Delete Once Restore Once

DeleteOnceRestoreOnce is a Wiki editing guideline. This doesn't necessarily make it a rule, please read on.

If a page you delete is restored, or if a page you restore is deleted, leave it be. If the page is valued by the community, someone else will restore it if it gets deleted again. If the page isn't valued by the WikiCommunity in general, only by a single member, the page really shouldn't be here at all.

This is particularly important for contentious pages. Practicing DeleteOnceRestoreOnce helps to prevent EditWars.

Especially important in DocumentMode; where the text is owned by the community. In ThreadMode, it is occasionally useful to repeat a deletion/restore, with an added comment asking why. In many cases, a meeting of the minds can occur among the participants. Of course, in ThreadMode rampant deleting of the contributions of others should generally be discouraged, unless the contribution is flagrantly OffTopic or inflammatory.

How many times should we speak the truth when people are trying to silence it?

Once. (You can speak all the truth you want on your HomePage if you really need to get it "out there".)

Suppression of the truth does not make it less true; it simply keeps the truth from being disseminated.

If someone violates DeleteOnceRestoreOnce; does it becomes permissible for WikiGnomes to counter the offending delete/restore?

[Do two wrongs make a right?]

No, but two counteracting wrongs are frequently preferable to a single wrong left unanswered; civilization depends on this belief in order to function.


Systems of laws are uniformly based on the principle that if you do something bad (violate the law), society will do something bad to you (like put you in jail). TitForTat permeates other sorts of organizations as well.

Does DeleteOnceRestoreOnce apply to an individual or the community? In other words, if someone other than you deletes a page, someone else restores it, can you delete it again? Of course, if it's then restored, someone else would have to do the deleting.

This could lead to (finite, bounded by number of participants) EditWars, but the alternative seems like it doesn't really reflect community consensus. If a page is "protected" from further deletion, one person could fill Wiki with junk and prevent it from being deleted simply by restoring it once.

As exemplified in the BoogerClubDeletionWar. Some useless - or worse - offensive pages should be deleted, no matter how many times they are restored by the one or two people attached to them (for whatever reason). However, restorers tend to have their way.

[Note: it would be nice to have a definition of "offensive" here. There seems to be some labeling going on that is outside the norms of Wikidom.]

I treat DeleteOnceRestoreOnce as a personal practice. When contention occurs, DeleteOnceRestoreOnce reminds me that ItsNotMyWiki. It also reminds me to LetHotPagesCool before jumping in with an edit or deletion.

That said, DeleteOnceRestoreOnce is a guideline, not dogma. Don't substitute it for common sense. For example, deletion of obviously OnTopic pages by WikiVandals should be reverted until the vandal leaves.

I am hoping that the Mar-Apr '03 hassle over BoogerClub and the ensuing deletion war aroused a certain sense of communal property (and propriety, for that matter) when "rogue" deletions do take place. One of the standing conventions around here has been to allow a deleted and then restored page to remain. Let's hope that we will follow this convention in the future and avoid any more time-wasting hassles like the whole Booger Club thing. I imagine that page and all its associated grief will fade into Wiki history eventually. BoogerClub will be moved to some joke site and the discussion on inappropriate deletion -- including this entry -- will be refactored into some other, more general, dissertation on the need for courtesy and patience on this Wiki. <knocking on wood> -- MartySchrader

I still disagree with that definition of the "standing convention" regarding page deletion. In the BoogerClub incident, EricHodges created that page, and I deleted it. So far, so good. Then he restored it. That is what I disagree with. If that is all it takes for a page to remain, then literally nothing can ever be deleted.

I think there needs to be a recognition that the wider community needs to agree that a deleted page be restored. A single proponent and a single opponent of a page doesn't really amount to anything. A page's author restoring it shouldn't grant that page a permanent right to exist.

As we saw in the BoogerClub war, there were many people on both sides of the issue. At the very least, another member of the community, besides a page's author, should have to recommend that the page be restored.

- Richard Rapp

Hmm. Even after thinking about it for some weeks I have to stick with the convention - if that's what it really is - of not repeating a page deletion after that page has been restored. There are many reasons why a page might be deleted or restored. We need to treat each case separately. For instance, recently some pages were refactored out of existence and their content moved elsewhere. A bunch of these pages were restored by Wikizens who were oversensitized to page deletion courtesy the BoogerClub deletion war. I made one of these erroneous restorations my own bad self. Had the page been marked properly, such as, "delete - moved to AnotherPageLikeThisOne", I would have left it alone. These are the kinds of conventions we need to work on.

