There have been some interesting comments on my post about the divide between deletionist and inclusionist wikipedians. I suggested that the split is a manifestation of the deeper divide between absolutists and relativists. Morgan Goeller sees it as a replay of “the battle between coherentism and foundationalism.” Dermot Casey says it’s “another round in the battle between the Big Endians and the Little Endians.” Kevin Kelly writes, “This grand dichotomy also resembles the ancient and huge gulf between ‘lumpers’ and ‘splitters’ in the biological taxonomic world (and somewhat in the library classification world). The lumpers tend to want to shoehorn a new-found organism (or subjects) into the existing categories (too many categories become a junkyard), while splitters tend to want to fork categories and create new species or subjects (to increase distinction and precision).”
All of these seem reasonable interpretations. I would suggest, though, that the “lumpers” are better represented, in the Wikipedia world, by the “mergists” than by the deletionists. The adherents of mergism – the Association of Mergist Wikipedians (see logo) currently has 109 members – believe “that while much information may warrant inclusion somewhere, very little of it probably warrants its own article.” Like lumpers, they look to combine narrow subjects into broader categories. I do think, though, that the mergists are best viewed as a subsect of the deletionists, even though they see themselves as being “grounded firmly in the center of the Inclusionism-Deletionism spectrum.” (They are also, of course, a subset of the delusionists.)
Maybe the most interesting aspect of all this mumbo-jumbo is the way it reveals the rampant sectarianism of the wikipedians. In adddition to the deletionists, inclusionists, mergists, and delusionists, there are (in alphabetical order) the antistatusquoists, authorists, communalists, communityists, darwikinists, encyclopedists, essentialists, eventualists, exclusionists, exopedianists, immediatists, incrementalists, metapedianists, politicists, rehabilists, statusquoists, sysopists, and wikipacifists. Many of these sects also have subsects. For instance, there are extreme statusquoists and moderate statusquoists as well as extreme antistatusquoists and moderate antistatusquoists.
Which leads me to an inevitable conclusion: The human urge to divide communities is just slightly stronger than the human urge to create them.