Wikipedia talk:Policies and guidelines/Archive 11

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Blocking being paraded in leader

Well it seems Eqazcion has stuck blocking back into the leader again. What exactly is it about sticking blocking in that makes it look like we are more permissive? I wonder whetgher the previous entry ehere is because somebody has seen that we go around blocking people if they do anything wrong. Go ahead you're free to do as you like, make my day, ha ha bang. Can't you see that it violates be nice to newcomers and a whole lot else? Besides as many people have pointed out it just is not what this policy is about. This policy is about poliucies not wikipedia content pages. Helping people improve the content pages is the ultimate aim of the policies and guidelines but this conflates levels badly. Dmcq (talk) 16:06, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

Why are we talking about Equazcion in the third person? Why not answer the comment above where he explicitly stated his reason for re-inserting it? It's things like this, I think, that have certain individuals thinking you to be abrasive, Dmcq. If you feel something's wrong, perhaps you'd like to suggest an improvement. I myself was considering inserting something about blocks only resulting from ignored warnings, but that seemed to be getting too specific for a leader. It seems like enough to just say that if someone is found to be acting disruptively they will be blocked, as I think that implies people won't be blocked on mere first sight of a violation. Equazcion (talk) 16:12, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)
I think it's good to mention blocking early on, because that's what a lot of people seem to associate policies and guidelines with, and we ought to make it clear. The point is that the word "disruptively" is key - you won't get blocked for innocently violating the letter of some policy or guideline you don't know about, so you don't need to worry about knowing all the rules before doing anything. (But then we don't want to go too far the other way and imply that you can just ignore policies with no fear of consequences.) So the wording can doubtless be improved, but we shouldn't just walk away from addressing this issue or try to bury it further down the page.--Kotniski (talk) 17:17, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
I consider the edit to be against the spirit of the five pillars and ignore all rules, neither of which talk about blocking. If a person is going to eb disruptive they are not bgoing to stop just because that is written in a policy whereas good editors will be turned off. I will be reverting the change in line with that I believe it is harmful and as Equazcion has explained about reverting.. Dmcq (talk) 17:45, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
There are no emergencies, Dmcq, that should warrant your going against the consensus arrived at in this discussion in favor of "your concern" -- and an edit made by someone who drove by and didn't even participate here. Equazcion (talk) 17:53, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)
Ther is no consensus here for including that. Some people are for it, others are against. It should stay at the form before all this started until th dispute is resolved. And please look at WP:IAR. If any policy was going to stick in 'disruptively' and 'blocking' that would. It doesn't and for very good reason. There is no point to that paragraph. It is harmful. It is against consensus. The subject is incidental to this policy. Please desist. Dmcq (talk) 17:59, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
There's no more chance or reason for my "desisting" than there is of you doing the same, Dmcq. You're ignoring everything that's gone on on this page in favor of the status quo. Consensus can change, and has. If you'd like to continue discussion, that's fine, but you'll have to do just that. If there is a dispute as you claim, then there are no grounds for you to be protecting the right version. Equazcion (talk) 18:06, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)
Also, if you only dispute the blocking part, it would be best to just remove that part. As I said above, it's better to make a constructive edit that gets everyone closer to a compromise than to do straight reverts, as you keep doing. Equazcion (talk) 18:10, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)
I am happy with the text without the disruptive and blocking part. As to the rest how about practicing what you preach instead of repeatedly sticking in stuff for which there is no consensus? Dmcq (talk) 18:19, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
...in one individual's minority opinion? Yes, we still stick that stuff in on occasion. Feel free to actually answer my and Ktniski's arguments, though, on whether or not blocking and disruption should be mentioned in the lead, instead of continuing with the non-constructive repetition of how there's no consensus. Let's start building some. Equazcion (talk) 18:24, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)
Dank complained about it, SlimVirgin removed it, I removed it and now WhatamIdoing is complaining about it. Please do not again say you have consensus. I did address Kotniski's point. At least that was a sensible reason even if I don't think it overrides he opposition side. Somehow I seemed to have missed the place where you or Camelbinky have addressed any of my points and I have difficulty making sense of your reasons, perhaps you could provide diffs indicating them or copy and paste the main points so I am in no doubt? Dmcq (talk) 00:47, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
No need for any diffs etc, WhatamIdoing seems to be able to get through where I just seem to have received abuse. I don't know what it is about how I phrase things that has got some people here in a froth and defending the practical opposite of what they say they want. Dmcq (talk) 08:27, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Consensus

I take it we all agree that the blocking policy has consensus? And that consensus would include the fact that the blocking policy states "Blocks are used to prevent damage or disruption to Wikipedia". So I can't understand why it isn't a description of either policies or consensus to state something like "to further the goal of creating a reliable encyclopedia, editors may be technically prevented from editing in order to prevent damage or disruption." Hiding T 18:30, 30 October 2009 (UTC)

OK but somehow it has to relate to the subject of this page, if we're going to include it here. The main point I think it's important to make in the lead is that users don't need to read all the policies and guidelines before they do anything - you'll get blocked for being disruptive but NOT for innocently breaching some rule. (In fact I recall there used to be a sentence something like that in the lead - I never understood what it was doing there, but that was probably its intended purpose, except like most things written by a committee it ended up not saying anything clearly.)--Kotniski (talk) 18:38, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
I like the previous version best: "If by disregarding these principles an editor is found to be acting disruptively, he or she risks being blocked or otherwise restricted from editing." If most of us have no problem with that, we can just restore it. Another option would be to mention blocking in relation to policy, but then to explicitly state that editors don't need to worry about innocent infractions. Equazcion (talk) 18:43, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)
I think Kotniski has a point though, I'll tweak accordingly. Hiding T 20:11, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
Kotniski was saying that the statement didn't connect the purpose of policy pages to the act of blocking. If you say blocking is to prevent damage and disruption without mentioning policy, the statement doesn't appear to belong. That's what I was trying to fix, by inserting mention of policy violation in relation to damage. Equazcion (talk) 20:18, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)
There is no consensus for this change. Please read why this all flared up agaiun. Other edits came in complaining. Dmcq (talk) 18:49, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
The section on enforcement is the appropriate one for all this. Stuff that has the force of policy goes into the body of a policy. Dmcq (talk) 18:52, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
I'll raise this problem again on the policy page. Dmcq (talk) 18:53, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
If you're going to raise the same concerns elsewhere, kindly limit your comments to neutrally-worded advertisements of this discussion in neutral locations, and direct people here via a link, rather than seeking a new venue to air your issues. Equazcion (talk) 19:01, 30 Oct 2009 (UTC)
I am perfectly aware of that policy. I wish the originator of this idea had conformed to it, he/she intimated that I was involved in forum shopping and trying to recruit people favourable to my point of view whilst putting messages on user pages of those that might support it him/herself. Did any of those contacted in that way complain about it I wonder? As to consensus it is not just me, another editor removed that wording starting up the current dispute. Dmcq (talk) 20:55, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
The current wording with knowingly and removing the blocking as such but referring to it improved matters somewhat. Unfortunately knowingly is not an observable. The blocking policy states things properly. However taking the 'knowingly' out makes the sentence revert practically completely to the old blocking statement in sound. This is a good illustration what is wrong with trying to paraphrase parts of one policy in another. I'll hold off raising the matter to see if the business can be improved to something reasonable. Dmcq (talk) 21:15, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
I addressed that "concern" of yours the first time you slandered me with it Dmcq. I contacted Kim Brunning after she had already posted here! I would like to give you good faith that you perhaps had not read that post where I explained that, but given your actions here ever since I cant and will chalk it up to another attempt of attacking me instead of writing anything that supports your "ideas". BTW- I'm a he, but I do thank you for being sensitive about whether I am a male or female; I myself am not always as careful as I should be regarding that, since I grew up speaking Hebrew where the male term is generally used as the gender-neutral default (I believe Spanish does the same for mixed gender groups are termed male). As for the "other editor" that other editor failed to comment here in the discussion, still fails to do so, and may not have read our discussion, and if he/she had it was not the in best good faith to edit without speaking up and as Equazcion pointed out- against the consensus we had. He did a great job in addressing that issue in an earlier post. Perhaps you would like to reread it since you are still bringing up that editor.Camelbinky (talk) 21:24, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
If you wish to complain to an admministrator about what I said please go ahead. I was as happy not naming names. And other editors, not singular. And if it is relevant at all my first language was a chinese dialect and it is much more convenient about not having to specify gender. Dmcq (talk) 21:51, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
I think it's odd that the editors who have carefully positioned themselves as being against any punitive intimations on this page are the ones that insist that the possibility of being blocked be (over)emphasized in the lead.
Camelbinky (and others), if you really want to reduce the likelihood of something thinking that this page is all about punishing editors, then why are you insisting on putting punishment in the lead? Why aren't you suggesting that all mention of punishment be entirely removed from this page? WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:13, 30 October 2009 (UTC)
I cant speak for others, but I am not against there being a mention of what happens if you blatantly and purposefully go against Community consensus; whether it is "breaking" a policy, guideline, the spirit thereof either, or just going against consensus that has resolved an issue. Rarely have I ever seen anyone being blocked for violating a policy, even someone violating things mentioned here as examples such as the 3RR rule. When someone is blocked it is for NUMEROUS violations and for showing no regard of "I'm sorry" or any showing of remose or that they wouldnt do it again; no one gets blocked for violating their first policy. I myself actually did violate the 3RR in an edit war without even realizing it and I was relatively new, hadnt even heard of that rule; I did not get blocked, I got warned, not blocked; my reverts were to protect the article, so while I violated the letter of 3RR I did so in good faith and to keep out things that the consensus on the talk page had decided was harmful (but not vandalism, it was simply against what the 10-3 consensus on the talk page). So, to get to the point- this policy page as written at the time of my first post mentioned that you could get blocked for not obeying the spirit even if you dont violate the letter. I thought, that without mentioning you can (and I know you dont think you can, but I think you can and my posts are my opinions I can write what I want) violate the letter and it can be ok, per IAR. Since we are going to have in this policy the following- what policies and guidelines are, how to write them, how to propose them, how to maintain them (I dont quite understand that one though, since we dont "maintain" policies we encourage them to evolve and get rewritten, status quo is contrary to a wiki and Wikipedia's core values), we can also have room on how to enforce them, since at least last I checked it said (correctly) that every one has the responsibility of enforcing our policies. Since everyone has the responsibility of enforcing our policies then everyone should be aware of how to do so, and properly, and the consequences that can be done; IAR is important to know regarding how to or not to enforce policies as situations arise. Punishment is important, but harsh scary language is not needed; we are not proactive in deterring vandalism through scary language or actions (I myself have successfully been a party to stopping various proposals at the Village Pump (policy) and (proposal) that would have instituted draconian policies that would have curtailed IP's and newbies in order to "fight vandalism"). Which brings me to my next question- if "your group" is so interested in turning this page into a "how-to" on writing etc policies why no mention of the most important place that policies and guidelines are created, the Village Pump? Kinda why they were invented, it's their very purpose to exist; in my opinion they have supperseded any other route to policyship (a consensus on a guideline talk page that the guideline should be a policy is ridiculous because it's not the community at large, and would tend to be stacked by those already encouraging of what is written in the guideline).Camelbinky (talk) 01:31, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Village Pump (proposals) is both a remarkably unimportant source of policy proposals, and is mentioned twice on the page already. Proposals almost never originate at VPP; they originate elsewhere and are taken to VPP.
I believe you said that English isn't your native language? "To maintain" is is not just "to keep exactly like it is." If that were the goal, we could handle it with a quick WP:Requests for page protection. Instead, the relevant definition is "to keep in a defined state of repair, efficiency, or validity; to preserve from failure or decline". Preventing invalidity, failure, and decline of policy pages means regularly updating the page to accurately reflect the now-current advice. Maintenance = Changing. Encouraging maintenance of policy and guidelines pages = encouraging editing of policy and guidelines pages. It is not possible to keep policy and guidelines pages reasonably close to the actual consensus without changing them on occasion (that is, whenever the consensus has truly changed). WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:07, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I also want to say, as the person that originally wrote nearly everything on this page about procedures for new proposals and substantial changes to existing policies, that it's kind of odd that I am being accused of never wanting anyone to change policy and guidelines pages (while minimizing complaints from other editors). If it were true that I opposed changes to these pages, I wouldn't have wasted a week here last year in telling people just how to go about it. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:09, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Whatami doing, further up you said the possibility of being blocked is being overemphasized in the lead. Could you propose wording for mention of blocking in the lead that would not be an overemphasis, or even an emphasis at all? Equazcion (talk) 02:44, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
I would like to take time to thank you, What, for the definition of "to maintain", that was very helpful and I do appreciate the time you took to help me understand what you were talking about. While Hebrew was the first language I spoke, I havent used it conversationally since I was 7, I consider English to be my "native" language since that is what I use exclusively for conversation and thinking in my head (except for most dreams, I still dream in Hebrew most of the time). I do disagree with your opinion of the Village Pump, I see alot of interesting ideas pop up there all the time and very few are any that started on a policy page; it may very well be that those that interest me to even read just happen to be those that originate there and those that dont interest me are ones from policy pages brought over in which case what I look at would be biased and not a full sample. I still say that since the writing is important so is the enforcing, or the mentioning of when to or not to enforce. It seems this wanting to not mention enforcing at all is an end roun around any mention of IAR. It should and needs to be mentioned that policies are not hard and fast rules, as it currently states.Camelbinky (talk) 02:49, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Equazcion, I wouldn't mention blocking at all in the lead. IMO, any mention at all is overemphasis.
Camelbinky, I have no objection to mentioning IAR/"normally"/"should"/whatever other qualifiers are appropriate. Personally, I don't think that "you should normally follow these rules" is so important that it merits mentioning in the lead. I think that the existing {{policy}} tag is sufficient on that point. If other people feel strongly that it's necessary to emphasize the rule-following aspect, then I'll go along with that. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:16, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I will be going with the consensus that policies arent hard and fast rules and I believe that it should and needs to be mentioned. It seems ridiculous to have this page not mention anything at all about how to enforce or not to enforce policies. Are you suggesting that we mention how to write them, maintain them, promote them, but no mentioning at all that they have to (or dont have to) be "obeyed"? It seems, to me, that you dont want language on how to enforce them. IF we agree to that, then I would say no language can be in there that even closely resembles what was there originally about "you can be blocked by violating the spirit even if you are within the letter of the policy" or anything else about how policies are to be enforced, nothing about "you must generally follow", nothing at all about having to listen to policies at all. That's a big if on whether or not I'll lend my support, and of course I cant talk for Equazcion; but if I support no enforcement language, I want it clear that there is to be NO language that suggests or hints or can be interpreted that policies are to be enforced, and no language that they are laws. If you want to remove some enforcement language, then I want it strictly enforced that there is no language about enforcement on this page.Camelbinky (talk) 03:42, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Please review the three critical words I've underlined (twice) above, and try again. I don't object to a well-written WP:POLICY#Enforcement section. Note that the "enforcement section" and the WP:LEAD are not the same thing. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:03, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I'd differ a little in detail from that description of a lead as applied to policies and guidelines. We can use a nutshell for a summary of the main points so we don't need much of that in the lead section, it can concentrate more on the purpose and scope. Overall the same information would be there but spread between the two. Dmcq (talk) 08:37, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Looking at the enforcement section I definitely think it could be improved. It was with the adherence section before which has the caveats. The blocking word looks fine to me in that section. Dmcq (talk) 09:12, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

What's the point of omitting all mention of blocking from the lead?

← In a practical sense, having blocking in the lead is useful, in a page that's supposed to describe policies. When you tell someone who's new to a community that there are rules, the first question on their minds is "so what happens if i break them?" Consequences are part of the definition of pages called policies, in any community or system, because otherwise there are no grounds for using the word "policy". I'm not sure what the agenda is in keeping this out of the lead; the mere concern of it getting "too long" seems rather unlikely. It's pretty short at the moment compared to some other policies.

What are the most important points about policies? They're not hard and fast rules, but you could still get blocked for violating them excessively. This is an honest and concise definition, and again I honestly don't see what anyone hopes to gain by omitting some part of that from the lead. Equazcion (talk) 10:59, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)

Yes, I tend to agree with Equazcion here. I haven't analysed all the foregoing discussion in detail, but I've no idea why this minor matter should have flared up into personal antagonism. Perhaps we can just leave the lead as it is for now, while tempers abate? (I would still like to add a sentence telling new editors explicitly that they don't need to worry about reading all the policies and guidelines.)--Kotniski (talk) 11:24, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
The reasons I have given are:
  1. This policy is mainly about describing how to set up and maintain useful policies and guidelines. Blocking is just one policy amongst many.
  2. People who are going to disrupt the place aren't going to take much of it in the leader and people who aren't going to disrupt don't need to be told it up front. I see it as offputting and unnecessary for new editors.
  3. WP:IAR and WP:5P don't go on about blocking and if any place would have it up front to warn people it would be those
  4. Blocking is mentioned in this policy only as additional information about policies. It defers to the blocking policy by referring to it.
  5. There's other information about policies and guidelines which would be far more useful in the leader. The difference between a policy and a guideline for instance is directly relevant to this policy. Some people think the distinction is irrelevant but if so they should discuss that first and get consensus about changing the body first.
  6. Newbies coming here would be much better being directed at a good page about the five pillars or a page about starting editing. Extra irrelevant clutter makes it hard to put in useful stuff.
  7. This policy itself says the leader should give the aims and scope and that there should be no unnecessary repetition or paraphrasing of policy. Instead of trying to fix that if broken IAR was invoked to insert about blocking in the leader.
  8. The paragraph in my view misstates the WP:blocking policy by its emphasis on removing editors rather than reforming them to improve the encycloipaedia.
  9. We should WP:Avoid instruction creep
and you've had a number of other people complaining about it, they probably have additional reasons of their own. There is no consensus for inserting this in the leader. If it is minor in your view then you stuck it in - you remove it. I am very happy about a general statement like you say - a direct to the five pillars for that would do that well I think and tell them a lot more besides. Dmcq (talk) 11:52, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
What clutter? It's a sentence. I'm still not seeing the point in leaving it out. You seem so adamant about it, so I'm trying to get at the reason. If this page is about policy, don't you think we should be providing some rationale up-front about why the pages are being called policies? Because again, consequences are a fundamental part of that. Without consequence there's really no policy. You've mentioned some technical things here that could serve as backup for your position, but I don't understand the position itself. You seem to want to this page to come off a certain way, or perhaps avoid coming off a certain way, and I'd like some clarity on that. It would help us get somewhere in this discussion. Equazcion (talk) 12:00, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
You haven't dealt with any of the points above. Four editors have specifically opposed that paragraph about blocking being in the leader. There is no consensus for this change. Why are you so adamant about including it? Why not try including something about blocking on the ignore all rules page instead? That would be a much more relevant place. I'd oppose it there too but not so vehemently. Here in a place which newbie editors might get to almost immediately I believe it is against the spirit of wikipedia and harmful of the goal of creating a free, reliable encyclopedia. Dmcq (talk) 12:14, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
"Here in a place which newbie editors might get to almost immediately I believe it is against the spirit of wikipedia and harmful of the goal of creating a free, reliable encyclopedia." --- Could you elaborate on the specifics of that? I think that it's that general motivation we should move to discussing. We've each got our supporters and we've each got a technical case, which in themselves could be argued til the end of time. What exactly about mentioning blocking is harmful to creating a free, reliable encyclopedia? Equazcion (talk) 12:31, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
You have no technical case. You have no consensus for including it. Blocking is not in the remit of this policy. General discussion about the spirit should be in a general forum like Village pump. The various points for removing it have not been dealt with. This policy should be fixed to remove content without consensus before going on to discussions like that. I shall therefore remove the sentence about blocking again. Dmcq (talk) 12:43, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm not suggesting discussing it just for the hell of it. You already touched on it here, but you haven't given specifics, regarding how the statement would impugn on Wikipedia's general spirit. That is pretty relevant to this discussion. I don't see how removing the statement just so someone else can put it back in, and repeating this sequence of events every day just because 1RR technically allows it, helps anyone. Equazcion (talk) 12:49, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
There is no equality between including or excluding content that is disputed in a policy. Only content with a consensus in favour should be included. Old content that is disputed should be kept while discussing to get a consensus but a 1RR business keeping inserting that could be counted as disruptive. Do you wish to go to mediation or to arbitration? Dmcq (talk) 12:56, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
There is a guideline which says what I'm saying better than me Wikipedia:Please do not bite the newcomers. Dmcq (talk) 13:15, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
You're in a dispute, fella. There's no defense for which version is correct at the moment unless there's consensus for one over the other. If there's no consensus, there's no currently correct version. The older version isn't the default. Blocking is unfortunate but it happens. "Not biting" doesn't mean "pretending unpleasent things don't exist." And if you feel the need to bring in mediation or arbitration, by all means go for it. Equazcion (talk) 13:46, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)

