Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2022-09-30/Opinion

Are we ever going to reach consensus?: Some Articles for Deletion just drag on.

A collage of many AfD comments.
No consensus?

Wikipedia has lots to explore, especially for editors. When I was only a reader of Wikipedia, I would just look at the information and not really bother to look further. Now as an editor, I've found that there is so much to be discovered, like Wikiprojects and the Teahouse. But I had never wondered what would happen if an article had to be deleted. In fact, I'd thought all articles were perfect — Featured Article status – so they would never have to be deleted. Articles for deletion has so much to discover. Most of the time, it's only a few people participating, but sometimes, it can turn into a long line of comments and opinions...

So, what happened?

I was just scrolling one day to find some Articles for Deletion discussion pages when I came across a discussion for the article on the Death of Mikhail Gorbachev. Now, when I first saw the title of the article, I was a bit skeptical. What's an important topic doing at AfD? Then I started to read the nominator's argument, and I looked at the article itself, and so I said to myself: wait a minute, they actually had a good reason for nominating this! There were quite a few opinions there already on what to do, more than I normally saw, so I decided I should have a voice. After making my decision on what to do, I had my say.

Anyway, I like to check up on the discussion after I !vote on an Articles for Deletion discussion. When I clicked the page, here's what I found:


There were so many !votes!

This continued for the next couple of days. More !votes, and more, and more. Eventually the discussion closed, with the result being "no consensus." I didn't think there was going to be any, anyway. I checked recently, and the article is like this now.

But why did this take so many !votes?

Most articles for deletion discussions aren't like this. They have a couple of !votes, and that's it. Like this one:

Example AfD

Then some are longer.. but not super long like the Death of Mikhail Gorbachev article.

Example AfD

Some are really, really long!

Example AfD

This deletion discussion is also super long, and I found this one while I was writing this article. It's from when the talk page at WikiProject User Rehab got nominated for deletion. (Which is kind of ironic, because actually I'm a participant in Wikiproject User Rehab, so if this had been deleted then I could have never joined.) The final result to this discussion was "no consensus."

But you've already seen the Death of Mikhail Gorbachev article, and you too saw that it had also reached no consensus. Why did these two not reach consensus? I think it has to do with the amount of !votes. Coming to an agreement is really hard when you have so many people voicing their opinions. It's a bit like having a speech and debate contest- except for one person against another there are fifty people on each side. Would it be hard then for the judge (in Wikipedia's case, an administrator), to decide what to do? Yes. That might be why we don't reach consensus with these Article for Deletion discussions... but why do so many !votes get there in the first place? I think the reason why some Articles for Deletion discussions have lots and lots of !votes is because the article nominated for deletion gets lots of views— like a newsworthy item. We can kind of come up with a rule of thumb:

The more views an article that is nominated for deletion gets, the more !votes it will get on its deletion discussion page.

Obviously the Death of Mikhail Gorbachev was a newsworthy event, so the Death of Mikhail Gorbachev article got a lot of views, which led to a lot of !votes. But even though these discussions get a lot of !votes, your !vote still counts. So !vote. If you're an administrator, all I can say in these scenarios is— you're going to be scrolling down for quite a while! Thank you.