I've been a content editor for about a month now. I haven't kept a list of all the write-ups I have deleted, though there have been quite a few. I can say that the majority of write-ups I have deleted have been:
- Old write-ups that have been superseded by new, better, more fulsome ones. Usually I send a /msg to say the write-up has been rendered obsolete. These are fairly uncontroversial nukings, though some feel that short snappy summaries should stay, even though more fulsome descriptions follow. This is not my view. I usually delete them.
- Write-ups which have no links. There are a surprisingly number of these, some old e1 writeups, some new. I send a /msg to say Link and link or something like that.
- Puerile foolishness, like juvenile write-ups on pussy or derogatory writeups about Spice Girls. (No, I don't like them either, but that's no reason to be rude). These are mostly written by newbies. Sometimes I send personal /msges too with advice or explanations, though I have been called lots of nasty names in return. It can get kind of unpleasant, though I try to remain polite.
Which brings up the question that I have been pondering: should I be /msging people more often before I delete their write-ups to ask them to make their write-ups better? This was the opinion of one long-time noder, whose write-up I deleted, twice. It consisted of three quotations about a famous person with no context provided at all. When this noder's ire was brought to my attention, I /msged them to point out that On the Noding of Quotes clearly states the general view of quote nodes - that they're not too useful - and that I share that view. I said I would have accepted the quotations if they had been used in a write-up about the subject that said more than just the quotations themselves, or if the contexts in which the quotes were uttered had been provided. But that was not the case; here, there were just the quotes, and to me, that wasn't enough. I needed more to justify the existence of this write-up. The discussion which ensued was interesting.
This noder made a number of arguments. The first was that there are many things in the database which are neither useful nor informative, and since those were there, the write-up in question should also remain. I countered that if I left their write-up in place just because there were lots of other useless ones, then we'd never get rid of anything at all. We editors can only delete what we find, and when we find useless things, we delete them. I invited them to point out to me write-ups that they thought were useless, and said I'd be glad to look them over and delete them if I too thought they were useless. The example they brought to my attention was healthlessness, an admittedly very trivial Webster 1913 write-up. They argued that it was both unoriginal and "sanctioned", and that therefore cut-and-paste write-ups are not unwelcome here; if Webby's stay, so should theirs. Though it does raise the interesting question of whether some of Webby's more absurd entries might one day be purged, I didn't take this argument very seriously. Webby is a bot and a very special case, not to be equated with our noder friend, a sentient being who makes choices, as I said to them. They thought I should exercise my choice as a sentient being and delete that Webby write-up, but that did not, and will not, happen.
After a short discussion of how cut-and-paste write-ups were once welcome, and in many cases received very high xp, we agreed that e2 had changed. We then moved on. They took a new tack, saying that even very short write-ups should stay, and professed the opinion that in many cases one line said all there was to say about a subject. This noder appears to believe that only when a write-up has been superseded should it be deleted, because otherwise the database would be full of "holes". These are not views I share. As e2 evolves, the bar is raised, and where once one line sufficed, now paragraphs live. Many of the Content Rescue Team's efforts show how much can be said about what appears at first blush to be a short subject. As for worrying about a database full of holes, the whole mission of the Content Rescue Team is to plug those holes; we see them as a challenge, not a weakness. But no "silly teams" for our noder friend, it turns out. Ah well. We'll labour on without them.
Ultimately, I think the noder's biggest beef, and most serious criticism, was that a number of their write-ups had been nuked "with nary an explanation", as they said, when they felt that in at least half the cases the situation could have been resolved much better with a /msg first. They - quite poetically, I thought - noted that "the cold statement of Klaproth is no welcome message". They said that they would try hard to enhance a write-up they were /msged on, whereas if it was just nuked they felt angry.
While I sympathize with my interlocutor's emotions, my instinct is still just to nuke these things - always with an explanation, never with penalty. Every write-up can be reposted the next day, though reposting "as is", without revision, is not a good idea. A nuking is an opportunity to learn and improve. I will try to be more vigilant about /msging people about the write-ups I want to nuke, though.
By the way, during this discussion I asked this noder twice if I could delete the write-up that precipitated this lively exchange, and they said "go ahead". They were tired of it. I was glad to see it go.