Wikipedia talk:Don't cite essays or proposals as if they were policy

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Should this be policy? That way, we could cite it :) – Gurch 18:21, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

Considering proposing this as a guideline[edit]

But before I put the tag on, some input would be nice, as it's pointless if it just gets shot down in flames. -Amarkov blahedits 05:23, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

It seems like a reasonable essay but it isn't clear to me why it needs to be made into a guideline, we can just point people to it and say "read this" JoshuaZ 06:53, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
You're probably right. It needs some work, anyway, which I will do at an unspecified point in the future. -Amarkov blahedits 04:31, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Don't Create Essays and Then Cite Them As If They Were Policy[edit]

This essay used to be called "Wikipedia:Don't Create Essays and Then Cite Them As If They Were Policy" but now it is called "Wikipedia:Don't cite essays or proposals as if they were policy." Since the old shortcut WP:DCEATCTAITWP is a ridiculous shortcut name, I don't see why it would be better to correct the shortcut to the more "sensible" WP:DCEORAITP. I am going to leave it as the old jumble of letters a subtle joke. MPS 04:20, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I would, except I'm still trying to think of a better name. If I don't come up with one soon, yeah. -Amarkov blahedits 15:14, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately, the name change has broken {{dce}} -- Kesh 04:32, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

Going way way too far[edit]

The advice to only quote "real policy" is somewhat unhelpful.

There are plenty of so called "essays" and "guidelines" that have more power than policies. 5 pillars or trifecta violations can get you blocked very quickly. Consensus is so fundamental that you can be banned from wikipedia if you openly violate it for too long, you can be permanently banned.

Alternately, Arbitrary categories for speedy deletion can be safely ignored (no one has ever been taken to the arbitration committee for incorrectly applying these, afaicr).

I'm not sure what the core thing is that this essay wants to put forward, could someone summarise that? If it is to prevent people from quoting our guidelines for consensus or the 5 pillars, then perhaps we have a bit of a problem :-)

--Kim Bruning 09:51, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

And I managed to find a simple enough fix to the trifecta to be able to kill the essay tag on it. Kim Bruning 10:07, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
  • The problem is that, if some user says "do X per WP:SOMEPAGE", some users interpret this as "SOMEPAGE is an official policy and therefore X is mandatory". Of course, the user never actually said or implied that, it's just a misinterpretation. There are two basic solutions for this; (1) educate novice users that citing or linking to a page does not in fact imply anything, or (2) forbid people from citing or linking to pages that aren't policy. Guess which of the two will actually work :) >Radiant< 10:57, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
Your problem is more general. It is that people "interpret page X in the project namespace as official policy and therefore X is mandatory" as is. Whether or not those pages are linked is immaterial.
Ignore all rules explicitly denies that any X can be mandatory.
Kim Bruning 11:39, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
  • People who actually understand IAR are rarer than you think. Bottom line is that the project namespace is exceedingly confusing, and not just to novice editors. >Radiant< 12:43, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

Kim, I get the impression that you're misunderstanding this essay. You seem to think it says not to cite guidelines as if they were policy, but it puts guidelines in the same category as policy (follow them). Also, all the pages you cited above seem to be guidelines (or policies), not essays. --Milo H Minderbinder 15:48, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

I tried to fix this problem as much as I could. The issue isn't linking to an essay, or even saying "per X". The issue is when you act as if the essay must be changed before the other opinion can be correct. -Amarkov blahedits 15:53, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
  • So you mean the issue isn't p/g/e pages, the issue is people being stubborn even when they're wrong. Wikipedia basically lacks a mechanism for dealing with such. >Radiant< 09:45, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
The same is true for guidelines and policies. The very title of this page makes an artificial subdivision that simply does not (or should not) exist. :-/ Kim Bruning 19:52, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

I think the section is apt. As stated, Policy and Guidelines do get a much wider amount of review and support. Essays do not get the same amount of review, and should be taken with a pinch of salt. If you can't base your argument on something in a policy or guideline, then that's suggesting there's a problem in your arguments or a deficiency in policy or guidelines. Basing your argument solely on an essay can result in a 180 position from policy or guideline. --Barberio 20:16, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

