Disagree By Deleting

DisagreeByDeleting is when a person disagrees with something on Wiki and they delete it rather than posting an alternative idea alongside the item. Strongly disapproved of. A person who practices DisagreeByDeleting used to be called a WikiButcher. (That page is also a lot shorter if you're in a hurry.)

Since this Wiki gained the delete facility, it has been fairly heavily used - and abused. The deletion cycle causes a Wiki to behave a bit like the GameOfLife. Some things cause budding, others pruning. WikiGnomes would like to see the Life form continue to move along in the Software Patterns direction, leaving off-topic material behind.

WikiButchers probably want the same thing, but are much less patient than WikiMasters who refactor, clean up, and generally focus content here towards the development of software patterns. They tend to end up performing an AdHominem delete (http://develop.consumerium.org/wiki/Ad_hominem_delete) where articles are deleted simply because of who wrote them, with no serious review of their content, often before any substantial number of people can even read them.


It seems to me to be clearly inappropriate to DisagreeByDeleting. To do so is to refuse the ability to communicate to anyone with whom we disagree. In general, deletion is a very significant step in communication, roughly equivalent to telling someone to shut up during conversation. It ends the conversation, effectively halting communication. Even ClarifyByDeleting is extremely dangerous. I think most people are well-advised to delete nothing but their own work. -- RonJeffries

I think you are well-advised not to tell people that they are well-advised by you. People will make up their own minds.

Uh-huh... so, it is not ok for RonJeffries to well-advise someone, but it is ok for you to well-advise someone against well-advising? Isn't that a little... contradictory? Obviously you do believe it is ok to well-advise, or else you wouldn't be doing it at all.

Inappropriate in all cases? Some people sometimes need to be told to shut up - and I may be one of them, sometimes. Should we totally deny ourselves that facility? -- KeithBraithwaite

A RecentChangesJunkie has a fair chance at seeing all flows, but most people would never see some views if we feel free to DisagreeByDeleting.

Deletion Has Its Flaws

I have seen a growing propensity to DisagreeByDeleting and it's led me to think that deletion just isn't what it used to be. -- PhilGoodwin

I have never come across DisagreeByDeleting on Wiki, as defined above. What I have witnessed and been part of recently is deletion of parts or of whole pages or discussions that the editors felt were futile and unhelpful to Wiki as a whole, based on careful reflection of mainstream views. See WikiReductionists. I don't believe that these edits can fairly be put in this category. -- RichardDrake

I think that the paragraph at the top of the page is a perfect summary of these deletions. You are trying to keep other people from being exposed to my opinion by deleting it - you've said so yourself. Do you deny it? -- PhilGoodwin

I deny it in the singular and in the plural also. KeithBraithwaite started the "deletions" on Friday (reductions to a few words or at most sentences) mainly in anonymous WikiOnWiki instruction pages such as DeleteAndArchive. I believe that he had three reasons: dislike of verbosity and bureaucracy in the WikiOnWiki instructions (which was strikingly corroborated by a new visitor just today - see the bold bit in ClarifyByDeleting) and dislike of proposed WikiBadges which are never used. Like other WikiReductionists I agreed with these motivations and thus broadly with the edits. But I never intended to hide the fact that there were already differences of view in this area. So, for example, I made sure that the difference of emphasis between PhilGoodwin and myself was preserved at the end of DeletionInWiki (hopefully to be deleted later when more consensus was achieved, like so much current WikiOnWiki).

We are genuinely sorry if these deletions caused personal pain. We are also sorry that Wiki as a whole did not have much opportunity to judge whether the more concise form of the pages was better, as most were restored promptly in the early morning Pacific time. Please note that although our preferred versions were only allowed to stand for a few hours we haven't pushed the point today by reinstating them. This reflects our belief in consensus for Wiki. We respect all those that care a lot for Wiki and feel that, whatever our differences, PhilGoodwin is an outstanding example of this. Not only that but my understanding is that Keith, Phil and I share the desire to reduce the WikiOnWiki discussion! -- RichardDrake

ThankYou for the compliment Richard. At least one of the pages still has both opposing views: HowToDeletePages now lists a variety of options. I know that's not your goal: you'd rather have fewer, more clear, options in order to make things easier for newcomers. Maybe we could build a WikiOnWikiRoadmap? that could serve both the neophytes and the navel-gazers. We could go to CategoryWiki, CategoryWikiMaintenance and maybe one or two other pages. -- PhilGoodwin

Let's discuss offline and return with some proposals in a few days perhaps? -- rd

I would prefer that those discussions happen on Wiki. Those uninterested won't comment. Going offline, deciding, and coming back sounds elitist to me.

That sounds fine to me. I'll hang out on DeletionDiscussion. I won't comment too much on these other pages -- pg

DisagreeByDeleting doesn't leave the opposing argument with which to disagree, and could be compared to book burning. Removing pages for refactoring is very inconsiderate, when it's no hassle to archive. One person's refactoring might be another's butchering. -- DannyAyers

The act of deleting material that the community at large wishes to remain (StarTrek etc.) is an act of disagreement. A particularly nasty, selfish, vile, and cowardly act of disagreement.

Deletion Has Its Advantages

Some statements that you can safely delete when you disagree include:

Those examples cite reasons other than disagreement as justification for deletion. That's fine with me. There are probably other good reasons as well. But, if you choose to DisagreeByDeleting, then you are using censorship and I am strongly opposed to that. It is possible that if you passionately disagree with something you should refrain from deleting it even if there is some other valid reason for doing so. It is often as valuable to avoid the appearance of impropriety as it is to avoid impropriety itself. -- PhilGoodwin

Sometimes it might be better to DeleteByMoving (which isn't really deletion at all). It gets stuff out of the way without actually deleting it. Those who find it valuable can still find it.

Deleting on a Wiki ain't "censorship"; it's just also free speech. "Censorship" is making certain statements illegal.

(singing like Julie Andrews)

 When the bug bites, 
 Deep in Perl strings, 
 When I'm feeling sad, 
 I simply go delete the BoogerClub page 
 And then I don't feeeeeeeeel, soooooooo baaaaaad. 
-- PhlIp

How trippy. I've had the original version of that song in my head for the last 2 days. -- EricHodges

Well, synchronicities in adversarial situations typically indicate a psychic bond of some type. Don't go there.

By the way I shan't delete it again, but only because it's by a regular. I thought it was by a vandal, meaning someone without an established presence here, who would have nothing to lose if this wiki becomes noisy. Within a community of peers, punishment for writing a page like that will be much more exacting. -- PhlIp

I eagerly await my punishment, sir. -- EricHodges

Just by the way, PhlIp, what kind of community of peers "punishes" creative writing that is entertaining and totally harmless? The need for variety on Wiki has been discussed to great length here. Wiki is often compared to a pub; who would want to hang out at a place where there was only one single topic of discussion, now and forever?

See: ClarifyByDeleting, DisagreeByDistorting, VotedOffTheIsland?, DisagreeByDeletingSomethingElse, IslandOfRemovedText?, WikiFilterist

Contrast: DisagreeByAdding, JunkBox, ReallyValuablePages

CategoryWikiRefactoring CategoryDelete

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