Wikipedia:Blanking sections violates many policies

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This essay, WP:Blanking sections violates many policies[1] is an explanation of why article sections should be discussed, beforehand, with the original author(s), before being removed (or totally rewritten) on a page. Beyond blanking of the text, the total rewrite of a section, is a similar removal of text. Think of the notion (of deleting an article section) as similar to going to another employee's work area or desk, then grabbing items to throw away. Even if they don't own those items, they are typically answerable for why those items are missing.

There are several policies which reject the wholesale blanking of sections from within an article page. Hence, consider the action of deleting an article section to be a potential severe violation of more than 9 Wikipedia policies or guidelines.

  • WP:CONSENSUS - The author(s), of an article section, must be contacted about discussion for deleting (or totally rewriting) that section, and a decision should wait until the author offers an opinion. Many Wikipedia decisions are based on consensus discussions with all concerned users. Of course, the author of a section is to be included among those concerned. If the author says, "Go ahead and delete that whole section" then that can be used to gain an agreement with other users. However note: just because the author of a section wants it deleted, that opinion does not override others who want the text to remain. Consensus means an agreement discussed with everyone concerned. If the author(s) of a section do not respond immediately, assume they intended to keep the section (otherwise, why did they bother to post it?). Meanwhile, prepare to collect evidence of why a section should be deleted.
  • WP:BLP - Text should be preserved, as much as possible, according to WP policy WP:BLP. Within the section WP:Editing policy#Try to fix problems, the policy advises to fix questionable text "instead of deleting text" (quote), such as by rephrasing, or by correcting inaccuracy, while keeping the rest of the content the same, or by moving text within an article or to another article page (existing or new), etc.
  • WP:VANDALISM - Please remember the use of blanking is often considered a form of vandalism. If prior discussion with the original author(s) were, somehow, not required when deleting an article section, then any vandal could delete sections, anywhere, by just claiming the text had violated WP:NPOV, WP:SYNTH, WP:V & WP:BLP. For those reasons, blanking (or rewriting) of a section must be based on prior discussion with the author(s) beforehand, and giving a few days for a reply.
  • WP:NOTCENSORED - Wikipedia text cannot be deleted even if many people find the text to be "objectionable" as offensive to their religion, ethics, or moral code. In reality, it can be extremely difficult to justify the deletion of text. Often, the best solution is to move on to another article, or add text that offers an alternative mainstream view, which can be verified in reliable sources (WP:RS).
  • WP:AfD - Just as entire articles cannot be deleted without Article-for-Deletion consensus discussions, an article section cannot be deleted either. If an author merely wanted a section to be published in Wikipedia, then all that is needed is to create a new article, in typical format, and that article must be formally contested, up to 7 days, to allow entirely removing that text from Wikipedia. Even severe WP:BLP violations are to be corrected by editing, not deleting all the text (unless every phrase is controversial), while continuing with further discussion.
  • WP:NPOV - A section cannot be deleted simply by claiming the wording is not "neutral" per NPOV policy. The correct course of action is to open discussion about slightly rewording that section, while adding other viewpoints, but not by deleting (or rewriting) the entire section. In extreme cases of severe bias, a section can be tagged for a WP:NPOV_dispute, but even then, not immediately deleted.
  • WP:NOR - A section cannot be deleted simply by claiming the wording is "original research" per policy WP:OR or WP:SYNTH. The correct course of action is to open discussion about slightly rewording that section, to remove any original claims, but not by deleting (or rewriting) the entire section. It might require days to find sources which show the text does not present original views or conclusions about the subject. Very little in the modern world is truly original, so a multi-day search will typically refute any notions of those conclusions as being original.
  • WP:V - A section cannot be deleted (or totally rewritten) simply by claiming the wording cannot be verified per policy WP:VERIFY. Most text does not even require footnotes, at all, so the verification is left to each reader. Even controversial text about a living person (see: WP:BLP), which lacks footnotes, should be reworded, not removed, before any attempts to delete whole sections of text. The proper result would be to add the required footnotes, about a living person, while modifying the wording. Other text does not generally require footnotes, unless a person spent hours trying to verify the text and found no reliable sources.
  • WP:CIVIL - Beyond violating the above policies, when trying to delete an article section without prior, adequate discussion, it is an obvious violation of WP:Civility to delete (or totally rewrite) someone else's text without asking their opinion of the matter. Many people might not care, but for those who do object, deleting without consensus discussions can be seen as an extremely rude, incivil action. Think of deleting, an entire section, as similar to going to another employee's work area, then grabbing various items to throw away. Even if they don't own those items, they are typically answerable for why those items are gone. Other users read a section, and perhaps tell friends about it, only to find it has since disappeared. That results in incivility to numerous users, and for that reason, such deletions are generally slow to occur.

Exemptions[change source]

Article sections which require special discussion, before rewording/deletion, should be more than 20 words in length. To avoid any attempts to use a dummy section, in claiming protection for a rogue sentence, it is necessary to identify a minimum size for a section, as being a good-faith effort to provide broad coverage in the section. This exemption for size is just as a sanity check, and a user could still create a larger section to foster rogue ideas, but that notion, of deliberately creating invalid text as a separate section, cannot be determined without a wider discussion with other users.

The focus is to discuss the potential deletion or rewriting of an entire section, rather than the editing of a few phrases scattered in an article.

Rare emergencies: There are several policies which support the removal of sections and other content, in rare cases. The Wikipedia:Editing policy discusses the various circumstances where content can and sometimes should be removed if it can't be improved. Among the other policies which support the removal of content in some circumstances are Wikipedia:Copyright, Wikipedia:Vandalism, Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not, and the core policies of Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, Wikipedia:Verifiability, and Wikipedia:Original research. The Wikipedia:Libel and Wikipedia:Biographies of living persons policies also describe when it is policy to remove certain content.

Related pages[change source]


Notes[change source]

[ The following are footnotes for the text above.]

  1. For rare uses of blanking, see guideline WP:Blanking.