History of wiki deletion process
This page is outdated, but if it was updated, it might still be useful. Please help by correcting, augmenting and revising the text into an up-to-date form.
This page hopes to chronicle the evolution of deletion process from pre-wikimedia through present. Hopefully, this will also provide a forum to compare deletion process differences between various wiki projects as well as ideas for the future. I hope that this page might grow into a wider archive of wikipedia policy and cultural history, something I have found extremely labor intensive to grasp considering the complexity of existing conversation.
Initial formatting suggestion is to divide timelines by project, oldest first, further dividing by date as in History_of_Wikipedia. Help much appreciated!
- Original(?) wiki, FrontPage
- from HowToDeletePages
You can delete pages in wiki by replacing all of the existing content with the word "delete". A page needs to be less than fifty characters long for this to work. (This page won't delete even though this paragraph says delete over and over.)
If you run across a deleted page you can:
- Restore the page by following the EditText link to the editor and then the EditCopy link to the last version. It might be a good idea to explain at the top of the page that it had been deleted and has now been restored. Include the explanation of why the page was deleted and why it is now being restored.
- Complete the deletion by saving a variation on delete. This will purge Wiki's backup of the page. It also removes the page from the database and will reduce the page count on title searches. (Other searches will be adjusted overnight.) EditCopy will no longer work as a means of restoring the page. Only do this if you really agree that the page should have been deleted.
- Note: You can't both start and finish a deletion yourself. If you re-edit a page that you've changed your new edits are added to the old edits in the backup copy. Only a second party's edits can cause the backup copy to be purged.
- Do nothing. If you don't edit the page at all, it will remain in its deleted-but-easily-restorable condition.
usemod / meatball
- from Meatball:PageDeletion -- see additional discussion!
To delete a page, replace the first word of the page with Meatball:DeletedPage. You can write anything else you want on the page; you should write at least a word or five explaining why (even if it's obvious to you). A useful idiom looks something like
- DeletedPage: off-topic
- Original text goes here; e.g.
- Natalie Portman is well known for her role in The Professional.
Pages tagged with DeletedPage are deleted after two weeks (actually, the expiry timeout of the KeptPages) of no edit activity. In practice, this usually means after someone important remembers to do maintenance.
Pages that are deleted are permanently lost. They are not restorable from any backups you may have heard exist, no matter how reputable the source of that rumour was. Backups during live script development have been safely lost. Therefore, it is up to the community to ensure that pages aren't deleted recklessly.
Q: How do I completely delete an existing page, so that further links to it will show up with the little "?" symbol? Or is that a silly thing to do?
- A: Place Usemod:DeletedPage on a line by itself at the top of the page. This will flag the page for deletion after 60 days. If you really need a page deleted immediately, make a note of it in the change summary, and a WikiAdmin? can delete the page immediately if they concur that it should be deleted without delay.
- from Meatball:DeletedPage
All the pages which start with "DeletedPage" are considered "deleted". They will actually be destroyed automatically by the system after a reasonable time for review passed. See Meatball:PageDeletion for technical details.
- Jan - wikipedia.com registered and begun.
- Phase I, usemod software
- Deletion process follows above described Usemod / Meatball process. (!)
- Feb - 1,000 articles.
- May - First international expansion.
- Sep - 10,000 articles.
- Sep - original RulesToConsider page (now en:Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines).
- Nov - original Wikipedia policy page (now en:Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines).
Also, 3 users were given permission to permanently delete pages from the database that ran on UseModWiki at the time, 
- Discussion around December 2001 shows early attempts at a system en:Wikipedia:Wikipedia utilities/Old Page titles to be deleted talk
- Jan - switched from usemod to phase II phpwiki.
- Phase II, first PHP/mySQL engine, see README from cvs.
- Feb - oldest recorded deletions at en:Wikipedia:Old_deletion_log, from en:Wikipedia:Deletion log.
- May - earlist archive of VfD talk page. 
- Dec - VfD first mentioned in deletion policy, 
- Jan - 100,000 articles.
- Apr - Phase III software, mediawiki.org, see README, MediaWiki_FAQ.
- May - undeletions introduced (first edit on en:Votes for Undeletion, added to deletion policy)
- May - early version of speedy deletion shows up as en:Wikipedia:Delete test and welcome (first version, replace contents of page with link to en:Wikipedia:Delete test and welcome.
- Use of this page is not officially recommended. Please see en:Wikipedia talk:Delete test and welcome (talk history appears lost ).
- Jun - en:Wikipedia:Delete test and welcome moved to en:Wikipedia:Deleted test (eventually speedy deletion)
- Jul - earliest archives of deletion debates at en:Wikipedia:Archived_delete_debates, stark contrast to today's AfD en:Wikipedia:Votes_for_deletion/Reciprocal_System_of_Theory.
- Jul - en:Wikipedia:Policy on permanent deletion of pages moved to en:Wikipedia:Deletion policy.
- Jan - Criteria for Speedy deletion arrives,  (original title?)
- Feb - en:Wikipedia:Deleted test renamed to en:Wikipedia:Speedy_deletions
- May - earliest archive of en:Votes for Deletion at , see Wikipedia:Archived_delete_debates for older individual debates.
- Dec - en:Wikipedia:Deletion log ends with [[en:Wikipedia:Deletion_log_archive/Final and is moved to Special:Log/delete. This is considered historical because the developers saw dynamically-generated pages as easier to use.
- Aug - Deletion reform arrives at en:Wikipedia:Deletion reform.
en:Wikipedia:Requests for deletion was also proposed and voted on as alternative to VfD. It was not met with a positive reaction. One historical process was tried - en:Wikipedia:Experimental Deletion. This was tagged as historical interest
- Sep - en:Wikipedia:Votes for Deletion renamed to en:Articles for Deletion . VfD still is used as a term by regulars there who have edited from 2003 onwards.
- Oct - en:Wikipedia:Votes for Undeletion renamed to en:Wikipedia:Deletion review.
- ??? 2006 - Proposed Deletion arrives. However, this is considered to be a halfway house between Speedy Deletion and Articles for Deletion
What is missing
- early versions of VfD article, talk page predates
- early discussion pages from speedy deletion.
This should be discussed via the relevant means.
- much to find and reference here.
- Any attempt to enforce what should have been set policy--neutrality, no original research, and no wholesale deletion without explanation--was frequently if not usually met with resistance.
- en:Wikipedia:Deletion policy
- original RulesToConsider from 2001, now en:Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines.
- Dec 2001 - meta: created
- from Meta:Deletion_policy
- request deletion on Meta:Requests for deletion, 15 day delay.
- speedy criteria listed at Meta:Deletion_policy#Candidates_for_speedy_deletion
- Strengths and weaknesses of the current deletion system
- Deletion management redesign
- History of Wikipedia
- Power structure