Inclusionism

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See also: Association of Inclusionist Wikipedians

Inclusionism is the philosophy that information should be liberally added and retained on Wikipedia. It is espoused by users called inclusionists who favor keeping and amending problematic articles over deleting them. Inclusionists are generally less concerned with the question of notability, and instead focus on whether or not an article is factual, with merit, or useful.

Inclusionism is opposed to deletionism which supports the deletion of unworthy articles and exclusionism which involves removal of unhelpful information (and deletion of an entire article only if such removal leaves nothing behind). In other areas, inclusionism usually aligns with eventualism because both philosophies hold that articles with mixed quality of content should be retained and will be improved in time. As the size of Wikipedia grows, incrementalists may become more inclusionist as the standards for notability become easier to meet. Inclusionists do not necessarily lean toward either end of the mergism-separatism or exopedianism-metapedianism spectrums.

Rationale[edit]

A favorite phrase of inclusionists is "Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia." Since Wikipedia does not have the same space limitations as a paper encyclopedia, there is no need to restrict content in the same way that a paper encyclopedia does. Usually the AFD discussion takes up the same or greater amount of disk space than the article. It has also been suggested that no performance problems result from having many articles [1]. Inclusionists claim that authors should take a more open-minded look at content criteria. Articles on people, places, and concepts of little note may be perfectly acceptable for Wikipedia in this view. Some inclusionists do not see a problem with including pages which give a factual description of every person on Earth.

From a deletionist or exclusionist viewpoint, inclusionists appear to be arguing for the value of material and information which is substandard, or inadequately verified; however, inclusionists counter that there is little harm in keeping material that might some day be improved as information on the topics become more widely available. Inclusionists also point out that Wikipedia is not meant to be a poor copy of the Britannica, but rather a unique encyclopedia that should exist as "the sum of all human knowledge." Furthermore, inclusionists argue that the concept of "notability", an idea that many deletionists use as a basis for selecting which articles ought to remain and which deleted, usually has no objective criteria. They argue that reliance on such a concept does more harm than good to the goals of the project.

Inclusionists may be perceived as having a greater acceptance of trivialities, small articles, non-traditional topics, and non-academic articles; this may cause them opposition by those who hold stricter views about the proper content of an encyclopedia. Inclusionists often see this project as a completely new and revolutionary way of storing and organizing all human knowledge. Many editors may object to articles such as a "List of tennis players who appeared on the David Letterman Show in 1995", but some inclusionists strongly support such items, arguing that they are valid additions to an encyclopedia aimed at being a repository of all human knowledge. Inclusionists may feel such critics are simply suffering from the academic standards kick. Inclusionists also point to the fact that there are no concrete standards for determining how noteworthy or notable a topic is.

Two important prerequisites for additions to Wikipedia are that the information is correct and well placed. That last aspect requires a good structuring of Wikipedia in levels of detail, with general articles linking to more detailed 'subarticles', which in turn link to still more detailed ones, so that (ideally, eventually) on the one hand people who are not interested in certain details will not be bothered by them, while on the other hand people who are interested in them will easily find them through just a few well-placed links. If the information is not thus well placed or Wikipedia is not well structured to place the info, then that should be changed instead of removing the info. If someone finds something interesting enough to write about, then chances are that someone else will (one day) find it interesting enough to read about, so it should be in Wikipedia. If that person does not know where to place the info, then that should not stop them from putting it somewhere. Someone else will then (eventually) put it in the right place. Although of course what is the 'right place' also changes over time. If for example the info does not warrant a separate article yet, it can be kept in a higher level article, where it might become a 'seed' that attracts other related info, which together might later warrant a separate (sub)article. Such loose facts are often placed in trivia sections at the bottom of an article. Removing those seeds will stunt the growth of Wikipedia. In this area of thought, inclusionism has natural connections with (1) eventualism and (2) structurism, which seeks to build logical content containers even if some of them are still empty and will not be filled with content for some years to come. It also can be viewed as paralleling the legal standard of presumption of innocence.

As always, the dangers of factionalism should be noted, as should the likelihood that many Wikipedians are neither exclusively inclusionist nor deletionist, but mergist or some other wiki-philosophy.

