Help:Deletion and undeletion
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Normal and sysop users cannot permanently delete a wiki page, but sysops can delete a page such that it could still be restored. This is a deliberate design feature, and is an important part of why wikis work. Every kind of editing operation can be reverted by any other user, and that includes resurrecting deleted content. It doesn't cause significant wasted space; and with nothing but a 'delete' label, the page is effectively deleted anyway.
Deleting a page is, on the other hand, a straightforward operation for anyone with sysop permissions: it allows to semi-permanently remove a page from the wiki, until a sysop undeletes (restores) it with the same ease. Typically sysops might look for delete labels, and do a proper delete on these pages, after a period of time. If for some reason you need a page to be deleted more quickly than that, you will need to contact a sysop to request this.
Revision deletion offers a more granular feature of deletion for edits with peculiar problems.
Sysops should also be aware of the general advice given on When not to delete a page: in particular, there are many situations where a deletion is too drastic. For example, a redirect is often more appropriate.
Before deleting you could perform various checks:
- Use the "What links here" tool. This gives an indication as to how important a page is, and what subjects it relates to. Perhaps the page is still linked to prominently from many places. All incoming links will become red links if you proceed with the delete. Ideally all incoming links should be changed/removed, if there is genuinely no need for this page to exist. You could do this work prior to deleting, or ask others in the wiki community to do it.
- Check the page history and the associated talk page. Who was proposing the deletion? Does anyone disagree? Has it been properly discussed? Did people have adequate time to raise objections? Did somebody vandalize a page, which then led to a deletion proposal?
The care taken over these things might depend on the size of the wiki community, and how clear-cut the case for deletion is. Remember that only sysop users can undo a delete action, so to a normal user the information appears to be lost forever.
Use the 'delete' action
Sysops should see a 'delete' tab or action menu option at the top of every page. To find the action menu, look for a down arrow or triangle next to the "View History" tab. If you mouse over the triangle you should see "delete", "move", "protect" and "watch". Click the delete action to delete the page. When using browsers which support keyboard shortcuts, you can also use (Control-Alt-D). You will be asked to confirm, and to supply a "Reason for deletion". This is a short textual description of why the page is being deleted. Your action will appear on the recent changes display, and in the deletion log (Special:Log).
Remember that only administrators can delete uploaded files.
Pages can be completely undeleted, all revisions and page contents are stored. To undelete a page you must navigate to the exact page name of the page. You can find this in the deletion log (Special:Log) if you don't remember it.
You should then see a link to "View or restore n deleted edits?". Tick the box next to the revision you wish to restore.
Configuring deletion reasons
The list of reasons in the dropdown box is maintained at MediaWiki:Deletereason-dropdown.
For deletion of Files: The list of reasons in the dropdown box is maintained at MediaWiki:Filedelete-reason-dropdown.
When not to delete a page
Typically you would delete a page if the contents are entirely inappropriate and do not match the purposes of the Wiki. In other situations, you would take a less extreme course of action, for example:
- The page should have a different title. See Help:Moving a page.
- The contents should have been placed on a different page -- Add the contents to the other page, and then supply a redirect. See Help:Redirects.
- The contents are already on a different page -- Delete the duplicate content and leave a redirect. That way, the page title, which made sense to somebody, will helpfully redirect to the information. See Help:Redirects.
- The page is out-of-date -- Re-word sentences to be in the past tense, to make the page a historical record. Alternatively, label the information as out-of-date, with a warning notice.
- m:Don't delete redirects.
An actual delete is generally necessary only if the title of the page is inappropriate. In other situations, a merge and redirect is more appropriate.
Deciding on appropriate content/page titles can be a difficult aspect of Wiki organization, and one which can often provoke debates. If the merge or deletion you have in mind is one which might cause upset, you should propose the change first. Do this by leaving a note to give your reasons on the talk page. You might also establish a system for labeling the page with a delete/merge proposal template, to make everybody aware of your intentions.
The 'What links here' toolbox feature (bottom of left sidebar) will tell you which other Wiki pages link to the current page. Always use this feature to check before proceeding with deleting. These related pages will need to be edited for their links to reflect the change.