Wikipedia: The Agony of Delete

Step away from the wiki and keep your hands where I can see them The neutrality and factual accuracy of this article on Wikipedia are disputed.

I have been recommended for deletion from Wikipedia. For the next five days, Wikipedians will be having a public debate about whether I am too obscure to be included in the world's largest encyclopedia.

Weak Keep: Not as important as the author seems to think ...

Delete: Writing a book itself does not mean the person should be included. I looked up the books on Amazon and their sales rankings are #30,000 and #80,000.


The suspicion that I wrote my own biography is correct. I've been educating myself lately about Wikipedia and its founder Jimmy Wales, the subject of a great profile in Florida Trend magazine this month.

I was expecting Wales to be a Stallmanesque hippie in a hemp pancho who makes ends meet through the kindness of strangers and occasional hair-clipping sales to wigmakers. He's actually a millionaire former options trader who looks like an international man of mystery and runs a new for-profit wiki startup.

I contributed my biography to Wikipedia in July, and I was beginning to think it would be accepted without controversy, which was a huge letdown.

Wikipedia runs on a process that should never work -- any idiot can create or edit a page, and volunteer contributors act as white blood cells, attacking foreign invaders such as spam, factual errors, biased writing, and self-glorifying authors.

Yet work it does. As Trend points out, Wikipedia's one of the 100 most-visited sites on the web, according to Alexa, steamrolling such esteemed competition as the Encyclopedia Britannica.

I tried to write my biography as objectively as possible, leaving out the fourth place I won in the national Hearst Foundation writing competition in college, my modest success in elementary school spelling bees, and the fact that seven Today Show viewers sent e-mail complimenting my looks this past April (six female, one male).

If I have not accomplished enough in 38 years to be included in such company as Gene Ray, Wendy Whoppers, and Triumph the Insult Dog, I can accept the judgment of the Wikipedia collective.

If deleted, I'll submit my biography to, a new wiki I have proposed for people who are not famous enough for Wikipedia.

As a make-work project for unemployed arts majors during the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration once sent writers to collect the first-hand life stories of ordinary people, creating a significant oral history of the era.

My proposed wiki would attempt to do the same thing for the 21st century, providing a commons where everyone can describe themselves and the people of their acquaintance.

The wiki could have a symbiotic relationship with Wikipedia.

People who are not famous enough to be on Wikipedia could be moved to via the magic of transwiki.

People whose biographies receive the most traffic on are probably too famous to be included, so they would be suitable for adoption by Wikipedia.

If my request for this new WikiCities site is approved, there's a danger that I might become too notable for inclusion. I'm prepared to take that risk.


That is so wrong. You're way better than Wendy Whoppers.

Popesquatting is coming round to bite you in the ass.

Heh, I was the original person to nominate your article for deletion.

Why? Because I knew you wrote it, making it a vanity article (which is prohibited). Articles on wikipedia are supposed to be written by strangers (not you, not your family memebers, not your employees) -- that keeps off random pages like yours where a person may be notable and important, but not notable and important enough for a complete stranger to take the time to write a page about you.

Oh yeah, and writing about your wife made it pretty obvious. That's why I checked your IP address location -- which is when I realized it was a vanity article.

So, why did I look at your entry to begin with? You added a link to yourself and a web project of yours on the drudgereport, a page I watch. I thought it looked like an advert, which set off the whole process.

All in all... no offense! I don't deserve a wikipedia article either. ;-)

No hard feelings. It was weird to put the entry up there and get no scrutiny for months.

I didn't edit any other pages on Wikipedia. The mentions on the and Drudge Report entries were there already.

Also, if there's a hard and fast rule against writing about yourself on Wikipedia, I didn't find it the day I wrote that piece. It appears to be more of an implicit rule.

You're way better than Wendy Whoppers.

Pre- or post reductive surgery?

Hi Rogers,

I was one of the people to vote "keep" on your VfD. As far as I can tell, it is most likely that the article will be kept; your article has nine keep votes, which means to be deleted it must garner aroundabout a shocking twenty seven delete votes to be deleted.

I was initially annoyed on finding this weblog entry because as wikipedia has become more popular people have started to conduct "experiments" on it -- inserting fake but plausible information, etc. etc.. The experiments rarely do lasting damage -- wikipedia does indeed work -- but they waste people's time. Not to mention the fact that most experiments are conducted by people with an axe to grind against the project.

As far as I can tell, though, you weren't trying to disrupt wikipedia, and you created the article about yourself in good faith, later changing your mind about wanting it included. Creating "vanity" articles is definitely discouraged, but not a sufficient reason to delete. I think Stallman himself has contributed to the editing of his wikipedia article.

Your "people.wikicities" idea sounds great. I hope it gets through, so we can redirect the high school vanity articles somewhere else.

All the best!

Another thing of interest is the rise in "reverse vanity" VfDs: people who have articles about themselves on wikipedia who want to have them deleted because they include unflattering information about them. See this: Kate McMillan.

Interestingly, that's exactly the reason you might want to think twice about creating a vanity article. By far the biggest type of vanity article is the indie-band article that a person writes to try and promote their name.

However, it's quite common that people who don't like their music to change the article to how much they suck. So in ways, you're opening up a public forum on what people think of you.

