|This page in a nutshell: An editor who makes a suggestion to "merge or delete" an article is someone who believes that Wikipedia's policies and guidelines justify deleting that article, and also believes that merging the article would be an acceptable compromise. Wikipedia should encourage such flexibility to reduce the number of disputes.|
At Wikipedia:Articles for deletion, one of many possible suggestions to deal with inappropriate content is to delete or merge. This is not to be confused with a request to "Merge and delete".
Whereas many articles can be improved through ordinary editing, deleting an article is typically appropriate where the article cannot meet the general notability guideline, where the bulk of the article violates What Wikipedia is not, or where the article is a content fork that attempts to cover the same subject as an existing article.
An editor who is willing to delete or merge is expressing a good faith belief that Wikipedia policies and guidelines provide a sound basis for deleting the article, but that they would also support or consent to a merge if it would produce a consensus. The editor should still be specific and clear on what needs merging.
The root of consensus is "consent". Perhaps merging is not the ideal choice for every editor in every situation. But editors should be willing to consent to a merge if it will help produce a consensus.
Deletionism and inclusionism in Wikipedia represent opposite viewpoints on how to deal with inappropriate content. In some instances, people are able to hold strong views and still work well with people who believe the opposite. But in other instances, people cling to these viewpoints and rarely acknowledge the validity of any other point of view. An editor who is unwilling to compromise on their strong views about deletion versus inclusion can leave other editors feeling angry, and sometimes provoke feelings of retaliation.
The purpose of dispute resolution is to help editors reach a consensus. When discussions end in "no consensus", the dispute goes unresolved, and both sides of the dispute feel as though the other side is in the wrong. When the number of unresolved disputes add up, there is a risk that Wikipedia turns into a battleground. While some unresolved disputes can eventually be reconciled by gaining additional information or feedback, in many instances a resolution requires editors who are willing to swallow their pride accept something less than their most preferred outcome.
Merging is a possible middle-ground solution to any deletion-inclusion battle. Many mergist Wikipedians believe in merging as a matter of principle, because merging the content is less polarizing than hard inclusion or hard deletion. Even for editors who might not prefer merging as their first choice, they should consider accepting a merge in a good faith effort to find common ground and reach consensus. Any merge !votes should be specific and clear on what information should be merged to aid the editor that completes the merge.
Merging and deleting an article is not permissible under Wikipedia's licensing requirements, because Wikipedia must maintain a clearly traceable chain of attribution any time content is merged from one article into another (typically in the form of a redirect).
A suggestion to either merge or delete is not in conflict with the need for attribution, or any other licensing requirements. If the consensus is ultimately to delete the article, no attribution needs to be maintained. If the consensus is ultimately to merge the article, then attribution is typically preserved under ordinary merging procedure.