Wikipedia talk:Featured article candidates/archive55

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See Wikipedia:Featured articles/2012 RfC on FA leadership


FAC 2012

I hope 2012 proves to be a joyous and prosperous one for all who contribute here, both IRL and "in here" as well! FA writers give us top content to display on the mainpage, but without FAC reviewers and the helpful bot operators, our FA writers would have a harder time getting the content displayed, so as always, a most hearty thanks to the reviewers and bot operators who make it all happen, along with Raul654 and Dabomb87 for writing the blurbs.

With a New Year, it's a good time to take the temperature in here. I'll start with some things I've noticed, and hope others will chime in with any other matters for discussion.

  1. We continue to see that the biggest problem affecting FA production, IMO, is the lack of reviewers. Last week, I spent several hours reading through FAC and came to the conclusion that there was only one that could be archived, and only three or four that were "mature" to the point of a closer look for promotion. Ucucha subsequently promoted/archived and apparently came to the very same conclusion. I frequently find that the hours FAC delegates spend reading results in same: just about nothing that can be closed because most are lacking in reviews. What can we do to encourage more reviewers to engage?
  2. On the same topic, we continue to see a lion's share of work done by a handful of reviewers (you know who you are, and so do all of us, and you are appreciated :), accompanied by some nominators who never review, and the additional problem that some topic areas receive only review from other editors from that topic area, while needing independent review for jargon, comprehensibility to laypersons, etc. I've long been against requiring quid pro quo reviews (for the very reasons that plague DYK IMO), but is there anything we should do to encourage those editors who "receive more than they give" (post-Christmas terminology :) to also engage in more reviewing?
  3. Prose standards are slipping. All too often, even when a FAC has "matured" to the point of potential promotion, I find that glaring prose issues are evident. Since my own prose isn't stellar, if even I can spot prose issues, that's not a good thing. While I'm pretty sure we've done a good job on checking images, reliability of sources, accurate representation of sources, too close paraphrasing, etc, I'm concerned that prose standards might warrant more attention. Any ideas for how to kickstart that? It's not optimal IMO for delegates to have to weigh in too often on FACs, but should we promote a FAC with support when prose issues are glaring?
  4. Repeatedly, I get posts on my talk page to the effect that there is some minimum number of supports that should get a FAC promoted, or some minimum amount of time that FACs should be on the page, and both of those numbers are misstated in the wrong direction and with no basis in FAC procedures of instructions. There is no minimum amount of support for a FAC to be promoted, although we never promote with less than three, yet increasingly, with the lack of reviews, I'm seeing more and more articles getting only three reviews (and per the point above, not always a solid prose review), and nominators complaining about closures of long-running reviews that have no consensus for promotion. It was once common for FACs to be promoted with many supports and solid reviews within five days, and to be closed within two weeks-- yet I'm getting complaints about closing FACs with no supports at three of four weeks. What gives, and what can we or should we do about it? Is the bot placement of "older nominations" confusing people about the length of time nominations typically or should run? I always thought of ten days as "old", depending on the number of reviews on the page, and try to avoid closing nominations aggressively when the workload is light, but may close them sooner if the page is stalled. Right or wrong?
  5. WP:TFAR has become dead, moribund. Is that because folks are now afraid to nominate there because of the fallout from the (unsupported, non-consensual) notion that only high-page-view articles are worthy of being Featured articles, is it only because of the holidays (I don't believe we've seen that before), is it related to the undue scrutiny on some specific authors that occurred during November, or is there another factor? What, if anything, can be done about the downturn at WP:TFAR? Page requests were to the limit of five in the two past years. [1] [2]
  6. Delegates: Karanacs is no longer promoting/archiving, but I've yet to find a time that I've read through FAC and found a lot of noms that are ready to be either promoted or archived-- the backlog on the page is related to lack of reviewers, not lack of delegates. Yet, we've seen on this page calls for more delegates (which would take away valuable reviewers). Feedback? Is there any reason to take away valuable reviewers and appoint another delegate, if neither of us are finding many FACs that can be closed either way, because of lack of review?
  7. Without characterizing the past discussions on the topic, or the origin of those, are there concerns about FAC, FAR or TFA/R leadership that need to be discussed here?
  8. Are there any matters related to WP:WIAFA, WP:TFAR, or leadership that warrant a wider RFC here, such as was held last year?

That's all I can think of-- please add as needed! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:30, 3 January 2012 (UTC)


I'm new to FA, and I've just nominated my first article. I am a bit concerned about the lack of reviewers: it would be frustrating to see all the hard work evaporate because there aren't enough reviewers to reach three supports. That said, I understand it is a two way street, and I really, really appreciate all the hard work done by the reviewers and delegates. To do my fair share, I've provided comments on several FA nominees (although I've never been so bold as to Support or Oppose). Your list of issues above is a good synopsis. The only thing I would add is: I think the FAC process could benefit from a checklist for each nominee, containing tasks like spot checks, images, prose, etc. As it stands, when looking at an article that has been in the queue for awhile, it is hard to tell at a glance if those various pieces of the puzzle have been completed. I suppose the delegates have a checklist in their head, but important processes like FAC should have written checklists, rather than relying on memory. --Noleander (talk) 18:46, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
It's time for new leadership. Raul has 'delegated' his Divinely Granted Directorship, which amounts to an abdication. Hold an RfC of some sort to determine the appropriate means of running an election. New leadership will spark new ideas, new participation, and better criteria for featured status. Alarbus (talk) 18:54, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
On the subject of prose standards, this is probably the hardest to meet pre-FAC. The standards that some FAC reviewers/editors know and expect to be met at FAC are far higher than even some LoCE editors can provide. Copyediting for prose is a kind of art, and thus it would be better to have more collaboration by the knowledgeable copyeditors at FAC to polish language that they know best how to do and do quickly, instead of flat out opposing because there are problems. No, FAC cannot become a copyedit process, and we should still be quickfailing articles with poor copyedits that can be sniffed out quickly and easily. But when we're at miscellaneous problems throughout an article in prose, getting collaborative help rather than rejection would go a long way to make the FAC process less elite-ist and encourage more to participate. There is a balance here between the extremes. --MASEM (t) 18:57, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I would say, after what I fear is about to become five unsuccessful FACs, that I will never feel confident enough about the process to start judging others. They're incredibly stressful, I've only attempted them because something about the rigorousness of the protocols is attractive. Clearly, though, the more inner strength I find (and the support in at least one case of another editor) to put myself through the whole shabang the more I become your problematic nominator #2. I think you're also judging #4 rather wrongly. It's just an extension of number 1 and some of the other points. I don't know what other nominators think, but it's not that they ignore the rules, it's because they are really, really frustrated. Not generally at anyone in particular. I ran a few tests a coupe of months back, and what we know is that FAC standards have tightened quite considerably. I am therefore starting to think that, although this is nice, is is unsustainable. There aren't enough judges that can sit above that process and preside. Editorial quality is starting to outstrip many publications, and so it must surely be taking more and more "balls" to say, yes, I can pick holes in this. Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 19:05, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

I've said most of this before: (1) I've tried several times to participate in FA reviewing, but I am always driven away by a dismaying feeling that my input simply vanishes into a massive unbroken wall of text. I think it's crazy to have a system that does not allow reviews to have sections. (2) It is hard to maintain awareness of the list of current candidates. As far as I know, the only way to see the list is to load the huge FAC page, which is annoying to everybody and a big problem to people with slow connections. There really ought to be a page that contains nothing except a list of the currently active candidates. Looie496 (talk) 19:19, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

In response to your second point, there is Wikipedia:Nominations Viewer, which will condense the unwieldy page into something much more manageable. GRAPPLE X 19:29, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
And the one I use to check for untranscluded noms: Wikipedia:Featured articles/Candidate list. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:31, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
(break cancelled, I guess) I agree with Alarbus, we need elections. Plainly, my break will have to wait. The incumbents free to stand, of course. We can find, of course, ways of honoring those who have served even as we do this. I would simply propose we elect a director for a short term. The rest can follow from there.--Wehwalt (talk) 20:13, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Note - I've stepped up and reviewed two articles - instead of snipping at each other, how about everyone here ... reviews an article if they haven't in a while. And if you're not comfortable supporting or opposing, at least leave some comments on some aspect of the article. Ealdgyth - Talk 20:17, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm with Ealdgyth. A few hours ago I thought I should start reviewing again (unfortunately have been busy IRL) and then saw this. And btw - Noleander, I was excited to see the Du Bois article nominated and would have reviewed anyway! I think reviewing is time better spent than sniping. Truthkeeper (talk) 20:26, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Generally, I agree with all SG's points, except that on TFAR I think it is just the holidays, and anyway it's nice if TFAR is busy, but is it essential? However, you don't mention the not entirely successful effort to increase the expectations for reviews that have been a notable feature of the year, and may have scared some people off. Otherwise it is probably just a reflection of the general lack of content editors. To Louie - these days there are plenty of all-too-short nom pages! Johnbod (talk) 20:26, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Hmmm don't all jump at once if this has been tried in the past, but do we inform relevant Wikiprojects about FAs? Also it might be time to do an update to the last Signpost article about reviewing, Featured content gets a lot of publicity there but do we also tell people that reviews are welcome and they don't have to check every aspect provided they say what they've checked? Lastly, and I'm preparing to duck as I say this. the first stage of the wikicup ends in late Feb and subsequent stages every few weeks afterwards. Now I appreciate that not every cup participant has ideal qualities for FAC, but some will have and a personal request from an FA delegate or regular might be just the ticket for those who you do want to recruit for here. ϢereSpielChequers 20:40, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
    • I'm of mixed opinions about this - sometimes reviewers from WikiProjects will be very thorough and will catch issues that someone not familiar with the subject matter wouldn't. But other times, reviewers will just go "Oh, a _ article! Support!" (Granted, I did that a few times in my early days...) --Rschen7754 22:32, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Arb break 1

  • I agree with Wehwalt and Alarbus; elections would be a great idea. We have just elected out third tranche of coordinators at the GOCE, and find that the system is serving us well. Our system is based heavily on that of WP:MILHIST, which has been holding elections since 2006. Continually updating the leadership might mean an influx of new ideas for ways to improve the nuts and bolts of the FA process, which might help attract more reviewers and a higher level of participation all around. Which leads me to my second point: A lot of people are experiencing extreme load times when trying to work on the FA pages, and this is off-putting for some editors, as it means techniques such as templates or section headers are not permitted. There is likely a better way to organise the FA pages. If the FA team was to work in coordination with the more technically-minded people and the people who run the bots, the system could likely be improved. --Dianna (talk) 20:46, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I may be the rare drive-by reader here who thinks elections would be a horrible idea. Other delegates to replace those who aren't consistently here would be great. I never thought Sandy should have to be a delegate for life, but opening the FAC process to politicking, elections, etc., would compromise the integrity of the process. Imagine an FAC-elect who gets "fuck you for not promoting my article I'm not voting for you ever again and I'm going to run against you" response on their talk page. There are ways to improve this process, but elections is the wrong way to go. --Moni3 (talk) 21:46, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
And yet, other processes face that sort of thing and survive. Arbitrators face that every day. The community is deemed politically mature enough that we overcome that, and we re-elected what? Five out of six arbitrators seeking re-election?--Wehwalt (talk) 21:55, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I am in agreement with Moni3. Elections and political posturing can be and often are counter productive to both quality and creativity. I'm opposed to elections here. Arbitors hold political office with term limits, not the same thing by the way. And as you imply the political scenario is not ideal anyway..Modernist (talk) 21:58, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
As am I. Elections would be a dreadful idea, even the death knell for FAC. "With all due respect", there's no particular skill required to be an arbitrator. As you say, it's a political position, not a technical one. Elections also somewhat miss the point: what power do the delegates actually have? Doesn't the real power sit with the dwindling pool of reviewers? Malleus Fatuorum 22:02, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I would not say that MILHIST or Guild elections had turned into anything like that, although it's an ongoing concern. I am neutral on this issue. Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 22:08, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Elections or no elections, there's something odd about the fact that Raul is listed as the head honcho, yet rarely participates in this process in any way (I am aware that he is still active in other areas of the wider FA project), and the fact that Karanacs remains "on the books" if she is no longer promoting. In the same vein, it took an awful long time for Laser brain to be replaced by Ucucha. J Milburn (talk) 22:12, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
@ Malleus: The dwindling pool of regulars have almost all already posted in this thread. Elections would demonstrate to the wider editorship that the FA process is available not only to a small clique of contributors, but is welcoming to new people and new approaches. --Dianna (talk) 22:14, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
(ec) I'm always fascinated by the idea that FAC is limited to a small clique. There are no requirements to jump in and review... but I notice a number of folks posting here that I've not noticed reviewing - granted, I could be wrong and have missed them (there are a lot of FACs up that I don't comment on, so it's easy to miss other folks) but I think the best way to prove that FAC isn't limited to a clique is to ... step up and review. I almost think I need to start handing out little buttons like they do with voting or giving blood - you know "I've reviewed an FAC today, have you?"... would that help? Seriously folks, REVIEW! Ealdgyth - Talk 22:19, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I know MILHIST has elections, as does ARBCOM and apparently the GOCE. There's nothing really at stake at GOCE, so that's not an accurate parallel. People really tie a lot of emotion into the articles they write, which I know this isn't news to anyone experienced here. I'm not familiar enough with MILHIST to speak intelligently about it, but the combination of the emotion people put into prepping and maintaining FAs combined with Internet politicking will be extremely divisive. Decisions on whether to promote or archive will be open to "Will they vote for me next time around?" Crappy articles may get promoted while appropriate ones may not. It will become a political game. Dianna, if you think FAC is ruled by small cliques, or some notion of a group of elite editors, just wait until it gets opened up to people running for office. It's just not a good road to travel. --Moni3 (talk) 22:16, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I simply don't agree with Diannaa at all, creativity and quality are not improved by opening the process to all comers; which it is anyway by the way, sorry...Modernist (talk) 22:21, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I have done a little reviewing over the years by the way - not as much as I should perhaps...Modernist (talk) 22:23, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
FWIW - I came to FAC via GOCE (when it was dead and I was like the only person in GOCE) because I watched this page when an article I'd copyedited was a candidate. At that time there was a call for reviewers, in fact I believe it was in January, probably 2010, and I slowly began to review. And then to write. There's no clique here - but we do need more reviewers. Perhaps the people at GOCE who are copyediting could jump in and review pages they haven't copyedited - that would bring in new blood, give them a better sense of the requirements, and ultimately probably teach by example so that they'd feel bold enough to begin submitting pages. As for elections - terrible idea, but the reason I ignored it. It's just more shit-stirring to be honest. ( ... excuse me for the foul language .. I know we're all sensitive these days ... ) Truthkeeper (talk) 22:31, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Better be cautious, Truthkeeper. It's still an open question whether or not swearing is allowed! ;) The elections would be for the clerking positions, not for reviewing articles at all. It would be elections for the head of FA and the clerking positions that SandyGeorgia, Karanacs, and Ucucha now hold. Reviewers would still be unelected members of the community, just as they are right now. --Dianna (talk) 22:41, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I do know the difference between a delegate and a reviewer, just to be clear. The delegates really are only part of the process - what we need are more editors willing to review. It's that simple. Truthkeeper (talk) 23:02, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
With all due respect I think SandyGeorgia, Karanacs, and Ucucha and Raul have done a terrific job. This begins to look like a crusade...Modernist (talk) 22:46, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
(ec)For the sake of argument, what if Raul, Sandy, Karanacs, and Ucucha were replaced by 4 other editors (or any number, it doesn't matter) who were appointed instead of elected? The comments made in this discussion make it seem as if those pressing for elections would be pleased just to see new people in these positions. What would elections do to accomplish more creativity or change? Have any potential changes been suggested to the FAC talk page, either informally or through an RfC? What kind of changes are we talking about here? Would they primarily be replacing the director and the delegates? --Moni3 (talk) 22:49, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

(ec @ J Milburn) Please clarify so we can be sure we're getting to the heart of your concerns. Why is it odd that Raul may not appear to be in a hurry to fix what isn't apparently broken (I don't mean to speak for him, that is my impression only), or that he typically stays out of the way and lets consensus form, and what harm resulted from leaving Laser brain or Karanacs "on the books" while they weren't promoting? Did a shortage of delegates affect process? Specific examples of how FACs were affected, or can improve, via processes here are helpful. I've always rather thought that Raul's not "overdirecting" was helpful.

Diannaa, I hope you didn't intend to leave Ucucha or Gimmetrow out of the "bot" folks, as they are both accomplished? We might discuss in what ways bots could make FAC function more smoothly, but one of FAC's strongpoints (or not?) is that it's not run by bot (reference DYK) or "votes"-- it's an area of Wikipedia where human eyes do the looking, human brains make the decisions, and human fingers type them, and where "votes" and strength of numbers can't influence outcomes, which I believe is A Good Thing (examples to the contrary would be helpful if anyone disagrees). I suppose if consensus found that bots could be more helpful at FAC, Ucucha and Gimmetrow would generate them, but one of the questions I posed above is whether the bot placement of "older nominations" (which I used to do manually, depending on the size of the page) is affecting perception of how long stale nominations should be left on the page. Has the bot helped there?

@ Diannaa, could you give some examples of how the FAC consensus-driven process, whereby delegates judge consensus, measure whether everything important has been assessed, make sure independent and expert review is provided, and promote or archive based on reviewer commentary, is similar to the skills needed to join in copyediting at the Guild of Copy Editors?

Also @ Dianna, since you aren't a prolific FAC reviewer or FA writer, could you give some examples of how elections in particular (or anything, in fact) would help encourage you to review more here, because having more reviewers would be grand? Specific FACs as examples would help. Also by no means have most FAC regulars already posted here ... I'm curious to know why you have that impression after only a few hours of discussion.

Further, FAC does not have clerks: delegates are fully empowered to act as Raul would act. Examples and specifics will help us come to better improvements here. Regards, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:50, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

  • This isn't the page to hash this out amongst just the usuals; that's the problem. SG's the one that agreed to an RfC about a month ago, and just above. It doesn't matter what is discussed here, what matters is what the wider community believes should happen with the process that's supposed to result in the project's best offerings. A half percent of articles at GA/FA is failure. Ten years into wp it should be 10%; with new direction, it can still get there. Alarbus (talk) 22:51, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
    • That may well be the case, but it may also be the case that one of the reasons FAC works is that we don't rush to "votes" without discussion. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:52, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
The idea of opening the FAC process to people completely ignorant of it is harrowing and unjustifiable--unless you would like to justify it. A half percent of the articles failing to be promoted to GA or FA is pretty damn good. Actually, I think that's a typo or something. I don't understand your last sentence at all. I think I got it. But you seem to be saying it's the FAC delegates who are responsible for the lack of quality in articles all over Wikipedia. Is that accurate? --Moni3 (talk) 22:58, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
He means that half a percent of Wikipedia currently holds FA/GA status, when that proportion should be much higher by now. GRAPPLE X 22:57, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
We need more editors willing to review - it's that simple. Truthkeeper (talk) 23:02, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
Then someone ought to buckle down and write those new FAs and GAs instead of the usual stuff you see at new page patrol, it's that simple. Malleus Fatuorum 23:35, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
And people need to start going to the library, reading and writing. It is that simple. These conversations inevitably become extremely acrimonious, which I think is counterproductive, particularly when I just started a review (the first one I've done in months!). FAC writers are bad; FAC reviewers need to be replaced, and FAC delegates dumped. This, in my view, is the creeping and overlooked incivility that's pervasive on Wikipedia. Truthkeeper (talk) 23:39, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm also against the idea of elections - basically, don't try to fix what's not broken. The delegate system is not broken. It's not the delegates fault that only half a percent of articles are GA/'s the fact that we don't have more reviewers. What would replacing the delegates do? Sandy has already said that there is really very little that can be promoted/archived right now, and so more/different delegates would not change the number of articles through the system. Or is anyone disagreeing with this? Have the delegates been doing a poor job? Basically, we need ideas for getting more reviewers (and I appreciate that there are a couple of people on this page who have been tossing out ideas for this), not ideas for "fixing" what's basically the only part of the Wiki that's not broken. Dana boomer (talk) 23:04, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

@ Sandy, you are missing the point about the bots. The bot operators would have to be consulted if the page layouts were redesigned, to be sure that the bots could still perform their expected tasks. The way page redesign could help attract reviewers is because many are currently discouraged from contributing by the intimidating wall 'o' text presented by the current page design. As far as turnover in staff if elections were to occur, I would certainly not expect that all four current coordinators would be removed in an election, as you have all been doing splendid work. --Dianna (talk) 22:59, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

@ Moni3: your remark "The idea of opening the FAC process to people completely ignorant of it is harrowing and unjustifiable" seems counter-productive, as one of SandyGeorgia's reasons for opening this thread seemed to me to be how to attract new people to contribute, review, and help out at FA. --Dianna (talk) 23:12, 3 January 2012 (UTC)

Here's the disconnect: I read Alarbus' comments as saying it's the delegates' fault that a larger percentage of articles aren't at GA or FA. I don't understand that. The quality of articles gets degraded little by little unless someone is there to maintain them, often rigorously. Among most other Wikipedians, this rigorous maintenance of articles is seen as ownership. It's not an issue of the delegates doing something to encourage editors to improve articles. That's not what their jobs are. Any Wikipedian should be improving articles with sources and prose edits, but by far the majority of editors do not improve articles on a large scale. They do not understand what excellent sourcing is, or brilliant prose, or image policy. Neither did I when I got here. But unless you're trying to nominate articles for FA, Wikipedia does not require anyone to improve sourcing and prose. It just expects folks to do the very least and not piss people off. So if you're suggesting that this process would be improved if editors who have never written an FA, or reviewed any articles for FA, acted as a delegate to promote or archive FACs and those delegates were elected to that position...I don't have words for how awful that scenario might be. I really hope you're not suggesting that scenario. New reviewers? Absolutely. Whenever someone comments on the length or language of an FA, I encourage them to review FACs if only to understand the significant disparity in quality between an FA and a regular B class article. If your comments are restricted to the delegates encouraging folks to review, then I agree that is within reasonable expectations. --Moni3 (talk) 23:24, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Re Looie496's point about section headings, is there any reason why we can't make a section for each review? I can't be the only one to have had edit conflicts because of the current wall of text, is the objection something to do with the way all FACs are transcluded on one page? If so one possible use for a bot would be to list the current candidates, their number of reviews and maybe even the particular things that they've been checked for. ϢereSpielChequers 23:32, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
    • To pick up on just one of your points, how would a list of things they've been checked for help? When you check prose, for example, do you check the same things that I might? Malleus Fatuorum 23:38, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
      • I'd agree that prose is an aspect where multiple eyes can be helpful, no comment as to whether you and I would pick up the same prose issues. But if someone is willing to check image licenses or we've managed to get someone who knows the topic to comment on comprehensiveness it might be helpful to have one list which easily shows all current FACs and whether or not anyone has checked those aspects. ϢereSpielChequers 00:52, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
        • I understand what you're saying, but I still don't buy it. Let's say Randy from Boise turns up and ticks the image review box. Is that job done? Malleus Fatuorum 01:00, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
          • In the case of the much maligned Randy, yes absolutely, he's been here for years and for all his odd views about Ancient Greece by now I'm sure he knows how to do an image review. But I take your point, it wouldn't inspire confidence if I was to tick the image review box with an edit summary of "they all haz alt text". Probably best to put those boxes under the control of the delegates and those they authorise to make changes to them. ϢereSpielChequers 01:41, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Anything that will help should be on the table for discussion/consensus, but my contention is that whenever you encounter this "wall of text" at FAC, there wasn't ample review or usage of the "oppose" button early on. Is this a wall of text? Could someone convince me that the "wall of text" problem is not an absence of reviewers, both here and at peer review, so that FAC reviews are looking like peer reviews on ill-prepared articles? Also, whenever I see a lengthy FAC maturing towards promotion, I do add those sections if they'll help, but I'm not sure that's a typical case. In other words, sure we could go to that if we're sure the "wall of text" problem isn't just a lack of reviewers to oppose ill-prepared FACs that are increasingly appearing here, since peer review is also over-burdened. Also, could Diannaa explain how bots would help with this peer review "wall of text"? I'm still not seeing her point. I'd like to see us flesh out anything worthy of an RFC, and I'm not yet convinced this "wall of text" isn't just an issue of ill-prepared FACs getting longer and longer. Also, per Malleus-- again, human eyes, human brains, and human fingers do the analysis here, and checklists may add more clutter than light. And number of reviewers or supports may mean nothing at all at FAC; here's a wall of supports that meant nothing, because they were mostly fan supports, set aside by well-placed, informed opposes. Diannaa, I'm still hoping you can explain how the skillset necessary to evaluating FACs is comparable to that of the GOCE? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:43, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
  • (edit conflict) I'd add two things. First, there's an inherent danger of losing "corporate memory", and I'm reminded of the Rlevese case for instance. Second, anyone who's actually tried it knows how difficult it is to write a GA, much less an FA. Thirdly (noone expects the Spanish Inquisition) given the relative difficulty of producing FAs and GAs vs. stub articles it's inevitable that the percentage of "good" articles will diminish over time, not increase. Malleus Fatuorum 23:51, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
  • SandyGeorgia, I am not suggesting that bots should do any more work than they are doing right now. I merely suggested that the bot operators would need to be consulted if the layout of the pages were modified. @ Moni, I am not implying that brand new people should be running the featured articles department. Such people, even if they ran in an election, would be unlikely to be elected anyway. I would support the idea of checklists on the FA page, to help guide reviewers and editors as to where the remaining work needs to be done. Sandy, you are probably right that many articles that are listed at FA are not ready for promotion. Truthkeeper, it seems to me that you have misinterpreted virtually all my remarks. I am disengaging now. --Dianna (talk) 00:36, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Diannaa, I don't see how I misunderstood this. You explained that reviewers are not elected but that delegates, ie. SG, Karanacs, and Ucucha, are elected. Aside from the fact that I'm am aware of that, how have I misunderstood? I'm very confused by your reaction. Truthkeeper (talk) 01:11, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
She is proposing elections for those positions, not stating that they currently are.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:16, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm absolutely aware of that. And also totally confused that she wouldn't think I'd know that. Unless I've left my brain somewhere. Truthkeeper (talk) 01:19, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I think it would make a great deal more sense to hold elections for reviewer positions. Not that I'm advocating that, just an observation. Malleus Fatuorum 01:33, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
What do you propose? Primogeniture? Or shall we have elections upon the accession of King Wills, then?--Wehwalt (talk) 01:38, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
You seem to have much greater faith in elections than I do. I think in my entire life I've only ever once got the government I voted for, and Tony Blair turned out to be a bloody disaster. Malleus Fatuorum 02:02, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I have faith in the community.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:09, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Whereas I on the other hand do not believe in the fiction of a community. There are many communities here, each with their own different agendas. Malleus Fatuorum 02:12, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Arb break 2

Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, Duke of Caxias will be my last article on Wikipedia. I haven't made any edits for some time now. I've grown tired of this place (as many, many others who have left) and once the nomination is closed (passing or not, although I bet it won't pass), everyone will see a "retired" banner on my user page. However, I'll share my thoughts about this entire discussion: do you want to improve the FAC? Remove all present delegates, including unofficial delegates such as Nikkimaria, from their posts. Get rid of Malleus Fatuorum. Someone who is blocked often for incivility and is always on arbitration over trouble with other editors should not be regarded so highly as he is here. Next, start an election for newer delegates, who should all have an irreproachable past. Also, nominators must be assured that their nominations will be reviewed by neutral editors. Perhaps, I repeat, perhaps, once the hostile environment that is the FAC is gone, more editors will be willing to help here. For the ones who will stay, I wish you all good luck. --Lecen (talk) 23:49, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
"... always on arbitration"?[citation needed] Malleus Fatuorum 23:53, 3 January 2012 (UTC)
What exactly is an "unofficial delegate" at FAC? I'm a delegate at FAR. At FAC I perform only those tasks any reviewer is empowered to do. Are you suggesting that I shouldn't be doing that? Why? Nikkimaria (talk) 01:52, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Sorry to the current directors, and I'm not saying I could do the job any better, but I think it would be nice to have new directors, just so we can get some fresh blood. --♫ Hurricanehink (talk) 00:58, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

There's only ever been one director; do you mean delegates? Malleus Fatuorum 01:04, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Yea, sorry. Mentally I don't see any distinction. --♫ Hurricanehink (talk) 01:14, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
But surely the distinction is fundamental, in that the director has appointed the delegates. Are you sure you know what you're voting for? Malleus Fatuorum 01:30, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, voting for the delegates. I was half-kidding about the lack of distinction. --♫ Hurricanehink (talk) 01:33, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
(edit conflict) So, speaking hypothetically, what criteria would you use to choose between the various candidates presenting themselves for FAC delegate? Malleus Fatuorum 01:40, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I assume you meant delegates. Ucucha has only been in office for a few months, so is relatively new blood; Sandy's experience is a huge asset; her understanding of the process is unrivalled. Keep these two; Karanacs is no longer active in the delegate role and should be replaced by Nikkimaria. But, as Sandy said a while back, the problem is less a lack of delegates and more a lack of competent reviewers. This is a hard one; we don't just need numbers, we need reviewers who know what they're doing. In particular, as far as prose quality is concerned, we need another Tony1 (or a slightly more user-friendly version, maybe, with all due respect to the great man). Rather than worry about finding a new delegate, I say look for a new Tony, a prose guru who can pick up faults and train how these can be avoided. Replace him with Malleus (I'm serious). Some of the most regular nominators, including myself, could each take a month or so off from our own articles, and concentrate on reviewing. Such simple steps could easily revitalise the process without too much drama. Brianboulton (talk) 01:39, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
A "more user-friendly version of Tony1"? That's a hard one to get my head around. :-) Malleus Fatuorum 01:43, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I would support Malleus for delegate, in an election. On condition he smiles.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:45, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
There is absolutely no chance that I would stand for an election anywhere on Wikipedia. Period. Malleus Fatuorum 01:50, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Then if an elected Featured Article Director appointed you as a delegate, you would have my support.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:51, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
"If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve." The role of FAC delegate seems to be to be just about the most thankless in the whole of Wikipedia, and we ought to damn grateful to SandyG and the other delegates for what they do, not knocking them. Malleus Fatuorum 01:57, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
OK, I'll offer you the kingly crown the other two times later.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:59, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
And you misquoted Sherman. Good thing you didn't source that quote.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:02, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I could easily source that quote, as he said the same thing in different ways throughout his career. Malleus Fatuorum 02:07, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Not that they were very likely to nominate or elect him, actually. He would not have gotten a vote south of Philadelphia.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:10, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Anyway, this was supposed to be my wikibreak until someone or other called a snap ... a snap ... well, not an election obviously. Curious timing.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:13, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Why is it curious that I, who stated I would start a discussion in the New Year, did exactly that as soon as my ski trip due to no snow was cancelled? I'm sorry I don't keep up with your personal business, but what is "snap" about holding deliberative discussions that will hopefully lead to a well developed RFC? This reads as if you're on a personal campaign to hold immediate elections, and that you have something personally invested in the outcome; is there consensus that there should even be elections? I see you've also made references below to having editors "campaign" for delegate; I would be very suspect of anyone who would campaign here or who seeks to introduce politics into an area of Wikipedia where that could affect outcomes. Those very persons inclined towards "campaigning" then might be careful to never use the "Oppose" button when reviewing other FACs, lest they not be "above reproach" to Lecen,[3] (who has attacked more FAC reviewers than I can remember, and led to mulitple recusals, which is why it's good we can send recusals over to the uninvolved Raul654) or fear that they might not be "electable" (sort of like the reason you allude to for not reviewing other people's articles-- the "risk of alienating"). No, a FAC with that kind of politics is not a step in the right direction, and neither LOCE, GA, nor arbcom have similar functions as FAC. FAC delegates judge consensus based on FAC reviewers' comments and should be free of the type of politicing that you mention and that has never been part of this process; what other process on Wikipedia has to fulfill a function similar to FAC? The best FAC reviewers are those who make healthy use of the Oppose button when warranted, and I've never seen one lose respect because of that. We need more reviewers-- not the kind who don't review because they fear the "risk of alienation" or that their own prose might be more carefully examined if they were to review and oppose more often. We don't need reviewers who are politicians. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:56, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Very well, I accept your word in good faith you had no idea I had just started a wikibreak, if that is what you are saying.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:28, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
No problem: likewise, if I had known you were campaigning for FA director, I might have checked your talk. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:54, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

