Wikipedia talk:Policies and guidelines/Archive 7

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Examples of perfect WP articles please

Hello all Grand Wikis, as you are surely aware (since you are aware of everything), your policies are difficult to apply in real life. Please provide us simple mortals a list of articles you consider Orthodox, perfect or otherwise divine. Emmanuelm 12:43, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

You might want to start by looking at our Featured articles, which pass a fairly strict review before they are given that classification. -- John Broughton (♫♫) 21:23, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Comments to "source of policy" section

Jossi, you've made a reversion, but I don't think you have commented yet on the proposed "source of policy section". Do you have any specific objections or suggestions? COGDEN 20:48, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

I take the absence of further comment, and the fact that this proposal has been under discussion for quite some time now, to constitute consensus. Once again, if anyone can find any fault in the draft, or has any suggestions, please let me know. There's nothing new or controversial here—I just think it's essential for this page to fully document what policy is and where it comes from, just as basic background that everybody should know. COGDEN 16:22, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

Proposed addition to page

I'm not sure exactly how it fits into the page, probably somewhere under "How are policies enforced?", but this probably needs to be addressed. I've seen it happening a couple of times now, and I'm surprised we don't seem to talk about it.

<eleland/talkedits> 16:58, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm thinking this would be better at WP:POINT or WP:GAME instead.--Father Goose 07:31, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
I've been thinking about this recently, and I think it's a good idea to have some language like the above in this article. There really is a lot of confusion about how you should, or should not, make edits to policy and guideline pages. I don't know if the above language is perfect, but I think we should include something that at least makes the following important points:
  1. Policy pages are still Wikipedia pages like any other, and the normal policies and guidelines apply, including Consensus, Be Bold, Edit War, and Verifiability.
  2. Like any page that is carefully scrutinized and has been worked over for a long time by many editors, editors should think carefully before editing policy pages, and ensure that other editors understand the rationale for any proposed change;
  3. One main difference between policy and guideline pages and other Wikipedia pages is that policy and guideline pages must describe Wikipedia consensus practices, which are inherently difficult to verify. In addition to the normal means of verification set forth in the verifiability policy, consensus practice may also be verified through opinions expressed on talk pages, references to other policy and guideline articles, citations to precedent, and surveys of representative Wikipedia articles, particularly featured articles, which are thought to represent the best Wikipedia practices. Consensus practices may also be verified by showing that an essay and proposal has been influential or widely cited by Wikipedia editors without significant opposition. COGDEN 20:28, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree that the tension between "policy must reflect consensus" and "be bold" ought to be better addressed. The word "consensus" (or lack thereof) can be used to stonewall any changes to policy, including urgently-needed ones that might even have consensus (though not unanimity), and I hate that. But what Eleland brought up is, like I said, more specific to GAME or POINT than to POL generally.
I don't see WP:V being an issue on policy pages that often. If we are to mention WP:CON, WP:BOLD, and WP:EW, I'd rather we mention them in prose than just generically say "follow these policies". Determining actual consensus for policy edits can be wickedly difficult, as I'm sure you know, but the best mechanism is when changes go unreverted: silence equals consent, as WP:CON says. I also personally prefer allowing some edit-warring as a messy measure of consensus -- certainly in preference to page locking or other forms of enforced inaction. But I may be in the minority with that view.--Father Goose (talk) 23:14, 21 November 2007 (UTC)
I would agree with that. Edit wars are not always bad, and the WP:3RR rule has worked fairly well in the mainspace. I don't think the rule should be any different in policy pages. I think that there's really no fundamental difference between policy pages and mainspace pages. I can't think of any rule (other than WP:V to a limited extent) that doesn't apply to policy pages.
Maybe WP:V wouldn't be applicable in all cases right from the start. You're right that some changes to policy pages start out as something which does not immediately reflect pre-existing consensus, but people agree with it, and it becomes consensus to those that hear it, and nobody reverts it. Eventually, it would be verifiable policy, but not right from the beginning. I think that WP:V would have some applicability, however. Documenting pre-existing policy should be verifiable, meaning that you should be able to demonstrate that Wikipedia operates a certain way, and that the proposed language reflects the pre-existing consensus. This doesn't have to be a citation (e.g., a citation to Jimbo), but could be simply obvious, or demonstrable from comments on talk pages, or a survey of articles, etc.COGDEN 17:57, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
Such demonstrations don't work via the same means that WP:V does, though. It's certainly a good idea to present evidence in favor of your views, to make your arguments convincing, but that's still not a process of verification, so I'd say WP:V almost never comes into play on policy pages. Furthermore, you can plausibly demonstrate that things are done a certain way some times when they shouldn't be done that way, so evidence is not always of use.
I'm hard-pressed to know what to say, generally, about how policy should be edited. It's a constant give-and-take of sensibilities and ideas, and one just has to hope that those engaged in it are both practicing and assuming good faith.--Father Goose (talk) 21:57, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
I think that if things are done in a particular way, but they shouldn't be done that way, we don't yet have a policy. Policies are supposed to grow organically from Wikipedia consensus and practice, not to direct that practice. I agree you're probably right that applying WP:V to policy and guideline pages would be a bit of a stretch. Certainly, when verification is possible, it should be done, but having a general verifiability requirement—even a loose one—is probably too great a restriction. I guess maybe we need to go through all the major policies and guidlines and decide which ones (like WP:CONS, WP:WAR, WP:BOLD, WP:POINT, WP:OWN, WP:GAME, WP:3RR, WP:EP, WP:IGNORE, WP:TALK, WP:POLLS, and WP:PROT) definitely apply to policy pages in all cases. Maybe there can also be a category of policies (such as WP:NPOV, WP:V, and WP:NOR) that should be applied whenever possible, but are not always possible or appropriate. Some policies, like WP:FORK, I think apply, but I'm not completely sure, because there have been forks in the past. For WP:V, maybe we could say that it applies in the limited case when the policy or guideline refers to things other than Wikipedia consensus and practice. For example, statements by Jimbo or other Wikimedia Foundation trustees or officers would need to be verifiable (as they always have been thus far), but a statement like "Articles must ....", or "According to Wikipedia practice, ..." etc., would not need to be verifiable. For NPOV, I'd say that material should be presented neutrally and dispassionately, but non-consensus POVs need not be discussed. The applicability of NOR might be controversial and I can't come up with a good rule, so it might be better at this point to just be silent on that particular policy's applicability to policy pages. COGDEN 17:51, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Whether or not those policies are applicable, none of them really give useful advice on how to edit policy (if that's what we're still discussing). We had Help:Modifying and creating policy, but it's gone now, and was incorrect and mired in conflict anyway. Maybe if I rack up another couple of years of policy-editing experience, I might take a crack at the subject, or maybe I'll know better than to try by then.--Father Goose (talk) 01:52, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia: Essays?

