Deletion management redesign

Please see also Sysop management.

It appears there is sometimes necessity to undelete a file (see w:Wikipedia:Votes for undeletion)

Comment by Brion : I should point out that Cunc has asked, and I've agreed, to revamp the currently difficult to use and limited-to-sysops Special:Undelete page. I'd very much like some input on what the needs for the deletion/undeletion system are. --Brion 05:34 15 May 2003 (UTC)

Page of deletion itself edit

  • add check box to identify certain categories of articles
    • check : copyright/porn :>non visible to non-sysops, and deleted by developers from time to time
    • not check : other material :>visible to anyone

Deletion log edit

  • Merge the deletion log with normal recent changes, watchlists, etc. If you're watching an article which is deleted, show that deletion. Ditto undeletion.
  • Separate logs per namespace (one log for articles, one log for user space, one log for meta pages)

  • possibility to see the article
    last version only ?
    all historical versions?
    the latter would be better, because the last version might be just a notice of copyright infringement, etc. Tomos
  • sysop and loggued-in user ?
    sysop only ?
    all users ?
  • direct access for undeletion for sysop (There could be a link from the deletion log to the restore page, auto-inserted by the logging mechanism)

Undelete page edit

Per order...

  • Display by namespace first (there would be three clearly identified and separated list)
  • For each namespace, display
    per alphabetical order (issue non alphabetical letters)
    per date of deletion
    per author of deletion (likely to be controversial)
  • pages displayed by packages of 50 (or more) with a next and a previous
  • Possibility for users to see the deleted article (last revision or all revision) : this issue is very controversial.

from old request of mine on mailing list

What I've suggested before, and if I have time I'll try to implement it, but it'd be lovely if someone else got to it because I'm stretched a little thin right now, is to have a deletion log _table_. (Or perhaps a general 'event log' which also keeps track of bans, protections, unbans, unprotections, creation of user accounts, sysopization, etc; of which we can extract just deletions for purposes of showing a deletion log).
This could then be easily sorted by timestamp or by deleting user, and for sysops a link to the undelete could be made instantly available.
brion vibber
What's the problem with an Attic type situation where deleted entries are compressed and archived? Besides disk space obviously... -- Webhat 03:01, 17 Jan 2004 (UTC)
In this way a new entry can take note of what not to do and even take the poor yet factual data to product a coherent entry or stub... -- Webhat 03:05, 17 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Other options edit

remove implemented feature - thanks! -MyRedDice

taking a leaf from meatball edit

A "Delete Experiment and Welcome" link & tag would be a good idea for deleting junk.

  1. the process is more open
  2. newcomers who wrote the junk text get a link to a page saying "Hi! Welcome to the site, but please don't do this!"

This could be used for copyrights too, but I think with these we maybe benefit from a central list. Of course, a central list could be generated. But then it's "dumb", you can't see at a glance what the debate on each one is. -- Tarquin 13:02 18 May 2003 (UTC)

a central list can be generated from backlinks - the same way it's done on en:Wikipedia:NPOV dispute. I think the "dumbness" is good it keeps debate in one place - as is, we often have debate on VfD and seperate debate on the article's talk page - that's not very productive. MyRedDice 13:24 18 May 2003 (UTC)

Conflicts edit

Is there such a thing as a deletion conflict? What happens if:

  1. I load a junk page
  2. while I'm thinking about it, Brion edits it to create a decent stub
  3. I hit the DELETE button

Does the page still delete?

Yes. That's happened _very_ occasionally. If it happens to you, just shout out: any sysop can undelete the page. --Brion VIBBER 17:51 18 May 2003 (UTC)

A similar thing that has happened to me several times is a "rollback conflict": I rollback vandalism, but so do you, and I end up rolling back the change you made. :( Wouldn't the solution to both these to add a version number to both commands, ie "delete article, version 63", and "rollback from version 63". Then is when the system gets the command, if the newest version number is not 63, just display a message saying "Someone has edited this article since. Your action is not possible. Please reload." -- tarquin

Yes, I just haven't got around to adding that. --Brion VIBBER 23:57 18 May 2003 (UTC)

That happened to me with adding to the page Anaphora. To this day, the Wikipedia software "thinks" that I started/created that article. Wiwaxia 11:12, 2 Dec 2003 (UTC)

from en:wikipedia talk:censorship:

I like the meatballWiki system: In other words, to delete a page, replace it with a link to wikipedia:deleted page. If a page has not been updated for 30 days, and it starts with a wikipedia:deleted page link (it may have other stuff too) then it gets deleted. Of course, any system that gives the same benefits is fine by me:

  • Any user should be able to nominate a page for deletion. Similarly, any user should be able to veto a nomination for deletion. No special sysop powers.
  • Any list of pages-to-be-deleted should be auto-updated.
  • Nominating a page for deletion should show up as a "change" on watchlists, recent changes, etc. Ditto nominating for undeletion.
  • Pages should not be deleted while there is still conversation over whether the page should be deleted.