(@ Alarbus) You say that you wish that 10% of all articles were GA/FA by this point. Do you realize how many pages that is? We're talking about 380,000+ articles that would have to meet the standards of those processes. The current number of GAs/FAs is around 17,000. To meet this goal, we'd have to add 363,000+ new GAs/FAs, and keep promoting more to match the number of new creations. It is impossible for any system we could create to meet such a demand without thousands of new reviewers. Also, Malleus is correct that new additions to Wikipedia will tend to lower the GA/FA percentage. It's not impossible to find new subjects that can reach high levels of quality, but it is more difficult than ever. Giants2008 (Talk) 02:35, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

P.S.: I think the delegates are doing the best job they can with the cards they're being dealt. If there are insufficient reviews to reach any consensus, they have two main options: leave reviews open longer and clog up FAC, or close them and leave the nominators upset. Unless you are a director or delegate at one of these processes, you can't really understand what a difficult choice that is sometimes. Getting rid of the delegates for what ails FAC (lack of reviewers) amounts to killing the messenger. Giants2008 (Talk) 02:44, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Arb break 3

FAC is pretty entrenched in the way it works and I'm giving generous benefit of the doubt here, so let's say as a society, FAC typically dislikes change and questions it. So in all fairness, Diannaa, Alarbus, and Wehwalt, who are promoting the idea of an election to improve FAC, please persuade me, at least, that an election would improve the system that exists. This would require you to enumerate FAC's weaknesses, the ways in which the current system restricts improvement, and in what ways specifically elected delegates and directors would improve what the current system lacks. I'm requesting this as a way to avoid personalizing the election suggestion, so I'm not asking anyone to say that Raul or "Sandy sucks". Just concisely describe what your vision is. What I've read above says "change it" but why and how? --Moni3 (talk) 03:08, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

I have already given some very specific advice, but my meaning has been misconstrued by presumably well-meaning editors. I just don't know why, because i am actually a plain speaker: I say what I mean, and there are no hidden meanings. Okay, here goes:
The size and structure of the FA page is getting in the way of the process. The fact that the entire review of all the candidates are transcluded onto a single page is impeding the process, because once there are a certain number of candidates on the page, SandyGeorgia can no longer load the page. She has said herself that she has regretfully ocasionally had to archive candidates that have not had adequate reviews because the page is too big and she can no longer load it. The system at GA works differently, and there is room for any number of candidates to sit for any period of time. Other pages are broken and/or malfunctioning as well; on my display, the WP:TFA/R page has a box of "potential upcoming requests" overlapping the table of votes. User:WOSlinker recently tried to improve the page at Wikipedia:Featured articles, and was told that it was impossible to modernise it to today's coding standards. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigs on the Wing) said the solution was to subdivide the ludicrously-big page. But Sandy said it doesn't matter, as only one article per day is promoted, and by the time it's an actual problem the wiki will have burned down, so let's not bother fixing it. Here we have some wonderful technical people who want to help improve the way the featured articles pages and processes are handled, but they are being blown off because they are not "content contributors". You know, Edoktor rules the .css page, the guts of the wiki. Are you seriously saying these people need to go to the library and write an article? That their technical skills are nor wanted or needed? That you are not interested in collaborating with editors who contribute differently from you? The process could be made better, I am sure of it. But I am not a coding expert or web page designer, I am Marty McSorley, not The Great One, so I cannot tell you how the pages could be redesigned to function better. But I do see that people at FA are very set in their ways and resistant to change and that is why it is time to hold elections. Well, that's it for me. I am not accustomed to talking so much and always regret it when I do, so I am going to stop there. Please don't get angry at me or vindictive for I have been directly invited to post here by Moni3, so please consider my remarks carefully, in the spirit of improving the wiki, which we all love. --Dianna (talk) 03:35, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Just as a quick question, wouldn't something like Wikipedia:Featured articles/Candidate list be similar to what you're saying about GAN? How could we better publicize this list for people who didn't want to load the whole page? Dana boomer (talk) 03:40, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Dana, are you suggesting something like this? We've discussed reviving the Dispatches in 2012 with The Signpost. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:32, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Reviving the Dispatches would be a good way to publicize FAC in general, but I was actually thinking about a fairly prominent banner/note at the top of the FAC page, "If you don't want to have to read this whole huge page, try using...". Only, you know, more formal :) Load times, or having to read/scroll through a bunch of candidacies just to get to the one you want, seems to be a big deal. I personally use the nominations viewer "app" and really like it, but maybe that's just me. Dana boomer (talk) 14:09, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
This is the actual conversation you (mis)quote from ("by the time it's an actual problem the wiki will have burned down"???) Diannaa, I'm still hoping you can answer some of the direct questions posed to you above, and perhaps also explain how the difficulties multiple editors had in loading that page relate to your comments about Edoktor's feedback there? Many of us would like to see FAC function better, you've been invited and encouraged several times to give specific feedback, but I'm unaware of a process or procedure that would allow us not to tranclude all FACs to one page: have you suggestions that would help us improve FAC to that effect? I agree with you about that one (new) irritating aspect of WP:TFAR, but that is a community-run page, outside of the specific remit of delegates, the most frequent editor there is Wehwalt, I'm not aware of who made that change or when it was made-- I've also been unable to figure out how to fix that, but would be most happy if someone did. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:00, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
What change? The upcoming articles box? I think it was put in in '08 or '09. Its use comes and goes. I asked if people still wanted it about a year ago, they still did, even though it is rather underused. Regarding Sandy's point about TFA/R, in my view the end of the year is almost always dead at TFA/R. A lot of the people who care are on break, and Raul and Dabomb always seem to be scrambling for articles just then. I don't see any causal connection between the various reform proposals by Ettrig and TCO, and a lack of interest in TFA/R.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:17, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Responded in new section below since this is long, and tangential. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:02, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
(ec)I agree that delegates do a good job, but I agree with several people here of having a delegate election would work. I have no experience at the FAC, but I honestly feel the best solution is have FAC backlog, and try to encourage reviews. YE Pacific Hurricane 03:43, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Yellow Evan, could you please clarify what "the best solution is have FAC backlog" means? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:00, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, I would not archive noms with no !votes if they are a month old or less. YE Pacific Hurricane 04:21, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Ok, thanks-- so that we might formulate proposals here, how long would you let nominations run without consensus for promotion before closing them? If we are to formulate a meaningful RFC out of this discussion, some concrete proposals would help. Two months? Six months? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:26, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
To be honest, I'd say nine weeks. YE Pacific Hurricane 04:35, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. I've asked Mike Christie (who has helped formulate RFCs here in the past) to follow this discussion and pull together an RFC-- whether FACs without consensus for promotion should run for longer than two months can be taken under consideration, if consensus supports that as a workable proposal (past RFCs supported faster archiving of ill-prepared FACs). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:41, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I'd be happy to help if others are willing for me to try some organization of the issues. The link Sandy gives above leads to a set of straw polls on a variety of different ways to improve FAC. Some were successful and were implemented. What I would suggest as a next step is a bullet list of the suggestions that have been made. If that's thought to be a reasonably accurate representation of the conversation so far, then formulating each as a straw poll to get an idea of prevailing preferences would be next. Doing that last time gave us some clear indications of where there was dissatisfaction and where there was not. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:09, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps you could prepare something in a sandbox?--Wehwalt (talk) 11:19, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Mike, I think it would be great for you to take the lead in putting together the obviously necessary RfC here - the formula of the last one seemed to work quite well and resulted in a (relatively) clear set of suggestions (mandates?) from the community. Dana boomer (talk) 15:53, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Mike would be an incumbent/regular here? That would entail some level of CoI, and really SandyGeorgia should not be cherry picking the one who frames this. Far better to seek an outsider such as User:Mdennis (WMF), who has a job to do here: Community Liaison. I'll ping her. Alarbus (talk) 16:53, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
While it would be great to get MRG's (Maggie's) input, I think you're really not assuming good faith here. Although Mike writes FAs, his main qualification is that he has put together solid RfCs in the past that have made discussing and consensus gathering easy. I have seen a lot of RfCs that are poorly put together and end up in a huge mess - the one's that Mike has done in the past have not done so. Besides, just because Mike is doing the initial framing of the discussion doesn't mean that whatever he says goes - if someone has a problem with the way a statement is worded it can always be changed. You can see the last RfC and the pre- and post-discussion at Wikipedia talk:Featured article candidates/archive43. As you can see, the community was more than welcome to add proposals of their own, and there was fairly wide input, resulting in several changes being made to the FAC process. Dana boomer (talk) 17:07, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I've just left her a note. My thinking is that this should be framed by someone uninvolved, and as far as I know, she is. This would also appear to be her job here. We'll see what she says. And thank you for the link, which I'll go have a look at. Alarbus (talk) 17:21, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
hmmm... I'm thinking that any discussion about changes to internal FAC practice would follow the inauguration of new FA leadership. I'm more interested in a framework for discussing how the elections should be held, what the roles are. The Director function, of course, but after that it gets murky. What are the next tier roles? Clerks? Coordinators? Delegates are simply those that the role of the Director has been delegated to, and as such there really is only one authority here. Alarbus (talk) 17:37, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, that is why I was talking about electing the director under the present system, for a limited term, with the present powers and duties of the office, and during that term deciding on other changes under their guidance. Obviously anyone seeking the office would have to answer questions during the campaign about what he is going to want to see in terms of change (if anything).--Wehwalt (talk) 17:45, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Alarbus (and everyone else), if MRG is acceptable to everyone to frame the RfC then I'd be happy for that to happen. The benefit of having me do it is just that I have a lot of knowledge of FAC and can use that to help organize the issues. If there is consensus that I have a CoI then of course I shouldn't be the one to set up the RfC. I think (at least, I hope) that I have a reputation as fair-minded and not excitable, and not particularly a partisan of any one view, so I think I am qualified. I would also recuse myself from expressing any opinions within the RfC itself to avoid any further appearance of CoI.
I'll try to put a structured list of possible issues together this evening and post it below, and we can see if there are more comments by that time on whether I or MRG would be better positioned to help organize the RfC. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 18:02, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Mike, that sounds like a good plan of action. Perhaps having you and MRG (if she's willing) work together would be good - your knowledge of the FA process combined with her lack thereof? Also, Alarbus, I think that one of the questions on the RfC will be whether or not there should be an election - so far, there is no consensus one way or the other on this page. I'm also not sure why you're so sure that the incumbents (with the exception of Karanacs, probably, since she hasn't been active for the majority of a year(?)) won't just be "elected" into the spots they already hold. Dana boomer (talk) 18:23, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Concur, just work together and report back in (how long should we allow?). And I agree, the incumbents who choose to run will stand a very good chance. But we will have chosen them to, and that's a big difference.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:00, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Slipping in to say that as community liaison, I'm really here to help coordinate work between the communities and the Foundation, but if Mike would like a second set of eyes, I'd be happy to offer him a pair, if even as User:Moonriddengirl. Since RFC's are engineered for the wider community, I may be able to offer some input on where clarity could be added for others like me who aren't familiar with the process. Mike, please just ping me if I can help. :) --Maggie Dennis (WMF) (talk) 20:43, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't understand the assumption that an outsider would have clearer insight into how FAC operates or should operate. Wouldn't an outsider have considerably less insight? --Moni3 (talk) 17:09, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
We are all members of the Wikipedia community; by definition there are no outsiders.--Wehwalt (talk) 17:45, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
If there are no outsiders, why have MDennis enter this discussion? I think what you're going for here is an ideal that opposes pragmatism. Randomly choosing an editor to run FAC would be foolish. --Moni3 (talk) 21:21, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Arb break 4

As some feedback from a relatively frequent FA nominator and reviewer (note that I haven't many of the above comments)

  • I think that Sandy and the other FA delegates do their job very well. I certainly appreciate their efforts over the years.
  • The declining number of reviewers is concerning. However, this is inline with the overall decline in the number of active editors, so may not be FA-specific.
  • That said, I think that the rise of image and source reviews has contributed to a mistaken perception that it's more difficult to review FACs than it used to be (eg, that it's not enough to simply read the article and comment on prose and completeness). I'd suggest fiddling with the layout of the FAC pages to address this - one approach would be to have seperate 'content review' and 'image and source review' sections.
  • As feedback, I think that there's currently a lack of clarity around the requirements for a FAC to be closed as successful. This has come up in discussions I've had with several very experienced editors, and the perception is that it's difficult to predict at which point FACs are closed and, as a result, that the process is inconsistent. Clearer or better publicised guidance on this topic would be helpful in addressing this (and I don't think that there should be one-size-fits-all closure process).
  • I think that some form of election for FA delegate status would be helpful. I'm a current coordinator of WP:MILHIST, and served as a coordinator for about two successive years a while ago as well, and in my experience the use of elections for these positions has been very helpful in providing coordinators with authority to go about their tasks (which carry the FA delegate-equivalent responsibility of closing the project's A class reviews) and ensuring a turnover of editors through coordinator roles (note that, from memory, all the incumbent coordinators who've stood for re-election have been successful; the virtue of having regular elections is that it gives the coordinators a prompt to consider whether they still want to do the job, and allows other editors to put their hands up to volunteer for this role). Nick-D (talk) 06:43, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Commenting briefly on the elections issue, I followed the recent MILHIST co-ordinators election and found it a bit different to other elections. Maybe it would help to outline here what potential commentators would look for in a FAC delegate? My view is that rather than elections, it might be helpful to have candidates either be nominated or put themselves forward for a position, and then open the floor for comments, followed by Raul (or the current delegates?) appointing new delegates (the only trouble with that is that some might want Raul himself to put himself forward in some form of reconfirmation process - I should state up front here that I'm implacably opposed to any 'for life' appointments - call people 'emeritus' or something, but don't let them get in the way of fresh blood). Also, someone linked to it last time I asked, but the history of how the current delegates were appointed should be required reading for anyone wanting to comment on this.

My views on the minimum requirements for a FAC delegate is that they have spent at least the past year regularly reviewing at FAC, have a minimum number of FAC reviews, and should also have taken at least one (maybe more?) articles to FA status. Each candidate would outline how they meet these criteria and let people judge that. One sticking point is current delegates (incumbents) who may (understandably) have done less reviews recently, but presumably did more before they became delegates. Do each of the current delegates have a potted history written down somewhere of their track record at the FA process? Possibly not, but they should, really, if you think about it. Anyway, the point I'm making here is that the mechanics of any election or comment-appointment process matter less than being clear what makes a good FAC delegate. One very important criteria I forgot is having the time to keep reviewing while still closing other FACs. If you had to chose between a FAC delegate that only closed FACs and had no time for reviewing, and a FAC delegate that closed less FACs but did some reviewing and FA writing as well, which would you chose? Carcharoth (talk) 07:07, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Carcharoth, it is not just about efficiency, and forgive me if I evade your question. Let me tell you what I am looking for in a FA delegate. This is not a knock on the incumbents, who I respect greatly for their work and as people:
  • Knowledgable about the process, and cheerfully available to share information as needed. The ideal delegate would be available to all, and when you went to them for help, you felt like you were consulting a friend for informal advice.
  • Friendly (though not necessarily "friends") with all FA regulars, without worry about factionalism or cliquishness, not to mention anyone else who comes along! Not bitey to newbies, and does not give the impression or have the reputation as bitey. Does not inspire excessive personal loyalty, though obviously people respect them and their office, but people are happy to give feedback as they go along, without worrying about having their head bitten off. After all, the post is only temporary, no one wants it forever.
  • Considers the post "no big deal" (if I can drop such loaded words into the discussion) and not too worried about the next election as isn't sure whether they want the inevitable grief as lightning rod for FAC for another year or going back to reviewing/article writing. Ideally, people would regularly cycle between the various functions, much as they do in other projects
  • Available enough to promote/archive regularly. Gives feedback regularly (for example, to archived FAC nominators, and people don't worry about approaching them for additional feedback, as it will be given cheerfully, though certainly a certain amount of reserve with people who just won't be satisfied is OK). Hard enough to stick to their guns in a dispute, but doesn't bring personality into it.
  • Always open to new ideas, reaction on when presented with new ideas is to seek the good in them, rather than attacking them. Indeed, might even step back, knowing that there is influence attached to their position and allow the discussion to develop on the merits, rather than lead an attack on the proposal, or on its opposers. I see this as key, and if you don't have this, you will have a moribund and unpopular process, though still possibly respected from the outside.
  • Helpful if the person was an admin (for example, can change the TFA after protection sets in), but certainly not required. However, such a person would likely receive a relatively easy RfA. If this is not the case, then strength in other elements would help, such as helpfulness, lack of biteyness, knowledge and experience in the process. Basically what you look for in any leader, experience, leadership skills of various sorts, if you can't get the perfect candidate (usually you can't), then you look and weigh and measure, and decide.
  • In my opinion such a person would benefit greatly in their duties by having an electoral mandate. That way, no one can say "Show me your voters, explain to me why you are the best person for the job right now, and how you are justified in withholding from the community, what it does in every other case: allow editors to decide their leaders. In fact, how are you more entitled to fill the position than anyone else here, if you lack an electoral mandate?" The individual can say, "Maybe I'm not perfect, but the community talked it out and elected me."
That's the sort of checklist I would run down if presented with a choice for delegate (or for director, actually). Not shooting arrows at anyone, although obviously my comments are guided by things I'd like to see, based on (I think it is) 67 FACs, not all of which have succeeded. And again, not a knock on the incumbents, such perfect people as I propose are probably up to their eyeballs in commitments, other projects long since having grabbed them. That being said, I'd be willing to go with the imperfect, if there was an election down the road, without all this drama. Just something which is part of the process, accepted, and not to be argued over endlessly.--Wehwalt (talk) 09:46, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I should add that if we are talking about a candidate for the directorship, I would be looking to see what kind of strategic vision they have for the process, willingness to act as our advocate with Saint Petersburg on such things as my JSTOR proposal, etc.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:15, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
One thing I missed: Moni, I am not going to try to persuade you right now. This is generally to gauge support to see if it is worth having the RfC. We can argue it out at that stage. I would respectfully suggest that there is sufficient support for elections that it would be imprudent to ignore it. I will happily engage to persuade you at the later stage.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:09, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I think Wehwalt and Carcharoth's both make excellent points. J Milburn (talk) 13:41, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I wanted to see if the delegate-election proponents actually had clear ideas in mind instead of "this sucks get rid of everyone", so in that vein I think we have similar goals. If there is enough clarity here to warrant an RfC then it should take place and let FAC regulars and other interested editors get creative and come up with solutions to legitimate problems. If the discussion wanders into unhappy ramblings and vague fussing then it should be archived and everyone should go back to work. --Moni3 (talk) 17:14, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I liked Wikipedia:Featured articles/Candidate list so much I've bookmarked it and promise not to complain about walls of text until the next highly controversial FAC (is 700k still the record for an FAC?). It would still be helpful to add a few features, especially if they enabled people to find candidates that hadn't yet been reviewed against certain criteria, but I can live with this list. As for governance and elections, no we don't currently need to change what we are doing as our shortage is reviewers not delegates. But FA is not a short term project, if Wikipedia is still around to celebrate the centenary of its founding then I doubt that any of the current delegates will still be in post. Reviewing Governance is always boring or urgent, and to some people both at the same time. There is an argument that it is better to sort out governance issues when the topic is boring rather than to wait until it becomes urgent. So no hurry, but if there are people who don't like the idea of electing delegates can I suggest that you work up a counter proposal? ϢereSpielChequers 17:31, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
For reference purposes, here is the discussion that ratified Raul as Featured Article Director.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:27, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
Nice to see it was ratified and not just a Jimbo appointment. I'm not seeing a huge demand for a change in who runs the FA process, these are in effect volunteer jobs and there is a perfectly good argument that when a volunteer is doing a good job you let them continue until they lose interest or otherwise have to slow down. But it seems sensible to me that we decide in advance how we handle succession. ϢereSpielChequers 22:16, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Arbitrary break 5

Not sure where in this discussion this should go, but anyway, I propose:

1) Every FAC should have a decent paragraph that describes the topic and why it's important. Like the beginning of current FACs, only longer (in most cases) and with a bit about the topic of the article (what "XXX" actually is, eg. the country, area, etc.)
2) The main FAC page be made up of these paragraphs only - like WP:FACL but with blurbs
Reasoning: simulatenously deals with the overly long FAC page; separate pages would mean the return of templates and section headings; interesting blurbs should draw in reviewers. I can't speak for all nominators, of course, but I imagine given the time they've put into to the article, and the benefits a good blurb would bring, on a subject they clearly care about, that they would not mind.

Thoughts? Might be worth considering at RfC if people think it's a good idea. Grandiose (me, talk, contribs) 12:16, 5 January 2012 (UTC)


Picking up on the first point Sandy raised ("lack of reviewers"), I'd like to ask if it is possible for FAC delegates (and others among the "prolific FAC reviewer[s] or FA writer[s]" to give more feedback to reviewers? I did a fair amount of reviewing last year (2011) in the sense that it took up a fair amount of my time (the time spent closely reading and re-reading articles, and also the prior reviews an article has had, isn't visible in edit counts or length or number of reviews), but am little the wiser as to how helpful it really was. From some nominators I got profuse thanks, from others a rather defensive response. Very occasionally a delegate might comment or chide if I went off-topic or missed the point, but that was rare. Should I take that to mean that most of my reviews were helpful?

Reviewing, like writing, is not something that people can do well immediately. They take time to gain the confidence to comment on certain things, and to learn to avoid some areas, and any help that FAC regulars and delegates can give for that learning process would help. Would it take too much time to thank those who did particularly helpful reviews, and also to point out ways in which reviews could improve?

My intention for 2012 is to spend more time writing as opposed to reviewing, but if the prolific reviewers could each link to, or write a bit, on how they approach reviewing, that would really help. By this I mean something more practical than the criteria at WP:WIAFA. Break it down a bit more. List the tools that people use to check for things. Make clearer how to be more efficient at reviewing (i.e. that certain minimum checks are needed before getting too deeply into a review). I have at times tried to write something myself on all this, but there are so many things that can be checked about an article that it can be overwhelming. If there are elements commonly raised that are outside of WIAFA, state those explicitly. Also, for some articles it would really help if more co-ordinated reviewing was possible. I suggested at a recent FAC of a country article (Bulgaria) that reviewers volunteer to take portions of the article and review those, as that seems to be a better way to approach it. Not sure if anyone responded to that, but that is something FAC delegates could help with - co-ordinating reviewing resources as well as helping to bring on the next generation of reviewers. Carcharoth (talk) 06:33, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

I feel extremely bad coming in very late to this discussion, but 2010 and 2011 drained my Wiki work for college purposes, and with my luck 2012 might damage it some. M-185 (Michigan highway) was my first FAC since Feb 2010. This includes my lack of reviewing anywhere. During the last couple years I've asked, if you need something reviewed, get my attention because my life has gotten in my way of doing things. However, I like the idea explained by Carcharoth of breaking down the article, because it makes things so much easier in the long run, especially for people like me, who prefer some detail. I've done some FAC reviewing in the past, but I've defaulted mainly to those who review more often than I do, because they're well-versed, and unfortunately, fewer are coming by. On M-185, we had a 9 or 10 day gap between reviews, something on FAC I'm not totally used to. (I'm used to going for 32-45 days on GAN for one). My current FAC hasn't seen any comments in 4 days, and honestly, I'm actually getting rather impatient because I'm wanting some constructive help. A lot of what I've gotten is basic stuff, and FAC is supposed to be more than that. As for the arguments over elections and the delegates, I'm of no opinion. I don't feel my opinion is needed in this topic, because it looks well-covered enough. And honestly, I wouldn't participate in whatever method. We need reviewers. Reviewers is top priority. Delegates, we have two of them active enough to handle it right now, Sandy and Uchucha. We need reviewers. Otherwise, FAC cannot live. (I pardon my terrible grammar, it is 2:35 EST, I stayed up to watch the caucuses in Iowa, so my brain is fried.)Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 07:36, 4 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't do that many reviews (it is very difficult for me to judge other people's work) so I am grateful for reviews when they come along. I had not thought of offering them feedback, but would be cautious about such things, due to the usual disinclination around here to risk alienating people. Ideally, some feedback should fall under a delegate function.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:21, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

Picking up on some issues raised above and below:

  • I think the point about nominations that are ill-prepared lingering too long at FAC is an important one, but is tied in with guiding potential and less-experienced volunteer reviewers as to what their role is (i.e. the whole providing reviewers with feedback issue). Newer reviewers will be more reluctant to oppose until they have found their feet (i.e. understand precisely when an oppose is justified). From what I can see, most new reviewers start out with 'comments' and then find a comfort zone where they are comfortable supporting or opposing. When this is not helpful (i.e. failing to oppose when the comments are trending that way or an oppose is looking obvious; or long comments and advice that crosses the line into what would look more like a peer review), FAC delegates (and other experienced reviewers) need to step in and say this. It would help immensely when an inexperienced reviewer made comments that could justify an oppose, if a more experienced reviewer stepped in and said (along with other comments): "I agree, suggest withdrawal", or "I agree, oppose", or "leaning oppose, but will return in x days to see if issues have been resolved".
  • On FAC delegates making comments about reviews that are getting out of control (for whatever reason), sometimes such comments are made without naming anyone, which is actually not helpful as an inexperienced reviewer may not realise that this comment (by someone they may not even know is a FAC delegate) is obliquely referring to their review! One of the most helpful things I think FAC delegates and experienced reviewers can do is to tell other reviewers when they think the line has been crossed from helpful commentary to a peer review.
  • I have sympathy with Wehwalt's position on reluctance to review - it can be hard for those who have worked hard on articles, and know how much work other editors have put in on this article at FAC, to be critical. Tensions in FACs understandably arise when opposes are being implied or severe criticism is being made - the FAC delegates could maybe help smooth things over there without being seen to take sides (a difficult balancing act) - possibly resolving tensions is better done by other reviewers joining the review. Sometimes when a nominator disagrees with a point I've made, I step back and invite other reviewers to comment - it would help if other reviewers actually did comment one way or the other, rather than silence being the result! My tendency, rather than opposing, is to withhold support, but that might in some ways be worse. I also have a bad habit of skipping ill-prepared FACs and reviewing those that I think have a chance of justifying a support. Maybe everyone should resolve to look down the FAC list and hone in on the few that look ill-prepared and actually say that (without piling on, of course).
  • Another matter related to opposes is what to do when tensions arise to the point that a reviewer may feel uncomfortable reviewing a future article submitted by the same editor. This is exacerbated by editors (understandably) specialising in topic areas. A reviewer may enjoy reading and reviewing in a particular topic area, but the nominator may not see that and may (due to the previous tensions) see the same reviewer turning up again as that reviewer focusing on the editor, rather than the topic area. What is the best way to resolve this? The only way I can see that doesn't involve awkward approaches such as "I would like to review this article, can we put the tensions from that other FAC behind us", is to skip the next nomination in that topic area and review the one after that.
  • About nominators who don't review, maybe apply some reverse psychology and require every nominator to link to the last time they reviewed at GAN, PR or FAC - this is not requiring people to do reviews, but requiring them to face up to how much or how little reviewing they do. This may obliquely start to encourage some nominators to review more, to avoid the embarrassment of turning up at FAC and saying "um, the last time I did a review was 15 months ago..." (or whatever).

Hopefully some of those thoughts will help. Particularly the last one, which the more I think about it, might really help. Carcharoth (talk) 01:55, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

That sounds good, with a link to the review of course. I'm grateful, Carcharoth, for your discussion on the consequences of an oppose. It is not a casual thing, and is not taken casually, and burns out reviewers who do not want to deal with the agita.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:41, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

Other concerns

Diannaa raised several concerns that I'm separating out here lest they get lost and to avoid edit conflicts. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:00, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

TFAR display problem

Other pages are broken and/or malfunctioning as well; on my display, the WP:TFA/R page has a box of "potential upcoming requests" overlapping the table of votes. --Dianna (talk) 03:35, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

I agree with you about that one (new) irritating aspect of WP:TFAR, but that is a community-run page, outside of the specific remit of delegates, the most frequent editor there is Wehwalt, I'm not aware of who made that change or when it was made-- I've also been unable to figure out how to fix that, but would be most happy if someone did. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:00, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

What change? The upcoming articles box? I think it was put in in '08 or '09. Its use comes and goes. I asked if people still wanted it about a year ago, they still did, even though it is rather underused. --Wehwalt (talk) 11:17, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

History: I started the pending requests template in 2008 (as part of an effort to make that page more useful and to eventually turn more TFA scheduling over to the community), it has never "come and gone" to my knowledge, it was always linked from the talk page at WT:TFAR but sometime in the last six months someone moved it to the main page, I don't know when or by whom, but it has created a display problem ever since. It displays fine in Firefox, but according to this chart, Internet Explorer is the most used browser on Wikipedia, and the addition of the template to the WP:TFAR page has "broken" the page display in IE. The "broken" display isn't currently as bad as typical because the request page is now almost empty; to see the problem, look at this older bustling version of the page using IE. I tried to fix it once, but I don't frequent that page regularly, and each time I visit the page I find that not only are displays broken, tallies are not updated, the dividing line between non-specific and date requests removed, but more importantly, that blurbs aren't regularly checked (they don't always follow the instructions for the mainpage) nor are articles reviewed for TFA readiness. This page was set up specifically so the community could have a greater say in TFA scheduling, Wehwalt has unofficially overseen the page for several years, yet the community the page is supposed to be serving does not keep it up to standard or even assure that blurbs are formatted correctly for the mainpage. Besides that it would be nice if someone sorted the display problem (it really is a SOFIXIT issue), it would be even better if the community used that page to actually review articles that are proposed for TFA to assure they're mainpage ready, and maintain the page, blurbs, tallies, formatting, etc. As with several of Diannaa's points, I'm unclear how this relates to a discussion of FAC or what part this would have in an RFC; clarification welcome, because the problem Diannaa highlights seems to be an indication of what can go wrong when the community doesn't respond to tasks delegated to it at their behest. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:00, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

I don't oversee anything. I'm one of several people who do the scutwork like evaluate points and whatnot. Dabomb's done a great deal of work on that page, for one, not to slight others, even before his promotion. I'm not on all the time, everyone pitches together. Perhaps I should have said the template has been underused at time, and with low participation several months ago on both the requests page and in the template, I asked if people still wanted it. People did, and it's seen more use the last few months.--Wehwalt (talk) 00:14, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, I removed it based on this. That's really all that was required here. ;-) Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 01:51, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Flatlist at WP:FA

User:WOSlinker recently tried to improve the page at Wikipedia:Featured articles, and was told that it was impossible to modernise it to today's coding standards. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigs on the Wing) said the solution was to subdivide the ludicrously-big page. But Sandy said it doesn't matter, as only one article per day is promoted, and by the time it's an actual problem the wiki will have burned down, so let's not bother fixing it. Here we have some wonderful technical people who want to help improve the way the featured articles pages and processes are handled, but they are being blown off because they are not "content contributors". You know, Edoktor rules the .css page, the guts of the wiki. --Dianna (talk) 03:35, 4 January 2012 (UTC)

This is another issue where I'm unclear how this ties in to an RFC about FAC (and also one where Diannaa has done some rather extensive misquoting and misrepresenting, which isn't the best way to promote improvements to processes). The discussion is here. No one has yet explained why we need to implement this, but the discussion is still open (and seems to have been dropped because no one had an answer for that). Pigs on the Wing initially implemented the change, it was stated that it was to benefit those using screenreaders, but User:Graham87 (who uses a screenreader) doesn't appear concerned. So, what is broken there, what are we trying to fix, what proposals need to be worked in to an RFC, but no one has said the things that Diannaa represents above. Multiple editors opined there that the change was slowing down the page, and anything others can contribute to the discussion there would be more helpful than coming to this page to mischaracterize the discussion.

While we're on that page, though, there's another possible symptom of "what ails Wikipedia" in the next section, here. It's been four days since I responded to a query there, suggesting that we get more feedback before making the change. Zero feedback. Declining editorship across the Wikipedia. I'm still unclear how these issues relate or how Diannaa wants these points factored in to a RFC about FAC. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:00, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

FAC page loadtime

Another confusing misstatement from Diannaa:

... because once there are a certain number of candidates on the page, SandyGeorgia can no longer load the page.