I'm unclear of the actual purpose of essays in the sense that I'm not clear why they are on the wikipedia namespace... I basically was linked to WP:Cruftcruft from the WP:Listcruft article. While the latter is tagged as an essay, it appears to be in the form of a suggested guideline for wikipedia and explains itself clearly; it looks like something that's been discussed and worked on by a group of people and that's what I expect when I goto the WP namespace. However, the former page looked like one user's tyrade about some people they have encountered in some AFD discussions. It doesn't seem like the kind of thing that has been communally censored and improved and it doesn't seem written as a policy suggestion or anything like that. The talk page even redirects to a subpage on one user's user: page, and not a WP talk: page. Is this what essays on the WP namespace are supposed to be, or is this an abboration? I'd never seen this kind of ranting essay on WP before but now that I look at the "essays" category, I see titles that look just as ranty. It seems weird that wikipedia policy is mixed in with the rants of users on the same namespace. (I guess this is my essay on essays?) TheHYPO (talk) 07:13, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Even though "Cruftcruft" comes across as more of a rant, or perhaps a parody, both essays are opinion pieces having only limited support within the community. So it's just as odd to have WP:Listcruft in the same "space" as actual policy. Maybe even more odd, because it reads like policy but is still just a minority view.
The Wikipedia namespace is for general discussion of any aspect of Wikipedia itself. This ends up including policy, just about all our procedural pages (such as AfD), and anything else anyone wants to say or discuss about Wikipedia (including essays). No consensus has yet emerged for subdividing it into policy/procedure/discussion or what have you, and no consensus has emerged for making any distinction between any of the essays found on Wikipedia. I think Wikipedia has to mature some more before any of those steps prove to be necessary -- or before it becomes clear that they won't be unnecessary.
Nice ambivalent answer, eh?--Father Goose (talk) 08:03, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
But shouldn't "discussion" of policy take place on some TALK page, and not on actual pages in the namespace where the policy actually is? Wouldn't that be like having articles in the main namespace like We should delete all the articles about Simpsons episodes...? TheHYPO (talk) 08:59, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, discussion of specific policies does takes place on the talk page of those policies, although policy is also discussed more generally on WP:VPP and other non-talk pages that are nonetheless purposed for discussion. The whole Wikipedia namespace is "behind the curtain", where the main (aka article) namespace is for articles about real-world phenomena only. We could thus have a page "Wikipedia:We should delete all the articles about Simpsons episodes".
It is true that the Wikipedia namespace is quite broad. We have official policy and process thrown in with official-sounding opinion pages, the occasional rant, and a huge variety of other pages as well. We rely on header templates ({{guideline}}, {{essay}}, etc.) to do most of the distinguishing between one page type and another. Beyond that, it's not clear how we should characterize the difference between one essay that doesn't have consensus (Listcruft) and another essay that doesn't have consensus (Cruftcruft). Maybe we shouldn't do anything more than say "okay, this isn't a policy" and leave individual users to agree with it or not according to their personal views. That's what we're presently doing.--Father Goose (talk) 17:06, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
The only reason I take issue with this present system is my personal experience - I have seen the listcruft page before, and other similar essays that are written like policy suggestions, and because they are on the WP namespace, My assumption was that, while not official policy, this was some sort of official suggestion from groups of people (admins) who have been deemed as respected, capable editors. (like how a bill in a government senate isn't Law, but it's something written with the suggestion of being law by senators who are presumed to be capable and thoughtful suggestors, as they have been elected to the office. While not all the senators might agree with the bill, the suggestion at least has support of some level of wikipedia "authority", so it's something I considered at least based on "principles" that longstanding wikipedia admins or trusted editors experienced. But this cruftcruft essay just being a rant with no purpose made me rethink that. My concern now isn't so much that CruftCruft shouldn't be in the WP namespace because it might seem out of place in an "official" namespace, but more that if that is equivelant to the Listcruft essay, then other new users might see the listcruft essay and assume, as I did, that it's a pseudo-policy. I think the best way to put it is that, because of the WP namespace, and being alongside (and sometimes linked to by) policy articles, it felt like a suggested guideline from admins - it felt like there was some scrutinization process required before that essay was adopted on the WP namespace, you know? not that it was a suggestion that could come from anybody and could have support of as little as one person. I'm not trying to be argumentative with you, I'm just trying to explain how it looks to someone who might be new to WP TheHYPO (talk) 23:56, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Nor am I trying to argue with you. I actually agree with just about everything you just said. I've seen plenty of users treat essays, proposals, and any other official-sounding things like they were rules, so you're right that the distinction ought to be absolutely crystal clear, and it's not.
For a while, the {{essay}} template had the words "editors are not bound by its advice" instead of "it reflects the opinions of some of its author(s)". Do you feel it would be a step in the right direction to reintroduce that wording?--Father Goose (talk) 02:17, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
  • Yes, or similar stronger wording. --Kevin Murray (talk) 02:29, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree, but I also think that making the essay template some other color (perhaps a muted red) so that users actually are drawn to read it - I know that as a new user, I sometimes ignored those tags as only important to administrators or more advanced editors. Perhaps also use the word "suggestions" rather than advice, since "advice" sounds more official than suggestions, and/or the phrase "required to follow any suggestions enclosed" rather than just "bound by", which still sounds to me like "it would be a good idea, but you're not absolutely bound by it" - but maybe that's just me. Alternatively, perhaps coloring the Policy template muted green or something so that people notice that only pages with those green templates count as policy. Thoughts? TheHYPO (talk) 02:50, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Edit: I didn't notice before that the essay template does appear to be slightly shaded - on my laptop, at some angles, it doesn't show. Perhaps a bit stronger coloring? And different from the template on the policy pages. Also, guidelines could be muted yellow, making a red/yellow/green color coding system to hopefully benefit clarity and perception of the pages. TheHYPO (talk) 02:54, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm open to ideas for something stronger than "editors are not bound by its advice". But I'll add those specific words to {{essay}} in a week if nothing else is suggested. I also like the color-coding idea; it's easy to glance at the template and assume it is some kind of sister to policies or guidelines due to its style. I'll experiment with color changes, and hope no one screams bloody murder.--Father Goose (talk) 03:57, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
(indendation reducted for convenience)
Like I said, I prefer something like:
This is an essay, which reflects the opinions of some of its author(s). It is not a policy or guideline and editors are not required to follow any suggestions made here.
I think making the "this is an opinion piece" part first is a clearer statement that "this is just a user's opinion - it's not policy" rather than "this is not a wikipedia policy, it's just a [some might read here "wikiedia"] suggestion". I also prefer the term suggestion to the term advice, as "advice" might imply that users writing the essays are experienced/qualified/authorized to advise other users when that is not necessarily the case. - My doctor advises me to put ice on my sprained wrist. My buddy suggests I take aspirin.TheHYPO (talk) 04:52, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
The discussion has begun in earnest at Template talk:Essay#Opinion!.--Father Goose (talk) 03:52, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Debating notability?

Wikipedia lacks a section on the fact that once in awhile, by which I mean more than once in awhile, someone will tag a page for its lack of notability or lack of conformity to guidelines for utterly ridiculous reasons. Can we add one of these? Because I think it is a complaint of valid notability. Lequis (talk) 04:42, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree with you that "non-notability" is often invoked spuriously, but I imagine the best place to raise the issue is over at Wikipedia talk:Notability.--Father Goose (talk) 05:17, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Recent extensive changes

I agree with many of SlimVirgin's recent changes, but disagree with the change, without comment to the Sources of Wikipedia policy section. This is a big change, and there has been no demonstration why the original section was inadequate or does not reflect Wikipedia consensus, which I think it does. Therefore, pending discussion and a presentation of some rationale, I am reverting. COGDEN 20:11, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

I also thought that the mass rewrite was a little odd, but I was too chicken to revert it myself. This kind of thing definitely needs discussion. <eleland/talkedits> 20:14, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, the changes by COGDEN on October 1st were huge changes and contrary to how policy is written. Cogden's edits were disputed and reverted, [1][2][3][4]. Considering the short amount of time and the very limited number of editors involved, I don't believe there was consensus for Cogden's changes. I dispute them and back SlimVirgin's changes. I'm reverting to SV's version to show my support. Dreadstar 20:20, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
You can't just say you dispute them without offering a reason why. Such a "dispute" is no dispute at all, and is contrary to many policies such as this one, and especially WP:CONS. Please explain your reasoning. Incidently, the version you added here is not the same version that existed for a long time prior to October. I will delay reverting your edit until you offer an explanation (offering you a courtesy you have not extended to me on other pages), but in the meantime, I'm inserting the actual old version. COGDEN 20:36, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Cogden, as this page is policy, you would need to seek consensus for the changes you made, which were quite substantial, and some of which was false. The ArbCom, for example, does not make policy. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:32, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
If a small part of the section is incorrect, then change it. Please do not violate WP:EP and WP:CONS. Also, I already proposed my edits months ago, got many comments and positive feedback, and you did not comment. If you have a problem with it, I think you have a burden of demonstrating what the problem is, and why. COGDEN 20:36, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
These are the changes you made that are disputed. [5] Jossi reverted them, but you reinserted them. Example of the problem: ArbCom decisions are not binding regarding policy pages. The ArbCom does not make policy and is quite explicit about that. There are other problems too. First, can you say what it is about the long-standing version that you find inadequate? SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:40, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
So why, then, are you deleting the entire section? This is a simple fix. As to the prior version, when we were originally discussing this, I never said I had any particular problems with it. I just think we needed a more accurate description of the source of policy. The new version doesn't contradict anything in the old, but contains more detail. The prior version was a bit unclear, and the newer version was better and more explicit, as evidenced by it having been largely copied into WP:CONS by another editor. As to Jossi's edit, he had some comments, and I addressed them, and finally when he had no further comment, he did not revert. COGDEN 20:48, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
You did above exactly what you've been doing at NOR for months. You proposed some changes, got some objections, inserted your version anyway, Jossi reverted you, you asked why, no answer, so you waited a few weeks, then wrote: "I take the absence of further comment, and the fact that this proposal has been under discussion for quite some time now, to constitute consensus."
This is not what consensus is when it comes to policy. Silence doesn't mean people agree. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 20:44, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Have you read WP:CONS? This is exactly how consensus is achieved. I made a proposal, responded to comments and objections, and when objections stopped, I inserted the heavily-revised proposal. COGDEN 20:49, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
Incidently, the section does not say that Arbcom makes policy. It says that it may disregard policy or construe it in a binding way. That's true. COGDEN 20:50, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

