Wikipedia talk:Snowball clause

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It's all gone a bit pointless[edit]

WP:IAR makes total sense, it hits the nail on the head and sums up all left-field thinking. It's crucial to Wikipedia. But the Snowball Clause, as is, is maybe a bit pointless. Does it really have a purpose any more, seeing as it isn't policy? Doesn't IAR cover it all anyway? It just seems a little bit nonsensical to me :) --PopUpPirate 23:18, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

  • Well, then I'd suggest that, if this clause prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, you ignore it. >Radiant< 12:02, 21 May 2007 (UTC)
    • I wish everyone else would, too :D --PopUpPirate 23:17, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
      • Bouncing Snowball.png your case is a snowball, PopUpPirate ;) Benzband (talk) 11:09, 1 November 2011 (UTC)
        • It isn't a rule, it's an essay. I have noticed a lot of editors treating it as a policy, though, which does have me concerned. I'm in agreement with PopUpPirate. --Jackson Peebles (talk) 01:27, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Addition to "What WP:SNOW is not"[edit]

I would like to add the paragraph below (or a similar one) to the "What SNOW is not" section, because I think this section doesn't appropriately discuss the risks of Snow decisions. However, I would like to hear other editor's comments first.

It can also be argued that there is a reason that the normal AfD process takes 5 days, which is to ensure that all interested users, including experts on the topic and editors of the article in question, get a chance to contribute. Especially when the notability of a subject is in question it can easily happen that an article seems to have a snowball's chance in hell but this consensus may be turned around in the late stages, when experts on the issue become aware of the AfD nomination.

Malc82 14:41, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

  • I would suggest you instead add that text to WP:PI. Note that "it can be argued that" is a weasel phrase. >Radiant< 15:49, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
I think that PI wouldn't need that paragraph, but it may be good for users who use WP:Snow to consider it (since nobody reads every guideline before editing anything).
I know "it can also be argued that" would be weasel words in a mainspace article, but is this relevant here? This is a guideline, and thus it necessarily expresses an opinion. Would "There is a reason that..." be a better start? Malc82 16:19, 4 June 2007 (UTC)
  • But this page already has such a section, creating two would be redundant. Note that this page doesn't really express an opinion - it expresses the facts that (1) we sometimes 'snow' things, (2) not everybody likes this. >Radiant< 08:31, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

IS this Snow?[edit]

Can 6 votes in 24 hours be counted as a SB?

perfectblue 19:28, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Depends on the occasion (all six votes could be confirmed sockpuppets, for example). What was the occasion? Rockstar (T/C) 20:24, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

A merger between the a page about the urban legend of the Iraqi Killer bager and the factual page about the real life creature the Ratel (honey badger). Somebody put up a merge template and declared snow after only 6 votes. It's worth noting that proceedings were closed within 24 hours of the first vote and without the parent project or the page's creator being informed (they were unable to oppose the merger owing to not knowing about it). - perfectblue 08:44, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

  • What gives you the impression that merging is decided by voting upon it? Because it's not. >Radiant< 12:31, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

Uphill battles.[edit]

I was rereading this, and I noticed it had a bold part for uphill battles-- I'd actually written an essay on it awhile back at WP:UPHILL. I would link the statement to my essay, but that would be a bit egotistical, even for myself, and this article and it are slightly different. My article is mainly about the action of actually trying to save a snowball, whereas the way it's used here is more about things that are nearly snowballs. I would put it in 'see also', but again, that's a bit much, even for my ego, so I'd like to get at least a couple other opinions on it --Lucid 09:53, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

That's quite a nice essay, actually. "If everybody disagrees with you, is that an indication of (1) a conspiracy against you, or (2) that you're simply wrong?" It does come up quite a lot. But I'm not sure if the people who fight uphill battles actually benefit from reading that (ironic, no?) >Radiant< 13:20, 15 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, pretty much. The problem is that people fighting uphill battles are usually not good at interpreting policy, which is why I wrote this. It's kind of an "Ok, you don't understand policy, that's not a big issue right now just stop causing trouble" thing. --Lucid 01:15, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Or, in some cases, people that understand policy better than everyone around them. If the majority of idiots think something should or shouldn't be in an article, it's probably best to not waste your time dealing with them, as it's a waste of effort --Lucid 01:16, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Thus some people, I among them, edit on things we do not care passionately about, and move on when things look impossible. DGG (talk) 06:24, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

