How to restore Wikipedia articles marked for deletion

January 16, 2022 - Reading time: 6 minutes

It is often not surprising to see a Wikipedia article marked for removal by Wikipedia administrators. A growing activity amongst the editors of Wikipedia is focused on removing content following the "notability" guidelines for external references. An information box called “Speedy deletion” at the top of a Wikipedia article tells that the article will disappear from Wikipedia without any discussion. Another information box may have this message: “This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia's deletion policy”. You may (and should!) participate in the discussion to keep such articles but, in practice, there are too few participants on the discussion page that make any significant positive impact on “collective” decision making; most of the participated users will be Wikipedia power-editors who will not be on your side since they have already made their mind on first place when adding such information boxes.

But when do you know when the "battle" on the discussion page has been lost? In many cases it happens when only you (the author) and the power-editor are engaged in the discussion. The article could be too specialized to draw significant interest from others, or too technical to allow others to participate in the discussion. The outcome of such a dialog is rarely in your favor, therefore, it is time to make preparations to save the article - once removed, Wikipedia will completely erase it from all public records.

Losing an article in Wikipedia can be frustrating. If you have exhausted all reasonable arguments to keep your article in Wikipedia, you still can preserve this article in the public domain. Below I will describe two possible approaches:

Using Encyclosphere

Encyclosphere is a project led by Dr. Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia, is a valuable option to preserve your Wikipedia articles that are about to disappear. This project has seen tremendous technical progress in the last year by making several useful resources. For example, EncycloSearch can be used for searches in many various encyclopedias. EncycloReader can be used for searching and viewing articles using a standard interface. It also publishes articles in a peer-to-peer (P2P) network, meaning that there is no central authority (or even a central database) that can remove such articles. And more importantly, everyone who is connected to this network can keep the full copies of article on personal computers. Many Wikipedia articles under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license are already “circulating” in this network. Although the Encyclosphere project is still in progress, it already can be used to archive encyclopedic articles.

Here are the steps you need to follow to preserve a Wikipedia article:

  • Go to EncycloReader and find your Wikipedia article threatened by the deletion box.
  • Click the link pointing to this article. You should be able to see this article on the EncycloReader web page

The moment you view it, the article will be converted to the file format called ZWI (supported by the Knowledge Standard Foundation). The file with your article will enter the P2P network and will be accessible to all the peers who are connected to this network. After your article is removed from Wikipedia, it will still be available in the Encyclosphere network (with the wikicode and even all the images!).

Keep in mind that Wikipedia's information boxes with "delete" warnings will be a part of the circulating article. One can remove such boxes in the Wikipedia, and then immediately view this article inside EncycloReader. This will create a well-formatted HTML inside the ZWI file without the Wikipedia messages. Do not forget to put these boxes back in the Wikipedia article since you are not allowed to remove them. It should be noted that such boxes will be added automatically anyway by the Wikipedia bots.

Using HandWiki

There is another option for article preservation - to use a Mediawiki-style resource that is similar to Wikipedia. If your article includes the topics covered by the HandWiki encyclopedia (in many cases, they are), and you are a qualified registered user, the import of your article from Wikipedia to Handwiki takes about 5 seconds.

Go to the article create page and copy and paste the URL link pointing to your Wikipedia article. It will be imported, all internal links will be corrected using the HandWiki's internal articles, and the Wikipedia's "deletion" box will be removed. If you want to import the article by hand, use the convert tool that takes a Wikipedia wikicode and converts it to the HandWiki article without any missing internal links. This approach has one nice feature: all the boxes inserted by Wikipedia administrators will be removed, and a source attribution message to the original Wikipedia article will be inserted automatically. In fact, the same approach works even for "draft" articles (they have "Draft:" in the URL).

HandWiki is “more” robotic than Wikipedia since it runs smart algorithms to deal with spam and “bad actors”, and do not have many administrators dealing with the content. From the other hand, it is more "inclusive" for publication than Wikipedia since it accepts articles with only a few external citations.

I hope these tips are useful.

Dr.S.Chekanov

(reproduced with permission from jwork.org)