This is not really an accurate statement of the issue, so it's hard to understand just what you're getting at or what change you propose. Diannaa, you originally said:

If the FA team was to work in coordination with the more technically-minded people and the people who run the bots, the system could likely be improved.

I'm all ears (eyes), but so far, I'm not getting anything from you that can be turned into concrete proposals for evaluation on an RFC, nor am I getting direct answers to direct questions (do people favor the bot placement of "older nominations", or a more flexible manual intervention?). It would be helpful if you could give examples, reasons, issues pertinent to FAC from which concrete proposals can be generated to put before the community in an RFC. What I am seeing explicitly in your sentence above is that you believe there is a lack of technically minded people involved here. If you're intending to say we need "new techical blood", the question becomes, do we want more automation here, more process, more bots, and if so, exactly what kind and where, and is there some attempt here to make FA work more like GA, which is a very different process?

I'm also still waiting for an answer to my query:

@ Diannaa, could you give some examples of how the FAC consensus-driven process, whereby delegates judge consensus, measure whether everything important has been assessed, make sure independent and expert review is provided, and promote or archive based on reviewer commentary, is similar to the skills needed to join in copyediting at the Guild of Copy Editors?

This is not, as you said folks getting "angry at me or vindictive", rather an attempt to help you focus your concerns so they can be "consider[ed] ... carefully, in the spirit of improving the wiki, which we all love." The goal here is a meaningful RFC, so we can avoid the "garbage in-garbage out", thrown up too quickly before the issues were all understood, RFCs that are all too often typical of Wikipedia's consensus process. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:00, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

Add nominations to the Signpost

I'm an editor who admittedly nominates articles on a semi-frequent basis, usually regarding an aspect of U2 (that, due to relatively low page hits, are prime examples of the bane of TCO's and Ettrig's views on TFA), while providing little feedback on other nominations in return. My stance on this has always been that while I would like to review more, I don't feel I have the proper ability/knowledge to provide worthwhile/adequate responses on important aspects such as reviews on sourcing, file usage, and prose. This leads me to often feel as if my Support' or Oppose would be based on whether or not I liked the article, without really being able to justify any reasons why. This is something that I have slowly been trying to change, asking Nikkimaria recently for guidance on how to provide feedback on spotchecking; and I'm sure that the guide drafted below will provide other editors and I with more assistance on how to do a proper FAC review (if indeed they feel like it).

With that fairly irrelevant defence to some of the above comments out of the way, I have a fairly simple question to ask/proposition to make (and I apologize if it has been brought up before): Why not add FAC noms to the Featured this week segment of the Signpost? I enjoy seeing which articles, files, and lists have been promoted, and it is a feature I enjoy reading. I'm surely not the only editor who reads this part of the Signpost, so why not list candidacies there too? It may help to spur some interest in the review process by showcasing articles on the cusp of FA status that require some feedback from editors, who may find interest in articles they would not otherwise have been aware of. Melicans (talk, contributions) 02:22, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

Sensible idea. A "free ad" in the local paper could bring in reviewers, who only learn with experience. Maybe just list the names of the nommed articles. If you want it described and an image used and all that good press, you need to pass the process.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:34, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, just a bulleted list would be awesome , though maybe accompanied with a stock message; something like "The following articles were nominated at FAC this week. Do you think they meet the criteria? We'd love your feedback!", or some such thing. If Lists, Sounds, Images, etc. have similar reviewer problems, perhaps after a trial test run for FAC it could be expanded to include those aspects as well. Melicans (talk, contributions) 03:31, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
It is possible, though I worry about spreading the focus too thin and am uncertain if those featured projects have the same reviewer problems we do, as I have not participated there much. I like the idea of a bulleted list, including of course, a link to the nomination. There is no such thing as bad publicity, of course.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:23, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
That's a great idea. And another idea is to ask people who are reluctant to review themselves, to recruit others to do reviews. You can even ask nominators who are reluctant to review to find others to do reviews (though preferably not of the nominator's article). There could even be a standard template knocked up of the form "I've nominated an article at FAC and to help reduce the review backlog I'm looking for someone willing to review an article at FAC." And then they get to go round asking people they think would make good reviewers. Obviously not asking hundreds of people, but a polite request to nominators asking for help to find people willing to review. Carcharoth (talk) 02:50, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
This is an excellent idea, Melicans, as it may bring in people who otherwise may have never thought about reviewing at FAC. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 01:53, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Ahem: two things. First of all, the reader pool for the post is actually fairly small: at most it is exposed to ~750 core editors. Secondly, I would like a freaking thesis in each and every section of the paper, but that's not happening, for the same reason this probably won't—find me someone willing to take on writing it up, every week. ResMar 03:54, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Candidate RfC issues

Bottom line straw poll on electing a Director, keep discussion above please

"Shall the position of Featured Article Director be subject to election at regular intervals?"


  1. As proposer.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:19, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  2. Current (titled) director is inactive and better to have re-elections.TCO (Reviews needed) 19:34, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  3. Yes, why not. If Raul is doing a good job (which I believe he has done in the past) then this is no issue to the status quo, but it opens the system up a little and prevents (potential) claims of ownership or despotism over the process. The Rambling Man (talk) 19:39, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  4. Yes. What is in place now is a dictatorship-for-life of a single philosophy. Wikis are supposed to be open. Alarbus (talk) 19:48, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  5. Yes. 7 years is way too long in power for anyone, especially a wikian. Raul is not a FA God. He is not irreplaceable. Even worse he's essentially MIA the last few months and "leadership" in abstentia will doom an organization. What makes him so special? Nothing...The more I learn about Raul654 the scarier it gets. You want people who think like you? What about consensus the community and divergent views--this sounds more like you want groupthink. You replace people you aren't happy with-what happened to what the community wants? What about consensus? AFAIK nothing else is run like this. All the projects on wiki I know of elect all directors. I must say, FA-dom is looking more and more like Raul's personal fiefdom. PumpkinSky talk 23:47, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  6. Yes. Leadership for life leads to stagnation, even if benevolent. --Dianna (talk) 00:58, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  7. Yes. The current dictatorial director is out of touch, out of time. Democracy = good. "The reason we don't have elections for delegates - that I pick them myself - is because I want people whose philosophy vis-a-vis FAs is the same as mine" = not so good, not so good at all. DocKino (talk) 08:19, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  8. Seems logical. We are a consensus driven community, and fresh air is usually a good thing. I have no complaints with Raul, simply because I very seldom see him. Full disclosure: I am not a FA writer. I understand that it's only a small percentage of editors that are capable of filling this role, but I think it's a good idea to rotate the responsibilities around at times just to keep things fresh and aboveboard. I'd also note that I think it is reasonable for Raul to be able to be considered in any !vote as well. Let the community speak. — Ched :  ?  18:21, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  9. For a reconfirmation, it'd be good. --♫ Hurricanehink (talk) 18:28, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  10. For something so essential to the project, it makes sense to check community consensus on this. --Elonka 16:22, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  11. Yes. YE Pacific Hurricane 23:01, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
  12. Yes yes and yes - FAC doesn't work, is undemocratic (going against the entire spirit of the project) and in major need of an overhaul. SalopianJames - previously Colds7ream (talk) 12:26, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


  1. I support Raul, leadership isn't broken, so let it be...Modernist (talk) 19:21, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  2. Absolutely not. This will introduce the kind of pettiness already inherent in this discussion most often seen in political advertising. It will create factions and parties where none exist now. Article quality will decrease for the sake of individual popularity. It will shift FAC's priorities. --Moni3 (talk) 21:42, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  3. No. The leadership system is working, so why change it. Other areas (both at FAC and in all of Wiki) need to be focused on first. Also, why are we having two separate sections on this? The poll Mike started above (to have it be part of the RfC) seems to be working just fine. Dana boomer (talk) 21:54, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
    An effective means of shortcircuiting the more deliberative RFC that was underway, allows the designer to link folks directly to this section, bypassing the first RFC-- as if someone is in a hurry. And those responding here instead of the RFC already underway above helped move along that distraction. Moonriddengirl or Mike Christie can probably sort it by putting a pointer back to the RFC that was shortcircuited above. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:42, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  4. Absolutely no. Gave my reasons in the straw poll above. Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 21:57, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  5. Similar concerns to Modernist and Moni3. Nev1 (talk) 22:35, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  6. No, for all the reasons given above. Malleus Fatuorum 22:37, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  7. I have no issue with editors asking for Raul to be reconfirmed, if that's what this is about. However, I don't think elections at specific periods are a good idea, for two reasons. First, I share others' worries that FAC would become overly politicized with regular elections. FAC has done well enough without politics, and I'd like to see that continue. Second, I do have a fear that editors who have had numerous nominations rejected may tend to vote against the incumbents, skewing the results. Maybe I'm wrong to think that way, but FAC inspires a great deal of passion and I wouldn't rule out such a scenario. Giants2008 (Talk) 01:52, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  8. No. The first step would be to establish that there is something broken. After that, offer how-to-fix suggestions. There is no corner of human endeavour that is free from excited critics, so a small number of people with generic complaints is standard operating procedure and is not a reason to disrupt extablished procedures. Johnuniq (talk) 02:38, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  9. No — at least not in the current context. There are actually a very small number of people whom I believe would be just fine as a successor to Sandy and Raul (please see "Johnbod" in the section below), but the time is not now. Currently there is a knot of editors who have something bitter eating at them. I was not around to see the genesis of this particular tangle of ill-feelings [PLEASE do not provide diffs to historical context! I won't look and don't care, and it would start further arguments]. However, I am persuaded that decisions that are essentially reactions to feelings of bitterness are, almost without exception, poorly made decisions. I fear that the those who are currently discontented would somehow magically find a way to elect one of their number rather than a genuine steady hand... Can we get one thing out of the way? Just because FAC is deliberately intended to filter and promote the "elite" Wikipedia articles does not mean we are elitist per se, and by God does not mean that we should adopt rash or anti-elitist policies (as an emotional reaction to past rejections or whatever, but see the word PLEASE above) that would send FA quality into a tailspin. Things change slowly here for a reason: change is not always automatically for the better. –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 03:39, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  10. Currently no - focussing on this issue now will be (a) time-consuming (b) divisive, and (c) divert energy away from more vital issues. Casliber (talk · contribs) 11:34, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  11. I'm leaning toward 'no'. I don't have a problem with Raul's directorship, and I don't think snout-counting will magically produce a perfect director, or even the best director. If it does come to an election, I'd likely vote to reelect the incumbent. --Coemgenus (talk) 12:05, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  12. No. I don't like the idea of introducing or increasing the level of politics here. And as Casliber points out, it sounds like a recipe for a huge, divisive time sink. Kafka Liz (talk) 14:52, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  13. No, as it opens up the management of the process to the political class and will become attractive to the hat gaterers and thoes with big voices and nothing to say (which is exactly what is happening here). Note RFA is fucked beyond repair. There is a lot of instutional knowledge and trust in place here, which is why it one of the better functioning and enjoyable areas on wiki. The current system favours merit over popularity, and thats no bad thing. As Johnbod notes below "we don't see other elections overrun with candidates with strong content experience." Exactly. What frightens me is that this came from a play by Diaanna and her attack dog Alarbus, two people whom it seems willfully misunderstood the Lecen situation, and misrepresented it to members of the WMF, after the incumbants here had already handeled the issue with dilligence, tact and skill. Ceoil (talk) 18:37, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  14. No, for many of the reasons above. There are editors out there that just can't created featured content. They have avenues available to them to shore up their weaker areas, but so many take a failed nomination as a commentary on themselves instead of being a critique of the article or specific editor skills. Instead of working to address skill deficits, I foresee them instead ganging up to toss a member of the leadership team out of office. The FAC delegates, and to a degree, the director, are not like our President and Congress here in the US. They don't set policy that requires a regular mandate. They interpret criteria and policies, and they deal with the arguments placed before them in a nomination page like justices on the Supreme Court. Our judiciary is insulated from politics with appointments that last "during good behavior", for that reason. Some courageous justices of the Iowa Supreme Court ruled not long ago that the state constitution required the legalization of same-sex marriage. For that decision, they were voted out of office in a confirmation election. The better option would have been to change the constitution. The analog here is that if you don't like how articles stack up against the criteria, start an RfC to change the criteria, but don't fire those people who capably interpret it in specific nominations every day. No, politicking and elections have no place here. (And yes, justices can be impeached and removed as needed, in the rare cases it might be necessary.) Imzadi 1979  03:01, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  15. No, for the reasons I mentioned in the above poll. I wouldn't mind a clearer chain-of-command incase of emergencies, but that's it. Sometimes its best not to leave things to mob ruledemocracy.Jinnai 04:15, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  16. As the Iron Lady once said: "no, no, no". Tony (talk) 05:24, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  17. No. Sometimes I shake off the retirement dust long enough to find something remarkable here. I can't imagine better contributors in this arena than Raul and Sandy. But I've seen this before in academia, and know how it ends. JNW (talk) 05:43, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  18. No, the current system is fine as argued so eloquently above. Jezhotwells (talk) 09:39, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
  19. Relectantly no. I say "reluctantly" not because I'm opposed to Raul or any of the delegates continuing in their jobs (more the opposite if anything) but because I would prefer to think that this project could benefit from elections of key personnel. Moreover, as a MilHist coordinator it's good to see that particular election process held up as an example to aspire to, and if FA project elections ever do take place I hope that model is followed. Unfortunately, however, the level of passion here (to put the best spin on it) leads me to believe that elections will only create further division and rancour than is already evident. Sorry, but there it is. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 11:36, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
  20. While I have no opinion – good, bad or indifferent – of Raul, I find it troubling that supporters of this proposal have not been able to provide arguments more substantive than general notions of “democracy=good” and the corresponding “dictator=bad”. If it is believed that the FA director has the power to shape the perception of Wikipedia through the selection of TFAs, and that Raul’s scarcity is detrimental to that perception, then simply bifurcate that function. Consideration of consensus, however, is not a leadership role (generally the circumstance contemplated by democracy as a philosophy: those being led have a fundamental right to select their leader). Contrarily, in fact, the FA director leads no one, and is beholden to (led by) reviewers. Эlcobbola talk 20:35, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
  21. No - per Casliber. Truthkeeper (talk) 23:37, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Neutral or other:

  1. Don't really feel strongly: I think Sandy (certainly) and Raul (probably) would win, which should reduce grumbling. It would be a disaster if someone really unsuitable were elected, but we don't see other elections overrun with candidates with strong content experience, do we? And even the wider WP electorate will realize this needs such a person. But evidently the process is likely to cause a lot of bad feeling locally, which is a strong downside. Sitting with a fencepost up my arse, as so often. Johnbod (talk) 00:55, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  2. I think we need a RfC where we discuss the issue of "leadership" properly. I am sure there are plenty who do not feel that the current situation is ideal, but do not necessarily want to jump straight into elections and such for the reasons outlined. J Milburn (talk) 01:49, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  3. Much depends on the term of office, annual elections as I believe are proposed are a great way to keep people on their toes and under pressure to please their electorate. Obviously that isn't a suitable model for FA anymore than having driving examiners annually elected by the local holders of provisional licenses. If the proposal was for a more realistic multiyear mandate then I would be more comfortable. Remember we need some way to appoint a director unless we can upload Raul to an Artificial Intelligence program and make his role permanent; Elections are the only way that anyone has suggested, the real divides are whether it is election for life or election for a long term or election for a short term, and whether the delegates are the directors appointees or should be chosen by the community. ϢereSpielChequers 12:17, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
  4. I'm neutral on this. I will try to find the right place (above) to outline more concretely what I think. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 03:08, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


Brief statement: I fear all this is getting lost and I'd like some idea of community view, please. I'd be grateful if people could be brief so this doesn't get lost too.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:22, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

Seems odd to think that, if everything's so brilliant, we couldn't just allow a regular examination of FAC leadership to take place by the community. Still, Kim Jong-il had many fervent supporters too. Most democratic-minded people would allow discussion/re-election as a matter of course. The Rambling Man (talk) 22:06, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
It's not that I support Raul or Sandy, and I've said that neither position should be held "for life". The dictator comments and comparisons to Kim Jong-il are bizarre. If someone else proves him/herself worthy to do the tasks and is dedicated enough, super. Politicking and elections will turn FAC into something else entirely. Perhaps a place where editors find value in the difference. I would not. --Moni3 (talk) 22:15, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
I guess the dictator comment (and certainly my comment) were related to the idea that there should be some idea of accountability and re-evaluation of the individual responsible for the most important content publication in the whole of Wikipedia, and I suppose the third (?) most visited website in the world. In my mind, the position (i.e. which dictates the success of Wikipedia to the outside world) of FA director supersedes all other positions, Arbcom, crats etc. It shapes the whole of the website. There should be some regular way to define this role, just like there is for admins, crats, Arbcom etc. After all, if the main page isn't working, Wikipedia isn't working. The Rambling Man (talk) 22:21, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
I think there is accountability, just not in the form of elections. A dictator would silence all dissent, and this entire discussion, plus the stuff found regularly on Raul's, Sandy's, and Karanacs' (when acting) talk pages certainly appear to be clearly worded statements of displeasure about many of their decisions. I'm sure you know Wikipedians can move very quickly en masse and protest vociferously in a variety of ways, evident in this discussion, but more vividly apparent in other forums. At some point Raul and Sandy will have a life away from this site and they will be replaced. If the majority of FAC regulars and other interested parties want that to happen sooner, then that's what they want. I just object to elections, democrat that I am. Elections work for some positions. It would not work for this one. --Moni3 (talk) 22:32, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
I certainly accept that Wikipedians can move en masse but when it comes to this sort of unaccountable position, there's usually a mountain to climb, a mountain of "in-folks" who know what FAC's all about, who know each other, and who are quite satisfied with the status quo. It's somewhat inevitable therefore that this whole leadership thing becomes a bit stuck in the mud. All I'd suggest then, as a minimum, is a regular "Is everyone okay with the way that I (Raul etc) run FAC and essentially control how Wikipedia appears to the normal universe?" and maybe that regularity is just an RFC or an informal straw poll. It would be nice to see some kind of regular forum for that kind of debate. The Rambling Man (talk) 22:43, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
(ec) I agree that quick action is not really possible in the current format of leadership, but should it be? I'm not suggesting a tortoise-like process where it may take months or years to find someone while an incumbent continues to abuse power, but it would seriously destabilize the FAC process to get caught up in a furor and remove the director or delegate, say over a weekend, because someone got really pissed off that their article wasn't promoted. Generally what happens (by my observation) in a complaint is that someone complains either on this page or one of their talk pages and Raul or Sandy explain why an article wasn't promoted or such, citing the standards given in WIAFA or an unfortunate lack of reviews. If that's not enough, then the discussion turns to "If the decision maker isn't the problem, then the criteria are" and the community as a whole responds either to uphold the criteria or change it. I've seen it happen a couple times so it's not a frequent thing. It works, but slowly. I don't have a problem with re-confirming Raul or such, but I have a huge problem with making a position either entirely or very dependent upon quickly changing opinions from editors who are unable or unwilling to acknowledge that decisions to promote or archive are based on criteria established at WIAFA or scarcity of reviews, and not something at which they should take personal umbrage. --Moni3 (talk) 22:58, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
It's funny that admins and 'crats can be hauled up "because someone got really pissed off", and it takes a goliath effort these days to be elected as an admin or crat. Meanwhile, the people responsible for the way the entire website appears to the rest of the world are just tacitly accepted. If everything's brilliant, there should be no problem in the odd wiki-wide re-evaluation of performance. After all, most professionals are evaluated at least once a year, why not those who dictate our presentation to the rest of known universe? The Rambling Man (talk) 23:04, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm going to pull back in this discussion because I do not wish to dominate it, and other editors should speak their opinions, but I'll leave it by saying that no one here seems to be tacitly accepting anything. Our robust discussion about the FA director and the delegates speaks to that. There are as many opinions on how FAC functions best as there are interested editors participating here. I don't quite know how a re-confirmation process would be much different than an election, but if someone can come up with a way to ensure that the director and the delegates are not chosen based on popularity and the same bullshit null communication found among politicians running for office, I'd like to see what it would be like as an idea. Otherwise, if any process is dependent upon gladhanding and the Internet version of kissing babies, combined with attack ads, it will turn FAC into an entirely different forum where article quality is no longer top priority. --Moni3 (talk) 23:43, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
Re: elections. Let's not get misguided by saying "democracy=elections=good". In the UK we don't elect our Prime Minister. I believe in the US you think you do (ha ha ha). I didn't elect my boss at work. My daughter didn't elect her dad. My in-laws didn't have a say on who should be their daughter's husband. Some of this discussion is as naive as my daughter thinking if she had different (better) parents, she could stay up later and not have to finish her tea. TRM, I think you should strike the comment about Kim Jong-il; we really don't need such arguments. Colin°Talk 22:48, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
Struck. The Rambling Man (talk) 23:04, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

I think wether it is just the director like Wehwalt wants or all of them Milhist/GOCE style like I want, we need to put it up to the community to at least have an opionion. I see a request from the general community, posted at VP, and spammed to everybody who is on the WBFAN list. Not just the regulars here. Even people like Garando that haven't been hear from in forever.

FAC is getting tighter and tighter. Do you really want to be big frogs in a dwindling pond? The program is shrinking instead of growing. Do you really want that?

Besides, would you want to be in a position and have to say you are scared of standing for election? Heck, you have all kinds of good things lined up. You can say how great you've been over the years...can say TCO is an evil, stupid troll who has less stars and gets blocked a lot, whatever. You have lots of good things to put forward for getting elected. But you should STAND for election. But you should at least put yourselves forward to YOUR WRITING COLLEAGUES. That's how every other thing on Wiki works and is really core American and democratic.

And let's be brutally frank: Raul is not performing the job of FA-D. I don't agree that Sandy is strategic, but at least she is engaged with the day to day. I've never seen Raul here at FAC at all and have been here for a year with this place, now. Yes, he was kind and I interacted with him once wrt TFA. That is IT. (And we missed a couple days lately and had to add a helper at TFA...and we've lost two other delegates from walking away entirely sans comment.) Are we going to do what is best for FAC and Wiki and READERS? Or let some guy from 2004 have a fancy title? We need fresh blood. I would love it if we even had some of the different sides working together after a GOCE-Milhist election. Diversity is GOOD.

TCO (Reviews needed) 23:05, 6 January 2012 (UTC)

Raul has made 250 edits since 27 October last year, most of them not related to WP:TFA, so it's not exactly as if he's around day-to-day. Can someone explain what he actually does do? The Rambling Man (talk) 23:11, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
FAC isn't shrinking because of Raul, Sandy, or Karanacs. I've said it before: Wikipedia accepts the absolute very least. Don't piss anyone off. You don't have to have any knowledge or motivation, just stay out of most people's ways. This site needs to ratchet up its expectations. I shouldn't have to defend an article because it's an FA. Every editor should be defending excellent content. I shouldn't be accused of owning an article because I ask on the talk page if someone complaining about POV has read the sources. That's preposterous and intellectually bankrupt to jump to ownership when someone challenges you to justify your POV accusations with sources. On an ideal site, FA shouldn't even exist. The FA criteria establish the highest standards for assessing material. Every last article should meet that criteria as best it can. It is a battle to maintain FAs sometimes because other editors are so painfully unaware of what a reliable source is, or an excellent sentence. Expect more of editors and you'll get a lot of conflict, but in the end, you'll get a lot of much better editors. --Moni3 (talk) 23:17, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
  1. where one exist[s] now. Alarbus (talk) 23:54, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
    (my above post was not made "here", it was made in another context where it *had* context. It was "buried" here by Moni3 who has long been antagonistic towards me (said I only speak in the language "asshole"). This is the whole point of the concerns about this place; it is *hostile* and brooks no input from outsiders. Hell, Wehwalt's an insider and is calling for change. But this zoo is just about out-editing the critics, controlling the message and hoping that it will blow over. FA is a failed process; it has produced far too few quality articles. It is all about us-vs-them, and controlling the access to the main page. Time for change. Wehwalt for FA Director. Alarbus (talk) 01:55, 7 January 2012 (UTC))
    What is your point and why are you using this space instead of the discussion area below to not really clarify my thoughts? What are you trying to accomplish? --Moni3 (talk) 23:56, 6 January 2012 (UTC)
    Raul: I want people whose philosophy vis-a-vis FAs is the same as mine i.e. Single-Point-of-View (single party state). SandyGeorgia replied inline, just below; outsiders may not? I'm trying to effect change. Alarbus (talk) 00:10, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
    I'm replying below, where you should have sought to clarify or comment on my opinion. --Moni3 (talk) 00:21, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Single party state: again the comparison to a dictatorship. Is there a way we can discuss this without the use of hyperbole? Do you have specific examples of dictator-like behavior? Here's a tip: your argument will be better accepted when you cease depending on hyperbole and use concrete examples of problematic trends or behavior. That Raul is not frequently engaged at FAC is a valid observation that he should respond to. That he or Sandy are dictators or God is ridiculous and replying to it is foolish. We should start ratcheting up our expectations right here. --Moni3 (talk) 00:21, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Just a comment on this section: it is similar to the section in the straw poll above, as Dana boomer points out above. Wehwalt, the reason I didn't frame the question the way you did in this section is that there are other ways to frame it that might be as productive. For example, some might ask if the role of director is necessary at all? If we have elections, why not just directly elect the delegates, and skip the director position? Or it might be worth clarifying the role of the director before holding a straw poll on whether such a role should be reconfirmed at intervals. It's clear there are several people who feel that regardless of how the role is framed, and whether the role is subsumed into that of the delegates or remains separate, some form of election or reconfirmation is necessary, so perhaps there's not much practical divergence between this poll and the one above, but I wanted to clarify why I didn't pose this question directly above: I wanted to get there by stages and make sure we had a clear understanding of what was being asked.

Incidentally, since I don't think I've said it so far on this page, I will try to avoid expressing any opinions at all on this RfC. I do have opinions about most of these issues but I think I can be more useful in organizing the debate than in contributing to it. I will post factual information (e.g. about prior discussions) if I see some benefit in doing so; please let me know if I step over the line and appear to be non-neutral. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:56, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Mike, that is why we need a RFC on leadership, so that we may consider those options. However, Raul has stated that there's no call for elections beyond two or three loud people. I am not sure what he would see as a significant number of people; accordingly we need to have some indication. For everyone's guidance.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:08, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Setting the terms of an election to your own position? Now THAT'S evidence of dictatorship.PumpkinSky talk 01:36, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm not voting in the poll above on principle, because I doubt it has been widely advertised enough outside of this page (if at all). Sort out what is needed in an RfC and then advertise that properly. Then you will get more input than you are getting here. Carcharoth (talk) 02:33, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

A request was made above for an example of "dictator-like behavior". Here is such an example: The FA dictator--and that's not "hyperbole", that's plain English--just rejected a main page nomination of an FA (Elvis Presley) with 6 "points" (in a nominating system where 4 "points" is a lot) and a ratio of 8 supports to 2 opposes without explanation. Yeah--it's time for an election. DocKino (talk) 08:19, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Elvis, isn't that TFAR? Why are arguing about TFAR here? –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 08:28, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Mmmm. Part of the problem here is we're dealing with contributors who are not fluent in English (e.g., "Why are arguing"; e.g., not understanding what the ordinary word "dictator" means). One Leaf Knows Autumn, this is the primary venue for the discussion of whether an election should be held for the position of FA dictator director. At present, one of the primary tasks of the FA dictator director is the determination of which FAs will and will not be featured on our main page. That makes it a very relevant topic of discussion here. Understand? I do hope my English is plain enough for you. DocKino (talk) 08:42, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  • If you'll read Wikipedia's article on Linguicism carefully, you'll quickly come to the conclusion that on-Wiki instances are clearly in violation of WP:NPA. Alas, violations of that policy are as common as dandelions in this discussion. –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 08:50, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Perhaps, instead of whining and lecturing us about policy and defending your poor, poor self, you could address the substantive issues. Do you or do you not understand how the FA director's handling of TFAR is entirely relevant here? DocKino (talk) 09:12, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Two issues at hand: First, I thought that this was solely about ejecting Raul and Sandy from FAC leadership, not the former from TFAR. Second, I am not lecturing or whining. I am genuinely disappointed in the ad hominem tone adopted by several individuals in this discussion. I surmise that they all feel they have been aggrieved, and have decided to band together to extract revenge. They have apparently also collected the support of a few other editors who (dispassionately, and absent the WP:NPA violations) seem to think it's OK to proceed with an RfC based on "community interest". I have repeatedly stated that this is a misperception. At present, "community interest" is a euphemism for "hanging party". The RfC will be yet one more bitter on-Wiki gorefest. –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 09:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  • With regard to TFA – WP:TFAR is clear: "Requests are not the only factor in scheduling today's featured article (see Choosing Today's Featured Article); the final decision rests with Raul654. Please confine requests to this page, and remember that community endorsement on this page does not mean the article will appear on the requested date." (my emphasis) This is how TFAR has been run for years now, and there have been relatively few complaints about the FA director's role in selection of the Main Page FA. If you would like the community to reconsider Raul's (and his delegates') role in selecting TFA, perhaps that is another topic for the RfC. Dabomb87 (talk) 15:59, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Concur. Paging up past the unfortunate statements on all sides, all I see is a request that Raul say why Presley wasn't run. I think a good approach would be to ask why on Raul's talk page, or if you scheduled that date, on yours. As I have said often, TFA/R is purely advisory and aimed at making the life of the schedulers easier while giving the community a voice in the process. I think TFA/R is well-run, and responded well to the one problem, which was that one day wasn't scheduled until 20 minutes late. Everyone came up with a procedure to deal with the situation and I don't think it is likely to happen again. I really don't think TFA/R is an issue, it (and you) work job competently. I have taken pains on this page, if you can find it, to say so.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:11, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

For the record, I scheduled the Brad Pitt article for the wrong date (I was going to schedule it for next open date, the 7th, but Dabomb scheduled the 7th and I put Pitt into the 8th. Someone else came along and deleted the Elvis request) I have now fixed the problem. Thank you to those people who suggested asking me about it rather than simply assuming this as an example of me being dictatorial. Raul654 (talk) 16:24, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Thanks very much for the explanation of what happened in this specific case. But the broader issue remains, and I'm afraid that the substance (rather than the eminently reasonable tone) of what you affirmed here is what is prompting, and will continue to prompt, such unpleasant "assumptions". DocKino (talk) 03:19, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

In response to Elcobbola's recent assertion above, "Consideration of consensus, however, is not a leadership role (generally the circumstance contemplated by democracy as a philosophy: those being led have a fundamental right to select their leader). Contrarily, in fact, the FA director leads no one, and is beholden to (led by) reviewers." This reveals a serious misunderstanding of the "circumstances contemplated by democracy." It is by no means merely "leaders" who should be subject to periodic election, according to those who esteem democracy, but, crucially, representatives as well. And the position of FA director is a representative position with, or with the potential for, considerable influence. DocKino (talk) 20:51, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

You appear not to have read the word "generally". Understanding it is crucial to understanding the point. Эlcobbola talk 20:59, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Spare us the sophistry, please. Your point, quite clearly, was that FA director is not a "leadership" position and thus is not of "fundamental" concern to those who believe democracy is a prima facie good. It's okay to be wrong once in a while; no need to dig yourself a deeper hole. DocKino (talk) 21:38, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Fortunate, then, that you are so comfortable with and amiable to being wrong, as that was not the point. Эlcobbola talk 21:53, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Point of advice

I was thinking about trying to get West Pier to FA. Do you think I should put it through Pier Review first? --John (talk) 01:34, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

That's the best way to make sure it's ship-shape. --Coemgenus (talk) 01:36, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, get it all Bristol fashion, fore shore.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:47, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
Just for that ... boys... I'm not touching that with a ten-foot bargepole. Bad editors, bad bad! No puns! Ealdgyth - Talk 01:58, 5 January 2012 (UTC)
You'd need more than ten-foot, I think! Jezhotwells (talk) 02:17, 5 January 2012 (UTC)

If you told me...

