A modest proposal for "incubating" new articles
Hi, on EN wiki we've been running a new system for nearly a year that works a bit like that. Unsourced Biographies of living people get tagged with a fairly friendly template that explains that we no longer accept unreferenced Biographies of Living people, and gives them ten days to reference it. Looking at en:Category:BLP articles proposed for deletion by days I believe that a fairly good proportion of the worthwhile articles get rescued by a small team of people. But I fear that few of the authors stay after being told that their article is being tagged for deletion. My preference is for something where we do a quick initial sift between goodfaith and bad faith articles, then while the newbies aren't aware that their article is vulnerable to deletion it gets a brief period whilst they and their articles can be helped Proposal:Speedy deletion - 24 hour pause for some articles. Crucially the stuff which needs immediate deletion would still get deleted just as quickly. But for the stuff that initially lacks context or where someone saves one sentence at a time this could solve the problem.
I like the bolder approach of suggesting that we move from 'deletion' to 'incubation, merging, and hiding'. Starting something and then getting a warning message - no matter how friendly - telling you your work's days are numbered... that's not the right way to enter a community.
On the other hand, hiding someone's work until they learn how the site works, and can later go back to it, makes sense. unsourced / less notable work can be quietly moved to their userspace, and a nice tidy list of their contributions included there. lightly notable work can be quietly merged as appropriate into the right meta-article (and in geenral we need better style guidelines for this).
And we should have a project or namespace or capacity to store verifiable but nonnotable information about everything in the world -- as that is also clearly in Wikimedia's mission -- at which point the cleanup process would simply be tagging/moving it appropriately.
As I've pointed out several times now, you're assuming a newbie is logging on often enough to see the Tag in time. As I've also suggested, moving the article to that person's userspace makes a lot more sense - along with a note suggesting where it belongs, such as in a more general article. Just because a person is, for example, only notable for one particular event doesn't mean the information about that person isn't notable at all, just that it's in the wrong place. How does deleting that information help or encourage the newbie (or anyone) to contribute? Anyone who sees their entire article deleted (which means no history preserved for them to see) is NOT likely to want to spend more time to recreate it from scratch. They ARE likely to tell their friends and acquaintances what was done to them by 'the malicious Admins'. All you have to do is put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would feel and react if that happened to you. Why this insistence on doing the same thing over and over, when it's patently clear it's not working? I really do wonder if the goal here is to actually fix the problems, or to just make it appear they're being 'addressed'. Or, perhaps to come up with yet another excuse for why bullying is really a good thing. I wonder how many of the Admins kick over children's sandcastles at the beach, then laugh hysterically and call the children sissies for being upset. Not much difference, is there? And that's what you want Wikipedia to be proud of? Really? Flatterworld 22:41, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
Whether you move it to a sandbox or an incubator or you delete it or you tag it for deletion my fear is that the newbie will still feel that their article has been rejected. If we want to reject their article and we clearly explain why then that should be OK, but if their article can be rescued then I believe we should do so in mainspace.
See related topic "#Consider the en:WP:Article_Incubator" about current rescue of some deleted articles. In general, the support needs to be organized, and a deadline (even as 10 days) might seem overwhelming to a rare user who only imagined the promise of "anyone can edit" and now is faced with a deadline, to learn everything needed to save an article, in a get-a-life effort to abandon their home life and react quickly, before the looming threat occurs. Having seen numerous articles scarred by the shocking en:WP:AfD banner, I must also conclude that such intense, dire warnings of the ominous, impending "fix or delete" are equivalent to a long, protracted, slow-motion (and even cruel) death sentence to a new article. I have seen it far too many times: several people say, "Hey, I'd like to work on an article about Xxxx", and then when "Xxxx" is finally created, but soon tagged for WP:AfD, then even with 7 days to add their, previously, enthusiastic edits, the effect is, almost always, a death knell, a bell tolling of the approaching axe, and user participation nearly always halts (except for category setters). In fact, I think some (many?) deletionists fully realize the successful use of the mechanical witchhunt of attempted speedy-delete, followed by the shocking WP:AfD banner, and then those numerous, repeated, ultra-negative condemnations of the article. At that point, call in the medics to assess triage, to decide if there is any future potential for moving the article into the en:WP:Article Incubator.
After 6 years of WP, I have never seen, ever, a civilized approach such as, "Gentlemen, let's list the positive factors of the article, and focus on potential benefits of quick improvements, and then re-assess the updated page, to see whether this article can be saved." No, never have I seen that: it would be too much like educated people, collaborating, to reserve judgment and try to focus on an objective, neutral viewpoint about a topic. Instead, the reality seems like hate-mongering: many people are just, simply, ruthlessly vicious about their insistence to censor a topic which they, personally, want to see deleted. In fact, I think a major reason why many insulted people remain, after a vicious WP:AfD, might be that, perhaps, they plan to get revenge on the people who pushed to delete their articles. It gives them a reason to return to a hostile, negative evironment, despite the instinctive revulsion against returning.