On Being Deleted

Wikipedia provides an opportunity for contributors to have their own page. My User Page at Wikipedia was deleted. I argue here against that decision.

On Being Deleted
  • On Being Deleted

    A Work in Progress

  • Wikipedia first appeared in January 2001 after I began publishing online. Wikipedia soon became an outstanding resource, however the process and qualification of what is published on the encyclopedia and by whom is far from transparent. I find its pages confusing to edit, and its terms of contributing opaque.

  • The Contributor and Editor

  • I was never, and am not listed at Wikipedia. When however I made a direct contribution at Wikipedia, a link to my user profile would be referenced. I provided an appropriate level of detail about myself in what I viewed of as a dispassionate and informative manner (see the deleted page screenshot below). This not only provided context to my editorial authority, but also gave the opportunity for the visitor to make up their own mind about the veracity of my contributions.
  • The role of an editor is to carefully consider material then decide upon its final form. This often requires an appreciation of content from a distance in light of a particular audience.

  • My Rebuttal

  • My user account at Wikipedia was deleted under section "U5. Blatant misuse of Wikipedia as a web host" of the criteria for speedy deletion:

  • "Pages in userspace consisting of writings, information, discussions, and/or activities not closely related to Wikipedia's goals, where the owner has made few or no edits outside of user pages, with the exception of plausible drafts and pages adhering to Wikipedia User pages".
  • An important phrase in this criterion is "...not closely related to Wikipedia's goals...". That is, a user page should only be deleted when it is unrelated to Wikipedia's goals, as expressed in its mission statement:
  • "Empower and Engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content and either publish it under a free license or dedicate it to the public domain.
  • Disseminate this content effectively and globally, free of charge."
  • I have published online since before Wikipedia came into existence; have created free content that informs, educates, and seeks to enrich those experiencing it; and I have encouraged others to do the same.
  • I believed working on my page at Wikipedia would not only assist me in building my knowledge and experience so that I could more effectively do so in future, but that it would also serve to provide context to the contributions I have, and hoped to make. One of the frequent criticisms of Wikipedia is its lack of authority. By detailing my interests, history, and publications, my intention was, at least in small part, to address this.
  • In my opinion the editors at Wikipedia formed a judgment about my user page without adequate dialog or consideration. Their stated argument for deleting my user page was that I misused Wikipedia as a web host to promote myself. I refute this claim. The site you are on is the context where people find far, far more detailed information about me. Searching my name on Wikipedia never produced, and still does not produce, a single result. Not one. My user page at Wikipedia was hidden except for those who contributed or clicked on a link that refers to a contribution I made at Wikipedia. In time I had hoped to contribute more, but that avenue is now closed as a result of the way in which their editorial team acted.
  • With this in mind I thought it perfectly reasonable to provide an overview of myself, indeed I thought this was my responsibility. Furthermore, I suggest that detailing information of a personal nature is indeed relevant as visitors to Wikipedia make judgments about the authority of content I have and would have made.
  • It appears the editor who made their decision to delete my user page failed to consider how information not directly related to an article can still be pertinent and of value. As I have a large body of work I saw it as appropriate to provide a larger context than perhaps is routine. I made a number of edits to my page as it was about me, and I believed it was my responsibility to maintain and keep it up to date. I focused on it, not to self promote, but to inform.
  • The assertion that personal pages at Wikipedia "should be used primarily to present information relevant to work on the encyclopedia" is circular. Any contribution I make, whether as editor or on a user page, is at Wikipedia. "Limited autobiographical information is allowed, but user pages do not serve as personal webpages, blogs, or repositories for large amounts of material irrelevant to collaborating on Wikipedia.". There is no qualification of what "limited" means. I judged the material I offered, while in large part biographical, was indeed: of interest; value; of an appropriate length given my profile; and which encouraged collaboration.
  • My personal website (the one you are currently viewing) receives many visits from those who visit Wikipedia. Not once have I receive a single word of negative feedback from these visitors, nor from an editor at Wikipedia about their view of my user page until its sudden disappearance. I was notified my user page was to be removed. Nothing was edited, nor were any suggestions for changes made, it was simply deleted. I view this not only as a failure to respect someone's time and effort to create content at Wikipedia, but as a misuse of power by someone in authority.
  • Judge for yourself as to whether you believe I was misusing Wikipedia as a promotional tool, or as a context to inform visitors about me. In other words, do you view this as marketing, or information that is of potential value? A screenshot of the page before its deletion follows. Note once again that this was not a searchable article at Wikipedia, but a user's page:

Wikipedia page about Mike de Sousa before its deletion

  • It seems clear from the editor's actions and comments they were skeptical about my intentions, however I urged them to think more carefully about how they make decisions about the deletion of pages at Wikipedia. I understand it is unlikely that my user page will ever be reactivated, however I am concerned that editors at Wikipedia have a closed view of what defines a user page contribution, and that their actions not only dissuade those who genuinely wish to make the world a better place from contributing, but also undermine Wikipedia's authority as an open and inclusive publication.

  • Unerased