Closure of WMF projects

This is a proposal from August 2008 and has not been accepted as policy. See Closing projects policy.

Context definition


We propose that the language committee's charter be expanded to process Proposals for closing projects, which several users have requested the committee do. In short, according to our proposal content from closed wikis would generally be moved to the Incubator. This means that the process of their opening has to be fully rerun again; these wikis will need a community, a fair set of articles and localization, just as any other new project.

Requests for closure often have merit because some wikis are either dead or were never properly born and are currently the target of constant spam, libel, and vandalism. Furthermore, any user on such a wiki can unilaterally create or change policies, upload copyright violations, and otherwise cause problems for both any future interested user and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Once a project is started it currently is effectively on its own, yet such a condition is quite absurd in the absence of a proper community.

The current situation


The language proposal policy recently implemented by the committee lays out a set of requirements, designed to achieve basic infrastructure, localization, and community. Few or no new projects should be created with these problems.

Several of the existing Wikipedias are de facto dead, nobody is willing to kill off these wikis, yet abandoning them in the hands of spammers is clearly not a way to save them.


  1. Anyone can signal that something is wrong with a project. In order to do so they can propose to move it to the incubator or they can propose a different action by posting a dated and signed official request on Meta and on the village pump of the project.
  2. No project will be deleted based on criteria that are contrary to any of the Wikimedia Foundation principles.
  3. Should a project be targeted for deletion because of non-strict issues (i.e., not just because it lacks a community/activity/ISO code/strictly linguistic questions) such issues would need to be addressed in a way that makes possible a final decision based on objective criteria.
  4. Non-strict requests need to be phrased clearly; both the people who judge the request and those who oppose it by working to correct the issue(s) in the wiki must be put in the condition to understand what the issue is and how it can be addressed. Any unclear request will not be considered. A month will be reserved to get the request worded in a way that is clearly understood. This month is also available to address the issues raised. Not having a committee pronounce on issues is the idea.
  5. LangCom addresses strict issues only. Non-strict request for deletion are handled by a Meta Arbitration Committee. In the following procedural steps the deciding actor will be defined as “the competent Committee” to allow a common policy base for bothdecision branches.
  6. When the process is started as per 1) the project’s community has 30 days to prove that it can be stirred into action, yet during this period
    1. issues indicated as critical may be addressed producing visible progress
    2. stubs are not accepted as relevant content.
  7. At the end of the period defined at 6) the competent Committee will analyze the ongoing situation and will either
    1. issue a decision;
    2. state a further interval for correction (when progress is clearly observed but the issues are not completely solved);
    3. extensions as per b) are defined according to technical agenda and community’s resources, they are evaluated on a case by case basis.
  8. A request for deletion may have several final outcomes; the most extreme variant being a recommendation to the board of the WMF to delete the project, yet the general target is to have all critical issues adequately addressed and have a funtioning wiki.
  9. In order to achieve the targets declared at 7) the competent Committee has the power to partially delete content, remove personal privileges (like admin, bureaucrats, etc) and ban users who sabotage the process.
  10. MetArbCom is assigned a WMF budget. This will be used to research issues where the committee does not have the necessary expertise and where it is necessary to have a neutral expert opinion.
  11. Requesting the end of a project is not to be asked frivoulously. The Competent Committee may adopt measures against the persons or project who made the case when a project denounces another and the case is proved void.



It must be noted that issues will not be decided by public voting. When criteria that are judged reasonable by the competent Committee (LangCom or MetArbCom) are not met there may be a compulsion to change. This may mean that bureaucrats, sysops, editors lose their privilege; it may mean that content is deleted; it may mean that a whole project is deleted.

When request for deletion is pending a project loses some of its autonomy until the end of the process. This is one of the most severe threats to a community; it needs a very clearly formulated policy to ensure that everybody’s rights are guaranteed.

See also