I appreciate that it's hard to find a perfect guide to deleting and restoring but isn't DeleteOnceRestoreOnce flawed - if I delete a page, the author is bound to restore (which in DeleteOnceRestoreOnce terms is 'legal') I can't delete it again so the restorer always gets their way?!? How can this rule work? Is it just a question of majority (say if there were 3 of you in a room carrying this out) it's down to a third party to finally decide and have the final say?

It's an indirect mechanism of WikiVoting. If everyone adheres to the principle then if there are more concerned deleters than concerned restorers, the page will stay deleted. The reverse is also true. Of course, you may feel that you feel sufficiently strongly that you merit two votes, or five votes, or 20 votes, or a robotic voting proxy on your behalf with an unlimited number of votes. It would be nice if there were a separate voting page so that votes could be observed and tallied without actually blinking the subject of the voting on and off repeatedly.

Well, there's nothing (other than community expectations, which can be changed) that stops us from creating a separate voting page. But the problem then is - how do you decide how long before voting closes? How do you get people to pay attention to all the voting pages that would crop up? How do you let people that really don't care ignore the voting pages?

The nice thing about DeleteOnceRestoreOnce, along with the rest of the WikiEditingCustoms, is that it encourages you to act instead of talking. If someone doesn't like your action, they can revert it, and if you still can't come to an agreement, then you talk it out. But it's all too easy to get stuck in talking and never actually do anything about it (committees do this all the time). -- JonathanTang

Actually, our current problem is that people aren't willing to talk about the reason for their edits at all. We now have various vandals hiding behind anonymous proxies and such things so that they can do their deleting without anyone knowing who is doing it. This is in violation of the Wiki community spirit, so suggesting that we all play nice using these conventions won't work. A good solid TwoByFour ought to do the trick, though.

People seem to have missed the point of DeleteOnceRestoreOnce. It's not about whether a controversial page ultimately survives or not. Rather, DeleteOnceRestoreOnce is a GentleHint? to those involved in an EditWar to refrain from perpetuating it.

Historical note about DeleteOnceRestoreOnce from CostinCozianu:

This rule never reached the consensus of community, never mind that it is dubious what value, if any, it has when one of the parties is set to breaking it. And, by the way, can you tell me when was the case that RK cared about wiki rules for anything that didn't suit his purpose? IIRC the rule was consecrated to "fame" (or infamy maybe?) as part of the BoogerClubDeletionWar. So what message does this rule send? The way I read it is that contributors have thrown their hands up in the air, given up on having a rational dialog on how to fix a problem, and resorted to arbitrary mechanics (speaking of which, would you support a vote of 100-99 as a sound argument in favor of deleting a wiki page?). Just like it was the case with the BoogerClubDeletionWar (which I wasn't part of).

A little more history, from the person who first wrote the WikiWord "DeleteOnceRestoreOnce" on this wiki:

DeleteOnceRestoreOnce did in fact originate in the days of the BoogerClub EditWar. When I first saw the now-infamous BoogerClub page (on the first day of its existence), I assumed it was made by someone new to this Wiki playing around, and deleted it (once). Then I stood aside and watched in dismay as the long and ugly EditWar over the page began, engendering much ill will. As a reminder to myself not to perpetuate that kind of row, I added the guideline DeleteOnceRestoreOnce to my HomePage's section of personal Wiki editing tenets. It was not a prescription for the Wiki community as a whole, or even for other members to follow. It was primarily a personal guideline. I had a secondary motive, though: my hope was that by placing the guideline on my HomePage, those perpetuating the EditWar (who likely followed RecentChanges closely) would see it and take the hint.

Here is its original form, from an archived version of my HomePage:

Later, someone (not me, as I recall) turned the DanglingLink on my HomePage into this DeleteOnceRestoreOnce page. I was surprised to see it, and secretly a little pleased that someone might take it seriously enough to adopt the practice. Then people started using it as a club to hit others with ("X never adheres to DeleteOnceRestoreOnce"), and arguing about it Talmudically ("should a page with a million supporters die if one million and one people don't want it?"). I fear that the essentially personal nature of the guideline -- and more important, its purpose -- is now lost for good.

So perhaps I should have been more clear: Don't perpetuate EditWars.

Side notes:

Instead of undeleting, consider restoring and shortening/stripping of flames of the page. This shows that you do not simply counter the delete, but rather want to go between the extremes - FindingTheMiddleWay so to speak.

Does "WhatYouCannotDelete" still hold? [orphan page attempt to integrate or suggest delete]

For comparison, WikiPedia has adopted a similar policy: a user may be blocked by an admin from editing if they make more than three reverts in a 24-hour period. However, one is highly recommended not to revert a page more than once. Some execptions are made, such as for removing libel and slander.

See WikiEditingCustoms, EgolessWiki, KillTheHostage

CategoryWikiEditing, CategoryDelete

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