Arguments against deletion[edit]

A deletionist sentiment: "Too many unnoteworthy or obscure articles impede finding the relevant stuff, like trying to find a needle in a haystack." — This notion is outdated, in part because the Wikipedia search engine was updated and improved in 2010, in which "Search suggestions are now improved to get you to the page you are looking for more quickly," as reported on the Wikimedia blog on May 13, 2010. (link: "A new look for Wikipedia".
  • Deletions and deletionism goes against the premise of Wikipedia: Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing. — Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.
  • It's easy to criticize and delete, whereas it's much more difficult to do research and create content. "Better to light a candle than curse the darkness." — Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International.
  • Wikipedia is not censored.
  • Article additions and expansions as well as adding sources, and allowing time for them to occur, is highly superior to simply deleting articles.
  • Instead of deleting articles altogether, they can be merged with other articles (see Mergism).
  • Notability of articles is sometimes very subjective, changing with time and geographu. For some people, US 1980 presidential candidate John Anderson might be a noted person; others who don't live in the United States might feel that Scottish 18th century scientist John Anderson is more prominent.
  • It can be discouraging when articles created by first-time contributors and newer users are deleted without (in their opinion) a good reason. In their view, at least, the subject matter is noteworthy.
  • It can be frustrating for a reader to come to Wikipedia looking for information, and instead find that the relevant article that existed at one point has since then been deleted. This discourages both Wikipedia readership and authorship.
  • Deleting an article under the generic basis of notability both reduces Wikipedia to the level of traditional encyclopedias (which won't cover topics that Wikipedia will for various reasons, including notability), and also doesn't provide the oversight that a traditional encyclopedia has to justify it trimming articles. Part of the reason people use Wikipedia is that it is a vibrant source of obscure knowledge, especially about obscure topics that aren't covered in a more traditional encyclopedia. Other methods of ensuring quality, such as labeling a page "In Need of Editing and Sources", are more than enough to correct problems.
  • The Wikipedia search engine was updated and improved in 2010, in which "Search suggestions are now improved to get you to the page you are looking for more quickly," as reported on the Wikimedia blog on May 13, 2010. (link: "A new look for Wikipedia".) This serves to nullify the deletionist argument that "too many unnoteworthy or obscure articles impede finding the relevant stuff..." in Wikipedia searches.
  • Search, categorization, disambiguation pages, lists and other technical measures for organization can diminish the difficulty in finding information even when there are many articles about insignificant subjects.
  • Deletionists may subjectively pick-and-choose from a long and diverse list of Wikipedia notability and other guidelines as a rationale for the blanket deletion of an article. When one chosen standard is disproven, another rule is searched for and then stated as a rationale for deletion.
  • Deletionists may use absolutist rationales and stances to justify article deletion. A notable example in Articles for deletion logs is arguing that absolutely no reliable sources exist to establish notability for and/or verify an article, while utilizing only one brief search for news and other sources, such as on Google or Google news, to qualify the statement. Sometimes it takes only seconds to disqualify such statements by utilizing web searches in other mediums, particularly those that are empirical, research-based, and lack a profit motive.
  • Some deletionists will maliciously delete articles that are on subjects that they find politically, economic or religious uncomfortable, or delete information which goes against their personal beliefs even when it is fully sourced, which is against two policies of Wikipedia: free knowledge and NPOV.
  • It's easy to just sit down and say "I don't know anything of that or that or that, let's delete it!" about local people, politics, economics, religion, events, science, arts, literature, movies, theater, food and drinking/restaurants, geography, astronomy, dance, music, sports, education and whatever all around the Earth, but when it's your own hometown or native country, you've often heard of it over the local media or been taught about it at school as a child, and since you know of it's local importance you would like to keep it.
  • Deletion leads to Wikipedia being split up. There are proposes to create an "Inclupedia" mirror website, and there is a Deletionpedia. Also, a lot of theme-wikis like "Star Wars" wiki and a "Star Trek" wiki (which has already happened sometimes). Do you have time/want to be active on all those wikis, when it could be all here, "under the same roof", where NPOV is what we want? In the future, if deletionism continues, there might maybe be several general Wikipedias in each languae, with different notablity guidelines. These general Wikipedias would be created because of dissapointment with the current Wikipedia's notablity guidelines leading to deleted article. It's also easier for people searching for knowledge having it all at the same wiki.
  • If Wikimedia Commons can add so much of the world in picture, with the only simple requirement of being the very universal "educational" topic, why can't Wikipedia do that in words?
