40% of Wikipedia is under threat from deletionists

Ok so I did Andrea’s experiment and became instantly appalled.

Scientist and inventor Stephanie Kwolek who developed Kevlar

Compare to:

Random retired porn star that worked between 2002 and 2012:

Stephanie gets 200 more words than a retired porn star with a 10 year career. The comparison in level of detail is striking, including this barf worthy paragraph:

Haze became a free agent in April 2005, after deciding not to renew her contract with JKP, partly because Jill Kelly had recently left the company.[14] After leaving JKP and splitting with her boyfriend, Haze returned to working with male performers. The April 2006 release Jenna Haze Darkside featured her first boy-girl scenes in over three years. The film was produced and directed by her new boyfriend Jules Jordan.[8] Later in the year, she began writing a sex advice column for the pornographic magazine, Fox.[15]

A contract, a boyfriend, a return to boy-girl scenes in three years. Let us all celebrate the great curator of human knowledge that determined these details should be saved for future generations to cherish.


Eh… it’s not that bad for the most part. I’ve set up quite a few private MW instances in my time and it’s pretty easy to get it up and running and it’s a wonderful wiki platform. It definitely beats the alternatives I’ve tried.

That VisualEditor extension, though… what an amazingly awful piece of shit that is.


I used to contribute more often on Wikipedia but got tired of the pedants screaming from one side and editors who abused the rules on the other. Jimmy Wales’ mantra is “Be bold” but really, if you do that, someone will tell you you’re wrong for doing so. Now, if I edit it all, it’s simple copy editing.

And remember, Wikipedia content is essentially developed by a bunch of unrecruited volunteers who don’t have to show any experience or expertise whatsoever. Kinda like a certain administration in Washington…


"NB: Only individuals who have their own Wikipedia article may be included in the list."

Most of these have average academic or industry jobs, not “notable” by normal Wikipedia standards. They are only “notable” for their activism, although that is not terribly “notable” either - often just a couple of newspaper opinion pieces or think-tank papers.

But somehow they have Wikipedia articles (as scientists) so they qualify for this list.


If you think that is bad, try contributing to an article with political issues.

I spend considerable time in a country with a fairly recent nasty civil war. I lived there, I speak the language, I have a Ph.D. based on research I did there. I got tired of edits to an article being revised by people who had a political axe to grind, but much less knowledge of what actually happened there.


I only have ever have tried to meaningfully edit three articles. Two of the three of them had all edits wiped out completely within a day – and all I did was add to them, not removing or changing the politics of them – and I promptly gave up trying. I’ve got a fairly extensive knowledge of a few interesting bits of history – and I like to write on that stuff – but I am never going to bother to contribute to Wikipedia again.


Reverting changes is one thing I guess. Completely mulling out what people contribute so it doesn’t even show up is bullshit.


And one of those edits was adding in some of those absurd scenarios that get fought by WOPR at the end of WarGames (starting with USSR First Strike and ending with “Hong Kong Surprise” and “Hawaiian Succession”). That was wiped out as being somehow “not relevant” – as if that isn’t EXACTLY the sort of thing Wikipedia is good for. Glad I didn’t taint the cinematic perfection of that movie by sullying it with trivia.


It’s one of my top ten movies. It’d be in the top five but having mandark voice pop up kinda knocked it down three or five spots.

Weirdly, my one edit that seems to have ever survived was a few things I said about the Belize-Guatemalan border dispute. I haven’t looked back in years, but it was something I once knew a lot about, but it’s exactly the kind of thing people fight about online.

where is the list of scientists that support it?

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Worthwhile to make a comparison, but…

You know, one could easily have found a random sports figure for this example. When people want to complain about dross on Wikipedia, they almost always go for the porn stars, and it almost always feels like there’s some slut-shaming involved. Hell, ten year career, a couple awards, a couple hall of fames, she’s apparently worthy of some notice. Pick on the even longer Lego Batman movie page.


I think an article about Kate MIddleton’s wedding dress is incredibly stupid. But then, I don’t have to read it, do I? So why does it matter whether it exists? People who want to look at it will and people who don’t won’t. As long as it is held to appropriate standards, who the hell cares about anything else?


Wikipedia requires references and there are certainly more media coverage of porn stars and athletes than scientists so it’s kind of a self fulfilling prophecy


Mass media is not the primary source of references for establishing scientific credentials.




I also suspect that you’ll find that male porn actors are covered in much less detail than female porn actors. This is not an unbiased phenomenon.


Was trying to say that since there is more coverage (sources covering media figures > sources covering scientists) and that there will inherently be more “trivia” in articles about media figures, it’s not a surprise.

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Local bands. Fuck, man- LOCAL BANDS.

For a brief period in the early 90s, Portsmouth NH was ready to explode. Seriously- We had an amazing thriving local music scene, and one band, Thanks to Gravity, had been signed to a major label. They released the first album and started touring regionally with label support, right around the same time the label was also supporting a new regional release on the west coast- Bleach. Nirvana’s sales were a bit better, so the label cut off the Portsmouth band and started signing everybody they could find from Seattle.

But there were a few months where it could have gone the other way. There’s a documentary on the scene called “In Danger of Being Discovered”. Some of these local boys have gone on to win grammys, one band spent over a decade selling out stadiums in Europe, one went on to sing for the Dropkick Murphys, and a couple are now the rhythm section of The Pretty Reckless. Others had their songs covered by the Ramones and the Breeders.

But all of those almost bands they were in that never quite made it? I would love to see each of them have a Wikipedia entry- But apparently, they aren’t “noteworthy” enough.


It does cost something: labor.

  1. An article written by only one person and never looked at by another editor might be solid and accurate, or it might be total nonsense. Evaluating which of those it is is work. You could make a solid argument in favor of the encyclopedia only containing things that are vetted, considered, and well-edited, and discarding things that will clearly never be. This concern might get you a policy along the lines of “We delete any article that has < 2 active editors who care about it.”

  2. Simply maintaining a static page against the entropy that comes from linkrot and bot- and human-powered vandalism is work. You could argue that given a fixed supply of vandal-fighting labor, there is an maximum size for the encyclopedia beyond which quality will start to plummet site-wide. This concern might get you a policy along the lines of “OMG, just pick low-traffic articles and delete them, I’m drowning over here!”

DISCLOSURES: I work for the Wikimedia Foundation. My job has very little to do with content. I lean inclusionist.


I thought education was supposed to prepare you for the real world…

If you’ll excuse me, I have to go print a bunch of reports so my boss can put them in a file box that will be thrown out unopened after 7 years.


I had the same experience writing about local bands on Wikipedia