Wikipedia Article ‘Mass killings under communist regimes’ faces deletion due to neutrality concerns
The merits of the article, which addresses the regimes of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot, among others, are presently being debated by Wikipedia contributors. Among those reasons listed for the proposed ban are that “The neutrality of this article is disputed”, as well as “The verifiability of the claims made in this article is disputed”.
The well-known free online encyclopedia is maintained by a host of volunteer contributors worldwide. The article in question is roughly 13,000 words in length and deals with the heinous crimes committed by communist regimes, including executions, artificial and intentional famines, forced labour and deportations, and imprisonments.
“There is no doubt that 'communist regimes' as defined in the article have perpetrated many atrocities” stated one user in favour of the deletion. “But that isn’t the issue”, they continued. “The question that needs to be asked is whether 'Mass killings under communist regimes' is a legitimate subject for an encyclopaedic article… credible mainstream histography tends to neither lump all 'communist regimes' together as a subject for scrutiny when discussing 'mass killing' or to treat them as some sort of special case requiring unique analysis. Proper historiography discusses events in context, and without simplistic presuppositions that events are driven by any specific ideology”.
Crimes against humanity under communist regimes were committed against tens of millions worldwide in the twentieth century. However, the nature of the relationship between communist ideology and these historical crimes against humanity remains a hotly debated topic even today.
Other Wikipedia contributors disagree, however, and feel the justification for the article’s existence is readily apparent. One user, referencing Wikipedia’s usefulness as a gateway to further reading on an article’s subject matter, asked: "When a reader searches "communist mass killings" where should they be directed?" Clearly, they continued, “this article serves as an entry point to explore all those other articles… so what better place to explain to [the] reader the true situation via this article”.
Indeed, the article boasts a wealth of sources from experts in various historical fields, reliable news sources, and relevant government and non-government organisations. Another user, in relation to the integrity of this list of sources, argued that the widespread interest in the crimes committed by communist regimes across the internet justifies the article’s existence vis-à-vis Wikipedia’s guidelines around article topics and the need for “significant coverage in reliable sources”.
As a first-stop destination for many history readers, both professional and casual, Wikipedia has become an important battleground in the global struggle for influence on the stage of public history.
The ‘Mass killings under communist regimes’ article has, evidently, been no exception, as the discussion forum has been a site of heated ideological debate in recent days. With some in favour of the deletion referencing “anti-communist [point of view] pushing”, and some against it citing the “global Communist butcher's bill”, it is clear the debates about communist crimes remain alive and well in the twenty first century.
The final decision on the article, which has in fact been nominated for deletion four times now, will be made by an assessment of the debate, rather than a majority vote. Users are encouraged to have their say on the matter, but to remain civil and “assume good faith”.