I can't agree either with the argument just given that because something appears in an infobox then all mention of it should be removed from the lead. Infoboxes don't explain anything - readers need logically connected facts. I don't understand why people are so anxious to hide certain ideas on this page. Aren't we at Wikipedia to tell people things?--Kotniski (talk) 13:59, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Because this entire debate (and mentioning it in the lede) is extranious to the point of this page, which is to explain what Policies and guidelines are, how to write them, and the process by which they get approved. Yes, Infoboxes don't explain... but they do link to where things are explained. Blueboar (talk) 14:06, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
All right, so they don't make it clear to anyone why they might want to click on any of the links, particularly in the context of what they're reading on the page. The scope of this page doesn't have to be strictly limited to the things you mention - remember that different readers come here for different purposes (many presumably through clicking on the "policy" link they see at the top of other policy pages, wondering just how worried they ought to be about these things called policies that they've just discovered Wikipedia has). Really this page ought to be written with newcomers upmost in our minds - I suppose it doesn't even have to be a policy page itself.--Kotniski (talk) 14:14, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Edit conflict with Kotniski, but agreeing with what shes just said -- The point, as far as IAR at least, isn't just to provide a link, but to explain something fundamental about policy, especially to newbies. The fact that policies aren't hard-and-fast rules is a rather important caveat on Wikipedia, I think, since the word "policy" has certain opposing connotations otherwise. Equazcion (talk) 14:16, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
"Policies have wide acceptance among editors". Things shouldn't be put into policies that don't have consensus. You don't have consensus for sticking blocking into the leader. Dmcq (talk) 14:20, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I think you misunderstand - it's the practices described in policies that have wide acceptance, not the presentational details of policy pages, which is all we're discussing here. (Consensus is still to be sought on those matters as well, of course.)--Kotniski (talk) 14:26, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
During a dispute, people often try to find ways to defend keeping their version alive while the dispute is ongoing. Consensus isn't just needed for adding things but for removing them too. That's why pages are protected during a dispute where people are continually reverting each other -- the current version doesn't matter until the dispute is resolved. Perhaps page protection would be appropriate for this page now. Equazcion (talk) 14:40, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)

Equazcion asked me to take part here, though it's not clear why, as the discussion has been going in circles for months. Four points that I care about: (1) that this page describe was does happen, not what editors wish would happen; (2) that the writing be decent and tight; (3) that it make clear there is a difference between policies and guidelines, a distinction a couple of editors a few months ago tried to erase, and (4) that it say nothing to encourage policies being destabilized by BOLD editing. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 14:41, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

As for the blocking issue, I don't think it should be in the lead, because editors are only blocked for violations of certain behavioral policies, and BLP. Blocks for violations of other policies are rare, and I don't think people are ever blocked for violating a guideline. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 14:43, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Latest edit: editors aren't expected to stick to guidelines the way they're expected to stick to policies, and the "needn't worry" thing is inappropriate on a policy page. We need to keep the writing tight and professional, and not internally inconsistent. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 14:47, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
We need to tell people clearly what they might want to know. Did you read the arguments above before coming along and just restoring your own preferred version? This really isn't the sort of behaviour we ought to be exemplifying on policy pages. --Kotniski (talk) 14:53, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for answering my request, SlimVirgin. The reason the policy/guideline distinction was removed was because it seemed awfully abstract, and although it may document a technical distinction, it wouldn't be helpful to anyone who didn't already understand the distinction previously. I'm personally not against stating a distinction, I'm just not sure any would be possible with the brevity required for a lead section. Equazcion (talk) 14:55, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
Not abstract at all. Very simple. You're meant to stick to policies. Guidelines are offered for advice. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 14:58, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
If someone creates a non-notable article, it'll probably get deleted, and if someone edits in opposition of the MOS they'll be reverted. Do those things repeatedly after being informed, and you could even get blocked. It's the same with policies. I'm not saying there is no distinction, but it's a complex distinction that I don't think is easy to describe in a single sentence. Equazcion (talk) 15:00, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
If you create an article that seems to violate the notability guideline, it may or may not be kept at AfD. If you edit in opposition to the MoS, you shoudn't be reverted, and your article could end up as an FA, which does not insist on MoS compliance in all things. And no one would ever block you for either. If I'm wrong about the latter, please provide an example, because in four years of being an admin, I've never seen it. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:10, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Okay, if we assume people only get blocked due to policy and not guidelines, then would be okay with mentioning that as the distinction between the two (in gentler words of course)? Equazcion (talk) 15:14, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)

Last time I looked, WP:BLOCK said that you could get blocked for breaching policies or guidelines (there was qualification, of course, but it was definitely both). That certainly isn't the distinction between the two, anyway. (When was anyone last blocked for naming an article in contravention of our naming conventions policy?)--Kotniski (talk) 15:25, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Probably never, if they only did it once. If they kept doing it despite warnings, that's still be a disruption, no? I wouldn't know how to begin researching for past instances of that, but things like that seem to fall under the general category of "blocked for disruption". A lot of little things done repeatedly despite warnings can end that way. Equazcion (talk) 15:54, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
So, what they're actually getting blocked for is the disruption, not for the policy breach. If they went round removing categories from pages (a breach of the WP:CAT guideline) and carried on despite warnings they'd be treated the exact same way.--Kotniski (talk) 18:05, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that. WP:TE is "just" an essay. WP:DE is "just" a guideline. They are fairly often cited as justifications for blocks -- and DE blocks are widely accepted. Conversely, I doubt that anyone has ever been blocked for violating this page, even though it's a "policy". So I don't think that we want to say that policy violations produce blocks, but guidelines probably won't: it's just not that simple. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:06, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Edits that imply a change

Not clear what this means: "edits that would imply a change to accepted practice ..." How does an edit imply a change, as opposed to make it, describe, or document it? SlimVirgin talk|contribs 14:49, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

I don't think "imply" was chosen deliberately over other words. Your suggested alternatives would probably be just as acceptable to whoever inserted that statement (I think it was Kotniski). Equazcion (talk) 14:52, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
Yes; I just didn't like the implication that edits to policy pages actually cause changes in accepted practice. --Kotniski (talk) 14:54, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Changes that imply the consensus has changed? Dmcq (talk) 14:56, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
(ec) The edit, if it stuck, would change the policy, as people read it and adhered to it. The distinction you want to make is a valid one, but it will confuse the reader to insert an unclear word in the lead. Better to say "edits that would change accepted practice (where "if accepted" is understood). SlimVirgin talk|contribs 14:57, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
That sounds fine to me. Nothing different was meant to be implied by "imply" :) Equazcion (talk) 15:02, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
Kotniski is reverting the edits I make, so I'm going to stop for a bit. My aim with the lead is simply twofold: (1) to make clear there is a difference between policies and guidelines, which no one should be removing because it's a fact, and (2) to remove any extraneous or confusing wording so that the writing is tight and clear. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:08, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm also going to stop for a bit, though my position is that these two aims are prima facie incompatible, since the idea that there's a fundamental difference between policies and guidelines is (in my opinion) itself extraneous and confusing - see the next thread.--Kotniski (talk) 15:21, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Scope

I'm pretty happy with what's in the lead at the moment except I don't think it describes the scope of this policy. Having different ideas about the scope has been a major part of the difficulty I believe. The following paragraph described the scope as far as I was concerned but was removed as just repeating the contents list - which by my reckoning means it must be pretty close to being a scope statement.

"This policy page specifies the community standards related to the composition, structure, organization, life cycle, and maintenance of policies & guidelines and related pages."

Has anyone a better idea for a scope statement or do people really think the lead is better of leaving the scope out? Dmcq (talk) 15:53, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Yes, I think it is better off without it (though I don't mind it being there as long as that isn't used as an excuse for taking other things out because the lead is then too long).--Kotniski (talk) 18:00, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I think that the above sentence is an accurate summary of the practical information provided on this page, and thus should be retained. Perceived verbosity does not form any part of my arguments against inclusion of relatively unimportant information in the lead, so Kotniski can be reassured that the existence of this sentence will, so far as I am concerned, have no bearing on any other sentence's merits. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:19, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Instruct users?

I'm not too keen on the 'instruct users' bit in the leader instead of describe. Mirriam-Webster says of instruct:

  1. to give knowledge to : teach, train
  2. to provide with authoritative information or advice (the judge instructed the jury)
  3. to give an order or command to : direct

whereas describe is:

  1. to represent or give an account of in words (describe a picture)
  2. to represent by a figure, model, or picture : delineate
  3. obsolete  : distribute
  4. to trace or traverse the outline of (describe a circle)
  5. archaic  : observe, perceive

instruct has definite nannyish connotations to me which I think is out of place here. Does it strike others the same or is it just me? Dmcq (talk) 17:39, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Pick a word other than "describe" then, though, because "describe" applies to both guidelines and policies. They both describe stuff; the point is to distinguish what one does from what the other does. I don't think there are any words that would make this technically accurate in one sentence, but "instruct" is as close as I could get. Policies do instruct people on how to behave, interact, and edit, so I don't have a particular problem if it sounds somewhat restrictive. Policy is somewhat restrictive. Equazcion (talk) 17:46, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
Again, I don't think there's any qualitative difference between policies and guidelines that requires the use of different verbs. Since they both describe, I'd let that verb do for both. (Or use a different verb, like "inform", but mainly for stylistic variation.)--Kotniski (talk) 18:02, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Fundamentally, I think that the distinction between the (four: policy, guideline, essay, and procedure/help/how-to) categories of pages is really too complex to be glossed in the lead (especially in a sentence that only mentions two of them). I'd solve the word-choice problem by removing the sentence and thus eliminating any possibility of confusing readers. At best, the inclusion of this information in the lead provides nothing that isn't repeated -- and more accurately expressed -- elsewhere. It is therefore unnecessary at best, and misleading at worst. We don't need it: let's remove it from the lead (and do the thing properly in the body). WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:26, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Agreed on removing the distinction. I'd keep a short explanation of what policies/guidelines are though, as a group. Like "While not employing hard-and-fast rules, Wikipedia's policies and guidelines describe its principles and best-known practices." Something like that. Equazcion (talk) 18:32, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
Seems fine to me Dmcq (talk) 18:45, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Thank you Equazcion for defending the one sentence I've been fighting for. I dont know why I got so much flak from the other side for defending that sentence in the lead but it "seems fine" to others when you defend it...like I said before there is personal animosity for some reason against me. the hard and fast rules part used to be linked, and I thought it had been to IAR, so I restored that link, but then I noticed that in your statement above you linked it to NOTSTATUTE. I believe your link to notstatute is more correct, I'll wait for your response before changing it from IAR to not statute.Camelbinky (talk) 20:18, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
When restoring the sentence about "hard-and-fast-rules", I linked to NOTSTATUTE instead of IAR in the hopes that it would be a good compromise, since some people seemed to take issue with having IAR in the lead section. In one of my later edits I accidentally removed the link, still not sure how I managed to do that, but anyway -- I don't mind IAR being there myself, but NOTSTATUTE might be less likely to get the whole sentence removed by someone. Equazcion (talk) 22:09, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
If you mean me what it links to is not something I'm particularly interested in. Dmcq (talk) 22:23, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I find it funny that they in the past have stated their opposition to linking to IAR in the lead(the number one most important policy, one that Jimbo himself has defended and restored after someone messed with it and HIS edit summary included "IAR has always been") but yet NOTSTATUTE is one section of a page that EXPLAINS a policy. Equazcion, I think this entire this is all about some people cant accept that Wikipedia has no strict structure and are philosophically opposed to "disorder" "chaos" or "anarchy" that they believe would happen if it was made clear that policies dont have to be obeyed as laws. I am quite convinced that Wikipedia is the closest thing to a true communist ideology; ie- it has no government, no laws, people are expected to "police" themselves and each other equally, there is no hierachy or class structure, and "to each according to their needs, from each according to their ability" we give admin "powers" and other "tools" to those that need them for what they like to do and those with abilities of better management of technical aspects whom have shown they have the right abilities for such responsibility (and I know some think the opposite but admins arent our police, judges, superiors, or in any way, shape, or form better or "higher" than a regular editor, we arent Compendium which has seperate classes). Editors with a more conservative world-view often bring that "law and order" belief into Wikipedia with a built-in disgust for a liberal view that IAR gives and try to impose structure on us, they also have a built-in disregard for recognizing the "penumbra" of our policies and want to stick to the letter of the "rules". We all cant help this of course, I bring in my own political biases into Wikipedia as everyone else does. However I do encourage the conservatives out there to realize that Wikipedia is in fact biased structurally towards a liberal interpretation of its own "rules", that's inherent to a wiki, especially one heavily contributed to by Americans (and yes, those who identify with the Democratic Party are the majority in the US, have been for a long time the only reason they lose presidential elections is that Republicans are more loyal to their party and turn are more likely to turn out on election day.) That's my diatribe on politics and Wikipedia.Camelbinky (talk) 22:29, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Could you please stop sticking all this noise into the page. Dmcq (talk) 22:49, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
One man's noise is another man's good point. I'm not sure if you actually read through Camelbinky's long posts, but you should. They're often pretty insightful. Equazcion (talk) 23:00, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
I fail to see any connection between American presidential elections and this policy. Less Koans please. make it simple for this poor benighted person who can't work his way through all the allusions to the nugget of insight contained within. Dmcq (talk) 23:15, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
That made no sense. At least my posts make sense and are grammatically correct.Camelbinky (talk) 23:47, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Policy in footnotes

The last three footnotes look like they should be part of the main policy document. They say things like 'should' and give procedures to follow. I'll have a look at promoting them to the main text if nobody has objections. Dmcq (talk) 18:55, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Okay I've promoted those bits. I think there is a bit of fat in them just waiting to be trimmed. On the other hand it doesn't say about putting them in the right category at the end and updating lists. Dmcq (talk) 20:03, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

More reverts

Kotniski, you're removing long-standing words that are elsewhere in the policy. "Policies describe standards that all users should normally follow, while guidelines are advisory."

"X is more advisory than Y" is just confusing writing. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:01, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Anything that says "policy is X while guidelines are Y" is confusing. They are virtually the same thing; if there's a difference between them, then it's one of degree, not of kind. They both describe standards all users should normally follow; they are both advisory.--Kotniski (talk) 15:06, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
You are just saying they're the same thing but they are not. Editors are expected to follow the policies with no realistic exceptions. They are not invariably expected to follow the guidelines; there are lots of occasions where guidelines are ignored. That is just a fact. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:12, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
Oh, I don't think so, up to a point perhaps, but there's no particular boundary. All sorts of stuff finds its way onto policy pages, while some quite fundamental things are on guideline pages. Everyone's expected to follow all of them except when there's a good reason not to; it's probably statistically true that there's a good reason not to more often in the case of guidelines, but nothing more than that.--Kotniski (talk) 15:18, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
If the practice is that there is little difference then the discussion should be about the body of the policy - not changing the lead without changing what's accepted in the body first. The lead should not describe new consensus before it is accepted in the body - there's no good reason for that. Dmcq (talk) 15:22, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
But it doesn't have to be in the lead at all - since there are people doing everything in their power to remove all useful information from the lead, surely the dubious and unhelpful information should go as well?--Kotniski (talk) 15:29, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
What you wrote there seems quite reasonable to me and implies the boundary isn't quite so hard. Dmcq (talk) 15:37, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
That has been in the policy for a long time, and there is no consensus to remove it. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 15:41, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
I'm for removing it. The practical difference between policies and guidelines is too confusing to sum up in the lead. As far as newbies are concerned, they basically need to regard both the same way -- adhere in general, ignore when there's good reason. As far as generally summing up how to regard policies and guidelines to a newbie, I don't see a need to state any difference. It might not be technically correct to refer to them the same way, but it's most useful and easy for inexperienced users that way. And I don't care if there was consensus or how long it's been here, frankly. Change happens and I'd like to discuss that possibility. Equazcion (talk) 17:43, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
You seem to be saying "this is confusing, so let's not explain it". The wording currently in the lede is perfectly clear, even to "newbies", and accurately sums up the longstanding wording in the body of the page. Jayjg (talk) 00:25, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Are we talking about changes to the lead specifically? If so, then SlimVirgin may want to review the lead from earlier in October, e.g., [1]: The broad distinction wasn't mentioned there at all.
As for a broad distinction existing, and being documented elsewhere on this page (and on other pages), then yes: it's been there for a long time, and it does have community support. For example, the distinction is fairly often invoked in disputes involving multiple pages, e.g., the policy WP:BLP trumps the guideline WP:EL. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:16, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

There's clearly no consensus for removing this longstanding (on the page) wording which clarifies the difference between policies and guidelines. And it's an important enough distinction that it belongs in the lede. Jayjg (talk) 00:25, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Clearly? Everyone agreed, aside from SlimVirgin. And now you of course. I'm not sure how important it is. Why do you feel it's important? Equazcion (talk) 00:33, 2 Nov 2009 (UTC)
Jayjg, I think you have misunderstood the situation. Would you please (attempt to) provide a diff that shows that this text is actually "long-standing" in the lead? Because by my search, it was added just four days ago, which doesn't really meet my personal standards for "long-standing" wording. WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:11, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I didn't say it was long-standing in the lede, I said it was longstanding on the page, and that it's important enough that it belongs in the lede. It's important to explain up-front just how closely editors should normally hew to guidelines and policies, because that is the primary differentiator between them. It is extremely odd that a lede is being proposed for a policy about policies and guidelines that doesn't actually state how policies and guidelines differ. If there's no difference, then call them all the same thing. If they are different (and indeed, they are), then explain the difference up front. Jayjg (talk) 01:31, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm in support of stating the distinction in the lead, but I don't think it's all that important. Guidelines and policies should both generally be adhered to unless there's a good reason not to, and that's really all anyone needs to know. I also don't think the current statement really says anything useful, and I don't even think it's accurate; and I can't think of a better way to state the actual difference with the required brevity. The statement as it stands only serves to lend confusion. "Policies describe standards that all users should normally follow" -- the same exact thing can be said of guidelines. These are the general feelings of everyone else participating here, aside from SlimVirgin. Equazcion (talk) 01:41, 2 Nov 2009 (UTC)
It's quite clear that policies are more binding that guidelines; policies have the implication "you really must do this, or have an extraordinarily good reason not to, or you will end up getting sanctioned", whereas guidelines have the implication "this is good advice under most circumstances". The distinction is also, in fact, quite important, which is precisely why Wikipedia has both. And I think it's a really bad idea for people who don't understand this clear and longstanding distinction to start editing policy in accord with their own lack of understanding. Jayjg (talk) 02:36, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
The things you're stating might be clear to you, as an established user, but the statement in the lead is the one that's supposed to impart the distinction clearly to people who might not otherwise understand it already. The question isn't whether or not the distinction is generally clear on Wikipedia, but whether this particular statement you've reinserted actually helps make the required distinction. Again, "Policies describe standards that all users should normally follow" doesn't make any distinction, because the same exact thing can be said about guidelines. Do you disagree? PS. I agree that it would be a really bad idea for people who don't understand this clear and longstanding distinction to start editing policy in accord with their own lack of understanding. I do hope people like that don't start editing the policy in that manner. Equazcion (talk) 02:57, 2 Nov 2009 (UTC)
Well, it needs to be in the lede, that's pretty clear. What wording do you feel would explain it better? As for people who shouldn't be editing the policy, anyone who thinks the distinction between policies and guidelines isn't "all that important" should not be editing the policy that explains what they both are, and in particular the differences between them. Jayjg (talk) 03:03, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes I've come across this opinion often on Wikipedia. Sorry but you'll have to get used to dealing with people who disagree with you, even on issues for which you've used your equal authority to make an irrevocable decision that carries as much weight as mine would. Back to the issue at hand, I don't have better words. You seem to agree that the current words aren't helpful though in actually showing any distinction, so perhaps you'd care to offer a suggestion, or let me know how continuing to include this statement helps anyone? Equazcion (talk) 03:10, 2 Nov 2009 (UTC)
You can disagree with me all you want, it's irrelevant to logic and reality. And I haven't agreed that "the current words aren't helpful though in actually showing any distinction". In fact, I've said the exact opposite. It is you who believes they aren't helpful in showing any distinction, which is not all that surprising, given that you also think the distinction in any event isn't "all that important". So, what wording would you propose to better explain the distinction to you? Jayjg (talk) 03:15, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
So my disagreement with you shows how wrong I am. Mature and constructive notions in any dispute. Anyway, I've said already that I don't believe words exist to adequately and briefly describe the distinction. I'll repeat: "Policies describe standards that all users should normally follow" -- You've yet to explain to me how this helps describe the distinction between policies and guidelines. Equazcion (talk) 03:22, 2 Nov 2009 (UTC)
It depends on the page and the context: WP:RS, a mere guideline, is more 'binding' than WP:NC, a policy. The policy WP:NC explicitly defers to guidelines in some cases. In short, I think you'll find that it's a bit more complicated than this single sentence asserts. (Note that I don't say that it should be more complicated than that; I only say that it is more complicated than that.) Because reality is fairly complex, I don't think that including a potentially misleading oversimplification in the lead is either important or appropriate. I do think that editors are perfectly capable of finding, reading, and citing the more complete descriptions given lower on the page -- they have, after all, managed to do just that since at least early 2006, when the distinction was first developed on this page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:03, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
No, WP:RS is not "more binding" than WP:NC; they deal with generally different areas of editing. WP:RS deals with sourcing, and whenever it diverges from WP:V then it is WP:V that is correct. Guidelines tend to diverge from policy over time because they're longer, and often not as closely watched. Eventually someone notices the divergence, and works to bring the guideline back into line with policy. Or, they just get frustrated with the entropy and edit-wars, and instead include in the WP:V policy the line "Because policies take precedence over guidelines, in the case of an inconsistency between this page and that one, this page has priority, and WP:RS should be updated accordingly." Regardless, policy is binding, guidelines are good advice. And yes, I recognize there are old-timers who still insist that WP:IAR is the only real policy, and nothing else is binding. However, that anarchist dream-world is not the Wikipedia of 2009. Jayjg (talk) 03:09, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Also: it's apparently common to believe that policy violations result in 'sanctions', 'punishment', 'blocking' whereas violating guidelines doesn't usually -- but it simply isn't true, and this page has no business perpetuating that error. WP:DE, a mere guideline, is widely accepted standard for blocking. So is WP:SPAM, another guideline. By contrast, a large number of policies have zero punishments associated with them. Try WP:V, for example: nobody gets blocked for (just) failing to cite sources. The policy doesn't even mention the possibility. Ditto WP:Volunteer response team, WP:IP block exemption, WP:Naming conventions, WP:CSD -- Wikipedia has a least a dozen policies that can be violated without any sort of 'sanctions' other than being reverted (that is, so long as you're not also violating other rules, such as edit warring, in the process). WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:15, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
That common belief is based on Wikipedia practice. It's true that the Arbcom generally avoids ruling on content issues, and sticks to behavioral ones - though more recently it has ventured into moral judgments as well - but in general one is much more likely to be sanctioned either by the Arbcom or at AN/I if one violates a policy than a guideline. Jayjg (talk) 03:20, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
For established editors (i.e., excluding drive-by IP vandalism), I'd have to see the data before I could possibly make a statement about whether policies or guidelines result in more blocks. Many blocks very likely result from violations of more than one page.
However, my point is that even if a large number of punishments are ascribed to policy violations, there are still many policies that result in zero punishments, and many guidelines that result in sanctions. Sanctions are not the exclusive, nor even the predominant, domain of policies. The designation as a policy or a guideline is not what makes violating the page likely to result in sanctions. WhatamIdoing (talk) 03:37, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

