Wikipedia, Wikipedia Consulting

The Decliners: A Wikipedia Secret Society

A look into the little-known practice of article rejection by editors

One of the most frequent requests for assistance we receive is from those who have, in good faith, started new Wikipedia articles in the designated draft space and have had their drafts immediately declined for promotion. They receive a terse note from an editor declining the article and, most often, claiming the topic does not meet the notability standards of Wikipedia articles. 

Sometimes such a response is warranted, since plenty of poorly written and sourced articles land in Wikipedia’s draft space, written by those who have not Wikipedia’s guidelines. 

Unfortunately, it appears that certain volunteer editors have an agenda that is driven by rejecting all new draft articles without even considering whether they meet Wikipedia’s writing and notability standards. We call these editors The Decliners.

Gene (not the full username of this person) is one such editor: A veteran Wikipedia user who specializes in reviewing new draft articles. Or, at least, in declining them. 

Between 3:52 and 5:13 on Aug. 20, 2019 Gene declined six articles. Thus, in an hour and 21 minutes, Gene allotted 13.5 minutes to evaluate six new articles. The next day, Gene declined six more articles, this time giving them 17.5 minutes apiece. At least one of these articles had more than 15 credible media sources, by Wikipedia’s own definition. Having turned down an even dozen new articles in back-to-back editing days, Gene then went on to other duties.


Frustration no excuse for bad behavior

Gene is typical of The Decliners’ profile: a veteran editor who specializes in, among other matters, articles for creation and evaluating proposed articles. These editors regularly dispose of batches of draft articles without apparently taking the time to properly evaluate them. 

I understand Gene’s frustration with all the new articles cropping up daily on Wikipedia. Many are poorly done and should not be promoted. But addressing one bad practice with another is certainly no way to behave. Especially when that person is a veteran editor who obviously is aware of the high ethical editing standards established by people like Gene for Wikipedia. 


We can help

Wikipedians need to address this negative behavior and rein in the bullying Genes. Until that  happens, To the Point Collaborative can help

We specialize in training people in the ways of Wikipedia editing, both for existing and new articles. There are ways to elevate articles stuck in the draft space — articles that are properly written and sourced — to full article status on Wikipedia. 

It is not easy, and can be very frustrating, largely due to The Decliners. But we are committed to teaching aspiring Wikipedia editors how to create a solid article, and guiding them through the tricky waters of the draft space. So, if Gene dashes cold water on your draft article, we are here to help.


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