  • Articles of current events are often said to fit better into the Wikinews, which isn't true. The difference between Wikipedia and Wikinews is not what's written, but rather how it's written. An event can fit in both, written like an encyclopedic article on Wikipedia and like in a newspaper on Wikinews.
  • Articles often vandalized by vandals (like schools, often a target for article deletion) can just be locked. Sadly, this reduces the opportunity to edit the article, but everyone can still read it and it's better for the information-searcher (who we actually write for) than no article at all. Or else we can just say: "-Shut down Wikipedia once for all. No Wikipedia, no problems!"
  • Articles with commercial connections, like companies, are often deleted on a belief that "everything commercial is only bad, just because it's commercial and businesspeople make money on it. Let's delete it!" Sorry, but that's POV.
  • When articles are to be deleted in one language, they might be translated into other languages. Is the language that keeps them doing any wrong?
  • Notability guidelines may lead to lies being told. Let's say we require a number of employees for a company to be on Wikipedia. This would cause the company to lie about it's number of employees to everyone just to get a Wikipedia article.
  • Even if Wikipedia's role is not to turn the unfamous into famous, there is a risk that's what it already has done when some such articles may slip through the notability guidelines for years.
  • Even if we are leaving the paper age right behind us, some people still have preconceptions what an encyclopedia is and can only include, dated from the paper age. As the years progress, more and more people accept Wikipedia being allowed to include most knowledge, and it's not a distant sciencefiction-like future we're talking of, but rather an era which is created right now.
  • Deletions and deletionism may cause disappointed contributors to leave the project. Fun?
  • Some popular culture may be picked up by cultural eliticism (those who say Ingmar Bergman's movies are better than splatter movies and back in the 1950's and 60's said you shall read books instead of comic books just because it's considered "good culture" among themselves). Popular culture is often said being "fancruft", "unnecessary knowledge" and "unimportant information". Sorry, but labelling knowledge like that's POV. How important or good something is, is up to the reader, not to us all as Wikipedia. Our only ambition is to describe the world, and let the readers think and have the opinions about it.
  • Deletionism may favour urban districts over rural ones, since many small towns don't have a lot of world famous people, but only people who are important for their town. If someone creates an article about, let's say, a fointain in a village in the rural Highlands of Scotland, people would call for merging it with the village article. But if it was in let's say London, people wouldn't even question the article existing.
  • Deletionism may favour rich countries, since it's there most people have a computer and the Internet at home. (poor countries are usually less in the medias, except wars, famines and natural disasters or sporting success) This would give a very Western World-fixed POV.
  • It's easy for an administrator to delete, as he or she can still watch deleted articles when needing the knowledge, as well as restore the article when he or she wants. Other users can't...
  • Whenever I come to any other topic-related Wiki (like a comic books wiki, Star Wars wiki or any other topic, no matter if I'm interested in it or not), I always think: "-How much I wish everything here, both articles and contributors, was on Wikipedia instead (with NPOV, of course)".
  • On Wikipedia, there is room, but we still seem to behave as if there weren't. Wanting to delete when there is room is like fighting over food in a developed country.
  • Let's compare the deletion of Wikipedia to a building that's ripped apart during construction. Why were Sweden, Switzerland and the the USA among the world's richest countries by 1970? Answer = Not having any of the world wars, or any other major military conflict, on home soil (OK, the USA had Pearl Harbour in December 1941 during World War II, but not much more), they didn't need time to re-build houses bombed at war! Instead, they could continue developing their economy, education and welfare when many other have to re-start from square one again.
  • No one is a deletionist when they search for the information.
  • For every year that passes, we write more and more for generations who have grown up with the "almost everything is on the Internet" perspective, rather than "Which book am I going too use this time?". So what's better than having the information here, where NPOV is the ambition?
  • Picking up articles and nominating them for deletion or merging, or questioning the notability, is sometimes seen as a "good job" by users, which will lead to administratorship or becoming a popular user. Please fight the idea; let other things (like the fighting against vandalism) decide administratorship. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Do_not_disrupt_Wikipedia_to_illustrate_a_point
  • Sometimes it's said that after some time at Wikipedia, you will "learn what belongs to Wikipedia or not, and what's encyclopedic". Having edited since July 2005 something and as one of the most active users on the Swedish-language Wikipedia, I'm still strongly against most deletions and deletion nominations.
