Wikipedia talk:Consensus

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Peacedove.svg The project page associated with this talk page is an official policy on Wikipedia. Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are considered a standard for all users to follow. Please review policy editing recommendations before making any substantive change to this page. Always remember to keep cool when editing. Changes to this page do not immediately change policy anyway, so don't panic.

"Consensus is a partnership between interested parties working positively for a common goal." -- Jimmy Wales

Contested actions by administrators.[edit]

When actions by administrators are contested and the discussion results in no consensus either for the action or for reverting the action, the action is normally reverted.

Is this still true? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 14:09, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

  • Was it ever true? WP:DRV. WP:MR. At these venues, administrative decisions, are contested. A "no consensus" close to the review results in the contested decision standing. "Admin discretion" stands in the absence of a consensus to reverse it. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:28, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
    Blocks get reversed. What other examples can we think of? WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:53, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, most cases do not. Blocks may be the only case where a no-consensus does not go in favor of the admin whose decision was challenged. If the wording here is long-standing, this is probably more of a reason to ensure that procedures that are hostile to non-admins be made less to, to conform to this policy, rather than break the policy to conform to the admin pool's clique-like default that admins are always right until unquestionably proven wrong.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  08:00, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Determining consensus section[edit]

Was there an outcome to this discussion? [1] I've seen two unrelated editors this month ignore unanimous opinion against them and massively edit-war against consensus, saying (to paraphrase, and perhaps exaggerate a bit for comic effect) "consensus is achieved through the quality of arguments and not by numbers, and as always I find everyone else's arguments to be invalid, so therefore, logically, it's actually *everyone else* who is ignoring consensus and not me." Was there anyone against the proposal that we make it clear that this applies only to closing and not to editing? Rolf H Nelson (talk) 02:51, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Quality of argument is in the eye of the beholder and humility is hard to teach. --Ring Cinema (talk) 06:20, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
WP:CONSENSUS is more about the process of how to reach agreement ... it's not about determining who "wins" when there is a lack of agreement. I wish we could ban the word "determined" from the page... a consensus is never "determined" - it's "achieved". A consensus can eventually be achieved when all editors work together in an attempt to resolve each others concerns and issues.... a true consensus is never achieved when editors are out to "win" an argument. Editors don't listen to each other when they try to "win" the debate... and when people are not listening to each other it is actually impossible to achieve a real consensus. As soon as you stop listening to each other, and start to count up votes, you are no longer trying to achieve a consensus, you are trying to "win" an argument. Blueboar (talk) 16:30, 23 February 2014 (UTC)
That doesn't answer the question though, what do you do when one editor refuses to listen to everyone else on an article and just ignores them because what they say is "false"?Smeat75 (talk) 20:17, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
The glib (but valid) answer would be "dispute resolution." But there are other options:
  • If you believe that there is a consensus and the one editor is just arguing against it, either (safer) ask for a consensus evaluation at AN or (more risky) report them for tendentious editing at ANI.
  • Ask for an RFC to bring in more editors.
  • Consider that truth and false are determined by verifiability; shift the discussion to one about sources.
Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 20:47, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Thank you,TransporterMan!Smeat75 (talk) 21:05, 26 March 2014 (UTC)
@Smeat75: Closure — aka consensus evaluation — requests are actually at ANRFC and only transcluded to AN to try to get an admin's attention. Just caught my error on that one, sorry about that. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 14:05, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Bird article name (capitalisation)[edit]

There is a move discussion in progress on Talk:Crowned Crane about four articles related to birds species. The rationale is that there is no reason why bird names should be capitalised while Wikipedia recommends that all animal names should not be written with capitals. Please participate to the discussion.
Thank you! Mama meta modal (talk) 09:07, 9 March 2014 (UTC).

Request for comments[edit]

There is now also an ongoing request for comments on the same subject: Talk:Crowned Crane#Request for comments.

Do not hesitate to come and comment on this question. Mama meta modal (talk) 08:52, 16 March 2014 (UTC).


The discussion was closed (and the pages moved) on 26 March 2014, see Talk:Crowned crane#Requested move for details.

Mama meta modal (talk) 20:49, 26 March 2014 (UTC).

Move review for species pages at Wikipedia:Move review/Log/2014 March. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 00:32, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
See also Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#Second proposal. Mama meta modal (talk) 06:25, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

New discussion[edit]

An important discussion started on Talk:Crowned crane and Wikipedia:Move review/Log/2014 March#Black crowned crane now moved to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#A new proposal regarding bird article names.

Mama meta modal (talk) 20:56, 9 April 2014 (UTC).

Consensus building to add a nomiaciones that have been deleted from Miley Cyrus[edit]

Hello , you see, has deleted a section of the article: "List of awards and nominations received by Miley Cyrus" and I wish they could put back , since I've been talking to a mate and will not let me post it , because it says Wikipedia does not have to be a means of endless lists, but it is a very important nominations Miley Cyrus! There are few rewards anyone! They are the World Music Awards![1] Now, that is what has been deleted and I hope that through consensus here can be inserted into the page as expected :

World Music Awards[edit]

Year Recipent Category Result
2014 Adore You World's Best Song Pending
2014 We Can't Stop World's Best Song Pending
2014 Wrecking Ball World's Best Song Pending
2014 Bangerz World's Best Album Pending
2014 Adore You World's Best Video Pending
2014 We Can't Stop World's Best Video Pending
2014 Wrecking Ball World's Best Video Pending
2014 herself World's Best Female Artist Pending
2014 herself World's Best Live Act Pending
2014 herself World's Best entertainer of the year Pending
  • Thanks and I hope we get to a solution :)
I'm afraid that this is not the place to seek help with a dispute with another user. Please discuss the matter with the other editor on the article talk page first — not just through edit summaries — and if that does not work out after a thorough discussion, consider dispute resolution. Regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 17:21, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

CONLIMITED addition[edit]

Guy Macon made an addition of additional examples to CONLIMITED which was immediately reverted by Flyer22 in this edit. Just for the record, I don't think the addition was needed, that the scope is pretty well defined. (Though perhaps Guy can point us to the "multiple editors misunderstanding the scope" and I'll change my mind.) But I also think that Flyer's reason for the revert — "People often go to noticeboards and those other places to achieve WP:Consensus, as part of WP:Dispute resolution." — misses the point. CONLIMITED, with or without Guy's addition, doesn't restrict the ability of folks fighting over an edit at a single article to come to consensus at DRN or at one of their user talk pages, but does restrict the ability of folks at a noticeboard or Wikiproject or the Pump to change policy in a way that affects a bunch of different articles or editing in general. Best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 18:10, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