Differences that I think wikipedia should have:

  • Undeletion should be an option for sysops - the current system would be sufficient for that, though, because it wouldn't need to be used much.
  • The page and talk page should be considered as one unit, so the talk page should be deleted when the main page is deleted, and edits on the talk page would slow down deletion.
tend to disagree with last option. On french wiki, we often have a quite persistant editor, insisting to create articles we decided not to keep (not enough famous artists for example). Each time, we debate the topic in length. Then delete the page. A couple of days/weeks later, we see the same article reappear. Some like to just pick up the last talk page for the same article, so we don't go through the process. Sometimes also, after a page is deleted, we keep the talk page for a while before "permanent" disappearance in the great black hole. Deletion of article and talk page can be made "together" by default, but imho, it should not be mandatory. ant

One should not replace the page with the link to deleted page. This will cause a lot of conflicts as the process of deletion cannot be discussed without implicitly undeleting the page. It's better to just write the link at the top of the page and let the discussion continue below. You don't want to fight over the act of deletion, just over the reasons. -- User:SunirShah

I'm happy for the undeletion system to remain arcane, provided that the deletion system doesn't allow unreviewed or unilateral deletions. Martin

There are only two circumstances under which there's actually any reason to make a page vanish instantly:
  • Material that Wikipedia cannot legally distribute at all (flagrant copyright violations; kiddie porn; whatever)
  • A page that needs to be removed as part of an aggregate operation:
    • Renaming an existing page in its place
    • Merging the history of a broken-up article back into one piece by deleting the pieces and restoring them under the same name.
The rest of the time ("newbie experiments", "junk", "vandalism"), it's unclear what the benefit of instant deletion is supposed to be. Blanking it, marking it as to-be-deleted and letting it be automatically deleted after a set period during which no one has replaced it with real content sounds like it would do just fine.
In general I think that a de-evolution of power to the general users is a significant part of what makes wiki great, and a deletion system that in general works more like at Ward's Wiki or MeatBall would be preferable. When actions are easily reversible, and permanent serious actions take time and cooperation, abuse (or the appearence of abuse) is not likely to be a significant problem, and everyone can "be bold" in their work.
That has nothing to do with the ugly, difficult to use "votes for deletion" page. Remember, VfD was originally a software feature designed to streamline deletion of junk pages in the days when actual page deletion was restricted to just Jimbo and Larry. When the feature was removed, the page was perversely retained and edited manually for ten months. --Brion 09:29 May 15, 2003 (UTC)
It would be great if blanked pages were automatically deleted a month after they were blanked. Until then Admins should be able to do as they do now (as you say the VfD page is not at all a desirable way to delete the many vandalisms and newbie experiments we get daily. --mav
I very strongly disagree. Vandalism can go unnoticed for a long time. Ant

end move from

I would not like it if blank pages were automatically deleted: sometimes they are the result of vandalism which was missed. Granted, I've only come across it twice in two years, but there have been cases where a vandal deleted everything in the article and I stumbled onto the vandalism months afterwards. In one case it was originally a stub; in the other it was a fairly good article. (no, I don't remember which two). Anyway, so I'd prefer automatic deletion require a change to a notice to delete the page, and that that change be flagged everywhere that page appears so that people will notice it. Koyaanis Qatsi

What if pages to-be-deleted showed up as red links rather than blue links? Would make the forthcoming deletion sufficiently obvious? Maybe not always. But perhaps coupled with an auto-updated list of pages to-be-deleted? MyRedDice

How about just another flag on RecentChanges? You already have M and N, so why not D? -- User:SunirShah

I think the recent pages is too long for that to work really well. Only wikipediholic look at the whole recent page log day after day.
it'd show up on "related changes" and watchlists too, though - that'd help. --mrd

Jimbo answers on distinction between deleted copyrighted material and other material

(making cp (and assimilated) material non visual from non-sysop, and perhaps permanently deletable from the database; while other material is visible from any user)

I think your suggestion is not a bad one. Here's the way I would say it: If a page has to be removed for a legal reason, then it should not be viewable by the general public. ("legal reason" would most often be copyright, but also libel would be possible.) If a page is removed for other reasons, then there is no reason to hide it from users who want to investigate and oversee changes.

