Wikipedia:Overzealous deletion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Overzealous deletion refers to an overwhelming desire to get articles or other materials on Wikipedia deleted.

Don't be too overzealous with the delete key!

This essay is not in total opposition to deletion. There are some materials that do need to be deleted. For example, anyone who has learned what Wikipedia is really about would believe that no one should be writing articles about themselves, their clubs or organizations, or their bands. Wikipedia is no place for spreading hatred, racist views or personal attacks, publicly distributing of private information about editors, or doing copyright violations. Most importantly, we want information contained in the encyclopedia to be accurate, neutral, and based on reliable sources. That is what the article deletion process is for.

But when meaningful contributions are made, it is important to assume good faith in the contributor and not to rush to "get rid" of someone else's new article. Even if the article does not follow your own interests, it was written by someone for a good reason. The main duty of each and every Wikipedia editor is to improve the encyclopedia by adding more useful information about the world and its contents and improving the quality of writing of existing information. Yes, deletion of articles may sometimes be necessary, but if you are so anxious to get an article deleted, before you do so, you should understand the real reason behind the deletion policy.

Myths and facts about deletion[edit]

There are quite a lot of false beliefs held by many editors that probably lead to many of the deletion proposals that do take place. Anyone who is considering deletion of an article should read this and also consider these facts below before making such a proposal.

Article quality[edit]

:Myth: I see a problem with an article. It is poorly written, has no references, is full of original research, and I do not believe it is even notable. Therefore, I should go ahead and propose it for deletion.

Fact: It is better to attempt to salvage a potentially viable article as best as the Wikipedia community can before putting it up for deletion. A better alternative is to place the appropriate issue tags on the page, alerting others who read the article to the improvements that need to be made. Even if they are not made promptly or within a few days, weeks, months, or even years, there is still that glimmer of hope the article can be improved in the future. Many really good articles today started their Wiki life looking really awful. See WP:BEFORE to know what should be done before an article can be put up for deletion.


:Myth: "Bad" articles get deleted in order to save space on Wikipedia.

Fact: On average, with all the discussions that take place, the process of getting an article deleted actually takes up more storage space than the article itself, as, once deleted, the discussion that led to the deletion remains permanently, and administrators still have access to the article. The real purpose of deletion is to restrict the encyclopedia to encyclopedic content and to remove content that violates Wikipedia's core policies (e.g., personal attacks).

Personal taste[edit]

:Myth: I don't like an article or part of an article. Therefore, I can have it deleted.

Fact: Wikipedia is not about what you like and do not like. An article or section that fully conforms with Wikipedia guidelines for inclusion must remain, even if one or a few people do not like it.

:Myth: This article does not appeal to me personally. Therefore, it should be deleted.

Fact: Wikipedia has articles about the interests of many different people. Wikipedia has been written for the whole world, not just yourself.

:Myth: An article sounds stupid. Therefore, it should be deleted.

Fact: A label like "stupid" is a matter of opinion. "Stupid" may indicate your own lack of interest, or it may simply be poor writing, which may be grounds for cleanup (see Article quality below) but is in itself not grounds for deletion.


:Myth: I have never heard of the subject described in this article. Therefore, it should be deleted.

Fact: No one knows everything or about the existence of everything. A subject's existence need not be known about by most people in order to qualify for an article. Some obscure physics and philosophy concepts are only known to a handful of scholars, but since these concepts are described by a number of reliable sources, Wikipedia can have articles about them.

:Myth: I have never heard of the subject described in this article. Therefore, it must be a hoax.

Fact: When a subject is obscure, its existence may be known to just a few people. As long as proof of its existence can be given with a reliable source, it is surely not a hoax. Even if no proof is given, this does not automatically classify it as a hoax.

If you have concern about how well you personally know about a subject, you may want to click the Random article tab a number of times and see what comes up. How many of the subjects named in the title have you heard of? It is very likely that quite a lot of these subjects, possibly the majority of them, will be equally unknown to you.


:Myth: An article was just put up for AfD. Already, a few people have said it should be deleted. Deletion is a sure thing now.

Fact: It's not over until it's over. The article's fate is yet to be sealed. As always, consensus can change. Anyone's good point, including your own, can help save it. You can also make improvements to the article yourself to help rescue it.

:Myth: AfD is a vote. More "keeps" means it'll be kept, and more "deletes" means it'll be deleted.

Fact: The numbers of keeps and deletes do not decide the outcome. Entries that are simply votes are dismissed. The comments that reference policies, guidelines, and essays and state why they call for inclusion or exclusion are actually those that will determine the outcome.

About the person[edit]

:Myth: An article that I wrote got deleted. This shows I am inexperienced and made a poor choice.

Fact: Deletion is nothing personal against the creator (see WP:NOSHAME). It is only a way to make the encyclopedia conform to its standards. Even veteran Wikipedians with thousands of edits and years of experience write articles that get deleted (though not very often).

:Myth: I proposed an article for deletion and then it got deleted. This is something to be proud of.

Fact: An editor does not score any "points" or otherwise improve their reputation by getting an article deleted.

:Myth: It looks good to follow the consensus and bad to have a differing opinion.

