TLDP and Wikipedia

Stein Gjoen,

This summary was originally posted on the discuss-list 2005-08-14 at TLDP and turned into HTML for posting on the TARPL pages 2006-08-21.

Discussion on wikifying TLDP works started quite some time ago and since I am working on various technical solutions for TLDP I decided to give it a try. I have now spent more than 6 months writing articles from scratch, editing articles, adding commenst and feedback and participating in voting. Allthis in order to gain sufficient experiences to enable me to make a conclusion. So rather than letting you wade through 15 ad infested pages before concluding with a definite possibility of a firm maybe, I'll make my conclusion here up front:

Wikipedia in its current incarnation with software and processes are in my opinion not suitable for the TLDP.

When I started I expected vandalism to be the largest problem but to my surprise that was not the case. That was then but things have changed. Vandalism is rapidly increasing and reverts are not always able to handle this properly anymore. Some examples:

Vandalims takes on several forms from large scale deletions to insertion of controversial points of view, by anonymous users as well as registered pseudonymous users.

While the vandalism is clearly on the rise we should also soon expect robot spamming like bloggers have experienced earlier. Perhaps it has already started: link

In my opinion it is the process aspect that is the main problem at Wikipedia and without defined processes with safeguards it is hard to run proper quality assurance. There is however no doubt that TLDP also has process issues. Still trading one set of problems for another does not seem like progress. In details:


Occationally a page is marked with a cleanup tag, "This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality." Unfortunately the reason is often not clearly stated, nor the condition for removal of the tag. Also pseudonymous users have removed the tag entirely without due process (ref. ISO9000).


There is a group of self stated deletionists rampaging through Wikipedia, attempting some kind of textual darwinism: Deletionist Wikipedians. Stated objectives include "Outpace rampant inclusionism". This has some strange implications. Example given is The great filter
  1. Requested for deletion on basis of being a "vanity page", and strangely the vote was not executed on.
  2. When that failed the argument for deletion was restated as "a simple theory of an obscure academic"
  3. A vote ended up as "merge and redirect", even though other theories have their own pages with expanded explanations such as the Drake equation.
  4. Then the redirect was set up but no merging was done. Thus the article was in practice wiped and the deletionists won the day.

Other votes

Release Management There were 2 votes to keep and 1 for cleanup versus 2 for transwiki yet the decision ended up for transwiki.

Featured articles

These are deemed worthy of featuring but still of course edited later on. Unfortunately it is hard to locate the version that was the one that was featured.


This is missing. Known good (enough) and featured articles should be baselined and be easily accessible. This is important for TLDP when running off versions for mirroring or CD inclusion.


Wikipedia has a lot of energy in spite of process issues. Also it seems to me that it does not scale well with more users that not only bring in more vandals but also makes the system slower. On Googling for articles I often find copies at commersial sites that takes the opportunity to fill the pages with advertising. I have also had problems using the search engine at Wikipedia. For all these reasons I feel the Wikipedia software and method does not work for TLDP and the documents.

Final comment

Not all is without hope however. I have spent much time contributing to Wikipedia in this investigation and have taken the opportunity to add links to TLDP where relevant and not spammy. Checking my logs I see people follow these. I hope more can find the time to add such links where appropriate.

All this highlights the need for processes also at TLDP. We do have a few issues ourselves we need to consider closely.