...I would get a medal for reviewing five articles, I would do it. Wouldn't you? ResMar 04:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Pegging a barnstar to a set number of reviews might not be the best approach, but promoting a barnstar for continued work on reviews without a fixed quota might be better. Five rubber-stamped reviews aren't going to be worth much to anyone, especially compared with two or three solid and in-depth ones. GRAPPLE X 04:25, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
FAC reviews are rather hard to rubber stamp, and I'm sure it would reign some people into contributing a bit. I certainly would do it; it's not that reviewing is hard, it's that there's no definite reward to it. ResMar 04:36, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Director of Community Outreach

  • This idea struck me while I was standing in front of a urinal (did I reveal my gender?), so perhaps that explains a few things, but here goes: since people have Election Fever, and since everyone on every side of every issue agrees that we need more reviewers, why not elect a Community Outreach Director or Coordinator (or some better title) to be the coordinator for that issue? You know, focus on pulling people together, maybe start some project or other, whatever seems best. But elect someone to be the leader on that issue. I am not going to argue for my own idea (not even one post); I'm just throwing it out there... PS I nominate User:Johnbod, but would also support User:Mike Christie. –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 04:27, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Find someone courageous, patient, impartial, amiable, admirable, interested, and conscientious enough, and then you can color me surprised. In all respect I don't think we need a bloody delegate in the proceedings. Maybe a codifier, but no more. ResMar 04:41, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
elect?? Why that would be contrary to Raul's entire philosophy, where everyone in the FA kingdom serves at his sole discretion. PumpkinSky talk 13:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
As someone who has barely commented here - I'd like to point out that the above comment with its hyperbole isn't exactly inducing me to want to comment or take anything the commenter says seriously. I not opposed to looking at all aspects of FAC and how it's run in order to improve it, but I prefer not to have to deal with this sort of discussion where it's all hyperbole and picking sides. Let's calmly discuss what the problems people see in the process and once you've made your point - it's probably best to let others point out what they see rather than beating the drum on your own opinions over and over and over again. Ealdgyth - Talk 15:14, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Subpage for all this stuff?

I hate to bring it up,. but all this talk page discussion is getting littered everywhere on the page, and its getting rather confusing with multiple discussions up at once. Could we possibly subpage the RFC proposal stuff? At least there it would be less of the mess it already is. Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 06:17, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Is that like burying it where no one is watching? Being seen by many is kind of the idea here. Alarbus (talk) 06:22, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Not really, but this page is already well over 265KB, and its also getting cumbersome to have to read 7 discussions on different parts of the page. Plus, there's unrelated stuff going on with the FACRFC stuff. Trying to just get something done before ghetto computers like mine start having trouble loading this page. Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 06:28, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Then enough foreplay; time to get the RfC on FA's leadership out there in front of everyone. Maybe we could get one of those fundraising banner's re-done? Get the general readership in on the discussion. Alarbus (talk) 06:33, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
I figured a geonotice works as well, such as the one on the top of my watchlist. Also, might want to get word out on the Signpost report this week. Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 06:40, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

ABSOLUTELY. I have great respect for those like Giants or Dank above who support an RFC even though they aren't trying to change leadership. They are no allies. But men of honor. Not proud of those who want to vote (here) to not ask the Community to vote (the RFC) on voting for leaders (the election)! That is just trying to win the battle by preventing the question from being raised. That is using a vote 3 steps away from the real decision, by a small group here. This thing needs to head to the general readership. I realize Christie was picked by Sandy, but I would like him to be fair and not try to spike this thing somehow. I am sensitive to not just pushing the thing through myself. Not scared or timid. But wanting a neutral party to put it on the table. But it needs to get there. It needs to go forward and get resolved. Not be bollixed by a small clique, here.TCO (Reviews needed) 06:49, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

  • Tossing around words like "respect" and "honor" is again profoundly counter-productive, to put it mildly. More to the point, it is a back-handed insult to everyone who disagrees with you. Please do re-read WP:NPA... –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 06:59, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Let's suffer with the long page for the weekend; we've agreed to keep this open thru Monday. Hold the RfC(s) on a subpage, widely publicize it before opening the page, a few days for everyone to catch their breath would be good anyway. OLKA, let's not get that deep in analysis of people's contributions because if we go there, we'll never get anywhere. I have been studiously ignoring sniping by all in this discussion, and plan to keep doing so, and I certainly would have reason to take offense. However, that would get us nowhere. At some point, Mike, since your views are valuable and we want to hear them, I suggest you bow out in your role, with the community's thanks and be freed to comment. Can we ask a mediator or someone to guide the discussion forward at that mutually-agreeable point? I am trying to eliminate distractions and side issues.--Wehwalt (talk) 11:58, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
I'll set up a subpage if there's a consensus that's a good idea; to be honest I'm concerned about visibility of the RfC if we do that. Perhaps instead we can (a) archive some or all of the discussion above as soon as we settle the topic of the RfC, and (b) manage the RfC to keep it focused. However, we do have a little more discussion to do before the RfC -- we need to formulate the questions to be asked, once we know the topic.
As for me commenting, I'm fine with not commenting and staying in the organizational role, but if there are doubts about my neutrality for closing the RfC then it would be best to know about that before we start it; as you say I could get it started and we could then ask someone else to close it. I'm OK with either approach. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:57, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
A subpage would be less visible. I don't buy the long page complaint. This is important stuff. And both the people who want change and who resist it, realize its importance. Maybe in the end, it will need to come down to the change-wanters proposing the RFC as the change-resisters already have a side on the issue that makes them want to avoid having the Community consider the question at all.TCO (Reviews needed) 14:20, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry you don't "buy the long page complaint", but at 285k this page is starting to load slowly even for me, and I have a fairly fast connection. Either a subpage or some serious archiving of this page is needed before the RfC, so that users who don't have new computers or fast connections will be able to load it - you're very concerned about not leaving any part of the community out, but seem to have no concern with leaving out the (fairly significant) group of people without the most up-to-date technology. Dana boomer (talk) 15:21, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
That is the sort of thing I was thinking, start it and then jump in the boat. If some voice has to be excluded from this discussion to run it fairly, and given your accomplishments at FA, I don't want your voice not to be heard in the debate. That was what I was thinking.--Wehwalt (talk) 13:08, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
Everoyone seems to have pretty much had their say. Time to move on with whatever will be: election or not, RFC or not, absolutely nothing, whatever. PumpkinSky talk 15:25, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
It was suggested above that the straw poll on the RfC topic should run through Monday evening, and I still think that's wise. As someone pointed out, this is a holiday week for many, and I see no harm in waiting a couple more days to ensure that the consensus is clear and that everyone has a chance to participate in the discussion. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:35, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Folks, this page is getting too long... and the noise from some issues is drowning out the signal here. I'm on a DSL connection, but I'm having time delays in attempting to 1) load the page and 2) even edit the page at points. I shudder to think if I were loading this page over a cell phone's data connection with its limited processing power. (And before anyone says anything, I do and have edited from an iPhone frequently depending on my situation. I'm not the only one that does so either.) The point: the discussions about having a discussion about FAC reform are drowning out discussions related to active or soon-to-be-nominated FACs. Imzadi 1979  17:26, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

We could perhaps archive the FAC 2012 section; there are recent comments in it, but it's largely subsumed by the following section. Any objections to that? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:43, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
If you do so, a separate archive for all RFC business (as in the last RFC, making it easy to find, separate from other FAC business), and prominently link that archive with a See also at the top of any subsequent or new sections or the RFC, as the issue of Wehwalt's aspiration to be FA director-- subsequent to his mentee TCO writing an attack piece on FAC and its leadership-- is revealed by reading how the previous discussions proceeded, including that Wehwalt pretended to be notified when I launched a FAC checkup in the New Year, and that he has avoided reviewing FACs for "risk of alienation" and because "he finds it hard to judge other people's work"-- strange credentials from someone pushing for elections, to introduce "campaigning" and politics into the FA process, and aspiring to be the FA director. Unless the previous discussions are included with prominent links to any new discussions, no, I don't think they should be archived-- they are most revealing. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:11, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

HA! Play it cool, Sandy. That is a better strategy. People may start to think there is something to all this chatter about "holding grudges" from years gone by. Stick to blaming evil former permabannee TCO. Wehwalt is a prince of a man, epitomizing the ability to be fair. Writing a story about a famous Nazi without a bit of his sincere disdain for them overpowering the writing. The complete opposite of sophomoric Koskid POV "helping the world not be evil". The opposite of a social faction type (Essjay, Bisho, SlimV, etc. the mind wearies from reading all about it and seeing you all line up for friends over the years rather than for principles...or gosh knows...for readers.)TCO (Reviews needed) 20:53, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

There seems to have been a loss here. This page is now over 320KB, and becoming harder and harder to load, we have no consensus to do anything to alleviate this problem. Sandy, is there any chance you can archive everything else but the FAC 2012 and subsequent RFC threads and tell them to finish the rest of the unrelated stuff there. At least its a temp solution for now, until we can try dividing this up by focus. Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 04:25, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Tone of the conversation

A few days ago I struck this comment hoping I would be wrong and we could keep this conversation from becoming acrimonious. However that hasn't happened. In my view the tone here is having a chilling effect on editors who might want to comment but have no desire to wade into a conversation that's become this polarized. Just saying. I think toning it down a bit, all around, would be helpful. Truthkeeper (talk) 15:51, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm bowing out because I think nothing concrete will come of this, just like all the never ending talk of RFA reform.PumpkinSky talk 15:53, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
I think this is lot closer than that! PurpleSky, I hope you will stay, but respect your choice if you don't. I also join in the call for civility. And. That. Means. Everyone. That means no more snide remarks. Please--Wehwalt (talk) 16:01, 7 January 2012 (UTC).
Snide is in the eye of the beholder; you called for the campaign, and it started as a dirty one with Alarbus and TCO. Perhaps if you had attempted to reign in those nasty comments before Carcharoth stepped in and did so; it's nice of you to call for civil discussion now, after turning a blind eye to all that your mentor and others did and said in the leadup to this campaign (none of which caused you to ask them to reign it in until the last 36 hours or so). PS: my apologies to Mike Christie for asking him to oversee what I thought would be a routine FAC RFC: at the time I proposed him to do that, I wasn't aware of Wehwalt's campaign to be FA director. I feel badly that Mike has to sort this mess, but trust that he can and will, if he's allowed. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:56, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Give it a rest with the conspiracies, Sandy. Seriously, you will do fine if you let your friends back you up. As far as the Alarbus coordination (meatpuppet accusation, remember?), I put that along with saying I'm a WMF or Croaton High School plant. I could win some money for ski trips myself if we want to bet on some of your theories...TCO (Reviews needed) 21:01, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Oh...and this thing is headed to an advertised Community-wide RFC no matter what. I'm fine with "losing" it. But we are not going to do the chatty, chatty thing, with no vote by the Community (at least a vote to have a vote). This is just chatty, chat, before we do that. This is a Wiki and there is nothing stopping advertising an RFC.TCO (Reviews needed) 21:01, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Re, this edit summary, I'm a bit confused about why Wehwalt called a deliberative discussion "snap", and then put up a "snap" RFC in the middle of a deliberative RFC. How many, and which, RFCs should we put up and advertise, TCO? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:17, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

I don't know what Wehwalt said or you said, Sandy. I have enough work keeping track of me.

I will put up an RFC for "elections versus continue same governance" (subpage and notifications), tonight. It makes sense for the side posing change to put the question, not the side resisting it. You have lots of people who support you, so don't worry about that. But I'll put create a subpage tonight and advertise it to the entire Community. I'm just a simple newbie who doesn't even know about notice boards (honest), but I'll figure it out in terms of mechanics and advertising and all that. I'll use the whole "be bold" Wiki philosophy and muddle through. Don't worry about how I pose the question. If I do a crappy job, it will just make it that much easier for you to get votes for the keep things the same side of the governance debate.TCO (Reviews needed) 22:45, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

No, please DON'T write it - let someone else do it, almost anyone else. I'm sure most on both sides will agree with me here. Johnbod (talk) 22:54, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with this. Any RfC you write about FAC, TOC, will ultimately be more about you. If you want to improve FAC, leave the RfC to someone else. --Moni3 (talk) 23:07, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Cool. You can just vote no. If I dork it up and it is about me (rip me for that a bit, it's a good strategy...way better than slamming Wehwalt) and a trainwreck, so much the better since you favor status quo. It will help you, actually. But one thing, I won't do is wiff and not put the question. I'll try to make it dispassionate though, Moni. Well, I'm not good at it. But I'll try. Going for a walk, first.TCO (Reviews needed) 23:18, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

I concur with the call for you not to be the one to write any RfC. TCO, anything you do around here has an edge of it being about you in the end, no matter what. The fact that you start it will engender opposition to it on that basis from many people, even some that might agree with you otherwise. So please, step back and don't do it.
As a second comment from me, you really need to change your signature. Pointing people to a section of your user page that includes your current FPCs and a DYK nom of yours is really out of line. I believe it would be called spamming or canvassing because you've singled out only your nominations and not the rest of DYK or FPC. At best, it's annoying because anyone that might want to leave a message on your talk page can't find a link directly to it. Imzadi 1979  23:34, 7 January 2012 (UTC)
No RfC on FAC will assist me in any way. Your motivations in bringing this RfC will be called into question immediately. The RfC will, I predict, WP:Boomerang on you. There may be discussion about how leadership should be refined at FAC, but a majority of the RfC will be about your actions since November, painting you as someone with an axe to grind. Regardless of how valid you think that view is, it means fewer people will get involved to form solutions to legitimate problems. You will be the distraction in your own attempt to improve the process. If you want any RfC to achieve something, let someone else create it. Otherwise, I hope I've been clear enough here to illustrate what will happen if you create this RfC. With that knowledge, if you do post it, I can only assume you really want the RfC to be about you. --Moni3 (talk) 23:25, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Imzadi: I'll change the signature. I think it is reasonable in general, but inappropriate at this time. (I think Wikipedians should interact and draw people in, sig was from Mav who is an old hand, plus I have an essay on bringing your own reviewers, plus I think the Kabuki theater about canvassing is silly...interaction is good.) But the whole thing is a side issue and I'll table it for now.

Moni: Raul has had 7 years to call for elections. Sandy has had 4. Plus, you've already said above that you want no changes. I will just do my best and try to be calm in the RFC. I want to put this question. It is natural that the proponents of the status quo resist an RFC (or attempt to shape it). But the "side" (sorry TK) favoring change to elections should craft the proposal and then you can react and say it is crap or whatever. You always have the option to vote no (or start any kind of allegation you want). I do appreciate your comments about my narcism (and admit it). I will really try to tame the thing down. We need to have a proposal though. And have not had it for years. Let me run. At least I won't let the thing get bogged down in red tape but will force the Community to vote for elections versus status quo. It will be good to have the matter at a crux. P.s. I really do like your posts (no kidding, not kissing your ass) and how you are blunt.

Going off line to work in MS Word. Not hiding, just easier to think, will try to fix curly qoutes this time, Sandy.  ;-)

TCO (Reviews needed) 00:28, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

New Year's greeting and a semi-outside view

Wikipedia:Featured articles is a wonderful process. A New Year's greeting made here, on its most active talk page, will reach, among 1000+ watchers, many of Wikipedia's most highly regarded and productive editors. Greetings!

I'm not one of those watchers most of the time (I only watch about 60-70 pages; I review FACs when asked, mostly technical stuff, which happens only a few times a year), but various rumblings drew my attention to the current activity here. On the one hand, it is a good thing that editors want to discuss ways to make FA even better; on the other, I am sad to see such turmoil here, with helpful and unhelpful views/comments intertwined, misunderstood, and/or polarized. Being unsure of my credentials to contribute to some discussions and polls above, I chose to make a few comments here for others to take or leave as they think best.

  1. Mission. First and foremost, any discussion about improving FA should be based on a clear understanding as to what FA is about: why is it such a great process and how did it come to be that way? Some of the brilliant things about FA, in my view, are that it: highlights just how good a free encyclopedia article can be; defines and encourages an aspirational high standard of quality; motivates and inspires our very best work; showcases this work so the world can see what Wikipedia, and hence humanity, is capable of.
  2. Origins. Everyone who has contributed to FA deserves credit for this achievement, but two editors stand out in particular. First of all Raul: when FA began, Wikipedia was still an unproven idea, and widely ridiculed; his determination and leadership in driving the production of quality content has been instrumental in bringing Wikipedia to its current position as the world's second port of call for information (with a brief stop at Google on the way here). The second is SandyGeorgia, with her total commitment to quality and standards. She is substantially responsible for the fact that FAC is one of the few processes on Wikipedia which is genuinely not a vote, or a !vote, or whatever. All that matters is whether the article meets the criteria or not, and those standards should be exacting and evenly applied. She can surely recall better than I how much resistance she first met in reforming the more club-like atmosphere of the early days to the professionalism we aspire to now. I was just a newbie at the time, but the basic principle informed my own approach to GA reform profoundly.
  3. Featured content. Many of the perceived problems about FA are a result of editors wanting it to be something that it cannot possibly be. The creation of other measures of article quality has led to the idea of a quality ladder in which every article should become an FA one day. That's completely unrealistic. The very exacting standards that we value FA for, and the associated need for rigorous quality control, mean that the process is never going to be able to generate more than about 30 new featured articles per month. But why should it? The clue is in the name: not all content in any publication is featured. The point of featured content is to highlight the best: it provides an aspiration which inspires article improvement, but it is not always a realistic end-goal.
  4. Good content. We have another process that delivers content review and article improvement, namely GA. It has lower standards, and its procedures for quality control are less reliable: it relies upon and permits, far more than FA, editors spotting substandard GAs and bringing them up for review. However, this different approach means that it has more throughput, the current average being about 250 new GAs per month. And it is increasing. I was intrigued by comments above that "we cannot expect GA/FAs to increase as a percentage of total articles because it is much easier to write stubs than GAs or FAs". On the contrary, the GA percentage of total articles has been increasing consistently by about 0.05% per year since 2007. The GA percentage of total articles will likely hit 1% before 2020. Asking anything remotely similar of a more exacting process with higher standards is a pipe-dream. Article creation is declining, as there are fewer new things to write about, but the current percentage of 1 FA per 1000 articles is likely to stay that way for a long time, and any target beyond 1 FA per 500 articles is unrealistic. Part of my time contributing to GA involved resisting it becoming more like FA without good reason. I would similarly resist efforts to make FA more like GA. The encyclopedia needs both, and it needs them, along with many other processes, to work together well.
  5. Reform. Wikipedia has outgrown its early days, where consensus and mutual respect sufficed as a form of governance. For better or worse, that has changed. 2011 has seen a new Arbcom policy which barely mentions Jimbo Wales (and also saw revelations about the problems inherent in a conflict of roles) and 2012 will see a further clarification of Jimbo's role and associated powers. I believe Jimbo would like to be a constitutional monarch, with only the power to interfere when things go wrong. There are evident analogies with Raul's position, which is partly constitutional/historical in that he delegates most of his responsibilities, but not entirely, because of his TFAR work. As the years go by there will be increasing pressure to clarify the role. An alternative to elected positions is a TFAR delegate. This may not be the right time to discuss it, but it needs to be discussed soon, probably in the next year. And the aim should be improving FA and setting it on a firm long term footing, not the politicking of the moment.
  6. Ideas. In reading through the above threads, I saw some good ideas. Here are a few:
    • Delegates should provide reasoning when they close nominations. From what I read above, they do this when the close might be controversial, so why not do the same with uncontroversial closures? This is not a conflict of interest, as it does not affect the result. That would provide feedback to reviewers as to whether their comments were helpful, and the best way to learn how to review is on the job.
    • Delegates should pro-actively encourage reviews and reviewers. Given that the role of delegates is to make an unbiased decision as to whether an article meets the criteria, they need all the help they can find to do this. I know this happens already: I would just say that it should be encouraged, and not regarded as a conflict of interest.
    • Do we need more delegates? If we ask more of them, then maybe, but a delegate gained is a reviewer lost, except where delegates recuse in order to review. Perhaps more delegates would allow such recusals to become more common?

As a final remark, let me add a vote of confidence for Mike Christie, as one of Wikipedia's and FA's most thoughtful, reasonable and valuable editors. If he cannot sort out what matters and might lead to productive discussion and improvement of process, then nobody can. Geometry guy 01:11, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for these thoughts Geometry guy. I'm glad you've posted them, and I agree with everything you have said there. Some of what you have said has prompted a few thoughts of my own, especially as I've just been reading through the documentation associated with the Good Article system. Would it be right to characterise Wikipedia:Good articles as a mostly decentralised process, with FA being a more centralised process? The reason I'm asking is because at FA there are visible 'positions' and 'roles' such as director and delegates, and processes such as the 'today's featured article' page (and request page), none of which GA has (as far as I know). How both processes handle change also seems to be different. I know that GA underwent a period of change a few years ago (I think you refer to that in the 'origins' section of your comments), but is mostly stable now. Was there anything that could be called leadership provided at that stage, or was it mostly effort from the existing GA community that thrashed out standards? Carcharoth (talk) 01:44, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
GA is almost entirely decentralized. For some years I worked on improving and stabilizing GA, which involved some leadership: I acted as a kind of "community GAR delegate" for much of that time, but I only maintain the archives now, and other excellent editors have stepped up to the plate at community GAR. Geometry guy 02:23, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I didn't completely answer your question about change at GA. It happened largely through existing members of the GA community seeing eye-to-eye, and working together. There was an external pressure to make GA more credible, and an internal wish not to undermine its basic principles in the process. Editors such as Nehrams, Malleus, Jennevecia (Lara) and Ruslik did astonishing work driving through the "Sweeps" program to ensure old GAs met current standards. These same editors and others introduced and/or supported other crucial changes, such as the introduction of review subpages, and the rebalancing of the GA criteria. The stability GA enjoys now is founded on their efforts. Geometry guy 03:59, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
GG-very good job at getting to the heart of the issue and very astute observations. I only have two comments--things haven't quite as peachy as you seem to paint it and to everything there is a season. This is the season for change. That this flail occurred shows that a large portion of the community agrees. Is it a consensus? Maybe, maybe not. Therefore I strongly agree with those supporting an RFC to work out the issues. PumpkinSky talk 02:02, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Geometry guy, one minor point of correction: Raul already appointed a TFAR delegate a few months ago (Dabomb87).
Otherwise, I think your analysis is excellent, and your ideas for improvement are worth considering. Ucucha (talk) 02:10, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the correction, but does Raul still take an active role day-to-day at TFAR, or is this now left to Dabomb87? Geometry guy 02:23, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't edit TFAR directly too often, but I do schedule articles on a several-times-a-week basis. Raul654 (talk) 02:26, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the reply: I'd be very interested how you view your role now, and how it might evolve over time, particularly in view of the comparison I made with Jimbo's role. Geometry guy 02:49, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
This might be a larger question, but my take on why we have the idea of featured content, at least as the present process is set up, is to assume that ultimately in time we will have a complete encyclopedia full of articles and other content that has been well-edited, well-researched, fully covering a topic, with standardization against internal formats, and all that. All of our policies and guidelines on article content, sourcing, media use, style, and the like are geared to assuring that to some degree every article that is created will be able to meet that metric; if they can't, we shouldn't have that article in the first place. Note this is a goal and pretty much one that is waaaay long-term , but one that is meant to guide the approach for policy and guidelines to make sure it could be met giving an infinite number of editors to do that work.
The impression I get from the above (and in previous discussions) is not that; that only a fraction of articles can ever become featured.
Obviously I'm not saying this is wrong, since this seems to be the more prevailing opinion when reading through this, but to me, that creates a gap in quality assessment. We have GAs, yes, but because they are performed by a single person and without a larger "management" process run by a few people to check the work, they don't assure the quality that I'd think we'd want out of each article. We have A-class assessments, but those tend to be project specific and in the projects that I see do them, this often is also a single-person, no oversight decision, and generally this is based on the content relative to the project, ignoring things like style, sourcing, etc. It feels like we need something that is not geared to make an article "featured" (appearing on the front page, which is as much recognition we can give to an article), but to assure it has some of the highest quality that WP can give it. The comparison I make is a peer-reviewed journal - they may call out an article as a featured article to highlight a seminal work or an important discovery, but the rest of the articles have had a similar "rigorous" review before their inclusion. (I know how "rigorous" those peers can be at times, but go with me on this for a bit). GA nor A-class doesn't quite have the assurances that a peer-review gives. And no, WP's own concept of peer-reviewing doesn't work either, since generally only one editor does this, and the PR is often aimed at specific points.
It just feels like we need what is effectively the FA process to not be targeted at what we're calling "Featured" but to work to assure that we are and can continue to generate high-quality articles, featured or not. Only an idea, but one way to get there is to separate the FA process; one part, which would be to assure high-quality articles, would have aspects of source checks, image reviews, style issues, topic coverage, and some aspects of prose review and the like; the other part, which would aimed towards what we want to call "featured", would aim to nail down perfect prose, assure reliably of the sourcing and information, and double check on the elements of the first part. Both parts would need to be run in a similar manner as FAs are done now to make both effective tools. Of course, this only complicates the current process, and strains a process that is already hurting from a lack of editors. But I feel we should reconsider the purpose of FA relative to producing a high-quality encyclopedia. --MASEM (t) 14:21, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I appreciate you taking the time to address a larger question with substance and thought. I agree with you that one of the purposes of FA is to inspire the production of an encyclopedia with high quality content across the board, but share your hesitation about stretching review processes further: we surely don't want yet another review process, even as part of FA. The good news is (a) a lightweight stream at FA wouldn't achieve what you want; and (b) we don't need one anyway.
The central issue we have to face is that with any reasonable definition of acceptably long timescale (e.g. "for our great great grandchildren"), creating a complete encyclopedia of high quality content through a process like FA is a mathematical impossibility. FA itself produces about 30 articles a month, and can't really handle more than about 50, which amounts to at most 600 articles per year, probably fewer. At that rate, we won't even have 100,000 featured articles until the year 2178, and we'll have to wait until the year 3678 to reach a million. Meanwhile, Wikipedia is currently creating about 30,000 new articles a month. That figure is now declining, as there are fewer new things to write about, but it is unlikely to fall below about 1,000 new articles a month (as there are always some new things to write about), and in the next few years Wikipedia will have more than 5 million articles. With some thought, a lighter weight version of FA could be designed, perhaps with a throughput of 1,000 articles per year, but we would still have a century to wait for 100,000 articles and that would amount to less than 2% of Wikipedia.
Okay, that's the central issue. Why do I think this should not be a worry for FA?
Firstly, I firmly believe your view of GA is 2-3 years out of date. Secondly, your analogy with a peer-reviewed journal, while useful, misses a key distinction. The distinction is that journals publish their articles in final form, and then are done with it. If someone writes and complains, they may publish a correction. In contrast Wikipedia articles are in a constant state of flux, which drives improvement (and unfortunately, also, degradation, but that is another topic): there is no obligation to get everything completely right the first time, because all mistakes can be fixed. Now to your concern about GA:
We have GAs, yes, but because they are performed by a single person and without a larger "management" process run by a few people to check the work, they don't assure the quality that I'd think we'd want out of each article.
I agree with you that each individual GA review is performed by an individual reviewer, and does not assure the quality that we seek on its own. However, there is a structured process around these reviews: WT:GAN is very active at catching problems with individual reviews, and community reassessment is maintained by a small and slowly evolving team of experienced reviewers, who provide a more FA-like form of reassessment where it is needed. The principle is that 98% of the time, we don't need more than a single independent review to ensure article quality, so let us focus our effort on the remaining 2% of cases (percentages here are guestimates). In those cases, the article receives much more than a single review. Any query about the quality of a GA article leads to at least one reviewer looking at the article again to check it. The idea is that an article that remains a GA for 10 years or more is one in which we can have some confidence about its quality.
Returning finally to the mathematics, the benefit of the one nominator, one reviewer model is that it scales. This is why GAs are able to grow as a percentage of total articles. At the moment, it produces about 250 GAs per month, i.e., about 3,000 per year, but that figure is increasing: nominators are encouraged to become reviewers, so as more editors contribute, more GAs are produced. GA growth might reach 5,000 articles per year by 2020, and overtake article growth sometime mid-century, but these are speculative extrapolations.
The message I want to leave here, however, is not that GA is great. Indeed I should apologize for spending so much time extolling its virtues (I would do that, wouldn't I?!), as I am fully aware that (like all processes) GA is far from perfect. Instead the message is that even a GA style process cannot build a moderately complete high quality encyclopedia (say half a million articles) until the end of the century. In other words, GA only just satisfies the "great great grandchildren" criterion. A more refined process will inevitably take much longer. Geometry guy 20:28, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm not trying to say the GA process is broken, but (as someone with a lot of successful GA under the belt) it just doesn't feel like it has much teeth knowing what happens. Note that I know that GA's requirements have stepped in line with FA in terms of larger-pictures issues like NFC, BLP, etc. so its not GA lagging behind what we expect of quality, but just the fact that all you need is a few editors to be lax to allow nearly any article through, that seems to throw a wrench to the works.
I agree on the points on FA, and GA's relationship to it. As I said, I'm just tossing the idea out there. This might be a question to the GA area, but I'm wondering if GA needs a management type of idea to it as well. Nothing like what Raul, Sandy, etc. have done for FA, where they have to be critically involved in making sure each FAC is appropriately handled, inserting their own commentary, etc. But more a small set of editors selected by community and/or appointed by a respected GA leader, where, once an editor completes a GAN review and asserts it passed, one of these editors performs a very casual review of that review to make sure its not bogus, purposely expedited, or the like. I know that GAR is meant to catch these cases, but at the same time, with the very de-centralized process, an article in a very bad state can be put to GAN, promoted to GA by a disinterested or a COI editor without serious review, and then never be noticed until the next GA-review drive. Having a double-check by community-approved editors, to me, would strengthen the concept of GA to be what I initially discussed, that being a metric that we want all articles to strive for, leaving FA to be the best of everything. As it is now, its difficult to see that.
I'm going to pop this idea over at at the GA project, so I'll leave discussion of that specific idea over there. --MASEM (t) 16:26, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for taking the time to suggest improvements to GA: all processes can be improved. For some years I informally managed the community GA reassessment process, encouraged small improvements to GA, and even sat in a chair for a couple of days, but I found the chair uncomfortable (see the link!): GA's vitality depends crucially on its community of active reviewers, and my view is that a flat structure is the best way to support that.
Opinions on what might improve a process, indeed on whether a process is broken/flawed/ineffective or effective/successful/thriving, depend essentially on what is considered to be the purpose of that process. That is why my greeting began with the question: what is FA about? For GA, my answer would be something like "improving the encyclopedia to a respectable quality standard on as wide a scale as possible". In particular, it is an attempt to deal with the fact that the vast majority of our articles are very poor. The point of the math above is that addressing that issue inherently involves making some compromises in quality control. GA works by only dealing with quality control issues when they arise, saving the work involved in checking a product that is 98% okay for factory flaws.
If you believe that GA status means "This article meets the GA criteria", then that is a serious problem: as you say, there are many ways to game the system. However, what GA status means to me is "To the best of our knowledge, this article meets the GA criteria; if you think it might not, please let us know". If nobody notices or complains about a GA status article, then fixing that article is a low priority compared with fixing the millions of other articles which do not meet the GA criteria. In any case, articles degrade: no amount of quality control at the factory can deal with that. A really cunning POV-pusher could write a neutral article up to GA (or even FA) level, get it passed, then gradually insert a POV slant.
Here we confront again the math, which you did not comment on in your reply. It is impossible to make a content review process both 100% reliable, and wide-ranging in coverage of the encyclopedia: the reviewer-hours fall short by an enormous factor, even if you could control them. That is why I find the GA criteria a realistic aspiration, and the GA process a reasonable way of trying to raise a large proportion of the encyclopedia close to that standard: not always at the first review, and sometimes not for many years afterwards, but eventually, and in a more realistic and useful sense than "by the year 3678". Geometry guy 20:55, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
I am purposely avoiding the math not because I disagree with it; I fully recognize that at the rates of either process, and article creation, that getting everything to GA is a task beyond our lifetimes. What I'm trying to say or at least encourage is to define what this ultimate goal of WP (over untold generations) should be, such that we refine and create processes in all other aspects for content, sourcing, etc. to assure we're always heading to that goal. If the goal was to make all articles featured (which it appears it is not) there should be a certain amount of rigor in our policies and guidelines to aim towards that that are not there now. Similarly, if the goal is to make sure all articles can meet the GA standards, our policies and guidelines are already geared towards this but we need to make sure there's continual improvements in both general P&G and WIAGA to assure they continue to match.
In other words, my issue is not getting every article to GA or FA (not even trying), but that that is actually to assure what our goal is in the overall scheme of GA/FA/article assessment, as this should influence how our policies and guidelines develop. A case in point: because I (at least presently) believe that getting every article to GA is a recognizable goal, this means that we should have policy and guidelines discourage articles that likely will not get there. This would be reflected back into guidelines like WP:N - in that we should be discouraging articles where there's no significant coverage as such to get to a GA. It is not that these processes or other policies/guidelines are broken now in this manner, however; it is only a minds eye to the future. --MASEM (t) 21:27, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with much of what you say here and admire your ultra-long-term vision. However, one only needs to look backwards in time through untold generations to see that things that were important then have become meaningless now. I'd like to think that Wikipedia will be relevant and important to society in a century, but in five centuries anything can happen. This is why I want to temper your ideals with realistic timescales. How about the following summary?
  • The FA criteria provide an excellent aspiration for article quality (and hence for editors working on them).
  • The FA process should encourage that aspiration by bringing many articles to FA standard and showcasing them as exemplars of our best work.
  • The GA criteria provide a realistically achievable quality standard for almost all articles (and hence for editors working on them).
  • The GA process should realise such achievements by bringing a substantial proportion of all articles to GA standard.
I realise this is probably just a discussion between the two of us now, but I'm finding it very interesting. Geometry guy 21:50, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
I think that's a very fair summary; I'd only change it that GA is not for "almost all" but "should be for all", with the appropriate dash of IAR in some cases; but again, importantly, that's a goal and not a requirement. I don't want to see people prematurely AFD'ing articles because of logic like "This can never be a good article, so delete it". --MASEM (t) 16:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

FAC delegate resignation

It has been a privilege to serve some of Wikipedia's finest writers and review some of their best work for four years, but first and foremost, I was and remain an editor of medical and Venezuelan articles. I always intended to return to active article editing, and to that end, I made a vow to my colleagues in the medical realm when I accepted the position as FAC delegate. It is encouraging to see that the comments above are devoid of criticism of articles I promoted, and only three of over 1,400 promotions have lost featured status. Since meeting my vow to fellow medical editors some months ago, I have hoped to resign as FAC delegate, but held back pending appointment of other delegates during absences. Out of loyalty to Raul654 and to the many fine editors who have brought articles to this Featured Article process, I have continued my service as delegate beyond the time I promised my colleagues. Other events on Wikipedia have led me to offer my resignation now.