Fact: Just because the majority of editors comment or "vote" a certain way does not mean you are required to, or that it is even a good idea to. And you will not be an outcast for commenting differently.  Your alternative viewpoint is fully welcome. Minority views are valued and can make all the difference.

New page patrol[edit]

:Myth: New page patrollers are a group of elite, skilled professionals in a position of authority.

Fact: Anyone can participate in NPP, even unregistered users. While new page reviews generally have to have been registered users of the English Wikipedia for at least 90 days and have made at least 500 not-deleted edits to mainspace, there is no requirement for simply patrolling new pages, it is helpful but not required that you have some understanding of what is a good enough article to stay and what is not, though no certification is required, and it is all up to you.

About administrators[edit]

:Myth: I am striving to be an administrator. Therefore, getting articles deleted will support my cause.

Fact: Proposing articles for deletion that do not fit the accepted deletion criteria is not in any way, shape, or form a step toward becoming an administrator. In fact, many requests for adminship have been rejected over concerns of excessive deletion proposals. Logical deletion proposals do, however, reflect well on the editor.

:Myth: Administrators can unilaterally decide which articles are kept or deleted.

Fact: While an administrator does make the final decision to keep or delete, they do not really have exclusive rule. They are merely completing the action formally decided via the discussion. An administrator, when it comes to deletion, is like a judge in a trial; they must follow the pre-existing laws and the recommendation of the jury when making a judgment, and not make decisions based on their personal beliefs.

Valid reasons to delete[edit]

There are some materials that should be deleted. If you come across any articles or other materials with these issues, feel free to get them deleted.

Spam/unambiguous advertising[edit]

It is cool that the Piccadilly Circus has giant illuminated advertising billboards...but Wikipedia articles should not look like this.

Wikipedia is not an advertising space. Any pages that serve the sole purpose of advertising should be speedy deleted, marked with {{db-spam}}.

An article that has some content that is written like an advertisement, with a promotional tone and style, but whose subject does qualify for an article (under WP:N, the Notability guideline) should not be deleted, but instead be marked {{ad}}, notifying others to change the writing style to give it a neutral tone.


Wikipedia has stricter standards when it comes to biographical information about people, especially living people (see WP:BLP).

It is of prime importance that articles about people or groups of people be accurate, and the people described in the articles be notable.

Any pages that describe a clearly unremarkable person or group of people can be speedy-deleted. Some tags for various categories include {{db-bio}} for individuals, {{db-comp}} or {{db-corp}} for articles about businesses, {{db-org}} for articles about insignificant organizations, or {{db-band}} for articles about unimportant musicians or bands. For anyone not falling into any of these categories, one can simply write {{db|reason for deletion}} at the top. If there is any doubt, they can be prodded or sent to AfD.

Biased articles[edit]

An article that presents only one, unbalanced point of view regarding a subject – for example, an article promoting a topic that the author is affiliated with – may be deleted if it cannot reasonably be cleaned up to present a more neutral point of view. Similarly, a heavily biased section of an article might be removed if it's unsalvageable.

Subjects invented by the creator[edit]

Wikipedia is not for what is made up in one day. The world is filled with creative people, many of whom are eager to make their new ideas known. For example, it could be a new game, song, phrase, technique, or interpretation. It is not uncommon for people to try to use Wikipedia to let the world know of their invention. But that is not what this encyclopedia is for. There are many other places on the Internet to publish things you made up, such as blogs and chat pages. By the time your new idea is Wikipedia-worthy (that is, by the time it appears in a reliable published source, it'll probably be well-known enough that a total stranger will create the article.

Attack pages[edit]

The gentleman wielding the club would probably write with an attacking, biased tone that is not acceptable in the encyclopedia.

Pages written intentionally to disparage the subject should be speedy deleted, as set out in the policy prohibiting attack pages. The tag {{db-attack}} can be used to mark a page to be speedy deleted for this reason.

Also, pages written purely to express a point-of-view rather than describe a subject neutrally, that have no neutral versions in the page's history, and have no potential to be made neutral should be deleted.

Pages about notable subjects that can be written neutrally, but have simply been written at a point of view should be tagged {{POV}}, and the neutrality issues discussed on the talk page, so that the POV issues can be resolved.

Copyright infringement[edit]

Blatant copyright infringements, such as copy-paste jobs from other web sites, should be speedy deleted. However, not everything that is pasted is copyrighted. Materials that are in the public domain or available under a free license are not copyright infringements and need not be deleted on those grounds.

Invalid reasons to delete[edit]

For articles and other material with the same issues, deletion is not recommended, but the actions below are. Please see WP:BEFORE for more details.

Short articles[edit]

Wikipedia has many stubs. These should not be deleted for this reason but should be marked as stubs. Even if the 'article' is really a dictionary entry, if there is published, reliable evidence of even the slightest potential for it to be expanded beyond this, it should be kept.

In these cases, research of the term should be conducted prior to a deletion proposal to examine if additional sources can be identified. It is sometimes better to discuss on the article's talk page whether or not it can be expanded prior to initiating the deletion proposal. Merging is also an option, and is sometimes a better one than deletion.