'Hell' picture[edit]

I feel the picture of hell is confusing. The big dome-lookin in the middle thing could be mistake for a really really big snowball - which to me suggests that whoever added that picture was trying to insert a subversive message into the article; namely that only a really really big snowball has a chance in hell - in other words, in order to force through unpopular decisions, you have to be a really really big dick. Also, the dome looks really sci-fi-ish, so even if people don't mistake it for a really really snowball, they might think it's a picture of future hell, or space hell, or possibly even robot hell - and therefore doesn't apply to the present-day, Earth-bound, human-created Wikipedia. --Gpollock 16:02, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

Can I please have what you're having? --Lucid 01:13, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
You are, I hope, aware that this is a nineteenth-century painting? >Radiant< 08:02, 16 August 2007 (UTC)
Laff alert.svg You know, there's another very important point to be made: in the ninth circle of hell, it's obvious that a snowball would definitely have a chance in hell, as documented by de-facto evidence of this with photographic proof. --slakr(talk) 11:04, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
A 19th Century painting! Does anyone know if Hell looked different in the 19th Century than it does now? Can we get a good up-to-date copyright-free photograph? Thanks. Wanderer57 15:56, 22 September 2007 (UTC)
And if the universe is exothermic, hell will freeze over which means, of course, snowball fights. --RedJ 17 01:56, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, I liked "Note the complete absence of snowballs" better than the current caption. :-) - (), 10:30, 12 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree; I've put it back. -GTBacchus(talk) 08:17, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Can we the image's title to "An artist's interpretation of hell. Note the complete absence of snowballs." I don't know how. —— (talk) 07:54, 16 May 2008 (UTC)
I know the above caption ("Note the...") is meant to be humorous, is it really appropriate for this type of page? --Macrowiz (talk) 04:25, 23 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes.  –Aponar Kestrel (talk) 03:29, 12 March 2009 (UTC)
I second "yes" MEEEEEEEEE! (talk) 20:41, 28 March 2009 (UTC)


I'd like to close Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/cf38 by WP:SNOW please. cf38talk 14:50, 21 December 2007 (UTC)


Anyone else feel that WP:SNOW is overused particularly in AfD debates? I use WP:SNOW, but I believe that it should only be used in contexts for which consensus really is glaringly obvious and there's no chance of the opposite thing eventually happening - in 'speedy keep' cases, or for things which would be impossible to have a sourced, valid article on yet don't quite meet the speedy deletion criteria. What's with people saying speedy delete in AfD now when none of the criteria apply, anyway?--h i s s p a c e r e s e a r c h 13:11, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Again, this seems to be another example of the snowball clause being applied dubiously. Although I argued for a strong keep, anything that resulted in a no consensus during its previous AfD is not going to be a snowball or speedy anything, except in unusual circumstances.--h i s s p a c e r e s e a r c h 18:03, 27 February 2008 (UTC)
If it had a previous AFD, I could see people speedy keeping it. (I don't believe in double jeopardy ) --Kim Bruning (talk) 13:09, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
WP:SNOW, speedy-keep and speedy-delete have all been misused since the days they were each created. Unfortunately, an awful lot of people cite those pages without apparently having actually read them. The best we can do is correct the user as tactfully as possible and explain why their comment was an inappropriate application of the policy page even though you may agree with their opinion that the page in question should be kept or deleted. Rossami (talk) 13:32, 16 April 2008 (UTC)

Name Change???[edit]

I have nothing against the idea behind the snowball clause, but closing an AfD debate "Delete per WP:SNOW" is basically telling the author that their article didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of passing AfD. Is it me, or does that seem a bit inflammatory (no pun intended)? I think that we should change it to something along the lines of "the landslide clause", which is much more civil. Thoughts? J-ſtanContribsUser page 19:25, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

not landslide--that implies an election, and afd is not a vote. , DGG (talk) 13:51, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
Ah, I see. What would you suggest? J-ſtanContribsUser page 15:32, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Call a spade a spade. User:Krator (t c) 00:17, 6 January 2008 (UTC)
Just so that I understand: call the situation what it is, but be nice about it. Ok, I guess. Citing "WP:SNOW" is more polite than "This doesn't have a chance in hell". I still think that the wording is impolite. J-ſtanContribsUser page 00:22, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