Yeah, I figured that my comment would be seen by one or more editors as missing the point; still, since noticeboards and the WP:Village pump are often used to achieve wide WP:Consensus, I did not want anything misinterpreted by that addition. Like you noted, any one of the WP:Dispute resolution processes might reach a WP:Consensus that WP:Ignore all rules applies to a particular article. As for applying to many articles, a WP:RfC, for example, can have many editors weigh in and that WP:RfC just might result in a change of a guideline or policy. Such dispute resolution processes are often "the broader community." There is never any way to get all of the Wikipedia community to weigh in on a matter (and like the WP:Consensus policy notes, consensus is not unanimity). Of course...any effort to change a guideline or policy should be had that guideline or policy's talk page. Flyer22 (talk) 18:29, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Oh, and I don't think that the WP:REFDESK counts as WP:Dispute resolution or WP:Consensus. Flyer22 (talk) 20:37, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Examples of three users thinking that the reference desk guidelines overrule the talk page guidelines:
(In response to "I say stop removing the questions")
"If someone asks for professional advice, we're not allowed to give it. Hence the question will go unanswered. And hence the question itself need not be kept there." --Baseball Bugs[2]
"Well, you could keep it, but what's the point, when there is no possible answer?" --Baseball Bugs[3]
"The ref desks are not really talk pages, although they're kind of structured that way." --Baseball Bugs[4]
(In response to "WP:LOCALCONSENSUS clearly states, 'Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale.' Not editing or deleting others' comments is a Wikipedia-wide policy")
"I personally fail to see how talk pages are supposed to completely override the reference desk guidelines." --Dmcq[5]
"Go and raise an RfC then and this can be decided or you will waste even more of people's time." --Dmcq[6]
"The reference desks are not talk pages." --Dmcq[7]
(In response to "Allowed: "'"We cannot give medical advice here. Please consult a doctor. For general information about [ example ], you may want to see our [ example ] article." Against policy: deleting or editing the question.")
"We've already got a disclaimer, a statement in the top-of-page guidelines, and a template to use when we remove material, and a template to notify the OP whose material's been removed. Why are we discussing adding to this? ---Medeis (AKA μηδείς)[8]
Examples of deletions that arguably are allowed by the reference desk guidelines but are clearly not allowed by the talk page guidelines:
Deleting an answer because Medeis (AKA μηδείς) decided that it was unhelpful.[9][10] Actually, it was pretty good advice if the questioner is in the UK, PC World ( does a good job at data recovery.
Deleting an editor's comment complaining about the way Medeis (AKA μηδείς) edited the editor's previous comment.[11] Moving it to talk would have been a better choice. Also labeled the deletion as a merge,
Deleting a question by a blocked sock and taking out answers from other users with it, two days after the discussion ended.[12]
Deleting a question that isn't medical advice:[13] (and what's up with the deleting and hatting?)
Editing (not just deleting) another user's comment[14]
I can provide dozens of additional examples if needed. --Guy Macon (talk) 19:21, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Oh, now I see, but I'm not sure how I feel about this. I think an absolutely strict interpretation of CONLIMITED would, you're right, prevent some of this, but the fact is that there does seem to be some accepted exception to CONLIMITED for Wikipedia-space pages establishing their own rules which apply at those pages. It would seem that practices which would be unacceptable at an article page are accepted by the community and generally uncontroversial at those pages, such as closing and archiving discussions at DRN or removing stale and answered requests at 3O. Closing off a section at, say, Scientology or another mainspace page and demanding that it remain closed and be archived to an archive page would get you blocked or banned, but doing it at DRN is everyday practice. Maybe we need a policy just on that subject. Best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 19:36, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
I have been thinking about that very thing. It seem to me that DRN and (most? all?) of the other noticeboards are arguably policy-compliant because of Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#Off-topic posts. Clearly what is off-topic is a local decision, and differed between DRN, ANI, etc., but all of those venues should follow Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#Off-topic posts when deciding what to do once it is established that something is off-topic. DRN doesn't need to delete non-harmful posts. Collapsing and moving to another section is good enough, IMO.
WP:AIAV is an interesting test case for that idea; not only are the reports limited to a certain format, they also get deleted instead of archived, which technically violates WP:TPOC. My response to that is that, while the village pump and reference desks are definitely talkpage-like, AIAV really isn't.
Whatever is decided, I would really like it to be made explicit that the reference desks are not exempt from the talk page guidelines, and that deleting a good-faith question rather than saying you cannot answer it is unacceptable behavior. --Guy Macon (talk) 20:45, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
More clarity is better than less clarity, generally. It makes the section a bit longer, but if it is likely to help reduce strife, that is more than enough reason to endorse the addition.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  08:03, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
PS: The Village Pump really isn't like a wikiproject or the Ref Desks; the broadness of participation there ensures that the consensus isn't "local" there. However, it is very often poorly informed because one side of an issue will set up the debate, VP will dump comments in based on that, and the discussion already seems settled before the other side even has a time to react. VPP discussion do not always go that way of course, but frequently enough that VPP is sort of "not a reliable internal source" as it were. It is best viewed as a straw poll, a general gauge of where consensus might go in a more neutral, longer-term centralized discussion or RfC.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:59, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
The refdesk addition has been reverted on the basis that reference desks don't have "articles within their scope"; so some other approach to the wording would be needed.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:02, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

Lack of consensus about how to change prior version that everyone agrees stinks[edit]

The policy says: "In discussions of proposals to add, modify or remove material in articles, a lack of consensus commonly results in retaining the version of the article as it was prior to the proposal or bold edit." Is this policy true even if the lack of consensus is only about how to change the prior content, and not about whether to change the prior content? In other words, if everyone agrees that the prior version stinks, but there is a complete lack of consensus about how to change it, does this quoted policy remain true? Maybe it should say whether it remains true. Incidentally, this inquiry is unrelated to any article that I'm involved with, and furthermore I am not expressing any opinion here about what the policy should be. Clarification could prevent a lot of edit-warring, regardless of how it's clarified.Anythingyouwant (talk) 16:50, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

