Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Monday, August 27, 2007

Every time a Wikipedia article is deleted, a kitten dies

Wikipedia is the ultimate social network. One's contributions to the encyclopedia convey a full spectrum of interests, goals, desires, and level of honesty (or lack thereof). Minor details speak volumes; they are more revealing than a gallery of photographs, more meaningful than your favorite color, more intimate than dirty socks.


What really delineates our ability to meaningfully communicate and form social bonds? Common interests in art, music, and books all play a role, as do cultural similarities. They are limited in scope, only defining the surface of our interactions. Tilting the rudders of our interpersonal discourse, though, are the most minor, infinitesimal details -- an order of magnitude more prescient than your race or political affiliation.

I don't know about all that -- but the main idea is that wikipedia really should be the center of something much bigger. (A good start would be a page where people can discuss the topic itself, not just its article.)

This is why, every time someone deletes an article because it's not notable, it feels like somehow, somewhere, there was a great disturbance in the force, like a kitten was put through the blender. Information can be moved, damnit. It should be flowing outward from wikipedia to somewhere else (somewhere more everything2-ish*).

Do you hear this, WP deletionists? It's the general public. They don't like it when their hard work is painted over with white-out. (Or sealed up in an unadvertised lockbox, which amounts to the same thing.) Use the annex.

* Print this one out and read it. Some of the most beautiful stuff I've ever encountered is on e2.


John Schmidt said...

"A good start would be a page where people can discuss the topic itself, not just its article."

Eventually people will realize that Wikiversity exists. If people are interested in exploring a topic, even just discussing it, they have much more "elbow room" at Wikiversity.

Catherine said...

I agree wholeheartedly; deletionism without check is a big problem.

In the meantime, if you see something good at WP about to be thrown away, please consider moving it to (or notifying someone there so they can) -- it exists to rescue and hold GFDL information until a better place for it can be found, whether that's a Wikimedia project, a Wikia, or another free content home that wants it.

Brianna said...

Shoulddothis is such a cool idea! I hope it takes off.

llywrch said...

Your post reminds me of a thread I stumbled across (but now can't find) where a group of Wikipedians share their dislike of "Trivia of X" articles. Not that I am a defender of this genre of articles, but I was appalled at how one eagerly shared his almost orgasmic pleasure from deleting them.

What this person forgot was that someone -- or some people -- spent time & effort in writing these articles, believing that they were helping to improve Wikipedia. Whether they were right or wrong in this belief is besides the point -- this statement mocked their sincere efforts. Braying crap like this rarely discourages the creation of these kinds of articles, & more often only discourages other people from particiapting in Wikipedia because they think most of us are elitist.

Okay, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about, but I found that comment offensive and disrespectful. I only wish I could find that thread so I could pillory the newbies who participated in it.


Waldir said...

[[Wikipedia:Alternative outlets]] should be much more cherished. Perhaps something like that should be used instead of [[WP:NOT]] and all the deletion process/messages should include these alternatives.

Fajro said...

That's Transwikism!

Ben Yates said...

Well, damn; so it is. I'd better add the userbox.