Closing projects policy
|The following page documents an official global policy.|
This page has been elaborated and approved by the community and its compliance is mandatory for all projects. It must not be modified without prior community approval.
|←Policies and guidelines||Closing projects policy|
|For requesting users|
|Closing projects (voluntarily)|
This policy defines the process to close (and in some situations delete) a wiki hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. Requests to close projects, i.e. subdomains, mostly language versions, are handled by Language Committee members, who opt-in to take care of this. The Board of Trustees has final authority over the members' decisions. Requests to close an entire sister project rarely happen, and there is no formal process for handling them.
Previous proposals for closing projects lacked a clear policy. Several proposals were made for a policy, but nothing had been adopted before.
Because of that, a lot of small inactive wikis were proposed to be closed. Some people supported out of principle ("wiki is inactive"), while others opposed out of principle ("let it grow"). Often, users came by and made a decision, which could even be the opposite of the actual consensus.
This policy tries to address this problem by:
- requiring a valid reason for closure, and defining several reasons as either valid or invalid reasons;
- putting the procedure in the hands of language committee members and final Board decision.
The community no longer has authority over closing projects, but only an advisory role. This puts the procedure in line with the language proposal policy, which is also dependent on Language Committee and Board approval. That means closing a project is no longer easier than opening one.
Although the decision is made by a member of the Language Committee and no longer through community consensus, the Board will have final authority. The LangCom is convinced that this procedure will improve the decision-making and that both the LangCom and the Board are the appropriate authorities for dealing with closing Wikimedia wikis.
Types of proposals
In order to distinguish routine situations from potentially more complex or unusual ones, projects that are proposed to be closed are classified as one of two types:
- Regular language editions which don't have content or existing content is insignificant. (Note that small/inactive wikis do not generally cause harm if they stay open: automatic spam is always blocked, contrary to the past.)
- For example: Afar Wiktionary, Gaeilge Wikiquote, Guarani Wikibooks, ...
- Other (often relatively more active) wikis that may be controversial, questionable or in another way uncommon.
- For example: Quality Wikimedia, Simple English Wikiquote, ...
Definition of actions
- Closing a wiki means locking its database so that it cannot be edited by anyone except stewards, interface editors, system administrators, founder and staff, but all pages are still visible to public. User rights (sysop, ...) are removed and can be restored on user request when the wiki is re-activated.
- In a soft close, the front page is replaced by an announcement that the project is currently inactive, but that people are welcome to try to revive the project if they wish. Additionally, some or all pages may be protected.
- Deleting a wiki means deleting the database so it is completely unavailable on the web. An XML file with the wiki's content will still be available for external use.
- Transferring or importing content means moving useful articles/pages, along with the contribution history, to the Wikimedia Incubator, OldWikisource or BetaWikiversity (or another site when explicitly mentioned). See incubator:I:Importing for more info.
- Files are left on the wiki because of the lack of an export function. When the wiki is deleted, files could be downloaded manually if needed. When such a software feature becomes available, files should be exported.
Anyone can propose closing a wiki. The following must be done:
- The proposal must be categorised under either type 1 or type 2 (see above).
- If the proposer wants the wiki to be deleted as well, that must be explicitly mentioned in the original proposal.
- When the proposal is submitted, the local wiki should be informed as soon as possible.
- You should also inform main relevant chapters of the language, so they have a chance to find interested people to contribute to the project. See chapters per Wikimedia language (contact main chapter(s) not between parentheses).
- A good reason should be given why it should be closed/deleted.
- Inactivity in itself is no valid reason; additional problems are. When the Wikimedia Incubator is at a stage where it is usable to a certain extent like a real wiki, inactivity may become a valid reason.
- Absence of content since the wiki's creation is a valid reason (usually for type 1).
- Not meeting the current Language proposal policy requirements is not a valid reason.
- Keep in mind that Wikimedia/LangCom does not define what is a language and what is a dialect. We follow international ISO standards which may sometimes have a broad interpretation of language. One should generally not propose a project for closure because it is allegedly written in a "dialect" rather than a "language."
- During a period of at least several weeks, the proposal is public to the community for comments and recommendations.
- However, in the event that a LangCom member considers a discussion harmful, with no reasonable possibility of a decision to close the wiki, the member may close the discussion immediately. This may be appealed to the closing member or to another member of LangCom, who may re-open it if that member finds the discussion to be of value. Any other responsible Wikimedia projects user, not affiliated with the wiki proposed for closure, may also close a discussion considered disruptive, for stated cause, pending review, and it should not be re-opened except by a LangCom member.
- Any Language Committee member who has opted-in to take care of handling closing projects proposals can bring up the proposal on the mailing list. It is discussed during about a week (or longer if needed), without formal voting.
- Thereafter, the initial LangCom member drafts a decision and notifies the community and the Board. The decision will be implemented one week after giving notice unless members of the Board, which has final authority, wish to take the matter up.
- For the first type of proposal, useful content should be transferred to the Incubator. Whether content is useful is hard to define, but common sense can help. For the second type, a different solution for the content is often appropriate.
- A bug should be submitted to Phabricator to request the closure (and deletion if applicable).
- The sitenotice on the respective wiki should be set to something like:
<div lang="en" dir="ltr" style="border: 3px solid #000; padding: 1em;">'''This wiki has been locked (see [[:m:Proposals for closing projects/Closure of WIKIPROJECT|discussion]]).''' To contribute to a future wiki, see the [[:incubator:Wx/xyz|Wikimedia Incubator project]].</div>
- Re-opening projects is done through requests for new languages, which uses the Language proposal policy that is much more strict than used to be in the past (when most wikis, that are now proposed for closure, were started)
- The wiki remains open.
- A new proposal may be submitted if there are new conditions. A proposal that is exactly the same, may not be made the same year to reduce unneeded duplicate proposals.
Guidelines for LangCom members
- Since closing projects is not our main activity, you should generally wait with uncontroversial requests. Instead, try to bundle several requests into one e-mail to keep the e-mail volume low.
As it was done when the Language proposal policy was introduced, all proposals that were open at the time when this policy was introduced have been made invalid. Anyone can start a new proposal under the new policy.
- In the future, the Wikimedia Incubator is intended to function as a place for normal wikis that are not large enough to justify their own wiki (so we don't have a large number of small wikis but instead a normal Incubator wiki with "virtual wikis").
- https://noc.wikimedia.org/conf/highlight.php?file=dblists/closed.dblist – automatic list of currently closed wikis
- Wikis ready for closing (tracking)
- Previous proposals