If that were actually ture, then you might have a point. But it turns out that some essays are better reviewed or have more force of consensus behind them than some policies do. In fact, due to the mess that nomic players have made of the wikipedia namespace, and due to the different mechanisms which have evolved.
With a few exceptions (like Neutral point of view and Ignore all rules[1]), I think it would be more appropriate to let people *only* quote essays. The last time someone quoted a policy at me (to wit: Wikipedia:Vandalism), he got blocked for 24 hours (with 2 admins in agreement).
Too often, People say "No this is policy", when in fact they're misreading the guideline[2] in question.
Kim Bruning 20:33, 19 January 2007 (UTC) [1] Note that a guideline as fundamental as IAR was somehow erroneously marked as an essay for over a year, until Jimbo finally put an end to the tagging war. That does now make it harder for me to say "obey only essays" of course, since now I need to make exceptions ;-) [2] Note: I still call everything guidelines, because I'm from a time before Radiant, Stevertigo, and Netoholic invented the different tags ).
So what essays do you feel deserved to be taken as seriously as guidelines? And if there are some, what about the possibility of getting them promoted to guidelines? --Milo H Minderbinder 20:47, 19 January 2007 (UTC)


  • [1] You mean like when I did this edit? Before it said that the trifecta was not policy. Um okay, good luck pov-pushing, being a dick, and trying to ruleslayer your way out of the subsequent arbcom case, I'd say. ;-)
  • why is Speedy deletion unmarked, while Some list of (admittedly well used) cats is marked policy?
  • Why is the keystone of wikipedia: Wikipedia:Consensus a *guideline*? Everything else must surely be below it, but that makes no sense at all!
  • 5 Pillars is not policy, instead it's unmarked.
  • Bold revert discuss was previously marked with a tag "this is a descriptive page", to prevent obsessive compulsive taggers from mucking around. Alas, someone undid that and someone put "essay" on it. Um, okay, whatever. Why "essay". I'd like to see people do more BRD, and less "It's in the rules, I really have to waste 100s of wikipedians time over 2 weeks, I'm not allowed to actually use my brain". So, like, the irony of having a nomic-er put it in a pidgeonhole here is rather biting :-P But in no way must it ever be a guideline, because I'm worried that people would try things before they were ready.
There's a bit of a distinct *absence* of pattern here. :-P It's probably almost impossible to maintain this in any consistent way, because pages change and people change or add or remove concepts.
And yet you would truely like to enforce an arbitrary pattern some people just made up?
And yet you still say "don't cite essays as if they were policy". Um, dude, some essays *are* policy. Some policies are really essays. Deal with it.
(If you're thinking of telling me to go fix it: Well, I tried getting rid of the silly templates, but apparently some people have a religeous fixation on them, so I can't get consensus for that at all. :-/ When you can't fix something on wikipedia, you just ignore it, and eventually it might even go away. But the writers of this page obviously weren't content to let sleeping bears lie ;-) )
--Kim Bruning 23:35, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
The only one of those I see that's an essay is BRD, and there are guidelines or policies about being bold and discussing. And the 3/5 sets are just lists of guidelines and policies, I don't see why those would need to be declared guideline or policy since the things they list are. I still don't see this essay as taking away any of the oomph from any important notions that aren't already a guideline or policy. --Milo H Minderbinder 23:50, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
You see no issues with unmarked pages? Kim Bruning 00:31, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Unmarked pages are almost all essays. (Excepting project pages) --Barberio 01:16, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Milo H Mindbender seems to have a different opinion? --Kim Bruning 01:50, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

(Arbitary break) Um... You given example of an 'unmarked policy page' was Speedy deletion. However, that page defines no policy, it's a process/project page, the Speedy deletion *policy* sits at WP:CSD. --Barberio 12:49, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

Alright, I give up. I have no idea what criteria you are using to decide if a page is policy, process, project, essay, blank, raspberry or other flavor. Could you please define? --Kim Bruning 19:16, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
Generally, a page is whatever the consensus support has been to define it as. But the consensus usually follows the lines of having actionable pages called Guidelines and Policy, purely informational pages called Howtos, and Processes being pages like RfC and AfD.
An Essay is any page without consensus support in favour of it being applied. Pages which can't clearly be sorted into consensus accepted Guideline, Policy, Process or Howto, are very likely to be Essays. --Barberio 20:20, 20 January 2007 (UTC)
So in short, a random distribution?
What about pages that describe how wikipedia actually works (as opposed to how some group of folks would like to see it work). What tag do those get? --Kim Bruning 05:27, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
That sounds awfully like promoting personal points of view over consensus. Simply put, if it's not consensus supported, it's an Essay representing a certain point of view on how the wiki works. The *only* people who get to override consensus here are the Wikimedia foundation. --Barberio 08:05, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Say 200 people actually do X using method Y, and say 20 people agree to make a page that says "do X using method Z". Which method has consensus, Y or Z? --Kim Bruning 20:23, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Then they should have no difficulty demonstrating consensus support right? --Barberio 23:01, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Are you trying to dodge the question? :-) So which method has consensus, according to you, Y or Z? --Kim Bruning 23:09, 21 January 2007 (UTC)
Assuming it's a sample set of only 220 people, then *neither* view is the consensus view. Consensus is not majority. --Barberio 23:25, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

(unindent) Actually, I'll admit to being slightly mean. The 20 people making the page are a red herring. The consensus is of course method Y, since that's the method being used on-wiki.(With 0 dissenters in this case, as I had mentioned 0 reversions, and 0 talk page discussions.)

