Open main menu
Noto Emoji Pie 1f4c4.svg This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

The motivations and behaviors of a page's contributors are irrelevant to a decision of whether we should keep or delete a page. Wikimedia policies generally disfavor arguments and actions based on irrelevant factors. "ILIKEIT and "IDONTLIKEIT" are two frequently-cited arguments to avoid in deletion discussions. In those two cases, the principle is that it is bad to keep or delete a page simply because of your affinity or lack thereof for a particular subject. But how many times do deletion arguments make mention of a page's author?

The motivations for IDONTLIKEIT are probably, in some cases, punitive. We desire so much to eliminate spam, bad behavior, and people taking advantage of our web hosting capabilities that we seek to deter and punish malefactors by deleting their articles. In some cases, we do this if the content was good – or at least, no worse than that posted by others we like more, whose contributions we vote to keep. It is worth asking, if we want to go the punitive route, are xfD discussions a suitable judgment hall in which to mete out justice to individuals? Could there be better methods of accomplishing the desired effect? Food for thought.

The standards of what people can post to the mainspace, Wikimedia project namespaces, and userspace should be consistent for all users. There are negative consequences for doing otherwise. At best, we make an accurate judgment about someone and put it to dubious use. At worst, we make a mistake and magnify the potential for strife.

TypesEdit

Consider these types of arguments:

  • Delete. It is obvious that the creator of and primary contributor to the article is the person who wrote this film. Also, this guy has spammed other websites to promote this film. SubjectMatterExpertsNeedNotApply
  • Delete, the anon is spamming links to this page all over the place. NoWikificationAllowed
  • Strong Delete. The author has been regularly engaging in contentious editing. DeleteTheirStuff
  • Keep, this essay is by a well-respected Wikipedian. RespectTheSage
  • Delete. User has no edits to any pages other than this one. CloseThisMFD
  • Keep, this is an established user. GoodOldBoy

These arguments fall into three basic categories: Spam, bad behavior, and no other edits. They will be addressed in sequence.

SpamEdit

Spam can be tricky to identify without making a Type I error. Putting any information on Wikipedia generally tends to raise public awareness of it. Thus, it is entirely possible that a person intending simply to post interesting or useful information about a business or cause could, as a byproduct, promote and further it. Given the ambiguity, on what basis do we make the judgment that something is deletable spam? Should it be based on the intent of the contributor, or based on attributes of the article?

en:WP:SPAM attempts to define spam in relatively objective terms. It notes, "Wikispam articles are usually noted for sales-oriented language and external links to a commercial website." It then goes on to say that blatant advertisements can be speedied and less blatant ads can be deleted through PROD or AFD. WordNet further defines blatant as "without any attempt at concealment; completely obvious."

If a user called MicrosoftMarketer creates a new article on the soon-to-be-released Windows 2010, would their completely obvious intent be enough to delete the article as blatant advertising? What if the subject were notable, the information well-sourced, and the overall tone balanced? Except for the attribution in the history, it might be indistinguishable from an article created by an uninvolved person. Should we still delete it? Indeed, should the contributor's identity even come up in the deletion discussion?

One might argue that it's not only irrelevant but harmful to do so. It distracts from the real issues. If the article is deleted, it potentially discourages an editor who, while not altruistically-motivated, was making good and useful contributions.

Bad behaviorEdit

Moving on, what about the author who creates a good article, but hasn't been the paragon of wikivirtue? Perhaps he's been uncivil, or in extreme cases, even been declared a troll. CSD G5 provides a bit of guidance on extreme cases, noting that pages may be deleted if "created by banned users in violation of their ban, with no substantial edits by others."

What about the less severe cases? There does not appear to be any speedy deletion, miscellany for deletion, or other deletion policy criterion about characteristics of the editor – unless they're a banned user. So why does their conduct come up in xfDs? In AfDs, it is occasionally used to argue that a page is a probable hoax. But verifiability is the real measure, and the one supported by policy.

Pages in the Wikipedia and User namespaces are particularly vulnerable to deletion based on the contributor's behavior, as there are less clearly-defined, objective criteria for deciding whether to keep such pages. In the case of essays, humor and such, their usefulness is in the eye of the beholder.

No other editsEdit

What about the user who begins his Wikipedia career by adding something to his own namespace? It's a bit of a darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don't scenario. If you leave nothing on your userpage, people comment that it would be good if your username weren't always redlinked. But if you should happen to make your first edit posting your resume or your pet theory about the lost city of Atlantis, it could very well end up on MFD, with a rationale of "Wikipedia is not a free web host. User has no other edits outside of his userpage."

It seems to be implied that the user was here primarily to post personal stuff, and was not planning on getting around to making mainspace edits. Of course, if they are chased away by such treatment, they may never get around to making mainspace edits, and the nominator's implicit assessment is apparently proven correct.

It would seem logical, when entering a new community, to introduce oneself first; and if one desired to rapidly make connections with like-minded people in that community, to include a sample of one's prior work or some other such information. After all, it's not permitted in mainspace to advance one's novel theories there.

But here the expectation is reversed; you make mainspace edits for awhile, and then you are given some more slack to add things to your userpage. Should there be different standards for what new users can post, vs. what long-established users can post? Would User:Jimbo Wales be allowed to keep something that User:Joe Schmoe Just-Started-A-Wikipedia-Account-Today wouldn't be allowed to keep? What if Mr. Schmoe happens to visit Wales' page, sees what he has posted, and thinks, "Hey, I didn't know we were allowed to post that stuff; let me put something like that on my page!" And then his page ends up on MFD.

We wouldn't expect to get in trouble on other websites for taking our cues from what more established users do. Why should that happen here?

See alsoEdit