Chief among these events is the continued threat to our medical articles by uninformed student editors, working with scanty supervision from their professors and without adequate oversight from established Wikipedians, recruited via programs promoted by the Wikimedia Foundation with little regard shown for the impact these recruitment efforts have had on quality of articles or established editors. Many people get medical information from Wikipedia articles; their importance is akin to that of BLPs and it is imperative to make-- and keep-- those articles accurate. That task is made much more difficult by the apparent intent of WMF to emphasize quantity over quality, and to offset declining editorship by encouraging amateurs to edit articles they have no business editing, with little motivation to edit besides a course grade. The assault on our medical articles has been a source of concern for many months; in order to keep up with my FAC work, I've had to unwatch many of these articles, while declining numbers of medical editors struggle to deal with the deterioration in those articles resulting from the recruiting efforts of the Wikipedia:United States Education Program. (See the analysis of just one of these programs at User:Colin/Introduction to Psychology, Part I, and more at the talk page of WP:USEP). WMF is increasingly employing people who are out of touch with the unpaid volunteers, and they have done little to support article quality or editors who produce top content. In my other area of editing, POV dominates almost every article in the Venezuelan suite of articles, and I haven’t had time to engage Wikipedia’s lengthy dispute resolution processes.

Faulty medical information spread via one of the most popular websites on the Internet is not something I wish to ignore while my colleagues editing medical articles struggle to confront the problem. While the recent events on this page have not caused me to resign, they have affected the timing. I am reminded that this is not the only area of Wikipedia that is straining under the push for quantity over quality, the one that I long promised to return to is one where I can make a difference to our readers, and it would be unfair to the FA community for me to resign after an RFC endorses leadership and the absence of politics at FAC.

So as not to leave FAC short of delegates now, I will continue to serve as delegate for no more than 30 days, or earlier if another delegate is appointed or Raul asks for my resignation sooner. Thank you to all who have supported me and the quality work we do at FAC. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:51, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I can honestly say that I was shocked to read this. Though our encounters at FAC were relatively brief, you have taught me an immense deal about the FAC process and inspired me to become a better editor. Looking forward to your content work, however, and I hope we still run into each other from time to time. Cheers and all the best, Auree 05:02, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I commend you for waiting 30 more days, but right now we have no idea what's going on in how long this might take. For four years of FACing articles, I've might not agreed with most of your decisions, but I feel if you need to step aside, do what's right inside.Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 05:05, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
(e.c.) This is a great loss, but I understand your reasons, and I actually look forward to your work in those two nominated areas. I entirely agree with your complaint about the Foundation's blinkered focus on quantity over quality. It would be most helpful to see you weigh in on this when it inevitably comes to a head again (last time was when they vetoed our community's decision to stop non-autoconfirmed editors from creating pages, only months ago).

Sandy, let me say that you are one of the most important editors in the history of Wikipedia. You have driven the push for higher standards for more than five years. Your work has been hugely successful, not only in promoting a culture of quality at FAC, but through a ripple effect. Even where you may believe your efforts have not been immediately successful (one instance is DYK), your efforts have had impact beneath the surface in making the seeking after quality within the core community culturally desirable, and in some cases imperative, which it wasn't, frankly, when you and I first met at this forum.

I congratulate you. Superb. Let us hope that you stay around to offer your expertise at FAC, as much as you feel able to. I will gladly support your strategies to improve the reliability and quality of medical articles, and you have my complete moral support in addressing the opaque goings-on that have plagued our Venezuela-related articles for as long as we can remember. Tony (talk) 05:12, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Sorry to see you go, Sandy, good luck in the future. YE Pacific Hurricane 05:45, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for your contributions in this role Sandy Nick-D (talk) 05:50, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, Sandy. You were remarkably effective as a delegate. I hope you enjoy editing medical and Venezuelan articles and welcoming students to Wikipedia. maclean (talk) 05:57, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
It's very, very sad, but I'm sure a huge relief for you. Thanks for the tremendous amount of work you've put in over the years. Johnbod (talk) 06:00, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Ditto on all points. Fingers crossed it will result in big benefits in medical and Venezuela articles. Casliber (talk · contribs) 06:09, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Agreed; I doubt we'll easily find someone who is willing to work as hard at improving FAC as Sandy has. However, as Doc James says below, this is excellent news for other areas of Wikipedia, and I hope we see plenty of reviews from Sandy at FAC. That will make a big difference to the reviewer shortfall we perennially complain about. Sandy, thanks for your dedicated work on FAC for the last four years. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:37, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

These is exceedingly exciting news for us at Wikiproject medicine and I am sure a lose to WP:FAC. To re add such a excellent and dedicated editor to our midst I am sure will do wonders. Would love your help with this Wikipedia:MED/Translation_project. The effort is basically to improve 80 top importance medical condition in English to GA or FA, translate them to simple English with the help of a third party company who is donating their time, and than translate them to as many other languages as possible with the help of Translators Without Borders and integrate the content back into that language wiki. Let me know what you think :-) Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 06:33, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

This was unexpected. Sandy, we don't see eye to eye on a few issues, but you leaving is not a step in the right direction for FAC. Such is life, though. Thanks for all your hard work, and I hope I'll see you around in the future. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 07:01, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Ditto above. Good luck and I hope you continue your efforts to improve Wikipedia in other ways.Jinnai 07:18, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
You may not believe this, but I will miss your leadership. You have been a cornerstone of wikipedia.--TonyTheTiger (T/C/BIO/WP:CHICAGO/WP:FOUR) 08:46, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for all your efforts so far - you've made a major difference here. Hchc2009 (talk) 08:55, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry to see you go but I don't blame you at all. You've been so dedicated to the job that I'm sure you've enjoyed a lot of it, but no matter how well you handle the aggro (and you handle it well) you don't need this forever. I look forward to seeing some of your work at FAC, and to others' noms (including mine) benefitting from more of your insightful comments. Good luck to you. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 09:01, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Let the official record show that I was the very, very, very first of hundreds to come: "Hey Sandy, here's a piece of chocolate, will you help me with my FAC nom?" :-) –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 09:05, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Best for you in the future, thank you for all the many things you have done for FAC and the project in your current role and expect you will do many more in your future work.--Wehwalt (talk) 10:44, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Thank you, Sandy. Alarbus (talk) 11:00, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Thank you for everything. I look forward to seeing your work in the medical and Venezuelan articles. Cla68 (talk) 11:03, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Sandy, you will be missed here and very difficult to replace (let's just try to do that democratically). Thanks for everything you've done on behalf of the cause of quality. DocKino (talk) 11:39, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Ouch ... my mind is spinning trying to figure out how FAC is going to cope with the loss. Everyone's entitled to pull back, everyone should pull back from time to time ... but Sandy, please don't disappear entirely from FAC, we need you :) - Dank (push to talk) 12:11, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • You've done a spectacular job, thank you...Modernist (talk) 13:18, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Thanks for your work at FAC up to now; we have too few decent editors for too many worthwhile jobs. J Milburn (talk) 13:33, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Thank you all for the kind words, but the real work here of promoting FAs is done by reviewers! I see some comments about "strain on FAC" or whether I'll disappear from FAC, so I've bolded the portion of my first post lest it is getting lost. So that there will not be undue strain on FAC until I'm replaced, I stated that my resignation is effective in 30 days, or sooner if another delegate is appointed or Raul has another idea (I know that Brian boulton has said he is not interested in serving as delegate, but is willing to help out in a pinch). I do intend to be more active after that at both FAC and FAR. Of course, I don't intend to close any of Wehwalt's FACs during the "Wehwalt for FA director" campaign-- I can stay on to help for up to 30 days if needed, also recusing as usual where appropriate. Best regards to all, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:00, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Well, fuck. --Moni3 (talk) 14:10, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm with Moni: this sucks balls. María (yllosubmarine) 14:19, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Hairy green donkey balls. --Moni3 (talk) 14:21, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Those fucking cunts started with me with Hemingway and wouldn't let it go until they did massive damage. Fuck them. Truthkeeper (talk) 14:25, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Truthkeeper, I've been thinking this for a while, and today seems to be the kind of day to say it. You are my kind of crazy. --Moni3 (talk) 14:26, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Sandy, the entire FAC process as we know it is indebted to you. Whomever replaces you will have very large shoes to fill. Thank you for everything. Giants2008 (Talk) 16:20, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Sandy, I agree that the FAC process is deeply indebted to you, and your work on FAC will be missed. I wish you all the best, and if I can ever do anything to help you, please let me know. Ruhrfisch ><>°° 17:46, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Now you can concentrate on more important things, eh? Also, I love how cunting is becoming a discredited trope and inside joke among us Wikipedians. ResMar 04:22, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Thank you SandyGeorgia for your contributions to the FA process over the years!!! I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Regards, SynergyStar (talk) 01:51, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

RFC to make FA leaders elected, not appointed

An RFC is underway to consider a proposal to make the Featured Article leadership elected.

TCO (talk) 05:05, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Sorry, no, I object and will not participate. See my comment at WT:Featured articles/Make Featured Article leaders elected (RFC). Geometry guy 05:36, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Disruption of not one, but two RFCs already underway or in progress (by an editor with a long block log of disruption and harassment), also the new RFC violates multiple RFC rules such as but not limited to "brief neutral statement of the issue" and should be removed from the Central discussion template, also he's over at the Help desk asking how to canvass. The RFC is likely to endorse Raul's leadership just as the other two have above (forum shopping, too). In short, disruptive editing from an editor with a history of same. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:57, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I have brought this up at WP:AN/I. Geometry guy 06:35, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Canvassing at DYK (unrelated to this RFC, but presumably posted there because I've taken them on over plagiarism). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 06:50, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
He put neutrally-worded notices on a lot of pages, Sandy. I highly doubt any of them were chosen specifically in opposition to you. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 06:58, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I haven't had time to read what he wrote, but suggest we all just sit back for a while. I will let my current nomination mature (it seems ripe for promotion, more or less) but to avoid strain on the system in this time, I will withhold further nominations and stick to reviewing We agreed to wait until end of the day Monday, let us see where we are then. Perhaps we should all just pause and take a deep breath and reassess until Monday night. Join me in reviewing articles. TCO (I still haven't read it, I make it a point to read nothing substantial until my second mug of coffee) may want to retool. Obviously this raises issues, but can we postpone them for 36 hours as a mark of respect, if nothing else?--Wehwalt (talk) 10:47, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Could we stop the politicing, please? I'm around for 30 days if Raul wants me to and if needed to close FACs, there is no crisis, nothing new, and please stop fiddling with RFCs underway and putting up "snap" RFCs of your own to affect the outcome. There is no succession problem; there is no change; there is no reason for the RFC not to continue as discussed. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:31, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I just spent the last twenty minutes writing a detailed response, read it over, realized how divisive it would be, and deleted it. What do you want to hand your successor? Please think what you are doing.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:07, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Easy peasy: a consensus driven RFC, without dirty politics, shenanigans, and manipulation by someone who is campaigning for a "job". SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:16, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Wehwalt, the atmosphere around here is so polemic and whether you have any direct bearing on these events I don't know. I'll assume good faith here and say that other editors such as TCO, Alarbus, Diannaa, and those pushing so forcefully for elections are acting on their own volition. However, it certainly does appear like a pathetic internet version of a coup d'etat. TCO declined to heed my advice and went through will his ill-advised and doubly polemic RfC, which will do nothing to help FAC. The most vocal supporters of elections have the least amount of experience in writing FAs, save you. I'm pleading with you very sincerely--there are editors here (I am not one of them) who are qualified to be FAC delegate, to replace SandyGeorgia. I'm asking you officially, if there is such a thing, make public that you will decline, or are not interested in the position of FAC delegate or director for the sake of the process at FAC. To ensure the transition to SandyGeorgia's successor goes much more smoothly than what has occurred within the past couple months. If you are really interested in the integrity of this process, let Raul choose someone who is not a lightning rod for controversy even before getting into the position. --Moni3 (talk) 15:48, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Moni, this has not been a good morning. I do not play political games and resent the implication that I do. When you came to my talk page yesterday, you accepted, or at least seemed to, that I was not doing that sort of thing, and you seemed to agree with my decision to archive the joking discussion and that's an end to it. I did not prompt TCO's action nor Sandy's resignation, and I am appalled at the implication that I targeted Sandy. I several times expressed my willingness to give Raul a mandate, if he gave us more of his attention (a minimal amount frankly) and that would naturally carry Sandy with it, but felt it important to establish the principle of community consent. My interest in this has been expressed before TCO's report, for example, my comments on Ucucha's appointment were support for him, but reservations about the process. I dismiss the rest of what you are saying as the anger you expressed by concurring with an obscenity in your edit previous to this, and forgive it, this is a bad time for everyone. I have tried to be reasonable and respectful through the process, if that has been mistaken for politicking, well, I shall take pains to act as a raving partisan next time (probably not).--Wehwalt (talk) 16:04, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I guess we can assume that means you're still campaigning. OK, at the very least, could you try to reign in the disruption here from your mentor, TCO, the campaign manager? As to "this is a bad time for everyone": projection. I'm glad to be freed up to edit more and review more; it's a good time for FAC-- reviews are picking up. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:09, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, I tried to get Murray Chotiner or Mark Hanna, but they are not presently available :). I'm not answering the question because the question is a political game I refuse to play. Find some other game to play, please.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:13, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Leadership, my dear man! If your campaign succeeds, you're going to have many bad mornings-- you'll have to deal. Ever seen the orange bars on my page after I archive? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:18, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I am again sincerely asking you to consider the integrity of this process, Wehwalt. Any intention of yours to act in a leadership position at FAC will disrupt FAC more than help it. Please make this promise for the integrity of one of the last forums on Wikipedia where article quality is a top priority. --Moni3 (talk) 16:21, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Moni, to be honest I think integrity sailed away a long time ago. The only issue now is that any motivation to write good content has evaporated. That is Wikipedia's loss, and the loss of the readers. Editor retention? Pah! Retaining female editors? Double pah! Anyway, Sandy asked me to not to drag this down, so that's all I have to say. I tried yesterday with the post about the tone of the discussion, but it was way beyond salvage at that point. Truthkeeper (talk) 16:25, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
TK, I understand and agree with many of your points. However, there are fine, fully qualified, conscientious editors with much experience at FAC who have not been the focus of (let's AGF here and call it disorganized and unplanned) campaigns to place them in a leadership position here. Sandy has bowed out gracefully, it would have come at some time anyway, but there is simply no reason why someone else other than Wehwalt, who is fully qualified can quietly and boringly take Sandy's place and continue the job she was doing. --Moni3 (talk) 16:31, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Moni, you raise this in the wrong forum. Raul is presently solely responsible for the appointment of FAC delegates; his talk page is open to you if you care to advise him on his choice of FAC delegate. I expect the call to come from him to me right after the one from Rome asking me to be Pope. Now, if that process changes, we can have a discussion at that time. Anything else is an attempt to slant the process, and I will not play along. Please do not push this further, I find this discussion unpleasant and has put me in such a dark mood I doubt I will be able to accomplish very much today. I have a number of reviews in process, and I must have a clear head to be able to grapple with the nuts and bolts of someone else's writing.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:35, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Tough gig, isn't it! You gotta keep that clear head while under fire from anyone whose articles you archive, setting aside personal biases and disruptive editors so you can promote without bias, and even doing that no matter what events, issues and campaigns are unfolding off-Wiki. I do wish you a better rest of your day. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:48, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I'm raising it here, in front of you and all FAC regulars. Recuse yourself, please. Do the right thing. Go to Raul's talk page and tell him you have no interest in any position at FAC for the sake and integrity of FAC. --Moni3 (talk) 16:39, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I will say this, and this is part in response to Giants' comment: The director should not appoint new delegates until after the RfC. Sandy did mention that Brianboulton is willing to pitch in on a temporary basis if needed, and that would be fine. Between Ucucha and the community pitching in (I hope), we can make do for a bit, especially as Sandy has stated an intent to remain 30 days in her role. It's also possible Raul may involve himself more.--Wehwalt (talk) 17:15, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

TCO, I also think you should withdraw the RfC. When the questions are as complicated as they are here, building consensus can't be done by jumping to the end of the process and trying to identify a proposal that answers all the questions raised. Even if your proposed approach were the best way to go forward, the right way to get there is to get the community to agree as we go. There's a risk of discussion fatigue if we go too slowly, but I think your ideas will fare better if you include them in the conversation that is already going on.

If the topic for the RfC is the leadership, then I'll put together a note on how to frame that topic and ask for discussion. I'll include some of your input in that framing, and we'll see how people want the RfC to look. That is likely to be the hardest part of all of this -- getting an RfC formulated that asks the right questions and doesn't include distracting secondary issues. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:32, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

TCO, while I am the camp that change is needed at FA, I agree with Mike Christie. You're not going about this the right way, and I know you were advised to wait yesterday. Then when I woke up I saw Sandy had resigned, making this even more of mess. PumpkinSky talk 16:23, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
  • To help clarify the comment below, Giants' self-reverted this post. I'm not sure of the propriety of referring to a removed post like that. My view is that once said, you can't unsay things. And if someone else is going to comment on it, the least that should be done is linking to it to avoid confusion. Carcharoth (talk) 17:08, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

After edit conflict, response to Giants' now removed post: You missed a step, Giants-- the campaign is not for delegate, it's "Wehwalt for FA director". That is, shortcircuit the hard grunt work of being a delegate, even though he's admitted he's reluctant to review and oppose for fear of risk of alienation,[7] and that he finds it hard to judge the work of others. It's difficult to understand how that qualifies him to be either delegate or director, but the campaign shortcircuits the part about doing the real work of reviewing FACs and judging the input of others.[8] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:42, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Ah, Sandy, if I am inclined to lean back on my divan and allow peeled grapes to be popped into my mouth, I would have the wrong job to be Featured Article Director after the RfC. Whoever has the job then is going to be under intense scrutiny. So are the delegates. Very likely, the sniping will not be nonstop. It would not be consistent with a lazy lifestyle.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:49, 8 January 2012 (UTC) Word "not" struck after reply.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:14, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
And we thank you for leaving that legacy for the FA process. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:51, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
The scrutiny, I think, will be beneficial anyway. And Sandy, I think you are misinterpreting the first diff, the one about being afraid to alienate people. The reference is to the work of reviewers; I am afraid sometimes of giving honest feedback on the quality of reviews because our reviewers are volunteers and may say "Well, if you don't like it, I'll go do something else." Whether or not you agree, it is a perspective. Frankly, the delegates should be evaluating the quality of reviews and guiding reviewers, not me.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:54, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
The second diff, about my being reluctant to judge the work of others, is certainly true. But I've come to see reviewing, not just as helping to push the sleigh for a while, but as beneficial to my own writing, it gives me insights, so there's personal as well as community benefit. It is hard, and very time consuming sometimes. But I do it.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:59, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Give it a rest with the anti-Wehwalt stuff, Sandy. Everything does not need to be about several year old grudges. When I debate something about the Washington Redskins on a forum, it is not the reaction to try to think of who disagreed with who in 2007.

Maybe go write some articles or upload some pictures (when was the last time you submitted a pic to the Graphics Lab for improvement)? It is not all about "voting oppose".TCO (talk) 17:44, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

I have a defect, TCO; I don't take direction very well from people with limited credibility. Now, back on topic:

Wehwalt claimed in the now archived discussions that he wasn't a big part of the now moribund WP:TFAR. That, and his views on the FAC process, seem to have changed since he used those to advance his campaign for ArbCom in 2009. Then, he was an integral part of the smooth functioning TFAR page, and gave all credit to the Featured Article director. I am glad though, that after years of not helping review FACs, that Wehwalt has learned that it may help improve his own writing. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:34, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Archived section

I've temporarily halted the automated archiving of this page, in order to be able to do a coherent manual archive of sections related to this discussion. The archive section for FAC RfC issues is Wikipedia talk:Featured article candidates/archive55. I've posted a note above at the top of Wikipedia talk:Featured article candidates#Candidate RfC issues to point people at the archive, but if there are additional sections that would benefit from a link, please add them. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:18, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Thanks, Mike-- if you need to manually archive any routine business, could you make sure the RFC is in its own archive, regular business elsewhere, so we can find things in the future? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:22, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that's the way to do it -- I was planning to use archive 54 for any non-RfC-related manual archiving; archive 55 for the RfC, and will restart MiszaBot on archive 56. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:24, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Maybe put this pre-RFC discussion in 55, the RFC itself in 56, and restart the bot in 57. The RFC, for future readability purposes, may benefit from being by itself. Either way would work though. Thanks also.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:28, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Nope, that would be manipulative, since the campaign runup is seen in the pre-RFC discussion (as well as at Wikipedia talk:Featured article candidates/archive54#Other topic and even more if we go back further); it should stay intact. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:34, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Campaigning against someone is itself a campaign. Or put this another way, if Raul mentioned some names and asked for your opinion on who would be suitable for being a FAC delegate, would you give him your opinion or not? This strikes to the heart of the whole way in which FAC delegates are appointed. Carcharoth (talk) 17:15, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Let Wehwalt campaign if he wants, but my campaign is against a biased, orchestrated RFC and sustained attack on FAC, going back to November in the runup to this campaign. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:27, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, that avoided the question nicely. While you continue to post about Wehwalt, I'm going to avoid the resignation section above and put my thoughts on your talk page when it takes effect (the '30 days or sooner' bit). The TCO issues are valid, IMO, he does need to change the approach he takes. Right now, though, it is probably best if everyone concentrates on the RfC issues Mike Christie is pulling together, and of course reviewing and matters like that. Carcharoth (talk) 17:45, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
As I recall, the last time you put something on my talk, it was so objectionable, and led to even more objectionable feedback, that I archived it so as not to be a host of such language. Try to keep it above board if you want me to keep it. I have full confidence in Raul's appointment of delegates, and will be happy to share opinions if asked. To me, what makes a good delegate is apparent in their work in the FA process-- someone who understands the criteria thoroughly (usually as a result of being a long-time reviewer), notices and does the hard day-to-day work (most of which is grunt work, time consuming and tedious), can handle criticism, is everywhere all the time doing a bit of everything even without being asked, recognizes their own weak areas so they can compensate for them, is widely respected in the FA community, isn't likely to go "off", has proven impartiality ... I can think of more, but yes, I'm happy to comment on those areas if I'm asked. Now, would you like to address the points you've avoided answering nicely? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:53, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Thank you for answering the question I asked, and for your thoughts on what makes a good FAC delegate (that should also be part of any RfC, probably). If you are going to characterise posts I made to your talk page, the least you could do is link to them, or to the section you archived, and let people form their own judgements. I have criticised actions you took in the past, or inaction on your part in the past (I can link to those discussions, but now is probably not the best time). That is in part why I've been making the point about delegate feedback to reviewers, here and elsewhere, and/or a mentoring process to bring in new reviewers and bring them up to speed and impart the parts of the skills that can be pick up with some form of 'on the job' learning. There might have been other times I criticised you as well, but in general I think you do a good job at FAC, though I'm not going to be unconditionally supportive. I think the right moment to thank someone for their service is when they actually step down, not before. I'm not sure what you mean by points I've avoided answering. If you mean your "biased, orchestrated RFC and sustained attack on FAC, going back to November in the runup to this campaign" comment, I agree that the RFC was poorly put together, but I think the pressures on FAC are deeper-seated than just those that resulted from that report. Essentially a bottle-neck in finding, mentoring, and keeping reviewers, but debate on that should be left for those pending RfCs. Carcharoth (talk) 18:31, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
I could go look for those in archives, but don't even know what keywords to search on, since I only saw edit summaries that disgusted me, so I archived it without reading it. Delegate feedback to reviewers is a good and desirable thing, until those who want "power" or to disrupt the process use feedback from delegates to claim there is a "clique" of "chummies", making it very hard to praise others for good work. And that is part of the problem in keeping reviewers. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:38, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I missed a point on what you've avoided answering: those who directly perpetrated the disruption on this forum have one thing to answer for, but all of those who were silent are complicit, even worse so. You enabled it. It took a long time for a mere handful of people to visit disruption on FAC, and to all who turned a blind eye, including you Carcharoth, you have a role in whatever becomes of FAC henceforth. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:44, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Then separate the functions. Get experienced reviewers to mentor and give feedback. But please, let's keep this to an RfC. Carcharoth (talk) 18:40, 8 January 2012 (UTC)
Ask The Signpost what happened to my sustained and productive efforts to do just that. You see, Carcharoth, naive minds don't understand that those who perceive (wrongly) that there is "power" in being a FAC delegate will attack regardless of what one does, which is why the FA community-- who has been silent while FAC has been under attack-- is complicit. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:44, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Unwarranted. ResMar 04:25, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

FA director history and job description

There seems to be a lot of confusion about my role here. I've been answering a lot of questions recently on the history and role of the FA director. I thought it might be useful for to point everyone to my answers to these questions. Ed asked me about the history of the position and the process by which I select delegates. I've answered his question here. Mike Christie asked me to wrote a job description for the role of FA director, which I did here. Raul654 (talk) 15:18, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Probably putting make more sense than a user talk page. Also, there was a previous comment from you that you "answer things on your talk page". HUH? If you are going to actually lead this program, you ought to be at THIS talk page more often.
You're really not functioning as a leader to the bulk of the volunteers (writers and reviewers). Maybe there is some super secret, important, supervision of the other delegates. (Doubt it.) But it's not leadership of the masses. Real leadership needs to be about running and growing the program. Thinking about strategy. Motivating. Etc. Not just having a fancy title cause it seems cool or because you were more involved in the past. [And I'm sure someone will be aghast that I "went there" or call me a thug. But it is just "emporer is naked" from a child. Just the plain situation. Think how this looks to someone new to Wiki, but with normal outside experience in volunteer groups, companies, etc. when they see you unelected and asleep at the wheel.]TCO (Reviews needed) 19:09, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
TCO, you obviously have one intepretation of the job description of the FAC director. That does not mean it is the current accepted job description - or even one that the majority of people want to see. That is what the proposed RfC is for, no? Karanacs (talk) 19:18, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Agreed. TCO (Reviews needed) 19:20, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Trends in FA's promoted and readership of new FA's

Year Total FA Sampled Median
promoted articles articles page views
2003 27 1 365065
2004 79 8 84919
2005 156 25 10597
2006 388 42 4224
2007 725 70 7432
2008 690 63 4632
2009 522 54 1878
2010 515 49 901
2011 352 15 863

This table contains some data about featured articles, sorted according to year promoted. The first column shows the year of the start of the first successful candidacy. The second the number of articles from that year that remained at the end of 2011, as ocularly counted in pages like Wikipedia:Featured articles promoted in 2003. A sample containing every tenth article in the list was taken, counting strictly but manually through the list. The third column shows the number of sampled articles from the years respectively. The fourth column shows the median number of pageviews in September 2011 for the sampled articles, using Wikipedia article traffic statistics. My expectation is that trends in median number of pageviews closely follow the trends in average number of pageviews. My interpretation is that from 2007 till now there is a strong negative trend in how many FA's are produced and even more in how many see the average FA. Is there something in the FA process that drives the editors away from the topics that the readers are most interested in? Is this what we want or are there problems with the design of the process? --Ettrig (talk) 21:17, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Well, sampling only one for 2003, and then happening onto one with over 365,000 page views skews your data quite a bit. In short though to answer your question, editors will work on the articles that interest them, and you can't force them to work on pages with more page views if those articles don't interest them. As a side note, the "bigger" articles that attract higher page views also attract more vandalism and low-quality editing. They also require a wider range of effort to be "comprehensive". Imzadi 1979  21:35, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
So there is an incentive to avoid readers?! Am I reading this correctly? Should we avoid the readers to better maintain the quality? In my view, the central point of an encyclopedia is to serve information. Do we disagree on this? --Ettrig (talk) 21:49, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
(ec) I'm still awaiting the first paycheck for my work on featured articles - so you'll forgive me if I'm not jumping to obey orders to write on what others tell me to write on. When I get paid, then I'll work to order .. until then, I will be quite happy to work on whatever interests me. Obviously .. you want high view articles.. so I say this will all respect - go work on them. You're not my boss. Amazingly, we get the idea from the drumbeat ya'll have done - so the first step is to WP:SOFIXIT yourself. Ealdgyth - Talk 21:57, 9 January 2012 (UTC) (As an aside .. I have a number of "high view" articles that I've worked up to FA, as well as a few that are GA - but wait, I forgot, I'm a "star collector" ... so I don't count and my knowledge that it's about five times as hard to maintain a high view article at high standards not to mention research it and get it up to high standards is just not worth anything compared to the great knowledge of two folks who between themselves have.. how many GAs and FA nominations again? Refresh my memory...) Ealdgyth - Talk 22:00, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Good stuff. They have really dropped off a cliff in the last couple years.TCO (Reviews needed) 21:44, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Note, this is an independent sample versus what I did (so two samplings gave similar results). I saw 2011 FAs (I surveyed all from JAN-SEP) at ~1000 views, verus a sample (~40 datapoints) of the overall bank of FAs being ~3400 views per month.TCO (Reviews needed) 21:56, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Would you also include the total number of pages that Wikipedia had, including the total number featured on the main page, including ITN, DYK, OTD please? Thanks. i.e. it would be useful to see if there's a reduced readership per FA per increase in number of FAs, plus does this take into account traffic visiting Wikipedia in that time? It's totally unclear what you're trying to "prove" here. As one would expect. As it stands, this list of stats is trivia but statistically useless. The Rambling Man (talk) 21:57, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Sampling seems to have been done incorrectly. "A sample containing every tenth article", that is one tenth of the articles from each year should mean that 35 articles were sampled from 2011. A tenth of the 2005 figure (156) is 16 (rounding to one significant figure) not 25. In light of this problem regarding methodology I'd be very sceptical of any of the data. Nev1 (talk) 22:06, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

In a nutshell, if you can't divide by ten accurately, how are we supposed to trust your calculation of the median? Nev1 (talk) 22:15, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
I took him to mean he went and took the tenth article on WP:FA, then the 20th, 30th, etc. And as it happened only one was from 2003. Am I correct?--Wehwalt (talk) 22:19, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
The problem with such sampling is self evident when you are taking one article to be representative of 27 (2003). It shows a rather naive approach. Nev1 (talk) 22:22, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Taking the median here seems unjustified to me: I'm not a statistician, but this looks to me like the median is sampling the tail of the distribution. Geometry guy 23:25, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

I keep seeing this connection between a low number of FAs (which needs to be quantified) and the FA process, and both Ettrig and TCO are here and have previously connected what they perceive as a low number/percentage of FAs and the leadership, writers, or processes here.

