Notability for deletion.

Notability is a contentious notion on Wikipedia. It originally entered Wikipedia jargon on Votes For Deletion (as was) as a euphemism for “I don’t like it.” (I was there and watched this happen. I was one of those saying “rubbish, there’s no such rule.” So of course someone wrote a rule.) It’s an obvious notion — of course we don’t want non-notable things on Wikipedia — but its application is grossly problematic, because it’s so subjective in practice and becomes a hideous source of systemic bias. So inside the wiki people argue endlessly, and outside the wiki it becomes a source of horrible public relations because it’s so obviously subjective and applied subjectively. And it trashes our usefulness for the Long Tail, thus damaging our breadth, one of our greatest strengths.

(I don’t want to seem to be minimising the Firehose Of Crap problem. There are 6,000 deletions every day at present. “Notability” is also a euphemism for a quite justifiable “WHAT THE HELL IS THIS CRAP WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU THINKING.” Anyone who thinks they’re an inclusionist needs to read all of Special:Newpages. Once should be enough.)

Now, then. The policy on biographies of living people was written in a real hurry after the Seigenthaler fuckup: Jimbo declared “this damn well needs fixing” and it had to be swung. So I wrote the second draft based strictly on neutrality, verifiability and no original research, so as to avoid the peril of sympathetic point of view becoming mandatory. And it stuck. Because these are the three fundamental content policies of the wiki that aren’t up for a vote — if you disagree with them, you’re on the wrong project — it was easy to support an important guideline from the fundamentals.

Your assignment: Construct a useful notion of “notability” using only neutrality, verifiability and no original research. Look to the living biographies policy for how it was done previously. Note in particular: you may not use What Wikipedia is not (especially that “indiscriminate collection of information” one, which is most often explained in terms of phone books but applied in practice as a euphemism for “fancruft”). You may only use the three fundamental rules on content.

8 thoughts on “Notability for deletion.”

  1. Where does “6,000 deletions per day” come from? Is that including images and talk pages? By my estimates a few months ago, article deletion rate was less than half that, and at least up through January, there was almost never more than 2,500 deletion actions in a single day, including deleted revisions.

  2. By “deleting notability”, you make Wikipedia even more subject to bias. There are millions of people with biographical Google hits; that does not mean they should have a biographical page in Wikipedia. The simple rule for notability in deciding if there should be a Wikipedia biography page is if there are multiple existing professionally produced biographical sources for someone. If you like biographies about non-notable people, why not start a new wiki and call it “encyclopedia of non-notable people”?

  3. Notability on Wikipedia is bias (actually, it is elitist shit) and it should be removed. The only thing about which Wikipedian community should talk is relevancy of sources.

    While I was active on Serbian Wikipedia we tried to implement a rule which would remove a question of “notability”.

    Here is the short version of the rules and explanations (some of the rules are :

    – Encyclopedia (Wikipedia) is not about truth, notability etc., but about verifiability.

    – Encyclopedia may make decision about notability of some papre, but not about notability of human being.

    – You need to give at least two independent and relevant sources and three informations about something if you want to make an article about that thing on Wikipedia.

    – “Independent” means that it doesn’t belong to the person (or person’s small group) which is related to the thing.

    – “Relevant sources” are such — about we didn’t decided (yet) that they are non-relevant.

    – Three informations (I described “informations” in Serbian with the word near to adjective “confrontative”; “three confrontative informations”; but this is not the exact meaning in English…) means (1) not three times sources for one information; (2) not three informations which may be implied from only one; i.e. “London is in UK, in Englang, on the Great Britain island… is only one information which may be implied from only one: geographical coordinates (because geographical coordinates of UK, England and GB are include coordinates of London).

    – Those rules are dealing only about *making an article*. Any blog or other non-independent sources are welcome as Wikipedia sources from the point when the article is made.

    And for those who are afraid about putting a big number of articles about porno actors: If you want to change something, please, do it with your culture, not with Wikipedia. Wikipedia is just describing your culture.

  4. John – It’s mostly not a problem with bios; those are largely taken care of with WP:BLP, as noted. It’s a problem with everything else, and the ridiculously subjective notability guidelines.

    So you’re not able to start on constructing a basis for “notability” that’s less susceptible to bitter argument?

  5. Sage – I went through [[Special:Log/Delete]] and counted entries over 24 hours. Those 6000 deletions were across all namespaces. There were 11,870 pages across all namespaces created within those 24 hours that had survived.

    The number I don’t have is deletions just within main article space. Getting this number presently requires someone going through the deletion log, counting … them … all … by … hand.

    Millosh -that sounds extremely useful as an approach, actually.

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