Wikipedia administrators have the ability to permanently delete pages within the system. Administrators necessarily must use their best judgment in making this decision. While we have given the administrator password out to a number of people, at present, November, 2001, we have asked that only Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger, and Tim Shell actually delete pages. In the future we might add a small number of particularly trusted, responsible members to this list.
The UseModWiki software permanent deletion command deletes not just the present content of a page (which is something that anyone can do--but also something that anyone can restore) but also the page's history, which makes the page impossible to restore from within the system. Hence, the decision to permanently delete an article is not to be taken lightly.
Here are some rules that those tasked with permanently deleting pages can generally be expected to follow in making the decision to delete or not:
- Use common sense and respect the judgment and feelings of Wikipedia participants.
- When in doubt, don't delete.
- Do not delete anything that might in the future become an encyclopedia topic. Hence, just because someone has written a completely worthless article about John Doe, that doesn't mean we should permanently delete the topic, John Doe, from the database.
- Do not delete anything that might possibly be a common misspelling of a title. Redirect those pages to the correct spelling. (This can actually result in higher traffic to the website. E.g., if philisophy is created, we might as well just redirect it to philosophy, since "philisophy" is one of the common misspellings of "philosophy.")
- Do not delete a personal essay or other content from the main article namespace without first posting a copy elsewhere (e.g., in a different namespace), unless the content is simply vandalism. We reject the notion that Wikipedia must become a repository for all manner of nonsense that happens to be posted on Wikipedia. To be clear, however, a good faith attempt to write an encyclopedia article, no matter how poorly worded, biased, or otherwise flawed, will not be considered vandalism.
- Generally speaking, delete pages that simply will never become encyclopedia articles, e.g., with titles that will never be misspellings, that represent completely idiosyncratic non-topics, etc. Bear the above rules in mind.