Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia and most of its contents are naked text that hardly takes up any disk space. Thus there is no reason to limit the subjects its contributors can write about. Fans have written hundreds of detailed articles about PokÃ©mon characters. This is fine with me though I have no interest in the subject: the articles are not in my way and they are apparently of interest to a lot of other people.
When I started adding my first bits of stuff to the Swedish version of the encyclopedia, I was surprised to find that higher-up users would delete my short contributions about individual archaeologists. They clearly only wanted to have longer articles about professors and their ilk. There’s even a long ego-boosting discussion preserved on-line about whether or not yours truly was interesting enough to merit an article.
This all surprised me. Why would anybody want to remove articles on topics that someone found interesting enough to write about? I now realise that what I have been seeing is an on-going battle between inclusionists and deletionists. A fine recent article in The Economist lays the matter out clearly.
“Deletionists believe that Wikipedia will be more successful if it maintains a certain relevance and quality threshold for its entries. So their ideal Wikipedia might contain biographies of the five most important leaders of Solidarity, say, and the five most important PokÃ©mon characters, but any more than that would dilute Wikipedia’s quality and compromise the brand. The presence of so many articles on trivial subjects, they argue, makes it less likely that Wikipedia will be taken seriously, so articles dealing with trivial subjects should be deleted.”
This concern about Wikipedia’s “brand” makes no sense to me. Wikipedia is far beyond the level where it need prove anything to the world. It’s there, it’s huge, it’s extremely useful, and whenever I find it lacking on some point I have endless opportunity to do something about it.
I’m an inclusionist, and proud of it.
Thanks to Marcus Widengren for the tipoff.