What can we do to encourage more people to get FAs in the current climate? Lower the standards. It's very simple.

Now, what would that help if there were 3 million FAs and they were shitty? I don't think so.

The reality here, and what I've been consistently flummoxed by the attitudes to go after FA writers, reviewers, and delegates, is that this attitude completely misses the problem and proposes solutions that do not improve article writing nor encourage anyone else to write FAs.

This is simply a matter of expectations. Each person, regardless of background, comes to Wikipedia not knowing anything about its standards. No one needs any expertise in anything to edit here, which is admirable in one way -- it's how I started editing. However, Wikipedia expects so little of editors that many of them see FA as an unattainable goal when it's not. The majority of people here do patchwork: crisis and response, everywhere. Very few articles, projects, etc. are thoughtfully deliberated with published knowledge.

When I ask on a talk page if someone who is trying to prove an article is POV if they have read the sources, the answer is to accuse me of ownership. The cult of laziness is pandemic here because no one expects anything different. This is not a top-down problem. Dumbing down FAs and getting people gung-ho about recruiting more editors to write and review them is a patchwork fix that does not solve the overall problem. The overall problem is that the vast majority of editors do not understand that they are able to go get a book, go to the library, buy books, read books, and discuss them here with others to form higher quality articles. Currently, articles are constructed out of what people know and how they want to shape the article, not on what the current body of literature says about a topic. Disrupting FAs and this process is senseless. The effort to improve the entire site needs to be about ratcheting up the expectations of all editors--a bottom up, foundational, basic mindset shift. Shutting down the kind of editing that Wikipedia has known since its inception and weeding out the deliberately lazy passersby to get more people who realize they can read a book, summarize it, and voila! Part of an article is born. Now go read another book or find someone who has it and discuss it. --Moni3 (talk) 22:07, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

This is a good analysis of the problem and it doesn't have much to do with FA. Regarding the above statistics, whether they represent a problem or not depends on what one believes the Featured Article process is for. As noted in my new year greeting, FA cannot be expected to have much to do with the vast majority of Wikipedia's c. 4 million articles, because it only handles about 30 per month. In the context of overall usage of Wikipedia, arguments about which 30 articles FA should be handling each month seem rather parochial. Geometry guy 22:24, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
  • The issues raised here are hardly new, and have been very extensively debated, including a large burst here a couple of months ago. Standards at FA have risen very considerably since 2003, though I think we now have had the same standards since about 2008. Most FA noms are on very "small" subjects, and so get small readerships, because FAs on large subjects are very very hard to write. Mystery solved! That is where the blockage in the process is, not at FAC. "Is this what we want?" - no it isn't. "Are there problems with the design of the process?" - no. Is there anything we can do about it? Nothing very quick or easy; it ties into the whole decline of content editing, the emphasis on new articles, and so on. The only thing we could do is lower the standard required, and I don't believe that is what people want, or that a small lowering would make any great difference. Johnbod (talk) 22:32, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
The problem is there is an implicit assumption that every article is as important as the other...and that numbers are what matters. If we used page view weighting on the WBFAN, there would be different articles done. Same with Wikicup. People LIKE lining their user page with the stars. And I don't begrudge them a little token. Really...I don't. My point is that we should give a bigger token for a bigger achievement. It will drive results. Look at how a bronze star and 24 hours on the main page (that most readers don't go to anyway) drives all the sturm and drang we have to date (and the substantial work product, too). TCO (Reviews needed) 22:37, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
TCO, what is it you are really, actually trying to accomplish? I'm hard-pressed, as someone with a background (and oh shit I'm bringing up my background, so it's going to be [citation needed] everywhere) in education, that baubles, awards, trinkets, colored pixels, and words from strangers you never met before will overcome the massive deficiencies that Wikipedia expects nothing from you as long as you don't piss people off. Awards do not improve quality work, in anything, here or in the real world. They serve as some incentive, but people are not rote machines that are driven by behavior modification and external reinforcement. Go give me 30 barnstars on my page for whatever you think of, regardless of if I've done it, and I still won't write an article unless I'm very intensely interested in something.
Think of it as the point of diminished returns in economics. There comes a point where a business dumps so much capital into a project to get better results but continues to lose money. Awards in essence does the same thing: it entices editors to become a part of this community by offering a standard and reinforcement, but it really offers no incentive to make quality better. This has been tried previously and it has failed on Wikipedia. To get more awards, which you are accusing people of collecting so how this will discourage that I don't know, they work in concert with each other to promote crap articles, and then they give each other awards. It's a real thing. People have written about this phenomenon. Check it out. --Moni3 (talk) 22:51, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
(ec) Actually, this is one of the few points (perhaps the only one), where I partially agree with TCO: modifying incentive schemes such as WBFAN (or creating alternatives) would be harmless to most of the encycyclopedia, but might have a small effect on which articles some editors choose to work on. Geometry guy 22:54, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
It's human nature that some people are motivated by some awards, and I also agree that folks like collecting stars, making cookie-cutter articles about the same thing, just the names and other small facts changed so they can say they wrote 12 really important things that weren't really important. This is part of the reason why I stopped writing FAs: I wanted to see how I would do without any article assessment at all. Not too bad. I lose the challenge of folks criticizing the articles I write, and the articles I don't get assessed aren't as protected as FAs are. I'm still interested in the same topics, though. But the basic issue here is that the majority of editors will not be persuaded with awards if they are unfamiliar with the amount of work that goes into FAs. Writing an FA by itself, with just the bronze star to prove it is very hard work (most of the time--not so much on that 13th article that changes the names and other facts). If you are confident in the knowledge and prose in the article, it's frustrating to fail at getting an FA. If your motivation is attached to awards and comparing your awards with others and your confidence in your own work is weaker, it's maddeningly frustrating to be denied what you think you deserve. --Moni3 (talk) 23:04, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

i made a suggestion involving increased readership of FAs in 2008:MediaWiki_talk:Sidebar/Archive_1#add_to_navigation It was sadly lacking in political machinations but some may find it interesting nonetheless. (talk) 00:03, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I think Ealdgyth has the argument exactly right: people write what they want to write. If this were Encyclopedia Britannica, the editors would pay writers to write the articles they need, and that would be that. But it's not. It's a volunteer project, and people don't write things they don't want to write without some sort of reward. I write lots of boring shit at work, because it's my job and they pay me. Here, on my time, I write things that interest me, as do we all. I don't give a damn about page views, but if that floats your boat, by all means get started. This has all been said hundreds of times already on this page and others.
As to the problem of bigger articles being harder to write, I suggested a solution here. It's a crappy solution, but it's at least better than putting up a chart and telling everyone to just do better. If anything, this whole discussion makes me want to focus more on obscure topics. Why? 'Cause fuck it, that's why. It's the internet. I'll do what I want. --Coemgenus (talk) 00:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I've read that standards for FA are much higher than they used to be. Couldn't this be a huge part of the reason for the drop in FAs? higher requirements = harder = fewer FAs. I've read participation in wiki is down too. Is this true?PumpkinSky talk 00:49, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Yes, the number of active editors is declining. Nev1 (talk) 00:51, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Higher standards for FA certainly could have resulted in this, but other things could have been a cause as well. Higher standards are certainly not the only plausible explanation. --Rschen7754 00:54, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Inline citations, following the image policy to the letter, higher standards for sources and prose, have all been enacted in FA since I've been on Wikipedia. It makes perfect sense that as standards get higher for FAs, and the rest of Wikipedia's enforcement of everyday (non FA) standards remains nil, people will certainly be surprised to find a very tall mountain of high standards among a grassland of doing nothing. So you can either make FAs easier to achieve, which means they won't be FAs, or get the rest of Wikipedia to enforce its own standards of content. If it's a common assumption that you better know what you're talking about and should have read a good portion of the sources before editing a specific article or engaging on the talk page, it would seem less a huge jump to get an FA. --Moni3 (talk) 00:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree. Carelessness that was once acceptable no longer is. It is a good thing, generally, but it makes it hard to get over the threshhold!--Wehwalt (talk) 00:59, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Moni3 is correct, there is an extensive literature on the damaging effects that extrinsic rewards can have on intrinsic motivation. For anyone interested, there was an excellent review published by Deci and Ryan in Review of Educational Research in 2001: doi:10.3102/00346543071001001 plus a response from Judy Cameron (who disputes the review) in doi:10.3102/00346543071001029 and a response to Cameron's response in doi:10.3102/00346543071001043. All three articles can be seen in this table of contents for the issue of RAR. The classic paper Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions was published by Ryan and Deci in Contemporary Educational Psychology in 2001 and has been cited more than 1900 times since; it is also informative on the benefits and hazards of rewards. EdChem (talk) 01:00, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Analysis is meaningless for several flaws, but including:

  1. Data from before inline citation requirements were added to WIAFA in 2005 after the Siegenthaler incident cannot be compared to the standards after inline citations were required, and we lost hundreds of FAs at FAR when they had to be de-featured to account for that.
  2. After the 2010 plagiarism incident, every FAC started getting a copyvio check. In practical terms, that has weeded out a lot of articles that made it through DYK or possibly GAN (although DYK is slowly improving its plagiarism checks in spite of the resistance of the regulars there).

Comparing data from before hundreds of FAs were defeatured in the years after the Siegenthaler mess is useless, but then if one doesn't know the history of FA, one can't really make useful analyses, can they? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:13, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Yeh, well. I'm prone to stating the obvious here. We're explaining stuff each of us found out through experience, or reading the archives. That such basic foundational misconceptions, and even the question that Wikipedia is really losing editors? are present here is more shameful evidence that WT:FAC is being abused by people who have no idea what they're talking about. This is information that should have been gleaned ages ago from anyone keen on improving FAC in interviews or questionnaires. Instead, sham studies that present specifically manipulated data to prove unintentionally humorous conclusions, demands for democracy that destabilize the entire process, propositions to award people to avoid having them collect awards...what the everloving Jesus are we doing here? --Moni3 (talk) 01:21, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Somewhere in the original TCO manifesto was something to the effect that Wikipedia doesn't value experts, and yet we've seen discussion dominated by multiple sets of data that raise real concerns about what kind of scholarship is employed and what kinds of "experts" are involved. Irony? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:00, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I think you have a skewed idea of how analysis is done for learning about business situations, Sandy. You seem to prefer knowing nothing to having an 80-20 improvement in knowledge. I'm well aware of t-tests and automated tools that might parse entire data sets etc. However, that a subsequent sampling came up with materially the same answer as what I did, shows it's unlikely the "story changes". If I want to act fancy, I can say I'm improving the Bayesian prior. If you have alternative hypotheses, you might think about testing some of them, thoughtfully and to learn things. you seem to want to put all burden of proof on the new and none on the status quo. This is a mechanism to resist change. Not useful in any kind of growing, evolving organization.

Some of your crits are nits. Like Malleus talking about House the TV show. You ought to at least ask yourself how much they are likely to change things and in what direction. That is how to push for more insight.TCO (Reviews needed) 04:06, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I think you have a skewed idea of how analysis is done for learning about business situations, Sandy. Bwaaaaaaahaha .. I almost spewed my coffee on that one. Young man, "you're better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt". Some people reading this discussion know my educational background and employment history, and we thank you for displaying what you don't know. The question is not whether you know what a t-test is: it's whether either of you know the history of FAC well enough to know what samples are valid, or if you understand the principle of "garbage in-- garbage out". There's also a question of common sense on the table. At any rate, my former professors and employers would disagree with your characterization of my knowledge of applying analysis, particularly involving stochastic processes and large-scale computer models, to real world business decisions. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:08, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Ettrig's data is woefully flawed for a host of reasons that have already been pointed out. Discussing it further is a waste of everyone's time IMO. Nev1 (talk) 17:21, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
The arbitrary use of "pageviews in September 2011" is also a meaningless statistic. To give some examples from articles I have, or plan, to bring to GA/FA. Terry Fox (FA) had 87k total page views in 2011-09. But that was double what it got in 2011-10 and four times 2011-08. Why? Because there is a significant push in September due to the Terry Fox Run and learning initiatives on him in Canadian schools. Canada men's national junior ice hockey team had 1379 total page views in September. It got 1-4x that amount per day at the end of December/start of January when it was actively playing in a major tournament. In Flanders Fields had a decent 13k views in September. But when most people were interested, November, that jumped to nearly 233k. The last article also seriously shows how useless taking the median is as well. The median is about 2.3k for November. The mean is three times that amount. If you want your data on pageviews to be taken seriously, the first thing I suggest is to stop using one arbitrary moment in time, and instead go by total views for an entire year. All of that being said, I still fail to see the purpose of all this complaining about page views. All these so-called "studies", charts, tables fail to actually show a problem. More importantly, they fail to show a solution to the problem you are attempting to manufacture. Resolute 17:39, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

The table at the top shows a strong trend towards lower production of FA's in terms of number of articles as a fact (total figures). It also shows a very strong trend in those fewer articles to be about subjects that readers are less interested in. This is for a random sample of 10%. This is of course not a proof. But it is evidence. A reduction of about 90% for a sample of 10% would be a rather extreme accident if it was pointing the wrong way. There is no mention of contrary evidence in the discussion above. Several comments point at raised quality standards as an explanation for the reduced FA productivity. I agree with this. It most probably happened and it is a good thing that we have a very high quality standard that quite a few editors strive to meet. But the tendency towards less read topics is not good. It means the FA process is becoming less and less good at improving the quality of what the Wikimedia servers send out and what the readers see. The effect of the work should be measured as the number and quality of bits passing by the Wikimedia ports (or equivalently the characters (etc) that the readers experience). While the definition of an FA was changed so that it was harder to achieve, many editors found a way to make it a bit less hard. They chose topics that are easier to fulfill the FA criteria for. The FA star is not a simple external reward. It is a combination of internal reward for achieving something that is perceived as good and peer recognition. This is very good. The problem is that new FA articles about these topics are worth less for the readers. They also have less effect on how Wikipedia is perceived. I think the core of this discussion is disagreement on whether the quality should be measured in terms of number of articles on the disks or in terms of information sent out to the readers. It could also be about the deeper question of virtues or effects. My view is that we should design the processes so that they have good effects and that the effect to be strived for here is that as many people as possible receive as much high quality information as possible. To define what this means, we also need to determine what is the best balance between quantity and quality. These are very difficult questions. They are also very important for the success of Wikipedia. --Ettrig (talk) 18:25, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


I'm not faulting Mike at all, he's saying perfectly reasonable things here about his expectations for the RFC, given what the community has been saying, but I'd like people to think for a moment about how unfair it would be for Ucucha to shoulder most of the delegate work while we all have a long, merry discussion that casts a cloud on the process that got him there. It's above my paygrade to say whether he's a good or bad delegate, but it seems significant to me that with all the yelling, no one has said anything negative about Ucucha's performance so far. I can't see any complaints in his talk archives since he became delegate, and everyone seems to have responded positively to his comments at FAC all these months. He's obviously got a much more difficult job after Sandy's announcement, a job that would be tough at the best of times. Could I suggest that we start off the RfC with a quick vote to clarify what the community thinks of his work so far, so that he can get his job done without a cloud hanging over his head while we're busy squabbling? - Dank (push to talk) 23:15, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

What part of any of this is merry? --Moni3 (talk) 23:17, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Considering Dank ends his statement by calling the discussion "squabbling", "merry" may have been meant with a dose of sarcasm, but let's not get bogged down on a single word and miss the point of Dank's message. Nev1 (talk) 23:19, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
This is confusing to me and I'm going to seem like a pluperfect asshole in posting this, but what the hell. I have no problem with Ucucha, but I had no problem with SandyGeorgia. While I agree Raul should communicate more, it doesn't make sense to me to reinforce Ucucha when there appears to be a very serious effort to destabilize this process, even to destabilize the processes to discuss how to improve the destabilized process. Even if we all love Ucucha, what does that solve right now? --Moni3 (talk) 23:26, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
A lifevest (or even a plank of wood and whistle) can be mighty reassuring when circumstances seem bad. Geometry guy 23:34, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
When it's by suggestion or order, it seems less sincere to me. Were I the recipient, I'd just think everyone had gone insane at the same time. --Moni3 (talk) 23:36, 9 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, Raul is available to do the work. It is, by his own statement, his job. No disrespect.--Wehwalt (talk) 23:32, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

Why does this meme keep getting repeated here ("Ucucha shouldering most of the work"). Now, The Signpost may be merrily putting up my tombstone or sending me to a rocking chair or giving me sundowner's syndrome or whatever, but as far as I know, I offered to stick around for 30 days precisely so there would not be a burden on Ucucha. Either I'm missing something, Dank, or you are-- please fill me in, because The Signpost doesn't release me from my work-- Raul does. And what cloud is hanging over Ucucha's head? Are you giving too much credence to a very very small but vocal group of folks here? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:45, 9 January 2012 (UTC)

I think what Dank is asking for is a vote/statement that the FAs passed by Ucucha during this very tumultuous period will still be seen as valid even if the current structure is modified or replaced by the result of the RfC. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 00:07, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
How could anyone possibly know that? With this recent effort evident on this page, I have no idea if Raul is going to be FA director, and/or when he might be replaced. Shit, I don't even know if there's going to be an FA director. With the chaotic way this discussion is going, I wouldn't think it strange to find 3 RfCs about FAC, all of them trying to accomplish different things at once. Renaming the director, agreeing on a job description, setting up an election, electing someone new, disbanding FA. Who the hell knows? This could pop up tomorrow. Ucucha could be jobless in a week and the bronze star signifying an FA gets deleted because community consensus decided FA is unnecessary for all I know. --Moni3 (talk) 00:12, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Sandy. She is here, Ucucha is here. What Dank is saying is that they need our support to continue their good work over both the consensus driven RfC, which may result in change, and any surrounding disruptive activity. They certainly have my support. Geometry guy 00:40, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Okay, I see Ucucha isn't mentioned in the proposed RFC structure. Delegates need support and feedback, and I've given both to Sandy, many times. I've given both above to Ucucha, I've offered Ucucha help on his talk page, and I've stepped up my reviewing. If anyone else is feeling charitable and wants to do the same during this difficult time, I'm sure he'd appreciate it. - Dank (push to talk) 03:09, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Framing the leadership RfC

Almost all the comments on both sides of the issue were about the nature of the director role: whether Raul should be reconfirmed, whether the role should be subject to election, and if so how the election should be run. Wehwalt’s straw poll – "Shall the position of Featured Article Director be subject to election at regular intervals?" – received 10 supports and 20 opposes, which is a clear majority against that idea, but there were over 20 other editors who did not comment there and did comment in the other venues.

I think this means that the first topic should be whether Raul is to be reconfirmed as FA director. If he is not reconfirmed, then some form of election of a replacement appears likely, perhaps even with Raul as a candidate. If he is reconfirmed then it should be made clear what happens in the future -- further reconfirmations, or elections? There was not a clear majority in favour of making the role elected, but if there is to be a possible outcome in which Raul is not reconfirmed, I think this RfC has to make it clear what is intended to happen in that case. The RfC should not directly address how elections might run; that would be a difficult and timeconsuming RfC, and I don’t want to put the community through that unless it turns out to be necessary, particularly since the majority of opinions expressed to date were opposed to elections. I considered the argument that elections have already been sufficiently rejected by the prior discussions, but I can't see how to have a sensible reconfirmation discussion without giving commenters some sense of what would happen if Raul were no longer to be FA director.

There’s a sense in which periodic reconfirmations can’t be forbidden – after all, any editor can start an RfC on that topic every year, if they wish. However, I think that’s different from a planned, periodic reconfirmation, and if we’re going to the trouble of a widely advertised RfC, I think we should ensure that we cover the territory properly. To be clear, I am using "reconfirmation" to mean a process in which no other candidates stand, and which is designed solely to express the community's opinion of whether Raul should continue to hold the FA director role. A process in which other candidates may stand would be an election.

To frame an RfC about reconfirming Raul as FA director, it needs to be clear exactly what the role is. Raul defined the role in a recent post: here is that post, slightly edited for context. (If I’ve screwed up anything by this editing, please let me know.)

The featured article director is the person whose job it is to:
  • promote and demote featured articles, and maintain the definitive list of which articles have featured status
  • select featured articles that will appear on the main page
  • write up the blurbs for the featured articles appearing on the main page
To that end, the featured article director is responsible for refereeing FAC and FAR discussions, for interpreting Wikipedia and FA policies as they apply to such nominations, and for deciding which objections are valid/invalid and actionable/inactionable. The featured article director is responsible for, in conjunction with the community, defining FA policies and processes. (“In conjunction with" is deliberately vague here because there's no single model for how that works. Most of it is done by discussion, but some of it by the featured article director’s initiative) The featured article director may choose to share some or all of these jobs with people whose judgement he trusts - the delegates.

Raul added the following note:

Now given all the recent discussion about changing how the position operates, it's worth pointing out that the above description is normative, not prescriptive. That is to say, it is not a description of what I or anyone else thinks the job should entail; it's a description of what it actually entails on a day-to-day basis.

I propose that we give the statements listed below as the headings for the RfC, with support, oppose, and discussion subheadings beneath them. In addition, I suggest that we add a section for "Discussion of the FA director role definition". I’m hesitant about this last one but it might provide some useful input to the other sections.

  • Raul654 is reconfirmed as FA director with his role unchanged from the given definition. (Followed by support, oppose and discussion sections.)
  • Assuming that Raul654 is reconfirmed, his tenure:
    • would not be subject to any set reconfirmation, but could be reconfirmed ad hoc. (Followed by a support section)
    • would be subject to reconfirmation at some set interval to be defined by further discussion. (Followed by a support section).
    (Followed by a discussion section.)
  • The FA director role becomes an elected position. Raul is reconfirmed as FA director until the elections are completed. The timing and structure of the elections are to be defined by further discussion. (Followed by support, oppose and discussion sections.)
  • The FA director role becomes an elected position. Raul is not reconfirmed as FA director, and loses the role with immediate effect. The timing and structure of the elections are to be defined by further discussion.(Followed by support, oppose and discussion sections.)
  • Discussion of the FA director role definiton.

This would be accompanied by the role definition as given by Raul, and by links to the straw poll above. It would be made clear which options represent the status quo. I would include a definition of "reconfirmation" as given above. Some of the outcomes clearly would require follow up discussion, and that would be made clear too. Some explanatory historical material might be useful at the top of the RfC, but on the whole I think it would be better to allow users to include that sort of evidence in their support and oppose posts.

I’d like to get feedback on this wording for the RfC. Please also let me know how long we should discuss this before we go ahead and start the RfC; I’m aware some are impatient, but I want to be sure everyone who wants to can comment. I'd also like to know if it will be acceptable for me to close the RfC, or if we should ask someone else to do so.

This is just the framing; please don’t support or oppose anything yet. If anyone starts supporting or opposing before we start the RfC, I propose to move those comments into a subsection of this section to avoid confusing readers. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:28, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Much of the discussion below isn't directly about the wording or content of the RfC. I'm creating some discussion headings to see if that will help focus discussion on the areas where I think we need feedback, and I'm creating an "Other discussion" heading for much of what is already posted -- e.g. the discussion of secure voting seems premature to me since the question of whether there should be elections at all is not yet decided.
If I've left something in the "Other discussions" section that should be in one of the sections above it, please move it or repost a comment. Unless there are objections I will refactor if necessary to try to keep those discussions focused. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:42, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Wording and topic of the RfC

Please comment here on whether the right questions are being asked in the RfC, and whether the wording of those questions is right. Given that I formulated the RfC based on the prior discussions, please focus on whether the prior discussions justify the RfC as currently laid out, not on whether you personally feel the RfC is inappropriate. This is also the place to suggest what material should be included in the explanatory part of the RfC; the questions as posted above aren't sufficient for an editor uninvolved with FAC to understand the issues, so some clarification will be needed. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:42, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Is there an option regarding reconfirming Raul, then err...asking him to adjust the job description, i.e. communicate with FAC more often? Or something? --Moni3 (talk) 01:33, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
That "err ..." is why I couldn't think of a support/oppose topic for the job description. I think that would have to be covered in the discussion of the role definition. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:36, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Predictable. Sandy cherry picks the RfC framer who discards most of the concerns expressed and offers a snap vote of confidence in the status quo. Raul threw Sandy under a bus to deflect criticism and just wants to close the book on the noise from outside the declining kingdom. Once the King is secure, he's free to re-delegate things to Sandy and off the kingdom goes into the sunset.
The FA process lacks legitimacy. That's the problem that needs addressing. We should be voting for the sake of the perceived integrity of the project. Sincerely, The dangerously stupid Alarbus (talk) 04:08, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Response to "Raul threw Sandy under a bus" below. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:30, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Can you clarify what you're referring to by "discards most of the concerns expressed"? My assessment of the comments in the straw polls was that leadership was the primary concern, and most comments on that topic referred to either elections or reconfirmation, both of which are topics in the proposed RfC. To be honest I thought I was erring on the side of inclusiveness, if anything, by having a fairly complex RfC structure with multiple questions. What do you believe I discarded? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:40, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Alarbus, you are stirring a pot and you have no idea what you're talking about, as usual. Give it a rest and let people improve FAC without chaos. Enough already. --Moni3 (talk) 04:14, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
That comment belongs in the Idiots' hall of fame. Sandy decided to resign for reasons of her own, as her own statement makes clear. I'm going to miss her terribly, and I've already told her that if she changes her mind, she's more than welcome to return to the job. Raul654 (talk) 05:02, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Mike, I think that the way you have worded this gives options to all of the people who have commented on this page - people can vote for reconfirmation, elections or nothing happening - whatever they prefer. I also like the section for discussion on the director's role, and hope that if Raul is left in place/reconfirmed (which I expect to happen, but maybe that's just me), he will take into consideration any comments made and endorsed by the community. Dana boomer (talk) 17:32, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

RfC closer

Please comment here on whether I should plan to close the RfC, or if we should request an uninvolved closer. I'd appreciate also getting feedback on whether I should !vote or not, or if I should reveal what my !votes would have been to make any possible biases clear. Currently I plan to close the RfC, and not to comment or !vote or reveal any information about my opinions, but I'm open to input. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:42, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Other discussions

Secure Vote

I would not support any public confirmation vote like that. We should not express a preference as to whether Raul should be reconfirmed at this stage, but rather, set a framework for a vote using SecureVote. To do it publicly will not address my personal concerns. Additionally, you need to allow time for community announcements, and opportunity to ask Raul questions and get responses. I also object to your straw poll characterization, it was defeated in part because I was out of process. Mike, I very strongly disagree with doing it this way. A public taking of a vote will attract only those who like cat fights. --Wehwalt (talk) 01:37, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I've prepared this, btw, for discussion purposes on a possible format.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:40, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Captain Obvious says, "What, this entire page since November hasn't been once massive cat fight??" When you're covered with cats, you know, you don't throw daisies at them. Something about this SecureVote thing gives me many apprehensions. It's quite obvious that if not the idea, at least many of the supporters pushing for these changes do not understand FAC in its most basic form and function. We're going to open this RfC or reconfirmation to a vote from all of Wikipedia, who probably know less about FAC than the folks pushing so hard for change here. I think I have a valid concern that there are too many shrouds: of ignorance, of silence, of inaction. Lots of things stink about this, and SecureVote doesn't make anything smell better. --Moni3 (talk) 01:44, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Moni, so a public vote, where many things having nothing to do with Raul's merit, may affect how people choose to vote, is better than a secret ballot to you. The very fact, Mike, that people are starting to line up on this shows why this is not likely to be acceptable. Consider taking it back for a rethink. And do not assign validity to the expression on my straw poll that you don't assign to TCO's; both were punished for being out of process.--Wehwalt (talk) 01:49, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Wehwalt, I didn't feel it was necessary to address whether some of the opposers in your poll voted that way as it was out of process, because I didn't eliminate the idea of elections from the RfC. I felt that made the question moot, and it would be divisive of me to speculate. The proposed RfC includes a question asking if the FA director should be elected; that seems to me the same as the question you asked. I feel it's necessary to ask about reconfirmation at the same time, since even if elections were not approved by the RfC there could still be a feeling that Raul should be reconfirmed. I can't see an RfC being efficient and successful without asking both questions. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Problems inherent in the FAC process, as explained by FAC regulars, who actually are aware of why FAs from 2003 should not be included in the same count of FAs in 2010, who know about the dearth of reviewers, who have had articles archived and promoted, should be brought to the director and delegates. It's unconscionable to accuse someone of being dictatorial without knowing what his job is. It's just stupid to demand he vacates his job without asking him to change his behavior. This talk page has been bullied into this RfC. It should be scrapped altogether, and a well-formatted range of suggestions as to how it can be improved, including the valid issues of lack of communication from Raul, should be presented. If nothing happens, and the director and delegates remain beyond communication, then seek to depose as you will. --Moni3 (talk) 01:59, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree with you, which is why I don't want to start this with a "All Hail Raul" vote! Before we do that, we have to see what the job of Featured Article Director should be. Raul may or may not want to continue if he doesn't like that decision. But certainly one option is giving it six months before any formal vote on retention to see if he, and we are happy with things. That's fine.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:02, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Holy shit. Monkeys just flew out of my ass. It hurt. --Moni3 (talk) 02:04, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
That is not a visual I need. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:09, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Per Wehwalt, The idea that we should use secure vote for our one little corner of Wikipedia is astounding (do we not want to see people's votes for some reason?) If we do that here, then we need to do the same at every featured process, and why not also at RFA, and why not then also at XfD ... sheesh, where will it end. What is the reason for voting behind closed doors here, Wehwalt? Please stop stalling: Mike, we earlier agreed to a launch on Monday. It's Monday. Can you have it ready in a day? Someone who wants to be FA director can have a reasonable say, but can't be allowed to entirely define this conversation any longer. One real discussion, then one "snap" poll, now Secure vote-- keep moving the goalposts. It's not about Wehwalt. Or is it? We can't keep RFCing until we get the result that Wehwalt, TCO and Alarbus want. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:09, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I could probably have the RfC in a form ready to post by tomorrow night, but one of the things I asked for above is input on how long it should be until the RfC is launched -- how much comment on the framing and wording there should be. I think we need to hear from others on those topics. I will try to post it as soon as I reasonably feel there is consensus, or when I think that no further progress towards consensus can be expected. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:19, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Sorry Sandy, it won't do. You can't object to a forum as not legitimate, and then when it is in a forum you like, say the first one counted. Why do you fear the secret ballot? --Wehwalt (talk) 02:14, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
That's not to say I would object to a decision made by a community process, if it were well-publicized and robustly participated in. But to begin, off the bat, with a quick reconfirmation before we even define what the job should be, is very much placing the cart before the horse.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Sandy, are you hoping for some disastrous RfC crapfest? While I appreciate that these processes are being used for some political reason, the opposite is also true, whatever that means. Despite the fact that a large pile of manure is covering a kernel of value, that kernel still has to be examined. I don't see how, as dramatic and polemic as the tone is right now that any improvement can actually be gained with an RfC running tomorrow. --Moni3 (talk) 02:17, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree that SecurePoll (which is the correct term, I think) shouldn't be used here. This needs to remain public and transparent. There definitely needs to be a period of questioning. I would ask any incumbents to point to recent work done on featured articles or FAC or FAR reviews that demonstrate that they are able to judge what is needed for current standards for featured articles. Pointing to work done years ago is not enough, IMO. It is reasonable, in my view, to expect current incumbents to be in contact and to be visibly part of the process (this applies equally to delegates and director). If this recent experience is lacking, a simple commitment to do some reviewing or writing over the next few months would be enough for me. Carcharoth (talk) 02:24, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
What do you mean by incumbents here? People participating in the comments and shape of the RfC (or whatever)? The FAC director and delegates? --Moni3 (talk) 02:26, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
By incumbents I mean the current FAC director and delegates. I do think there is a valid point about whether those commenting on an RfC have the experience to know how FAC works, but I don't have a simple answer to that one. You could require those commenting at an RfC to disclose how much experience they have - I don't think that would be unreasonable. Those with little experience that make valid comments will be listened to, and conversely those with lots of experience who make silly comments will mostly be ignored. You would hope the strength of any arguments would carry the day, and those with experience of how FAC works would (politely) explain things to those who misunderstand things. Carcharoth (talk) 02:33, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
@Carcharoth: As I have said, an open and broadly known RfC would be acceptable, even without SecurePoll (thank you). Frankly, I am not looking for more than you are, really, and would settle for Raul's word and a future review. But to begin a RFC tomorrow, with the option for a quick reconfirmation, might mean that the questions would never be asked. In my personal opinion, whoever is FA director from here on needs to be considerably more activist, and also consider how to use his bully pulpit for the benefit of the project. I think Raul would do that quite well, if he would undertake to do it, and certainly we all understand he has many real life commitments. But there's got to be more done than at present.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:30, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm about to go to bed, but will just comment that I don't see the RfC starting tomorrow, so that should not be a concern. As I meant to make clear above, I'll try to discover a consensus here on the wording and will wait till we get as close as we can to that consensus. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Certainly, and thank you Mike for your work. We're talking it out. But yes, starting tomorrow is not a good idea.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:43, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Carcharoth, following your clarification of idealistic notions that editors who have little experience and hence their comments have little effect has been proven on this fascinating Internet forum to be untrue. The democratizing nature of Wikipedia, in that everyone's signature makes them all look the same, fools the greatest fools. The majority of support votes in the "Bottom line straw poll on electing a Director" section--worded the most strongly, with terms like "God" and "Dictator" come from editors with very little experience at FAC. Those who said the most know the least. Indeed, I don't know how to make it exclusive to editors with half a clue and still be fair, but the snowball effect of that vote is ridiculous. --Moni3 (talk) 02:45, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I agree. Simplest would require everyone commenting to say how they helped out or nominated at FAC or FAR during 2011 or earlier (that would both identify those with little or no experience, and also point up returning old-timers whose experience dates from 2 to 3 years ago). I've been looking and struggling to find recent FA-writing and reviewing work from Raul in his contributions over the past two years. I may have missed something there (including off-wiki commitments), but I would want to see that matter addressed before I would support in any reconfirmation vote.