I think we should leave the name alone. As I understand it, this is a special "rule" to cover some special cases. In these cases, the snowball's chance in hell analogy does apply.
In an organization whose founder and leader is usually referred to as Jimbo, a certain degree of informality is to be expected. Wanderer57 (talk) 05:15, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

Is it possible to snowball delete? I don't believe so. If you have {keep, keep, speedy keep, keep} you can speedy keep, but not the other way around. --Kim Bruning (talk) 13:07, 9 April 2008 (UTC)


I have just wanted to say that i thought that when i went to a link saying that i should look at this page it was going to be another boring ass handbook written page in which i wouldn't even read execpt the first paragraph but when i read this and how they talk aboout snowballs and hell and even verify it with a picture i could barly stop laughing so to who ever did that i say thank you are awsome and that i Seth dalorane admin canidate approves of this pageSeth dalorane (talk) 02:05, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

If you like this you might want to check out other pages in Category:Wikipedia culture :D -- Ned Scott 06:29, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, it's an awesome page for wikipedia. It reminds me of pages in smaller wiki's, such as homestarwiki. Jezzamon (talk) 07:35, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
+1 - stumbled in by accident, love the article. "Hell, note the lack of snowballs"..... awesome. Fjbfour (talk) 16:35, 11 August 2010 (UTC)

Essay header[edit]

I don't think it is necessary to have a non-standard header. The <essay> tag auto-includes the page in Cat:WPessays. In that case, a link to WP:IAR in the see also section is fine. --Newbyguesses (talk) 04:11, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Why use a broad catch-all tag when a specific custom designed tag is that much more accurate? :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 13:06, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
The custom designed tag gives readers the wrong idea about the status of this page. It's just an essay. :P —Locke Coletc 13:59, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Heh, and I think it's policy. Are we deadlocked? :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:13, 9 April 2008 (UTC) hence the odd tag you see... people couldn't agree... ;-)
The expression, "just an essay," doesn't mean anything. Arguing over the official status of pages is basically antithetical to the nature of policy here. -GTBacchus(talk) 14:16, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Yup. So are we going to have another go at the annual Snowball clause tag revert-war, or could we just keep that friendly "agree to disagree" tag up there? :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:18, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
It sure looks like an essay to me. I don't see where it has ever had consensus to be more than an essay. Changing tags isn't going to make it more than an essay. (1 == 2)Until 15:20, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
The expression "more than an essay" doesn't mean anything. Pages are not about their official status; they're about what's written on them. If you stop (mentally) categorizing pages as "essay" or "not an essay", you'll be acting in the spirit of WP:IAR. The question is not "Is SNOW a guideline?," the question, in each context, is "is SNOW useful here?" -GTBacchus(talk) 15:54, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
This reminds me of the insistence that Don't template the regulars was suddenly more than an essay. (1 == 2)Until 15:23, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
If you violate DTTR 3 times in 24 hours, you will be blocked for 24 hours. How is that an essay?  :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:26, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Umm I think you are saying if you break 3RR then it is a violation of the 3RR policy? How does that change the essay at all? It is an essay because that is what consensus wanted. Where is it written that any advice that if ignored 3 times in a day leads to blocking is not an essay? Non-sequitur. (1 == 2)Until 15:28, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Be Empirical! Try templating a regular and see what happens O:-) . Welcome to wikipedia best practices documentation, where we describe, not prescribe ;-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:38, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Actually there is wide disagreement about templating the regulars. But we are getting very off topic. (1 == 2)Until 15:39, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
There is? Has anyone gotten away with it? --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:43, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
(ec.) Note that this policy was used on WP:MFD at least once as rationale for speedy closing a debate. <innocent look> We have empirical evidence of this particular policy/guideline page being applied as such on-wiki.
I figure perhaps we should start changing all pages with on-wiki consequences to essay , so as to be consistent? :-P --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:42, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
This page describes an application of the policy WP:IAR, if someone uses IAR as described by this essay that does not make it a policy. Your conclusion does not follow from its premises.
This may sound a bit crazy but bare with me, we can let consensus decide which pages are essays! I know, revolutionary, but it may just work. (1 == 2)Until 17:35, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
That's what we're doing now, right? I mean, we're discussing, and that's how we find out about consensus. I'd like to see consensus built that talking about whether or not pages are "essays" is off-topic, but whatever kind of consensus we build, I think this is how it's done. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:40, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
My comment was in response to Kim's statement about empirical evidence and the possibility of changing all pages with on-wiki consequences to essay. I thought that needed some sort of response. Though I agree it is off topic. (1 == 2)Until 17:51, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
  • You agree that it's off-topic to talk about whether pages are essays? Now I'm puzzled. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:59, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
No, I was unclear. I think that arguing about how we decide if something is an essay or not is off topic, perhaps better suited at WT:CONSENSUS. Discussing if a page is an essay or not is productive. (1 == 2)Until 18:04, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Why? At what point is "Is SNOW an essay or a guideline or something else?" a more interesting or important question than "Should SNOW be applied in context X?"? -GTBacchus(talk) 18:06, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Who said anything about "more important"? I don't think it is a mutually exclusive situation. You can discuss when and in what context SNOW can be applied in, but that does not mean we can't determine what the consensus is regarding the status of this page. (1 == 2)Until 18:56, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Ok, so nobody said "more important". I tend to think that it's utterly frivolous to talk about whether a page is an "essay" or a "guideline". I see no practical benefit there, unless we consider giving people the wrong impression of how Wikipedia works to be a benefit.