HOWEVER, since anyone can be a sysop just by asking, I don't feel that the current setup is particularly bad. Anyone who is interested in monitoring what is being deleted, to make sure that no bad agenda is being carried out in secret, can just become a sysop and look.
So, I support some version of what you are suggesting, although I don't think it's all that big of a problem right now.


some people just don't wish to be sysop for a variety of reason. That does not mean they are not interested in monitoring sysop actions. Just as in real life a regular citizen might be willing to know what one who hold power over him is doing
current policy of making people sysops very easily is applicable on the english wiki, but may not be current or desirable policy on all wikis. On the other hand, software is a shared ressource. It is easier or probably more desirable to have a flexible software, allowing flexible policy, rather than a fixed policy, initially defined by the english wiki for all wikipedias.
It is not a big problem right now, especially since the w:Wikipedia:votes for undeletion page exist, but since a redesign of the deletion system is being envisionned in the future, it might be relevant to globally think now of any software and policy changes.

comment from Brion

For comparison with some other wikis: on the original WikiWiki at, anyone can mark a page for deletion by replacing its text with a link to "DeleteTestAndWelcome" or another such page beginning with "Delete" which describes why the page is being deleted. To make the deletion permanent, any other user can edit the page and resave it, which erases the stored backup revision. To instead cancel the deletion, any user can edit it, call up the backup copy, and save it. Actual intervention from Ward would be very rare.

MeatBallWiki has a somewhat similar system, but being UseMod-based it has KeptPages (like our page history, but the older revisions are culled after some time) and so greater ability to revert. Permanent deletions are made automatically after some period of time without being edited if left in the 'DeletedPage' state.

What we basically have to ask ourselves is: what is the benefit of instantly deleting pages with no ability for all but a select few to see and judge what was deleted and restore it if appropriate? The most worrisome cases of delete-worthy pages we have are probably the suspected copyright violations, since their presence in Wikipedia and distribution from our web site and in our backup dumps has potential legal implications. Yet, we've apparently decided as a community to *not* delete such pages immediately.

So what benefit is there to having the ability? It's a temptation to use it where it might not be appropriate; oversight is limited; and most significantly it promotes ill-will among those who aren't in the club. That's un-Wiki.

Very occasionally it is useful to delete some junk page immediately to fix up certain renaming operations, or to delete and immediately restore a page to recombine broken page histories. These are very rare administrative actions, which could probably be worked into a better interface which is more specific to the task.

The general case does _not_ require instant deletions, and would be better served by an open, reviewable, reversible process that does go ahead and take automatic action aftera timeout with no objections.

-- brion vibber (brion @


This is not an issue to be delayed. This is Wikipedia's undoing, as I and others have already voted with our feet to go elsewhere. (Everything2, etc) - and it's getting the media publicity now. Here's what ought to be the case:

Deletions (or the insertion of derogatives such as "alleged" or "rumored") should only occur if:

1) A careful contemporaneous review of the literature is attested to - not just "I once read..." or "I did see the movie though..." but "I reread the following looking for evidence specific to these issues, and found the following passages..."

2) A probative, contradicting bibliography is provided. This may be singular when a recognized scholar or sole possible source is cited.

3) Where deletion is for NPOV a specific kind of bias must therefore be alleged - whether national, religious, political or otherwise, and it must be explicitly stated on which side the deleter is presuming a bias exists. It is not permissible to allege non-specific bias, there are none such. Omitting this step so as not to tip off one's own possible biases isn't permissable.

4) Deletion can't be merely a return to popular prejudice or the lowest common denominator of knowledge, i.e., you can't delete or denigrade material because it isn't something you personally know to be the case. (And presumably, you'd rather it wasn't.) - yet this is the most common reason for deletion now, I believe, that it contradicts the readers prejudice or assumptions, therefore they assume it must not be NPOV.

