Research:Deletions study (EN Wikipedia)

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This page is an incomplete draft of a research project.
Information is incomplete and is likely to change substantially before the project starts.

Introduction and Background[edit]

Though Wikipedia's revision history provides copious amounts of information about... information deleted by... is not available... While some Wikipedians have called for... to be made public, we recognize the tenuous relationships between...

Here’s a sample of the questions we might ask:


  • What kinds of content are deleted from Wikipedia? What are the categories of metadata related to deleted content that are available via private logs, and how do these categories compare to metadata of deleted content available via public logs and/or AfDs (Geiger & Ford, 2011)?


  • Who initiates deletion discussions? Who performs deletions (e.g., humans and non-human agents)? What patterns are there between the mechanism of deletion and types of deleted content? What is the “profile” (e.g., years on Wikipedia, philosophies expressed on user pages, system permissions, genders, etc.) of the most active deleters? What kinds of social networks do these users share?
  • Who does the work of “saving” content nominated for deletion and/or reintroducing previously deleted content back into the encyclopedia?


  • Why do they delete content? Which policies do they cite (Taraborelli & Ciampaglia, 2010)? What kinds of rhetorical strategies do they employ? What’s their motivation?


  • How is content nominated for deletion and previously deleted content finally accepted into the encyclopedia?

Systemic Bias

  • What do our answers to the questions above reveal about participation gaps/skews and/or systemic biases (e.g., gender, race, Global North, etc.)?

To answer many of these questions, we would need access to the deletion logs. We understand that some of our questions can be answered with public data, but we believe there is additional information in the non-public deletion logs that would greatly improve the quality of our research.


Quantitative Methods[edit]

Qualitative Methods[edit]

If we decide to pursue questions about users' motivations, then we would need to conduct qualitative research via a directed survey or via semi-structured interviews.


Please provide in this section a short timeline with the main milestones and deliverables (if any) for this project.

Policy, Ethics and Human Subjects Research[edit]

It's very important that researchers do not disrupt Wikipedians' work. Please add to this section any consideration relevant to ethical implications of your project or references to Wikimedia policies, if applicable. If your study has been approved by an ethical committee or an institutional review board (IRB), please quote the corresponding reference and date of approval.


Once your study completes, describe the results an their implications here. Don't forget to make status=complete above when you are done.