When a page is PlayingDead, it behaves almost as if it had never existed:
However, the situation is not quite the same as if the page never existed. In particular, if a user follows a link to a deleted page, they will be given the usual "describe the new page" edit box, and additionally will be given a message will appear saying something like: "A former version of this page was deleted on DATE. View the _history_, edit the _last_version_, or create a new page on this topic below". There could also be a _restore_this_page_ link.
Additionally, old changes to a PlayingDead page still appear in RecentChanges, the WritersLogs, and so forth. The act of making a page play dead shows up in RecentChanges, WritersLog, etc with some sort of special marker, such as a bold D. The act of recreating a page that was formerly PlayingDead is also specially marked, possibly with an R, and such pages will show up on the list of NewPages?.
The means of making a page play dead is implementation-specific. You could have a "delete this page" link, or you might have to blank the page, or change the first line of the page to "#DELETED", etc. You might also want to DelayAction.
On a wiki with full VersionHistory, we've already sacrificed ForgiveAndForget, so we don't really care if the history and contents of a deleted page are available indefinitely to people who go looking for them. Therefore, we might simply blank pages, rather than bothering to delete them. However, links to blanked page appear different to non-existent pages, so if we want to make PageCreation? a truly ReversibleChange, then we need to introduce the concept of PlayingDead.
Allowing everyone to mark a page PlayingDead, and to fix a page that has incorrectly been marked PlayingDead, is more open than leaving it to GodKing sysops. Instead, we DevolvePower liberally to everyone, and AssumeGoodFaith.
Problem: How do you deal with version history in a PageRename?, where the destination of the rename is a page that is PlayingDead? Permanently deleting the dead page is the simplest option, but dropping the history is an irreversible change. Maybe forbid this unless the dead page has been that way for more than two weeks: DelayAction again. Alternatively, make it reversible by storing the old page history somewhere in case the move is reversed.
The above text is PrimarilyPublicDomain
Original idea from MetaWikiPedia:Pure_wiki_deletion_system_(proposal) and earlier MetaWikiPedia:deletion_management_redesign
There is a similar (identical?) situation with the ProWiki software. Pages may be deleted by everybody. The archive file containing the page revisions is not deleted. That's it. ProWiki handle the RenamePage problem mentioned above. It doesn't have special support for a rename. This means that the history is blurred when content is copied from one page to the other because it is separated from its history. This can't be avoided in a general cut & paste situation anyway.