Why encourage the idea that a page's official "status" is the way to think about it? I'd love to see those tags all thrown out as so much policy creep, but I realize that some of them are necessary. Tagging policy as policy: fine. Tagging an essay you've written as an essay, so people don't get the wrong idea: cool. Implying that those tags matter by arguing about them: not so cool. -GTBacchus(talk) 21:25, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

The difference is that an essay is an opinion that a group of editors maintain, and a guideline has demonstrated the support of the community. This bit of information is crucial for someone reading this so that they can make an informed opinion on the content of the page. (1 == 2)Until 21:43, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Except the informed opinion will necessarily take the form of "do I act on this, or don't I?" Eventually, it comes down to an edit that you either make or not. Whether or not you make that edit shouldn't depend on whether it comes from an essay or a guideline, but on whether or not it's a good idea in context. What am I missing? What's a specific case where someone won't know what to do unless we distinguish essays from guidelines? Is it making sense, what I'm driving at here? -GTBacchus(talk) 21:49, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
To put it more concretely/succinctly, whether a page is an "essay" or a "guideline" has never had any effect on whether or not I apply it, personally. Is the case different for you? -GTBacchus(talk) 21:51, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Oh yes, when I was a new user and not a sage veteran such a your or I am now. I followed the guidelines because I saw they had community support, with essays I took into account that they were not the same thing, just something someone wanted you to consider. While experience can lead one to understand the intricacies of IAR and common sense, new users often need guidance in a more direct form. (1 == 2)Until 21:53, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
I don't entirely disagree with you, but I've got reservations, so I'll keep playing devil's advocate. I was a new user in '03, when things were a lot looser, and I really have no idea which project-space pages I ever read. I suspect I still haven't read at least two or three core policies. Nevertheless.... how long should we reinforce (to newbies) the concept that Wikipedia is a rules-game, before finally letting them know that it isn't really? Do you think those tags imply a bit much "official status" for a project that includes IAR as a core policy? Shouldn't we encourage contributors to exercise their own judgment from day 1? -GTBacchus(talk) 22:09, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
This happens automatically as the user gains an understanding of consensus, common sense, and ignore all rules. It happens very organically. (1 == 2)Until 14:55, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I used to feel a lot less confused when I just followed guidelines blindly, as if they were rules written in stone. Now, I have to think about the context of each individual action, each individual edit. That is hard work, I feel more confused from time to time, but the overall result is better, I think I do better edits this way. --Newbyguesses (talk) 00:37, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Not to get you guys too nervous, but right now, we're standing in an old dusty wikidrama-zone (see archives), have popped off the safety-tag that cooled it down last time, and have re-lit an old fuse we found lying around (see archives some more) , and are... just standing around? --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:06, 9 April 2008 (UTC) Once the fuse is lit, Mr. Dynamite is not your friend.

I would very strongly advise anyone against invoking this unless they are very sure that the common sense of essentially all people likely to comment in good faith is going to agree with their own. In 18 months here, 12 as an admin, I have found maybe one or two times where i needed to use it. The only valid use is when everyone will agree on something, but find no actual written policy. If it's going to be controversial, the sense is less than common. DGG (talk) 23:51, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Wait a minute please[edit]

Quoting the article:

"The snowball clause is not policy, but it is designed to prevent editors from using Wikipedia policies and guidelines as a filibuster"
"The snowball test -- This test can be applied to an action only after it is performed, and is thus useful for learning from experience."

