Essay:Deletions and oversightings

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I just reviewed all the comments that were made above. I do endeavor to take into consideration the wishes of other editors. While I personally don't care if I get credit for content I create, I do understand that not everyone feels the same as me. I also understand that deleting the main space article in question that others participated in removed their username for that article. My apologies. I will endeavor to not due this in the future unless their is a good reason to delete an article. In addition, I do understand that some people like to see how many views a particular article has obtained that they contributed to and deleting an article unfortunately sets the view counter to zero. I regret any ill feelings that I unintentionally caused for editors who are making good faith edits.
-- conservative 20:56, 8 June 2011 (EDT) (sadly deleted by him shortly after...)

Some basics[edit]

  • revision: Whenever a page is edited at a wiki, not only the difference between the new version and the old one, but the whole page is stored in the database. Each such version is called a revision and can be identified by an id number which is automatically generated: a posh way to say that they are just consecutive numbers. Generally each revision can be addressed using only this id: is the first version of this very page, the second one. Ideally any number from 1 (the initialization of the wiki: to the current number of edits corresponds to a valid address.
  • deletion: these are the main reason that some numbers don't lead to an active revision: Try e.g., . Sysops on a wiki have the right to delete pages: the revisions of a deleted pages can't be accessed anymore. When a sysops deleted a page, an entry in the Special:Logs/delete appears indicating which page was deleted. But though the revisions of this page aren't visible any longer, they aren't erased from the database: so, such a deletion can be reverted. In this case the sysop can decide whether to resurrect all revision, some of them or none.
  • revision deletion: Deleting a page is the sledge hammer, a more subtle way is to delete only some revisions. Again, that's a tool sysops can use at most wikis.
  • oversight: Deletions leave marks - they appear in the logs. A more clandestine method (TK's favorite) is the oversight: only a couple of trusted members of the group oversighters have this ability to make something appear to not have happened at all. That's useful, e.g., if even the title of a page is libelous and shouldn't be mentioned even in the logs.

The general case[edit]

(deleted) revisions at various wikis (up to scale)

Deleting revisions and even oversighting them is sadly a necessary tool on wikis: sometimes information has to be removed, e.g. when it contains personal data, libelous attacks, copyright violations. And then there are the spammers, providing an endless stream of ads. Sometimes it's just part of janitorial efforts, obsolete categories are deleted, etc.

As usual wikipedia developed an complex policy to handle deletions and oversights, especially to prevent an abuse of these methods. But nevertheless revisions are frequently deleted: an sample of over 100,000 revisions showed that 8% of these are not longer available for a common editor.

RationalWiki has less convoluted guidelines, but of course it isn't such a big spam-magnet as wikipedia. Here a sample of about 15,000 revisions showed that 4.5% were deleted or even oversighted.

So, what about Conservapedia? Until Sep 1, 2011 over 900,000 revisions were created at Conservapedia, 220,000 of these are no longer accessible: that's a whopping 24%!


Whose revisions are missing?
(missing) revisions per month

In August 2011, User:Diebot monitored the deletions and oversightings at Conservapedia. He was able to catch most of the disappearing revisions: more than 80% of ca. 1500 revs which are missing today. And some of these actions were quite reasonable - an edit like Clifton Webb is just infantile and insulting - and not even funny. Perhaps 500 edits of this kind were deleted (granted, the entries on one, two, three, ..., Diebot/Ten_feet were slightly amusing for all friends of Uncle Ed).

Another valid reason was to remove real-life-data on editors from the site. cp:User:Conservative was up to this task - which gets slightly less laudable as he inserted the RL information in the first place (obviously these revisions won't be posted by Diebot...)

But most of the deletions (and the oversightings) can't be justified: they are spiteful at worst, sometimes dishonest, and just cosmetic at best. As cp:User:Conservative is unable to press the preview button, he deletes his own edit histories to look a little bit more cogent. At cp:User talk:Iduan/Blocking Review Panel Ideas he needs twelve edits to change one paragraph and add another - deleting the history of the article makes it look like one smooth edit. And the change of the page-id (from 114829 over 114830 to 11483) shows that he deleted the page twice during his session!

A similar tactic is used at cp:Template:Mainpageright: after a couple of dozen minuscule alteration, he deletes them and shows only the result - the hatter's way of wiki-editing. But Andy changes the history of cp:Template:Mainpageright, too: gone is an unsustainable claim made by him (Almost no one wants to go to government-run evacuation shelters as Hurricane Irene approaches), and trimmed into oblivion is one of Jpatt's most asinine statements (Richard Dawkins hates the American people.

But the full force of Conservapedia (i.e., KaraKen's) vengeance was dealt out to cp:User:RobSmith: virtually all discussions on a reform of Conservapedia were deleted:

And he became a persona-non-grata: