1 Faegar

Block Supersedes Default Value Argument Essay

1. Introduction

The value definition field of each CSS property can contain keywords, data types (which appear between < and >), and information on how they can be combined. Generic data types (<length> being the most widely used) that can be used by many properties are described in this specification, while more specific data types (e.g., <spacing-limit>) are described in the corresponding modules.

1.1. Module Interactions

This module replaces and extends the data type definitions in [CSS21] sections 1.4.2.1, 4.3, and A.2.

2. Value Definition Syntax

The syntax described here is used to define the set of valid values for CSS properties. A property value can have one or more components.

2.1. Component value types

Component value types are designated in several ways:

  1. keyword values (such as auto, disc, etc.), which appear literally, without quotes (e.g. )
  2. basic data types, which appear between < and > (e.g., <length>, <percentage>, etc.).
  3. types that have the same range of values as a property bearing the same name (e.g., <‘border-width’>, <‘background-attachment’>, etc.). In this case, the type name is the property name (complete with quotes) between the brackets. Such a type does not include CSS-wide keywords such as inherit.
  4. non-terminals that do not share the same name as a property. In this case, the non-terminal name appears between < and >, as in <spacing-limit>. Notice the distinction between <border-width> and <‘border-width’>: the latter is defined as the value of the border-width property, the former requires an explicit expansion elsewhere. The definition of a non-terminal is typically located near its first appearance in the specification.

Some property value definitions also include the slash (/), the comma (,), and/or parentheses as literals. These represent their corresponding tokens. Other non-keyword literal characters that may appear in a component value, such as “+”, must be written enclosed in single quotes.

specified in the grammar are implicitly omissible in some circumstances, when used to separate optional terms in the grammar. Within a top-level list in a property or other CSS value, or a function’s argument list, a comma specified in the grammar must be omitted if:

  • all items preceding the comma have been omitted
  • all items following the comma have been omitted
  • multiple commas would be adjacent (ignoring white space/comments), due to the items between the commas being omitted.
For example, if a function can accept three arguments in order, but all of them are optional, the grammar can be written like: example( first?, second?, third? )

Given this grammar, writing example(first, second, third) is valid, as is example(first, second) or example(first, third) or example(second). However, example(first, , third) is invalid, as one of those commas are no longer separating two options; similarly, example(,second) and example(first,) are invalid. example(first second) is also invalid, as commas are still required to actually separate the options.

If commas were not implicitly omittable, the grammar would have to be much more complicated to properly express the ways that the arguments can be omitted, greatly obscuring the simplicity of the feature.

All CSS properties also accept the CSS-wide keyword values as the sole component of their property value. For readability these are not listed explicitly in the property value syntax definitions. For example, the full value definition of border-color is (even though it is listed as ).

Note: This implies that, in general, combining these keywords with other component values in the same declaration results in an invalid declaration. For example, background: url(corner.png) no-repeat, inherit; is invalid.

2.2. Component value combinators

Component values can be arranged into property values as follows:

  • Juxtaposing components means that all of them must occur, in the given order.
  • A double ampersand () separates two or more components, all of which must occur, in any order.
  • A double bar () separates two or more options: one or more of them must occur, in any order.
  • A bar () separates two or more alternatives: exactly one of them must occur.
  • Brackets ([ ]) are for grouping.

Juxtaposition is stronger than the double ampersand, the double ampersand is stronger than the double bar, and the double bar is stronger than the bar. Thus, the following lines are equivalent:

a b | c || d && e f [ a b ] | [ c || [ d && [ e f ]]]

For reorderable combinators (||, &&), ordering of the grammar does not matter: components in the same grouping may be interleaved in any order. Thus, the following lines are equivalent:

a || b || c b || a || c

2.3. Component value multipliers

Every type, keyword, or bracketed group may be followed by one of the following modifiers:

  • An asterisk () indicates that the preceding type, word, or group occurs zero or more times.
  • A plus () indicates that the preceding type, word, or group occurs one or more times.
  • A question mark () indicates that the preceding type, word, or group is optional (occurs zero or one times).
  • A single number in curly braces () indicates that the preceding type, word, or group occurs times.
  • A comma-separated pair of numbers in curly braces () indicates that the preceding type, word, or group occurs at least and at most times. The may be omitted ({,}) to indicate that there must be at least repetitions, with no upper bound on the number of repetitions.
  • A hash mark () indicates that the preceding type, word, or group occurs one or more times, separated by comma tokens (which may optionally be surrounded by white space and/or comments). It may optionally be followed by the curly brace forms, above, to indicate precisely how many times the repetition occurs, like <length>#{1,4}.
  • An exclamation point () after a group indicates that the group is required and must produce at least one value; even if the grammar of the items within the group would otherwise allow the entire contents to be omitted, at least one component value must not be omitted.

For repeated component values (indicated by *, +, or #), UAs must support at least 20 repetitions of the component. If a property value contains more than the supported number of repetitions, the declaration must be ignored as if it were invalid.

2.4. Combinator and Multiplier Patterns

There are a small set of common ways to combine multiple independent component values in particular numbers and orders. In particular, it’s common to want to express that, from a set of component value, the author must select zero or more, one or more, or all of them, and in either the order specified in the grammar or in any order.

All of these can be easily expressed using simple patterns of combinators and multipliers:

in order any order
zero or more A? B? C? A? || B? || C?
one or more [ A? B? C? ]!A || B || C
all A B C A && B && C

Note that all of the "any order" possibilities are expressed using combinators, while the "in order" possibilities are all variants on juxtaposition.

2.5. Component values and white space

Unless otherwise specified, white space and/or comments may appear before, after, and/or between components combined using the above combinators and multipliers.

Note: In many cases, spaces will in fact be required between components in order to distinguish them from each other. For example, the value 1em2em would be parsed as a single <dimension-token> with the number 1 and the identifier em2em, which is an invalid unit. In this case, a space would be required before the 2 to get this parsed as the two lengths 1em and 2em.

2.6. Property value examples

Below are some examples of properties with their corresponding value definition fields

Property Value definition field Example value
orphans<integer> 3
text-alignleft | right | center | justify center
padding-top<length> | <percentage> 5%
outline-color<color> | invert #fefefe
text-decorationnone | underline || overline || line-through || blink overline underline
font-family[ <family-name> | <generic-family> ]# "Gill Sans", Futura, sans-serif
border-width[ <length> | thick | medium | thin ]{1,4} 2px medium 4px
text-shadow[ inset? && [ <length>{2,4} && <color>? ] ]# | none 3px 3px rgba(50%, 50%, 50%, 50%), lemonchiffon 0 0 4px inset

3. Textual Data Types

, generically denoted by , consist of a sequence of characters conforming to the <ident-token> grammar. [CSS3SYN] Identifiers cannot be quoted; otherwise they would be interpreted as strings.

3.1. Pre-defined Keywords

In the value definition fields, keywords with a pre-defined meaning appear literally. Keywords are CSS identifiers and are interpreted ASCII case-insensitively (i.e., [a-z] and [A-Z] are equivalent).

For example, here is the value definition for the border-collapse property: Value: collapse | separate

And here is an example of its use:

table { border-collapse: separate }

3.1.1. CSS-wide keywords: initial, inherit and unset

As defined above, all properties accept the , which represent value computations common to all CSS properties.

The initial keyword represents the value specified as the property’s initial value. The inherit keyword represents the computed value of the property on the element’s parent. The unset keyword acts as either inherit or initial, depending on whether the property is inherited or not. All of these keywords are normatively defined in the Cascade module. [CSS3CASCADE]

Other CSS specifications can define additional CSS-wide keywords.

3.2. Author-defined Identifiers: the <custom-ident> type

Some properties accept arbitrary author-defined identifiers as a component value. This generic data type is denoted by , and represents any valid CSS identifier that would not be misinterpreted as a pre-defined keyword in that property’s value definition. Such identifiers are fully case-sensitive, even in the ASCII range (e.g. example and EXAMPLE are two different, unrelated user-defined identifiers).

The CSS-wide keywords are not valid <custom-ident>s. The default keyword is reserved and is also not a valid <custom-ident>. Specifications using <custom-ident> must specify clearly what other keywords are excluded from <custom-ident>, if any—for example by saying that any pre-defined keywords in that property’s value definition are excluded. Excluded keywords are excluded in all ASCII case permutations.

When parsing positionally-ambiguous keywords in a property value, a <custom-ident> production can only claim the keyword if no other unfulfilled production can claim it.

For example, the shorthand declaration animation: ease-in ease-out is equivalent to the longhand declarations animation-timing-function: ease-in; animation-name: ease-out;. ease-in is claimed by the <single-timing-function> production belonging to animation-timing-function, leaving ease-out to be claimed by the <custom-ident> production belonging to animation-name.

Note: When designing grammars with <custom-ident>, the <custom-ident> should always be "positionally unambiguous", so that it’s impossible to conflict with any keyword values in the property.

3.3. Quoted Strings: the <string> type

are denoted by and consist of a sequence of characters delimited by double quotes or single quotes. They correspond to the <string-token> production in the CSS Syntax Module[CSS3SYN].

Double quotes cannot occur inside double quotes, unless escaped (as or as ). Analogously for single quotes ( or ). content: "this is a 'string'."; content: "this is a \"string\"."; content: 'this is a "string".'; content: 'this is a \'string\'.'

It is possible to break strings over several lines, for aesthetic or other reasons, but in such a case the newline itself has to be escaped with a backslash (\). The newline is subsequently removed from the string. For instance, the following two selectors are exactly the same:

Example(s):

a[title="a not s\ o very long title"] {/*...*/} a[title="a not so very long title"] {/*...*/}

Since a string cannot directly represent a newline, to include a newline in a string, use the escape "\A". (Hexadecimal A is the line feed character in Unicode (U+000A), but represents the generic notion of "newline" in CSS.)

3.4. Resource Locators: the <url> type

A is a pointer to a resource and is a functional notation denoted by <url>. The syntax of a <url> is:

= url( <string><url-modifier>* )
Below is an example of a URL being used as a background image: body { background: url("http://www.example.com/pinkish.gif") }

In addition to the syntax defined above, a <url> can sometimes be written in other ways:

  • A <url> can be written without quotation marks around the URL itself. (This syntax is specially-parsed as a <url-token>. [CSS3SYN])

    For example, the following declarations are identical: background: url("http://www.example.com/pinkish.gif"); background: url(http://www.example.com/pinkish.gif);
  • Some CSS contexts (such as @import) allow a <url> to be represented by a bare <string>, without the url() wrapper. In such cases the string behaves identically to a url() function containing that string.

    For example, the following statements are identical: @import url("base-theme.css"); @import "base-theme.css";

Note: The special parsing rules for the legacy quotation-mark–less <url> syntax means that parentheses, whitespace characters, single quotes (') and double quotes (") appearing in a URL must be escaped with a backslash, e.g. url(open\(parens), url(close\)parens). Depending on the type of URL, it might also be possible to write these characters as URL-escapes (e.g. url(open%28parens) or url(close%29parens)) as described in [URL]. Alternately, the URL can be quoted as a string, in which case only newlines and the character used to quote the string need to be escaped.

3.4.1. Relative URLs

In order to create modular style sheets that are not dependent on the absolute location of a resource, authors should use relative URLs. Relative URLs (as defined in [URL]) are resolved to full URLs using a base URL. RFC 3986, section 3, defines the normative algorithm for this process. For CSS style sheets, the base URL is that of the style sheet itself, not that of the styled source document. Style sheets embedded within a document have the base URL associated with their container.

When a <url> appears in the computed value of a property, it is resolved to an absolute URL, as described in the preceding paragraph. The computed value of a URL that the UA cannot resolve to an absolute URL is the specified value.

For example, suppose the following rule: body { background: url("tile.png") }

is located in a style sheet designated by the URL:

http://www.example.org/style/basic.css

The background of the source document’s will be tiled with whatever image is described by the resource designated by the URL:

http://www.example.org/style/tile.png

The same image will be used regardless of the URL of the source document containing the .

3.4.2. Empty URLs

If the value of the url() is the empty string (like url("") or url()), the url must resolve to an invalid resource (similar to what the url about:invalid does).

Note: This matches the behavior of empty urls for embedded resources elsewhere in the web platform, and avoids excess traffic re-requesting the stylesheet or host document due to editting mistakes leaving the url() value empty, which are almost certain to be invalid resources for whatever the url() shows up in. Linking on the web platform does allow empty urls, so if/when CSS gains some functionality to control hyperlinks, this restriction can be relaxed in those contexts.

3.4.3. URL Modifiers

The url() function supports specifying additional s, which change the meaning or the interpretation of the URL somehow. A <url-modifier> is either an <ident> or a functional notation.

This specification does not define any <url-modifier>s, but other specs may do so.

Note: A <url> that is either unquoted or not wrapped in url() notation cannot accept any <url-modifier>s.

4. Numeric Data Types

Properties may restrict numeric values to some range. If the value is outside the allowed range, the declaration is invalid and must be ignored.

CSS theoretically supports infinite precision and infinite ranges for all value types; however in reality implementations have finite capacity. UAs should support reasonably useful ranges and precisions.

4.1. Integers: the <integer> type

Integer values are denoted by .

When written literally, an is one or more decimal digits 0 through 9 and corresponds to a subset of the <number-token> production in the CSS Syntax Module [CSS3SYN]. The first digit of an integer may be immediately preceded by - or + to indicate the integer’s sign.

4.2. Real Numbers: the <number> type

Number values are denoted by , and represent real numbers, possibly with a fractional component.

When written literally, a is either an integer, or zero or more decimal digits followed by a dot (.) followed by one or more decimal digits and optionally an exponent composed of "e" or "E" and an integer. It corresponds to the <number-token> production in the CSS Syntax Module[CSS3SYN]. As with integers, the first character of a number may be immediately preceded by - or + to indicate the number’s sign.

4.3. Percentages: the <percentage> type

Percentage values are denoted by , and indicates a value that is some fraction of another reference value.

When written literally, a consists of a number immediately followed by a percent sign %. It corresponds to the <percentage-token> production in the CSS Syntax Module[CSS3SYN].

Percentage values are always relative to another quantity, for example a length. Each property that allows percentages also defines the quantity to which the percentage refers. This quantity can be a value of another property for the same element, the value of a property for an ancestor element, a measurement of the formatting context (e.g., the width of a containing block), or something else.

In cases where a <percentage> can represent the same quantity as a dimension or number in the same component value position, and can therefore be combined with them in a calc() expression, the following convenience notations may be used in the property grammar:

Equivalent to , where the <percentage> will resolve to a <length>.

Equivalent to , where the <percentage> will resolve to a <frequency>.

Equivalent to , where the <percentage> will resolve to an <angle>.

Equivalent to , where the <percentage> will resolve to a <time>.

Equivalent to , where the <percentage> will resolve to a <number>.

Note: Specifications should never alternate <percentage> in place of a dimension in a grammar unless they are compatible.

4.4. Numbers with Units: dimensions

The general term "dimension" refers to a number with a unit attached to it, and are denoted by .

When written literally, a is a number immediately followed by a unit identifier, which is an identifier. It corresponds to the <dimension-token> production in the CSS Syntax Module[CSS3SYN]. Like keywords, unit identifiers are ASCII case-insensitive.

CSS uses <dimension>s to specify distances (<length>), durations (<time>), frequencies (<frequency>), resolutions (<resolution>), and other quantities.

4.5. Compatible Units

When serializingcomputed values[CSSOM], (those related by a static multiplicative factor, like the 96:1 factor between px and in, or the the computed font-size factor between em and px) are converted into a single . Each group of compatible units defines which among them is the canonical unit that will be used for serialization.

When serializing resolved values that are used values, all value types (percentages, numbers, keywords, etc.) that represent lengths are considered compatible with lengths. Likewise any future API that returns used values must consider any values represent distances/durations/frequencies/etc. as compatible with the relevant class of dimensions, and canonicalize accordingly.

5. Distance Units: the <length> type

Lengths refer to distance measurements and are denoted by in the property definitions. A length is a dimension. However, for zero lengths the unit identifier is optional (i.e. can be syntactically represented as the <number>0).

Properties may restrict the length value to some range. If the value is outside the allowed range, the declaration is invalid and must be ignored.

While some properties allow negative length values, this may complicate the formatting and there may be implementation-specific limits. If a negative length value is allowed but cannot be supported, it must be converted to the nearest value that can be supported.

In cases where the used length cannot be supported, user agents must approximate it in the actual value.

There are two types of length units: relative and absolute.

5.1. Relative lengths

specify a length relative to another length. Style sheets that use relative units can more easily scale from one output environment to another.

The relative units are:

unit relative to
emfont size of the element
exx-height of the element’s font
chwidth of the "0" (ZERO, U+0030) glyph in the element’s font
remfont size of the root element
vw1% of viewport’s width
vh1% of viewport’s height
vmin1% of viewport’s smaller dimension
vmax1% of viewport’s larger dimension

Child elements do not inherit the relative values as specified for their parent; they inherit the computed values.

5.1.1. Font-relative lengths: the em, ex, ch, rem units

Aside from rem (which refers to the font-size of the root element), the refer to the font metrics of the element on which they are used. The exception is when they occur in the value of the font-size property itself, in which case they refer to the computed font metrics of the parent element (or the computed font metrics corresponding to the initial values of the font property, if the element has no parent).

Equal to the computed value of the font-size property of the element on which it is used.
The rule: h1 { line-height: 1.2em }

means that the line height of elements will be 20% greater than the font size of element. On the other hand:

h1 { font-size: 1.2em }

means that the font size of elements will be 20% greater than the computed font size inherited by elements.

Equal to the used x-height of the first available font[CSS3-FONTS]. The x-height is so called because it is often equal to the height of the lowercase "x". However, an ex is defined even for fonts that do not contain an "x". The x-height of a font can be found in different ways. Some fonts contain reliable metrics for the x-height. If reliable font metrics are not available, UAs may determine the x-height from the height of a lowercase glyph. One possible heuristic is to look at how far the glyph for the lowercase "o" extends below the baseline, and subtract that value from the top of its bounding box. In the cases where it is impossible or impractical to determine the x-height, a value of 0.5em must be assumed.
Equal to the used advance measure of the "0" (ZERO, U+0030) glyph found in the font used to render it. (The of a glyph is its advance width or height, whichever is in the inline axis of the element.)

Note: The advance measure of a glyph depends on writing-mode and text-orientation as well as font settings, text-transform, and any other properties that affect glyph selection or orientation.

In the cases where it is impossible or impractical to determine the measure of the “0” glyph, it must be assumed to be 0.5em wide by 1em tall. Thus, the ch unit falls back to 0.5em in the general case, and to 1em when it would be typeset upright (i.e. writing-mode is vertical-rl or vertical-lr and text-orientation is upright).

Equal to the computed value of font-size on the root element. When specified on the font-size property of the root element, the rem units refer to the property’s initial value.

5.1.2. Viewport-percentage lengths: the vw, vh, vmin, vmax units

The are relative to the size of the initial containing block. When the height or width of the initial containing block is changed, they are scaled accordingly. However, when the value of overflow on the root element is auto, any scroll bars are assumed not to exist. Note that the initial containing block’s size is affected by the presence of scrollbars on the viewport.

For paged media, the exact definition of the viewport-percentage lengths is deferred to [CSS3PAGE].

Equal to 1% of the width of the initial containing block.
In the example below, if the width of the viewport is 200mm, the font size of elements will be 16mm (i.e. (8×200mm)/100). h1 { font-size: 8vw }
Equal to 1% of the height of the initial containing block.
Equal to the smaller of vw or vh.
Equal to the larger of vw or vh.

5.2. Absolute lengths: the cm, mm, q, in, pt, pc, px units

The are fixed in relation to each other and anchored to some physical measurement. They are mainly useful when the output environment is known. The absolute units consist of the (in, cm, mm, pt, pc, q) and the (px):

unit name equivalence
centimeters 1cm = 96px/2.54
millimeters 1mm = 1/10th of 1cm
quarter-millimeters 1q = 1/40th of 1cm
inches 1in = 2.54cm = 96px
picas 1pc = 1/6th of 1in
points 1pt = 1/72th of 1in
pixels 1px = 1/96th of 1in
h1 { margin: 0.5in } /* inches */ h2 { line-height: 3cm } /* centimeters */ h3 { word-spacing: 4mm } /* millimeters */ h3 { letter-spacing: 1Q } /* quarter-millimeters */ h4 { font-size: 12pt } /* points */ h4 { font-size: 1pc } /* picas */ p { font-size: 12px } /* px */

All of the absolute length units are compatible, and px is their canonical unit.

For a CSS device, these dimensions are anchored either

  1. by relating the physical units to their physical measurements, or
  2. by relating the pixel unit to the reference pixel.

For print media and similar high-resolution devices, the anchor unit should be one of the standard physical units (inches, centimeters, etc). For lower-resolution devices, and devices with unusual viewing distances, it is recommended instead that the anchor unit be the pixel unit. For such devices it is recommended that the pixel unit refer to the whole number of device pixels that best approximates the reference pixel.

Note: If the anchor unit is the pixel unit, the physical units might not match their physical measurements. Alternatively if the anchor unit is a physical unit, the pixel unit might not map to a whole number of device pixels.

Note: This definition of the pixel unit and the physical units differs from previous versions of CSS. In particular, in previous versions of CSS the pixel unit and the physical units were not related by a fixed ratio: the physical units were always tied to their physical measurements while the pixel unit would vary to most closely match the reference pixel. (This change was made because too much existing content relies on the assumption of 96dpi, and breaking that assumption broke the content.)

The is the visual angle of one pixel on a device with a pixel density of 96dpi and a distance from the reader of an arm’s length. For a nominal arm’s length of 28 inches, the visual angle is therefore about 0.0213 degrees. For reading at arm’s length, 1px thus corresponds to about 0.26 mm (1/96 inch).