For info: AUSC October 2009 elections

The election, using SecurePoll, for Audit Subcommittee appointments has now started. You may:

The election closes at 23:59 (UTC) on 8 November 2009.

For the Arbitration Committee,  Roger Davies talk 07:39, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

Another break, for fun

Welcome to the 25th break in this conversation. I propose, since neither side can come to agreement, and arguing with small-minded people is getting annoying, that we do the following. WhatamIdoing, as the person on the other side that I have the most respect for since he has actually had ideas and opinions goes and takes whoever agrees with him and writes in a sandbox their version of what this policy should look like. Equazcion and Kotniski and if she's still watching Kim, and anyone else who agrees with this side, writes in another sandbox our version of what this policy should look like. After both sides are done, we come back and see just what is different and what needs to be changed to have one compromise version.Camelbinky (talk) 23:47, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

I actually thought we had come to something of a compromise. The only thing I'm still unhappy about is no mention of adherence in the lead section. Does anyone have any other pressing issue with the page as stands now? Equazcion (talk) 23:56, 31 Oct 2009 (UTC)
I have no problems with the page as it is. The 'Life cycle' section looks like it could do with some tidying but nothing substantial. By the way WhatamIdoing says on her user page "This user is a female contributor". Equazicon stuck adherence into the last paragraph of the leader but I can live with that. If I read this right is Camelbinky trying to push blocking into the leader again despite clear opposition by SlimVirgin, me, WhatamIdoing and Dank? This business has gone on for quite long enough and it is clear there is no consensus here for such an inclusion. If you wish to raise it in a wider forum like Village pump (policy) then go ahead but just going on and on here is a time waster. Dmcq (talk) 00:47, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Sorry I should've said that I'd like mention of adherence other than the mere word being present in the last line. You could be hearing right: Camelbinky may want to include consequence, despite there being people who disagree with including it. There's no consensus for either version, so we may be at an impass, and further input may need to be sought. Equazcion (talk) 00:56, 1 Nov 2009 (UTC)
A bit of reality, thanks. And impasse does not mean you can stick it in and do 1RRs every day like you wrote about doing before. A policy should not include bits that have no consensus. Dmcq (talk) 01:13, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
I haven't stuck it in, and I haven't done any reverts. I'm responding to Camelbinky's drafting proposal. A bit of AGF, thanks. Reality can be elusive when you're busy hitting the undo button. As I said, it's easy to come up with reasons why the other guy shouldn't be reverting while you have every reason to. When I wrote about it, I was talking about everyone. It takes two sides to revert war. That's why we have page protection, and it's why we don't care which revision is on the page in the meantime. Until the dispute is settled, there's no correct version. Include, exclude, it's all the same. There is no default. Equazcion (talk) 01:29, 1 Nov 2009 (UTC)
I'm finding AGF increasingly hard to come by as far as you are concerned. "One man's noise is another man's good point" you say referring to Camelbinky's posts. And yes I have read through them. And the noise I refer to includes quite a few remarks like "arguing with small-minded people" above. Do you find that 'insightful'? You went about telling me policy unnecessarily, am I to assume you think it is a good idea to give reminders or not? Dmcq (talk) 08:15, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
OH MY GOD! Dmcq, really you need to stop! You said, and I quote- "If I read this right is Camelbinky trying to push blocking into the leader again" where do you get even the slightest hint from my post starting this latest break that I want to try pushing blocking back in the leader? I never said anything about blocking, or the lead. Another instance of you putting words in my mouth. Every single one of your posts have seriously been ill-informed and completely off-base about what is going on. Do you read other people's posts, because you have shown many times that you dont read mine. All I ever see from your posts are the same things and the occasional dittoing of another persons posts during which you show that you dont even understand what the person just said. I think you are over-your-head in this discussion and it really doesnt matter what you say anymore.Camelbinky (talk) 01:52, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Please try to write simply for this little mind who is finding it very hard to keep up with your rapier like insights. Give a wording of what you want in and where it is to go, that would be the easiest way to start I believe. Blocking people seemed to me to be the major point of the bits put in that was removed and you were happy when it was in. Dmcq (talk) 08:15, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
The reason my posts are longer is because I do write in simpler easier to understand language and in the most straightforward grammatical set-up, especially since Wikipedia is a cross-section of the world and those I argue with tend to have average IQs. Your posts, though short, are convoluted and are extremely hard to understand due to your (sometimes incorrect) use of unnecessarily "big" words or overly complex wording put together in an unusual sentence structure (you dont need big words or concepts to prove your intellegence, empty big words dont go as long as small words put together to convey a big concept). Perhaps if you took some time to read my posts and not infer anything that I dont explicitly state myself, it would go a long way towards you understanding me, or any other people. If I dont actually say something, then assume I didnt say it, dont come to conclussions, dont infer from past posts, I will tell you what you need to know about what I do and dont want, if it isnt clear then I either didnt want you to know or I didnt think it important, if you need to know then ask a question politely. You have also pissed off Equazcion with your penchant for saying "X thinks" or "Y did this"; how about you keep your posts to your opinions and beliefs and not a commentary on what other people believe or what other people are doing (because you tend to get that wrong). I have made it abundently clear many many times that what I want in this policy is for it to "in no way, shape, or form explicitly or implicitly state that policies are laws that must be obeyed as such; I want no wording that can be inferred or interpreted as such." I have never said it has to be in the lead, I have never said it needs to mention blocking. I think perhaps part of your problem is that whereas Blueboar, Equazcion, Kim Bruning, Kotniski, WhatamIdoing and I are all very very active at the various other places such as the Village Pumps, OR/N, RS/N, AN/I, and/or other venues in which we discuss and decide how to actually implement policies I dont recall seeing you at these venues where policy is implemented in the "real wikiworld" based on consensus. Perhaps you may want to start participating in these venues and you may actually learn how much in the minority you are on some of these views you hold and what the consensus is on how policies are used. Yes, this was a long post, live with it.Camelbinky (talk) 18:20, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Please write what you want to put in. You have insulted me in many of the posts you did here. That is not civil. It does not help produce a better policy. Do you understand me now? Dmcq (talk) 18:53, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
And how does your numerous slanders of what I believe, both here and at other locations, produce better policy? "Do you understand me now?" is not civil language either. How about you reread my post right above, I do believe I stated my views, the same views I've had ever since I started this entire discussion. How about you have an independent thought about what you do and dont want in here, because I havent seen one, all I see is you saying "Camelbinky wants to do x" and "Now Equazcion says y". Stick to your own opinions and stop worrying about making others state theirs. Dont worry about other people. If you are so worried about making better policy, that is news to me because I havent seen you in the past try doing that. State only "your" opinions in your posts from now on and maybe we'll get along.Camelbinky (talk) 19:00, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
What I said above was "If I read this right is Camelbinky trying to push blocking into the leader again despite clear opposition by SlimVirgin, me, WhatamIdoing and Dank?". That was a question. if that is wrong then 'no, that is not true. I don't want to put blocking in the leader' is an appropriate reply. It would be even better if you wrote down the words you want to put in and where you want to put them. There is no slander. I'll be raising an alert about this business. Another editor might be able to figure out how to get a bit of orderly on-topic discussion. Dmcq (talk) 20:47, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't understand what's going on here. SlimVirgin talk|contribs 20:48, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Ok, first off, Dmcq you have been obstructionist since day one when I started this discussion, you took it off topic on your rants about "laws" and how we cant change this page. Dank hasnt talked much and hasnt made a comment in a long time, Slim makes changes without talking and hasnt contributed much here to the discussion I dont even know what his/her views are, What is the only one who has done anything constructive here. Yea, you have four people, one of which has been active and helpful. We've had Equazcion, Kotniski, and me as active, Kim used to be, and Blueboar among others. So I dont know why you keep talking about "you" have a consensus and we are against it. Equazcion has been more than patient in keeping this on topic despite your interuptions and disruption. Bring an alert, go right ahead. How about saying stupid things like "if i read camelbinky right" and other things that have pissed off Equazcion as well; you simply stick to stating what YOUR OPINION is; I dont think Dank, What, and Slim actually share your opinions as much as you think, whatever your opinions are because I dont know what they are. You keep making personal accusations regarding what others think instead of stating your own views. You want this to be on topic, how about instead of responding to me, you make the first move and go on topic; you like to make accusations that I'm taking this off-topic, show by example then that its me not you. Make some sense and show instead of tell.Camelbinky (talk) 21:11, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Those editors I mentioned were definitely against blocking being in the leader. If you have a different proposal then you don't have to worry about that. Dmcq (talk) 22:15, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
Just as you cant talk for me and Equazcion, I suggest you dont talk for anyone else as well. This entire discussion is on hold while I deal with your bringing me to the Wikiettiquite board. I will assume good faith this is not an attempt to silence a critic and an opponent. Once it is resolved then we can get back to this discussion. Which, as the person who started both the general discussion and this particular break/thread this discussion has nothing to do with blocking and since you accuse me of getting of topic I would like to remind you to not do the same. If you dont know what the discussion is about, perhaps you should hold off any comments until you do know; and this isnt an invitation to ask what it is, this particular break/thread was a proposal issued to What and Equazcion on a method of resolving any further disputes, if you didnt get that, now perhaps you do.Camelbinky (talk) 22:21, 1 November 2009 (UTC)
I guess there may be a few other people here interested one way or another. The alert is at WP:Wikiquette alerts#Continual personal attacks by User:Camelbinky. Dmcq (talk) 22:34, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

To SlimVirgin:

"What is going on here" is that we have a dispute that has grown out of proportion to the importance of the actual proposals (or, for that matter, this page).

Camelbinky came to this page with concerns that this page was being (mis)understood as a guide to enforcement and punishment. I assume that it was (mis)quoted in some other debate. He initially teamed up with Kim "Consensus is King" Bruning and others to advocate for changes that reduce the emphasis on punishment, but Camelbinky has certainly never had a single specific change that was critically important.

This last fact has been both helpful and unhelpful. It's helpful -- ideal, even -- because Camelbinky's position on the specifics has evolved significantly as he's learned more about this, and not being doctrinaire about a specific sentence means that he's able to keep his overall goal connected to what he (now) thinks is best for the encyclopedia.

It's unhelpful, because the proposals never stop: learning the flaws in your 23rd proposal merely results in creating your 24th proposal, instead of concluding that the page is probably in okay condition/has at least a basic level of consensus behind it. I conclude from this endless stream of proposals that Camelbinky ("and company") still feels that there is some deep flaw in this page that requires some kind of change -- possibly something that we can all support, and possibly the kind that prevents the page having been inconveniently quoted at him a couple of weeks ago. (See time travel, etc.)

Oddly, the "anti-punishment side" are the people that have significantly increased the amount of attention this page gives to sanctions. I don't think this was intentional -- not for Camelbinky, at least -- but it's how it worked out.

For myself: Parts of this page were not very well-written, and therefore I don't oppose changes per se. Some recent changes have been improvements IMO, and others were not (e.g., adding scary warnings about being blocked to the lead, misleading summaries of the difference between a policy and a guideline, efforts to pretend that policies, but not guidelines, impose blocks [they don't: pages (of all kinds) about editor behavior are the ones that impose blocks]). I am not optimistic about resolution being reached; I expect that the dispute will not die until enough editors remember that there are many other things they could be doing that are both more important and more fun. WhatamIdoing (talk) 04:07, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

What, I concur with just about everything you said, and I agree with Kim's position on consensus btw. I do apologize if my changes in what I propose have been a problem; but they do not stem from this page being quoted at me in the past, it is all in simply wanting to improve the language and not have it be all scary about punishment and sanctions if you happen to violate a policy or guideline. And I am glad that you and Equazcion (and you can throw me in too on your side) all agree in the most recent argument regarding the difference between policies and guidelines. I wont get involved in that argument as you and Equazcion are doing a good job together on the same side (makes me warm and fuzzy to see you two agree and be on the same side). As Ive stated before- all I want is for it to be clear that policies arent laws and all I have been fighting for is to make sure there isnt any language regarding that.Camelbinky (talk) 06:53, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
Agree with that summary. And I hope this comes out okay but I don't want to be on anybody's side except incidentally on particular points. I think the idea of sides is a bad one when the idea is to improve the page by forming a consensus. I feel I don't like getting involved in fights but I guess my action in having stayed on this talk page and fighting against blocking being in the leader argues against that. And yes it is strange the way a desire for emphasizing freedom to edit led to all that. I'm particularly happy the reference to the five pillars has been put in the leader so newbies can get a quick and friendly idea of principles rather than be stuck at this policy page or the list of policies. Dmcq (talk) 11:25, 3 November 2009 (UTC)

Policy is this, while guidelines are that

We seem to be back in a situation where the lead says: "Policies describe standards that all users should normally follow, while guidelines are primarily advisory." I explained (under "More reverts") why this is wrong (basically saying "A is X while B is Y" implies to the innocent reader that B is not X and A is not Y, which is certainly not that case here). Can we not go back to the compromise version that just says that "guidelines are considered more advisory than policies" or some such? --Kotniski (talk) 07:30, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

Or is there a better adjective we can use (policies are more X than guidelines; guidelines are more Y than policies - what word might be put in place of X or Y to make a helpful and true sentence?) If not, I'm inclined to leave the sentence out - any difference that exists is probably better gleaned from readers' intuitive understanding of the English words "policy" and "guideline" than through any glib sentence we might come up with to try to express it. (For now, though, I'm going to go back to the version suggested above, since there were no objections and I certainly believe it better than what we have now.)--Kotniski (talk) 09:06, 3 November 2009 (UTC)
You could try two separate declarative sentences, or replacing while with a semicolon. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:22, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Essays in user space vs WP space

A while back (like, years) my essay was moved from WP space to my name space. The reason given was that essays that only one editor tended to work on were being moved. Is that still how we're doing things? I'd prefer for it to be within WP space, as I don't object to other editors editing it, and it doesn't go against present consensus. Croctotheface (talk) 09:27, 2 November 2009 (UTC)

According to the policy as it's presently worded, if your last two claims are true, then it seems perfectly acceptable for it to be in WP space. (Personally I don't think we should have essays in WP space, but that's just me.)--Kotniski (talk) 09:37, 2 November 2009 (UTC)
Since Policies and Guidelines also happen to be essays per almost any definition you might want to use, does that mean you think they should be removed from WP space too? (this might actually be a good idea, mind you. That's why I'm asking. :-)) --Kim Bruning (talk) 05:27, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Ideally yes, and moved to Help: space, but that's another matter. But with essays, they should either be moved to user space, or left in project space and marked as guidelines or policies (after a temporary spell as proposals). Something either has the backing of the community or it doesn't.--Kotniski (talk) 09:26, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Proposals never (to some measure of statistical significance) have community backing. To this day I do not understand why people make them. It's some sort of strange superstition.
Putting an essay into $essay_space (currently Wikipedia:) is the correct procedure. Deciding which essays are more or less relevant is tricky, and I *still* dislike the policy/guideline/essay classification system.
Not putting essays into the essay space means that you cannot get essays into the essay space, and that means you cannot create new essays of any classification, be it policy/guideline/essay or other. <looks crosseyed>. --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:33, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Well that's where proposals come in, surely? If most proposals get rejected these days, that might be because people realize we've already got far too many pages of all descriptions in WP space, and we really don't want any more. But put forward something useful, in some obscure topic area that isn't yet covered, for example, and it may well be accepted. (I wish, though, that people who oppose instruction creep would be as enthusiastic about removing existing instructions as they are about suppressing new ones.)--Kotniski (talk) 16:14, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
AFAICR I have never written this "proposal" thing you speak of ;-) . Although people have on occasion mistakenly tagged things I have written as such. In those cases I always politely removed the offending tag.
I *have* written and/or contributed to pages that are currently considered policies, guidelines and essays, however. I tend not to have great amounts of difficulty doing so.
There is no mystery to this by the way, unless some strange fixation on "proposing" were to cloud your vision somehow. I just use the wiki.
Conversely, I have occasionally put "rejected" tags on pages that were being proposed. The pattern I have found is that it is usually safe to immediately reject a proposal >90% of the time. Redirecting the one tag to the other would not seriously hamper the wiki ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:01, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
You seem to imply that project space should be a kind of big graffiti wall - which might be fine in a way, but we are trying to write an encyclopedia here, and these meta-pages have to be directed towards that purpose. I see their purpose as serving (alongside those that we call "help" pages) as a user manual for the project. And a manual works better if it's kept reasonably compact and accurate - hence the community's desire to control and restrict what goes into the manual, while still allowing graffiti in a somewhat separate space.--Kotniski (talk) 07:23, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

Slight aside: User essays vs WP essays vs "See Also" links in P/G pages

Most policy and guideline pages have a list of additional policies, guidelines, and (in general) essays in WP space as further reading. I've seen some people balk at the inclusion of essays but I think if there's a reasonable acceptance of the essay contents it stays.

But what about user-space essays. For WP:N, we have long included User:Uncle G/On notability, but editors feel that it being in user-space makes it less relevant to the page than if it were a WP-space essay. Sure, all that would be needed would be for Uncle G to move the essay to WP space, but if that were the case, what's the difference? Does the essay magically gain more importance because of its location?

