Wikipedia:Don't attack the nominator

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This essay is about the appropriate use of WP:BEFORE in WP:Articles for Deletion discussions based in relevant policies. The core synopsis of which can be summed up as "Don't attack the nominator".

How not to use WP:BEFORE[edit]

  • 1. Don't use WP:BEFORE as an argument against the nominator. Doing so may be perceived as an ad hominem argument at AFD per WP:ATTP.
  • 3. Don't use WP:BEFORE in a way that could be reasonably perceived as an effort to shift the burden of evidence onto the nominator. The core policy of WP:BURDEN makes it clear that it is the responsibility of those adding content to also add supporting evidence, and not the responsibility of those challenging material to provide or find evidence. Articles lacking evidence are often brought to AFD, and justifiably so under the core policies of WP:Verifiability and WP:GNG.
  • 4. Don't use WP:BEFORE in a manner that could be reasonably perceived as interrogating the nominator on their research or searching practices prior to making a nomination in the AFD discussion itself. Such discussions may be perceived as ad hominem arguments at AFD per WP:ATTP, shame the nominator, become personal attacks, or shift the burden of evidence onto the challenger per above.
  • 5. Don't use WP:BEFORE as a justification for requesting more rigorous research than the process outlined at WP:BEFORE. Demanding more than the basic search required is shifting burden onto the challenger and a violation of policy at WP:BURDEN.
  • 6. Don't use WP:BEFORE as a justification for requesting the use of specialized search engines, more specific archive searches, more specific regional databases, offline newspapers or books, subscription websites like, or anything beyond the basic google tools provided in the AFD nomination template. Such demands violate the spirit of policies at WP:BURDEN, WP:NOTCOMPULSORY, and WP:BATTLEGROUND. Such demands may be perceived as unreasonable, unproductive, and inappropriately shifting the focus of the AFD nomination to the nominator and not the article nominated.

How to use WP:BEFORE[edit]

1. Follow it when making a nomination

2. When others may not follow it, have a civil conversation about that policy on that individual's talk page.

Alternative View: DO attack the nomination[edit]

While editors who inappropriately nominate notable topics for deletion should have good faith extended to their efforts, that does not mean that insufficient, misdirected, or just plain wrong nominations should be immune from criticism. Such criticism should be based on Wikipedia's goals and policies. WP:BEFORE is one way to ensure that obviously encyclopedic topics are not nominated for deletion, since a deletion nomination 1) can be perceived as an attack by the article's author(s), discouraging future contributions, and 2) threatens to remove freely-contributed content that may or may not be within Wikipedia's scope and goals: while widespread disagreement about edge cases exists, poorly attended or poorly argued deletion discussions have resulted in encyclopedic content being removed.

A criticism of the nomination, especially that of a newer nominator, should focus on educating the nominator that their nomination was insufficient, with sound, well-sourced, policy-backed explanation. While we can never assure that the criticism will be taken as a good faith effort to improve the nominating editor's future nominations, the delivery of a critique against the nomination should never be able to be reasonably construed as an attack against the nominator. Some people have very thin skins, but those who rise to criticize a nomination should maintain focus on the nomination, not the nominator, to the greatest extent possible.

Of course, after repeated poorly researched nominations, education may gradually shift to WP:CIR territory. Editors with a WP:BATTLEGROUND mentality about their deletion nominations may simply be incapable of processing appropriate feedback from the 'other' side. Polarization in Wikipedia may regrettably approach that in the real world at times. Repeatedly making inappropriate deletion nominations in good faith is a conduct issue, and should be addressed as such if the nominator persists in inappropriate nominations.
As always, however, the effort is to collaboratively improve the encyclopedia, not 'win' or make the other side 'lose' any particular deletion discussion.

See also[edit]