Does that compute for you? --Kim Bruning 00:28, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

Er... I guess. I just don't see any relationship to the matter at hand? In such a case, we would mark a page which proposed a method that did not have consensus support with the {{essay}} tag. On the other hand if the method does have consensus support in that it *should* be applied even if it's common not to, then it might be a guideline or policy. For instance many many many articles lack full citation and use of clear references to reliable sources, but the consensus is that all articles *should* have full citation and use of clear references to reliable sources. --Barberio 12:46, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Barberio's classification schema has two flaws. First, it is important what a page is, rather than what people think it is, per WP:HORSE. And second, it is not true that any page that doesn't fit the classification is therefore an essay; essays are not the "category of the uncategorized", per Barber paradox. The answer to Kim's question, per the very apt If a tree falls in a forest, is that X has consensus support, and whether Y or Z is used to reach X is irrelevant. >Radiant< 14:29, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
<Grin> Yes yes yes! And applying the KISS principle, we find that the best method to approach X is method I (for Ignore all rules ) ;-)
I do agree we need some additional suggestions for people who don't quite grasp how method I works yet, though. But a lot of people mistake those suggestions and guidelines for some sort of rules, chiseled in stone.
This page seems to strengthen that in some ways. Sure, you've cut out pages marked "essay" and "proposed", but you're merely replacing them with "guideline" and "policy".
How do we get people to clue in totally?
--Kim Bruning 16:12, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
  • We don't, basically. You can't expect everybody to have a deep understanding of how Wikipedia works. You can, however, steer them away from false assumptions and let them take it from there. This page is a typical example of false assumption, in that it correctly identifies a problem (of misunderstanding) but assumes the solution is changing the way regular editors work, rather than educating the people that actually misunderstand. >Radiant< 16:22, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
I'd like people to learn somehow. ;-) Not initially, perhaps, but after a while (say 1-3 months), why shouldn't they be able to? --Kim Bruning 16:57, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
yeswhatisayhereishardtounderstandbutitsnotmyproblemitsyoursfornotbeingabletoreadit. --Barberio 16:29, 22 January 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, was doing a quick answer first, 'cause I really liked Radiants reasoning :-). He was saying that it doesn't matter how you get there, it's the destination that counts. In that case, the shortest way to explain all the rules of wikipedia is just "We don't care, As long as you're sure that you're improving the encyclopedia, do whatever looks right'' ;-)
I'm a HUGE fan of the KISS principle, so that kind of thing always makes me really happy :-)
But maybe it's a bit of an oversimplification. People will be sitting around going "sureyoucansaythatbuthowtheheckamisupposedtoknowwhatLOOKSright?", and we'd be back to square one.
So we basically need some way of explaining what looks right, while at the same time not locking people into some kind of this be da rulez, stick to them or else, capice?, because, well, that's not very conducive to writing an encyclopedia.
No seriously, we're starting to get bad press because some people are making a bureaucratic mess of things. (In fact, that's been going on for a year or two already). We really need to clean up shop somehow.
Sooo, I guess in some ways this page helps with that. At least bureaucratinators might be discouraged from shooting essays and proposed pages at people. At the same time though, it seems to make guideline and policy pages more potent weapons, and they can still be used to shoot down poor little innocent encyclopedia-writers. ;-)
Any ideas on what to do about that? --Kim Bruning 16:57, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

Merging with Wikipedia:Essays are not policy[edit]

Both of these essays essentially say the same thing, so there is no point in having both of them around when one will do just fine. --Farix (Talk) 18:25, 4 February 2007 (UTC)

People haven't responded to my objections on either of them either. <scratches head> --Kim Bruning 20:49, 4 February 2007 (UTC)
That's funny, I seem to see responses to your objections. Are you sure you just don't like those responses? --Milo H Minderbinder 13:20, 5 February 2007 (UTC)
I responded back too, but the conversation has died down --Kim Bruning 12:33, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Seems the original author of the other essay is removing the merge tag without actually explaining why. --Farix (Talk) 02:19, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
You're not telling anything on the other talk page :-) --Kim Bruning 12:33, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
It's not necessary, That's why the discussion links in the mergeto and mergefrom tags points to just one talk page. That way, the discussion is centralized on the target article. --Farix (Talk) 12:58, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, they did not. But now they do. :-) --Kim Bruning 14:48, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes, it appears that I'm trying to hit a moving target. I've been busy asking the merger to tell me why it should be merged on the other page. Sheesh. - Ta bu shi da yu 07:48, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