It is hard to see how a test that can only be applied retroactively can prevent anything. Wanderer57 (talk) 17:33, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

It can prevent one from doing the same mistake again. (1 == 2)Until 17:36, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Precisely. That's why it says it's useful for "learning from experience". -GTBacchus(talk) 17:40, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Also, the snowball test is different from the snowball clause itself. It's more of a note about the snowball clause than part of the actual clause. It's there to prevent snowball fights. -GTBacchus(talk) 17:41, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the feedback. To see if I understand this, if I apply the snowball test retroactively to an issue, and I learn from that experience, then if a similar issue arises in the future I may be able to "apply the test" proactively to help make a decision. Have I got that right?
Thanks, Wanderer57 (talk) 19:31, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
I think that's the gist of it, yeah. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:11, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
Yes, that sounds right. --Newbyguesses (talk) 00:39, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

relationship to policy[edit]

For an essay, it is not necessary for an essay to agree with existing polic--ine3ed, essays can be a step in changing policy. ., However, when it gives advice that is directly contrary to policy, such as suggesting that speedy can be used in cases which it does not provide for, it had better say that it is contrary to the policy. DGG (talk) 00:21, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Time limit?[edit]

I propose adding language to the effect of strongly suggesting that the snowball clause not be invoked until at least 24 hours have passed, to give editors from all time zones equal opportunity to voice opinions. Any objections or suggestions on how to phrase it? —Quasirandom (talk) 17:45, 14 July 2008 (UTC)

it depends on the specific instance. Remember that if anyone seriously questions a SNOW, the matter can and should be reopened. There are frequent instance of trolling by opening an impossibly absurd or deliberately distruptive XfD of other complaint that need to be closed as soon as possible. DGG (talk) 04:22, 16 July 2008 (UTC)


Article says:

Hell! Note the complete absence of snowballs.

And I'm ROTFLing! ;-) ... said: Rursus (bork²) 14:17, 31 January 2009 (UTC)

What is this even about?[edit]

I've read this article quite a few times, but I still don't really know what it means. Can someone give a really simple explanation? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jezzamon (talkcontribs) 05:55, 2 February 2009 (UTC)

Long story short this is a way to either keep or delete a page that does not technecally meet the speedy criteria but there is a strong (possibily unamious) consensus for a partciular outcome. This is a way to avoid buroracy if a partiuclar outcome is so obvious and a full five day AFD is not needed. -- (talk) 03:19, 9 March 2009 (UTC)
even more generally, it's 'don't start up some long, involved, bureaucratic decision process when you already know the outcome.' it's a waste of everyone's time. --Ludwigs2 04:05, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

What the snowball clause is not[edit]

i propose adding a new paragraph to that section.

Also, the Snowball clause should not be seen as an excuse to violate WP:CONSENSUS. Per WP:NOTVOTE, if 1,000 people vote to keep and the only person presenting an argument based on Wikipedia polices advocates deletion per those policies, the article will be deleted, regardless of the number of votes to the contrary. Misterdiscreet (talk) 00:00, 22 March 2009 (UTC)

But there is a clear problem with that assertion. The entire point of AFD is to develop a consensus among editors. According to your proposed addendum, an editor who is solidly in the minority of an AFD can overrule a vast majority of other editors who have just developed a consensus because he feels he is right. The entire point is that consensus decides whether or not an article meets policy, not an editor who thinks that he is right and everyone else is wrong. They have to respect the consensus formed in the AFD Rwiggum (Talk/Contrib) 03:59, 22 March 2009 (UTC)
Consensus is not developed by simply voting "keep" or "delete" per WP:NOTVOTE. If 1,000 people vote to keep, no consensus has been established. A lone editor who presents an argument for deleting based on wikipedia policy trumps the 1,000 people who voted to keep. again, read WP:NOTVOTE. Misterdiscreet (talk) 21:31, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

fact checking[edit]

I feel compelled to point out that (according to a popular theory) at least one of the circles of hell is a vast frozen sheet of ice, where a snowball would actually do quite well. Doesn't NPOV insist that we represent the notable minority position that the chances of a snowball in hell (under some conditions) are darn near 100%? --Ludwigs2 22:16, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

LOL. Okay, but where are your reliable third party references? Hm? ;-) Yintaɳ  10:52, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
This was one of the things I always think about when this phrase is used too, in contrary to popular theory, Danta's Inferno clearly states that Satan sits in a giant pool of ice, not fire, and would would probably have spent his eterinity there making quite a few snowballs himself.SeeDantes_Inferno#Ninth_Circle.