The image below illustrates the effect of viewing distance on the size of a reference pixel: a reading distance of 71 cm (28 inches) results in a reference pixel of 0.26 mm, while a reading distance of 3.5 m (12 feet) results in a reference pixel of 1.3 mm.

This second image illustrates the effect of a device’s resolution on the pixel unit: an area of 1px by 1px is covered by a single dot in a low-resolution device (e.g. a typical computer display), while the same area is covered by 16 dots in a higher resolution device (such as a printer).

6. Other Quantities

6.1. Angle Units: the <angle> type and deg, grad, rad, turn units

Angle values are <dimension>s denoted by . However, for zero angles the unit identifier is optional (i.e. can be syntactically represented as the number0). The angle unit identifiers are:

Degrees. There are 360 degrees in a full circle.
Gradians, also known as "gons" or "grades". There are 400 gradians in a full circle.
Radians. There are 2π radians in a full circle.
Turns. There is 1 turn in a full circle.

For example, a right angle is 90deg or 100grad or 0.25turn or approximately 1.57rad.

All <angle> units are compatible, and deg is their canonical unit.

By convention, when an angle denotes a direction in CSS, it is typically interpreted as a , where 0deg is "up" or "north" on the screen, and larger angles are more clockwise (so 90deg is "right" or "east").

For example, in the linear-gradient() function, the <angle> that determines the direction of the gradient is interpreted as a bearing angle.

6.2. Duration Units: the <time> type and s

"WP:ATA" redirects here. For Arguments to avoid in adminship discussions, see Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid in adminship discussions. For other arguments to avoid, see Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid.

This page in a nutshell:
  • Please remember that deletion discussions are not decided through head count
  • Explain why an article does or does not meet specific criteria, guidelines or policies
  • Always try to make clear, solid arguments in deletion discussions
  • Avoid short one-liners or simple links (including to this page)

This page details arguments that are commonly seen in deletion discussions that have been identified as generally unsound and unconvincing. These are arguments that should generally be avoided – or at the least supplemented with a better-grounded rationale for the position taken, whether that be "keep", "delete" or some other objective. Some of the infirm arguments covered are those that are irrelevant or at best side issues, do not address the merits of the reason to keep or delete, are based in anecdote rather than evidence, engage in classic logical fallacies and more—and almost all share the trait of not being based upon the issues listed at Wikipedia:Deletion policy. It is important when taking part in deletion discussions to anchor one's rationale in relevant Wikipedia policies and guidelines, such as notability, verifiability, what Wikipedia is not, neutral point of view, no original research and biographies of living people. The arguments covered in this page are far from exhaustive. If an argument you were planning on using is listed here, you might want to reconsider using it. However, just because an argument appears in this list does not necessarily mean it is always invalid.

Remember that a discussion rationale which arguably could be classified as an "argument to avoid", may still contain the germ of a valid point. For example, if a person argues that an article is interesting, and in making that point, cites evidence that could also be used to support a determination of notability, it is wrong to summarily dismiss that argument just because WP:INTERESTING is a section in this essay. As this essay tries to stimulate people to use sound arguments in deletion discussions, it is important to realize that countering the keep or delete arguments of other people, or dismissing them outright, by simply referring them to this essay is not encouraged (see also the section Just a policy or guideline below).

While this page is tailored to deletion discussion, be that of articles, templates, images, categories, stub types, or redirects, these arguments to avoid may also apply to other discussions, such as about deleting article content, moving pages, etc.

Arguments without arguments[edit]

This section is about deletion arguments that do not seem to make sense, and otherwise do not point at or even make correct usage of policies or guidelines whatsoever.

Just a vote[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Keep – ThoughtlessMcKeep, 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Delete – DeleteyMcSheep, 23:28, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

This is not an argument for or against deletion at all, it's a vote. As Wikipedia:Articles for deletion states, "The debate is not a vote; please make recommendations on the course of action to be taken, sustained by arguments" and the same applies to all deletion debates. Any statement that just consists of "Keep" or "Delete" with a signature can easily be dismissed by the admin making the final decision, and changing "Keep" to "Strong keep" or "Speedy keep" or even "Weak keep" will not make it any more relevant. Try to present persuasive reasons in line with policy or consensus as to why the article/template/category/whatever should be kept/deleted, and try to make sure it is an argument based on the right reasons.

Per nominator/X[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Delete per nom. – Trustfull, 04:04, 4 April 2004 (UTC)
  • Keep as per User:IvanIdea's statement. – Suckup, 11:38, 1 April 2004 (UTC)

It is important to keep in mind that the AfD process is designed to solicit discussion, not votes. Comments adding nothing but a statement of support to a prior comment add little to the discussion. Participants are always encouraged to provide evidence or arguments that are grounded in policy, practice, or simple good sense to support their positions.

If the rationale provided in the nomination includes a comprehensive argument, specific policy references and/or a compelling presentation of evidence in favour of keeping or deletion, an endorsement of the nominator's argument may be sufficient.

Where reasonable counter-arguments to the nomination have been raised in the discussion, you may wish to explain how you justify your support in your own words and, where possible, marshalling your own evidence. Stating your true position in your own words will also assure others that you are not hiding a WP:IDONTLIKEIT or WP:ILIKEIT position.

Per majority[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

See also: Wikipedia:Follow the leader and Wikipedia:OUTCAST

Examples:

  • Keep per everyone else. – Grouper, 04:04, 4 April 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete since most others here think this should be deleted. – Copycat, 04:04, 4 April 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete Most people are saying it should be deleted, and it looks like that is what will happen. – SelfFulfillingProphecy, 04:04, 4 April 2004 (UTC)

AfD is a discussion in which all participants are encouraged to give their own independent opinion. It is the ideas of individuals, not the propaganda of others, that is supposed to help determine the outcome. One who bases one's statement on that crowd as a whole is not making any useful contribution to the discussion, but instead blocking the progress of new opinions.