I would say yes, and editors should continue to work towards a compromise, unless there is an agreement to start with to remove the material, then a separate discussion could be had on what to add back.--Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 17:35, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
Everyone hates sentence X that's in an article, side Y wants to change it to version Y, side Z wants to change it to version Z, and no one wants to delete version X unless they can change it to Y or Z. I see this all the time, and the edit-wars that follow. Obiwan, you seem to be saying that in this case the policy requires X to remain until there is consensus to delete it or to change it to Y or Z. Correct? Would it be worthwhile to clarify this in the policy, or do you think it 's already sufficiently clear?Anythingyouwant (talk) 17:48, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
If people really can't agree to remove it, then it should probably remain, bad as it is. I'd suggest, again, seeking a compromise,even if it's not what everyone wants. Not sure if policy needs to change though.--Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 17:57, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I tend to agree with you Obiwan, that keeping the universally unwanted content is already required by policy. But, when I tried to clarify the point years ago, it ran into objections against keeping a "universally unwanted" bit of content.[15] What to do?Anythingyouwant (talk) 18:03, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Right now, the policy is descriptive; it talks about what "commonly" happens in these situations, without prescribing a specific course of action. I think it's a bad idea to change the policy to be more prescriptive. These situations are diverse enough that a one-size-fits-all policy mandate is more likely to be abused than to be helpful. In that, I agree with the feedback you got when you brought this up a few years ago. MastCell Talk 18:11, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
Being descriptive is fine with me. What is the correct description of what commonly happens when no one wants to delete a sentence, everyone agrees it should be changed, but there is no consensus about what to change it to? Obiwan seems to be saying that this situation is already covered by the policy, and that the universally unwanted sentence is commonly left as-is. If that's correct, then why not say so explicitly in the policy? It's a fairly common problem that causes a lot of edit-warring, which could be alleviated by a clear policy statement about common practice.Anythingyouwant (talk) 18:23, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
What are the other options? You've already stated that there isn't not consensus to simply delete, so, it seems to be "no consensus to delete the material", which is covered.--Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 18:28, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
What happens all too often is that one side in the dispute (or both) will say, "there's a clear consensus that this lousy sentence should be changed and therefore I am doing so". They install their preferred version, thinking that that is perfectly common and acceptable according to the policy.Anythingyouwant (talk) 18:32, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
It's sort of hard to deal with this in the abstract. Again, my generic feeling is, if both sides don't agree on removing the material pending a resolution, then the material should stay, bad as it is. If you get into a situation like that, I'd suggest trying to bring the parties to agree to remove material which is everyone agrees is bad - this is generally good for the wiki, no information is better than bad information.--Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 18:44, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree with your generic feeling, and believe it would be useful to describe that feeling briefly in the policy. There's no reason why an eager editor would agree to delete an awful sentence if he or she feels justified in changing it to his liking, based on the correct perception that there is consensus to (somehow) change the sentence. I don't do it, but others sometimes do. You've got to admit that it is kind of absurd, or at least counterintuitive, that a Wikipedia policy would ever require editors to leave a sentence as-is even if everyone agrees it is awful and needs to be changed. But that's sometimes necessary.Anythingyouwant (talk) 19:03, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
I disagree, I don't think it's absurd, it's really the editors who are being absurd. Think of it this way, as a heuristic - editor A prefers Z to A, editor B prefers Y to A, and both agree A is terrible. However, by *not* agreeing to delete A, they are essentially saying 'nothing' < 'A' < 'my choice' - in other words, by not agreeing to delete, they are simultaneously saying that keeping it is preferable to deleting it. If you can change their mind, so that it looks like this 'A' < 'nothing' < 'my choice', then the choice to delete is clear. If there is consensus on either way, then everyone is agreed that it is BETTER to keep than to delete, thus you actually have consensus to keep.--Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 19:25, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
Often only one of the editors is being absurd by refusing to delete, insisting (correctly) that there is consensus to change the sentence (somehow). Or you may have a case where deleting a sentence is impractical (e.g. a picture caption or the lead sentence that defines the subject). It would be simple enough for this policy to briefly say that it is not common practice to change material even if there is consensus to do so, unless there is also consensus about how to do so. We agree the policy already implies that, but making it explicit would not take up much space. Anyway, I'm going to try to be quiet now, and see if you and anyone else comments. Cheers.Anythingyouwant (talk) 19:43, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Policies and guidelines are not "types of articles"[edit]

I fixed an obvious typo, changing "articles" to "pages", here, correcting Wikipedia has a higher standard of participation and consensus for changes to policies and guidelines than to other types of articles to read Wikipedia has a higher standard of participation and consensus for changes to policies and guidelines than to other types of pages because, obviously, policies and guidelines are not articles, which is what my edit summary said.

This was reverted by Ring Cinema, who has been debating with me elsewhere, with an edit summary that seems inadequate to me: "not sure but I believe this is better and not inaccurate -- 'pages' includes areas where consensus doesn't apply at all. If "not sure", then don't revert, open a discussion on the talk page. There are no pages, except in userspace, where consensus does not apply (well, someone somewhere can probably dig up some rare exception, maybe something controlled by WP:OFFICE lawyers; but you know what I mean). Whether pages that aren't subject to consensus may exist is irrelevant anyway. It doesn't change the fact that our internal WP:POLICY pages are not WP:ARTICLEs, but are pages (as are articles). The objection is akin to noticing an obvious change from apples are oranges to applies are fruit and reverting it on the basis that not all fruits are apples and regardless of the fact that oranges and apples are different; it's fallacious twice over. Is there any actually substantive objection to the correction?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  06:23, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Is there a word (or words) that can convey "more than articles but less than pages"? Butwhatdoiknow (talk) 12:51, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
I would suggest:
  • Wikipedia has a higher standard of participation and consensus for changes to policies and guidelines than for changes to articles.
Unless there is some other type of "page" that needs to be mentioned. Blueboar (talk) 13:23, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

May I suggest: "Wikipedia has a higher standard of participation and consensus for changes to policies and guidelines." There are other types of pages: "disambiguation pages, templates, navboxes, user pages, discussion pages, file pages, category pages, help pages and Wikipedia policy pages." --Ring Cinema (talk) 16:25, 6 April 2014 (UTC)


Wikipedia has very strong standards for changes to policies and guidelines, generally requiring a stronger consensus than for changes to any other pages on Wikipedia.

No need to enumerate any "levels" as this makes it a strong and broad statement as to such edits. Collect (talk) 18:25, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

To return to the fruit analogy, there is no reason to say apples are fruit but are not grapes, pomegranates or figs when apples are fruit does just fine. Please don't turn a trivial typo correction molehill into a mountain. Also, please note that the assertion that Blueboar would make with their proposed edit isn't necessarily true. Various articles are protected from editing and/or subject to discretionary sanctions in response to continued, heated editwarring, and (at least for a span of time, which may be a few days or many years) may in fact have a higher expectation of discussion and consensus-seeking than the average policy page. It's much easier to get consensus for edits to a page like WP:CONSENSUS itself than at some of the more contentious articles.

Unless there's some general class of pages at WP that categorically and consistently require a higher level of consensus than policies and guidelines, there is no reason not to just say "pages" here. Cf. WP:CREEP and WP:KISS; don't over-think or over explain it. If someone ends up somehow WP:GAMEing that simple wording, then maybe it would need additional explaining. PS: I think it would require a whole site-wide RFC for us to come up with some kind of hierarchical system of "levels" of consensus beyond what is already at WP:CONLEVEL, which is general for a reason (and came about in response to WP:RFARB cases that were dissimilar enough in their details that its important it remain general). PS: Even adding "any" to "pages" isn't necessary. As I first notec, someone can probably find an odd example somewhere of a page controlled by OFFICE or whatever that can't be changed by consensus at all, so "any pages" is highly unlikely to be 100% accurate.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ⚞(Ʌⱷ҅̆⚲͜^)≼  02:36, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Not all "local" consensuses are equal[edit]

I note that we have recently had a lot of debates about whether various WikiProject specific guidelines conflict with more generalized guidelines (especially the MOS). I also note that in almost all of these debates, sooner or later someone points to WP:LOCALCONSENSUS to make the argument that the generalized guideline should trump the WikiProject guideline. The assumption being that the generalized guideline reflects a broader consensus than the "local" WikiProject's consensus.

I don't want to re-argue those specific debate... my question is whether WP:LOCALCONSENSUS really applies to every WikiProject guideline? The problem, of course, is that not all WikiProjects are equal. Some are small - with only a few active editors involved... and for these I completely agree that LOCAL applies. Others, however, are very large - with hundreds of active editors... and I am not so sure that it is appropriate to call a consensus reached by one of these larger WikiProjects "LOCAL". Indeed, it is possible that a consensus at a WikiProject's guideline may actually reflect a broader consensus than one reached at a "generalized" guideline.