I do agree we need to watch for every editor and their brother creating user-space essays and dropping them into relevant pages as to prove their point. Essay inclusion, regardless of location, should be based on the quality of the advise/opinion, the "reputation" (for lack of a better term) of the primary author, and so forth. Inclusion should still be discussed on P/G talk pages, for certain, but I'm having a hard time with the idea of simply ignoring user-space essays just because they are in user-space. --MASEM (t) 15:06, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps we ought to maintain "official" lists of essays on particular subject areas, and link to those lists (a bit like we maintain the galleries of userboxes, not caring much whether they're in user space or template space or wherever). Anything particularly egregious can be removed from the list by consensus. The really useful essays, that we actually want to link to because they explain something well, should be polished and made into guidelines (or better, merged with existing guidelines or policies, since we already have far too many of those).--Kotniski (talk) 15:15, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

Policies, guidelines and essays get no magical importance from their location or from their tags. The only important thing is their usage. (Think of odd things like WP:SNOWBALL ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:35, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

I think part of the problem is that the definition of what an "Essay" is has become confused. A few "Essays" are well written, thought provoking examinations and explanations of the intent and history of a given policy/guideline... written by the editors who initially wrote the policy. Some reflect user opinions on how Wikipeida works (or should work). Most, however, are simply the text of failed policy/guideline proposals. Essentially, "Essay" has increasingly become a dumping ground for anything that did not make it to policy/guideline status. I think we may need to hold a project wide discussion of what an "Essay" should be... and then review all the existing essays based on whatever consenus emerges. Blueboar (talk) 15:40, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Kim, the point is not that pages have magical importance, but that we in the community (or relevant parts of it) know quite well how much importance they have, and the tagging or positioning is one of the ways in which we (attempt to) convey that information to others who don't know.--Kotniski (talk) 16:07, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Do we have a clear definition of what an "Essay" is (or is supposed to be)? Blueboar (talk) 16:24, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
I know this might sound rude and strange coming from me who likes to go on tangents, but this is the talk page for discussing improvements to the wording of this policy specifically. Perhaps this discussion on essays may want to be moved to a larger forum such as the Village Pump?Camelbinky (talk) 21:51, 4 November 2009 (UTC)
Well, this policy is also now the policy on essays, so it isn't completely off-topic...--Kotniski (talk) 07:17, 5 November 2009 (UTC)

An essay in WP space reflects an opinion, even a minority opinion, as long as that opinion is not in opposition to current practices, but rather complimentary or interpretive of them. I would say that if an essay has gained acceptance the way Uncle G's has, it should be moved into WP space; I would venture to guess he hasn't done this yet out of a sense of humility, which is probably demonstrative of what gave him his good reputation. When I write essays I put 'em right in WP space, because I tend to assume everyone will or should find them useful. Anyway that's my two cents. Equazcion (talk) 22:01, 4 Nov 2009 (UTC)

"...as long as that opinion is not in opposition to current practices, but rather complimentary or interpretive of them"... this is where I think the concept of "Essay" is fuzzy... I don't think many people make this distinction. A lot of "essays" are really failed attempts at policy change... reflecting a minority (sometimes a minority of one) view as to what the current practice should be rather than what it is. Now, I have no problem with someone ranting about what they think is wrong with Wikipedia on their user page, but I don't think these should be moved to "WP" space. This is why I think we need to reach a community wide consensus on what does and does not constitute an "essay" (and then do a review and clean out anything that does not meet what ever that consensus is... we can dub anything that does not meet the criteria as being "personal commentary" or some other term, and relegate that to user space.) Blueboar (talk) 17:34, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
I think whether a particular page is in WP space should ultimately depend on whether the community wants it to be there. And we should want it to be there if we think it helps the encyclopedia in some way. So with essays and so on, the standard should probably be whether it gives advice or inspiration to editors which is likely to be a help rather than a hindrance (of course these pages can be edited to make them less of a hindrance, if they have such issues; but we must remember that a page's very existence is a cost in itself, since it will distract people from other pages they'd be better off reading or work we'd like them to be doing).--Kotniski (talk) 18:05, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
I think that the existing practice -- write whatever you want, and if it really is a "minority of one", then someone will eventually move the page into your userspace -- is probably adequate.
Blueboar, if you want to review the existing essays and WP:RM those that you think represent anti-consensus views, then there's nothing stopping you... WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:03, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
That's my point... I don't think I could perform such a review... since there isn't a clearly stated community consensus of what an essay should and should not be to base such a review upon. Blueboar (talk) 20:39, 7 November 2009 (UTC)
That's true - I also don't think that "representing anti-consensus views" is the only reason for moving an essay away to user space. There must be a positive need for it to be here - either that it gives useful advice that isn't contained elsewhere, or it contains good prose that hammers a point home effectively, perhaps to new editors or some other type of editors specifically. If an essay is redundant to other pages, or incoherent, we should move it out simply in order to give more prominence to those essays which are considered valuable.--Kotniski (talk) 09:18, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Unlike (apparently) Blueboar, I believe that an essay that promotes a view that is directly contrary to current consensus is one (not: "only") valid reason to userify the essay. There may be other valid reasons, but IMO this is one reason, and I believe that Blueboar is capable of identifying at least the "low-hanging fruit" of essays whose userification is least likely to produce drama. WP:RM, rather than unilateral action, would probably be the correct method, as it is the method that is most likely to produce solid information about the community's reaction, both for the specific page in question and for the general case. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:47, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Sounds a good plan.--Kotniski (talk) 11:16, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

A project you might be interested in

Hi. I've recently initiated an informal WikiProject which will, in theory, help to support the Wikipedia community and its volunteers. I'm looking for a few people to help me get it off the ground, so feel free to join up! Regards, –Juliancolton | Talk 05:19, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

A noble idea, to rejuvinate us as we are now ;-) Dmcq (talk) 09:46, 4 November 2009 (UTC)

The policy template

How should the {{policy}} template be worded? Should there be a different wording for the few policies (legal type) to which the "occasional exception" wording doesn't seem appropriate? See the template's recent history for possible versions, and please join the discussion, which seems to be beginning at the template's talk page. --Kotniski (talk) 11:20, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

You can probably find exceptions to every policy... but I see no reason to say so in the template. Blueboar (talk) 14:14, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Lets see how many are special, if its only a few they can do something special. Putting on the template isn't what marks a page as a policy, being in Category:Wikipedia policies does. Dmcq (talk) 15:21, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Invitation to participate in SecurePoll feedback and workshop

Interested editors are invited to participate in the SecurePoll feedback and workshop. SecurePoll was recently used in the Audit Subcommittee election, and has been proposed for use for the upcoming Arbitration Committee election at this current request for comment (RFC). Your comments, suggestions and observations are welcome.

For the Arbitration Committee,
Dougweller (talk) 09:18, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Interview for Signpost

Excellent points from everyone; I propose we work on a Policy Report for Monday's Signpost. Feel free to edit mercilessly, and add anything you like. The basic goals are to let everyone know who's talking and something about where they stand in the arguments, in the hope that this entices readers to read the full discussion and add their opinions. Please use helpful edit summaries, but feel free not to sign, since this is intended as collaborative markup. - Dank (push to talk) 16:06, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

P.S. I'm removing the sentence about "keep it short", we can worry about that after everyone has had their say. These Signpost articles are usually going to be short-ish, but if you made an important point that you think will draw readers to this discussion, by all means add it to the summary below. - Dank (push to talk) 16:45, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
I'd no problems with you talking to yourself, lots of people do it ;-) Good idea and a thumbs up from me. Dmcq (talk) 23:10, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

There was vigorous discussion this week on how to classify policy pages at the Policies and guidelines talk page. In this discussion, Dank suggested that, over time, three things happen on most (but not all) policy pages: they eventually supersede other pages on the same topic, they lose material that doesn't have broad support, and they gain material that is helpful and informative. Dmcq distinguished "general principles" (such as WP:5P) from policies ("fairly specific but still based on principles") and guidelines ("very down to earth"). In the previous section, Kotniski would like to see less emphasis on ArbCom and enforceability in the analysis, and points out that pages generally get marked as policy because they contain some very important principle, even if not every statement on the page inherits this importance. WhatamIdoing thinks that "What would ArbCom do?" isn't a useful way to think about the content policies, since ArbCom avoids content issues. Blueboar adds that some pages that are currently marked as policy probably shouldn't be and points to WP:The rules are principles as a good essay on understanding policies and guidelines. Ohms law is "completely on board", but believes the discussion is still too "theoretical". Camelbinky stresses that policies are not always preemptive; that is, if somehow a clear consensus against current policy develops in discussions elsewhere, such as the village pump, then policy should be changed, no matter how fundamental the change.

A small change

The word "normally" was added this month (I haven't checked by whom, I just noticed while doing the Update) to: "Where a guideline appears to conflict with a policy, the policy normally takes precedence." I'd like to suggest: "Where a guideline appears to conflict with a policy, the policy takes precedence, if it is agreed that the current version of the policy page reflects actual practice." - Dank (push to talk) 15:33, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

I think it may have been me. The reason being that we don't know for sure that the policy page better represents actual accepted practice than the guideline page - it's just that experience shows that it will more often than not.--Kotniski (talk) 16:20, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
I would actually phrase it as following:
  • Where a guideline appears to conflict with a policy, attempts should be made to resolve the conflict. Editors should raise the issue on the talk pages of both the policy and guideline, pointing others to a centralized discussion. In such discussions, the consensus at the policy page should carry greater weight than the consensus at the guideline page.
I think something along these lines will get across the idea that policies take precidence without advocating a knee-jerk "No... the policy says X" attitude ... it allows for the possibility that a change in a guideline may inspire a change in policy. More importantly, it provides a mechanism for such a change to be discussed. Blueboar (talk) 16:08, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
Sure, that works for me. - Dank (push to talk) 16:13, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, this is the right idea, but I don't understand the last sentence - if there's a centralized discussion (which there certainly should be) then there won't be a "consensus at the policy page" and a "consensus at the guideline page", there will just be the one consensus (we hope) at whichever page the centralized discussion is taking place on. Or do you mean that if that centralized discussion fails to reach consensus, then a consensus previously reached at the policy page takes precendence over... ?--Kotniski (talk) 16:14, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
Sort of... I do mean that ties are broken in favor of the policy... but mostly I was simply trying to avoid the phrasing "takes precedence over" (which implies that the conflicting guideline is always "wrong" by default) and rephrase it in terms of something a bit more flexible (in terms of weight). Blueboar (talk) 16:41, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
I know this is late, but I agree with Blueboar and would add that in the case of WP:RS it is more specific and more "accurate" regarding our "policy" than the actual policy WP:V. I agree with the idea that should a guideline and policy conflict it should be rectified immediately but theorectically it probably would be in favor of the guideline (if the guideline was changed due to actual consensus, not one person's bold edit) basically because guidelines are more specific and likely to be changed quicker than the broader policies when there is a new consensus or new specific situation that requires documentation in a guideline that "this is the best way to rectify X situation". The idea of policies>guidelines may even need to be changed, and may be something Dank has already thought of in his recategorization plan; if not perhaps we should discuss whether policies>guidelines is really legit and how to distinguish their authority.Camelbinky (talk) 04:25, 26 November 2009 (UTC)

New classification

The point has been brought up at Template talk:Policy that the policy nutshell doesn't seem to apply to all the pages that are in the policy category. Similar points have been brought up on many policy pages for a long time. I'll try to pull together what I've seen. People start getting interested in labeling pages as policy when they meet some of these criteria, and I would argue that around 90% of the policy pages in the four policy subcats (see WP:Update/1#Category news for a list) meet all four criteria in general and most of the time. In general, policy pages are:

  • preemptive: they pull discussion into one place, and supercede other discussions they tend to supersede other pages on the same topic.
  • concise: they tend to be pared down over time to only the things that almost everyone agrees on, which makes them an efficient way to learn "just the facts".
  • helpful informative: they reveal community expectations, so that you don't have to guess, or learn the hard way.
  • and enforceable, that is, persuasive at ArbCom, and probably at ANI. I want to focus on this, because some policy pages don't seem to meet the above criteria, but for one reason or another, the principles on the page are probably going to matter in an ArbCom case. Examples:
  • WP:REUSE: it's come up at Template talk:Policy that the language in the policy nutshell doesn't apply here, "a widely accepted standard that all editors should normally follow." It's not meant for editors, it's for "for people who would like to use Wikipedia content in their own work". Still, legal action against editors misappropriating our content is going to be rare, but sanctions at ArbCom would be likely.
  • WP:LIBEL, WP:COPYRIGHT: likewise, sanctions would be likely at ArbCom if the case got to ArbCom and if you regularly abuse these policies. It's interesting that the LIBEL page still exists, because the community tends to discuss libel issues at WP:BLP rather than WP:LIBEL; I think the reason is that BLP is complicated, and some people want to have a short, simple statement of the legal principle to point to. But this means that LIBEL doesn't meet the "preemptive" or "informative" criteria above, which is probably why no one has added it to one of the policy subcats. (Well, that's a small lie, it's in Category:Wikipedia legal policies, along with WP:NLT and WP:OFFICE, but that's not a very helpful subcat.)
  • Some of the policy pages in Category:Wikipedia enforcement policies rarely get edited, probably because they involve technical, legal, or Foundation issues. WP:PROXY, for instance, involves difficult technical issues, so it rarely gets edited and I don't think you could describe it as the consensus of the community when most of us don't understand or care a lot about the issues; but if an admin decided on their own that all open proxies are bad or all open proxies are good and blocked or unblocked accordingly, things wouldn't go well for them if their case wound up at ArbCom.
  • Jimmy Wales recently "declared" a new policy involving PAID editing (see discussion there), and since he feels strongly about it, and since there's support on the general principle (although no consensus on the details yet), his declaration is likely to be persuasive at ArbCom. But what does it mean to "declare" a policy, if policy pages are intended to be preemptive, concise and informative? A declaration doesn't preempt discussion elsewhere, it hasn't been pared down to the essentials (yet), and by definition, it represents one opinion rather than wide consensus.
  • WP:5P is like policy in some ways: it's short, readable, and very influential. But it has been marked as a principle rather than policy, and the other principles that it's grouped with seem to be expressions of the Foundation and Jimmy Wales. It's not preemptive; I'd go to NPOV if I wanted to know about NPOV, not 5P. And it's not informative, in the sense of telling us what the community has been thinking about NPOV.
  • Wikipedia:Arbitration/Policy: the nutshell says "This page documents the operating rules adopted by English Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee. It should not be edited without considerable forethought and consensus among Committee members." So it can't represent community consensus, but it's clearly policy in the sense that you'll be in trouble at ArbCom if you ignore it.

These pages are all different, but rather than treating them all differently, I'm proposing that we replace Category:Wikipedia legal policies with a policy subcat for pages that aren't preemptive, concise and informative like other policy pages, but would be persuasive at ArbCom (and presumably at ANI and elsewhere, but that's harder to predict). - Dank (push to talk) 16:16, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

P.S. One possibility for the new subcat would be an old subcat, "Wikipedia enforcement policy", if we re-interpret that as policies that are more relevant to enforcement than other purposes. About half the policies currently in that subcat would stay, I think, but WP:ADMIN, WP:BAN, WP:BLOCK, WP:BOTPOL and WP:PROTECT all strike me as largely preemptive, concise and informative, and would move over to the conduct subcat. - Dank (push to talk) 17:10, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Haven't analysed all the above in detail yet, but it's good to see someone thinking about these things. I'm not sure there should be so much emphasis on ArbCom though - it makes policies seem too much like laws, which I don't think even ArbCom would agree with. (Frankly I think everything that is in any way prescriptive about our behavioural norms could be put onto just one page - everything else would be guidelines or essays serving to better explain what those norms mean - that's what most "policy" pages now do in any case.)--Kotniski (talk) 18:54, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
"What would ArbCom do?" is a very useful touchstone for behavior issues; it is nearly worthless for content issues. A definition of "policy" needs to fit WP:V just as much as WP:EW. I'm convinced that any proposal to declare WP:V isn't a policy on the grounds that there's no "enforcement" will be met with hoots of derision. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:08, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
Excellent point. - Dank (push to talk) 19:23, 12 November 2009 (UTC)
True, but if only we could persuade people that not every important page of principles needs to be called by the same name... (WP seems to have adopted the supersition that anything important has to be called by the single term "policy" otherwise it isn't important any more.)--Kotniski (talk) 21:49, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

Having read Dank's analysis, it looks very sound (apart from the overemphasis of ArbCom that has been mentioned, but in relation to these pages maybe it's not a problem), and I'd agree with the creation of the new subcategory as proposed (though I don't know what it should be called). I'd also like to see different {{policy}} templates for pages in the different subcats - no harm in giving people a little more information about the purpose of the page, like we do with guidelines (style guidelines, content etc.)--Kotniski (talk) 11:13, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

I've been essentially prompted to reply here from a posting on VP (policy), so here I am... I'm seriously in the "undecided" camp on this issue. A part of me wants to completely reject the ideology here, and a part of me wants to accept it. let's just say that being seriously torn on this issue is "uncomfortable" and leave it at that. With that in mind, anyone with a pitch and eloquent statement either in supoprt or opposition to this should speak up forthwith!
V = I * R (talk to Ω) 13:04, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
What do you see as ideological in this? We're talking about rearranging some categories, right?--Kotniski (talk) 13:31, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Right... "Political" would likely be a much more appropriate word choice, here. :)
V = I * R (talk to Ω) 17:53, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
On having different templates (plural) ... I agree that the pages I've picked out don't have a lot in common with each other, and that suggests the templates should be different. OTOH, it's important to keep in mind that we're not really sorting things into boxes ... they've already been sorted, that is, the community already has an idea what these pages are good for, and we're trying our best not to get in the way of those processes. Too much structure too fast is a bad idea; I think it's better to try just one distinction, one new category, and see if the general discomfort level (the sense that policies are being forced to be something they're not) goes down. If it does, then our job is done; if not, then maybe some finer distinction needs to be drawn. - Dank (push to talk) 13:43, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Regarding "too much emphasis on ArbCom", I'm looking for a general notion of "If you don't do this, you could get into trouble". We could replace ArbCom by "ANI" if you like, I'm not trying to make any assertion about ArbCom. The problem with saying ANI is that results vary widely at ANI, and also, it's easy to get into some kind of trouble at ANI for relatively minor violations, so ANI might not be the best way to distinguish policy from not-policy. - Dank (push to talk) 16:58, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

Does everyone agree that what seems to distinguish policy from not-policy is that going against policy is more likely to get you into trouble of some kind? Can we also agree that there are a number of pages that are marked as policy and should be marked as policy, but for one reason or another, they haven't gotten as much attention from the community as most policy pages? Can we also agree that, so far, no one has cared much whether a policy page is in the conduct or enforcement subcat? If we can agree on those 3 things, then we can probably start moving policy pages that are "not like the others" to the enforcement subcat without causing too much of a fuss, and then we can try to generate more discussion about the differences between those pages. - Dank (push to talk) 17:11, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree with most of what you say... but am not sure what you are referring to with: "Can we also agree that there are a number of pages that are marked as policy and should be marked as policy, but for one reason or another, they haven't gotten as much attention from the community as most policy pages?" I suppose this could be true... but there are also some pages marked as policy that probably shouldn't be.
That said, I do see a difference between a content policies like WP:V, WP:NOR, and WP:NPOV... and behind the scenes "how we opperate" policies like Wikipedia:Arbitration/Policy. Blueboar (talk) 17:22, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Agreed that there are pages marked as policy that probably shouldn't be. I'm trying to make the question simple enough so that we get agreement on some kind of non-intrusive, non-autocratic first step. Once we've got a place to put the pages where someone has raised a question about policy status or the nature of the policy page, then it will be easier to start contrasting and comparing. And really ... I don't care what the ultimate result is, on any of these pages. I'm not sure if I have an agenda here, but if I do have one, it's to characterize policy pages as (more or less) preemptive, concise, informative and enforceable. There are policy pages that definitely aren't some of those things, and to the extent we lump them in with all the other policy pages, they tend to muddy the water. - Dank (push to talk) 17:48, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Personally, I'm completely on board with the thinking here. There should be some (carefully crafted) distinctions drawn between certain documents. I think that part of the problem here is that we're all being slightly too "theoretical". There are people, I'm sure, who are completely against adding extra classifications of policy for various reasons (some reasons that I likely agree with, actually), but... we need a concrete proposal to support or oppose, I think. There's just too much that changes on a case by case basis to offer a firm "!vote" to the more general question currently offered here.
V = I * R (talk to Ω) 17:58, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Also... this sounds like something that should be discussed at a community level, and at a relatively unwatched policy page. Suggest that this discussion get moved to the Village Pump (a link to this discussion has already been posted there... but I think the discussion should take place there and not here.) Blueboar (talk) 19:12, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
If someone else wants to make a post there, great. If not, I'll do it. - Dank (push to talk) 19:24, 13 November 2009 (UTC)
Can Dank, or anyone else, explain further what the first bullet point means? I dont know if I quite understand the part that the are "preemptive" and pull in discussion from other places and supercedes them... does this mean that a talk page discussion at a policy supercedes a similar discussion at the Village Pump? It was my understanding that generally its the other way around as the VP is a wider forum. I'm a bit uncomfortable as this does seem to be awfully close to "policies are laws" and "enforced as such", which I just got done successfully removing such language.Camelbinky (talk) 00:44, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
WP:V would be useless if someone could say, "Well, we had a conversation on VPP the other night and we agreed that self-published sources are reliable, so that's what I'm going with." No, I'm not saying that policy is law. - Dank (push to talk) 03:34, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Ah, ok, the policy supercedes discussions at other locations, I misunderstood and thought it was referring to the talk page of the policy superceding other locations. But your example does lead me to a wider question- if somehow the community had a clear consensus at the VPP that self-published sources are reliable then WP:V would have to then be changed to reflect that policy, is that correct? Im working under the understanding that unless something is required to be done (or not done) by some national law anything else can be changed according to the consensus of the Community, even if it abandons the actual purpose of the encyclopedia (in this hypothetical let us assume that Jimbo and the Foundation goes along with the new consensus because we drugged them, no matter how ridiculous the proposal, eg- you can start putting in your own original research as long as you show the synth and how you reached your OR conclusions).Camelbinky (talk) 06:13, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
By the way, if any of this comes to be written up, it's "supersede" with an "s".--Kotniski (talk) 10:33, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Ack you're right, AP Stylebook prefers "supersede", although merriam-webster.com says: "usage Supercede has occurred as a spelling variant of supersede since the 17th century, and it is common in current published writing." - Dank (push to talk) 12:45, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Does everyone agree that what seems to distinguish policy from not-policy is that going against policy is more likely to get you into trouble of some kind? No, I don't agree with this - at least, not with the present distribution of policy tags. Maybe it should be the case - then at least "policy" would mean something. I know from previous discussions, though, that there is no generally accepted and sustainable distinction between policy and non-policy at the moment (at least between policy and guidelines, and then between guidelines and essays similarly). --Kotniski (talk) 10:40, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