That's a good point, but in my personal case it's not a fear. The whole reason I offer comments on this weblog is to hear all the different ways in which I suck. My family and friends won't tell me.


I know you loosely through friends-of-friends and I voted for your article to be kept, and even offered to rewrite it if the vanity-ness of the article kept it from being included. I watched a wikip[edia article about me [not written by me] go through the VfD process and it was sort of weird... the blogging community in general has an odd presence on wikipedia where some people seem to say "bah, bloggers!" every time an article about a blogger comes up, whereas other people see them as important or at least noteworthy enough to garner wikipedia mention. My article stayed and I've definitely added information to it, and one about my Dad, and one about my uncle. I know Matt Haughey has edited his.

Your experiment sort of fails not because Wikipedia doesn't work, but because you, yourself are not non-notable enough to have an article about you otherwise be delete-worthy. In other words, the usual vanity article is dreck. The usual vanity article subject is non-notable. Your article was fine and you yourself are fine and people have heard of you. You've done things.

It's fine to have an "aw shucks" approach to all of this, and I'm definitely not asking for the ten minutes of my life that I've spent on this back. However it's worth paying attention to the fact that as bloggers [or people who were on the web pre-bloggers] do more and interact more and help more, they become the [appropriate] subject of content on the web, not just creators of it or commentors about it. Welcome. You helped make a good point, though maybe it was different from the one you started out to make.

It could be said that ego fears nothing

more than annihilation.

"The solution to this problem lies in

the heart of man".

Albert Einstein

Mate, get over it! I dont give a toss who you are and Wiki rightly deleted you. Non notables such as yourself clog Wiki.


I wasn't deleted from Wikipedia. My entry continues to exist there, where for a few glorious hours I was described as a "sexy computer book author" thanks to an anonymous editor whose work was subsequently RVV'd.

I'd like to hear more about your theory that Wikipedia can become clogged. Are they running out of web pages over there? I can send some more blank ones.

Non notables such as yourself clog the information highway - not the actual server space. Write a best seller, act in a Hollywood blockbuster, create a life saving invention, deny the Holocaust happened or join the Freemasons in their evil plot to take over the world. You'll then be deserving of a wiki entry.
You receive zero Ghits and the argument that Blogers are the new...well... the new "voice of the masses" is simply absurd.
Non notable blogs outnumber the amount of atoms in the universe. Their readership of spouses, aunties, neighbours, stalkers and spotted IT geeks hardly qualifies as a legitimate audience.
And dont worry about sending Wikipedia blank web pages. Your homepage -which is totally devoid of noteworthy content- is about as "blank" as it gets. File under "random nothingness" - alongside your CV, autobiography and statement of contribution to the world.

Your self-propelled vanity is more evil than an Al Qaida suggestion box.

Wow, do I have a suggestion for DUDEMAN. But I'll let that pass for now in favor of my "spotted geek" impulse to focus on the technology.

Your proposal was probably made tongue-in-cheek (the "People whose biographies receive the most traffic..." comment tipped me off)[*], so maybe you were kidding about this too. But I have to ask, just to be clear: where's the "magic" in transwiki?

I took a look at the Help:transwiki page at Wikimedia, and I'm coming up a little short on child-like wonder for it. It's rare, to say the least, that you see a database-to-database transfer process with the step, "copy-and-paste the content" listed TWICE in its user instructions.

[*] - Why do I say the most-traffic comment tipped me off that the suggestion may not be serious? Consider this parable from Gerald Weinberg, included in the UNIX "fortune" database:

Weinberg, as a young grocery clerk, advised the grocery manager to get rid of rutabagas which nobody every bought. He did so. "Well, kid, that was a great idea," said the manager. Then he paused and asked the killer question, "NOW what's the least popular vegetable?"

Law: Once you eliminate your #1 problem, #2 gets a promotion.
-- Gerald Weinberg, "The Secrets of Consulting"

i find it irritating that there is even a possibility for false information... if you can go for 4 hours being called a sexy computer book author,
what if theoretically someone editted a page i was using for research on a topic for my position paper, and i use the false information in my project?

i find wikipedia to be usually accurate, dont get me wrong. but the thought that i might walk into that 4 hour window and write down something inacurate pisses me off.

the whole editting idea is unreliable, in my opinion. i dont want to have to worry that some Joe with way too much time on his hands decided that it would be cool to say that Martin Luther King Jr.'s father was an alcoholic and beat him as a child, making him more keane on non-violent resistance.

but im happy that a noname finally got some recognition :) kudos

to get it right my article on how wikipedia contradicts itself is


Heck simply because the managed so far means nothing they are simply electronic burn burners that allow one thing published today and burn it the next they a simply post-libertarian book burners who spout off rhetoric to suit themselves as they wish.

What bothers me is they have no sense of true, or guilt they they can delete a whole article from which only a small part may not be felt by them are correct.

You complain about court and lawyers well you need one to figure out their BS there and by then are no longer a writer, a researcher but a cult bureaucrat. I SAW SCREW EM.

In any case about these articles alleged written by those same people who are spoken of why is it that after so many deletions you can't write my biography article and I write yours? they they would switch up and say its something else anyone interested contact me through my site they actually deserve getting sued, as I suspect they have government involvement also via agents they are that wacky.

thanks you man

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