Censorship can't create knowledge or allow it's accumulation, freer discussion might.

What? Things are not deleted for being non-NPOV. We do not delete in order to censor but because something is non-encyclopedic, unverifiable or below stub level.Angela
Well... some are, actually - for being irredeemably POV - IE, if you take all the POV out, there's nothing left.

I think that current vfd system is basically fine (although I think it vfd shoud be renamed Requests for deletion. The only problem is the actual act of deletion, which can be somewhat arbitrary. So how about this:

  • Any user can nominate a page for deletion: delete_vote_count=0
  • After due process, or if judged to require instant action:
    • Any sysop can support deletion: delete_vote_count = delete_vote_count + 1
    • Any sysop can oppose deletion: delete_vote_count = delete_vote_count - 2
    • If delete_vote_count reaches 2, delete page
    • If delete_vote_count reaches -4, cancel nomination
  • All of this can (IMO should) be automated

So, the current system stays in place, no sysop can delete a page by themself, and it takes 2/3+2 votes to actually delete the article, so the majority issue is addressed. The numbers can be tweaked, of course. Zocky 22:29, 13 Dec 2003 (UTC)

VfD has other roles, though, like discussion of the merits of articles and identifying policy questions. One problem with all strict voting systems is that it can take only one person confirming that something is real to make the reason given for a deletion listing invalid and remove the need to delete the article. That's one reason why sysops are supposed to use their judgement in assessing what to do, not just count votes. Jamesday 11:01, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Suggestion for reform 2004 - 'deletion credits' edit

It seems that the current system is not too bad, the problem is a relatively small group of users who seem to spend nearly all of their time deleting other people's work, examining a few of the contribution logs from the VfD page, there are a few problem users for whom 90% of their edits are deletions, reversions or quasi-abusive comments.

I propose a system where people would have to build up 'deletion credits' by contributing valid material, before being given the privilage of deleting other's work. In this way VfD would be limited to those who had shown a commitment to contributing constructively instead of simply tearing down others work for whatever reason.

A user would have a account, preferably automated, so that they would be able to delete a maximum of half the amount of material that they had contributed in that month. The ratio could be debated, but it would provide a self selection process of those genuinely committed to building the wikipedia, weed out sock-puppets and people who just get a perverse kick in excercising arbitrary power over others. The Fellowship 19:54, 13 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I love the idea ;-) (not signed)
Me too, in general. But how do you measure the "amount of material"? Are you just counting non-minor edits? I find the idea attractive that the effort needed for getting the deletion credits needed to get rid of some page should increase with the amount of content of a page, or even with the history of a page. 14:41, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Another problem would be that people would do a lot more inserting of conflicting statements into paragraphs (gaining credits) rather than deleting things which are incorrect (spending credits). Interesting idea though. It makes me think of TrustMetrics. That kind of system has many potential applications, giving people extra powers in a wiki community, not just control of delete permissions. Would be interesting to see some experiments in this area. The difficulty is always going to be devising a scheme which would stand up to abuse. -- Harry Wood 14:38, 10 October 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Further suggestion: extra content flags edit

I have the sense that many disagreements could be resolved more speedily and politely if there were options more nuanced than "ignore/delete", but no more time-consuming:

  1. an "unabridged" flag which could be appended to an article [like the blinking pink diamond in the corner of your VR set reminding you that this isn't real ], for material considered too trivial or "unencyclopedic" for inclusion in the main wiki / full-text-search [the search page could have an "unabridged" option].
  2. an "unverified" flag, similarly, removing it from the canonical wiki linkspace and canonical search. Then funny articles, elaborate jokes, material of dubious validity, or for the moment unverifiable -- put up for vanity? political aim? &c. -- could be separated from the main 'pedia without deletion, allowing it to be revised and improved, even later re-incorporated once fleshed out. (This would also hopefully reduce the incentive to fork)
  3. a better-automated way for an avid user/admin to engage page authors when trying to make such changes/moves/etc : a cooling-off period during which other avid users could observe the proposed move/deletion/trans'ing before an official notice goes out; then an extra line at the bottom of the Talk pages of all users which had edited the affected page?
  4. All of the above could be used in combination with a thoughtful naming policy update [when do you keep a good name but move the content to an "unverified"/"unabridged" page and leave only links to it from the primary page?]

Sj 05:21, 7 Feb 2004 (UTC)

See also edit