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Call For Halt To Wikipedia Webcomic Deletions

Ray Radlein The Wikiproject for Webcomics (720 comments)

Once upon a time, I was a big part of the Webcomics Wikiproject on Wikipedia.

Like other Wikiprojects, we worked together to establish a consistent framework of notability requirements for webcomics; we culled out freshly-minted vanity cruft; we welcomed and nurtured new articles; we maintained lists of deserving webcomics which did not yet have articles; the works. Most importantly, we had a process, carefully arrived at through discussion and consensus (involving some of the premier names in webcomics study and criticism, I might add), under which everyone could operate reasonably.

It worked.

I myself ran some entries through the AfD (VfD then, but still) process because they didn't fit (one that I recall was a webcomic with four pages, two of which were single-image "splash" pages); on those occasions, I took the trouble to carefully explain the community criteria involved, and encourage the overly enthusiastic contributors to keep working on their comic, and to stick around and contribute more to Wikipedia in the meantime.

For comics which did fit the inclusion criteria, I would go to the comic's forum, where inevitably someone would have just posted a "Hey, I just created an article about [xxxx] on Wikipedia!" message, and I would welcome them to Wikipedia, explain the process involved and why their webcomic was suitable for inclusion, explain how to get started editing, and how to avoid the standard eager-puppy newbie editing mistakes.

Like I said, we had a mutually-agreed upon framework in place; while not perfect, it succeeded in keeping WP free of vanity cruft, and, at the same time, kept contentious disagreements to a minimum.

And then I took a little vacation.

At the same time, a couple of the other major contributors took a break; as a result, there weren't enough people minding the store when two people, who had no real knowledge of webcomics, swept in and started tossing articles to the VfD buzz saw, right and left. Never mind the established process; never mind the carefully-negotiated group consensus -- they simply swept in, substituted their notions of notability for those of dozens of previous contributors to Wikipedia, and eviscerated the webcomics field.

After which, of course, most of the people who cared about webcomics simply gave up on Wikipedia. Some of their efforts moved over to the GFDL Comixpedia, but its user base, obviously, lacks the scale of Wikipedia's. Mostly, the folks who had devoted so many hours to webcomics articles simply found themselves deflated by the whole experience. In my case, it more or less chased me away from Wikipedia for a couple of years; and even now, I'm very careful about which articles I work on; I only have just so much time and attention I can spend, and I cannot afford to play guardian angel to every article I work on, to make sure that someone doesn't just delete it.


Since the dawn of the Great Webcomics Purge, Wikipedia's history with webcomics articles has been one long string of increasingly absurd "Oh my Gawd -- can you believe they {deleted, tried to delete} that?" moments. Time and again, articles have been proposed for deletion which would normally have served knowledgeable webcomics experts as reductio ad absurdam examples of articles which could never possibly be proposed for deletion.

more than 5 years ago

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