Strengths and weaknesses of the current deletion system

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Strengths and weaknesses of the current deletion system[edit]


  • Votes for deletion (VfD) is a place where users who have the best interests of Wikipedia at heart can interact with each other and get an overview of current issues and developments. Although this is not the primary purpose of VfD, it is thought to be valuable nonetheless.
  • A lot of discussion on VfD gives people a good idea of what should or should not appear in Wikipedia.
  • Substantive deletions can be seen and discussed by all users in one place.
  • The potential for "deletion wars" is sometimes confined to the ranks of administrators. Some people consider that such wars could be damaging to the project, while others consider that they could in fact have a positive benefit as a way of establishing genuine, unforced consensus.
  • Stuff that is "deleted" in fact isn't—it is merely made unavailable to non-administrators; deleted articles are eventually removed from the database but even then they can still be recovered from a backup by developers.
  • Since all potential deletions are notified in a central place (VfD or, [de facto] Cleanup), the system is highly centralized. However, the bar for attaining administratorship is set low, which could be seen as an ameliorating factor.
  • Articles posted to VfD are seen by many people and this and the time pressure means that a great many articles get greatly improved by being placed on VfD. It is far more effective at this than Cleanup or Pages Needing Attention.


  • Votes for deletion is a place where users who do not have the best interests of Wikipedia at heart can interact with each other and get an overview of current issues and developments.
  • The lack of space on VfD hinders proper debate and discussion of options available, leading to stereotyped keep/delete arguments and no real attempt at consensus.
  • The standards for deletion in practice are far too low, as such many articles are deleted without there being a consensus. This is exacerbated by the fact that the standards for undeletion are far too high.
  • Deletion decisions and discussions are generally very narrowly based, usually over just a single article. The same issues come up time and time again. This not only wastes an enormous amount of time, but it often leads to inconsistencies and bias.
  • Deletion decisions are down to the judgement of individual administrators, rather than being made clearly by consensus, which some users consider to be contrary to the spirit of the Wikipedia project.
  • Some users consider that the centralised nature of the system is contrary to the spirit of the project.
  • Administrators who perform deletions, especially controversial deletions, have suffered "burn out" due to the workload and pressure. (e.g. Zoe)
  • Administrators who perform deletions, especially controversial deletions, have suffered from the resentment of some other users who (rightly or wrongly) have perceived them as autocratic and over-zealous. (e.g. Zoe)
  • The time that users spend reading and editing VfD could be spent working on articles.
  • The time that administrators spend deleting or undeleting pages on behalf of others could be spent working on articles.
  • Significant powers are accorded to administrators that are not available to others. No matter how benignly this power is wielded, and no matter how low the bar for joining is set, this amounts to a class division among wikipedians, which is resented by some who value what they see as Wikipedia's intrinsic egalitarianism.
  • Only administrators can view deleted articles. As such, indisputably useful information (though not indisputably encyclopedic information) is lost. In addition to the direct impact of this, it hardens the positions of some who might otherwise agree to remove the information from Wikipedia, thus causing unnecessary strife and division.
  • Arguably, the VfD system is already struggling to keep up, so if the edits-per-day rate becomes significantly higher than its present level, without some kind of reform it seems unlikely that it will be able to cope.
  • Although anybody can discuss and vote at VfD or at Cleanup, in reality the pages are dominated by relatively small number of "regulars". Most users are only interested in pages they are working on themselves, and only get involved in the VfD process when a page that they are interested in is nominated for deletion. When there, they find themselves at a disadvantage because they are not known and trusted by the "regulars", and they are less familiar with the niceties of the procedures.
  • The deletion discussion process often occurs too quickly, and after deletion it is very difficult for many non-admins to gain access to the deleted article. As such, articles are deleted by agreement of a majority of those voting even though deletion would not receive as large a percentage support of all those who might be interested.
  • Other times, the deletion discussion drags on too long. Due to the speedy deletion process this is more often the case when an article is obviously going to be kept than when it is obviously going to be deleted, but there are also some cases of obvious deletion which are kept on VFD far too long.
  • At the rate the few days for discussion elapse, merely trying to keep up with the treadmill of VfD listings to vote on before the decisions are made and the articles deleted or kept and removed from the page becomes an exhausting exercise.
  • Relatively abstract concept articles may be prone to deletion simply because of difficulties experienced by some editors in understanding such content, especially for 'concrete' thinkers (who may be a majority among editors).

See also[edit]