(outdent, edit conflicts) I see, we're talking about this edit. Yeah, that was weird, shouldn't have been introduced without consensus. Objection withdrawn, SlimV was right to revert him. And WP:CONSENSUS does not say that if you make an edit, and nobody notices to revert it for a while, that it's the "new consensus". I've seen vandalism and fraudulent edits that stuck around for months and I didn't wait for any "consensus" to remove them! <eleland/talkedits> 20:52, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

If you believe that, then we could use your help over at WP:NOR. I would also appreciate your comments on the now-deleted language, which echos your sentiments. I disagree, though, that this was "vandalism" or a "fraudulent edit". I made a proposal, and received numerous comments, responding to each of them. Finally, after waiting for a while, I made a further inquiry about whether there were any additional comments, and nobody opposed. Then, nobody reverted for quite some time, and in fact the section has been cited and copied to WP:CONS. Silence often indicates that people have no problem with it, and is a good indicator of consensus. COGDEN 20:55, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I intended no implication that your edit was vandalistic or fraudulent. I will check WP:NOR per your suggestion. <eleland/talkedits> 20:59, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Instead of pointing fingers at each other, wouldn't it be more constructive to actually discuss the wording of the two versions and come to consensus on what it should say? — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:51, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

I absolutely agree. This reversion comes just before a RFC against me] impugning my behavior in proposing and implementing these edits during the month of October, and does not seem to be directed toward the actual content of the section. Let's leave the bizzare "behavior" allegations to the RFC, and focus here on the content. I invite Dhaluza and SlimVirgin to make any proposed changes to the section, or any suggestions. The "Sources" section has been well-vetted in the past, and could benefit from your input. COGDEN 20:25, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Modifications to the prior consensus "Sources" section as it existed from October to December

So that we can see what we're looking at, here is the prior consensus regarding the "Sources" section. Please feel free to make any insertions or deletions within the text itself:

Wikipedia policy, as documented on policy and guideline pages, comes from a number of sources. The most fundamental policy principles are the Wikimedia Foundation issues, which form the core of policy in all Wikimedia Foundation projects, including Wikipedia. These basic issues, such as NPOV, are generally considered to be beyond debate. Most other policies derive from consensus, which includes:
  1. Wikimedia-wide policy conventions that have been established among all the Wikimedia projects.
  2. Current conventions, practices, and standards, established over time by consensus among Wikipedia editors.

In rare cases, a consensus policy may be disregarded or construed in a binding way by:

  1. The Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, who has the ultimate say in any decision affecting Wikipedia. The Board may alter policy by adopting resolutions or policies. Some authority has been maintained by Jimmy Wales, the founder and Chairman Emeritus.
  2. MediaWiki developers and foundation staff, through altering the MediaWiki software code or server operation.
  3. Office actions by Wikimedia officers, employees, and attorneys. Office actions concern legal issues such as copyrights, privacy rights, and libel.
  4. Adjudications by the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, which are considered binding with respect to the parties involved.

Wikipedia policy and guideline pages are not in themselves the source of Wikipedia policy. They merely document Wikipedia policy derived from each of the above sources. By convention, the most significant and stable policies are documented in official policy pages such as this one. Policies that require more judgment and common sense by the editor are documented in guidelines.

The purpose of a written policy or guideline is to record clearly what has evolved as communal consensus in actual practice, rather than to lead editors prescriptively toward a given result. Wikipedia polices may change as consensus changes, but policy and guideline pages must reflect the present consensus and practice. The easiest way to change policy is to change common practice first.

Comments

  • The one objection brought up thus far by SlimVirgin is that "ArbCom decisions are not binding regarding policy pages." Actually, if you read the section carefully, you will see that it does not make that claim. It only states that the ArbCom is free to disregard policy or construe it in a binding way. I think this accurately describes what the ArbCom can do. Does anybody disagree? COGDEN 20:25, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
One small thing, the statement that there was "consensus for the sources section from October to December" is disputed. The reversions by Jossi and again by FeloniousMonk clearly show there was dispute that was not addressed by finding consensus for the changes. I agree with eleland above that these signicant changes should have not been introduced without solid, clear consensus. Dreadstar 21:04, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
I made changes in response to Jossi's reversion, and asked Jossi for additional comments, then after a week of no comment, I noted the fact that Jossi was silent and made the edit. Usually, silence means acquiescence. If Jossi had a problem with it, I assume he would have spoken up, if not during the week I asked him, then during the following 1 1/2 months. COGDEN 21:54, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
As to your suggestion, I'm making an edit above, making the following change: "Adjudications by the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, which are considered binding with respect to the parties involved" COGDEN 21:54, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
We can also possibly add a following footnote quoting Jimbo as follows:
"The Arbitration Committee [...] can impose a solution that I'll consider to be binding, with of course the exception that I reserve the right of executive clemency and indeed even to dissolve the whole thing if it turns out to be a disaster. But I regard that as unlikely, and I plan to do it about as often as the Queen of England dissolves Parliament against their wishes, i.e., basically never, but it is one last safety valve for our values." – January 2004
COGDEN 21:57, 13 December 2007 (UTC)
ArbCom rules mainly on behavior and only very rarely content. The Jimbo quotes you present, (e.g. "respect to the parties", look more like behaviorial rulings being binding rather than binding rulings on policy content. Dreadstar 08:15, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Deletion of material from the September 2007 version of "Sources"

I wanted to bring to everyone's attention a subtle change introduced by SlimVirgin. SlimVirgin recently reverted the "Sources of Policy" section to a version dating back to about September 2007, which existed for several months prior. However, the version from September stated:

However, SlimVirgin did not include the underlined paragraph in the reversion. When I tried to replace it, SlimVirgin reverted with the comment "please seek clear consensus for the changes". Should we hold SlimVirgin to that advice, and require that we discuss the removal of the longstanding "However, such proposals had a ~90% likelihood of failure, and this method is now mostly of historical interest"? I think that if we are going to go rewind pending further discussion on the October-December version, we should keep the September language, and not introduce new, undiscussed changes. COGDEN 20:34, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Sounds like simply an error/misunderstanding; parsing multi-change diffs often leads to such mistakes. Clearly the material in question should be restored, since there was no discussion in favor of removing it, and there is self-evidently a discussion about restoring it (this discussion), which necessarily indicates no consensus for the removal. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:16, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Some tidying

Over time, pages like this can drift a bit. I've done some tidying, please check my changes. --Kim Bruning (talk) 23:22, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

For what it's worth, given my current sullied reputation, I think these minor changes are excellent. COGDEN 05:20, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Bold edits

SlimVirgin boldly made some edits in support of her NOR position. I have no problem with bold edits, as I've done it myself, but I've been accused of impropriety for editing this policy to support my position at WP:NOR, and that accusal has been signed by SlimVirgin. The double standard aside, I have no problem with her making these edits. But I do disagree with their substance. The edits are as follows. She has changed

with

She has also replaced

with

My problem with both of these edits is that they treat policy pages as if they were codes, rather than just reflections of Wikipedia consensus. These edits portray policy articles as not just describing what the consensus is, but decreeing what the consensus should be. This philosophy is antithetical to Wikipedia. See Ignore All Rules, the very first Wikipedia policy, and Consensus, the most fundamental policy. COGDEN 05:38, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Cogden, I've returned to what was there, and I can't keep responding to this. I've offered to help you several times, and I've received either no response, or replies that with the best will in the world, I don't understand. And no attack headers, please. SlimVirgin (talk)(contribs) 05:54, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't understand what you are talking about. I'm talking about your recent changes to this article. Do you oppose a change back to the previous version? Also, I apologize if you were offended by the heading. I'm not attacking you personally. COGDEN 05:59, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Don't you think that it will be wise for you to listen to the comments made by many editors in your RfC, rather than continue with that line of questioning or accusations? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 06:07, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Jossi and Slim on all points. Dreadstar 07:59, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm listening to the comments carefully. I wonder if you are, otherwise you'd see the hypocrisy at play here. I have done nothing more improper during this whole mess than you, Jossi, and SlimVirgin. If I were one of you, I'd have reverted SlimVirgin's additions without comment by now and accused her of improper conduct. The difference is that I don't do that. I rarely revert someone's good faith addition prior to discussing it on the talk page. SlimVirgin's conduct here (minus the hypocrisy) is totally proper, and normal editing policy calls for an honest discussion of new proposed content. COGDEN 08:10, 15 December 2007 (UTC)


Oh, I reverted two edits by Slimvirgin without looking here first, as I didn't think much discussion was needed. But since a discussion seems to have developed, I'll post my reasoning (for some definition of reasoning :-P ) here.