While we're at it, could we merge with Wikipedia:Don't overuse shortcuts to policy and guidelines to win your argument as well? --Kim Bruning 14:50, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Maybe not. The other two are essays about best practices. WP:BASH, on the other hand, is a counter argument to WP:AADD. --Farix (Talk) 15:01, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
On the contrary, I think all three actually cover different parts of the same problem. Perhaps replacing them all with a fourth page covering the entire problem would be best? --Kim Bruning 15:58, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
If you feel that strongly about it, then go ahead and place the appropriate tags. I will admit that the title of WP:BASH is misleading. --Farix (Talk) 18:04, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Tags? --Kim Bruning 14:04, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
The same merge tags I put on this and Wikipedia:Essays are not policy. --Farix (Talk) 16:49, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm proposing it here, am I not? --Kim Bruning 17:13, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
But if it's not tagged, no one who visits that essay will know about it. --Farix (Talk) 18:57, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Anyone who has it on their watchlist does though. --Kim Bruning 19:59, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
But how do they know that there is a proposal to merge that essay into this one? That's why we use the merge tags. --Farix (Talk) 20:59, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Watchlist. --Kim Bruning 16:15, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

I would like to state that I strongly oppose the merge. The reasons are that the essays are about two slightly different things. My essay is that essays really aren't policy. This essay is an essay that tells people that it's not a good idea to cite essays or proposals as if they were policy. I know the distinction may seem subtle, but my essay is more emphatic than this essay about the fact that an essay should not be seen as an endorsed policy by the community. This essay more emphasises that it's not a good idea to throw around links to essays like you would set in stone policy, mainly because it upsets people. - Ta bu shi da yu 07:48, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Policy and guidelines aren't really policy either, btw. (see talk page at Essays are not policy). --Kim Bruning 16:16, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Which I disagree with wholeheartedly. If you violate NPOV, you are going to get blocked or your work will be reverted or changed. NPOV is set in stone. - Ta bu shi da yu 03:17, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
See the talk page at essays are not policy (first section) --Kim Bruning 11:23, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
Doesn't those words appear in the box? If so, one of these essays is an oxymoron. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 67.102.28.217 (talk) 15:01, 11 March 2007 (UTC).

Ta bu shi da yu, NPOV is most certainly not set in stone. There are all sorts of clever workarounds some users are using to effectively push their POV (e.g. precisely by citing NPOV) and sometimes even get disagreeing users blocked who act in defense of real NPOV. In my opinion the only thing worthy of being set in stone is m:Don't be a dick, as there are unfortunately many dicks, pushing their POV unchallenged by policy watchdogs. I even go one step further and say that some of the toughest policy watchdogs are actually textbook examples of dicks. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 07:33, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Wrong. If you push a POV, however cleverly, you will most likely get found out at some point. NPOV is definitely non-negotiable. It might not always be noted straight away what's going on, but trust me: if you try to be tricky, you'll be pulled up short. - Ta bu shi da yu 07:59, 29 March 2007 (UTC)
I could show you several examples of long-term abuse that prove you wrong. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 18:08, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
I would be most interested in reviewing these examples, and if necessary I would be happy to evaluate whatever action seems necessary. - Ta bu shi da yu 21:51, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

spirit vs wording[edit]

To be sure, essays are not policy and should not be cited as such. But essays often embody the spirit of policy much better than an arbitrary interpretation of the wording of a policy. The "end-run around the Wikipedia process" is more often than not achieved by accomodating the interpretation of a policy, such as citing WP:AGF, WP:CIVIL, WP:NPA, WP:OR etc, in all sorts of content disputes, and not by a user citing an essay as policy. I especially like WP:AAGF, and frequently cite it as a response to WP:AGF remarks. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 07:23, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Another idea: Would it be ok to react towards constant bringing up of Jimbo by citing a non-existent policy like WP:JimboisnotYoda? Just came to my mind. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 03:05, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Surely that would be WP:YodaJimboIsNot? O:-) --Kim Bruning 10:36, 23 March 2007 (UTC) (I also agree with your previous comment, but resisted the urge to go <aol>me 2</aol> ;-)
Laughing agree. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 19:16, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Oh, thanks. Even better. —KNcyu38 (talkcontribs) 05:09, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Good point[edit]

And a good essay :) -- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk  21:43, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Editing[edit]

I've added links to other relevant best practices (be they essay, guideline or policy), and edited the essay to be more in line with those other practices pages. --Kim Bruning 00:28, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Deletion review[edit]

There is a deletion review of WP:DONTQUOTEPERSONALESSAYSASPOLICY at Wikipedia:Deletion_review . Ikip (talk) 07:06, 18 May 2009 (UTC)