Consensus can change, and it is not uncommon for attitudes to shift during a deletion discussion. When it seems after just a few days that it'll surely go one way, often one single statement can turn the tide. Also, articles can be improved over the course of a discussion, leading others to change their minds. It can be the statement or the salvaging work of one person who is at first in the minority that makes all the difference.

Just unencyclopedic/doesn’t belong[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Delete as unencyclopedic. – Cyclops, 06:26, 1 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Delete per WP:NOT – NotSpecific, 22:53, 3 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Delete Does not belong here. – MembersOnly, 16:25, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Keep This definitely belongs in an encyclopedia. – TrustMeItFits, 22:53, 3 August 2008 (UTC)

What shouldn't be included in the encyclopedia, what Wikipedia is not, has been defined by consensus. However, this includes many types of things, each having its own section within that or another policy. Therefore, the terms "unencyclopedic", and its flip-side "encyclopedic", are too general to be useful in deletion discussions. What we need to know are the specific reasons why the article should or should not be included. Otherwise, you just leave us guessing as to what you meant. Simply answer the question, What policy (or guideline) does it violate or meet, and how? An example of a well-specified deletion nomination is "The article is nothing more than a dictionary definition, and therefore violates WP:NOT#DICDEF".

There must be sources[edit]

Main page: Wikipedia:But there must be sources!

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Keep – This is obviously notable, so it could be referenced. Prejudger 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Keep – There must be plenty of sources. Presumer 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Keep – We shouldn't delete this, because it's possible there may be sources that we haven't found. Speculator 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Keep – You should find sources, instead of deleting it. ItsUpToYou 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)

We keep articles because we know they have sources, not because we assume they have, without having seen them. Any claim that sources exist must be verifiable, and unless you can indicate what and where the sources are, they are not verifiable.

Just notable/Just not notable[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

  • Examples:
  • Delete as non-notable. – NotableGuru, 16:25, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Delete: NN. – NNDeclarer, 12:01, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Keep: Meets WP:N – DialNforNotability, 12:02, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Keep It is clearly notable. – NotabilityDiviner, 01:21, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
  • Keep Topic is notable. – OracleOfNote, 09:17, 4 June 2009 (UTC)

Simply stating that the subject of an article is not notable does not provide reasoning as to why the subject may not be notable. This behavior straddles both "Just unencyclopedic" and "Just pointing at a policy or guideline".

Instead of just saying, "Non-notable", consider instead saying, "No reliable sources found to verify notability", or "The sources are not independent, and so cannot establish that the subject passes our standards on notability", or "The sources do not provide the significant coverage required by the notability standard." Providing specific reasons why the subject may not be notable gives other editors an opportunity to research and supply sources that may establish or confirm the subject's notability.

Just as problematic is asserting that something is notable without providing an explanation or source for such a claim of notability; this is often seen when trying to assert notability under a sub-guideline (like music or internet content). Additionally, the subject may possibly pass WP:N, but fails a more stringent set of standards: for example, articles about notable living people may be deleted if they are marginally notable, and must be deleted if they are defamatory. The standards of inclusion don't mandate inclusion; they merely suggest it.

Just pointing at a policy or guideline[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Keep Meets WP:NOR – Policylover, 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Delete per WP:V, WP:RS, WP:OR, WP:NPOV, etc. – Pilingiton, 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Keep because we should ignore all rules! – Anarwikist, 01:41, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

While merely citing a policy or guideline may give other editors a clue as to what the reasoning is, it does not explain specifically how the policy applies to the discussion at hand. When asserting that an article should be deleted, it is important to explain why. The same is true when asserting that something does follow policy.

As noted above, deletion discussions are not "votes". They are discussions with the goal of determining consensus. Rather than merely writing "Original research", or "Does not meet Wikipedia:Verifiability", consider writing a more detailed summary, e.g. "Original research: Contains speculation not attributed to any sources" or "Does not meet Wikipedia:Verifiability – only sources cited are blogs and chat forum posts". Providing specific reasons why the subject may be original research or improperly sourced gives other editors an opportunity to supply sources that better underpin the claims made in the article.

Keep in mind that articles can often be improved, and may not need to be deleted if the specific problems can be identified and corrected (see surmountable problems, below.)

Also, while citing essays that summarize a position can be useful shorthand, citing an essay (like this one) just by one of its many shortcuts (e.g. WP:ILIKEIT or WP:IDONTLIKEIT), without further explanation, is similarly ill-advised, for the reasons explained above.

Assertion of notability[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Delete No assertion of notability. – If It Was It'd Say So, 01:10, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Delete There's no way anyone could be notable just by doing that. – Not a chance, 01:10, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Keep Text of article explains why it is notable; that is good enough – VouchingForMyself, 01:10, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Keep Article says that the topic is very important to the history of underwater basket-weaving. – RightOnTheTin, 23:05, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Keep The article's content asserts importance and significance for the topic. – WhoNeedsProof, 23:05, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

An assertion of importance or significance (not "notability", as such, though these are often and unfortunately conflated and confused) is related to a potential reason to delete an article, but not one that is relevant at Articles for Deletion, where the merits of notability are determined. This formula is the purview of CSD A7, A9 and A11, three of the criteria for speedy deletion. These criteria are a test of what is seen in the article content and only apply to specific subject areas and conditions. If an article on an A7- A9- or A11-eligible topic does not make a credible assertion of importance or significance for that topic, it should be nominated for speedy deletion, which is a much faster and simpler process than nomination at Articles for Deletion. Notability, on the other hand, is based on whether the topic itself meets the criteria – not on what is or is not currently in the article. Thus, whether an article asserts significance for its topic is not germane when notability is at issue at an AfD discussion; what matters is the existence of reliable, secondary sources that are entirely independent of the topic that have published detailed content about it, regardless of the present state of the article.

