A commonplace of german politics

Skip to: Content | Sidebar | Footer



12 February, 2010 (23:17) | Internet, proposals | By: Aerar

(German version published on 6 November, 2009)

The discussion about criteria of relevance (German), deletion of articles (German) and the culture of discussion (German) within the Wikipedia has been theme within the net community for a while now (German). Though I have dealt with this topic myself already I want to summarize my answers to some questions now and to give proposals where I have any.

Criteria of relevance should be kept

Criteria of relevance in Wikipedia are important, as Wikipedia articles are a kind of commendation and allow users to classify the importance of a topic. With too low relevance standards this classification would get lost and irrelevant articles would harm the Wikipedia in at least two ways. For example the more important information will be harder to find as the irrelevant one would be visible in the result lists of search engines and of the Wikipedia itself. In addition a removal of criteria of relevance would animate spammers and egomaniacs of all kind to write irrelevant articles.

Also I think the level of relevance is adequate. Of course there always is a range of articles only slightly above or below this level which lead to discussions on whether to include or exclude a certain article. But this problem would be the same with a higher or a lower level of relevance.
I can understand the argument that everything is important in some way and there would be enough space to store everything. But storage capacity never was the essential question. It is the increase of the number of articles which would reduce the quality of the Wikipedia. So what obviously is missing is an additional service, a kind of “mass-Wikipedia” and all pundits should work together to found a thing like that. Actually I think that with the support of several web prominent supporters such a project would come out to be a scuccess.

Lack of content is not a criterion for deletion

In some cases as a reason for the deletion of an article it was claimed that articles were irrelevant because they just contained few and maybe poorly written lines of text. The discussions of deletion for such articles often come along with the offer to improve the article within a seven days period to make it “relevant”. But I think relevance is a dimension of the topic and not of the content. If the topic is a relevant one the article has to be kept, because this way other people can find and rework it. That is how I understood the principle of the wikipedia: not one author has to provide a proper article but it is the work of the whole community. Especially new authors will feel rejected if their first articles are deleted because they do not match the criteria of quality of expereinced users. This would make Wikipedia even more elitist then it would have to be.

Of course it still should be possible to delete wrong statements or to mention missing sources. Articles with little or poor content may also be marked clearly as such. But the reason for deleting the whole article should be based alone on the missing relevance of the whole topic.

Administartion ranks should get more transparent

Currently it is very difficult to become an administrator in Wikipedia. But it is not right that just about 300 [in German Wikipedia] administrators will have the final word on the articles of about a million registered (and even more anonymous) users. Wikipedia is too important for the public opinion to leave it to so little administrators.
Administrator rank should be offered automatically (e.g. by evaluating the made works of the user). Under no conditions it should just be a small circle of administrators who decide on who becomes administrator and who will not. Also a certain number of user complaints has to lead to an inspection of the accused administrator’s work and in cases of severe misbehaviour lead to his dismissal. There might be a special page to list all complaints against each administrator which would allow each user to get an impression of every administrator’s style of work. Of course this page could also contain commendations.

Administrators should not be anonymous

Administrators take their post voluntarily like for example politicians do. They are not forced to become administrators but could stay normal users with all their rights and duties. Some people think that an administrator who is known by his real name would be less aggressive in his measures and his sytle of discussion. I think this effect will only be lasting shortly. But there is one reason with is making it very important to know administrators with their real names. This may sound a bit like a conspiracy theory, but as the discussion among members of the Piratenpartei (German) shows is not really far-fetched. A group of people, may they be politically, economically or otherwise motivated might infiltrate administrators into the Wikipedia. Once they are in they even have the ability to secure each other from being dismissed. As administrators the have the ability to manipulate the content of the Wikipedia to a farther degree than normal members could. As the Wikipedia is used millions of times directly or indirectly every day any form of manipulation of articles favouring certain opinions would be fatal and should be hindered in any way.