If by 'trouble' you mean other editors might complain and an edit might be considered disruptive I guess that is correct. WP:V is very definitely a policy but people violate it all the time without getting into any real trouble. It is enforceable though, if an editor keeps trying to stick something in that violates WP:V they'll eventually end up being banned for disruption. I think the first line of this policy "Wikipedia policies and guidelines are developed by the community to describe best practice, clarify principles, resolve conflicts, and otherwise further our goal of creating a free, reliable encyclopedia." sums it up much better. It strikes me like saying that one will get sick if one doesn't eat the correct food rather than that one should eat a good diet. Most editors are interested in advice on getting along with others and doing things better and the rest are mainly for administrators dealing with any problems. Dmcq (talk) 11:51, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

I agree that we should be emphasizing the positive (policies are for telling people how to do things well, not for threatening them with "trouble" if they don't do certain things). But the line you quote makes no distinction between policy and guidelines, so if Dank was thinking of guidelines as being in the "not-policy" class, then it doesn't help answer the question. Also the point about WP:V being enforceable is not really connected with its being a policy - people will be banned for keep sticking something in regardless of whether that something violates some policy or a guideline or is simply anti-consensus. Policies are just a pretty accurate guide as to what the consensus in a given situation is likely to be.--Kotniski (talk) 12:09, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

By the way the discalimers in Category:Wikipedia_disclaimers is under legal policy but they have no policy marker. Would one count them as policy? They seem a bit more like WP:REUSE Dmcq (talk) 13:50, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

My 2 cents... Policies are essentially community created "rules" that we all agree should be followed (keeping in mind that there are always exceptions to any rule... and that WP:IAR is a Policy). Guidelines are "advice", (often focused on specific aspects of Policy). Neither Policies nor Guidelines should be seen as "Laws" that must be followed blindly. A good statement on all of this is the essay: Wikipedia:The rules are principles Blueboar (talk) 14:17, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Maybe this would be a good distinction to make between policies and guidelines, but I don't see that it can be claimed to be true at present - at least, the boundary between them is so blurred as to make the distinction meaningless (policies themselves consist mainly of advice of the same kind as you get in guideline pages - and guidelines often contain rules that most in the community would expect to be followed).--Kotniski (talk) 14:32, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't have to be a very easy distinction, consensus is enough. Not all dogs have four legs and I recently saw a video linked from a reference desk of a cow with six legs. Dmcq (talk) 14:39, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Basically I think a policy is a guideline that is felt (or at some point in history was felt) to need a label emphasizing its importance. This importance might derive from its being about a fundamental principle for WP's content, or something key to the way WP is organized or controlled, or something of legal importance, or something that causes bitter disputes that need to be settled decisively (deletion, blocking, BLP...) However this importance generally isn't inherited by all the statements in the policy - only some underlying principle or certain rules actually have this characteristic, and most of the text of a policy page is of the same kind as the text of a guideline. What would make sense to me would be to separate the really important things off onto one page that really could be called policy, and designate all the descriptive pages we have at present as guidelines.--Kotniski (talk) 14:47, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Does everyone agree that what seems to distinguish policy from not-policy is that going against policy is more likely to get you into trouble of some kind?
No. This is completely wrong. Violating behavioral pages results in sanctions. Violating non-behavioral pages does not. WP:Tendentious editing is just a little essay -- and it is cited in blocks and community bans. Non-behavioral pages, e.g., WP:Deletion policy, are almost never the basis of any kind of sanctions, even if they are policies. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:57, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

Non-arbitrary break

The following bits seemed to get more support than what's above, so inserting a break here. - Dank (push to talk) 22:56, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Everyone's comments have been very helpful. There's disagreement over discussion about enforcement in general and ArbCom in particular ... we can leave all that out as long as we're talking about differences among policies, rather than the difference between policy and not-policy. I want to disagree with the idea that we should demote a lot of policy pages, Kotniski, and this is really my main point. I think there's lots of evidence that, when people consider a page to be authoritative in some sense, various good things start happening:
preemptive: Conversations that used to happen all over the place with no real cohesiveness start happening in the same place at the same time. And when there's something to win or lose, that is, when what the policy page says actually matters, there's a gradual shift in the direction of conversations where people engage with each other rather than making their favorite points and walking away.
concise: If someone complains about one of your edits, points to a policy page, and successfully reverts you, that gives you a strong incentive to go argue your case at the policy page. In practice, I think this is the main difference between pages that are marked as policy and pages that are marked as guidelines ... guidelines are supposed to be "usually" followed, so most people who are reverted for "violating" a guideline just make the case that the guideline doesn't apply in this case, rather than trying to change the guideline. If you're reverted for a policy "violation", and if your edit really did violate the policy, you're stuck; you probably have to at least try to make the case for tweaking the policy if you want to keep your edit. So, policy talk pages get wave after wave of people saying that they want to do something the policy page won't let them do ... and a lot of times, we're happy to keep the policy the way it is, but the effect of this constant onslaught is to erode the policy page over time down to just those things that pretty much everyone can agree on.
informative: In the stereotypical corporate culture, there are plenty of rules that you have to be careful not to break, but the written rules generally hurt you, they don't help you. If you want to learn how to get ahead, how to get things done, you have to hang out at the water cooler and make friends and get people to share secrets. Policy pages speak the unspoken rules of our corporate culture. I'm not sure why people are willing to be more open about these things on en.wikipedia ... although I would guess it has something to do with this being a volunteer culture and the fact that there's not a lot to lose for being honest or provocative ... but I'm happy about it.
So, these are all good things that can happen on policy pages, and my main problem with the pages I mentioned that are marked as policy but don't fit this model is that they tend to give people a wrong idea of what policy pages are and how they usually work. - Dank (push to talk) 16:02, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Well yes, I agree with most of that, but you still seem to be speaking about the difference between policy and guidelines as something that is, rather than something that might be. My experience is that guidelines work in the same way you describe policy as working - if you're reverted and pointed to the manual of style, for example, you go there and either accept what it says, or argue for a change to MoS. The only difference is that MoS talks about things that people tend to attach less importance to, like commas and hyphens, rather than the fundamental things like verifiability or the "hot topics" like deletion. --Kotniski (talk) 16:17, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Agree with Dank, I like them to be helpful. I think the current distinction between a policy and the guidelines is of level and is a reasonable one. The 5P are pretty much pure general principles, the policies are fairly specific but still based on principles, and the guidelines are very down to earth. Sometimes guideline type specifics are included in a policy if there's not much elaboration needed. For instance the policy WP:V talks about verifiability being a requirement and the guideline WP:RS says PhD dissertations are in general acceptable. Dmcq (talk) 16:21, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, that's true, guidelines tend to have a finer level of detail. (But that's a different distinction than the one Dank was asserting.)--Kotniski (talk) 16:28, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
(to Dmcq) I'm fine with that hierarchy if everyone else is, that is, we use that "principles" label at the bottom of WP:5P to cover pages that the community generally tends to see as "inviolable", short statements of principle. (Is this a problem, Camelbinky?) Would WP:LIBEL be a "principle" corresponding to the policy page WP:BLP, or would it be better to keep LIBEL as policy and segregate it in the enforcement cat? - Dank (push to talk) 16:50, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
Agreed with both of you. What I'm seeing in the discussion as a whole is that "policy vs. not-policy" is really subtle and there's a lot to say about it; I don't see any serious disagreement on the point that some policy pages are not so much like other policy pages for one reason or another, so personally, I'm going to drop the subject for the moment of "What is policy?" and focus on "Which policy pages are different and, as a first step, what subcat do we put them in as a way of inviting more discussion?" Blueboar pointed out that this step should get wider discussion, so if we get some kind of agreement here (and that looks likely at the moment, but the Signpost article might stir something up), then we should present our main points at WP:VPP and have an RfC. - Dank (push to talk) 16:41, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
To Dank- The only "principles" or policies etc that are "inviolable" are those anyone whether or working on Wikipedia or not would have to follow because they are actually laws (as in statutes created by a real government and therefore any change in policy that went against an actual law would get us in legal trouble); as in my hypothetical there is no reason NPOV or NOR must always exist, obviously they always will no one will really ever get rid of them because all of us have the same goal here. I wouldnt be opposed to the principles label being spread around to answer your question. I would like to clear up a misconception that was stated- it is a fact that policies are not more specific explanations of the 5P as if they were written to "explain" the 5P as guidelines truly are written to explain specific things for policies, the fact is that it is the other way around, the 5P are a summary of policies (WP:Trifecta is an older version and one both I and User:Kim Bruning among many others prefer to quote and use than the 5P) no where is it codified that policies must stay within the limits of the 5P. In a hierachy and restructuring I hope 5P keeps its place as a useful summary and nothing more as it was intended when created, simply a one stop shopping place to see what Wikipedia is about for newbies (much like the perennial new welcoming templates users create to welcome new users, which is pretty much why the user who made the 5P created the 5P). Principles should be definitely defined as non-binding summaries of "binding" (for a lack of a better word) policies.

Regarding policy/guideline differences we must remember that some guidelines are in fact more restrictive and actually overriding of the policies they represent, such as style guidelines and naming convention guidelines on specific things. RS, probably the most well known guideline in WP is actually when it comes down to pretty much equal in importance to WP:V which is its "mother policy".

If we need to categorize policies in a hierarchy then perhaps- 1- "rules" that exist because they are telling us requirements we have to obey not because we want to but because the US (or another country's) laws tell us we must (such as policies regarding copyright, libel, etc). 2- "rules" that realistically no one will ever get rid of because we all agree that we are working on a respectable encyclopedia (NOR, NPOV, V). 3- "rules" that may get changed and that only exist because consensus right now says they are, especially things that used to be allowed/not allowed but are now opposite (as an example from the Village pump- spoiler warnings used to be allowed and encouraged, today they arent, next year they could again, there's no inherent reason one way or another). 4- essays of great importance, and probably shouldnt limit it to just those in WP space but also user space as well (Uncle G's many essays are in user space but everyone treats them as semi-binding).

Obviously there may need to be more than those 4 very broad categories in order to categorize those in-between things like category 2 and 3.Camelbinky (talk) 19:31, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

That sounds quite sensible, though we must remember that we don't have one rule per page. This is a problem with the present system too - we've got used to categorizing based on properties which we say adhere to the page as a whole, whereas they are really properties of statements on the page (and a page usually contains a mixture of statements with various of the properties).--Kotniski (talk) 20:07, 14 November 2009 (UTC)
I completely agree Kotniski, however that would mean... a complete and utter overhaul of our entire system of policies/guidelines/principles/essays/etc involving rewritting and splitting of policy pages. Even if the four or five of us in this discussion could all agree on how to do it and then do it, do we think the rest of the community would go along with a handful of us doing that? To draw in too many "chefs in the kitchen" to get a broader coalition would not be helpful either because then there would be dissenters on how to split them up and categorize them. Are we biting off too much and this will end up being a theoretical exercise on our part?Camelbinky (talk) 01:29, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
We could get a lot done with a very minimal change, just sliding policy pages in and out of the enforcement cat. I've changed the subcats on policy pages many times, and asked if people cared, and they never did. - Dank (push to talk) 03:30, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
It is true per WP:SILENCE that if no one comments in opposition you can interpret "silence" on the matter as implicit agreement towards your actions (of course there's always those who never read wp:silence and dont comment until you change something and then they get all pissy you changed it). So are we pretty much in agreement that we should set up a hierarchy and new category system for policies/guidelines etc, and that once it is set up we start tagging the pages, and worry only about complaints once they should happen.Camelbinky (talk) 21:42, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
My call would be: start small, and see if what we do helps or hurts, you never know until you see the reaction. WP:REUSE, WP:PROXY, and Wikipedia:Arbitration/Policy are documents currently marked as policy that aren't like other policy pages in some ways, but just demoting them probably wouldn't be the right thing to do, and definitely would cause a fuss. Is it time to ask at WP:VPP if anyone minds if we move them to the enforcement subcat? Should we add similar pages in the policy cat to the list, or just start with a few? - Dank (push to talk) 21:25, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
I'd leave them in the Category:Policy but put them in the other category as well. Then Category:Wikipedia policies and guidelines could group things by the various subcategories but Category:Policy would register that they actually have gone through the process of consensus to marke them,as policy. Dmcq (talk) 21:40, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes, sorry, that's what I meant ... leave them in the policy cat, add the enforcement subcat, and take away the conduct, content or deletion subcat if they're in one of those subcats. - Dank (push to talk) 21:50, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
(e-c)I wouldnt have WP:Arbitration/Poicy marked as being in the policy cat, its not a policy, it is the description of the operating method of ArbCom, has nothing to do with actual editing of Wikipedia and doesnt apply to real editors. WP:REUSE similarly only applies to reusing Wikipedia (eg- mirror sites) and again doesnt affect any editors work on Wikipedia. Those two would be perfect for the "enforcement policy" subcat though. I've never read WP:PROXY so wont comment on it. Since the enforcement category Dank is proposing does use the words "enforcement policy" policy is more than implied so I would recommend not overtagging by having redundant cats all mentioning policy on the same page. I agree with Dmcq's basic idea, but wouldnt tag the pages directly into each cat, they can be part of one (or two) cats and then those cats be themselves under the larger cat. I do worry about Wikipedia's over use of cat tagging in general. Cats should be more in line with a family tree and less as a directed acyclic graph. WP:DUPCAT covers not tagging with the "parent" cat if their is a more specific subcat (but you can also put a "sister" tag on). (I've created more than two dozen subcats and cats, so have much experience in this field).Camelbinky (talk) 22:01, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't know if Policies have to relate to editing... a Policy that tells administrators what to do is still a policy. I would handle this by dividing our Policies and guidelines into the following broad types:
  1. Legal Policies/Guidelines (ie Policies and Guidelines that relate to the LAW... such as WP:COPY)
  2. Administration related Policies/Guidelines (ie those polices and guidelines that deal with who becoems an admin and how, commitees, and all the "behind the scenes" stuff)
  3. Editing related Policies/Guidelines (broken further into Content Policies, Behavioral Policies, and any other sub-class that people think are needed)
  4. Other (anything that consensus agrees should have "Policy/Guideline Level status, but does not fit in the above types.
This division by type could be indicated through categorizations, by adding appropriately worded tags, and/or in some other way. Blueboar (talk) 23:35, 15 November 2009 (UTC)
The nutshell for this policy implies its only about editing which is wrong. Kotniski has set up a classification in WP:List of policies and guidelines which seems fairly reasonable to me. There doesn't seem much point in distinguishing between policies and guidelines in the topic categories. Dmcq (talk) 04:30, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
Just remember not to tag with both a "daughter" specific type of policy category and the "parent" policy category, the policy category would be redundant and against wp:DUPCAT.Camelbinky (talk) 06:31, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
Classification by policy or guideline would be independent of classification by topic if Kotniski's scheme is followed. You'd mostly be able to just take the guidelines scheme over and just populate with some policies and principles as well. It would blur the distinction between policies and guidelines a bit except that policies would still be categorized in Category:Wikipedia policies. I'm not sure what one would do about Category:Wikipedia guidelines, I'd go for having it act like the policy category but one could just delete it. Dmcq (talk) 10:58, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
(to CB) Category:Wikipedia policies doesn't have any subcats; the cats that I'm calling "policy subcats" are actually subcats of Category:Wikipedia policies and guidelines. You could argue that Category:Wikipedia enforcement policies is kind of like a subcat of Category:Wikipedia policies, but imposing structure only works when there's a good chance we can do it however we want to do it. The odds are against that, and nothing's worse than coming up with a new organizational scheme and only being able to get it half done because of resistance. Other than the cats or subcats that really need to be changed and that we can get support for at VPP, it would be better to leave things alone. And even if broader changes are needed, it would be better to do them one small, self-consistent step at a time, because you never know when people are going to say "no", and if you're only half-finished when they say "no", then you've got a mess. - Dank (push to talk) 13:20, 16 November 2009 (UTC)
Very true Dank, you are wise, one step at a time. Is it possible to see a preliminary listing of some policies that would fall in each category or is it too soon to have something like that listed here? I think it may be beneficial for us to see a broad representation of several specific policies falling under the different cats.Camelbinky (talk) 22:42, 16 November 2009 (UTC)

list of pages

Per comments, refactoring using "legal policy" and "administrative policy" rather than "enforcement policy" - Dank (push to talk) 21:15, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

I don't expect us to take any action without something happening at VPP and an RFC, and the Signpost pointer to this discussion should come out today; I'm just inviting discussion for now. I hope we can put off discussion of pages that aren't currently in Category:Wikipedia policies for a little while; we've got plenty to think about without considering promoting pages, and that's likely to be contentious in general. To recap: I'm we're talking about adding either Category:Wikipedia legal policies or a new Category:Wikipedia administrative policies to the following pages, and removing them from the conduct or enforcement subcat if applicable. [Deleting reference to using enforcement subcat as the placeholder for these.] I'm not giving any thought to whether these pages should be removed from the policy cat, partly because the lack of activity makes that a hard call, partly because the discussion above suggests that we don't have anything close to consensus on how to make that call in general, but mostly because it's obvious that most of these pages are all useful in their own ways. I'm just picking out policy pages where I don't see evidence of the kind of community involvement that has automagically made the pages progressively more preemptive, concise and informative over 2008 and 2009.

[Changing the order of the list per Blueboar, below]: For Category:Wikipedia legal policies:

For Category:Wikipedia administrative policies:

This leaves five (maybe seven) special cases:

  • WP:Attack page: essentially unchanged over 2008 and 2009, and these issues are almost always discussed at WT:CSD. However, this page is in the deletion subcat, and that seems like a more reasonable subcat than either legal or administrative; but leaving this in the deletion subcat would miss the point. We're trying to group the policy pages that have had substantial community input into the conduct, content and deletion subcats, and this page doesn't qualify. Perhaps the content could be merged into WP:CSD ... which is where these things tend to be discussed, anyway.
  • WP:IAR: A single sentence; a pure statement of principle that has remained essentially unchanged. There's been a lot of discussion on the talk page, but that discussion has translated into changes elsewhere, not on this page. I like Blueboar's suggestion because I think it's the one most likely to get consensus: mark it as both a content policy (since that's where IAR has the most effect) and as a principle, similar to WP:5P.
  • WP:Wikipedia is not a dictionary doesn't see much action, and those issues tend to be discussed more at WT:NOT, but there's been some discussion about how the page might become more active over time, so I'm in favor of leaving it alone for now.
  • WP:Copyright violations and WP:Copyrights: I'd prefer to let Moonriddengirl, MLauba and others who have followed the page closely classify these in whatever way works best for them.
  • WP:NFCC and possibly WP:IUP: On second thought, these pages have a number of things in common with the proposed legal and administrative pages. They have many more edits and much more discussion than most of these pages, but OTOH, the net result of all those edits has been surprisingly little change. Possibly that's because the Foundation issues and legal issues are so pervasive that the pages tend to resist change. My gut feeling at the moment is to wait until we see how the discussion at VPP plays out; if people see one of the main goals as grouping together the pages that intersect Foundation and legal issues, then either or both of these pages might wind up in the legal or administrative subcat. Both these pages are already in Category:Wikipedia copyright.