Philman132 (talk) 13:09, 12 June 2009 (UTC)

revisions to lead[edit]

I rewrote the lead a bit, for style, and to make reference to what I think are the appropriate essays and guidelines (this is not related to wp:IAR, but is much closer to wp:POINT and wp:NOTABUREAUCRACY). comments? --Ludwigs2 20:33, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes, I think this version is better. Queenie 12:59, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

Restored lead[edit]

The reference to WP:CIVIL was removed. I restored it as I find civility does play a big part in WP:SNOW. Comments? Yintaɳ  20:33, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

WP:SNOW is about not being bureaucratic and POINTy by following a process just for the heck of it (Note that it is possible to be both bureaucratic and POINTy without being incivil or retorting to personal attacks). Besides if you read the clause, it does not mention "civility" anywhere
If an issue doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting a desired outcome, don't keep pushing for it anyway.
If you "keep pushing for it" it would not be called incivility, but disruptive behaviour.
Civility is expected from Wikipedians at all times so having it in the lead of SNOW is basically redundant. Its like adding "...and please maintain civility." to the lead of every Wikipedia policy/guideline or essay. PirateSmackKArrrr! 06:42, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Why was the clause changed?[edit]

I remember that the snowball clause once said something along the lines that if following a particular bureaucratic procedure will result in an inevitable outcome with a "snowball's chance in hell" of a different outcome, then there is no point in going through the procedure. Now it's changed to something entirely different. This clause has gone from an anti-WP:BUREAUCRACY position to practically endorsing it. --Farix (Talk) 01:15, 6 August 2009 (UTC)


I see that Stevertigo has attempted to mark this as historical, I reverted because I disagree and see no consensus to do so. We are not a bureaucracy and this is not a guideline or policy so I see no reason to scrap this. If someone is annoyed with how this essay is used then they should bring the problem to the person they think is misusing it or to this talk page. They should not unilateral attempt decide something is historical. The historical tag should reflect the current status of the essay not dictate it and I see the ideas in this essay being practiced daily. Discussion welcome.

The snow ball clause allows us to avoid going through the motions of a bureaucracy when we all know what the result will be. That is all that is needed in defense of this page. If people mis-use it then the problem is with those people not this page. Chillum 04:15, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

This is the modus operandi of Severtigo when he doesn't like rules or policies that are used against him. Note the last time he did this at WP:IAR, a disruptive act which was noted by ArbCom. Tarc (talk) 04:32, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Steve please propose your reasons here in a reasonable fashion so that we may give your point of view proper consideration. The lack of information you have provided makes it very difficult to understand what your reasoning is. As it stands this is more disruptive than productive. Chillum 04:42, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

What did I do? What did I say that was in any way controvertible? -Stevertigo 04:52, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Well, as mentioned above you attempted to mark this as historical without very much explanation. If you want this to happen you need to convince us. If not then no further action is needed. Chillum 14:05, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

This is essentially what I wrote:

"This policy is now listed as historical, due to abusive usage. Too many people have been using "SNOW" to game the system in process disputes, and its been promoting violations of WP:TALK, WP:CONSENSUS, and WP:CIVIL. From a larger perspective, it is obtuse for Wikipedians to repeat the same mantra that critics say about Wikipedia itself, that:
Wikipedia has a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding in becoming an encyclopedia, or else to rise to the level of being reliable.
We proved them wrong, but moreover Wikipedia's very existence proved "SNOW" in general to be a violation of the principles outlined at WP:TALK and WP:CONSENSUS.