Begging for mercy[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

  • Keep I worked so hard on this article. Do you really want to put my contributions to waste? – DoNotHurtMe, 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Keep You would be doing me a big favor if you changed your "deletes" to "keeps" – Mindchanger, 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Keep I need more time to work on it – NotFinishedYet, 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Keep I am on vacation now, and I won't be able to work on it until I get back home – InTahiti, 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Keep I placed this template on top of the page so it wouldn't get deleted – ConstructionSign, 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Keep I placed hidden text at the top of this page telling others they were not supposed to delete it – WarningMarker, 01:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)

Such arguments make no use of policy or guidelines whatsoever. They are merely a campaign on the part of the commentator to alter others' points-of-view. They are of no help in reaching a consensus, and anyone responding to such pleas is not helping either.

You should also make yourself familiar with Wikipedia's canvassing guidelines before you solicit "votes" one way or the other in a discussion.

If you feel you need more time to work on an article you just created that has been put up for deletion early on, an option may be to request userfication, where you can spend as much time as you wish to improve the article until it meets Wikipedia's inclusion guidelines. Once this has been accomplished, you can reintroduce it into main article space.

Over the years, several templates have been created to be placed on top of pages indicating that they are new and may take time to complete to Wikipedia's standards. These include {{newpage}}, {{new unreviewed article}}, {{construction}}, and {{newlist}}. If such a template is found on a newly created page, as a common courtesy, new page patrollers and others should not rush to delete the page unless it is obvious that it can never meet inclusion guidelines. If one is uncertain of this, or if it appears no progress has been made in a reasonable amount of time, the creator should be contacted regarding his/her intentions, and given a reasonable amount of time to reply. It is recommended for one who is considering putting it up for deletion to consider userfication as an alternative.

Did not win[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

  • Delete The person lost in the competition/event, so he/she couldn't possibly be notable. – Didn't win - No good, 00:00, 1 January 2000 (UTC)
  • Delete He didn't make first string, so delete. – Only the best, 00:01, 1 January 2001 (UTC)
  • Delete The company went bankrupt, so the article should be deleted. – Out with the old, 00:02, 1 January 2002 (UTC)
  • Delete The film has a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, so it doesn't deserve its own article – Roger that, Ebert!, 00:03, 1 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Delete This lousy game has a well-deserved 8/100 on Metacritic! – The Angry Video Game Nerd, 00:04, 1 January 2016 (UTC)

Yes, it's true that subjects winning notable awards or landing on "best of" year-end lists by independent publications can significantly impact their notability. However, arguments which base notability or lack thereof upon winning, wins, success or popularity make no use of policies or guidelines. In fact, plenty of subjects, like The Room, Birdemic: Shock and Terror and Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing, are significantly important and covered in several reliable sources due to their unusual amount of failure. We do not have articles just because people and/or organizations are successful; everyone and everything makes mistakes! We have articles rather because they are notable and have verifiable and reliable sources. If a celebrity or organization is “failing”, then the content can mention that failure in a neutral point-of-view, provided there are reliable sources. Yet also take the unpopular video game Hotel Mario for example. Even though this game received very bad reception, gameplay, cutscenes and all, this doesn’t make the game any less noteworthy. In short: Just because a celebrity or organization is “losing” doesn’t mean it’s not notable!

Not built[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

  • Delete The proposed complex has not been built yet, therefore it is not notable. – UN-Finished, 00:00, 1 January 2000 (UTC)
  • Delete It is still under construction, so it can't be notable. – Under Construction, 00:01, 1 January 2000 (UTC)
  • Delete Construction work was delayed and has not resumed; not notable. – Delay Time, 00:02, 1 January 2000 (UTC)
  • Delete The article is incomplete, so it's not notable. – Not done, 00:03, 1 January 2000 (UTC)

Such arguments make no use of policies or guidelines to substantiate claims of non-notability.

Personal point of view[edit]

See also: Wikipedia:I just don't like it and Wikipedia:Arguments to avoid on discussion pages § Personal taste

I like it[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Example:

  • Keep The Angry Young Popes are the best rock band in the world right now. – Superbestfan, 02:02, 2 February 2002 (UTC)
  • Keep Because he's so cool! – CoolestGuyEver, 02:03, 2 February 2002 (UTC)
  • Keep This is a really great article, and I think it should stay. – Peacock, 02:02, 2 February 2002 (UTC)

Wikipedia editors are a pretty diverse group of individuals, and potentially any subject or topic may be liked or disliked by some editor somewhere. However, personal preference is not a valid reason to keep or delete an article or other content.

As stated at Wikipedia:Verifiability:

In Wikipedia, verifiability means that anyone using the encyclopedia can check that the information comes from a reliable source. Wikipedia does not publish original research. Its content is determined by previously published information rather than the beliefs or experiences of its editors. Even if you're sure something is true, it must be verifiable before you can add it.

In other words, a person or group may well be the greatest example of what they do in the history of everything, but if no other verifiablereliable sources have been written about them that are relevant to the scope of the article, they cannot be included. If your favourite song/computer game/webcomic/whatever is as great as you believe, someone will likely write about it eventually, so please just be patient.