I don't have a firm answer to this dilemma ... but I do think we need some discussion about it. The recent debates tell me that we need to reach a clearer consensus on what does and does not qualify as a LOCAL consensus. Blueboar (talk) 12:42, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Guidelines are advisory, so it seems editors are free to ignore them. Even policies might be ignored if a local consensus develops for that. In fact, that is the mechanism or process by which policy changes. When something mistaken is corrected, it begins with one editor mentioning it. --Ring Cinema (talk) 18:13, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Nope -- certain polices can not be overridden by "local consensus" including WP:NPOV, WP:RS and WP:BLP, for example. Policies can be changed through consensus on the policy pages and we can not presume to rewrite policies on any other page or article. If one disagrees with a policy, the mechanism is to propose changes at the policy, and see if one can persuade others of the gains to be made by such changes. Collect (talk) 18:22, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Have a look at User:Andrewa/consensus is consensus for some other thoughts on this. Comments welcome there or here. Andrewa (talk) 19:11, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

The problem lies with equating policies and guidelines. It would be accurate if it said " ... participants in a WikiProject cannot decide that some generally accepted policy ... does not apply to articles within its scope. Wikipedia has a higher standard of participation and consensus for changes to policies ..." But the inclusion of "and guidelines" makes it inaccurate.
Guidelines are advisory and often ignored, some more than others, and regularly changed without much discussion. The GA criteria, for example, don't include compliance with most of the MoS. That's an example of a group of editors deciding that a certain guideline need not apply to certain articles, and everyone is fine with that.
This page used to say "In the case of policy pages a higher standard of participation and consensus is expected." This was changed in 2008 to "[i]n the case of policy and process pages," then later someone added a link to Wikipedia:Policies and guidelines, and later still someone changed the sentence to "policies and guidelines." SlimVirgin (talk) 19:14, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, SlimVirgin, for making that distinction. Perhaps the page has moved backward over time. And I have to point out that, although there is an understandable belief that certain policies cannot be trumped by local consensus, I think we are obligated by the facts to accept that editors who agree to ignore policies are free to do so because who is there to stop them? It's just one of those things that isn't even a problem. Presumably, they would have good reasons for doing so, even if we can't exactly conjure them in the abstract. We don't quite express that disputes are settled by policy but policy is silent when there is not a dispute. --Ring Cinema (talk) 20:35, 6 April 2014 (UTC)
In that WP:IAR is also a policy, you could even argue that local consensus (which I'd prefer to just call consensus) trumps so-called community consensus. Consensus is consensus, see also User:Andrewa/creed#consensus.
The problem mainly arises when consensus is claimed to have been wrongly assessed, as in the current discussion at Wikipedia:Move review/Log/2014 March#Black crowned crane. But there are always avenues of appeal, and these need to be respected and followed.
No consensus decision can be ignored simply because it's claimed to represent local consensus. But when the term is used, that's nearly always exactly what the person using the term is wanting to do. That's why we have problems, in my opinion, and why I'd like the term local consensus dropped from the policy. Andrewa (talk) 00:23, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Iterating: Non-negotiable policies which are "ignored" by editors are still policy and can be enforced by any editor at all who actually understands why the policies exist. If we allow any group to make up their own rules contrary to core policy, then the project is Wertlos utterly. Cheers. Collect (talk) 03:13, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

Agree. And nor can we allow any group to impose their particular interpretation of a policy or even of a guideline. That's what is tricky about working by consensus, and not having an editorial board, but rather letting the contributors write and even authorise and approve and even audit and ensure compliance with the MOS themselves. And that's a key difference of our MOS to those of other encyclopedias.
It's a plus and a minus, but as you say, it's not negotiable. It's a core policy. Andrewa (talk) 03:41, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't think that people should be pointing to the broad LOCALCONSENSUS policy about that. They should be pointing to the very direct and specific WP:WikiProject advice pages guideline, which tells WikiProjects (==groups of editors) that their advice is no better or worse than any other small group of editors' advice, and if they want a proper guideline, then they need to make a WP:PROPOSAL just like everyone else.
There is nothing magic about calling yourselves "a WikiProject". There's nothing magic (or even exclusive) about declaring some articles to be "within your scope". WikiProject participants are just like anyone else when it comes to writing guidelines.
Obviously, there's a substantial backlog, which involves good advice not being adopted by the whole community (when it should be) and questionable advice having been self-declared a "guideline" by self-appointed advice givers years ago (especially in the MOS subpages). But the "rules" are clear now: write whatever essays you want, but if you want the entire community to feel bound by it, then you have to get the entire community to adopt your advice—and when they do, that advice quits belonging to your WikiProject, and starting belonging to the whole community. (See the history of WP:MEDRS and WP:MEDMOS for two pages that were done correctly.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:51, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
It's not just Wikiprojects. WP:DRN has a core of about half a dozen volunteers, and by design we have no power over anyone other than the power of persuasion. What if we decided to give ourselves some power and to delete any comment that we felt was "not helpful"? Would our local consensus be allowed to overrule WP:TPOC? --Guy Macon (talk) 04:22, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
Agree. The situation here is that neither side has a clear consensus, although one side is claiming it, and things that should have been done to produce one, in hindsight, have been neglected. And that's understandable... we come here basically to work on articles, not policies and guidelines! They are in that sense a necessary evil.
Of course I'm so far on the side of WikiProject Birds so far. This is partly because there are positive arguments at several levels to back them up, including things that others (who don't seem to have my background in relatively recent linguistics) don't seem to have even noticed and which I can perhaps contribute, but I confess (disclose) that it's now also partly because of the nature of the campaign against them which has now turned on me too. Not everyone on the "other" side has participated in this of course, and none of it has quite passed the boundaries where a behavioral issue should be raised, but it's often been close to the line... false accusations, repeatedly aggressive language, long posts of meaningless or at least poorly phrased argument and unchecked links, assumption of bad faith, gloating over my supposed blunders, unwanted reindenting of my arguments making them in my opinion harder to read... the list goes on. And in amongst all of that I notice the accusation that WikiProject Birds has been shouting down their opposition, when it appears to me to be more the other way around. It may just be that I've only seen one side of this, but see my off-wiki essay for another possibility of what is going on there.
I don't want to raise it now as a behavioural issue through dispute resolution, it's borderline at best so far IMO and in any case I don't think that would help to bring consensus. Again, the "other side" have threatened this (and the first step of WP:DR of course is to discuss it with me on my talk page, which has been done [16], as I've also done on one matter I mention above [17]). And if "they" do choose that path we just have to follow it. But I think for now it's just a matter of keeping the behavioural aspects in mind. In a bitter and long-running dispute like this it certainly needs to be watched.
We need to build a real consensus one way or another. And I suspect it will not be easy. I could be wrong, I hope I am. Let's give it a go. Andrewa (talk) 14:37, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
Non-negotiable policies which are ignored are of course subject to enforcement, but that still ignores the reality. Absent a dispute, policy is silent. Editors can fill articles with the content of their choosing as long as they agree to do it, and that includes ignoring policies. And, again, that is a good thing. The only way, it seems, to change policy (the mirror of practice) is to change practice. By definition, a new practice that would require a change in policy will violate a policy when it is introduced. So be it. --Ring Cinema (talk) 14:57, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
I demur. A policy violation is a policy violation no matter how long it is unnoticed. A person going 120 mph on I-95 is still speeding and in violation of the law even if he outruns the police car. Saying it is a "good thing" to violate policy is, IMO, a "bad thing." Collect (talk) 15:21, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
Not convinced it's a good analogy... not quite sure why not, though. Andrewa (talk) 15:57, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
I think that's because traffic laws don't have Ignore all rules as policy, but we do. When one policy is ignored in order to improve the encyclopedia, IAR makes it compliant with policy; anyone who wants to "punish" that "policy breach" needs to argue how following the letter of that policy would be better than the suggested improvement. Diego (talk) 10:17, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Deep but well put. See WP:creed#rules. But I'm not sure where it leads us... Andrewa (talk) 15:57, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
This is a road where the speed limit is set by the speed of the drivers. So the superficial, somewhat grasping point is that "a violation has occurred". The deeper reality is that practices may change and policy reflects practice. No, it is not consonant with an authoritarian model, but so what? I understand that some might prefer that this page decides style for others. Sometimes it doesn't. Nothing lost. --Ring Cinema (talk) 18:51, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
The core policies have been vetted by literally hundreds of "drivers" and you would allow a single driver to assert "the speed limit signs that hundreds of have editors agreed on formally as being 'non-negotiable' do not apply to me because I do not like them"? Sorry -- I do not buy your version of the speed laws and your desire to make Wikipedia "non-negotiable policies" into an "ignore if you don't want to follow them" category. Collect (talk) 19:41, 7 April 2014 (UTC)
Vet it up! Basically, editors want to follow policies and they do their best to do so. That's the reason that compliance is widespread. However, it cannot be contradicted by experience that, until someone objects, policies are moot. No one can opt out of that reality. If editors want to ignore policies, they're free until another editor wants to follow the policy. This isn't taking a point of view, making a judgement, assigning a value, suggesting a preference, making a wish or offering a theory. It's an accurate description. The good thing about it is that sometimes policies are bad and editors don't follow them for good reason. That's how things get solved. --Ring Cinema (talk) 20:06, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── One distinction is that if an editor were to ignore BLP repeatedly, he would end up being blocked or banned, but I can't imagine anyone being sanctioned for ignoring the MoS.