Sorry for the wall of text, but as we mentioned above, if you start this process, get it half-finished, and then people say "no", then what you've got is worse than what you had before. So if we're going to add the enforcement subcat legal and administrative subcats to some policy pages, we should add it to all the pages that apply. - Dank (push to talk) 15:52, 17 November 2009 (UTC) <tweaked 21:15, 17 November 2009 (UTC)> <tweaked the list 15:37, 19 November 2009 (UTC)>

The title Category:Wikipedia enforcement policies is confusing to me... I am not sure I understand what it means or how all of these things fit into it. Using your list... I would categorize them as follows:
I might have placed some of these in the wrong category (as I have not looked at all of them)... but I think you can get the general idea. As for WP:IAR... I agree that it is unique... but I would categorize it primarily as a "Content policy", as it is usually invoked to justify ignoring Content policies like WP:V, WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, etc. Blueboar (talk) 16:42, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
That might be the best way to go. The reason I selected "enforcement" was because I couldn't think of any other word that might justifiably be applied to all these pages; the pages don't have anything that's common to all of them, other than the failure to generate vigorous community input over the last two years ... and I didn't want to make our job more complicated by having to discuss exactly which subcats each of these pages belongs to. But your approach is better if we can actually get the categorization done without derailing the whole thing. I like your subcats. - Dank (push to talk) 17:08, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
I also think that the "enforcement policy" name is a little opaque. Blueboar's suggestions may be better. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:50, 17 November 2009 (UTC)
Thank you Dank for taking time to set up that list, it does help me (and I hope others) to see actual policies in the different categories all together instead of us talking abstractly and occasionally mentioning a policy by name. I completely agree IAR is unique and I think this could be the policy that hinders this project the most... IAR really cant be messed with, Jimbo actually stepped in and edited to return it to its original meaning and declared "it has always existed", as long as Jimbo is still active I think its pretty much impossible to mess with it. I would say we need to solve the problem IAR poses, IAR more than most policies (or more than ANY policy, IMO) brings out intense emotions of "love it" or "hate it".Camelbinky (talk) 03:33, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. Does anyone want to make a post at VPP? - Dank (push to talk) 14:56, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
One comment, to keep in mind when sorting and classifying policy (and guideline) pages by categorization ... some policy pages may fall into more than one category. For example, I think we could categorize IAR under something like "cat:Core Principles" as well as "cat:Content Policy". We should not try to force policies into only one cat. Blueboar (talk) 15:20, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
No objection here, and that might be a good way to avoid controversy. - Dank (push to talk) 15:42, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

←Hi. Dank invited me to participate. I think clarifying the nature of policy pages is a good idea, and I'm all for indicating that the purpose of the copyright policies is legal. I would support adding those to Category:Wikipedia legal policies. I think the tag comfortably applies to all of the policies listed above: WP:Text of Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, WP:Text of the GNU Free Documentation License, Wikipedia:Copyright violations, Wikipedia:Copyrights, Wikipedia:Privacy policy, Wikipedia:Terms of use and Wikipedia:Reusing Wikipedia content. Wikipedia:Libel seems, appropriately, already there. :) (I have to note, though, that some changes are implemented following discussion at talk pages (see conversation on massive infringers at WT:CV), it is all in the service of keeping Wikipedia well within the US law that governs us. It may be that Wikipedia:Copyright violations somewhat straddles the line, as it is Wikipedia's policies for dealing with contributions that violate Wikipedia:Copyrights.) Wikipedia:No legal threats isn't an entirely comfortable fit, in my opinion, even though it too is already in the category. It isn't actually against the law to issue a legal threat, so the policy doesn't exist to keep us compliant with law. It exists to keep the environment productive and harmonious, somewhat like Wikipedia:Civility. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 15:34, 18 November 2009 (UTC)

Responding to MRG and MLauba from MRG's talk page: what I'm trying to do is to take no position on whether pages should or shouldn't be policy or why; I'm only trying to distinguish between pages that get a lot of changes as a result of community debate and those that don't. I suspect the reason WP:Copyright violations hasn't changed much in two years (except to add short descriptions of the impact of the CC-BY-SA page, WP:DCM and WP:CCI) is that people think that the page is fine like it is and/or that copyright questions are too technical and/or legal to screw around with. I would argue that the fact that the big changes have occurred on those other three pages is evidence that WP:Copyright violations itself is fairly stable, and so would be better in the legal subcat. WP:Copyrights is a tougher call. The page comes across as legal and therefore has a "hands off" feel, but OTOH, the page has seen a lot of changes this year. I'd be happy to follow your recommendations on that one. - Dank (push to talk) 18:53, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Regarding WP:No legal threats, the only significant change in 2008 and 2009 has been the addition of WP:NLT#Perceived legal threats, and if you take out that new section, then I see WP:NLT as an appropriate candidate for either the administrative or legal subcat, because it hasn't changed and arguably shouldn't change significantly ... that is, the lawyers think that people should be blocked if they're making actual legal threats, whether they or the community understands the reasoning or not. But the new section would fit comfortably in WP:CIVILITY or WP:HARASSMENT; I'd vote for the latter. - Dank (push to talk) 20:26, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
I've now made that suggestion at Wikipedia_talk:NLT#Moving_one_section. - Dank (push to talk) 21:58, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm probably overly dense but I don't get your classification method based on # of edits over time. If I understood what this is about, there is a certain limited set of policies which are, in essence, pretty much set in stone and not up for consensus-based evolution. The copyright policies, NFCC and WP:LIBEL because they are tied to matters of law, Foundation policy and other components which could be understood as, for want of a better term, the Foundation's Terms of Use towards the Wikipedia community. WP:IAR is similar in the sense that the founder has decreed it immuable, although in practice, there will never be a case where WP:IAR will allowed to stand against a WP:C dictated action.
In that same vein, the text of the GFDL and CC-BY-SA are not subject to community editing, as they are a verbatim reproduction of third party legal documents.
The only reason WP:C has changed a lot this year is because the Foundation adopted new licensing terms, and we added purely informative content (not descriptive / normative).
This body of policies are defining the boundaries of our use of the servers here, and indeed, almost all of them have a potential legal impact and could, in theory, threaten the survival of the WMF in a court of law. I can't see, for instance, an ArbCom ruling that supersedes WP:NFCC to make its usage more liberal (however changes to stricter rulings would probably possible).
The rest are policies defining what we do with the server space we have, and they are all community standards. Some of them are pretty much stratified and haven't seen any non-cosmetic changes in a long time - our core content policies, for instance. But as I see it, community consensus could overrule and completely rewrite WP:RS so that blogs, for instance, are reliable by default.
So from where I'm sitting, I'm seeing four groups of policies and guidelines:
  1. Legal policies, normally not open for revision unless external circumstances changes, except for adding informative content only
  2. Content policies and guidelines, which establish how we write the encyclopedia, either subject to limited change by sheer force of habit, or heavily debated (WP:N for instance)
  3. Administrative policies and guidelines, which establish how we interact with each other and how we solve issues
  4. Clarifying (policies), guidelines and essays, which provide more insight in the way a point in another policy or guideline should be applied.
I'm not sure whether there should be any distinction made on the basis on the amount of edits a specific policy gets on an annual basis, though. Point in case: REVDEL has surely gotten a lot of edits this year, since we just crafted it to provide the framework under which we will use an upcoming software functionality. It is likely to see further editing after a few months of practice with the new feature, and stay pretty untouched afterwards - unless a case of abuse gets uncovered that requires clarification. This cannot be properly classified if judged by editing activity.
Another example. WT:CSD certainly sees a huge amount of activity centered on amending the CSD criteria, but that activity only very rarely translates into changes to the CSD page itself. Activity is again a poor indicator for classification of this policy.
All of that being said, I think it can still make sense to distinguish, beyond the legal category, between policies that are open to a Bold-Revert-Discuss kind of editing vs. those where Discuss-Build Consensus-Implement is the prefered approach. I trust, however, that finding the boundary on some of the policies and guidelines between those two approaches may lead to spilling a lot of virtual ink. MLauba (talk) 23:36, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Most of the pages I picked out had few or no changes in 2008 and 2009 (other than links added, minor rewording, etc). I believe (from looking at diffs since last year) that all the pages I didn't pick out have had significant monthly changes. I'll fill in some numbers when I get a chance. - Dank (push to talk) 13:08, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
So, evidently, I have misunderstood your purpose here. I thought you were simply classifying policies based on their nature. But actually, if I'm following this, the purpose is to note the ones that have seldom been changed? If so, why not put them in Category:Policy pages that are seldom changed? Why put them in Category:Wikipedia legal policies?
WP:C did undergo some sweeping changes in the last year. I did a major overhaul myself after the licensing transition because it seemed like a good time ([2]). A few months earlier, it had undergone some back and forth copy editing ([3]). But it wouldn't make sense to me to exclude it from Category:Wikipedia legal policies while including Wikipedia:Copyright violations, which is basically a behavioral policy derived from the former. WP:Copyvio may not have undergone as much substantial change, but it isn't immune to it. It did, for instance, alter substantially in June — [4] — in response to growing community awareness of multiple point infringement.
I've read over this talk page and please forgive me if I'm being dense, but what is the purpose of categorizing policy pages according to how frequently they have been altered? --Moonriddengirl (talk) 13:37, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm recommending that we make the first question very simple because we're not the masters of our fate here; we've done some work, we'd like to make some changes, but there's no telling which points will gain consensus. The only way to proceed that won't get bogged down is to look for the simplest step forward, push for consensus, then look at all the discussion it generated and try to figure out the next step. As a side benefit, this particular division into two or three piles actually does get us something; the the policy pages where the changes are frequent and community-driven tend to have some things in common that I mentioned above, but it's been hard to talk about that in the past because people get confused by the policy pages that aren't like that. I expect that once we make the first division, we'll want to to make another division along the lines that you and MLauba are talking about. Why is it that certain pages change rarely or never? Maybe in some cases people just don't look at the page much, maybe they do look at the page but don't think of the page as preemptive or authoritative; they don't argue for changes at the page because they don't think they need to change that page to do whatever it is they want to do. Maybe they think the page is great just like it is. Maybe the page comes across "over their heads" or representative of one particular group, such as the Foundation or ArbCom. If we try to settle all these questions at once, then you'll get a combinatorial explosion of questions and opinions in any VPP or RFC discussion, and we won't be able to get consensus for any one position. - Dank (push to talk) 14:27, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
I acknowledge that WP:C is an exceptional case ... there are 2 or 3 other exceptional cases above ... and my preference would be to allow you and MLauba and others who are involved to fit WP:C in however you want to. But, those cases aside, the difference in the two piles seems pretty clear, I'll get to work on some statistics. - Dank (push to talk) 14:36, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── While I'm still unsure I understood the reasons behind that, WP:C and WP:NCC should probably fit in legal policy. The other copyvio related pages can probably be placed under administrative policy. WP:PLAGIARISM is only a guideline but would in this scheme fit legal policy as well. MLauba (talk) 15:51, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

Did you mean WP:NFCC? I was just coming to say the same thing, I'll add it to the list of possible exceptions above, along with WP:IUP. - Dank (push to talk) 16:13, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
Oh yes. While I'm sure many people at WP:NCC are going to feel hurt by this, I really meant WP:NFCC ;) Sorry, it's been a long day. MLauba (talk) 16:29, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

Refocus

Actually, I am also a bit confused by what our goal is here. Looking back to the start of this discussion, I thought the underlying issue had to do with wording the policy template... but now I am not sure what we are doing, or (more importantly) why we are doing it. Dank... could you restate what the underlying issue is? Blueboar (talk) 16:18, 19 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes, the goal is easy, it's the details that are hard. The goal is to take a single step involving classification that seems so clear-cut that almost everyone will be on board. If we get too philosophical, then opinions will be all over the place, so I'm trying to focus on two things: the amount of community involvement, and the stated and obvious goals of the pages. If there's some other way to draw dividing lines that is easier to understand or more likely to meet with community approval, that would be fine. - Dank (push to talk) 16:24, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
Um... that does not really help me understand... taking "a single step involving classification" seems to be a way to achieve the goal... but I am still unclear at to the actual goal is? Blueboar (talk) 16:59, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
Okay. I don't know if this helps, but personally, my plan is not to be involved with legal or administrative policies after we get consensus for the sorting, since I'm more familiar with the conduct, content, deletion and enforcement policies, and they keep me busy. I've noticed similarities in what happens on these policy pages in these 4 subcats over time, and I'm hoping that the sorting will make the similarities more obvious. I don't have any insight into what will happen over time with legal and administrative policies, but I expect whatever happens, their evolution will be different from each other and from the other policy subcats ... that's the idea, to let the community choose subgroupings, draw inferences from the similarities, and apply the inferences to the subgroups. This is really nothing more than the scientific method applied to policy-space. - Dank (push to talk) 17:48, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
P.S. I could say more ... for instance, I could give an example of how I think this page (WP:POLICY) might evolve differently after the sorting ... but I'd prefer not to, because I'm also making calls on consensus at WP:Update and now writing the weekly reports in the Signpost. If I get too involved in changing individual policy pages, people will stop seeing me as impartial with the Update and the Signpost ... it's too early to tell with the Signpost, but I think it's fair to say that I have a certain reputation with the Update that I don't want to risk. Having said that ... if this proposal founders because people really can't see any benefit, then I'll try to sketch an example of how I think this page would probably improve in several ways after the sorting. - Dank (push to talk) 18:09, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
OK... I think I understand what you are trying to do. Essentially you are gathering data on "what happens on policy pages over time" and you think categorizing can highlight certain similarities. Do I have that right? Blueboar (talk) 19:27, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
Yes. - Dank (push to talk) 19:31, 19 November 2009 (UTC)
Dank, I was wondering if this might be helpful if you havent already seen it WP:Village pump (policy)#Is cleaning up poor categorization "circumventing" WP:CfD? regarding a cleaning up and moving of articles within categories relevant to the Wikiproject Wines. The comment I'm specifically worried about is the editor who mentions that the Wikiproject started a conversation and attempt to clean up the "category tree" and it may now end up as "closed to no consensus becaus of the CfD regulars who showed up and claimed 'out of process'". Is this something we may have to be worried- people from CfD claiming this is out of process because we didnt go to them?Camelbinky (talk) 21:36, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
Good idea, let's make a post at WT:CFD at the same time as WP:VPP (with an RFC at VPP). - Dank (push to talk) 21:53, 22 November 2009 (UTC)
Addendum: I poked around at CFD today and I think you might be right, some of the folks there may see this as more of a cat question than a policy question ... I asked at WT:Categories_for discussion#WT:POLICY.23New classification
Yea, when I read the VPP discussion and the related discussions, seeing how upset some of the regulars at CfD got about something trivial like wine related categories I thought to myself "Oh, shit, if they are upset about something like that, wait till they see what is going on here!" I will cross my fingers and hope they understand if we have the discussion in a wider forum than their corner of the Wikipedia-universe and they understand this has all been in goodfaith.Camelbinky (talk) 02:29, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Okay, there's been no response over there so we're probably good to go. If anyone wants to make a post at VPP, go ahead. If it doesn't happen, I'll do it. My understanding is that the main point is that some policy pages are different than others, and the fact that we're trying to use the same nutshell with all of them and hold them all to the same standards has caused confusion. WP:Terms of use doesn't play the same role at Wikipedia that WP:NPOV does. - Dank (push to talk) 22:53, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Now posted at WP:VPP#Wikipedia administrative policy. Your thoughts are welcome. - Dank (push to talk) 23:04, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
Per the discussion there, I added "Policy pages should not assert any hierarchy over other policy pages" to WP:POLICY; feel free to revert or discuss. - Dank (push to talk) 21:39, 30 November 2009 (UTC)
I think I know what you mean with this page, because I looked over the discussion in question, but I suspect that this will be misunderstood. wikt:hierarchy is probably not the word you want; I think wikt:authority makes more sense. Perhaps "All policy pages have equal authority" might be more easily understood? WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:13, 30 November 2009 (UTC)
Sure. - Dank (push to talk) 23:59, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

Legal and administrative policy?

Did we find a clear difference between legal and administrative policy? I'm having trouble figuring out which category some of those pages should go in. Would anyone object to putting it in the VPP proposal to have a single cat called Category:Wikipedia legal and administrative policy? - Dank (push to talk) 16:02, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

To me the distinction is that a "Legal policy" is directly related to a legal issue ... while an "Administrative policy" is related to how we administer Wikipedia behind the scenes. In the few cases where there may be an overlap, I would simply place the policy in both categories. I would not have a single cat. Blueboar (talk) 16:47, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm fine with that, with the caveat: if most of the discussion at VPP winds up being about whether pages should go in one cat or the other, then as a temporary measure, we fuse the two cats, have the main argument, then go back and pull the cats apart after we're done with the main business. - Dank (push to talk) 17:05, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
I think I am missing something. Why do we have to choose one or the other? I see nothing wrong with categorizing things into more than one category. For example... WP:COPY is primarily a "Legal Policy"... but aspects of it fall under "Content policy" (as it discusses when and how to include images in an article) and even under "Administrative policy" (in that it discusses being blocked for repeated copy vios.) I could see it being tagged with all of these. Blueboar (talk) 18:04, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
WP:C and WP:COPYVIO are exceptional, and I wouldn't want to base our understanding of the distinctions on those two pages. I have no problem with a page being in both the legal and administrative categories. I have a problem with a page being in both a policy and a guideline cat; it's one or the other. Likewise, it's my position, and we'll see at VPP how much support there is for this, that the differences between conduct/content/deletion/enforcement and legal/administrative are striking, so that it wouldn't be likely that a page other than WP:C or WP:COPYVIO would fit both content and legal, say. (For instance, WP:BLP is content, WP:LIBEL is legal.) - Dank (push to talk) 18:25, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
I'm fairly happy with WP:COPY being classified as legal policy and WP:COPYVIO being classified as a content policy. One says what the legal position is and the other says what we should do about a particular problem about using copyright content. Dmcq (talk) 19:53, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Why is this page policy?