In general, the scope and purpose of the article must be kept in mind when considering inclusion or exclusion of information or sources. When sources significantly deviate from the scope of an article's topic, or subject, this may create room for disputes. Therefore, careful considerations such as weight and relevance should also be taken into account in making decisions.

I don't like it[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Delete: The Great White Dopes are the worst rock band ever. – SuperCritic, 02:03, 2 February 2002 (UTC)
  • Delete: It's annoying. – IAmReallyAnnoyed, 03:03, 3 March 2003 (UTC)
  • Delete: No need. – WhoNeedsThis, 06:07, 5 April 2004 (UTC)
  • Delete as cruft. – Cruftbane, 16:16, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Delete as trivia. – NoTriviaHere, 01:56, 4 August 2008 (UTC)
  • Delete: I'm so ashamed this article is on Wikipedia. – Mortified_Molly, 01:31, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Delete: Got bored of reading. Not of interest to English-speakers. – HastyHannigan, 03:07, 25 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Delete: This makes me look stupid! – Reputation Defender, 19:10, 25 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Delete This offends me. – OnTheDefense, 11:47, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Delete it's offensive for my religion – MyGodIsBetterThanYours, 16:56, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

This is the converse to I like it directly above. While some editors may dislike certain kinds of information, that alone isn't enough for something to be deleted. This may be coupled with (or replaced by) the unexplained claim that they feel that the information is "unencyclopedic" (see Just unencyclopedic, above). Such claims require an explanation of which policy the content fails and explanation of why that policy applies as the rationale for deletion. (See also Pointing at policy.) In fact, by the Law of Chance, everything will have likes and dislikes.

This may include subjective opinions concerning the usage of fair use images (see also WP:NFCC), and the inclusion of what may be deemed trivia, or cruft. For example, while the "cruft" label is often used for anything perceived to be of minor interest (such as individual songs, or episodes of a TV show), it is worth considering carefully whether or not so-called "cruft" has potential for verifiable inclusion.

They don't like it[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Keep: It would be censorship to delete this. – For We Are Many, 13:37, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep. The Fooians don't want anyone to know this, we shouldn't bow to Fooian interests. – AntiFooian, 12:08, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep. We can't get rid of an article just because it makes people uncomfortable. – PoliticallyIncorrectHero, 17:26, 27 February 2012 (UTC)
  • Keep. Baz supporters want to delete it because it makes Baz look bad. – OccupyBaz, 23:42, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

And on the converse of that converse (see I don't like it, directly above), while some editors may feel that deleting a page would be playing into the hands of a certain group, that alone isn't enough by itself for something to be kept. Wikipedia is not censored, but this fact does not supersede its guidelines on notability, verifiability, neutral point of view, original research, etc.

It does sometimes happen, of course, that a user will nominate an article for deletion out of a desire to censor or hide the content, but one should be able to respond to these nominations with reliable sources and policy-based arguments. If the deletion rationale really is that thin, it should be easy to refute.

It's interesting[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Keep Interesting. – Fascinated, 05:05, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
  • Delete Not interesting. – Borrrrrinnnnng, 05:05, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
  • Delete Who cares about this stuff anyway? – Indifferent, 17:28, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia editors are a pretty diverse group of individuals and our readers and potential readers include everyone on the planet and their kids. Any subject or topic may be of interest to someone, somewhere. And on the converse, there are any number of subjects or topics which an individual editor may not care about. However, personal interest or apathy is not a valid reason to keep or delete an article.

See also I like it and I don't like it, above.

It's useful/useless[edit]

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Example:

  • Keep Useful. – Usefulisgood, 05:05, 5 May 2005 (UTC)
  • Delete: We don't need this here. – Judgmental, 03:03, 3 March 2003 (UTC)

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, so it should include useful encyclopedic content. But many useful things do not belong in an encyclopedia and are excluded. Just saying something is useful or useless without providing explanation and context is not helpful or persuasive in the discussion. Remember, you need to say why the article is useful or useless; this way other editors can judge whether it's useful and encyclopedic, and whether it meets Wikipedia's policies. Without that explanation, it does not make a valid argument.

A list of all the phone numbers in New York would be useful, but is not included because Wikipedia is not a directory. A page simply defining the word useful would be useful, but is not included because Wikipedia is not a dictionary (we have Wiktionary for that). A guide to the best restaurants in Paris would be useful but is not included because Wikipedia is not a travel guide (there is a Wikivoyage for that). Usefulness is a subjective judgment and should be avoided in deletion debates unless it supports a cogent argument.

If reasons are given, "usefulness" can be the basis of a valid argument for inclusion. An encyclopedia should, by definition, be informative and useful to its readers. Try to exercise common sense, and consider how a non-trivial number of people will consider the information "useful". Information found in tables in particular is focused on usefulness to the reader. An argument based on usefulness can be valid if put in context. For example, "This list brings together related topics in X and is useful for navigating that subject."

There are some pages within Wikipedia that are supposed to be useful navigation tools and nothing more—disambiguation pages, categories, and redirects, for instance—so usefulness is the basis of their inclusion; for these types of pages, usefulness is a valid argument.

It's harmful/harmless[edit]

"WP:NOHARM" redirects here. You may be looking for Wikipedia:Avoiding harm.

Please study the introduction of this essay on making solid arguments in deletion discussions.

Examples:

  • Keep Why delete this, it is not harming anyone. – Hippocrates2, 05:05, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
  • Delete This article is very harmful to many people. Get rid of this now! – BiographyPolice, 15:01, 5 September 2013 (UTC)

No content on Wikipedia is censored

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