To return to Blueboar's point, lots of WikiProjects make their own style decisions, based on the specialist sources or the editors' own preferences. Some of these projects have larger numbers of editors engaged than the MoS does, so to call the former "local" consensus in order to undermine it seems wrong-headed. I agree that we don't want local groups deciding to ignore core policy, but when it comes to guidelines I can't see that anyone has the right to tell a WikiProject what to do. SlimVirgin (talk) 18:33, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

  • The gist of this thread amounts to elevation of wikiprojects to independent authorities on anything they declare themselves authoritative about; it would erect 100+ "special" editorial boards. It would undermine WP self-governance by essentially merging Category:Wikipedia guidelines and Category:Wikipedia essays (or Category:WikiProject Essays).

    A far more productive course of action would be to short-circuit the entire us-vs-them WikiProject system. Move them to something verb-based (WikiWorking Football?, I dunno), so people stop territorially identifying with them, and take other measures to put an end to this factionalism and walled city-state mentality, which has been worsening not improving over time. WikiProject insularity is WP:Esperanza all over again, times 100, with far worse and farther reaching negative effects.

    No one cares about a wikiproject essay coming up with a style "rule" that doesn't grossly violate normal English language usage in ways that bring the project into general disrepute among mainstream observers and distract or anger average readers into mentally rebelling against what they're reading, for no net gain. Our readers (who of course may individually be specialists in some area) grossly outnumber any specialists insisting on some parituclar quirk, usually in conflict with some other specialty's demands, and in conflict with our needs, and in conflict with major style guides on English language writing.

    When something the more vocal members of a project insist on may trigger concerns like these, the burden is solidly on the their shoulders to convince the community that what they're doing is the option that is most helpful to the encyclopedia and the largest percentage of its readers (note this is not the same as "common in that field's specialist publications"). On style matters, this is best done at WT:MOS, because far too few people watchlist its subpages or the NC pages to gauge actual consensus, and it's quite trivial to quietly engage in WP:GAMING and poll-stacking those backwaters to erect WP:False consensus. All of this "MOS isn't really a guideline and doesn't really have consensus" business is untenable. MOS is one of the most-watchlisted projectpages on the whole system. It is our style guide, and it does reflect site-wide consensus. Consensus does not mean "unanimity" nor does it mean "exactly 70% or higher" or any other "gotcha" loophole anyone would want to exploit. If you remove the {{Guideline}} from MOS and take it to WP:MFD you'll be laughed at. If someone adds that same tag to some wikiproject essay that conflicts with MOS, and you remove that and take that page to MFD, you may well succeed. Big difference. [Note that some projects studiously keep their "style guide" essays as part of their main project page...] As with any page, someone can push a pet peeve in MOS for a little while (WP:BOLD is policy, so people can change stuff at any time), but it won't stick if there is no community buy-in over the long haul. It's frankly reckless to suggest undoing this centralization and having wikiprojects make up their own rules in conflict with MOS (or any other major site-side guideline).

    There's also a lot of serious failure going on here to understand that policies are not set "against" guidelines; it is not a "my rule is a policy so your stupid guideline rule can go @#$% itself" pissing match (cf. nonsensical attempts to get WP:AT to "override" WP:MOS on style matters people can't get consensus for at MOS). Policies and guidelines both represent the same level of community consensus; they simply differ in what they address and how. [This gives the lie to attempts here to say "policies are non-negotiable" in the same breath as "guidelines cannot require anything".] Policies address concerns of vital importance to the functioning and survival of the project. Guidelines set out norms that allow the community to operate smoothly.

    Misperceiving the relationship as a simple hierarchy is a fundamental error, like thinking that one's employer has authority over one's church (or vice versa), when they're entirely different kinds of "authority" in one's life. Nerds may like to think of it as something like the difference between HTML and CSS; they're both standards with equal buy-in, they work together, serious errors in either ruin your site, but their purposes and scope are very dissimilar, and HTML (policies) are required to have a site at all, while CSS rules (guidelines) are not, but the site would be unusable without them. Regardless of analogy, WP essays, including "wikiproject style guides " and "wikiproject naming conventions", are something else entirely. They're opinions (usually of one or a very small number of editors, but some like WP:AADD approach broader guideline status) that set out particular reasoned positions on something, and nothing more. The logic in them may or may not outweigh or even be applicable to other concerns addressed by and balanced in a guideline or policy.

    PS: Another obvious flaw with the reasoning that launched this thread is that wikiprojects are not hive minds, and project members often strenuously disagree with pundits in the same project advancing WP:LOCALCONSENSUS "rules" that conflict with site-wide guidelines, because they know it's going to lead to nothing but strife. "WikiProject Foo says...." and "WikiProject Foo wants..." are rank, obvious fallacies, but they underlie this entire suggestion to change how consensus operates with regard to guidelines and project. WP:CONLEVEL is just fine as it is, and correctly recognizes that projects are nothing but pages at which individual editors happen to be collaborating on something. Wikiprojects are inanimate. In an important sense they don't exist. A webpage cannot want, decide, think, feel, demand, expect or prefer anything at all, any more than a stone can. I say all this as the originator of several active projects, BTW.