The first edit basically contradicts the {{policy}} template, so it was a no-brainer to revert that back to something that was not internally contradictory.

The second change introduces a circular redirect back to this page. I don't think that that was the intended effect, but either way, it was useless as it stood, so I reverted that too.

Slimvirgin, did you accidentally cut-and-paste from a broken revision or so?

--Kim Bruning (talk) 08:49, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Dreadstar: Wait: That was ALSO a circular link? Heh, that makes two. Even so, "policy is mandatory" contradicts {{policy}} as already stated on this talk page just now. So either way, the line is not valid. Heh. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 09:03, 15 December 2007 (UTC)

Whup! I'm confused! Now that I look back, it looks like there was only one circular, and I put back the one that wasn't circular thinking it was circular..soo...I circulated the circulated circle.
So, policy isn't mandatory, eh? Doesn't consensus rule the day, which means that things decided by consensus are...well..."mandatory"? Sure, I understand there are overrides, like the occasional use of IAR and perhaps some rulings by Jimbo, but generally, I understood policy to be something that needed to be followed on most occasions. I think wording like "mandatory" makes policy a bit stronger than by just saying policy "advises on courses of action". Policy, in it's nutshell, is a "standard that all users should follow"....which sounds like something mandatory, or obligatory, rather than just guidance. I guess I would like to have something firm and strong to stand on, especially when trying to resolve or advise on a heated dispute. Perhaps there's a better word, compulsory;requisite;necessary;required...something nice and firm? Dreadstar 09:27, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Something that "advises on courses of action" strikes me as something found in a guideline, if not just an essay. As a matter of fact, with that change, policy reads almost exactly like guidelines does. And that section says "Guidelines are advisory, not mandatory", which is now weird. With this wording change, there are now many contradictions in this policy itself! Dreadstar 09:34, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, this is my understanding as well. Dreadstar 09:49, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, policy is not firm. Just to make this clear, we have a page called Ignore All Rules, and just to drive the point home with a 20-ton sledgehammer, the page is marked policy.
If that is still not clear enough for you:
* Policy is not mandatory, you may ignore any rule at any time, without sanction, provided your actions Improve the encyclopedia
* Or to look at it from a totally different angle: Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy. Once again, we stress and stress again that rules are not mandatory
* The policy tag itself states: "wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow.". We point out yet again that policy is just the baseline standard. You may deviate from that standard, should circumstances require it.
* On wikipedia, we state that consensus has primacy, not an arbitrary policy page. If consensus and policy conflict, policy is modified to reflect consensus, not the other way around. Again, this is also clearly stated in the policy tag, "you must ensure that your change reflects consensus"
* The 5th pillar of wikipedia is that "Wikipedia does not have firm rules". Large numbers of starting wikipedians are directed to that page.
* Things that subvert consensus - do not have consensus (this is to prevent subversion of the consensus system).
The proposed change by Slimvirgin conflicts with all of the above. I'm not entirely sure how or why an experienced wikipedia editor would make such a change.
--Kim Bruning (talk) 11:22, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
No sledgehammers necessary, Kim. I'm aware of all that you mention, and I did mention IAR in my post above. Thanks, though. There's a tad bit more to the 5th Pillar that you partially quoted, but even so, I don't believe that it contradicts my desire for something firm to edit by, nor the view that following policy should be closer to being "mandatory" than it does just being seen as "guidance", guidance such as one finds in a Guideline. Policy should more than just advice or guidance, so I still agree with SlimVirgin's edit adding mandatory. At the top of the policy page, it states "considered a standard that all users should follow", that statement sounds more like this is "something mandatory" than being merely something that "advises on courses of action".
Just to be clear, when I say "firm", I mean somthing firmer than a guideline or essay...which isn't the case when one uses wording like "advises on courses of action"; that latter wording, to me, denotes a Guideline, not a firmer-than-guideline Policy. That's all I'm asking for, so if a better word than 'mandatory' can be found, that would be awesome! Dreadstar 08:58, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
And even "firm" may not be the word I'm looking for, depending on which part of the definition and use we mean. I'm not using it as meaning "securely or solidly fixed in place" or "not subject to change or revision", but in the sense that it is well-founded and not weak or uncertain". Policy should be something binding that imposes an obligation to follow, as closely as possible, with the various exceptions that you have outlined...not as something seen as fixed or immutable, but something that can be changed, yet needs to be followed. I hope that helps clear up what I'm trying to say.
Perhaps it should be worded as "policy is widely considered mandatory, with exceptions such as those listed in IAR, etc..." Dreadstar 09:42, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Or heck, just replace "mandatory" and basically repeat what is said in the opening tag at the top,
"Policies have wide acceptance among editors and they are considered a standard that all editors need to follow."
That way we can drop the wordplay and just give a strong statement that has a different level of "requirement to be followed" for a policy, as opposed to a guideline. I dunno, I understand what you're saying and I think that the wording either way doesn't diminish the ultimate standing of Policy, but I think something needs to be added to the Official policy articles section that clearly shows a step up from what is contained in Official guideline articles. Dreadstar 10:05, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
Excellent. Agreed on the wording (if not entirely on the reasoning). Go ahead and make the change! :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:00, 16 December 2007 (UTC) 3 notes btw: 1. IAR is not an exception, it is the default rule. 2. Policy is not binding, nothing is binding on wikipedia. It does not need to be followed. There is even at least one way you can be banned for adhering to policy. 3. The difference between policy and guideline is entirely arbitrary. It was originally formulated as a policy being a guideline that is more important than a regular guideline.
Thanks, Kim. I was looking for something less strict than "mandatory", but stronger than the original version, because I do agree that we're not that strict in a majority of cases, but the importance of policy should be clearly delineated. And, sometimes policy is mandatory, just like WP:BLP is - do we take that into consideration anywhere in this? That policy even has elements that refer to Florida State Law the law in Florida, United States, something that absolutely cannot be disregarded - that's a clear case of mandatory policy.
I may have been struggling a bit with the reasoning since I had been up all night last night...and the old brain was a bit fuzzy...<sigh>...bit of a struggle with words in trying to convey what I was thinking. Slim, what are your thoughts? I'll make the change, but if you feel strongly about 'mandatory', I certainly wouldn't revert you and would really love to better understand the reasoning and counter-arguments to all of the above reasons given for not using 'mandatory'. I think it may be that most of what we speak of in our policies and guidelines..and essays are Wikipedia-centric, which I think is the view you may have been expressing in your edit summary, "policy is regarded as mandatory (insofar as anything is)". From that perspective, policy is mandatory, within the limitations and boundaries in the world of Wikipedia.
Sorry if I appeared obtuse, Kim! Thanks for your patience! Dreadstar 20:49, 16 December 2007 (UTC)
That's fine. :-) Do let me dispell one very very dangerous misunderstanding.
IANAL, but what I understand is that the Wikimedia foundation extensively uses the safe harbor provisions in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and you are responsible for your own edits (as an aside, the copyright remains your own as well).
I cannot stress the following enough. You can get yourself in serious legal trouble.
With "policies" such as Biographies of living persons, that intersect with actual law in some country:
NOTHING ON WIKIPEDIA CONSTITUTES LEGAL ADVICE. WHEN IN DOUBT, DO NOT FOLLOW THE ADVICE STATED ON THE "POLICY" PAGE. FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF A COMPETENT ATTORNEY.
--Kim Bruning (talk) 00:21, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Kim. I'm not sure who has the misunderstanding, but I know exactly what you mean and was referring to the laws in Florida as the mandatory thing that really needs to be followed, but I'm also well-versed in 512(c). I've had just a tiny tiny bit of law experience....it's not my main career choice..just a hobby...;) Dreadstar 20:00, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
I concur with Kim Bruning on the issue, not necessarily on the substance of the edits in question: The changes SlimVirgin proposes are actually way more substantial than they appear, and deserve serious consideration and debate. Right now, I lean toward Kim's interpretation, but am open-minded on the matter. The "mandatory" wording in particular is giving me concerns, because WP:IAR is also a matter of policy (and I stress policy, not guideline). The extant wording does not really cause WP policies to conflict with eachother, but SV's new wording would. Perhaps there is a different way to phrase the changes SV wants to introduce, without such fallout? And again, I remain neutral for now on whether such changes are warranted; this is a WP:PROCESS issue to me for now. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:07, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Talk archives?

