Incrementalism

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Incrementalism is a philosophy held by Wikipedians who believe that with the incremental growth in the number of Wikipedia articles over time, items which were once deemed to be insufficiently notable to have articles may eventually prove notable enough for an entry.

Incrementalists believe that an article may be deemed inappropriate due to the lack of notability of its subject when Wikipedia's scope is small. As the scope of Wikipedia increases, however, it may no longer seem inappropriately non-notable. As such, incrementalist Wikipedians would expect to change their attitude to specific types of article over time from being more deletionist to being more inclusionist, and would also expect that Wikipedia's notability requirements would similarly change.

For these reasons, incrementalists would not be likely to see Wikipedia's notability standards as being set in stone, but would expect them to change with the size of Wikipedia. It would seem strange for them for a Wikipedia with several hundred articles to have the same standards for notability to one with several tens of thousands of articles, or for one with several tens of thousands of articles to have the same standards for notability as one with over a million articles.

In terms of the inclusion or deletion of articles, incrementalists may act more like deletionists – or at least mergists – when a Wikipedia is small and more like inclusionists when it grows larger. An incrementalist's vote might often reflect a feeling of "delete or merge now, but with no objection to re-creation as a separate article at a later time".

Incrementalists thus fall between deletionists and inclusionists, understanding that "Wiki is not paper", but also wishing to avoid fancruft at least until such time as more important articles are in place. Articles on people, places, and concepts of little note may be perfectly acceptable for Wikipedia in this view, but only as later articles – priority should always be given to more notable subjects for articles where possible.

Incrementalism shares some factors with inclusionism and eventualism and with the legal standard of presumption of innocence. An article, as it improves, may show that a subject is worthy of inclusion at an earlier date than seemed likely from its stub. It is worth noting, however, that some stubs when further edited may simply reveal their subjects to be of very little note. An incrementalist would have no qualms about the deletion of these articles.

Incrementalism is largely consistent with eventualism, though the two have different reasons for their similar views. Whereas an eventualist believes that Wikipedia's worth increases with time and movement towards a never-reached completeness, an incrementalist believes that the same processes will inevitably lead to information once judged as non-notable becoming seen as more notable. As such, it is quite possible for a wikipedian to be both eventualist and incrementalist in their views.

As always, the dangers of factionalism should be noted, as should the likelihood that many Wikipedians may be incrementalist on some occasions, and inclusionist or deletionist on others.

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