    Finally, the fact that not all LOCALCONSENSUSes are equal is irrelevant. None of them are equal to or better than site-wide guidelines and policies. Any matter of LOCALCONSENSUS that should be a part of policy or real guidelines is something that an application of patience and reason (not system-gaming and tendentiousness) will soon enough see accepted. But most of you are using "local consensus" wrong. {{em|Actually go read WP:LOCALCONSENSUS. A local consensus in WP terms is not valid; it's something you're supposed to avoid, not seek to establish and crow that you have! "Our project has a local consensus to..." means "Me and some editor friends have decided the rules do not apply to us with regard to...". It makes you look like you believe this is a WP:BATTLEFIELD, and seem that you are WP:NOTHERE to build an encyclopedia but to engage in weird forms of WP:ADVOCACY. — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:23, 8 April 2014 (UTC)

These somewhat prolix comments don't seem to square with reality or common sense. For one thing, trying to claim any consensus is site-wide is founded in a fallacy and seems to be a bid for authoritarianism. 2) It seems to say that a local consensus isn't valid; that is clearly at odds with the facts, since no consensus is made by editors who are absent. In fact, editors taking exception to policies and not following them (for good faith reasons, to state the obvious) is an essential part of the process of eliminating bad policy. Every dissent begins with a lone dissenter. The wish to impose one's views on other editors is anathema to WP. --Ring Cinema (talk) 01:19, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Did we perhaps make a mistake when we used the term "Local". That focuses people on location of the consensus, rather than the size of the consensus. I think we all agree that a consensus reached by a small group of editors should bow to a consensus reached by a larger group of editors... but I would say that is true regardless of what page the two consensuses formed on. I am tempted to propose that LOCAL CONSENSUS should really be renamed SMALL CONSENSUS. Blueboar (talk) 21:50, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps we should have levels named by the type of article or consensus they apply to: Thus "Community-wide policy and guideline consensus" (level 1) (having broadest likely participation), "Project wide or policy noticeboard level consensus" (level 2) (participation generally those interested in a broad topic or a specific policy, or in discussions regarding a single noticeboard or Wikipedia discussion board), and "single article consensus" (level 3) (smallest usual participation limited primarily to those interested in that single topic), with each properly ceding precedence to the higher level. Collect (talk) 22:29, 9 April 2014 (UTC)

The problem is that you are still assuming that guideline pages always reflect a wider consensus than Project (or even article) consensuses. That may be true in most cases... but it simply isn't true in every case. I have been involved in RFCs on Project pages that brought in hundreds of participants... and discussions on guideline pages that only involved about ten or so participants. Suppose these two pages end up "conflicting"... which would you say reflects the consensus of the wider community? Which has the higher "level" of consensus? In such a situation, I would say it was the consensus at the project page. Blueboar (talk) 22:17, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Actually I make no such assumption. What I do assume is that the guideline and policy pages are "superior" to individual article pages in that the guideline or policy affects many pages, the article page only affects one. That which has the greatest effect on the project, should also have the greatest weight when people are seeking not to abide by the consensus at the page which applies to many pages. Else we could have a cheerful anarchy where a guideline is set forth, and not a single article abides by it <g>. Therefore, that which is of higher project importance (that is, affecting the greatest number of articles) should be given greater weight. And, as a rule, the main pages are indeed followed by more editors than are most individual articles or projects. Collect (talk) 22:48, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
What about things like the reference desk guidelines? On the one hand, just because they apply only to the local reference desks that doesn't mean that the wider community did not give consensus. The other side of the coins is that perhaps the only editors interested in creating a reference desk guideline might tens to be those who answer questions on the reference desks. Are the instructions ate the top of the WP:DRN page really different than some future "DRN guidelines"? --Guy Macon (talk) 03:33, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
Added such to "level 2" as clearly being less in importance that specific policies or guidelines, but of greater importance than single article discussions. Collect (talk) 16:48, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

I don't think the relevant distinction is large group/small group. This strikes me as an incorrect insistence on some kind of hierarchy, since editors working in small groups on an article might make better decisions than a large number of editors. It makes just as much sense to think the larger group -- abstractly writing necessarily more general principles -- will fail to appreciate the requirements of a specific article. However, I think there is some value in distinguishing matters that are entirely conventional from those that are not. "Go on green" is a convention that could be decided the other way as easily, but it's not something to dispute. Conventional matters don't suffer from top down decision making and that might become part of this project in my view. --Ring Cinema (talk) 14:36, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

You know... this is reminding me a lot of the debates we used to have over whether WP:GNG "trumped" project specific SNGs (after years of debate... the consensus there settled on "no... both should be given equal weight"). Blueboar (talk) 22:17, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
No wonder --- WP:GNG specifically states: A topic is also presumed notable if it meets the criteria outlined in a subject-specific guideline listed in the box on the right. The conflict appears to have been quite resolved in that case. Collect (talk) 22:52, 10 April 2014 (UTC)
It emphatically doesn't mean random essays put up by wikiprojects (or whoever). The WP:PROPOSAL process is how most "subject-specific guidelines listed in the box" were elevated to guidelines. Even when they weren't it was after a long consensus discussion at the parent page. This is true of subject-specific notability guidelines, s.-s. style guidelines, and s.-s. naming conventions guidelines. One of the problems with much of the discussion above is the fallacious reasoning that because a localized consensus of editors interested in some partcular things (the articles withi the scope of a wikiproject, or how to handle something in one particular article) that they should just tell the wider consensus (be it at MOS or where ever) to go to hell. This is not how WP works. If you think you've found a hole in a major guideline or policy, you go talk about it at that guideline/policy's talk page, not just your little backwater talk page, to gain consensus to change the guidance in question to account for a variance, or a consensus that the variance is unusual (WP:IAR) or obvious WP:COMMONSENSE) enough that no variance is need, or that you're wrong (WP:DEADHORSE) and pushing some pet peeve. The incessant problem of wikiprojects, and various groups of pundits on controversial articles, thinking that WP:LOCALCONSENSUS doesn't apply to them somehow is a constant and worsening source of pointless conflict.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:12, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
The WP:PROPOSAL process is how most "subject-specific guidelines listed in the box" were elevated to guidelines.
As a point of fact, pretty much all of the subject-specific guidelines tagged before 2007 did not have formal proposals—and that's most of them. Before 2007, the actual process was a few people wrote something, and eventually someone slapped a label on it. The MOS pages in particular have a long history of problems, although the massive effort to reconcile the MOS a few years ago dealt with the worst problems. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:38, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
It's completely up to the editors on a page to agree how to follow policies and as long as they are satisfied no amount of authoritarian wishing can change that. It is first of all just a fact of the matter, and secondly the corrective on the mistakes of the self-appointed experts crew who frequently get things wrong and are slow to fix them. Policy reflects practice, so when practice changes, a few eggs might get broken. No harm done. --Ring Cinema (talk) 22:45, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
No. No consensus on any page can choose to negate core policies such as WP:BLP, WP:RS andWP:NPOV. Period. And saying that all policies can be ignored is a sure way to make Wikipedia a total anarchy. Cheers. Collect (talk) 23:25, 12 April 2014 (UTC)
Yep. There's not a question of negating anything. Period. It's already the case that any policy can be ignored by the editors on a page and nothing will change that, even those who want to pretend they are telling other editors what to do. With respect, your view is based on the idea that other editors just have to do it the way the policy tells them to. In fact, compliance is voluntary and most editors are perfectly willing to follow the most common conventions. What prevents anarchy is that the policies are good and reasonable. If that perception was undermined, as occasionally happens, policies would be ignored, as occasionally happens. --Ring Cinema (talk) 01:19, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

The wikipedia system is "fuzzy " in all respects. How policies and guidelines are written, how they interact with each other, how they guide or influence the outcome of things. And so I think that trying to derive a broad specific answer out all of that is like trying to herd cats. But a accepted core part of that fuzziness is that certain metrics determine how strongly a policy or guideline determines the outcome of a discussion. These include:

