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There’s a fascinating discussion at Wikipedia about whether lists of loosely associated items should be kept or deleted. in this particular case, a list of song titles that contain first names was deleted.

I don’t feel I have standing to have an opinion — this is a discussion among people who spend a good chunk of their lives building and maintaining Wikipedia — but (nevertheless) I do tend to favor including articles rather than deleting them. Wiki is not paper. As you’ll see in the discussion, there are lots of criteria at play, but some of the arguments for deleting such lists seem to me to be based on a desire to keep Wikipedia dignified. That argument I don’t buy. Other criteria adduced for deleting “silly” lists are far stronger. And in the discussion you get to see Wikipedia continuing to figure itself out through a process of suggesting criteria, interpreting settled criteria, appeals to precedent, and personal persuasion. [Tags: wikipedia encyclopedias everything+is+miscellaneous lists ]

4 Responses to “Wikipedia and the criteria of silliness”

  1. on 05 Jul 2007 at 8:57 amTim

    I agree that Wikipedia shouldn’t be deleting articles just because a relative few decide they’re “silly”. The point of an online resource like this, one with virtually infinite space, is that it can hold the information until someone finds a need for it, instead of the traditional system of determining the need first.

    The Wikipedia editors may not see the usefulness in a list of songs containing first names. However, someone, somewhere may find it essential, even if their purpose is to settle a bar bet.

  2. on 07 Jul 2007 at 9:10 pmbup

    Ha – I just came here because I just finished the book, and while I really liked it, you miss two huge facets of wikipedia that undercut your argument that wikipedia is a great example of shared knowledge.

    First, of course, is that articles get deleted all the time, and the sway of editorial authority (someone who has a bazillion edits pretty much makes the call) is what drives it.

    Second is that any decent wikipedia article should have no original research – every assertion should refer to much more traditional sources of information (like enyclopaedia britannica). So ultimately what is “true” has been decided by the editor of whatever content is used to back up the wiki article.

    Great book, though. It’s really changed my thinking, and given me an excuse when my wife claims I’m a slob (I’m post-poning organizing as late as possible!).

  3. on 10 Jul 2007 at 10:21 amTobias Kowatsch

    Have a look at There is a web experiment regarding to folksonomies and collaborative tagging systems.

    Maybe it is of interest for you.

    Tobias Kowatsch

  4. on 11 Jul 2007 at 4:49 pmPeter Collopy

    Since Wikipedia content is licensed for some types of redistribution, perhaps fans of these lists could put them elsewhere on the web. No website is the proper home for every sort of content, but I think nearly everything should be able to find some place. I’m a longtime member of Everything2, a writing community/website which has always had a lot in common with Wikipedia but doesn’t share its emphasis on the neutral point of view, or even always on nonfiction. While these lists wouldn’t be at home on Everything2 either, and might indeed be most valuable in some sort of song database site, I think it’s important to look at the web beyond Wikipedia and to recognize that sites develop their identities partly through what they exclude.