If featured article director is largely ceremonial, mostly refereeing the rare disputes, there still needs to be an 'executive' position that is involved on a day-to-day basis, but where the person in that role doesn't have the distraction of archiving and promoting FACs and FARs. If necessary (if the current featured article director lacks the time), create 'Featured Article Executive' between the Director and the delegates, pop someone in there, and get them to take strategic decisions such as ensuring a steady supply of reviewers and nominations, sweeps of old FAs if needed, dealing with ups and downs in the workflow, outsourcing technical work that is needed, and dealing with outreach and publicity (e.g. articles in Signpost and elsewhere, and approaching the WMF on some issues). Carcharoth (talk) 03:10, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Break, secure vote

@Wehwalt, after 85,000 edit conflicts: Some folks should get serious; we/you had well over a week to propose all of these ideas, and you bring them in at the 11th hour when we're ready to RFC, as agreed, on Monday? No, you had a chance for all of those ideas, which is why I launched a deliberative discussion. Let's see:

  1. I put up a deliberative discussion
  2. Mike puts up a proposed RFC discussion
  3. You object to what you call "snap" deliberative discussion, and then
  4. You put up a snap straw poll[9] (and don't like the results)
  5. TCO puts up a snap RFC that went down in flames

and now, since you apparently don't like the results we're seeing from open voting, you want Securevote, after what looks like six months (or more) of campaigning. It appears that you don't want everyone to know the extent of the pre-campaigning. Why didn't you raise Secure Vote before?

FAC has already been damaged, politics have never been a part of FAC, I offered a good faith offer to stay on for 30 days, what do you want to achieve with another six months of negative campaigning? No FAs? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:49, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I did mention it several times, if not by name.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:58, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Is this another case of "it depends what the meaning of is is? Similar to above when you declined to answer questions about the "Wehwalt for FA director" campaign".[10] Coy. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:02, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
In order to achieve any improvement of FAC, to avoid even appearing as if one is campaigning, make it clear that you would not be interested in any position of leadership at FAC, Wehwalt. I agree that it looks fishy and it could seem like forum-shopping or whathaveyou, but I'm more interested in constructive discussion. If your potential tenure in FAC leadership is a moot point, let's get on with it and discuss what really matters. --Moni3 (talk) 03:03, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Apparently you were not listening to what I had to say then, Moni. I regret that you continue to play this political game. You apparently feel that if I ruled myself out as a candidate (I am not certain what I would be a candidate for, actually), it might deflate those who seek change and you could go quietly on with the status quo. I do not play political games, and will not play that one. I find it unpleasant when you do that. Please do not do it again You've had your answer.--Wehwalt (talk) 03:14, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I think she's listening, as am I, but those darn flying monkeys ... That FAC has been disrupted for this campaign is clear, so yea, answer up, dude. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:18, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't play political games, Wehwalt, and I have nothing to gain from any of this. You misunderstand my words when I thought I was perfectly clear. This atmosphere is so polemic right now that constructive discussion in how to improve FAC in the shadow of some weird useless grab for power is impossible. I have said since TCO posted his antagonistic sham of a study that there are valid issues where FAC should be improved. I am not for a status quo. I am extremely against elections. This unnavigable talk page, Sandy's retirement, TCO's dumb RfC, and my disquieting request to you are but a taste of what elections bring. Among the ashes is Raul, confused and (to me, at least) hurt that he's getting hit without a warning, responding clearly and plainly to questions that only he knows the answer to, and in my opinion, questions that no one should have to ask because the answers should be up, posted, clear, there's a diff. The true problems at FAC should be discussed by people who know what they're talking about. Sometimes that's me, and sometimes not. Instead, we've got an entirely melodramatic opera on our hands, joined by a chorus of know-nothings who shout the loudest. It solves nothing. --Moni3 (talk) 03:32, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
You are a gifted and powerful writer, Moni. I admire that. And a powerful advocate for the status quo.--Wehwalt (talk) 03:38, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Not that gifted, apparently, because I just said I was not for the status quo. Is there another language that would make it clearer? --Moni3 (talk) 03:44, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Complaining of status quo is almost useless, considering some of us want to focus on the lack of reviewership then bringing upon this mutiny. We've been cutting each others heads off for almost 4 days, yet we have absolutely little set in stone, we're still bashing the same points. The RFC died because we all know it was pretty futile this early on. However, we've lost Sandy, and Karanacs, and now all of a sudden its become, bash Raul, who didn't do anything outrageous period. Can't we just spend 24 hours to end this discussion and come back with fresh heads? I mean, this isn't the house in Big Brother. Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 03:46, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I have no objection to us all taking a break, but fear to cut off those reading Mike's thoughts and wishing to comment.--Wehwalt (talk) 03:50, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Find some way to keep that discussion active, but we need 24 or so hours just to close all the others and approach it slightly better, this is becoming some beheading show because opinions don't match. Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 03:54, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
That's fine from here. Let's all take a break for 24 hours. People who feel minded to opine on Mike's proposal, especially if you haven't yet, feel free, but let's take a break.--Wehwalt (talk) 03:58, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Mitch has it right. We should not be here talking about delgates and director. What has that gotten us? Endless debates and a resignation of someone who some might have issues with was none-the-less dedicated to her volunteer work here. NoneVery little of this huge discussion has tackled the real issue: how to get more reviewers in. That is what we should be talking about. When we get some more reviewers, and by extension more voices, then we can come back and talk about Raul. Otherwise we are just hitting ourselves in the face to spite our leg.Jinnai 06:35, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Jinnai, Raul has stated what he believes the duty of FA director are. He did not mention or allude to the word "reviewer". In discussing leadership and our expectations of our leaders, it wold seem one thing to push for is a director who tries to get and keep reviewers, and promotes an atmosphere at FAC which cause them to want to remain.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:54, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I didn't mention reviewers because first-draft reviewing is not a part of the director's job. The director's job is to review the comments given by the reviewers and determine if they are currently valid, actionable, etc.
But combining that statement with your others on this page - a director who gets you JSTOR access, and somehow magically increases the number of reviewers despite shrinking Wikipedia-wide participation - it's clear that you don't want an FA director. You want a genie. Raul654 (talk) 15:32, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I could get JSTOR access for $98 a year. It will not break my bank. I want it for others, for whom $98 a year is more than they care to spend on this hobby with all the financial commitments they have, and who cannot get it through school. My concern on that issue is the same as my concern with Saint Petersburg: that we content contributors do all the work and they gather them in and do nothing to encourage us. We learned a long time ago that encouraging plants to bear fruit beats the hell out of simply being a gatherer. Raul, I do not ask you to do everything, but if you were engaged more, I'd sit down and shut up. The calm you exhibit when posting is admirable--but as you are not an active part of FAC, the calm does not translate there. Stop in, ask if anyone has concerns, comment on a review from time to time, encourage an editor who is having a hard time without taking sides. I can't see these as expectations because I see them as so basic. I understand you have a life in the real world, and i do not expect you to shortchange real commitments. You are responsible for reviewers, as without reviewers, there are no FAs. Things are not OK here, and it is your ship.--Wehwalt (talk) 15:42, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Please clarify "bully pulpit"

use his bully pulpit for the benefit of the project.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:30, 10 January 2012 (UTC) [11]

Please clarify. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:52, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Bully pulpit. GRAPPLE X 02:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
For example, be the point man in the efforts to get us resources like JSTOR.--Wehwalt (talk) 02:57, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Coy and cute, evasion: now, please provide diffs, say six, but three will suffice, of Raul using his position as a "bully pulpit" not for the good of the project. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:00, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Three will suffice, Sandy, of Raul using his bully pulpit for anything at all.--Wehwalt (talk) 12:33, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Cheap shot. Raul invented this process, held it down singlehandedly for years, delegatesd much of the responsibility when the time was appropriate, and that you don't see his effective hand in this process when your own RFC above shows it clearly, is another demonstration that you don't pay attention here, and there's an agenda at play. Are you going to address the WP:CLEANSTART question I posed below, and your involvement with the returning editor and grudges being played out at FAC? And do you or do you not have any examples of Raul using his position as a "bully"? SandyGeorgia (Talk)
Sandy, I hesitate to instruct you in the language in the presence of so many experts, but "bully pulpit" does not derive from "bully", a tormenter of the weak, but from "bully", an exclamation or sometimes adjective (I think) which means "exceptionally good", both terms are closely associated with Teddy Roosevelt. The use of bully I mention has died away, but "bully pulpit" is still a common phrase. I did not mean to say or imply that Raul bullies anyone.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:07, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Capping request

A couple of editors !voted in the straw poll above while I was closing it, and I see jbmurray has just commented there too. Could someone collapse that discussion or otherwise mark it as complete, and point to the RfC framing section that was posted earlier today? I'd do it but I'd be fiddling about for while looking for the right template and I'm sure someone reading this will know the one to use. Thanks. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 03:11, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Heh. Sorry. I was just looking for the right place to add my 2c. --jbmurray (talkcontribs) 03:23, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Collapse with extreme prejudice. - Dank (push to talk) 03:28, 10 January 2012 (UTC) Alarbus (talk) 04:40, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I found the right template (I think) and have now marked the discussion as closed. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:31, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Structural changes

I know this should be part of the RfC that Mike Christie is putting together, but I think it might be useful to have some discussion on possible structural changes and new roles that accommodate the skill-sets of the people with the most experience around here. Please read what jbmurray has just said here and also the last paragraph of what I said here (the bit about a 'Featured Article Executive'). I'm sure there are better names. But no organisation flow charts, please (unless you must). What I think is key is finding a system in which everyone can work together harmoniously, and get on with doing what they do best. Carcharoth (talk) 03:23, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I agree with this, especially the harmonious part.--Wehwalt (talk) 03:30, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I think having more delegates would help. Then it becomes less of a power position and there is less going away from content writing and reviewing (less separation of roles, Karanacs made a good point that she would keep submitting articles). All that said, I think it is easier to fix that after elections. And I think we bog things down Carch, if we change everything at once. (or discuss doing so).TCO (Reviews needed) 16:23, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Now, there we have the typical misunderstanding of the delegate position-- the misrepresentation that has driven most of this discussion. Power position? No, it's a whole ton of grunt work in exchange for a whole lot of pokes in the eye with sticks. It's a servant to the community, just as Raul is. There's more "power" in using the Oppose and Support buttons while reviewing. And the best delegates come from the pool of the best reviewers, so every time you add a delegate, you lose a reviewer. Lack of reviews is the biggest problem at FAC. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:26, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Request to slow down

Emotions have been running extremely high for the past few days. I have become very disheartened to see how negative the tone has become on this page. I am very sad to see Sandy resign; she was and is one of the keystones holding Wikipedia together. However, even discounting the resignation there is clearly a feeling that it is time to re-examine the FAC process. However, can I very strongly urge everyone to slow down, take a deep breath, and stop throwing around calls for sudden elections and RfCs? FAC is the reason I started editing Wikipedia in the first place; I hate to see what is happening here. In my real-life job I work process improvement, using tools such as Lean and Six-Sigma-equivalents to improve quality and reduce cycle time in business processes. I believe these same tools can be applied to FAC in order to achieve significant process improvement. Tomorrow I plan to publish the first of what I hope will be several essays on FAC, using the process improvement tools to achieve an improvement result that is very unlikely to be achieved through highly-emotional debate with little data backing points. I will link to the essays from here when they are complete. Until that time, however, I strongly encourage everyone to take a deep breath and avoid further escalating this debate before we can start looking at actual data. Grondemar 04:32, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Favour buying through open voting

Without having properly read through the arguments for or against a vote for FAC delegate positions (something tells me I'm against), if this were ever to happen, I'd be strongly against open voting. The implication is that next time I'll vote against you if you archive my nomination. And an open vote would run the risk of fomenting personal factions.

For the same reason, I don't know how we ever put up with open voting at ArbCom elections. As if I'd want to be a party in an ArbCom in which the decision is to be drafted by an arb I opposed in a public vote. Unconscionable. The stakes are less high at RfA, but all the same that process should also ditch the herd voting, favour-buying process.

FLC seems to run OK with the selection of directors by public vote, and FLP without a directorship, but the stakes are far, far smaller and the cultures surprisingly different. Tony (talk) 12:01, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Tony, I agree with your inclination to oppose voting for the delegate positions. As for the director, there is no need for voting at all; at most, there should be a re-confirmation of Raul654, done openly as per past practice.

You argue against open voting, on the theory that it may lead to favoritism. But favoritism could also come in to play based on the positions people take in the discussion leading up to a poll. (Someone could promote or not, review or not, based on what might be said during the campaign in the run-up to elections-- see my examples under Clean start, where Wehwalt avoided reviewing other FACs lest he alienate nominators.) Fortunately, as discussed below (see Clean start), Raul has been free of any such favoritism. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:25, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

If the choices are "open voting" versus "no voting", I would definitely prefer open voting. (but secret voting is fine too.) At least there is a chance of a say then. I'm not scared to say what I think. Plus people vote open in RFA all the time. And Mil hist and GOCE.TCO (Reviews needed) 17:21, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Pause for reflection?

If, as suggested further up the page, there is to be a "pause for reflection" in this mammoth debate, may I ask that participants give some attention during the pause to the current FAC page? The debate has drained a great deal of energy from the process that ought to have been applied to reviewing and tending the present batch of candidates, some of which are distinctly short of content reviews. It rings somewhat hollowly to say that we need to attract more reviewers to the page, if those who affect most concern for the future of FA are not themselves active reviewers. Brianboulton (talk) 15:41, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Amen to that, thank you Brian Jimfbleak - talk to me? 16:48, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I think just making comments on this talk page about review more, review more to the same limited pool of regulars (as has been done in the past way too much) is not the way to get more reviewing done. I mean Malleus rocks, but we can't just move his time around and he is not an infinite resource. A better strategy is to draw individuals in that you find when working in article space and ask them for a specific article and a specific need (an area they are strong in). Then hope they stick. It's not just about the same "regulars" spreading themselves around. I mean there are people with Ph.D.'s in physics and chemistry on Wiki that clearly have the brains to hang here, but we are not drawing them in.
I've done good reviews in the past and gotten attaboys on them. Well, except from Sandy snarky comments to the reverse, somewhat similar to Carcharoth's experience (and I know he kicked ass, he pulled the sources!) I'm pretty much "don't give a shit" (really, I am) on that one person/aspect. Don't think we should jump through hoops for one person. The program, not person should be the objective. That said, if this WHOLE place is just a buddies clique, I'm not going to invest the time it takes to go over something like Manhattan Project and do the kind of review I do. (Actually, I still will...if the author asks me and it is halfway interesting. ;-))
TCO (Reviews needed) 16:56, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Clean start

See WP:CLEANSTART on returning users evading scrutiny while engaging in disruptive editing

Multiple responses to points raised in discussions above (I'll come back with diffs):

Alarbus claims that Raul654 threw SandyGeorgia under the bus:[12] utterly false. I think the editor who can best speak to when I decided to resign is my co-editor on Tourette syndromeColin (talk · contribs)—based on the promise I made him years ago to return to medical editing. Go ask him if he thinks there's any validity in that conspiracy theory. Most alarming is that anyone who would make a statement like this about Raul 1) doesn't know Raul, and 2) isn't paying attention—hence their commentary should be taken for what it is.

Jbmurray says "SandyGeorgia for FA director".[13] Unlike other persons in this discussion, I'll state in plain language: NO. I don't believe my prose is adequate for writing blurbs. I also don't think I'm as benevolent as Raul, and that's a desirable quality (ala Yomangani, Geometry guy, etc.)

Tony1 is leaning towards SecureVote. Tony, we have two examples on the page already of why we shouldn’t politicize FAC, and how different potential candidates for FA director behave.

1. Wehwalt has avoided reviewing or opposing any FACs for as long as I can remember, in an environment where we desperately needed reviewers and he was fully qualified to review many of the stalled FACs. He stated that he fears the risk of alienating and that he can't judge others' work. [14] Although he reviewed some articles this week, since it appears he aspires to be FA director, here we have one position where the desire to be elected already came in to play. And we've seen dirty politics that have never before been part of this page. The Wehwalt/TCO/Alarbus drive for elections has been a net detriment to FAC (see Brian's post above and the number of FA writers like Ealdgyth and Truthkeeper who are on the verge of quitting, and also that Karanacs resigned after the TCO manifesto).
2. Conversely, we can look at Raul's actions: in spite of a disagreement with me over the Intelligent Design FAR—where I criticized him—he appointed me delegate. In spite of multiple strident arguments with Cla68, he has always run Cla's articles at TFA. Anyone who has been following FAC for a long time knows that Raul stays above the fray, that has been a good thing, he cares about every editor, believes in consensus, and doesn't let personal differences affect outcomes.

Unlike ArbCom, FAC is a process that has to churn out daily articles to be put on the mainpage, the very people doing that (writing and reviewing) are the people most qualified to be director or delegate, and introducing politics into that process will (in fact, already has) damage the process.

Clean start:

There is another factor here that needs to be brought out in the open, considering the disruption on this page that has been sustained. See WP:CLEANSTART. We have an apparent returning user in our midst here, part of the driving force of these discussions, and one who has several times disrupted discussions here. His editing history is revealing, including the close nexus with TCO/Wehwalt, and the basis for a grudge against Raul654. Whether Tony1 and The Rambling Man (and a few others prominent in this discussion) are aware of the likely former accounts of this returning user cannot be ascertained without discussing those former accounts. With all the facts on the table, we can discuss for how long this pre-campaign has been going on off-Wiki. It's time for that returning editor to disclose his former accounts here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:15, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Sandy, I find your allegation that I avoid working opposing to avoid alienating people unsupportable. Given that on January 1, I started work (I left preliminary comments on the 26th), I opposed the FAC for Nyon Conference here and worked hard with the reviewer for over a week (much of the discussion is now on the nomination talk page) to clear that up. I have six or seven reviews or copyedits recently done, or in progress. I did a major review of John Tyler that I am awaiting on responses on, and I am minded to support but need to see some cleanup. I am fairly constantly in demand as a reviewer, and in most cases they get done. All of my present reviews predate your comment on January 6 which I took to be your first claim I was not doing enough reviews. Given that several of these were initiated before I announced a Wikibreak on January 3, it could hardly be said I did them to run for director, a position not presently open. I've added a copyedit since and have an additional review or two promised, but as Brian said, this is very distracting and wasteful of time. More to the point, Madam Delegate, I await diffs from my talk page from you asking me to do more reviews. On the other hand, although we often disagreed, I have been supportive of you as delegate. For example, if I notice that the TFA is not scheduled and there are less than eight hours to go, a note to you is the first thing I do. In other words, although it is no secret we are not always friendly, you are a properly appointed member of the administration, and I respect the work you do, even if we do differ. And yes, Sandy, my reviewing does come and go in waves, I review best when I have no ongoing writing project. But as you, or Raul, or any other delegate never questioned the quantity or quality of my reviews, that is an end to the matter.--Wehwalt (talk) 16:31, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Diversion noted (yes, you started reviewing recently-- since there was at that time a campaign, and since I posted prominently that lack of reviews was our biggest problem here, we'll let readers decide motivation). This would be a good time for you to speak up about your knowledge of the returning editor's former accounts. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:43, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Excuse me, but if you posted prominently that reviewers were needed, and I responded, I do not see how I am at fault for that. Personally, I had limited internet access from December 18-26, so most of the edits during that time were actually done offline and added in short online bursts (internet was 40c a minute). When I had more internet, I finished article writing and embarked on reviewing. --Wehwalt (talk) 16:49, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
More diversion. Are you going to speak to your knowledge of the returning editor's former accounts, the nexus with you and TCO (and some others in this discussion who may or may not be aware) or not? This speaks directly to the motives here, grudges being played out, and I hope we aren't going to see your third Clinton-esque response. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:52, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Thank you to TCO and Wehwalt for responding in the next section: now we need to hear from Alarbus wo we can weigh the evidence of a basis for a grudge against Raul, and so others (Tony1, The Rambling Man, a few more) can be queried if they were aware. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:26, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Accusations and grudges from Sandy

Look...I really don't mind if you bonk me on the head (maybe I deserve it). but people like Ceoil, TK, Nikki need to look at some of the conspiracy thinking and rants and such from Sandy and call that out too. I really don't think you buy all these theories from her and even wish she would not go off on them (that is why other people don't jump on the train of them). But you ought to call it out. For her good and the place's.

I mean I've been accused of being some sort of

  • WMF plant
  • Croaton High School conspirator
  • Alarbus meatpuppeter (I never even heard of the guy and sided with TK at the Hemingway thingie)
  • Wehwalt election planner
  • Etc, fucking etc.

This stuff is bizarre. It's just a bad way to view the world and just way factional and just not even NORMAL on other webforums! I never hear that stuff on other chat sites. That there are some years long intrigues to get website "power".

Oh...and in case anyone has an issue with my honesty, at this point, you could not get me to lie with a literal AK-47 (thanks Sue) to my ground-scrapers (thanks Moni and Sandy).

Sandy, needs to give that stuff a rest with the conspiracies. Chew me up as the person who doesn't play well in the sandbox. A case can be made for that (I worry it is just defensivenes, but still...sure you can make a great case!). But the just STRANGE conspiracy/faction stuff is bizarre. But the anti Wehwalt stuff is just bizarre. Guy is mild as hell. Not a flame warrior.

Oh...and I will bet dollars to donuts, that Wehwalt does not WANT to be a director or delegate. He probably WANTS the program to be run fairly and well and to concentrate on writing his articles and collecting stars.

TCO (Reviews needed) 17:18, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

More diversion noted: this would also be a good time for you to address any knowledge of a returning editor's former accounts, and how those may relate to any grudges being played out. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:23, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

GOOD TIME!? I fucking deny any fucking knowledge of Alarbus. (I still don't even notice the guy and didn't even connect the names from some Hemmingway thingie and this dustup until recently.) That is some crap you dreamed up, to think I have a "meatpuppet" and then starting spouting on an ANI thread related to Ceoil. Well it is bullshit, Sand. Anyone want to come meet up and look me in the eye and see if they think I look like a liar? Just because I don't address all your kookoo assertions behind my back does NOT mean I accept them or am evading them. That is a really, really BAD tendancy of yours, Sandy to go off on these conspiracy theories and confirm them in your own mind.TCO (Reviews needed) 17:47, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I don't recall naming Alarbus, but now that you have, it seems you have some awareness while denying same. At any rate, see WP:ANI on "batshit crazy rants". SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:11, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, you DID name him previously in that Ceoil ANI and say I was meatpuppeting with him. And if you didn't name who you meant, well then that is your issue for being non-specific and coy. Oh..and if I got the wrong person you are accusing me of having some secret liaison with, then it just shows I have no clue about your strange allegations.TCO (Reviews needed) 18:24, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Oh...and just for the record. I really don't even read most of your running around and saying stuff. Haven't followed your contribs once since coming back. I don't watchlist the traffic/drama pages. I don't think it is my job to keep up with that stuff.TCO (Reviews needed) 17:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

TCO, if Wehwalt doesn't want to be a director or a delegate, maybe he should just straight-out say so. If he does, a lot of the furor around him would know...go away. As it is, it really seems like he is positioning himself for a run at the directorship. Dana boomer (talk) 17:36, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I don't think he should have to recuse himself if there is an open election. And I don't think he has any desire for "power". Maybe a desire to make the system better and get rid of who we got rid of, who DOES see the role as power.

Oh...and you still have not called out the batshit crazy rants from Sandy on a gazillion different accusations. I know even her allies must think she goes off on the wrong, but you just hold your tongue. TCO (Reviews needed) 17:40, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Oh...and personally I hope all you f...people stand for election. I think we should ahve the different factions represented (Sandy too, she might win). I really do. Then again, I sort of have this Anglo-Saxon fairness foible.TCO (Reviews needed) 17:51, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Oh good lord. Alarbus is who Sandy meant? I know nothing about Alarbus except he has been helpful and friendly to me in my article work, and has broadly agreed with me on the leadership issue. That's it. If I run across an article I don't know, I assume he is from another part of the project. But let me stress article work. Which is what I care about, TCO has nailed it as far as my motivations go. Sandy, I have nothing against you personally. Yes, we have Holloway between us, but I know that is a FAC joke, and I've long since laid it aside When you took a break last month, I knew it was over Malleus and felt sorry for you and left a note on your page (I am not sure if you deleted that one, too). If I can go back to my article work after this, well and good. If not, I've been wondering if I could put my writing skills (such as they are) to use elsewhere for pay.--Wehwalt (talk) 18:16, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
Response on Alarbus in the section above, where it started. It's most kind of you to "feel sorry for me", but really, no need. When I took a break last month, it was because I was dealing with a death and gynormous funeral preparations at the same time that an FA writer flaunted his FAs in a block, which I believe to be unbecoming of FA writers. But then, I know another FA writer who has hard time making a post anywhere without flaunting his, so YMMV. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:28, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Clearing the air

The discussion here was generating lots of heat but very little light, with numerous pleas to slow it down which were not being heeded. (Admittedly, I'm guilty of this too.) So I have archived the page in its entirety, which I hope will clear the air, and tap down on the incivility. I'd like to encourage Mike Christie to take an active role in directing further discussion, either on this page or on a separate, properly structured RFC page. I think everyone should go and take another look at the 17 questions he posed a few days back. (Also, my apologies to those involved in side discussions whose threads got archived along with the rest. Feel free to restart those.) Raul654 (talk) 18:55, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

I'm at work and can only post briefly, but would like to request that someone retrieve the framing discussion section -- just the first section and the two discussion sections I added this morning; no need to retrieve the secure vote sections. I think those should be on this page. I agree the RfC (when we get there) should be on a subpage. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 19:00, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
I suggest we full protect for 24 hours. There are alternative pages, such as WP:FA, we can put a note at the top saying we are closed for 24 hours. Maybe we will all cool down. I'm willing if anyone else is. Mike, let's just start fresh with a new page, you can post a link either now or later.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:09, 10 January 2012 (UTC)
The same idea occurred to me. I'll put it into effect momentarily. Raul654 (talk) 19:12, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Just want to thank Raul for doing this idea. Felt good to not see my 22,230+ page watchlist flooded with edits to this page for one day. ;) Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 05:04, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Relaunch of discussion for framing the leadership RfC

This is a modified version of a post that was archived yesterday. The goal is to reach consensus on how the RfC should be framed: what the topic is and how the questions should be worded. I have proposed the topics and wording for the RfC below and have posted some sections for discussion.

I plan to move anything I regard as unconstructive or off-topic to the "Other discussion" subsection at the end, in the interests of keeping the discussion readable and preventing it from becoming hostile. Unfortunately I will be away from the computer more than usual over the next two days: in addition to having a full time job I'll be out of the house part of Wednesday and Thursday evening (US eastern time), plus my family gets irritable if I don't interact with them periodically. I'd appreciate it if others would help by moving comments to the "Other discussion" if they don't directly address the topic at hand or are not constructive in tone. This is a judgement call and I may make a mistake or two in policing the line; please cut me some slack if so -- I don't think anyone wants the page to get as angry as it was on Tuesday morning.

One last note: I won't be available to post this at the time the protection expires so I'll be asking Raul to post it for me.


Here's a summary of how I came up with the proposal below. I've expanded it slightly in response to some comments this received first time round.

Almost all the comments on both sides of the issue were about the nature of the director role: whether Raul should be reconfirmed, whether the role should be subject to election, and if so how the election should be run. Wehwalt’s straw poll – "Shall the position of Featured Article Director be subject to election at regular intervals?" – received 10 supports and 20 opposes, which appears to be a clear majority against that idea. However, there were over 20 other editors who did not comment there and did comment in the other venues, and in addition it may be that some of those who opposed were doing so on the basis that Wehwalt should not have started the RfC, so I don't take that as a definite indication that elections should not be considered in the RfC.

I think this means that the first topic should be whether Raul is to be reconfirmed as FA director. If he is not reconfirmed, then some form of election of a replacement appears likely, perhaps even with Raul as a candidate. If he is reconfirmed then it should be made clear what happens in the future -- further reconfirmations, or elections? There was not a clear majority in favour of making the role elected, but if there is to be a possible outcome in which Raul is not reconfirmed, I think this RfC has to make it clear what is intended to happen in that case. The RfC should not directly address how elections might run; that would be a difficult and timeconsuming RfC, and I don’t want to put the community through that unless it turns out to be necessary, particularly since the majority of opinions expressed to date were opposed to elections. I considered the argument that elections have already been sufficiently rejected by the prior discussions, but even if that were the case I can't see how to have a sensible reconfirmation discussion without giving commenters some idea of what would happen if Raul were no longer to be FA director.

There’s a sense in which periodic reconfirmations can’t be forbidden – after all, any editor can start an RfC on that topic every year, if they wish. However, I think that’s different from a planned, periodic reconfirmation, and if we’re going to the trouble of a widely advertised RfC, I think we should ensure that we cover the territory properly. To be clear, I am using "reconfirmation" to mean a process in which no other candidates stand, and which is designed solely to express the community's opinion of whether Raul should continue to hold the FA director role. A process in which other candidates may stand would be an election.

To frame an RfC about reconfirming Raul as FA director, it needs to be clear exactly what the role is. Raul defined the role in a recent post: here is that post, slightly edited for context. (If I’ve screwed up anything by this editing, please let me know.)

The featured article director is the person whose job it is to:
  • promote and demote featured articles, and maintain the definitive list of which articles have featured status
  • select featured articles that will appear on the main page
  • write up the blurbs for the featured articles appearing on the main page
To that end, the featured article director is responsible for refereeing FAC and FAR discussions, for interpreting Wikipedia and FA policies as they apply to such nominations, and for deciding which objections are valid/invalid and actionable/inactionable. The featured article director is responsible for, in conjunction with the community, defining FA policies and processes. (“In conjunction with" is deliberately vague here because there's no single model for how that works. Most of it is done by discussion, but some of it by the featured article director’s initiative) The featured article director may choose to share some or all of these jobs with people whose judgement he trusts - the delegates.

