Policy discussion/Articles on commercial enterprises

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Talk for an entry put in by someone about their own site (see w:Wikipedia:Historical Wikipedia pages/Talk/Gamefoolz) which broadened into a discussion of the appropriateness of the class of such entries.

Ok, I'll bite: why is this page being restored? Are we going to allow everybody to drop by and plug their web sites? --STG

STG: Gamefoolz is for the bettering of humanity with it's humorousness. So this resource is --in the process of-- explains why you should have humour, and a site where to get it.

I have nothing against your site. See below for my argument. --STG

The /Talk page would be the place to try your best to resolve the "should this page exist?" dispute amicably.

My view on this--I don't think it does any great harm to have a page devoted to Gamefoolz. We wouldn't want to have a page about every website that comes down the pike; Wikipedia Is Not A Web Directory (see what Wikipedia is not). But Gamefoolz is a big site, and we should be able to humor them even if some (or even most) of us think there's no point in including articles about large-but-not-famous websites.

Approximately the same thing would go for articles about companies. Eventually, when Wikipedia has a million articles, every-friggin-body is going to want to have articles about their businesses. Your Mom and Pop shop might not merit a mention even at that point (although, at that point, we might be set up to have an encyclopedia-style business directory; who knows?), but some mid-sized retailer, for example, probably would. If it made them happy, let 'em.

I don't feel strongly about this, by the way. I could easily be convinced otherwise. --Larry Sanger

I feel more strongly. Wikipedia Is Not A Web Directory, or a review forum, or a place for what is, essentially, content that belongs on the About page of a website. That's the point of having web space -- you can say whatever you want about your site, on your site. Wikipedia is not the place for meta-information on websites; that role is well served by web directories and the websites themselves.

I don't see that the corporations analogy is entirely appropriate. An encyclopedia article about a corporation is useful because people will not necessarily expect to get information about the corporation from the corporation itself; a corporation is not necessarily a place to get information. A website, on the other hand, is technically nothing but information; if it has something to say about itself, it can be said on the website, and people will more readily look to the website itself than to an encyclopedia article about the site.

Please, let's make this clear (perhaps in Policy, if it's not already). -- Bignose

But you concede, surely, that we should have articles about Yahoo, Excite, and Slashdot. So...? --LMS

I don't necessarily concede that, no. What is it we can say in an encyclopedia that isn't better said, and located, at the site itself? I feel that anything approaching comprehensive coverage of the subject turns us into a Web directory; anything brief and pointer-like turns us into an ancillary web search. What are the advantages of encyclopedia articles for Yahoo, Excite, Slashdot et al, that are not already met by the sites themselves? -- Bignose
Tsk tsk, Larry, what an argument! :) Let's apply it to other topics:
Er... I'll stop there. If you happen to think that the above arguments hold up, you should know that I don't actually have a cousin named Kal Thomas Gilbert]], and I doubt that I can remember what I ate on that particular day, so I can't write the articles. ;-) --STG
(Ack! We don't have an article on the Protestant Reformation! Off to Requested Articles I go... --STG

Here are my 2 cents-

1. Why are you discussing this here? Surely actual information about Gamefoolz would be much more relevant/informative than this argument.

2. They do seem to be a large website, but perhaps it needs just a little push to make it big. So what if we make 1 little entry about a webpage? If it does grow huge, then it would warrant the same attention as a Yahoo or a Google. I say, why not? What harm does it do? Don't give me crap about how "this isn't a directory" and such, give me reasons.

I think the question to be asked is "is this website particularly significant?". Yahoo is significant, due to its millions of users, its long history, it was one of the symbols of the dot.com boom, its declining share price... Similar things can be said about Excite. Slashdot is important in a particular subculture. I doubt (though I will admit that I don't actually know) Gamefoolz has anywhere near this significance, no matter how good its content may (or may not) be. In which case I wouldn't include it as an article. -- SJK

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, but it has the potential to be much bigger and much more detailed than any other encyclopedia. I say, let's not think small. Let anyone put an entry for anything they want. We should spend our energy not in discussing whether to remove such pages but instead on editing the pages to make them NPOV and to make their written style more "encyclopedia-like". --Eob

No argument on that point, certainly. Perhaps I'd look more kindly at such articles if they became, as you say, more NPOV, factual, and encyclopedic in content instead of an "About Gamefoolz" page. If someone who knows the subject can massage it such, I'll be happier. -- Bignose

Who's going to edit them into shape? Is it anyone? It won't be me, or a lot of other people I would think. The original authors of this kind of page -- Gamefoolz.com is only one of a larger category -- never put in much effort, and what we get before editing is generally worse than nothing at all. Editing them into shape is tedious and less-than-rewarding; why should we reward half-assedry? -- Paul Drye

I think this is a borderline case. One issue is the potential for spam. I disagree with part of Bignose's argument, that information about websites is naturally best found at the website. I'd hardly expect Yahoo to have an NPOV article about the history of Yahoo, for example. But I do agree with SJK that the importance (or lack thereof) of the site matters. And I agree with Paul Drye that we ought not to reward half-assedry.

One truth about Wikipedia is that useless pages tend to not get much traffic. No one will link to them. If we ignore them, they quickly sink into unlinked obscurity. If Gamefoolz turns out to be more important than we currently realize, then links to it will naturally appear in other contexts.

Many of these same arguments could be had about an article about my grandmother. She's a very notable person in my life, and in the lives of people who knew her, but from the encyclopedic point of view, an article on Erma Leon Dudley is pretty pointless. If it's a lame article, so much the worse. (Especially since only a small handful of people in the world could even attempt to edit it with an eye towards accuracy.)

But again, the big issue here is spam. No one is likely to have a particular motive for writing a hagiography about their own grandmother. But websites and product manufacturers will have an increasing incentive over time to monitor the entires about them and work to edit them into their preferred mode. That's bound to happen someday, and we're bound to have to fight it.