I archived material that had not been live for a couple of months or more, since this page was 200K+ long. However, I note that this page has existed for a lot longer than "July 2007"; what happened to the older talk archives? --Lquilter (talk) 16:53, 16 December 2007 (UTC)

That is pretty lame, isn't it? If you have a mind to do it, please use the page history to re-generate archives back to the start. What's really strange to me is that there clearly were archives, since the current ones are numbered beginning with "10". What the...? I don't think I've ever seen any other case of archives being deleted like this. Weeeeiiiirrrrd. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 02:01, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

The "proposals don't work" meme

I have a great deal of respect for Kim Bruning, who I have found to be a very even-handed (and -tempered) and effective mediator in disputes, but cannot agree with his insistence that the guideline proposal process (per Category:Wikipedia proposals and Wikipedia:Village pump (proposals)) is obsolete or even as hazardous as suggested. There is certainly no consensus to remove it or mark it effectively deprecated in this policy page. I have seen Bruning make this claim more than once (I think 3 times, over the last year, in widely divergent WP forums), so I guess that a would-be-guideline of some kind that he worked on was {{Rejected}} via that process (and, not knowing the details, I can even assume that perhaps it should not have been).

This does not mean that the process is broken (at all) or irreparably broken (if it is). I had no trouble whatsoever, over a good 6+ months of work and debate and consensus building, in moving WP:MOSFLAG from nonsense to a reasonable essay, to a well-supported proposal and finally to a guideline that after 2 months or so with a {{Guideline}} designation appears to be remarkably stable and well-accepted. The process seems to work fine. While it is true that most of what is proposed at WP:VPR is rejected, if you actually read what is proposed at VPR you'll see why that dreck gets rejected.

Having watched some proposals catch fire and burn to cinders, my conclusion thus far is that the proposal process is only a danger to a good idea if the process is rushed, if WP:OWN seems to be going on, or (as is most often the case) there is no actual consensus that what the proposed guideline advises is acceptable. It has been my direct experience that quite a lot of give-and-take is required, and that coming to a sensible guideline that actually accounts for and addresses the exceptions (there are always exceptions) is a months-long process, because even a very dedicated Wikipedian with broad interests simply cannot possibly think of every exigency, and even an editor who spends of lot of time on MoS and other policies and guidelines, with which the new proposal may come into conflict in some minor way, cannot memorize or more importantly internalize every single point in every such document. It takes other editors, over time, to hammer out a guideline that actually makes sense.

In short, I think the extant proposal system works just fine. That it rejects good ideas that are badly formed, and bad ideas that seem persuasive, is not just a Good Thing, but is its principal purpose. I direct the attention of anyone interested in the issue to Wikipedia:Notability/Historical. It is clear from the analysis there that the primary notability criterion and the overall basis of today's (i.e. since early 1996) WP:N actually pre-dates that guideline considerably, but did not have sufficient consensus buy-in and was not sufficiently well-written and -reasoned, to actually become accepted as a guideline until quite a bit of time had passed and different versions were proposed. If anyone thinks there is actually something wrong with that, then they have a lot of convincing to do.

SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)›

PS: I'm actually surprised that WP:PROPOSAL redirects to where it does, instead of to a guideline on how to properly build guideline proposals. If anyone is interested in creating one, please drop me a line. I think that would be an interesting little metaproject. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:57, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

There was help page last year, which was first decimated and then deleted and redirected. It was a constant battle to keep it going. Kim was among the opponents suggesting that the only way to form a guideline was to document a practice, but then who gets to interpret and record practices with a keen and unbiased eye? --Kevin Murray (talk) 02:44, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
The community, as per Wikipedia:Consensus. We have already had this debate. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:04, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

SMcCandlish: Heh no. I'd never use {{proposed}} for anything, as I find it horrendously inefficient [*] . This is an old debate, which I thought had already been settled at Help talk:Modifying and creating policy (it helps to also review the edits to that page, while looking at the discussion). Not only is the proposal process very slow and inefficient, but it also apparently only works very rarely. By contrast, the much quieter wiki-process (m:Foundation issues #3) is rather more efficient, by over 10 times. Re-introducing such a page after the previous one died might not be a productive use of your time. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:04, 19 December 2007 (UTC) [*] Compare your 6 months for a MOS proposal to say the ~month of time needed to create WP:5P, whilst racing the Wikipedia:Wikirules_proposal , with quite serviceable inbetween variants at WP:SR and WP:TRI during the process)

There was no resolution at Help talk:Modifying and creating policy, you among others just wore down the opposition to the point where the benefits of the page just weren't worth the effort to perserve them. --Kevin Murray (talk) 17:44, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
And I thought we were the opposition. :-) We had valid arguments, and you could not find valid counter-arguments to maintain the page. --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:16, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Kevin Murray you state: " GIve it up! Your rehetorical editorials are not pertinent to a policy page. Proposals are accepted frequently." That's not fair, we gave people plenty of time to find all proposals that had been accepted, and they could find only a handful. Have things changed since the last time? Can you list all accepted proposals please? --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:40, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Kim there is not enough time in life for debating with you in perpetuity on this issue. However, I will concede that "frequently" is subjective, but from my perspective they are too frequently accepted. I agree that a low percentage of proposals become process, as it should be; in my mind too many are accepted with too little participation. Without the proposal process anyone could just decide to stamp a page as a policy or guideline and then the onus becomes disproving their assessment of de facto consensus. People familiar with the notability infrastructure are aware of many examples of the proposal process including accepted processes, or those which were accepted and then overturned. --Kevin Murray (talk) 17:42, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
Good, then that means you should have no trouble whatsoever to provide a comprehensive list of examples. To make life easier on you, a representative sample of only 20 such instances (provided they are valid) would be sufficient to convince me. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:13, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
I think a lot of people misunderstand the proposal process. When we are "making a proposal", we are not following the same model as when you propose legislation, and then if enough people accept, it becomes "enacted". What a proposal is, is a suggested formulation of Wikipedia consensus. What is being proposed is that "X language reflects Wikipedia consensus", not "X language is the new rule". Sometimes, very rarely, people make proposals describing a "best practices" way of doing things that nobody in Wikipedia has ever really considered before, and almost anybody who reads it immediately begins adopting those best practices because it seems right. In that case, the proposal (1) influences people to change Wikipedia practice, and then (2) with this new consensus agreement as to the best Wikipedia practice, the proposal very quickly becomes an accurate description of Wikipedia policy. This doesn't mean that the proposal "graduates" to a policy after some kind of "enactment". It just means that the proposal was highly influential in changing Wikipedia's actual practices, and later came to reflect Wikipedia consensus. COGDEN 17:57, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree that this is a desired approach, but in reality people are fairly prescriptive in their proposals. I think that most proposals in the notability infrastructure evolve from a perceived deficiency in the AfD process, but then proponents try to enact what they think it should be rather than what it is. AfD typically boils down to opinions loosely tied to a policy or guideline and the attempts at remedial processes do the same. Like it or not, consensus is demonstrated by numbers of those participating, willingness to edit-war or sheer persistence. Rarely is there any true consensus evaluated, because Wikipedians are generally apathetic unless they are pushing an agenda. My agenda is fewer but reasonable and consistent constraints on our writers. I see the proposal process as a safety measure to contain the instruction creep being generated by people who like to write rules rather than articles. --Kevin Murray (talk) 18:25, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
Since most people interpret the proposal process in the way you say, Kevin, I think it is fairly safe to say that -while it may be useful for something- it is not very suitable for formulating policy. --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:35, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm not going to respond to all of this, because it seems like an old inter-personal matter; I just want to clarify some points. That it took 6 months for WP:MOSFLAG to become a guideline is not a problem or a flaw in the system, but a good thing. The very "inefficiency" of the proposal system is what ensures that the end result (if not rejected) actually has consensus and isn't a one-editor or small-group micro-consensus on a particular bone to pick. I do not trust policy-formation processes here that churn material out rapidly, for the reason Kevin Murray raises, in short that most nascent policypages are created by someone pushing a one-sided agenda. If they end up with {{Guideline}} slapped on them after 3 weeks, the odds of them actually being moderated to represent what Wikipedia collectively thinks, on the whole, instead of what one to five editors with an axe to grind think, is quite low. Anyway, the point was, I see no consensus whatsoever that the {{Proposal}} tag and process have been deprecated by the Wikipedia community, so they should not be deprecated in this policypage, even if alternatives should be mentioned and described. PS: Thanks for the pointers to the prior debate. It does look gnashy enough that I don't think I'll try to resurrect it. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 22:33, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, that's a start, at least. Note that the "alternative" method (wikiediting) is actually the main system, which is quietly responsible for over 90% of all policy, guidelines and essays. --Kim Bruning (talk) 00:00, 20 December 2007 (UTC) ps. good luck slapping a guideline tag on something if it doesn't actually have community consensus. People *do* patrol :-P
Kim, regarding you closing parenthetical immediately above: I see it happen all the time, especially in the MoS subsector of "WP:" space. There's been some discussion at WT:MOS about stripping quite a number of pages of their alleged MoS subpage designations, because no one that regularly edits WP:MOS has even seen them before. There are dozens of these things, most of them either created by a 1-5 authors with a bone to pick, or the product of narrow WikiProjects on things like US highway signage or whatever (i.e., 1-5 editors with a bone to pick, again, really). — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:53, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:Notability (media)

