While at the OER14 conference, I had an interesting discussion re: an article for deletion case. I’m going to give the specific example here, because it exemplifies a few issues, but I think the things considered have much broader relevance than given here. I’ll also note, the person wasn’t asking for intervention (I think I did correct a typo or something minor, but I didn’t get involved in the AfD or do much else), instead they were just asking whether I could give any insight into what was going on, and what advice they could give to their colleagues who’d edited it and wanted to save their work.
If anyone has any other views, or/and resources do let me know, happy to incorporate them or just add them yourselves as comments. So….
The Wikipedia article for the International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning was up for deletion. The journal is the official publication of an association (International Association for Mobile Learning), which also has a conference (mLearn). Both the association and conference articles have already been deleted, but the outcome of the journal deletion discussion was ‘keep’. Some of the editors of the Wikipedia article seem to be associated with the journal, which is probably very common for journals and the alike, although generally it’s best practice to add content to the ‘talk’ page, and let another editor move that content into the main article space. From reading some discussions around this, it seems the Wikipedia community might be a bit more flexible on this in the case of journals.
Standing issues – why was the article put up for deletion?
So, the question is, why was the article put up for deletion? The journal article could be improved, and there are a number of issues with it:
- The article is not well linked to (although it does link to other articles, which is a good thing)
- One of the few articles linking to it is currently up for deletion https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IADIS_Mobile_Learning
- M-learn (the conference) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/MLearn has been deleted (and the article in ‘1.1’ above refers to m-learn as more significant than it!)
- M-learning https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-learning could use improvement as an article in any case, so this topic-related link-in is also not particularly “high quality”, if anyone can improve this article that would be great
- There are no references or external sources given (but these are a challenge for journals unless they get press coverage or coverage in specialist magazines which is very unusual)
- It is fairly young as a journal, and quite niche – although I think I’m probably an inclusionist on such matters, particularly given the challenges of establishing notability via any kind of general notability criteria (see below).
In such circumstances, other than improving the article itself (the obvious thing to do!) there are a number of possible options around articles:
- Give up – don’t edit the article, and accept the journal may not meet general notability criteria at the moment if it comes up for deletion again (but keep an eye out to recreate the article in the future if its notability improves)
- Merge content – consolidate the sets of materials into one article (or however many are appropriate). So in this case that would look like either:
- Recreate the association article, and merge the mLearn and journal articles into that (This makes more sense in terms of which article has priority, but from an ontology perspective merging journals into societies makes me want to cry! I want Wikipedia to ‘know’ about both!)
- Recreate the association article and just merge the mLearn material into it, and link to the journal. This seems like a sensible option – the conference & association together seem notable to me, but the journal is separate.
- Create more articles around the AfD target article – this means there are more links in/out, but of course risks just creating extra articles (and possibly lots of ‘stubs’). In this case this might’ve been an option, and would have involved recreating the association and m-learn articles as distinct but in such a way that they’re justifiable in their own right (I’m not sure I’m in a position to know if this is likely, but to be honest my instinct is it isn’t going to be successful). I’d suggest ‘4’ is a better option….
- Improve existing articles around the AfD target article – if the field is better represented, and appropriately described in relevant articles, then this is likely to make clearer the value of articles ‘within a set’ as opposed to on their own. Of course, there is a big risk here that you engage in conflict of interest editing (see resources below around this) and even if you’re making lots of other high quality edits alongside, if it looks like you’re engaging in a concerted attempt to insert your journal/society/conference into more articles it will not look good. A better strategy might be to improve the articles, and suggest on the talk pages that someone else puts the journal/society/conference in. In this case, whatever else is done, the M-Learning article could use some work on it, and improving that would likely relate to some core venues in the field (including the journal and conference), as well as perhaps encouraging other relevant people to edit and continue the improvements!
The general principle for notability is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability#General_notability_guideline, but this is very challenging for academic-areas to meet. So, for learned-societies and journals there is some discussion on notability criteria:
- Discussion on learned society notability https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Notability_%28academics%29#Restarting_discussion_.28April.29
- Essay on journal notability https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Notability_(academic_journals)
But neither is a ‘policy’ or ‘guideline’ (unlike the notability link above) so some editors will just disregard (although most seem to respect the journal one). As in the discussion in this case, consensus rules, so addressing the above is likely to improve the chance of consensus even if it isn’t the sort of unanimous agreement you might get by following general notability guidelines.
Certainly some thorny issues!