Delete with caution

Published on Jul 11, 2020  |  2 minute read

Chesterton’s fence is the principle that something should not be changed or removed until you fully understand why it existed in the first place.

The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

It’s a principle that Wikipedia have adopted in their policy to change or delete content. If you nominate a change, as part of your request, you must first acknowledge and understand why it existed in the first place and why it should be removed.

In summary, things exist for a reason. No matter how good or bad it is, delete or change with caution and only when you fully understand why it existed in the first place.

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