Wikipedia:Notability (media) is an excellent example of creep that is being pushed by a few people for rapid acceptance. --Kevin Murray (talk) 20:34, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

Creep is like the old WP:PORNBIO guidelines or a notabilty guideline that affects a very limited number of articles. This guideline affects thousands of articles, this, along with one on sports, schools, and geographical figures are the last notabilty guidelines we should need. Secret account 21:28, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
What happened when you marked it as {{rejected}}? Who responded? Did you talk with the person who responded, and did you express concerns with the issues at hand? (as opposed to process for process' sake?). What did they say? Did you manage to convince them to drop the page? --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:30, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

It was never tagged yet, he went to the talk page first, the proposal was getting mostly support in the talk page. Secret account 21:34, 19 December 2007 (UTC)

I see. Kevin: Can you link me to the procedure you are following? --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:38, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
I am no aware of a specific procedure other than evaluating consensus. I do not believe that the burden of demonstrating consensus has been met by the proponents. We have about 12 participants with 2 in opposition to any guideline (seraphimblade and me) and 5 ready to accept the current draft and no specific indication of acceptance by the other participants. Add to that the recent demonstration of consensus to reduce and consolidate subject specific guidelines. --Kevin Murray (talk) 22:26, 19 December 2007 (UTC)
Try the actual Wikipedia:Consensus, which currently has a clear process chart, or use WP:BRD, if you think the former has been derailed, (be careful that you use BRD to fix things, not break them!). You needn't immediately mark the page as rejected, you could also try to show that each separate item is flawed. --Kim Bruning (talk) 00:04, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
I think that these processes are essentially in action. Both camps are being bold at the talk pages, but I think that tagging the project as rejected or accepted is premature. The quality of work is good if you believe that we need instructions beyond WP:N. Some people think that the problem at AfD is a flawed rule-set, others think that the problem is a flawed AfD process (e.g., voting rather than consensus, following ILIKEIT rather than WP:N, and admins measuring votes rather than logic. --Kevin Murray (talk) 00:16, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, I'm confused. Isn't it your opinion that this particular page should *not* become a guideline? --Kim Bruning (talk) 02:02, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, Kim I oppose the adoption of the guideline, but I think that everyone is acting honorably and the problem is lack of participation. --Kevin Murray (talk) 03:42, 20 December 2007 (UTC)
If you have logical arguments, you should even be able to win the day on your own. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:29, 20 December 2007 (UTC) Bringing in more people who haven't (yet) had a chance to do their homework might serve to muddy the issue, and might not actually help you. Be careful of who you invite.
Kim, thanks for the sage advice. --Kevin Murray (talk) 11:55, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Add me to the list of editors who feels this proposed guideline is creepy, ssenstially a restatement of the WP:V policy, and so should not become a guideline. UnitedStatesian (talk) 02:19, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

You edited the page, so you are on the list. :-) You only made minor edits so far though. Is the current version to your liking? --Kim Bruning (talk) 11:29, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

A question..

This may involve a few guildlines, mabye a policy, so I decided to put it here instead of the 'original reasearch' page. Say I write a book. After a while, it becomes notable, and I decide to write an article on it here. Am I allowed to write information on the book without another website source, since I, the writer, am clearly a knowledgeable source on my own book? (Save for ratings, of course I'd need it then.) Silverfireshadow (talk) 02:51, 25 December 2007 (UTC)

To do so would be against WP policy. Specifically, your personal knowledge of the book is the not verifiable, and therefore contrary to that policy. UnitedStatesian (talk) 20:33, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Raw numbers

To prevent further claims of "editorializing" and "opinion" I've simply reported the raw numbers for wiki-process and proposal-process, with no opinion or conclusions this time. The numbers vary a bit through time, hence I didn't use exact percentages.

You can verify the (current) numbers yourself, by simply counting the pages. If you do make a new current count, please report your results here.

--Kim Bruning (talk) 19:53, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

And why, exactly, are these numbers at all relevant to the page? I think they should be removed. And I can't believe that "simply" counting the pages is actually that simple - what counts did you get when you counted the pages? UnitedStatesian (talk) 20:30, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
[6], last time we counted we arguably found only 7 accepted proposals (of which 6 were sponsored by Jimbo Wales). All other active policy, guideline and essay pages were written using the wiki-method, including all original policy up to April 2003.
The numbers contain information not stated elsewhere, and state unequivocally which method is more used, (and imho also which method is the most successful). Currently, a small number of other proposals appear to have been accepted. Quantifiable statements are almost always more relevant and/or valuable than unquantifiable statements. However, if you feel the numbers are not relevant to this page, where should they be published instead? --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:00, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
The entire page you reference was rejected as mumbo jumbo, and the page is now a redirect. I think we can make the point by saying something like "a majority" and "a minority" without having to make up percentages. ("5-10%," combined with the 7 you cite, implies 70 to 140 policies; This page lists 41 policies.) If you think the made-up (and out of date) percentages are valuable you can "publish" them on your user page. UnitedStatesian (talk) 22:22, 28 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes it was. The whole proposal process is mumbo jumbo, which I believe we adequately demonstrated (see discussion for that page).
Note that the proposal process also counts for guidelines (and to some extent also essays), which (as of todays count) were Category:Wikipedia_guidelines 25 and Category:Wikipedia essays 400-600 respectively.
Hmm, that's interesting, are there less guidelines than there used to be. No matter, that's still 66 Policies and guidelines put together, and still only a couple more proposals accepted since last time we checked.
Fair enough. Assuming we now have 10 successful proposals the numbers would now be 85% and 15%.
Is that assumption correct? Almost certainly not. During the last debate on this issue, 6 of the 7 proposals people brought forward as "successful" actually involved the direct intervention by Jimmy Wales (and thus it can be argued that they actually fell under the "direct intervention by jwales, arbcom, or board" category instead).
That brings us back down to ~2% successful proposals at last count. Provided you can dig up 3 new successful proposals since that last count, you can just about get the number up to 6%.
So as you see, the current estimate is actually somewhat charitable. If you would like to show that proposed policies and guidelines are more successful than that, go right ahead and provide a list of succesful proposals.
We probably shouldn't even go into essays, which are clearly thriving compared to the other 2 categories <innocent look>.
Even so, this is somewhat tiring, I thought this entire debate was dead and buried by now. *sigh* --Kim Bruning (talk) 03:21, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Kim, what are these percentages for, and where these come from? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 05:28, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
First remove, then ask? That's not even exactly proper from a BRD perspective, as the change was already being discussed here. The motivation and sourcing is explained in this very thread. But very well then.
Very briefly, for your personal gratification:
I think that the {{proposed}} method is somewhat inefficient. Previously several editors including myself explained and explained and wore the proposals method description down to its final, verifiable core (which wasn't much), after which you yourself turned it into a redirect.
During the previous discussion we asked the {{proposed}} proponents to list all successful proposals (so no one can claim we stacked the deck), after which we then challenged some of those claims, and then did the numbers. To our surprise, the result at the time was that there is no statistically significant evidence that the proposal process works at all. This as opposed to the wiki-process , which is a very successful known-to-work system, as demonstrated in all namespaces, including the project namespace. (see also m:Foundation issues #3, which is more typically -possibly erroneously- interpreted to cover only the encyclopedia namespace)
If you are not satisfied with the previous discussion, we can start it all over again, if you wish. Since the outcome of the last discussion ended up with proposed losing out, I suggest that the burden of proof starts on the proposed-process side. If you would like to start by listing as many successful policy and guideline proposals as you can muster, we can then do the statistics all over again, and if necessary again, whenever you like and as long as you like, until you are personally perfectly satisfied that we have covered every shred of evidence in favor of the proposal process.
Will that do? --Kim Bruning (talk) 13:10, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Being true to IAR