Does anyone know why this page is tagged as a policy? All it does is describe what polices/guidelines are. The description of best practices or the advice that this page refers to is on other pages, not here. SlimVirgin 23:11, 30 November 2009 (UTC)

I don't know how it came to be declared a policy, but the "Life cycle" section certainly provides advice on how to do something properly, and therefore merits at least guideline status. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:23, 30 November 2009 (UTC)
This page suffers a little when compared to other policy pages. It's not as tight or as helpful. But I've talked a lot lately and I'd rather sit back and watch for a while. - Dank (push to talk) 23:50, 30 November 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps, if Dank doesnt mind, we could add to his recategorization plan a place for "informational", whether as a subcategory of policy or something different. We could put things like this page, and the Five Pillars in that category and any other page that is basically nothing more than a regurgitation or explanation of what Wikipedia is. The 5P really doesnt do or explain anything more than what this page already does regarding how Wikipedia works and it has never become a policy page, despite being categorized as such.Camelbinky (talk) 23:56, 30 November 2009 (UTC)
I don't mind at all, in fact I'm kind of done (as soon as we decide which templates go on the policy pages). I'm very happy with our progress ... the current conduct, content, deletion and enforcement cats do exactly what they're supposed to do. Someone who just knows WP:CSD doesn't really know enough about speedy deletion until they understand the other deletion alternatives, but they don't need to understand WP:OFFICE to understand speedy deletion, for instance. It was never necessary to study all 11 pages that used to be enforcement policy (there are only 5 now) just to get up to speed on admin functions. But the legal and procedural cats could use some work. - Dank (push to talk) 00:17, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
P.S. I started a thread at the pump, WP:VPP#Policy templates. I'm talking about {{Behavioral policy list}}, {{Wikipedia policies and guidelines}}, etc. These show up on some policy pages, and they were outdated before, but they're really outdated now. I'll be happy to keep the conversation going if there's interest, but if no one responds at the pump, I'll take the hint and give it a rest. - Dank (push to talk) 00:34, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
I got a bite at the Pump, and I've called an RfC. - Dank (push to talk) 17:40, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
  • This page is our policy on formulating policies and guidance and using them. It also offers a brief summary of certain aspects. I support its policy status, and I support most of the wording. Hiding T 15:49, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't really say anything though, is oddly written, and has been unstable for quite some time. An information tag would be more appropriate than a policy one. SlimVirgin 20:59, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
It can be harder to see the issues clearly on pages that are about pages, but these are the kinds of questions I would tend to ask myself to figure out how close this page is to being an effective policy page. Do we know exactly what it does and doesn't cover? If people start discussing whatever it covers somewhere else (such as the Village Pump), does anyone speak up and say, "No, this isn't the right page, we ought to be discussing this over at WT:POLICY"? Does whatever is said here overrule the same things said anywhere else? Have lots of people complained that they were prevented from doing something because of what this page said, and did they come here to try to fix the page (in their view), or do people instead just ignore the page and do what they want? If they ignored the page, did it cause any controversy or trouble? Have people complained that they didn't understand the page and insisted that the language be made more precise and simpler? Have helpful things that almost always come under the scope of this page been added to this page over time? If the answer to most of these questions is "yes", then this page is on the way to becoming an effective policy page. If we think the answers are "no", then the question is, what's going wrong? Is it unclear what the page is about? Are people treating this page like a guideline? Is it a subject that people just don't care about much, or don't want any advice on? Is lack of enforcement (whatever that means) an issue? - Dank (push to talk) 21:26, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Sorry, Dank, I don't follow your point. SlimVirgin 22:04, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Most of the policy pages started out as nothing great. The most important force shaping the improvement of policy pages has been all the people who wanted to do something that the policy page wouldn't let them do, and complained about it. If that's been happening here, then we're headed in the right direction, and this page will eventually be as useful as all the other conduct policy pages. But if something is going wrong ... if people aren't assuming that they need to OK a change in, say, the procedure that creates policy pages here (by checking to see if WP:POLICY allows what they want to do), in the same way they assume they need to check NPOV if they've got a question about what is considered "neutral" ... if they just go ahead and do what they want to do without paying much attention to this page ... then the feedback mechanism that makes it all work is missing, and the page won't necessarily improve over time. The talk archives should tell us whether we're on the right track. - Dank (push to talk) 22:43, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Looking at the way editors interact with the pages is interesting. For example, we've all seen how a certain type of editor deals with content policy (or guideline) disputes: The policy says that you can't _____ in articles, and so the TE says, "Well! I'll fix that!" and toddles off to the policy page so that Wikipedia seems to "allow" the editor to do whatever s/he wants. Normally, the changes are promptly reverted, and (sometimes) a long discussion ensues. Think, "But it's True™, so I shouldn't have to provide a proper reliable source!" or "Children are dying, so Wikipedia should let me spam my medical charity website!" or "The Pharmaco-Industrial Complex conspires to denigrate ______, so I'll just "fix" WP:MEDRS to permit my claim that sacrificing rubber chickens during a full moon cures this kind of cancer." You know that the page is doing its job when its invoked to prevent bad content. This page doesn't seem to do much of that (although perhaps the opportunity is less, as it's a meta-page instead of a content policy).
Another scenario: A good editor is trying to do The Right Thing™ in an area that s/he doesn't work in much, but can't figure out what, exactly, The Right Thing™ is. Do they come here for answers? If they look here, do they find the answers they need here? If this page didn't exist, would it really hurt anyone?
IMO, the answer is "not exactly".
The procedures for proposing pages as policies (etc), which were added in fall 2008 and are probably not widely known, have been well-received when I've pointed people at them, but the suggested process is not mandatory, and many alternative routes (for good or ill) are used. The top half of the page is almost entirely advice-free information, and usually the rare editor complaining on this page about a sentence "here" is actually complaining about a similar sentence on some other page.
As a measure of this page's importance and utility to the community's daily work, this page is linked to some 80,000 discussions (about once for every forty articles on Wikipedia; I think that the tool here counts each link separately, not each page that it's linked on). WP:V, for comparison, according to this tool, has far more than one million links (about one for every two articles on Wikipedia). WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:39, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
The leader says why it is a policy. "This policy page specifies the community standards related to the organization, life cycle, maintenance of, and adherence to policies and guidelines, and related pages." I suppose describes would be a better word than specifies but it is the community consensus on to look after those pages and that seems important enough to be a policyt brather thsn a guideline. The nutshell should be updated to samething along the same line I think. Dmcq (talk) 00:32, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

I hate to bring this back up

but SlimVirgin keeps putting the wording back into the lead to a previous version; I'm sure the majority had agreed to the change but Slim, as one who didnt seem to be involved, may not understand why the change was. I put in my revert to please see the talk page, and take the issue here; he/she has refused to bring it to the talk page, so I am. Just because something has "been here a long time" does not make it CORRECT or sacrosanct; things change. I'll be reverting again on the basis that the existing wording had consensus and SlimVirgin's version did not. I personally have no opinion on the wording I only care about keeping wording to consensus, so those who talk here please do not say "Camelbinky wants X" or "Camelbinky's version" I do not have a version nor an opinion on the wording, please understand that this time.Camelbinky (talk) 00:25, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

I think the wording by SlimVirgin is better. It follows the wording of the policy template fairly well and people agree with that. Dmcq (talk) 00:34, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes Slim's version is much better in my opinion. It makes the concept more clear. If you do not have a preferred version or opinion on the wording then why did you revert? If the wording was contrary to consensus then surely someone who did have an opinion would have changed it or brought it up. Chillum 00:37, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Concur. Seeking consensus here would probably have been better - lots of people's hackles raise when any policy/guideline page is edited, and reverts ensue. But now that it has in fact been discussed a bit, I can't see any reason to oppose SV's change. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:01, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
(ec)I concur, the version 'that is not slimvirgins' is a bit odd, could someone point me to the arguments relating to it? Unomi (talk) 01:04, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I also concur, the original version is superior to the proposed change. Dreadstar 01:18, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for your comments. The reason I reverted is that the archived discussions, that were quite long and convoluted, are where the consensus for the original change was and Slim back then had been chastised for changing against consensus and not coming to the talk page first as he/she back then reverted a consensus change without ever looking at the talk page; given that history for that user I felt it better to revert him/her and bring the discussion here. I hope Slim, in the future, from now on brings things to the talk page before assuming "long standing wording" is for the best. Chances are if something is changed, the original wording is what is wrong, not the new wording. Status quo is not an acceptable reason for reverting a change, you must prove why the old wording is superior to new wording; the onus on you.Camelbinky (talk) 01:39, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Please provide a link to where that previous consensus discussion took place. Dreadstar 02:18, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
One of the objections was that its grammar suggested an inappropriate dichotomy: Policies should normally be followed and are not advisory; guidelines are advisory and should not normally be followed. See this section in the archives. (Yes, I realize that you have to be a grammar geek to really grasp this argument, but Kotniski's comment is accurate.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 01:40, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Does that mean that you (WhatamIdoing) then agree with the "not slimvirgin version" (for lack of better term I'll use Kotniski version)? I know out of everyone who has commented only you, Dmcq, and I were involved (and therefore those are the only opinions I really care about, no offence other people who commented in this thread). If consensus was for the change, then we should keep to the other version until a discussion here comes to a new consensus for the SlimVirgin version.Camelbinky (talk) 01:46, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
IMO, there was (note the past tense) a consensus for that change, and that now there is a (friendly) dispute, i.e., no consensus for either version. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:08, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
At least I feel vindicated I did the right thing by reverting and bringing the discussion here. If a new consensus emerges, good, the system worked. If a new consensus does not emerge then the system also worked. I would like to point out to those who have commented- there was indeed consensus for the change; please point to a real tangible reason for the SV version over the Kotniski version besides "it was long-standing wording"; that's really annoying and has no bearing on the discussion. The SV version has been shown to have problems that do need to be changed and rectified if it remains.Camelbinky (talk) 02:16, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I'll ask again, please provide a link to the previous consensus. Dreadstar 02:26, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Camel, you seem to be arguing and reverting for the sake of it. That distinction is on the page, and has been for a long time; there is no point in having two words if there is no difference between them. Because it is an important distinction, given that it's the subject of the page, it belongs in the lead, per WP:LEAD. That's all there is to it. SlimVirgin 02:31, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── My objection was regarding removal of the language which stated that policies should be followed, likely because I am not a grammar geek. Basically I read the new wording as being open to interpretation regarding the importance of policies. Someone reading this page would likely be unaware of wikipedia norms and practice and should be met with clear and unambiguous formulations where possible. I believe that both guidelines and policies should be followed and that policies take precedence. How would a formulation such as: Policies describe standards that all users should normally adhere to and following guidelines is considered best-practice for doing so. isn't that the essence of it? Unomi (talk) 02:50, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Unomi- policies do not need to be adhered to by the letter, they NORMALLY are followed, please see WP:IAR, and not all guidelines are subserviant to the larger policy (WP:RS is more in-depth than WP:V and WP:V does not always take precedence). Both are simply "our best practiceses, due to what we've seen work so far, and may change if a better way is shown", they arent predictive of every possible scenario, they are only descriptive of what has worked in the past. If you dont get that, then you have a serious issue with understanding what a wiki by definition is, and how Wikipedia in particular works.
  • To SlimVirgin; kettle calling the pot black? You have reverted any consensus change because "its been this way for a long time". Please accept that new consensus' come along and wording will change. If this is how you act (and I've noticed you've been warned about that on other pages along with the warning on doing that here in the previous archived discussion) you will find yourself in some hot water, please use and actually read the talk page if you want to be involved in editing the page itself, you seem to want to ignore the talk page and then just revert any changes to the page itself regardless of what is decided, that is not good faith or good practice, it is downright rude, ignorant, disrespectful, and against policy. Consensus overrides policy, policy is changed due to new consensus, not otherway around. "Change is good, m'kay? Drugs are bad."
  • To Dreadstar- please read WhatamIdoing's posts, you will see he/she was nice enough to provide the link to the relevant discussion so I dont know why you are asking me again for it; seeing as how it isnt my job to catch you up on a discussion you missed out on the first time, the archives are right on this page, you werent here for that discussion but yet you are getting involved in this one...perhaps you should read up on past discussions and educate yourself before being involved in something?Camelbinky (talk) 04:44, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I asked you for the link because you're the one who keeps mentioning consensus. I strongly recommend you refresh your memory of WP:CIVIL because I find many of your comments lacking in that area. Dreadstar 06:08, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Oh, and consensus does not override all policy, consensus certainly isn't going to override the core foundational elements of WP:NPOV or WP:BLP. Dreadstar 06:12, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
    • Oh, but there have been so many more conversations that touch on that sentence, and I only linked one. Try here, here, here, here, and here, just to get started. Trawling through the last few months' archives is not likely to be an uplifting experience, but it may be an informative one. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:21, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
And you may notice that I've been involved in one or two of those discussions, I'm not new to this page. :) And pardon me if I'm overlooking it, but I don't see consensus in any of those discussions, and the one linked above[5] is certainly not a consensus. Dreadstar 06:45, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Camelbinky - 1. I did not mean to imply that they did. There is considerable difference between categorically stating Policies and guidelines must always be followed and stating my personal opinion that policies and guidelines should be followed. I am well aware and embrace WP:IAR but invoking IAR should be the exception, if it were not, what would be the point of having policies and guidelines in the first place?
2. Please reread WP:V and note the following passage therein: Because policies take precedence over guidelines, in the case of inconsistency between this page and that one, this page has priority, and WP:RS should be updated accordingly..
3. This very page concerns itself with how to go about making content changes to policies and guidelines, please assume that I have read the page and realize that policies and guidelines can and should be modified when warranted. My understanding is that wikipedia works best when its contributors assume good faith and remain civil. Unomi (talk) 05:27, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Unomi, the WP:V/WP:RS example has gotten us into trouble before. Based on previous conversations, I don't think that Camelbinky meant to imply that RS directly contradicts V: he likely meant to say that there are details present in RS that aren't mentioned at all in WP:V.
When WP:V is silent on a point, then you apply a different page that actually mentions the specific issue at hand. Similarly, there are issues mentioned in neither WP:V nor RS, and then editors have to use WP:COMMONSENSE, or consult WP:RSE, or consider a subject-specific guideline like WP:MEDRS. It's not exactly an issue of "taking precedence", since complying with RS necessarily means complying with WP:V. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:38, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree that V couldn't take precedence over RS on points where V is silent :). On the other hand, in the unlikely event that an edit makes it so that RS contravenes V directly, then V would take precedence no?, I believe (but I am not certain) that most guidelines that develop from policy are maintained in such a way that they conform with the policies. In this manner guidelines do seem subservient to policies. As there are a multitude of guidelines and only a handful of policies I believe that this makes good sense as it maintains some manner of coherence. I believe that you and I agree on these points in all but our interpretation of what CB intended to imply. Unomi (talk) 06:05, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, exactly. If V and RS are inconsistent, V takes precedence, because V is policy and RS is a guideline. SlimVirgin 09:26, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Slim is right, she nailed it with this post. This wording is in the body of the policy, and the lead must accurately summarize it. The current wording in the body was discussed and decided on months ago and this is the last consensus version: "Policies have wide acceptance among editors and are standards that all users should follow" and "Guidelines are primarily advisory." That’s almost exactly what this version of the lead summarizes, per WP:LEAD. The proposed version, "Guidelines are considered more advisory than policies" doesn't really say anything, it's virtually meaningless. Dreadstar 07:22, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Which is how it should be, because any perceived difference between policies and guidelines is virtually meaningless. We keep having this discussion, no-one has yet succeeded in defining any reasonable distinguishing characteristic between policies and guidelines (at least, not one that accords with the facts). The worst thing about the wording that keeps being forced upon us is the word "while" - it implies that the thing we say about policies (that they have wide acceptance and are considered standards normally to be followed) is not true about guidelines, and the thing about guidelines (that they are primarily advisory) is not true about policies. Which is wrong in both cases.--Kotniski (talk) 08:23, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I strongly disagree, there is, and should be a distinct difference between Policy and Guideline. I suggest you come up with clearer wording that makes the distinction instead of continuing down this road to vagueness. The original dispute was whether Policy was mandatory while Guidelines were merely advisory, take it from there if you like, but don't further blur the line between Policies, Guidelines, Essays and Opinions. That road leads to chaos. Dreadstar 08:48, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Well obviously policy is not "mandatory" and guidelines not "merely advisory" - they both describe widely accepted standards which give (hopefully good) advice to editors, but don't have to be followed in every instance. Statistically it's probably more likely that there will be exceptions to guidelines than to policies, but there's no clear boundary - there is vagueness, so we're right to reflect this vagueness, and wrong to claim a bright line exists when it clearly doesn't. Please stop restoring this sentence (the one with "while") until you can answer the problems that people keep bringing up in relation to it. The claim that it's been around for a long time (which I'm not sure it has, anyway) doesn't make it true. --Kotniski (talk) 09:16, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Really? Well, give a try to adding some slander to a WP:BLP, adding copyrighted content, or skewing the point of view of an article against WP:NPOV policy, then edit war to keep your edits in place, see how Policy is so "obviously" not mandatory, and how vague your block is once you cross that bright line threshold you don't think exists. And you stop reverting the sentence until you come up with a better one that finds a true consensus. There is a distinct difference between Policy and Guideline, whether you like it or not. Dreadstar 09:28, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Please don't keep removing that sentence. It is already in the policy, and has been for ages. It accurately reflects what people see as the difference between a policy and a guideline, and there's consensus for it to be in the lead, per WP:LEAD. You've been trying to remove it from the lead for months now, apparently without realizing that the lead is only summarizing what's already in the body of the policy. SlimVirgin 09:25, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

(ec)It seems to me that we use the language 'promote essay to guideline' and 'promote guideline to policy'. It also appears to me that the majority of policies seem to be of a general and ideal nature while guidelines are geared towards 'practical action' replete with usage examples. To my mind, guidelines embody how adherence to policy might be exercised within the scope of what the guideline concerns itself with; V is the ideal and RS, MEDRS and so on deal with how, in concert with other policies and guidelines, policy can be brought to bear within the project. Perhaps I am seeing structure where there isn't any, but such a framework would help explain why there is a difference between guideline and policy and why policy 'trumps' guidelines in the unfortunate event where they explicitly overlap. If they do overlap it should indicate that the policy does not defer appropriately (as with leaving it to WP:RS to define 'reliable sources') or that a guideline has had its 'problem area' defined too loosely. In any case IAR can apply to both, but by the virtue of being more general it becomes harder to justify doing so with regards to policy. As an example, a high quality SPS might be used invoking IAR against RS, or rather, it is possible to justify how this SPS should be considered an RS even though the guideline might discourage it, but it would be harder to justify IAR against the ideal of V (I would hope). Perhaps it is not that guidelines are advisory to a greater degree, but simply that it is easier to construct a rational/acceptable argument for IAR against them. Sorry for this TL;DR, if I am way off I would appreciate some hints ;) Unomi (talk) 09:26, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

This is utterly absurd. Can you not understand that the words you are removing from the lead are elsewhere in the policy, and the lead is meant to sum up the policy, per LEAD? SlimVirgin 09:30, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Maybe it needs to be removed from the body of the policy too then. I don't see how it's helpful, nor do I see a demonstrated consensus for it. The fact that it's been there a real long time doesn't hold much water in my mind. I'm frankly quite baffled as to why some people seem so adamant about keeping such a uselessly ambiguous statement. Equazcion (talk) 09:35, 2 Dec 2009 (UTC)
Well, there's certainly no consensus for removing it from the body, Equazcion. And leaving it properly summarized in the lede section is per WP:LEAD, so it shouldn't be removed or signficantly changed until you do find that consensus. Dreadstar 09:37, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
What would objections would there be against exchanging a. Policies describe standards that all users should normally follow, while guidelines are primarily advisory. for b. Policies describe standards that all users should normally adhere to and guidelines are meant to contain best-practices for doing so. ? Unomi (talk) 09:50, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
The current writing is clearer, Unomi. SlimVirgin 09:53, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I think Unomi's is actually clearer. I'm not sure how accurate it is, but considering the point the original sentence is trying to make, Unomi's proposed change says the same thing but much clearer. Equazcion (talk) 09:55, 2 Dec 2009 (UTC)
There's clearly no consensus to remove this. A small number of editors seem to be trying to destroy the difference between a policy and a guideline, which is a foolhardy thing to do, because we have dozens of very silly guidelines that barely anyone watches, which are therefore getting sillier by the minute. The editors who want to see them on a par with the policies ought first to confirm that they're willing to maintain them from now on to make sure there's no further deterioration. If you're not prepared to do that, please leave the distinction in place in the interests of sanity. SlimVirgin 09:44, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
The distinction as stated is no distinction at all. I'm not sure if there is any actual distinction to begin with, but the removal of this particular sentence has nothing to do with destroying or maintaining one, at least for my part. There may not be consensus for removal but there seems to be consensus for changing the statement, if this talk page has been any indication. Equazcion (talk) 09:51, 2 Dec 2009 (UTC)
I don't see that there is a lack of distinction between policy and guideline in the wider community, long standing language such as promotion, demotion and precedence indicate that such a distinction is understood to exist and that policy is considered 'to rank higher' than guidelines. If the current wording leaves the impression that such a distinction is not thought to exist then, I believe, it should be made more clear. Unomi (talk) 09:58, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure that there is a distinction when it comes to the application of each, in practice. Obviously there is a bureaucratic distinction since we promote/demote them, it's just a question of whether or not any practical purpose backs up that ceremony. But this is a larger question for another time. My concern for now is that the current statement doesn't say anything clear or useful, so it needs to be changed, or it can simply be removed (I was in favor of removing it when I thought better wording didn't exist, but your proposed words above seem rather nice, I think. though I'm tired now :) Equazcion (talk) 10:03, 2 Dec 2009 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I think Unomi's wording captures more of what I think the difference is, except that for small policies without associated guidelines they contain all the best practices as well. However I think the wording "Policies describe standards that all users should normally follow, while guidelines are primarily advisory." describe the current consensus under "Roles" best and the alternatives aren't very close. The text under "Roles" should be changed first rather than rewriting the policy in the leader to conflict with the contents. Dmcq (talk) 11:46, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Yes, Unomi's wording is something of an improvement. I don't know why we can't just tell the truth, though, and say that both policies and guidelines are editors' attempts to document accepted good practice in the Wikipedia community, policies being the pages that for one reason or another and at one time or another have been felt to contain something particularly important.--Kotniski (talk) 13:46, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

IAR is mandatory

The problem with any system that moves in the direction of making policies mandatory (=obligatory; no exceptions; whether or not you like it) is that IAR is a policy. Editors cannot be expected to simultaneously implement an exception-free requirement and a requirement for freely granted exceptions. Both "A" and "not A" can't be had in this world.

Furthermore, policies can, and do, conflict. For example: this policy requires us to link to all (matching) biographies on other Wikipedias. This other policy prohibits us from providing external links to libel. Given a plainly libelous page at another language's Wikipedia, are you capable of simultaneously linking it and not linking it to an en.wikipedia.org biography of a living person?

Thus editors have repeatedly rejected the notion that policies should be presented as mandatory, or anything even close to mandatory, and we've ended up with a slightly weaselly sentence about what editors should "normally" do. This part is probably fine, especially if the careless writing style were fixed.