It'll be interesting.

But for now, I'll come down with a vote on the side of letting this one slide. --Jimbo Wales

From the main entry:

An Explanation of the "purpose" of Gamefoolz[edit]

Gamefoolz aka gfoolz is (as stated before) a humorous page, humor is good for you as it provides one of the simplest forms of entertainment, if we (as in, the world in general) did not have humor, the world would be a boring place, so us friendly folks at Gamefoolz try to do our part of cheering you up and we hope you enjoy it while you still can.

If word gets around that Wikipedia is a great place to promote your website, we will be flooded with people throwing up similar articles, and leaving us to edit them in accordance with Wikipedia policy. We had a similar situation when someone tried to use Wikipedia to advertise a compression program called FAR. The pages were promptly removed, and I see no real difference here. Let's nip the problem of spam in the bud, instead of waiting until we have a huge mess to deal with. --STG

Seconded. -- Bignose
Thirded. The writing in this article (and on their site) is semi-literate at best and utter gibberish at worst. (Their site, by the bye, is utterly devoid of the humor they claim to be their raison d'être.) Kill this article a lot. --The Epopt

I agree with EOB, as long as it fits the "encyclopedia format" then why not? This is supposed to be a special encyclopedia thing, right? Then why limit it to stuff you can find in any normal encyclopedia?? That just doesn't make sense, and, to me, seems rather narrow-minded.

Tiresome and deeply naff though this site may be, I see no real problem with its inclusion. If you really must know what Gamefoolz is though, you probably aren't using Wikipedia... sjc

Two comments:

One - I think this discussion has moved beyond the specifics of Gamefoolz and has broadened into a deeper policy issue. It would be a good idea to devote a discussion to it on Wikipedia-L or on metawikipedia.

Two - I do not have any problem with people creating articles that discuss their commercial ventures. We do not want to attempt to prevent people doing it - it is a war we will lose. A much better alternative is to simply edit the articles of poeple who do so into something NPOV. A comment like "WebsiteX claims to be the number 1 basket-weaving website, though industry statistics strongly contradict this" or "the CEO of company X has recently been charged with insider trading" will probably make being actively featured at Wikipedia less desirable. Companies like to have control over their marketing, and at Wikipedia they will have no control whatsoever.

Having said the above - I will still happily delete articles which are clearly just advertising copy, as was the case with FAR. That article mentioned pricing and ordering details, so it had to go.

As regards this article: the current Gamefoolz article is not very interesting, is dreadfully written and frankly makes their organisation look rather amateurish, so it is actually not really to their benefit in any way. Numerous requests have already been made to improve the article, and sooner or later an editor will finally swoop down, remove all of the sub-literate parts and rewrite the 1-2 sentences which aren't too embarassing to read and actually have some content. This will not be an act of "information suppression" but merely an act of editorial cleansing, as could happen to any article on any topic that has not been improved, after multiple requests to that effect. - MMGB

My latest thought... perhaps we should develop some loose criteria whereby a website is considered _important_ in some way. An important website is one that deserves an article. An unimportant website is one that doesn't. But keep in mind that by many measures, Bomis isn't important. :-) Neither is wikipedia. :-) --Jimbo Wales

The last two observations are quite insightful. Unless we nuke those articles (or move them over here on Meta), we're going to have to either accept a lot of websites or have a double standard. The criteria for acceptance are going to be difficult to agree on, IMHO, because just about everyone thinks his own turf is important. --Seb

I suggest that Google could provide a standard for inclusion: sites that score well (for sufficiently defined values of "well") can have pages, sites that don't, can't. For example, entering "link:http://www.gfoolz.com/" into Google gets "about 23" hits, while entering "link:http://www.slashdot.org/" into Google gets "about 38,300." --the Epopt

I just saw this page and read the last few entries, and it seems to me the problem is that we should make a difference between a website and the organization or company behind it. IMHO, there shouldn't be an article about a website, but about a group/oragnization/company/etc. important in some area, which then has a link to their site. A page about www.defenselink.mil is pure nonsense, but about U.S. Department of Defence is not. --Magnus Manske

Your point, Magnus, is a good one, but how would you handle Slashdot? It is an important site, if only for its ability to drive traffic thither and yon, but I could not possibly care less about Commodore Burrito and the rest of the organization behind the site. (I'm not arguing with you; I think you're on to something. Just trying to define it a little more precisely.)

I think we should use this standard for inclusion: if someone writes an entry about a site, then there should be an entry about the site. We can apply standards of quality to the entry--if it's poorly written, uninformative, etc., it should be edited mercilessly, but I think we can have the inclusion criteria be whether someone put in the time and effort to include it. If someone writes a script to automatically add websites to the directory, that should be stopped, but otherwise, I think we only need to worry about neutralizing tone.

Enforcement of neutral tone should be strict and swift. I think how the Gfoolz entry looks now is a good example of that.

Popularity should not be a standard for inclusion. The popularity of a site will be reflected in the popularity of that entry--e.g. the Slashdot entry will have a lot more links to it than the Gfoolz entry.

--The Cunctator

Maybe we could say there should be only articles about the organization, company, insitution, or community behind web sites. That would include Slashdot as well. --Magnus Manske

It's a combined page for the organisation and its website: for DoD it will be mostly about the organisation, for Slashdot it will be mostly about the website: not much problem I think.

The standard of inclusion needs to refer somehow to "significance". Something may be unique in a technical way even if hardly anybody has heard of it. Something popular can also be considered significant simply on account of its popularity.

Not many people will want to NPOV garbage pages, I guess: there should be no such obligation when deletion will solve the problem (somebody else can always write it again properly if the subject has any significance).