An edit was recently made here changing longstanding policy that policies are not mandatory. We cannot, however, contradict the longstanding policy of Ignore All Rules. This is one of the most fundamental ones, and we shouldn't modify or abolish that rule here, particularly without widespread Community-wide discussion, or even discussion on this talk page. COGDEN 03:57, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

My reversion was re-instated by Crum375 without comment except that changes should not be made without "discussing on the talk page". I invite Crum375 to justify this "policies are mandatory" change. Why is this reversal of WP:IAR justified? If it isn't, let's change the language back to how it's been for years. COGDEN 04:02, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
It's clear from the Bold edits section above there was never consensus for the 'mandatory' phrasing in the first place; it was made without prior discussion and several people poitned out how it is clearly inaccurate. I switched it back to a longstanding version from an earlier version of this page. The second sentence carries much of the same meaning in any case. — Carl (CBM · talk) 04:19, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Just to make this all perfectly clear, should we add a comment to this section that policies are not mandatory, and that one of the most fundamental Wikipedia policies is Ignore All Rules? COGDEN 04:30, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
I think that goes too far in the other direction. Policies should usually be followed, in spirit if not in letter, some more than others. — Carl (CBM · talk) 04:32, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
I've been mulling over this whole "mandatory" thing. It's not a reversal of IAR. IAR does not mean that every action is justifiable. It is "neither a trump card nor a carte blanche." The rules (Policies) are mandatory, including IAR. They are complimentary, and as a whole, they are mandatory. Mandatory constitutes or contains a command, and command exercises a dominating influence or directs authoritatively. Exactly what our polices do as a whole. We can't cherry-pick from these policies and claim IAR overrides everything..it doesn't, the contents of IAR itself prove that. If you don't like mandatory, then please suggest other wording. Dreadstar 04:47, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
This doesn't mean I'm objecting to the current wording - since I sorta suggested it myself..;) - but I'm not objecting to "mandatory" either. Dreadstar 04:50, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
It isn't true that our policies literally must be followed, which is what "mandatory" says to many people. The main issue is that policy is not prescriptive, it is only descriptive. It describes "best practices" that should always be taken into account, but are not controlling in particular situations. As for wording, I think that "considered a standard that all users should follow" is accurate. — Carl (CBM · talk) 04:53, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
I can agree with that, I was thinking the same thing...the general interpretation of "mandatory" is as an absolute. And referring to the "whole" (including IAR) as 'mandatory', may be confusing and misunderstood. Dreadstar 05:28, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

I think the terms "mandatory" and "not mandatory" oversimplify the situation, and hence should be avoided. While trying to create a more direct phrasing, they only create confusion and contradictions. —Kurykh 05:03, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Agree. What is the need for these? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 05:06, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
BTW, we have only one non-negotiable policy and that is WP:NPOV. The other policies reflect current consensus and practices, and the principles upon which these have been written are non-negotiable as well. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 05:08, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
True enough. Dreadstar 05:28, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Interestingly enough, NPOV can be one of the most difficult policies to apply....seems everyone has a different view of what 'neutrality' is... Dreadstar 05:55, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

<<< Added text about policies as per the lead of NPOV. I think it summarizes well the core policies and the non-negotiable principles these embody. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 05:25, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

NPOV is a foundation issue, and all foundation issues are certainly negotiable ("Note: TODO: Over time, the opinion of the community does evolve slowly. Some changes have occurred which still need to be integrated in this document." -- good grief, that notice has been up forever, can someone help fix that?). Though it is VERY hard to get people to accept changes or exceptions, we have seen the foundation issues change slowly over time.

In fact, I do believe some changes even to NPOV are still needed as there are some issues with NPOV on I'm guessing a couple of thousand pages by now; but that's a story for another day.

I had a discussion IIRC with Slimvirgin when the "non-negotiable" phrase was introduced, where I recall an argument along the lines of "yes, of course we know that they are actually de facto negotiable, but we don't have to explain that to everyone"... and I'm still totally confused as to why people would do that. Perhaps I misremember or misunderstood the argument.

--Kim Bruning (talk) 12:40, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Argh. NPOV principle has been declared non-negotiable? Well, there goes all hope for entire subject areas.Also this causes trouble for other practices, such as Consensus. NPOV does work, but the basic principle requires tweaking for some pages (such as Global warming, which -even while WP:OWNed by an actual distinguished climate scientist!- still managed to end up with no mention of the greenhouse effect at one point.
The irony is that I think practices like NPOV are the life-blood of wikipedia, and now I'm going to have to fight tooth and nail *against* them to make sure that: A: they don't stomp all over all other policies. B: They can actually still be updated and improved at all, nota bene! Very very argh. :-( --Kim Bruning (talk) 12:45, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
At the moment it only says the principles are non-negotiable, which is better. — Carl (CBM · talk) 15:17, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Which is still a major power-grab in the wrong direction. Not so much "better" as "less bad". :-P I should have worked against this much sooner, but it's tricky to go against people on foundation issues, obviously ;-). --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:28, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Policies are not mandatory. You can't ignore them without a good reason, but they are still not inviolable. That makes them not mandatory, and we should not claim that they are.--Father Goose (talk) 18:51, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Father Goose and support CBM's edit from today removing the word mandatory. I think that the remaining language was sufficient. --Kevin Murray (talk) 18:55, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
IAR does not say that policies are not mandatory, it is itself a policy and as whole - Wikipedia policies are indeed mandatory. The only issue is potential confusion by the commonly understood meaning of 'mandatory'. On the other point being discussed, policy is different than the principles they are based on, and I do believe the principles are non-negotiable. Fine lines of distinction, but since such strict lines seem to be drawn here, then it only makes sense to define them as clearly as we can. Dreadstar 19:01, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Here is the proposed change: Policies are considered mandatory. They have wide acceptance among editors and are considered a standard that all users should follow. Editors should be careful that any change they make to a policy page reflects consensus. I don't see how we can make it stronger without repealing IAR. However, I don't oppose repealing IAR, but while it exists, I think that "mandatory" is too strong a word for this policy page. --Kevin Murray (talk) 19:11, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

My proposal:

The word "mandatory," in any form or tense, or with any affirming or negating adverb appended or prepended, shall not be used on policy pages.