However, the implication that guidelines are "merely advisory", or that there's a great gulf between policies and guidelines, is IMO inappropriate. WP:NOTLAW says that both policies and guidelines "should be taken seriously." It also acknowledges that there are certainly complexities, conflicts, and exceptions. In dismissing widely enforced guidelines like WP:RS, WP:DE, and WP:N as merely "advisory", we're not reflecting the community's general view that such pages should normally be taken seriously. WhatamIdoing (talk) 21:12, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

At least parts of this argument are entirely specious, because not all policies are equal. By way of analogy, if I'm a lieutenant, it is mandatory for me to follow orders of both majors and generals. If I get conflicting orders from one of each, I do what the general says. Our legal policies, including WP:BLP, WP:COPYVIO, and WP:OFFICE, automatically trump, without question, community-based consensus policies like interwiki links and so on. The irresolvable conflict you are wringing your hands over simply doesn't generally exist. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 22:40, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
SMcCandlish- you are forgeting two things, in your analogy about the military- if the general issues an order that is contrary to US law or the Constitution you MUST disobey that law (or find yourself at Leavenworth). Think of our policy as a general and the goal of improving Wikipedia as the US Constitution, if a policy prevents you from improving the encyclopedia ignore it, if a policy tells you to do something that in your opinion would actually make an article worse ignore it. The second thing is- the chain of command, yes you must obey the major, he is your immediate superior officer (well actually if your a Lt. then it is a captain, not a major that is directly above you) you take your orders from him, if he disobeyed the general (or colonel) by handing down different orders that is on the major's shoulders, not yours, you do as your immediate superior told you unless that officer's superior comes directly to you (which he wont, because of the chain of command).
  • When it comes to policies and guidelines and a guideline is changed which makes it conflict with a policy chances are that the guideline reflects the true consensus of the community regarding a specific set of circumstances and the policy will soon be changed; the guideline should not be reverted to step in-line with the policy. But again- strict constructionists and conservatives amongst us would probably step in to preserve the status quo for no reason but for the fact that it is "familar to them" and they dont like change.Camelbinky (talk) 01:38, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
While I believe that you and I would make similar choices in practice, the view that some policies were more equal than others was rejected at VPP recently (search the text above for "Policy pages should not assert any hierarchy over other policy pages").
(Personally, my primary concern is with pretending that guidelines have negligible importance, as if WP:DE didn't get editors blocked, and WP:RS was just a good idea, and so forth.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:27, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Definitely no. Let's start off with the simple fact that WhatamIdoing has misidentified WP:SISTER as a policy, when it's actually a guideline, so there is no "conflict" there as he claims. Secondly WP:IAR isn't "mandatory", it's the exception to the rule and we don't always use it; it's a rare occasion that we invoke IAR. Also, no one has claimed that Wikipedia is an "exception free environment" or that there's a "great gulf" between Policies and Guidelines, both of those assertions are straw man arguments. And yes, the Policies that WP:RS is a guideline to can absolutely trump the guideline WP:RS, it says that very clearly in WP:RS: "Where there is a conflict between this page and the policy, the policy takes precedence, and this page should be changed to reflect the content of the policy.".

And no one on this page has claimed that editors shouldn't take both Policy and Guideline seriously, the statement made is just the simple fact that there is a distinct difference between Policy and Guideline, some of which I addressed above. And to see the changes made to this policy on the agreement of a very few editors without even giving other editors a chance to comment on the proposed changes, tells me that those same editors who have been claiming "consensus" for their recent edits either don't know, or don't fully understand what consensus actually means.

I never said Policies were mandatory, while Guidelines are merely advisory, I said very clearly that "The original dispute was whether Policy was mandatory while Guidelines were merely advisory, take it from there if you like, but don't further blur the line between Policies, Guidelines, Essays and Opinions. That road leads to chaos". And yes, I do maintain that parts of Policy such as the core elements of NPOV and BLP are indeed mandatory, if that's not obvious to everyone, then you're sorely misunderstanding the core spirit of Policy.

I don't have the time or energy to deal with these issues now, but I'm objecting to the recent changes to the Lead, the Roles section and the Nutshell. I'll address these in a day or two when I am able to spend the time necessary to deal with it. Personally, I don't think this page should even be policy, it's purely informational and I can't see anything here that rises to the level of policy, especailly considering its unstable state. Dreadstar 02:02, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

  • While technically correct that IAR isnt mandatory that it must be used (which basically it is used every single day sometimes without the editor using it even realizing it; your assertion it is rare is ridiculous. I'm using bold letters, going to ban me? No, because I am using IAR and ignoring the rule in order to bold certain words for emphasis (the current wording of policy may now allow that, and guess who you can thank for that? Your welcome.)
  • Anyways- IAR is in fact mandatory that it exist as a page and in roughly its form, why? Because Jimbo said so by putting it back after it was messed with and with the edit summary "it has always existed".
  • The only strawman here is the erroneous idea that policies are laws, enforced as such, and they must be kept in their current state. "Wording has existed for a long time", who cares?! Give the new wording time and others will be saying the same thing about it! Conservatives suck ass and are usually wrong, whether its political conservatives or Wikipedia conservatives. Being against change because it is different isnt legit. Claims that "there is no consensus for the change, um, well there is obviously no consensus for things to stay the same. So compromise!, stop trying to defend the status quo and instead work towards a compromise or go elsewhere.Camelbinky (talk) 04:12, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
I don't see where IAR is being undermined here, but if it needs to be more clear that IAR applies to policy as well as guidelines then perhaps the easiest thing would be to simply state it in plain language. Unomi (talk) 08:31, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
And it already is? The policy description under Role links directly to IAR.
  • Policies have wide acceptance among editors and describe standards that all users should normally follow.
  • Adherence: Use common sense when interpreting and applying policies and guidelines; There will be occasional exceptions to these rules.
I have now linked to common sense in the lead since it seems to be a concern. Unomi (talk) 09:00, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

I see a certain convergence on some sort of understanding of the situation, but we must be prepared to open our minds to the extent of admitting that the tags that currently stand on pages are not necessarily the right ones, assuming that "right" means that pages of (dis)similar type should have (dis)similar tags. In other words, people have stuck the "policy" tag on all sorts of different pages, and then put all sorts of different types of information on those pages, meaning that there's not really anything we can say about "policy" that's true of all pages and statements currently marked as policy. Similarly with guidelines, and probably even essays.

However we do seem to be conscious of the fact that there are certain principles that do take precedence over anything else, either for legal reasons (no libel, copyvio etc.) or because they are fundamental to the aims of the project (IAR, neutral point of view, verifiability etc. - by which I mean those principles, not whatever text may happen to currently be on the pages WP:V and WP:NPOV). If we really wanted to be helpful and informative, we would separate those principles off, clearly tag them as being overriding in what we do (and probably protect the pages that say so), and allow the other best practices (whatever type of page they currently happen to appear on) to be documented and tagged - correctly - as rules that have consensus among editors, but which can be ignored if the occasion demands it.--Kotniski (talk) 08:46, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

  • Two points- One is that IAR applies to everything; it just happens to be that it is probably is impossible to "improve Wikipedia" by ignoring NPOV, but if by some weird quirk of grammar or sentence construction of the NPOV policy there was a way that you could improve the encyclopedia by ignoring the letter of the policy then you can. I think it is dangerous to speak of "certain policies or principles which can not be ignored". Anti-IAR editors put out the strawman of NPOV, V, and the legal policies, but they themselves show ignorance of what IAR is about, you must be able to show you are improving Wikipedia by ignoring a policy. Once we make exceptions to IAR we open the door to strict constructionists who hate IAR already to start piling on other policies (and eventually guidelines) that are "exempt" from IAR, thereby weakening it to non-existance and before too long we all must conform to the letter of the "law". On that day I will post my last posting and be gone forever; I've always wondered what Compendium is like...
  • Second- Consensus can if it wanted to say "we dont want to be neutral, we're getting rid of NPOV"; would it ever in a million years happen? No. But if a vast majority on Wikipedia wanted? It could happen. (We are ignoring Jimbo and the Foundation, ok? So dont jump on that). The legal policies we could get ride of us as well. Any policy which already exists as US law is something we have to obey whether we have a policy or not, I see no reason for even having them exist other than as informational about what US law is; Congress writes it, not us. But consensus wants to ignore a law, we can. The Foundation (if it let us) would be sued for libel, copy right violations, etc by individuals, states, and the US attorney-general; but we still have the right of consensus to eliminate, ignore, rewrite every single policy as long as Jimbo and the Foundation dont step in. There is no reason to ever say any policy is above the right of consensus of the Community to meddle with; again for the same precendence that would happen above about IAR.Camelbinky (talk) 01:27, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
Well yes, in a way everyone has the right to do or not do to anything until someone makes it impossible for them to do so... But we're talking about documenting community standards here; obviously we shouldn't do that in a way that says they are absolutely set in stone - indeed for most of them we should say explicitly that they came about through consensus and can be changed through consensus. And those that don't (because they're the law or what the Foundation has decided) need to be marked explicitly to say that. All this information has to be presented to people on the assumption that people know nothing about it, and that we're trying to make it as clear to them as possible. Given the confusion about policies and guidelines that currently exists even among us experienced editors, it's clear that we're not doing the information job properly.--Kotniski (talk) 05:13, 5 December 2009 (UTC)

Nutshell

How about this for the nutshell? - "Wikipedia's policies and guidelines are developed by the community and may be edited by anyone. This policy describes and how they should normally be developed and maintained." The current one is "Wikipedia's policies and guidelines exist to help editors determine the best course of action, and they generally should be followed." Dmcq (talk) 02:01, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

I like it, but I think your second sentence needs some grammar tweaking. "This policy describes and how they should normally be developed and maintained" is either missing a word or has an extra word; but I do that alot when typing too. Perhaps for the second sentence- "This policy describes how they should normally be developed and maintained"Camelbinky (talk) 02:19, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
I would prefer to see the policy tag removed. I can't see what is policy-like about this page. SlimVirgin 02:32, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Slim, do you think this would be better as a guideline? Or are you proposing something else? Blueboar (talk) 03:14, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
WP:NOTAG. But I have no time to champion this stance, atm. -- Quiddity (talk) 03:28, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Quiddity are you seriously advocating no policy or guideline tags on anything? Ive seen your stance on this many times before and its always been "notag". We have nutshells, categories, and other tags, they exist and will always exist; tilting at windmills buddy. Theoretically I'm all for no policies, no bureaucratic mumbojumbo, let each article exist in a vacuum and editors hash out problems with each other on article talk pages; but hey it aint gonna happen. A bureaucracy can be made very easily, the bureaucracy that is unmade is much rarer.Camelbinky (talk) 04:48, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
The only other places I've ever advocated notag are at WP:5P and WP:ENC, both of which I stand by (and was supported by others, and that remains the consensus there). You're welcome to search for more though. I would never support eradicating policies/etc. Are you confusing me with someone else?
If this page needs any tag, a {{how-to}} might be the most accurate, of the limited options. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:31, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
"and may be edited and reverted by anyone except anonymous editors and new editors, because a lot of these pages are indefinitely semi-protected. Oh, and depending on which page you edit, and what you do, you may get a lot of distressing messages about how you obviously screwed up. But, sure, be WP:BOLD, because there are a dozen bored editors waiting to hit the revert button."
This phrase isn't really working for me. It's not technically accurate, and it may land the newbie in trouble. WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:31, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
How about just removing it and merging part of the original so one gets: "Wikipedia's policies and guidelines exist to help editors determine the best course of action. This policy describes how they should normally be developed and maintained." Actually I'd prefer having vandals attacking the policies, they get banned quicker and don't affect the encyclopaedia content. Dmcq (talk) 12:01, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Completely agree with Dmcq's wording.Camelbinky (talk) 03:57, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

Roles

Based on the discussion above and per:

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Wikipedia_guidelines : Guidelines are sets of best practices that are supported by consensus and should generally be followed, though with occasional exceptions.
  1. Guideline subcat header : It is a generally accepted standard that editors should attempt to follow, though it is best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply

I am boldly changing the language under Role from:

a. Guidelines are primarily advisory. Where a guideline appears to conflict with a policy, the policy normally takes precedence.

to

b. Guidelines are sets of best practices that are supported by consensus. Editors should attempt to follow guidelines, though they are best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply. Where a guideline appears to conflict with a policy, the policy normally takes precedence.


I find the latter text more informational and considering the amount of eyes that have passed over the subcat headers and likely the category listing vs this page, I find it reasonable to assume that objections to their wordings would have been heard and considered. I agree that this is somewhat backwards, surely our text here should be reflected on the headers is a reasonable argument, but considering the lack of actual 'definition' of guidelines given here it seems proper to use the more descriptive language offered by the more widely circulated text. Unomi (talk) 12:34, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree - the new wording seems to provide much better information.--Kotniski (talk) 13:55, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Seems a reasonable argument to me and I don't see that any more need be put in the description, so a thumbs up from me. Dmcq (talk) 20:16, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

Conduct policy?

I don't see in the discussions above a consensus to demote this page, but the discussions also sound nothing like the kind of discussions you see on other policy talk pages ... not surprising given the topic. Are there any objections to removing the conduct subcat and putting this page with the other WP:List of policies#uncategorized policy pages at LOP? - Dank (push to talk) 13:37, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

P.S. I'm undecided on whether to start reporting on the "uncategorized" policies at WP:Update; I'll probably do it if people want it. - Dank (push to talk) 13:52, 2 December 2009 (UTC)
Those uncategorized ones seem quite important policies to me! So removing the conduct policy marker has actually promoted it as far as I'm concerned :) Dmcq (talk) 11:07, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

(outdent) Uh, what are we talking about here? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:07, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

This policy has been removed from Category:Wikipedia conduct policies. In WP:List of policies it has been put under 'Uncategorized' along with a few other things like things like Copyrights, Ignore all rules, and Dispute resolution. Dmcq (talk) 09:28, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Agreed

Agreed ... the uncategorized ones are certainly important. Judging from the opinion surveys at WT:Civility and WT:Consensus, and the lack of response to the RFC regarding the status of Civility and WP:NPA, and reviewing the histories, I'm very inclined at the moment to think of this page (WP:POLICY), WP:Civility and WP:Consensus as procedural policy. For one thing, the name fits: they're about process instead of about some subject matter, such as usernames or verifiability. For another thing, Wikipedians seem to take the same approach towards these 3 pages: they don't demand that the page change if it doesn't comport with some detail of how they go about things, they just go by what "policy", "civility" and "consensus" mean to them. I'm not disparaging these 3 pages, I think they're actually quite good, but the process that has produced them is a lot more touchy-feely and abstract than the detailed and argumentative discussions that have produced WP:Username policy, WP:SOCK and all the content and deletion policies. I'll point people from those two pages over here, and ask: any objections to moving all 3 pages into Category:Wikipedia procedural policies? - Dank (push to talk) 04:25, 13 December 2009 (UTC) striking ... now thinking of WP:POLICY as procedural and WP:Consensus and WP:Civility as principles, i.e. Category:Wikipedia basic information.

Another thing that would work for me would be to change the name of the 7th section at WT:LOP from "uncategorized" to "principles" "basic", and populate it with WP:IAR, WP:Civility and WP:Consensus, since those last two are extensions of the 4th pillar. WP:POLICY would still be procedural, I think, along with WP:Dispute resolution. - Dank (push to talk) 04:46, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
I assume this would not involve any change of status for WP:CIVIL? There was a recent proposal to make it a guideline, and twice today I pointed two different editors to that page and was very glad that it is a separate policy that does not also discuss WP:HARASS and WP:NPA. Johnuniq (talk) 07:46, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Touchy feely is I guess what principles are about. Calling WP:IAR, WP:CIVIL, or WP:CONSENSUS procedural does seem a bit wrong. And WP:POLICY does seem mainly procedural. I can't think of a better name than principles though I'm a bit loath to use that term without having more of the main principles in WP:5P are represented to some extent. Dmcq (talk) 12:26, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Agreed again. I had kind of a eureka moment as I was going to sleep that we'll be better off if these pages are principles (actually, the category has always been Category:Wikipedia basic information, which is fine). If it's okay, the less I can say about my own thoughts, the better ... I'm acting as a interviewer in the Signpost columns, and good interviewers stay out of the way and let people give their own impressions in their own words. But yes, I think exactly the problem is that people have been trying to push IAR, WP:Consensus and WP:Civility to be something purer and simpler rather than more detailed, which has put them on a different development path than other policy pages. I'll ask Moonriddengirl and Mlauba if they see the same tension with WP:Copyright and related pages, if they feel there needs to be some simple policy page that reflects the 3rd pillar. For the 1st and 2nd pillars, not a lot we can do there; NOT and NPOV are quite detailed and fit nicely as content policies. I can't see inventing separate, more basic pages on the 1st and 2nd pillars; they would always be overruled by NOT and NPOV. - Dank (push to talk) 13:49, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Being in Basic Information sounds quite good too for the principles types. I'd been wondering about setting up a template for Basic Information that would direct new users to things like the five pillars, the help pages and starting to edit that could be placed at the bottom of things new editors might end up on. Dmcq (talk) 14:10, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Okay, works for me, and no one is putting up a fight yet, so I'm going to experimentally move some policy pages into Category:Wikipedia basic information (keeping them in the policy cat also). The 5th pillar is IAR; I don't think there's going to be any objection there. The 4th pillar looks like WP:Civility and WP:Consensus to me, and if you look at the responses we got from the recent surveys on those talk pages, and the histories of the project and talk pages, you see there's this constant battle between people wanting to make the pages more detailed and enforceable (like a lot of policy pages) and people wanting the pages to be simpler and less specific (like principles). The theory is that, without getting autocratic about it, if we simply group the pages that show this tension in Basic Information, the pages will drift in the direction of being more principle-like, and the conflict over the "souls" of the pages will gradually get some kind of resolution that's been missing so far. Likewise, the 3rd pillar looks like WP:Ownership of articles, where I see exactly the same tension ... I reported in last week's Signpost that there's this continual cycle on that page of people making it more and less detailed ... now I think I understand why. WP:Copyright violations is also a candidate for reflecting the 3rd pillar, but I don't want to make a move on this unless it seems like a good idea to the copyright experts, and I've asked over at that page. - Dank (push to talk) 19:14, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Clarification, because it's bound to come up: the 4th pillar also mentions editing and edit wars, but I'm not suggesting WP:Editing policy or WP:Edit warring as "basic" policies, because those pages don't cycle between losing and gaining detail ... there's a whole lot of discussion about details in the talk pages and that's reflected in the edit histories of the policy pages. Arguments at those two pages over the years (and I'm including 3RR, which was merged into WP:Edit warring) tend to result in changing the details; arguments at WP:Civility, WP:Consensus and WP:Ownership of articles have often resulted in cycles of softening or dropping the details, apparently with the goal of keeping pages simple and general, like principles. - Dank (push to talk) 20:12, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
I've brought this up at WP:VPP#Old category with a new use as a policy subcat. No one has complained or reverted yet, so I think it's at least worth running the experiment. - Dank (push to talk) 16:14, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Followup: I think it's already clear that this experiment isn't going to reach critical mass, and I've self-reverted, in the sense of moving Civility, Consensus and Ownership back into the conduct policy subcat. On a related note: I'm going to stop tracking the conduct policies at WP:Update/1 from January on ... anyone who wants to pick up that ball and run with it is encouraged to do so, preferably at WP:Update/3. - Dank (push to talk) 14:23, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

ArbCom election reminder: voting closes 14 December

Dear colleagues

This is a reminder that voting is open until 23:59 UTC next Monday 14 December to elect new members of the Arbitration Committee. It is an opportunity for all editors with at least 150 mainspace edits on or before 1 November 2009 to shape the composition of the peak judicial body on the English Wikipedia.

On behalf of the election coordinators. Tony (talk) 09:24, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Tweak to list of legal policies

One last thing. There are now 11 legal policies; that's just a little bit scary and not very inviting as a sidebar of links and at WP:LOP#Legal, and I've heard there may be more pages coming that are marked as policy but are really pointers to meta wmf:. Could we create a single policy page devoted to such links, put it in Category:Wikipedia procedural policies (other Foundation-related pages are in that subcat), and use that page to link the CC-BY-SA and GFDL pages (either here or there), and the pages now linked by WP:Privacy policy and WP:Terms of use? That would get us down to 7 legal policies, more appropriate for a sidebar. - Dank (push to talk) 02:45, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

Second choice: if we decide to keep the pointer pages, WP:Privacy policy and WP:Terms of use (and others in the future), could we move them to procedural policy with the other Foundation-related pages? - Dank (push to talk) 03:25, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, also where possible it is preferable to link to the wmf: wiki version of a policy and not the meta: version of it (I'm being pedantic here, but yes it does matter). MBisanz talk 04:50, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the correction, I struck. - Dank (push to talk) 11:48, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I'll make it so. Btw, the legal subcat was reverted at WP:Image use policy, which gets us down to 6 ... that works better as a subcat and a sidebar, I think, in the sense that people are more likely to read and make connections between related pages. - Dank (push to talk) 13:34, 16 December 2009 (UTC)