Poorly written articles[edit]

Many newbies will write often short articles that show poor grammar, text, and overall writing and wiki skills. Even the initial creation of a page from a veteran editor (following additional edits to improve it) may not have the tidiest appearance. This does not mean the subject is not worthy of an article.

Articles about subjects that are probably notable, are poorly written, or even those that lack references (unless they are biographies) can be tagged to let others know of the deficiency. This will let others who read the pages in the future know of these problems and potentially be able to fix them.

Articles on obscure topics[edit]

Obscurity does not mean lack of notability. There are some subjects that are only known to a handful of people in the world. There may only be a limited number of people who are interested in reading the articles, and very few if any Google hits. But this is not grounds for deletion.

Many articles on obscure topics are presumed to be hoaxes by many who are unfamiliar. But before concluding that something is a hoax, it is important to assume good faith and consider that the subject is simply little known. The key thing to look for is high-quality reliable sources. You may never have heard about an obscure concept such as theodicy, but if a number of university press books attest to its existence (and they do), you can have confidence that this is a real concept.

Lack of familiarity with the subject[edit]

You may not be familiar with the subject. You may not have ever heard of it before you came across the article. Therefore, it may not sound notable to you. Either way, it is known to the creator, and to those who made other contributions. No one is familiar with everything in the world, and you do not need to be aware of its existence for the article to stay. Rather than deleting it, why not take this opportunity to learn about what it is?

When you click the random article tab on the left, the minority of the articles and most likely, fewer than 10% of articles will be about something you have ever heard of. If not knowing about a subject were a good reason for deletion, we would be left with few if any articles.

Dislike of the subject[edit]

The subject may be something that does not appeal to you. It may pertain to a differing interest, field, point-of-view, religion, or some other factor that bothers you personally. But Wikipedia is here for the whole world, not just you.

Dislike of the creator[edit]

You may have some disagreement with the article's creator in relation to their previous contributions to Wikipedia, their position in a current or previous discussion, or the type of articles they normally edit. You may be mad that the creator got an article you wrote deleted. You may have gotten into an edit war previously with the creator. You may be upset that the creator has reverted one or more of your edits in the past, templated your talk page, or otherwise criticized your actions. Or you may have some ill feelings against the creator for something not related to Wikipedia.

None of these are ever an acceptable reason to propose an article for deletion, never ever ever. If you propose an article for deletion, or support an article's deletion for any of these reasons, you are not only hurting the creator but hurting many others as well who may edit or merely read the article without editing.

The creator is simply the one who made the first edit to the article, but the creator does not own the page, and it is very possible that many edits later, the creator may be one of the most minor contributors to the most recent version. In fact, it is possible for none of the creator's original version to remain in the text of the most recent version.

Erroneous reason[edit]

Using as argument a valid rule which actually do not apply to that page.

When in doubt, don't delete[edit]

If you are uncertain whether or not an article should be deleted, it is best not to rush to have it deleted. Alternatives should be considered. These include:

  • Using a search engine to see what sources do exist. A regular web search may not provide as many reliable sources as Google News, Books, or Scholar, so it is preferable to try the latter three. Please be aware that not all deletions are about sources or lack thereof.
  • Discussing issues with the article on the talk page. Here, you can wait to get a response from one or more others regarding whether or not it should be deleted. This is also a way to discuss possible changes that can be made in lieu of deletion.
  • Having a one-on-one discussion with the page's creator in order to learn their point-of-view, knowledge of Wikipedia's guidelines, what they were thinking when they created it, and their plans for that page's future.
  • Placing templates on top of the page informing others who read or edit the page of the issues so they can be improved. Template:Article issues lists most of the possible templates that can be placed on top of a page.
  • Suggesting the page be merged or boldly merging the page oneself. Merging can be done and undone without a discussion and without administrative intervention.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater![edit]

Let's keep the cute baby...even if we drain the bathwater.

So, an article or edit is not perfect. It is tagged for multiple issues. Its notability is in question. It has few if any references. It has some inaccurate or questionable information. It has loads of original research. But still, it has just the little spark of hope of being a viable article.

If this is the case, the deletion process is not the route to take to solve the problem. That's what the talk page is for. Deletion of an article where the subject's notability can be evidenced by reliable sources contradicts the overall goal of the Wikipedia project. Content removal can be used to weed out problematic areas, and other adjustments and improvements can sometimes be made, including the addition of new information and corresponding reliable sources. This may take a lot of work, but Wikipedia wasn't built in a day.

On the other hand, there must actually be a real baby in the bathwater. An article shouldn't be kept on the hopes that sources may eventually be written about the topic; we all know that babies don't come from spontaneous generation in a dirty tub. They are brought by storks. Very large, very strong storks.

What's the rush?[edit]

So, after all this, do you still believe a page needs to be deleted? If so, what's the rush?

Obviously, if this page was created with a clear disregard for some of Wikipedia's guidelines, it must be deleted in a hurry. This includes abusive practices like attack pages, autobiographies, spam and advertising pages, blatant copyright violations, and intentional inaccuracies. For all others, there is really no hurry to have the issues addressed.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]