  • It's place in the Wikipedia hierarchy, with WWF by-laws policies at the top of the list, followed by core policies, followed by policies, then prominent guidelines, then non-prominent guidelines, with project guidelines near the bottom of the list. Higher in this hierarchy means more people gave this more serious and careful consideration.
  • To what degree the policy etc explicitly and clearly and categorically weighs in on the item at hand. (vs. creative claims of such)

The bottom line is that when a core policy clearly and categorically weighs in on the topic at hand, that trumps pretty much everything else. Things get fuzzier as the "metrics" get weaker. North8000 (talk) 13:53, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

Generally agree, but I would note that if a project guideline is in fact broadly followed across a whole class of articles, that also evidences a wide editing consensus. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:02, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
(added later)That could mean merely that it is usually a good thing to do, not wide agreement that it should be binding. North8000 (talk) 15:20, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
Except that all guidelines are the usually "good thing to do" and in theory actually embody the good thing done. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:30, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
As I suggested above, they would still be subservient to site wide policies, but superior to individual articles -- I think that is your point? Collect (talk) 15:00, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
No, my point is it potentially raises an actual conflict - as two different sets of editors interested in this over here do not agree how the guidelines properly apply over there, which are of interest to another set. As for policy, it is often written in the general, whereas guideline are more specific, then some guidelines are more specific than others -- and articles are written in the specific, not the general. Alanscottwalker (talk) 15:09, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
There is no amount of insistence that changes the fact of the matter that when editors agree to ignore a policy they can do it. Unless there's a mechanism I don't know of whereby a policy prevents editors from making changes or additions to pages. Sure, if there's a conflict about it the policy will normally be followed but that is again a simple case of consensual compliance by the editors who become involved. But if the editors involved ignore a policy, it will actually be ignored and the consensus will be to ignore the policy. Presumably, it is done for good faith reasons; no words can change that reality. --Ring Cinema (talk) 17:12, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
Well, right until a "disruption" is declared by the powers that be (yet, another consensus/process) and pages protected and people are exiled or self-exiled (this may be a long or short process or series of processes) -- the hope is that none of the parties will let it reach that stage -- but those things will likely occur sooner rather than later in what are seen as core affected areas. Alanscottwalker (talk) 18:20, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
What powers that be? The authoritarian impulse is not even a good metaphor, but it seems to have been used literally. In fact, good faith edits that ignore policies generally aren't even a remotely good reason to discipline an editor. The normative aspect of policy compliance is extremely widespread in its acceptance for reasons that are self-evident, but there is no cop on the beat and when the policy is wrong editors are doing everyone a favor by ignoring it, since that is the corrective on inferior policy-making. Policy reflects practice, so by definition a change in policy might postdate a change in practice. No problem! --Ring Cinema (talk) 22:31, 13 April 2014 (UTC)
What powers that be? A host of other editors, administrators, arbcom. Good faith editors that repeatedly ignore those (and policy) will often be disciplined ("good reason" or not). Alanscottwalker (talk) 00:55, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
Sure, Ring Cinema (talk · contribs), when a local consensus of editors agrees to ignore a policy they can do it; but there can and often should be consequences. But such cases should be aberrations and still should fall into one of the three following categories.
  1. A change that is later reversed for compliance with policy.
  2. Part of a pattern that eventually leads to a corresponding policy adjustment.
  3. A truly unique case unforeseen by policy where IAR applies and a no corresponding change to policy is practical.
I think it's important for editors who decide to go against policy to understand which of these three cases they believe they are in, and to state this clearly in the corresponding discussion. --B2C 18:12, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Although it is widely misunderstood, wp:iar is also policy, and rightly so. IMO it's main use and applicability to to prevent mis-use of policies (e.g. by wikilawyering) contrary to their intended purpose rather than to override their intended purpose. North8000 (talk) 22:52, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

You can always consider the one in a billion exceptional case where some supposedly absolute rule fails (i.e. comes into conflict with improving Wikipedia as judged by a consensus of editors), so only WP:IAR will always apply. And since Wikipedia has a huge number of articles, a one in a billion exception may well occur from time to time. Count Iblis (talk) 00:42, 14 April 2014 (UTC)
No, that's a misstatement of the facts. There are no absolute rules in this context so it's unclear what you're referring to. Decisions are made by consensus, in general. While authoritarians wish to impose their rules on others, it's out of place on Wikipedia, which doesn't operate that way. Poor policy decisions are not uncommon and editors are rightly the ones to decide how to apply policy on the articles they edit; that is what makes Wikipedia great. Bad policies are ignored, yet policy compliance is high. No problem! --Ring Cinema (talk) 01:50, 15 April 2014 (UTC)


Perhaps add something along the lines of: "Where two guideline writing projects conflict, and the matter cannot be settled, a sitewide RfC, constructed with the aide of Mediation or Dispute Resolution (by project members and others interested) should occur on its own dedicated page or at VPP." Alanscottwalker (talk) 13:46, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

It might be simpler to say, "if two advice pages conflict, see WP:POLCON". We don't need to duplicate the existing policy on resolving conflicts between policy and guideline pages. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:40, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Suggested change[edit]

Given my concerns (above) about the fact that, sometimes, a consensus reached at a large WikiProject may actually represent a wider consensus than one reached at a relatively obscure guideline page... I am beginning to think it best to simply omit the issue of "WikiProject consensus" vs. "Guideline consensus". So... I would like to discuss the following suggested change:

  • Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale. For instance, unless they can convince the broader community that such action is right, participants in a WikiProject cannot decide that some generally accepted policy or guideline does not apply to articles within its scope. For example, a few editors working on a particular article cannot unilaterally decide that a generally accepted policy or guideline does not apply to that article. They need to seek a wider consensus, to determine whether the wider community agrees that an exception should be made.

My suggestion is far from perfect... and I am not proposing it as a finalized product. I'm thinking conceptually at this stage, and not focused on specific language. Please discuss. Blueboar (talk) 12:42, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