My rationale detailed in my post further up this thread. —Kurykh 23:09, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

I find mandatory non-use of the word mandatory humorously ironic. Dhaluza (talk) 15:21, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Humor and irony are mandatory! --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:29, 30 December 2007 (UTC) O:-)

Policy pages need consensus for change

As with all pages, policy pages need consensus for changes. It seems that a few editiors have been nibbling at the structure of this policy for the last couple of days, without gaining a consensus for what is collectively a major change in tone. Absense of objection during a holiday period does not indicate consensus. --Kevin Murray (talk) 15:25, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

There is a rather hefty discussion on whether what you are saying is true or not. I am stating very strongly and unequivocally that your statement is incorrect, and am backing that up with data. If you are threatening to edit war, stay away. If you would like to join the editing and discussion, please be welcome. :-)
Note especially the wording of the template "ensure that your changes *have* consensus" not "gain consensus on the talk page". --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:31, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
I don't believe it, you actually reverted to a version which still contains a circular redirect (and possibly other very clearly broken items). I will revert your changes for now, and would like to invite you to participate in the wikipedia:consensus process, as documented. --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:34, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
You were bold and have been reverted. To follow the consensus process, you should gain broader exposure. I have posted my concern at the pump. --Kevin Murray (talk) 15:45, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
You did not revert just me, but many other people as well. That is not correct application of procedure. You should typically revert at most one person at a time. The consensus process does not make statements about "broader exposure" and on the current wikipedia, if you apply "broader exposure" incorrectly, you can well end up killing the discussion -either way, reverting is not a tool for gaining broader exposure, so does not apply here-. I'd like to give you the opportunity to undo your reverts. --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:01, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Reverting a haggling process back to a stable version is not without precedent. It is virtually impossible to unravel the web of the last several days, but it looks like most other editors' work was defacto reverted by you prolific subsequent changes. You seem to be trying to dominate this page and your contributions here seem to dominate your interest at WP. --Kevin Murray (talk) 16:11, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Heh, I'm just making some minor alterations to this page. Someone does have to maintain policy pages, and I have been doing so for several years now. As time progresses, even fairly small changes take more time and explaining to do. But I don't know that I should really respond to ad-hominem arguments at all. The fact of the matter is that you are repeatedly reverting edits made by multiple editors. --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:23, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Why the monolog? If you have problems with the non-negotiable aspects of policies, bring your concernts at NPOV, NOR, and V, where that wording is being used. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 16:16, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

I think a better place might be m:Foundation issues, where I suggest you bring up the change with the wiki-communities at large (and make no mistake, that would be a major change). :-) That and discuss things with Kevin Murray, I didn't revert your changes wholesale, I just disagreed with some of them on talk and made some small edits. I won't change them again, especially if we do take this to the wider community. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:23, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
(Oh silly me, I thought that these two editors above where one, sorry.) What changes? I only see edits related to synchronizing this page with wording used on core policies? ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 16:30, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
You mean Kim and Kevin, perhaps? :-) Note that the "core policies" appear to be slightly out of sync with m:Foundation issues. Specifically, I have some trouble with the "non-negotiable" wording, which does not appear on meta. :-/ --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:37, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, silly me... The meta page talks about "essentially beyond debate", that is another way of saying non-negotiable, which is the term used by Jimbo, if I recall correctly. OTOH, I would not mind replacing "non-negotiable" to "essentially beyond debate", which as I said have the same meaning. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 16:48, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
I think that some of the wording added from the other policies to here is out of place. Specifically the part about how WP:V etc. can only be edited in certain ways. Regardless of whether that's accurate (it isn't), this policy isn't the place to say it. — Carl (CBM · talk) 16:50, 29

December 2007 (UTC)

I see, perhaps some slightly different wording should be used on the foundation issues page, since there has definitely been debate over some of those issues, and they have been altered. Any suggestions? --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:20, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Policy pages need consensus for change if the change is opposed. Bold changes that are not opposed are just as much policy as anything else. But re-adding the same change after it has been opposed before seeking consensus is not appropriate.
Of course just because something stayed over the long weekend does not mean it has is unchallengeable. Consensus can change. 1 != 2 16:51, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Jimbo on non-negotiable aspects of NPOV:

≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 16:53, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

The foundation issues, insofar as they are mandated by the foundation, are not negotiable. WP:V and WP:NOR are not foundation principles, however. There is plenty of support for the principles they include, but the policy pages themselves are not written in stone, and are subject to consensus just like all other pages. I don't see why this policy page should be making statements about how certain other policy pages shouldn't be edited, or should only be edited in certain ways. This isn't to say that it should encourage random editing, either. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:01, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Are you saying that the principles of V and NOR and not that well established that may be changed in the future? I do not think so. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 17:07, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
The principles are unlikely to change, but the policy documents are likely to change as our practices change. From time to time, incremental changes need to be condensed into a rewritten document; the wording you propose would discourage that. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:10, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Ho boy, are verifiability and no original research up for an update. yes-sir-ree. It will take some research before doing so though. --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:16, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

I'm somewhat confused why Crum375 added back the 'mandatory' sentence with no comment on this page. Would someone else care to remove it? — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:11, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

I reverted to Jossi's last version because it most closely reflects our current policies and guidelines, and their application. Crum375 (talk) 20:13, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Can you provide any citation or evidence for your claim? The "policies are mandatory" claim was unique to one line on this page, which seems to contradict all other policy (including, but not limited to Consensus and Ignore all rules). But didn't we have this discussion before, and didn't we resolve it? Can we just use the version that we solved at that point in time?--Kim Bruning (talk) 20:19, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Here is your own version, Kim. Crum375 (talk) 20:25, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
There is additional discussion about this in the section Being true to IAR above. The proposed change (repeated at the end there) keeps the second sentence on the "policy" section, which correctly says that editors should follow policies. It only removes the word "mandatory", which many people will read in a way that contradicts what's actually going on. — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:31, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
The difference between "mandatory" and "advisory" is the difference between "policy" and "guideline" on Wikipedia. Any attempt to change that essential and longstanding understanding, would require a broad site-wide consensus. Crum375 (talk) 20:36, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
The word "mandatory" was added in the middle of December with no such sitewide consensus. It is not a longstanding part of this document. See the section bold edits above. In any case, could you explain in what way you feel policies are "mandatory"? — Carl (CBM · talk) 20:51, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) Mandatory means compulsory, while advisory means the you are strongly urged to follow. No one may violate NPOV, or BLP, or copyright, for example, under any circumstances. OTOH, you may be able to find exceptions to WP:FRINGE, in theory, if you can come up with a good rationale. Crum375 (talk) 21:06, 29 December 2007 (UTC)

Our policies are advisory - they are not intended to be prescriptive. It's true that it takes a better excuse to not follow BLP or NPOV than some other policies, I agree with you there. But, for example, blocking, protection, and deletion policies are not binding, and are not always even accurate about current practice. It's the claim that all policies are mandatory that I am concerned about; that NPOV and BLP have fewer exceptions is a different matter that can be handled separately. — Carl (CBM · talk) 21:21, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Could you give me your official description, in 10 words or less, of the difference between a Wikipedia policy and a guideline? Crum375 (talk) 21:58, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
My description isn't official, and I'm not bright enough to do it justice in ten words, but I can try to be brief. Policies and guidelines are almost the same, but policies have broader consensus and exceptions to policies are less frequent. More briefly: a policy is a guideline you should take more seriously. — Carl (CBM · talk) 22:26, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
Wishy-washy... ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:30, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
This debate is becoming ridiculous. Policies are there for a reason, and are prescriptive or mandatory in 99.9% of cases. For the remainder 0.1%, you got IAR. ≈ jossi ≈ (talk) 22:32, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
It is wishy washy, because the WP system is wishy washy. We don't have hard rules or mandatory policies, and expect people to work together without them. It's a crazy idea overall, but it's what we've got. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:24, 30 December 2007 (UTC)
Bzzt. IAR is there for 99.9% of the cases. Policy/guideline/essay pages are there for the 0.1% cases when you are in doubt and wonder what to do (and/or to figure out the definition of "sane" when first starting out, like folks like Crum375 do :-) ). I linked to a cool page on wardwiki earlier too, that helps explain things a bit --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:06, 30 December 2007 (UTC) Ok -so actually- consensus has a big role there too, but that's a story for another day, and it sort of breaks the symmetry to mention it here :-P
Exactly, I think that would be very confusing, and it's also circular. It doesn't really tell you what a guideline is, and implies you don't need to take a guideline seriously. Imagine how confusing that would be to a new editor arriving at this site, trying to learn how to edit. OTOH, here is what I consider the consensual difference: "A policy is mandatory, while a guideline is advisory." You could then argue about the meanings of the words mandatory and advisory, but you at least have a good starting point. Crum375 (talk) 22:36, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
A guideline describes how we usually do something, although there are going to be numerous exceptions in practice. Guidelines we feel are particularly important are called policies, and generally have fewer exceptions. There is no legalistic distinction between them because WP isn't a legalistic system or an experiment in mock government. The difference is in how the document is perceived. Historically, certain types of pages, such as style manuals, are called guidelines, while guidelines about admin actions are typically called policies. — Carl (CBM · talk) 00:24, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

Crum375: re my own version, shouldn't that be this one? --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:13, 30 December 2007 (UTC)