Wikipedia:Don't demolish the house while it's still being built
This is an essay.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
|This page in a nutshell: Content that does not yet meet Wikipedia's standards but that has the potential to should generally be improved or tagged so that others may improve it, rather than simply deleted.|
- A person tries to build a house. They have a few of their neighbors come to help. They are all working very nicely and organized-like, as you would expect from people who are trying to build a house.
- Soon, a building inspector comes by. "Those stairs don't look right," the inspector says, pulling out a tape measure, "and by these measurements, they aren't wide enough."
- The builder replies: "They aren't finished yet."
- The inspector moves on. "This wall isn't supported enough," the inspector says nonchalantly.
- "Of course not," the builder replies. "We haven't finished it yet."
- "And look!" the inspector cries. "There's no roof! The owners of this house will be angry indeed when they get rained on."
- "They won't!" the builder retorts, "because when it's done there will be a roof!"
- The inspector ignores the builder. "This house is no good, builder. It must be torn down." The next day the inspector sends someone to demolish the house.
Just as in this absurd story, we as Wikipedians must look to the house we are building. Wikipedia, the potential "sum of all human knowledge", as a general rule, is a work-in-progress. Wikipedia is not published all at once. It evolves and grows. Every article is still being written, albeit slowly. Rome cannot be built in one day; neither can an article be perfect first time around.
When an article is being written, and sources are being found and validated, then the article will be small and mostly unsourced and not very full of information. This is, of course, called a stub. Stubs are stubs because they have yet to be expanded.
Often, an article, portion of an article, or set of articles will be run across that seem devoid of much information. Sometimes it will be nothing but cruft that must be removed. But often, the subject matter is simply in-progress. Rather than putting the article on AfD, try expanding it. Rather than reverting the edit, try using a cleanup template.
Do you know the subject matter? Rather than trashing it, go out and find sources. If not, look for someone who does know the subject matter. Or, if you're feeling particularly daring, go and research it, and become an expert on the subject matter yourself, so that you can find those sources much more easily.
As with a house, knowledge takes time to build. Don't be the inspector, prying the seams apart before the product is even near-presentable. You cannot expect every article to be full and complete when it is first written. If this were so, then Wikipedia would have failed long ago. Try not to forget the spirit of Wikipedia: sharing knowledge.
Word of warning
If the stairs of the house are finished but are not wide enough to allow people to go up and down, they may have to be removed; if the roof has been made of thatched straw but the code requires slate, the roof will have to come down. If you are going to build a house, by all means, build away! But please do not build houses that are fundamentally unsuitable for human habitation and that will leak year round and whose stairs will collapse. Before you start building a hundred houses, learn how to build one house well. It may take a while to learn how to do it right, but you will save yourself a broken ankle and a wet head if you read up on how to build a staircase and how to design a roof before you actually build them! Shoddy craftsmanship is only a small step better than no craftsmanship at all. Wikipedia is not about competing to generate the greatest number of poorly built, leaky articles.
If a house has been built, but is uninhabitable, then you should not express surprise or anger if the city demands that it be demolished. Expectations change and standards/building codes tend to improve over time—the house that you once thought was a magnificent example of Wiki-beauty may now be considered unfit for human occupation. Such articles may be tagged with maintenance templates, merged back to more suitable main articles, or nominated for deletion. You can avoid this by learning how to build a good house! Because the last thing Wikipedia needs is another jerry-built home on a hillside ready to collapse at the first sign of rain.
- Wikipedia:An unfinished house is a real problem, an opposing viewpoint
- Wikipedia:New pages patrol#New pages that may require deletion
- Wikipedia:Beef up that first revision
- Wikipedia:Don't hope the house will build itself
- Wikipedia:Potential, not just current state
- Wikipedia:There is no deadline
- Wikipedia:Stub Makers
- Wikipedia:Give an article a chance
- Wikipedia:Deletion of newly created pages
- Wikipedia:Why was my page deleted?
- Wikipedia:Ownership of articles