Demur. And your wording would suggest that any Wikiproject could decide that any policy simply "does not apply to this project" if "more people opine at the Wikiproject than opined at the policy or guideline page" which is the path to anarchy. If the members of your posited large Wikiproject want to make the change, they should do so at the policy or guideline level and see if the broader community (This does not mean "more editors make for a stronger position, by the way, only that people with a broader range of interests are able and likely to participate) concurs with their elision of such a policy or guideline. If the broader group does not concur, then the elision would be improper. Suppose "Wikiproject:Evil People" decided to say "WP:BLP does not apply to articles under this project" - your wording would allow them to do so. And because of that possible reasoning, I demur on any removal of the primacy given to policies and guidelines over Wikiproject discussions. Collect (talk) 14:32, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
My suggested wording actually says nothing about WikiProjects (one way or the other). That was intentional.
The reality is that a large WikiProject would never reach a consensus to ignore a core policy (like WP:BLP or WP:V) in the first place. It just won't happen. So there is no need to create a "rule" about the possibility.
Now, there is the possibility of disagreements between large WikiProjects (with perhaps hundreds of active editors) and relatively obscure guidelines (with perhaps as few as 10 active editors)... In those situations, I disagree that the WikiProject needs to edit the guideline, and somehow make their consensus "official". The there is no need for a guideline to list every single exception to its guidance... the idea that there might be unwritten exceptions to guidelines is a given. That is why we wrote WP:Ignore all rules and promoted it to POLICY level - WP:IAR explicitly allows a WikiProject to say: "Guideline X may well work for every other topic area in Wikipedia... and because it does work in all those other articles, there is no need to change it... however, guideline X makes no sense in articles relating to topic Y... so in Y articles we are going to simply ignore guideline X". Blueboar (talk)
I would still prefer that certain policies be considered as non-negotiable, and that no project or article may violate such policies. I find IAR to be a strange animal of exceedingly limited relevance to the editing of articles, and appears primarily to be applied to non-editing actions rather than allowing elision of policy. Collect (talk) 13:13, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
But all policies are negotiable, were negotiated, will be negotiated, per the wishes of the editors. The idea that Wikipedia editors shouldn't be trusted isn't consistent with anything that happens here. Compliance with policy is widespread because the policies are good. When the policies are bad, editors do what's best. And the brute fact is that editors are completely free to ignore any policy as long as there is a consensus for it. Or, to put it another way, policy interpretation is subject to the constraints of consensus. That is not something to fear, it's the strength of Wikipedia. Policy is silent absent a dispute. Misapplied authority is a bigger problem then misapplied consensus. --Ring Cinema (talk) 15:26, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
Again, the reality is that a large WikiProject would never reach a consensus to ignore one of our "non-negotiable" core policies (like WP:BLP or WP:V). It just won't happen. Why? Because the vast majority of the editors participating the large WikiProjects support the core policies. If someone at a large WikiProject suggested ignoring BLP, the other editors in that project would quickly squash the idea. Where the potential for conflict between "the rules" and consensus might occur is at the guideline level. Guidelines don't enjoy the same universal support that the core policies do, and thus it is more likely that a consensus will form saying that an exception should be made. That's OK. Blueboar (talk) 16:56, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
Um-- nope. Some policies are specifically stated as not negotiable, and I have more faith in them than in any prayer that "no group would ever do anything wrong". "It just won't happen" is a classic example of "they couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Collect (talk) 06:01, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Indeed. It's also the same reasoning as "He couldn't be a serial killer, he's too quiet and nice", and "our government couldn't possibly turn into a police state, this is a democracy", and "I don't need to lock my door in Toronto; Canada is safe", and "it's perfectly safe for a toddler to play with my 130-pound mastiff, he's never bitten anyone", and "Why not point this gun at my head and play with it? It not like someone would be stupid enough to leave bullets in it."  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:49, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose proposed change or anything like it: We already have too many wikiprojects who think no rules they don't like apply to them. A change like that would be immediately and broadly misinterpreted as a huge "victory" for wikiproject "sovereignty", followed by a mad rush to ignore every inconvenient rule (especially MOS rules, but plenty others too) with impunity, specifically because wikiprojects were no longer mentioned explicitly. Further up this page, there's discussion of expanding this section to include more specific examples, e.g. reference desks, because they too often wrongly conclude they can ignore broader, site-wide consensus with impunity. WP:BLP and WP:V are red herrings here. It's a real problem that projects are ignoring MOS generally, MOS:ICONS, MOS:CAPS, etc. more specifically, as well as the naming conventions guidelines, and others. It doesn't really matter if Blueboar thinks that projects shouldn't have to gain consensus at WT:MOS to change the style guidelines. That's just how it works. It's how it needs to work to avoid complete chaos. If their reasoning makes sense to other editors and readers, it will prevail; if it doesn't, it won't. If the discussion only happens on their own project talk page, their reasoning will always prevail, not matter how faulty it is, because they're simply asking themselves for permission. Projects talking to themselves is not a consensus. PS: Just because a project lists 100s of editors doesn't mean it has 100s of active ones, much less that they all care enough about style or other guideline matters to comment on it. Just because the MOS pages are pretty stable and are not being actively edited all day every day doesn't mean they don't have a remarkable number of participants. MOS is one of the most-watchlisted Wikipedia-namespace pages on the system. The underlying logic of this "my wikiproject is bigger than your guideline crew" attitude is seriously faulty to begin with (aside from the us-vs.-them posturing). The average Westerner believes in astrology, but that doesn't make it any less pseudoscience; numbers are no substitution for reason. Wikiprojects overvalue reasoning that suits their prejudices, often totally discounting, even mocking, the concerns of editors trying hard to achieve balance in a encyclopedia with the broadest possible audience. So, no thanks. Keep that mention of wikiprojects precisely where it is in this policy!  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:49, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose as a recipe for chaos. We have enough anarchy here already. This would open the door for even more walled gardens in style, among other problems. No, no, a million times no. --John (talk) 08:08, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose - This is for the birds. Collect got it right. --Stfg (talk) 09:32, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Except that not just policies but site-wide guidelines were included for a reason. As far as I can tell, the main reason some want to change this section is to undermine the MOS having any ability to meddle in the city-state affairs of sovereign wikiprojects. <rolling eyes>  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:40, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If the local consensus is the wider consensus, then no change is needed, since the local consensus will have no trouble convincing itself. -- JHunterJ (talk) 11:15, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

A new proposal regarding bird article names[edit]

Those interested in the wider issues might like to look at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#A new proposal regarding bird article names. Andrewa (talk) 03:54, 9 April 2014 (UTC)


Could someone have a look at these recent edits? Andrewa (talk) 19:15, 6 April 2014 (UTC)

Indeed. There's been a rash of this de-capitalization of WP shortcuts all over the place lately. It's not helpful and it doesn't represent how shortcuts are actually used.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:54, 8 April 2014 (UTC)
Thank you! Are other editors involved or just this one?
In any case I think their talk page is the next stop. They are relatively new and have also made some other edits (restringing my talk page posts) which seemed unhelpful to me. I objected on their talk page and while they did eventually stop doing it (to me at least), I didn't feel that I'd had a positive response. Would someone else like to try? Andrewa (talk) 03:51, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
I spoke too soon, they are at it again and this time also breaking the links from the heads-ups on other pages by changing the section heading. This time I have reverted. [18]
Could someone else have a look at User talk:Mama meta modal#Please do not restring my comments or change the headings of sections I create, as this looks like going to an RfC/U and I need at least one other editor involved for that. TIA. See this version for previous discussion there (but please don't edit that version of course).
Or if you think I'm being unreasonable, comments to that effect welcome too. Probably best on their talk page or mine rather than here. Andrewa (talk) 07:54, 9 April 2014 (UTC)
I fixed some more of these at WP:AT. I decline to go edit-stalking the user in question to revert more of these; I figure people will clean them up as they come across them.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:46, 20 April 2014 (UTC)


Please critique my essay about "one against many" consensus situations at WP:1AM. Comments should be posted on Talk:1AM. Thanks! --Guy Macon (talk) 09:06, 12 April 2014 (UTC)

I think it's very good but not sure how practical it is. I've certainly found myself in 1 against many situations, and I usually walk away. Much more common are a few against many situations. That's much more difficult. The history of the yogurt title comes to mind, and of course the US city name controversy, and much more current now is the RM discussion at Talk:Hillary Rodham Clinton.

To address a specific type of a few against many situations, I wrote this essay, intended primarily as advice for RM closers: User:Born2cycle/Yogurt Principle. --B2C 19:59, 14 April 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 18 April 2014[edit] (talk) 09:59, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

NOT DONE... We can not respond to your edit request in any other way... you need to tell us what you want changed. Blueboar (talk) 12:14, 18 April 2014 (UTC)

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