  • When some articles are nominated, many of them have been around for years, and often with no problem. So how can they suddenly be considered non-notable? And if the article suddenly ends up deleted somehow, Wikipedia has just taken yet another step backwards.
  • One argument for deletion is, "Deletion solves all problems. No article, no problem." That's like beheading someone to cure brain cancer. It gets rid of the cancer, but that doesn't make it a good idea.
  • Another argument for deletion is, "Inclusionism is for lazy fatwads." What kind of an argument is that? That they've resorted to name-calling reflects very poorly on them.
  • Referring to Wikipedia as an "all-knowing junk heap" is POV; one person's junk heap is another person's treasure trove.
  • Sometimes, people use the absence of one article to favor deletion of existing articles. Sorry, but the absence of article A doesn't justify deletion or merging of article B. If you want article A to be written, just write it (or ask for it being written at the wishlists).
  • Deletions seem to be behind a lot of conflicts on Wikipedia, where users call each other names, leading to administrators suspending offenders, and focus moves from articles to conflict, turning Wikipedia into social media. More rules, more conflicts.
  • The German-language Wikipedia lost both financial and content contributors due to unchecked Löschtroll (Purging trolls) activity. As a result, many German-language Internet magazines now link to the English Wikipedia because they can't be reasonably sure if a de:WP article or section they link to today will still be there next week. Searches that end up in a "has been deleted" page on de:WP, but yield a valid result on en:WP, drive yet more German-language readers in this direction.
  • When the Swedish-language Wikipedia begun mass-deleting and mass-merging substubs for a while in 2008-early 2009, activited decreased and recovering took years before restorings finally could be done. (there was some minor decline even before, but those deletions and mergings definately didn't help to increase activity.) There were less sources at the time, and sources became more common after that. But imagine if all those deletings and mergings instead had been sources added directly.
  • What's notable and not isn't just differing between persons, but for the same person differing from time to time. If you're at school, London would be notable at the geography lesson, Abaraham Lincoln at the history lesson, and the Beatles at the music lesson. All this within just some hours of the same day.
  • Controversial issues and POV-articles may often be picked up for deletion or merging. Controversial topic or POV are no deletion arguments, just arguments for rewriting the article.
  • With Wikidata, each topic is now allowed a short description in any language, with the only requirement of an article being around in one single language. This might be very irritating if you read in a language where the article has been deleted.
  • Wikipedia is used at free risk. There is no need to delete articles "lacking of quality". But there is always a chance to improve them.
  • On the Internet, outside Wikipedia, why do you think there are a lot of people complaining over deletions, but not a lot of people complaining over articles actually existing?
  • Lack of history-knowledge may lead to historical topics being deleted, while current event can be kept because of media overflow on the Internet.
  • Deletions can lead to favoring males and deleting females because of historical, economic, social and cultural opinions.
  • Sometimes, articles are deleted after not being improved for one year or something. Sorry, but unlike Super Mario Bros., Wikipedia has no time that can run out! We're no video game, and we don't run of time. The point with Wikipedia is that improving an article is never too late, no matter if it's 10 minutes after creation, or 10 years later!
  • Finding sources is usually easy today, with the Internet being around. Imagine if people cared more for spending time on looking for sources rather than calling for deletion because of sources lacking.
  • Deleting a well-written, well-sourced article on the basis of notability can reduce the amount of valuable information on Wikipedia.
  • Sometimes, articles are merged into lists, redirecting. The lists are sometimes replaced with categories, in turn sometimes leading to the list ending up deleted. This aslo causes the delition of articles (with revision history) now working as redirect.
  • With notablity guidelines introduced, and deletions and mergings proposed, users may instead move article-like information, conisdered not notable, to their own Wikipedia userpages (where they can POV-push it).
  • It's a strength that Wikipedia can cover as much knowledge as possible.
  • Sometimes, articles are proposed to be merged into lists. However, Wikipedia is on the first hand based on articles, not lists. Lists come in the second hand.
  • The language-version of Wikipedia, with the less strictest notability guidelines, will without hesitating become the most popular among those who know that language.

Quotation[edit]

"We want the Demon, you see, to extract from the dance of atoms only informa­tion that is genuine, like mathematical theorems, fashion magazines, blueprints, historical chronicles, or a recipe for ion crumpets, or how to clean and iron a suit of asbestos, and poetry too, and scientific advice, and almanacs, and cal­endars, and secret documents, and everything that ever ap­peared in any newspaper in the Universe, and telephone books of the future…"

Stanisław Lem, The Cyberiad (tr. Michael Kandel)

See also[edit]

External links[edit]