If the living subject of a Wikipedia biography wants their biography deleted, and that person does not have an entry in any reliably published paper encyclopedia including specialty encyclopedias, then we delete their biography upon request.It's objective, it's measurable, and it's sensible. A Wikipedia article is going to be a top Google return for nearly anyone's biography, and nobody is more affected by that than the subject himself or herself. Many of these biographies are not watchlisted, they're openly editable, and biography subjects are strongly discouraged from editing their biographies themselves.
So in other words, David Bowie is here to stay. And everyone else who has an entry in the Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll is going to stay in Wikipedia. But if a fellow who played bass for David Bowie for a year wants out of Wikipedia, we'll delete the bassist's biography if he asks us to.
There are two great sides to nailing this down:
- Wikipedians cut down on low priority drama.
- Biography subjects get an answer they can understand.
Living people who want their biographies out of Wikipedia want straight and simple answers. Put yourself in their shoes: the top Google return for your name is a lot more important than a five dollar refund from your cable company. We can't stop corporate bureaucracy, but we can fix this.
So let's do the decent thing: add dead trees to policy.