Raul added the following note:

Now given all the recent discussion about changing how the position operates, it's worth pointing out that the above description is normative, not prescriptive. That is to say, it is not a description of what I or anyone else thinks the job should entail; it's a description of what it actually entails on a day-to-day basis.

Proposed RfC

I propose that we give the statements listed below as the headings for the RfC, with support, oppose, and discussion subheadings beneath them. In addition, I suggest that we add a section for "Discussion of the FA director role definition". I’m hesitant about this last one but it might provide some useful input to the other sections.

  • Raul654 is reconfirmed as FA director with his role unchanged from the given definition. (Followed by support, oppose and discussion sections.)
  • Assuming that Raul654 is reconfirmed, his tenure:
    • would not be subject to any set reconfirmation, but could be reconfirmed ad hoc. (Followed by a support section)
    • would be subject to reconfirmation at some set interval to be defined by further discussion. (Followed by a support section).
    (Followed by a discussion section.)
  • The FA director role becomes an elected position. Raul is reconfirmed as FA director until the elections are completed. The timing and structure of the elections are to be defined by further discussion. (Followed by support, oppose and discussion sections.)
  • The FA director role becomes an elected position. Raul is not reconfirmed as FA director, and loses the role with immediate effect. The timing and structure of the elections are to be defined by further discussion.(Followed by support, oppose and discussion sections.)
  • Discussion of the FA director role definiton.

This would be accompanied by the role definition as given by Raul, and by links to the straw poll. It would be made clear which options represent the status quo. I would include a definition of "reconfirmation" as given above. Some of the outcomes clearly would require follow up discussion, and that would be made clear too. Some explanatory historical material might be useful at the top of the RfC, but on the whole I think it would be better to allow users to include that sort of evidence in their support and oppose posts.

The sequence of questions may be controversial; I placed the status quo first because it seemed the natural way to present the options, but some may feel the order should be changed.

This is just the framing; please don’t support or oppose anything yet.

Wording and topic of the RfC

Please comment here on whether the right questions are being asked in the RfC, whether the questions are asked in the right order, and whether the wording of those questions is right. Given that I formulated the RfC based on the prior discussions, please focus on whether the prior discussions justify the RfC as currently laid out, not on whether you personally feel the RfC is inappropriate. This is also the place to suggest what material should be included in the explanatory part of the RfC; the questions as posted above aren't sufficient for an editor uninvolved with FAC to understand the issues, so some clarification will be needed. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:30, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

My only query is whether the "Discussion of the FA director role definiton" should come first rather than last. Should we not have agreement as to what the role is, before we decide on the process for filling it? Brianboulton (talk) 19:22, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Agree with Brian: the RfC questions should be ordered in a logical progression. For example: Should there be a director? What are the responsibilies? Elected or appointed? If elected: what is the length of the term? Should current director stand for re-election now? or later? or never? --Noleander (talk) 19:29, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I like the way that Noleander has structured this - makes it flow fairly well, IMO. Combine that structure with Mike's wording and I think you've got a fairly decent RfC. Dana boomer (talk) 19:34, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Agree to the letter with Noleander's suggested sequence. —WFC— 22:33, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for putting all this work into reframing the leadership debate into a calm and orderly discussion, Mike. However, I am concerned that we are still not addressing the right question here. The problem is that I haven't seen any explanation why the leadership structure of FAC is related to the problems experienced at FAC. My experience is that it is best to start by determining what the real problems are with a process, and then determining the root cause of those problems, before jumping into discussions about solutions. I am almost finished with an essay on FAC which will hopefully be finished in a few hours; I will add a link here when it is ready. My apologies for the delay. Grondemar 19:46, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
You are no doubt right that any underlying problem with FAC is not necessarily related to the mode of leadership., and I look forward to your essay. However, leadership issues have been brought to the fore by editors, rightly or wrongly, and often with considerable heat and ill-feeling. Unless these are settled first, I believe that rational discussion about other FAC issues will be blighted and will remain unresolved. If the leadership is not settled decisively now, it will surely re-emerge in a few months and will continue to suck all energy out of the process. Brianboulton (talk) 21:37, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I have the same issue with Grondamar. It appears like people want to change how the leadership structure works (and maybe have a new director...that has yet to be seen) and hope it will be some magic bullet to fix the underlying issues at FAC.
That said, I do agree with Mike we should be defining the role before the election as otherwise we're putting the cart before the horse.Jinnai 21:57, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Actually it's me, not Mike, that suggests defining the role before discussing the selection process. Mike has yet to express a view on this. Brianboulton (talk) 00:18, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

I think the first order should be the role of the director (and delegates). Much of the heat has been, in my view, because some have a different vision of what those roles should be and are unhappy because the director (and delegates) see their roles differently and are thus not doing certain tasks. If we can get a consensus as to what the role should be, that may make a difference in what the next steps should be. Karanacs (talk) 00:17, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

I expressed some concern in my framing notes about including the discussion of the role. I included it because I felt that it would come up regardless for the reasons given above. What worries me is that the theoretically correct approach here would be exhausting. In an ideal world we decide the questions in something like the order Noleander gives, one at a time, reaching a consensus on each point before moving on to the next. That would take far too long here for it to be productive, so I was trying to find a formulation that would allow some parallel processing to happen. Noleander's points are in order of logical development of the leadership structure; mine are in order of divergence from the status quo. If there's consensus to change the order, that's fine, but I wanted to explain why I ordered the questions as I did. -- not to privilege the status quo, but to make the choices seem more pragmatic and less theoretical. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:41, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm not comfortable supporting or opposing elections whose structure is to be confirmed later; I would refer other editors to scholarly political science discussions that make clear that the structure of elections determine the outcomes of elections. Fifelfoo (talk) 23:56, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

I'll set out my position first – in light of Fifelfoo's point above I think it's important that my cards are clearly on the table before I give a substantive opinion on how to shape this. This post contains two naughty words; you've been given fair warning.

For disclosure, I'm not heavily involved with FA processes. I'm commenting here due to the presumption that if scheduled elections take place at FA, similar proposals will subsequently be made at FL. I'm all for the community having a say, and featured articles (or lists) are no exception. But if there's consensus that Raul and the people he has chosen do their jobs well, then I don't give a flying fuck how he selects them.

A vote (or !vote) on elections in the first instance would lead to a load of hot air, and be a load of skewed bureaucratic bullshit. "Hot air" because passions are running high anyway, without throwing in a polemic yes-no question before establishing the need to do so. "Skewed bureaucratic bullshit" because the word election is associated with empowerment; the result of asking people whether they want the power to vote is a foregone conclusion.

Wikipedia claims that it is not a democracy. Thus, what's important is to see whether objections to the status quo extend beyond incredulity at the idea that someone on a West-dominated Wiki dare make decisions without an electoral mandate. The RfC should therefore raise questions which will give guidance as to whether an election would make any difference, rather than openly asking for one at the start. I'll give a few examples. Is Raul personally doing a good job? Are people he has selected doing good jobs? Has anyone he has ever selected lost the confidence of the community and not been promptly removed? Is there a systemic barrier preventing people from calling for the removal of a delegate? Heck, is it credible to argue that anyone would come within a mile of Raul in an election? If discussions on these sorts of points show substantive reservations with the way things are currently done, it's then that we would need to discuss methods of selection. —WFC— 02:59, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

  • Put it this way: I'm not supporting any electoral process that has open pre-selection, or non-participant voting. Even a "veto" vote on single candidates, or "confirmation," by participants seems suspicious in a quality process that needs to be above reproach. Fifelfoo (talk) 03:40, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
  • My views (stated earlier here) are that:

    "...the first topic should be whether reconfirmation is required regardless of who is currently in the role. i.e. establish the general principle first (this principle should have been established back in 2004, but better late than never). You could go one step further back and ask whether the current community supports the existence of the role of featured article director, but that might be going too far. Anyway, once you've established whether the existing community want the role to be de facto indefinite, or subject to periodic reconfirmation, you then move to the mechanics of reconfirmation (if that is what is desired). My view is that any reconfirmation process should start with the incumbent being available for questions regarding the role, their history and performance in the role and their plans for the future (including how long they see themselves remaining in the role). Then you proceed to the actual reconfirmation process, with the community at that point having all the information they need."

    Mike's response there suggested that I post here the other comment I made there:

    "the current option closest to what I would prefer is "would be subject to reconfirmation at some set interval to be defined by further discussion". But I want to be able to chose that option without directly confirming Raul, as I think discussion with Raul available to answer questions is needed before that stage. I would be comfortable supporting a temporary re-confirmation of Raul until a more formal reconfirmation process is in place."

    The main questions I would ask before any reconfirmation discussion are: how long does Raul envisage remaining in the role, and how would he manage any planned or proposed change in his role, especially concerning how delegation works? If he answered those questions satisfactorily, and pledged to put his proposals forward for community discussion, I'd be happy supporting any reconfirmation. I do also think that there should be an executive layer distinct from the director role and the delegate role (the executive would be more involved on a day-to-day basis than the director, but not pre-occupied with archiving and promoting discussions as delegates are), but that discussion should probably come later. Carcharoth (talk) 04:47, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
1) "how long does Raul envisage remaining in the role" -- until I don't feel like doing it anymore.
2) "how would he manage any planned or proposed change in his role, especially concerning how delegation works" - I can't answer that question in the abstract. It depends on what that change is. I'm pretty happy with how the current delegates system works, and despite lots of discussion here, I have yet to see a single objection to how that system works in practice. (As opposed to objections to the general principle of having me appoint them) Raul654 (talk) 21:31, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Thank-you for those answers. I didn't phrase the second question very well. What I was trying to get at there was asking you how you would handle things if the point came where you wanted to step down. i.e. Would you get involved in the process of finding a new director, or would you give notice to give time for the community to work out a way forward, and then step back and not get involved in that process yourself? If you read the archived bit on 'succession' (and the link to the WT:FAC discussion in 2007), those discussions touch on some of these issues. The potential uncertainty over what might happen if we reach that point in the future, is one reason to discuss in advance how such change should be handled. Not specifics, but getting a general principle on the matter hammered out. Hopefully that can be discussed at some point this year. Carcharoth (talk) 01:36, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
If the time comes when I don't want to do it anymore and I decide to relinquish the position to someone else, I don't know exactly what process I'll use, but I will do my best to make the transition as smooth and possible and to make sure that the person who replaces me knows what he/she is doing. Raul654 (talk) 13:38, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

RfC closer

Please comment here on whether I should plan to close the RfC, or if we should request an uninvolved closer. I'd appreciate also getting feedback on whether I should !vote or not, or if I should reveal what my !votes would have been to make any possible biases clear. Currently I plan to close the RfC, and not to comment or !vote or reveal any information about my opinions until after the RfC is closed, but I'm open to input. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:30, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

I'd prefer you not close it, Mike. - Dank (push to talk) 19:26, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Unless it's really close, I don't see any problem with Mike closing. However, if it looks like there is going to be a few close ones, maybe do a trifecta of admins - Mike, Dank and Moonriddengirl or something? Dana boomer (talk) 19:28, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
I really appreciate the support, Dana, but I don't want to close it either, because I'm too involved. Mike, I'm glad you're running the RFC, and I think many in the FAC community will be satisfied that you've got enough distance to close the RFC, but my understanding of Wikipedian standards is that Wikipedians tend to take a more technical approach to answering the question of "sufficient distance", and I don't think you meet the standards "out there" ... you were invited in by one side, in a sense. The worst of all possible results would be that everyone invests a lot of time, people are rubbed the wrong way, and then at the end, people who want to believe accept the results, and people who don't want to believe claim that the closer was an interested party (which is not my belief, but I can see it happening). Moonriddengirl might be a choice everyone likes, or if not, it shouldn't be difficult to find someone that everyone sees as uninvolved. I just want to reiterate that I think you're a great choice to run the RFC, Mike; I believe you're knowledgeable, dispassionate, persuasive, and "involved" in the sense of caring about the issue and willing to put in some work. - Dank (push to talk) 19:40, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Failing any of the above options, there's always asking a bureaucrat or two. --Rschen7754 00:10, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps Dweller, if he's available? He has some FAC experience yet has not been as active in recent years and is a bureaucrat (or was last time I checked). That said, I have no issues with Mike closing it either. Karanacs (talk) 00:15, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
In my view Mike is doing fantastic work drafting this RfC, proving him to be the obvious choice of editor for this role. Finding a closer for this RfC is not easy. They need to be: familiar with FA (and some of the recent discussions/issues); command community respect for their impartiality; and be willing to deal with the pressure of the role. It is gracious of Mike to be willing to take this on if needed, but I think there would be a huge benefit to FA in finding someone else: both Mike and the closing admin could oversee the discussion, and the legitimacy of the conclusion would be enhanced by the separation of the framing/closing roles. In particular, I suggest identifying the closing admin in advance. Geometry guy 00:35, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I appreciate the compliments. I think Dank makes a good point about a worst case outcome, though, so it seems unlikely to me that I would be an acceptable choice to everyone. I also agree it would be wise to find a closer in advance. Dana boomer: I'm not an admin, as it happens, but I don't know if an admin is necessary, so long as the user chosen is respected and felt to be neutral. I think the question of their familiarity with FAC is sure to come up -- is it a requirement that they know FAC well, or not? As for working with the closer: I'm happy to do that too if it would be useful, either as a sounding-board for the closer or as part of a team of closers. Even if I am not involved at all in closing, I don't think I should participate in the RfC. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:48, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Other discussions

Please use this section for any comments that don't fit into one of the discussion sections above. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:30, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Or maybe Raul could rough out a plan that opens up the director selection/retention process a bit and maybe makes it a bit less power for one individual, and the go with that. North8000 (talk) 20:05, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

At this point it may be inevitable.Jinnai 21:59, 11 January 2012 (UTC)
Not from me. I was just throwing out an idea for what might be quick easy pleasant solution to the current debate. North8000 (talk) 23:03, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Was it ever established in the discussion here or on some other page exactly why the director should be reconfirmed or replaced? Have editors here reached a consensus that there are significant problems that the director/delegates are not addressing, and therefore they should be more accountable, or did the poll just go up to elect a director and delegates? If we're starting at the need to reconfirm or elect a new director, what problems at FAC will that solve? I'm still unclear on this. --Moni3 (talk) 21:54, 11 January 2012 (UTC)

Editors who see no need to change the FA leadership structure can vote for the first of the above options (status quo). If that is carried by consensus, the leadership issue will be over and done with, and we can get on with the business of identifying and resolving any underlying weakness and resolving them. But if we don't deal with the leadership now, once and for all, there will be no peace here. That's not as it should be, but it is as it is. Brianboulton (talk) 00:41, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
It seems obvious to me that the leadership issue is one that needs to be addressed first. Everything else will flow from that. Malleus Fatuorum 01:56, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Moni, the reasons I decided that the RfC should be focused on the leadership are in my notes on the closure of the straw poll. I don't think there was a consensus that there are significant problems, though certainly some argued that, but there was a consensus that this topic should be addressed. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:57, 12 January 2012 (UTC)


Before any RfC is remotely close to being launched, could we see its wording, clearly marked, so we can comment on it? This page is already a forest again. And I agree with Fiflefoo's point: how can you agree to an election (or any other system) without knowing the mode of the election? All options would need to be put at once. (And just a procedural point for RfCs: it would be much more practical to run a preferential !vote, with brief comments allowed, which would make it much easier to interpret, but that is secondary.)

I want to reiterate that an under a system of open elections, it would be impossible to avoid favour and disfavour, but at the same time it would be very difficult to prove instances. It's a wonder we let it go for so long in ArbCom elections, where parties were being judged by arbs they had opposed or supported in the previous election. Talk about conflict of interest. I will disown the FA system if director and/or delegates are openly elected.

I cannot see what is wrong with the current system, even though I generally don't like "appointments" and "assumed sovereignty" on a wiki. We have an excellent delegate in Uchuca. Let him get on with the job, and people here should get back to reviewing. Tony (talk) 02:15, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

You maybe don't have the deep distrust of "democracy" that I do Tony, but like you I think that open elections for director and delegates would be a death knell for the process. Malleus Fatuorum 02:23, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Exactly: who wants delegates who will quail at enforcing high standards for fear of a campaign to unseat them at the next election? Every disgruntled nominator will be along to vote against them. Tony (talk) 02:34, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Plus, let's not forget, if we get someone completely incapable of running the process, like myself for example, then we might have FAs that really deserve to be ones, fail and vice versa sadly. It's going to be a strategic shame if that happens. Mitch32(Never support those who think in the box) 05:03, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Tony, I think you're right that the RfC text has to be posted before this discussion can close. I wanted to defer the move to a subpage to ensure high visibility, but I think I should plan to start the RfC subpage soon. That would help focus the discussion on wording. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 02:52, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

Why is there all the talk about leadership, elections and so forth before establishing that there is a solvable problem? Given the remarkable achievements of many good content creators in the last few years, any decline in FA rate can be explained by the difficulty of achieving FA quality in topics with less appeal to available editors, or through other difficulties such as inaccessibility of sources (even in good libraries). The bickering is also easily explained: only talented people who care deeply about their subject can be successful in the FA area, and such people will always contain dissenters who believe the hierarchy is all wrong. If elections had been used from the start, there would still be people arguing that the FA system is all wrong. Before any tedious RfCs are conducted, a clear consensus should be established that there is a problem than might be solved by revamping the system. Why should we expect that a change in leadership would solve FAC problems? Wouldn't it be more logical to focus on the problems (and only consider leadership if consensus agrees that the leaders are blocking solutions)? Johnuniq (talk) 09:43, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

There is no problem than will be resolved by setting up some pseudo-democracy for FAC. I urge the editors who are wasting their energy by filling up this page with crap to focus on writing and reviewing featured quality content. Jezhotwells (talk) 10:32, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

As an active editor, and a person who took one article through FA and as a result doesn't plan to do another, I didn't see anything that I considered to be a "problem" here, much less one due to management or leadership. I think that the 30,000' view is that over the years Wikipedia guidelines have expanded and proliferated and the FA process has (inevitably) taken the tack that becoming FA means meeting every one of them. This means that becoming FA now means doing an ever-growing immense amount of detailed work in a wide range of areas (some not particularly related to true article quality) to meet ever-toughening standards which inevitably means a shrinking percentage of people/situations willing to do all of that. Perhaps that is good....after all, if FA weren't tough, it would be meaningless. But I decided that it's not for me. As a sidebar, I'm very focused on developing really good articles and see one area where one would have to degrade an article to meet FA, and that would be to take out sources which are imperfect by WP:criteria but which, for particular situations are useful for / enhance the article. Also it weighs on my mind that an extreme focus and prioritization on meeting all of the ever-proliferating detailed and sometimes unrealistic-to-follow-100% guidelines could also hurt (via diversion of efforts or constraints on development) efforts to develop quality informative articles. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 11:22, 12 January 2012 (UTC)

  • People toss around vague but negative generalities and then sit back and watch them blossom into memes. First meme: "I went through FAC; I'll never do that again!" Making that kind of statement without giving details is irresponsible. It tacitly supports the meme that FAC is a bitefest. Let's take a look at the facts in the case of your FAC. I see Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/SS Edmund Fitzgerald/archive2, which was a fail, but was completely devoid of acrimony or sniping or biting or snarking or sharp elbows of any kind. About seven weeks later I see Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/SS Edmund Fitzgerald/archive3, which looks like a cakewalk. What in all of that made you say that you never want to go to FAC again? I see nothing objectionable in any comments anywhere, although I do see a request for more work... Second meme: "FAC's rising quality standards are damaging to Wikipedia; you should believe it because I say it, and look very earnest sound very sure of myself when I say it (Please see ref: Sue Gardner). Please, Sue, show us the research that supports those assertions. I have seen person after person poke holes in that theory, but their posts are just whistling in the wind. I've also seen no evidence that the assertion has research to support it. Unless I missed something (which is possible), it is Wikipedia's version of folklore: FAClore. Please, please: support your assertions (or in this case, implications). Show evidence for your implications, or don't make them. Thanks.. –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 12:06, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
You misunderstood me, actually you apparently didn't read what I wrote. I was 100% happy with the FA review process, tough/thorough as it was. I have ZERO complaints about the FA review process. I consider both stages (the fail and the pass) as a 100% positive experience If you would have read what I wrote, you would see that I was giving one possible explanation for the reduced FA's. North8000 (talk) 12:21, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I did of course read it. The opening sentence, "a person who took one article through FA and as a result doesn't plan to do another" did seem incongruous with the rest.. Sorry, then... and as for the second meme, then, the "extreme focus and prioritization on meeting all of the ever-proliferating detailed and sometimes unrealistic-to-follow-100% guidelines could also hurt (via diversion of efforts or constraints on development) efforts to develop quality informative articles" is pure "rising standards hurts Wikiepedia", or else I'm wrong yet again... –OneLeafKnowsAutumn (talk) 12:27, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. The second one is a complex topic which I gave only one thought about. I think that FA should be tough, or else FA would be meaningless. The real question is "tough in what way?" And there I would recommend only minor changes. North8000 (talk) 12:37, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
  • So my vote goes to cancelling this silly debate and getting on with the job. Why don't we revisit this after a cooling-off period (months). We will need more appointments at some stage, but please not through an open democratic process. Raul seems to have chosen well and I see no reason to alter this system. Tony (talk) 15:17, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
    • I've already gotten the short list from the current delegates (sandy and kara included). I've been waiting for this discussion to end to make new appointments (though at this point it looks like there's no end in sight). Raul654 (talk) 15:22, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
      • I wouldn't wait. Johnbod (talk) 09:59, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
    • For what it's worth, I'm with Tony. I'm infrequently at FAC, but whenever I have a nomination in place, I always make it a point to review a few articles. In fact, I just completed my first ever source spotcheck, which was sort of fun in a rather anal way. Even if this RFC were to happen (which I truly don't think is necessary), the emphasis should still be on creating and reviewing Featured content. María (yllosubmarine) 15:26, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I don't think there is any serious issues here besides getting more people to review in general. The only issues I've had is with criteria 1a which for the projects I work on can be difficult to get good copyeditors and GOCE doesn't really work with cleaning up prose to that level. Mostly it is with reviewers not giving enough examples that I can bring to others of where they think prose could be improved. I have however managed to get one through FAC in spite this. I think finding some ways to streamline the proccess that won't affect things negatively (harming quality or making people feel more frustrated) should be worked on as well.Jinnai 17:30, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I also agree with Tony1, Johnuniq, Jehotzwells, Maria, and anyone else who is wondering what specific problems elections or a confirmation process will solve. And because I'm a hipster douchebag, I'm going to point out that I asked the question before it was popular. If the editors who frequent this page can agree on actual problems, like a lack of reviewers, inappropriate standards, communication between editors and FAC leadership, some other concrete thing that affects article quality, then we should discuss them and come up with solutions to them. I have to go ride my fixed gear bike now. --Moni3 (talk) 23:29, 12 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm strongly in agreement with much of the above; Jezhotwells pretty much sums up what we should be spending our time on. I've gone through FAC over two dozen times over the past three and a half years, and I haven't ever had any problems with Raul or any of the delegates. Let's not waste time trying to fix what isn't broken. Parsecboy (talk) 00:13, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

For me to feel justified in stopping the preparation of an RfC, I'd need to see the results of the straw poll overturned. My closure of the straw poll found 20 supports for an RfC and only 7 opposes. There were 20 other commenters who did not express an opinion on the straw poll. I would want to see a fairly significant majority against an RfC for me to stop it at this point, and I don't see that happening, to be honest. Jinnai and Moni3, above, are already included in the 7 opposes. (The names of who supported and who opposed are summarized at the end of the section linked to.) Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:11, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Well, since we've got some support for some kind of RFC, but we don't know what kind and we've already got discussion fatigue, you could just pick whichever question you think is the most relevant, Mike, call for a vote or discussion, and after that, see if people still want to proceed with the rest of the questions ... we might be done in one or two rounds of voting, for all we know. - Dank (push to talk) 00:47, 13 January 2012 (UTC)
Well the most straightforward RfC would be whether Raul should be retained or not. In the off chance he isn't (and I believe it will be unlikely, but nothing is certain) we need to have at least the next step in place in a way that won't lower the ability of the FAC/FAR to continue to promote and maintain quality articles without unduly lowering standards.Jinnai 18:54, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
The problem is that how can we make a rational decision on whether Raul should be retained or not if we can't even agree on by what criteria his performance as FA director should be measured? Grondemar 18:59, 14 January 2012 (UTC)
We can go by what he says he does on a day-to-day basis. We would then assume that any new director would do that until otherwise noted, ie a separate discussion. Because this has so many facets about the discussion, you have to start somewhere. The easiest place to start is with whether Raul should stay as FA director for either X amount of time, he resigns, or until (barring disruptive attempts) he is called out again for a reconfirmation. We will have to decide that much, yes. If we start changing with what an FA director does radically we could end up with the WP:V mess where we are hear this time next year still discussing what an FA director should do if the RfC comes back with "no consensus" because we either radically change it, its seen as a form of instruction creep, too complex, etc.
I guess given the above, maybe we should decide, yes or no, should the FA director's role be what Raul says he does on already?
  • If no, should be restricted (and if so, how do you propose to make up for the shortfall that will almost certainly occur)?
  • If no, should it be expanded and howso?
  • If no, should it be completely changed and howso?
I don't believe anyone here thinks can reasonably claim that we should not have something like an FA director (whether it be 1 person or a panel of 3 or whatever) so imo we can skip that question entirely. Whether it should be 1 person or a panel can be brought up at a later point.Jinnai 19:13, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

Painless skip to the finish line I have a lot of experience in governance and the structures for such. Also no involvement in the current fracas. In that overall context, the FA area is a kind of "King/Emporer" system both with respect to retaining the position and also with respect to amount of power. A king system works well when there is a good king, which I think is the current situation, but it is still not a good system. In the current system it doubly works by Raul being not super-active but a steadying force. On the flip side, democracy /voting doesn't work in Wikipedia on smaller scale stuff because it it too manipulable and random. Most feel that Raul does a good job, but some don't, which colors any discussion. My suggestion: somebody work up a system that slightly disperses the power of the position and makes it a bit more open on the question of who is going to do it. Then submit that idea and it will probably fly. The end. Trying to "organize" by RFC probably won't work. you need to come up with a specific proposal that 80% of people will like. Sincerely, North8000 (talk) 22:02, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

IMO the best way to keep in-check would be a periodic re-confirmation where its a basically straight up-or-down vote. No one else is on the ballot, so to speak. Many judicial system in the states use this and so long as they don't allow politics to get involved they are a good balance. Judges don't really need to worry about being political with their decision making as only with exceptional cases are they removed. The issue with that here would be that it would probably be harder to keep the Wiki-politics out because we are very open and except for personal attacks or the like, rarely restrict discussions. In a sense for this to work, we might have to and really enforce canvassing guidelines.
Another idea is might be to add some kind of process that can be initiated by any member, outside of an RfC, to remove him at any time barring a certain time frame after the last instance of its use or the confirmation of a new director.
A third option is to setup a body to oversee and review the processes and their sole purpose is to be an arbitor when disputes arise akin to a council of lords in a constitutional monarchy. This group could not intervene without a petition to it similar to mediation or arbcom, etc. This though adds another layer of bureaucracy, something people generally don't want.
Having it just be a popular vote is likely to degrade quality in the long run, and possibly short and medium term as well because any director will have to pander to the voters which means worrying about if they piss off enough people because their article wasn't promoted or another article was they didn't think should be in an attempt to keep standards high, but fair, being ousted. This isn't like Arbcom or administrators whose purpose isn't to ensure the highest quality stuff only gets through. If things are put up to elections, they tend to go downhill more than staying the same or getting higher standards because people will vote in general with whom they think will see things their way when it comes to their article. It's all nice to think everyone can be completely neutral in that respect, but that's naively ideal. So there would imo also need to be a way to select a new director should Raul (or any future director) be removed that doesn't fall victim to that and the only way that can happen imo is if the ballot is restricted to current delegates (and those delegates are appointed by the director originally) or if they are appointed by someone else. We aren't in the old days of Wikipedia where Raul got elected.Jinnai 22:58, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

RfC subpage

I've created a subpage for the RfC. I had hoped we could have the discussion on this page but I no longer think that's the best idea. For one thing, as Tony points out, it's very difficult for people to comment usefully if the RfC is not already drafted and available to comment on. For another, this page carries other traffic and that is distracting and dividing the conversation. I made the page a subpage of WP:FA rather than of WP:FAC; it was accidental (I copied the wrong string) but on reflection it may be the right place to put the RfC, so I've left it there. Please comment on the talk page of the draft. I'm still working on an alternate RfC wording based on Noleander's suggestion above; I have strong reservations about this approach but I think it's worth drafting for discussion. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:50, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

This is a nudge to everyone interested in the RfC. There hasn't been much comment so far. I would like to see more feedback before actually launching the RfC. In addition, there have been some tweaks to the text made by a couple of editors since I posted the RfC; I would like to make sure those changes are not controversial. Please comment on the talk page. Thanks. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:53, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

FA history

Many of the questions being asked on this page are answered in these:

SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:33, 16 January 2012 (UTC)

Closer and duration for impending RfC

Once the impending RfC on FAC leadership is launched, I don't plan to be the editor to close it; I'm convinced by Dank's argument that regardless of whether I actually am neutral, my long involvement with FAC means that it would be best for someone else to close it. As I've said before, I also won't be !voting in the RfC. The RfC is likely to be started not long after the blackout is over; perhaps on Thursday or Friday. If there is any desire to get a specific named closer ahead of time, I suggest those discussions start now; otherwise, just request an uninvolved admin. Two names were suggested earlier: Dweller (talk · contribs) and Moonriddengirl (talk · contribs). Any other suggestions?

I will be recommending that the RfC should run for a minimum of ten days, regardless of the direction of the voting, and that it should be closed as soon after that as the closer feels the result is unlikely to change, or, failing that, after thirty days. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 01:02, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

Having been through the disaster at the big wp:ver RFC, I would recommend that you decide the specifics ahead of time to avoid any shenanigans. Specific length of period for the RFC, what, if any additional "advertising" is required, required degree of involvement of the closer(s) (has anyone who has ever had an opinion on this general excluded/subject to reversal?), number of closers etc. North8000 (talk) 13:35, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Is this still going on? I'm disappointed to find that people have the time to divert to this exercise. WP:RFC contains important points about the construction and running of RfCs. Tony (talk) 13:44, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Given the comments above, which seem reasonable to me, I plan to ask Moonriddengirl if she'd be willing to close, as she was asked to look in at the start of this RfC. I would like to start the RfC tonight or tomorrow, so please comment soon if she would be unacceptable as a closer. I also think that my recommendation on duration should be limited to saying "at least ten days"; the guidance at WP:RFC should be enough for the closer. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:12, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

I would say nothing at all to her on length. WP:RFC is sufficient.--Wehwalt (talk) 14:34, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Fine with me. She has indicated willingness to close, so I'll leave it at that unless someone comes up with an objection to her involvement. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:42, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I'm fine with this (I suggested her), including it being her call to ask for further participation if she deems it helpful. Alarbus (talk)
Y'all missed my point. It was essentially recommending defining those things ahead of time so that nobody has an excuse to revert her close. North8000 (talk) 22:01, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Well, she has never written an FA, and she's acceptable to people on both sides of this issue, so I think the "uninvolved" question is not going to be an issue. She's said she would consider bringing in two more closers if it appears to be a contentious close. I'll ask her to comment here on the points you raise, but since I won't be involved in the close I think this is something to address directly with her, rather than via me. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:19, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Would it not be prudent to address the Alarbus WP:CLEANSTART issues before we launch an RFC that was driven largely by Alarbus, TCO and Wehwalt? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:11, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Do you mean the RFC should be delayed while an investigation into whether Alarabus is a returning user takes place? No matter what an investigation found, it's hard to imagine the RFC not happening at all, so I can't see how a delay would be helpful. Is that what you meant? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:19, 19 January 2012 (UTC)