, they could've stayed in strength! *thumps chest*

 
At 1:39 PM, Blogger Chad said...

@harold fowler:
Your opinion of Wikipedia would seem to make you a non-expert: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061127-8296.html

The accuracy of Wikipedia has been established:
http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2005/12/15/Wikipedia-review051215.html

It may contain SOME inaccurate information, but then all information documenting sources do. What matter is how well it does compared to other such systems.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger Rob Domanski said...

But, @cj, don't you think there should be some questions raised over who is doing the vetting.

Wikipedia itself says emphatically that majority rule will not decide the issue.

So what will?

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger metasonix said...

You wanna read about Wikipedia censorship and corruption? Try the Wikipedia Review. You will be horrified to read about the endless litany of juvenile antics of some of WP's "valued administrators".

http://www.wikipediareview.com

And don't forget the ever-popular Daniel Brandt.

http://www.wikipedia-watch.org/

 
At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Cyndy Aleo-Carreira said...

It wasn't voted as a "keep" but as a "no consensus" meaning they may delete it at any point.

The problem that I had with the deletion is the ever-changing definition of "notable" as it applies to things Wikipedia editors like vs. don't like. The article was marked for speedy deletion almost immediately, before the author had even completed it. The references originally cited were a WSJ mention and my original article for The Standard (which was deemed too trivial to count as a source, which, of course, led to my desire to follow this entry to the ends of the earth to keep it in), yet it was still said to lack the notability for a page.

Of course, the subsequent press that the deletion has gotten as well as the Slashdotting gained the deletion discussion a nice Streisand effect, and Deletionpedia more mentions as a result.

Why are things deleted so long as they have even a decent amount of notoriety? Is it Britannica being edited or an online encyclopedia that's supposed to surpass what we knew as encyclopediae?

I think Wikipedia needs to decide what it wants to be. It will never be completely accurate due to the UGC model, but at least let it have the breadth that it can.

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger Plutor said...

cyndy: Anyone can mark an article for speedy deletion in the same way that anyone can make a new article called "LOL BUTZ YOUR DUM!!1". The fact that it was marked isn't organizational censorship, it's the uninformed or simply rash action of a single individual. The fact that it wasn't deleted -- speedy or otherwise -- is a pretty clear indication to me that the system works.

 

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