-Stevertigo 17:19, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

I don't think that argument justifies marking this page as historical. This page describes a common practice that serves us well. Those people who said "Wikipedia has a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding in becoming an encyclopedia, or else to rise to the level of being reliable" where likely not using this page as justification for saying so. I don't think it has been promoting violation of those policies, if someone is violating those policies then that is their doing not this page's. Chillum 18:36, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

Guys, there is no need for discussion. The two of you pefectly understand Stevertigo's MO. He may well be the biggest troll currently working to disrupt Wikipedia. Next thing you know, he will label "NPOV" as "historical" because "those people who say "there is no point to Wikipedia" should not be encouraged by a policy that basically says we are neutral as to whether Wikipedia has a point or not." Steve's MO is to make stupider and stupider arguments becausese the stupider they are the more time it will take anyone to explain what makes them stupid, thus maximizing the disruption of WP. When will there be a snowball consensus that Stevertigo should be banned? If he pulls this again with a policy or guideline I suggest we open an RfC on Tigo. Slrubenstein | Talk 19:32, 6 September 2009 (UTC)

The RfC on the Community de-Adminship proposal has begun[edit]

The RfC on the Community de-Adminship proposal was started on the 22nd Feb, and it runs for 28 days. Please note that the existing CDA proposal was (in the end) run as something of a working compromise, so CDA is still largely being floated as an idea.

Also note that, although the RfC is in 'poll format' (Support, Oppose, and Neutral, with Comments underneath), this RfC is still essentially a 'Request for Comment'. Currently, similar comments on CDA's value are being made under all three polls.

Whatever you vote, your vote is welcome!

Regards, Matt Lewis (talk) 10:46, 4 March 2010 (UTC)

Reformulate Snowball clause[edit]

I originally started to write the following:

A snowball's chance in Hell is, to me, a very, very small chance, bordering on being a foregone conclusion of failure/melting.
The claim:
If an issue has a snowball's chance in hell of being accepted by a certain process, there's no need to run it through the entire process.
would then mean: ``Even the slightest chance of success makes it legitimate to consider success a foregone conclusion and skip the process.

Then the coin dropped, and I realized that the statement ment the opposite: ``If the chance of success is neglible then it is legitimate to consider failure a foregone conclusion and skip the process.

I recommend that the claim be tweaked to avoid this ambiguity. Those who know the policy will understand it already; those who do not and are low on their coffeine may fail, just like I did. (talk) 23:19, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

Removals from "See also"[edit]

I've removed the following items from "See also":

They seem for the most part to be expressions of minority dissent from our very firmly established policy that Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy and as such are useless and will only mislead newcomers--which I assume was not their intention. --TS 19:14, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

And thats a nice bit of rule lawyering. Still if thats the way you want to go then by the time anyone could bring the snowball clause into play the bureaucracy has already happened. The timing of an afd (or DR depending on the situation) closure is independent of the amount of bureaucracy involved.
Given the amount of damage to community relations that can be caused by badly chosen use of the snowball clause it is useful to show to both newcomes and long time users alike that it is not the be all and end all.©Geni 23:12, 2 November 2010 (UTC)

Audio Volume Problem[edit]

I tried to listen the the sound file that reads the page to you, but I couldn't hear a word. I turned my computer's volume up to full, then adjusted the volume option on the page (next to the play button and progress bar). It was a faint whisper. Has anyone else had this problem? I've just gone to YouTube to check, and it nearly blew my speakers. So I don't think it's a problem with my machine. Fly by Night (talk) 19:10, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

I can confirm the problem. Regardless, the spoken version of the page is so outdated to actually be unhelpful. I've removed it. Anyone is welcome to replace it with a new version. --Bsherr (talk) 19:28, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Pointless pictures[edit]

IMO the pictures add nothing to the article and should be removed. "Snowball's chance in Hell" is a well-known idiom that does not need illustrating, and indeed it's become so transparent in meaning that the pictures only serve to confuse. (talk) 19:13, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

"Snowball's chance in Hell" may be a well-known and often-used idiom among religionist Americans with their rather simplistic theological understanding and overall simplistic world view, but certainly not among the entirety of the English-speaking world. It is a very bad name for a Wikipedia guideline. ♆ CUSH ♆ 11:35, 7 January 2012 (UTC)

Clarification Needed Concerning Deleting On Sight.[edit]

Recently I was involved in a good-faith discussion about AfD policy. There were two possible interpretations and I am not sure which one (if either) should apply.

Consider the following made-up case; someone puts a tag on the BLP for the Pope with a comment "Non Notable leader of little-known religion." Clearly there us a snowball's chance in hell of the pope's page being deleted as non-notable.

INTERPRETATION A: There needs to a discussion before [[WP:SNOWBALL]] can be invoked. We can quickly deal with the afD, but at least a little discussion is required. Not only does the box displayed by the tag say "this notice must not be removed until the discussion is closed", but there is a comment that reads "<!-- Please do not remove or change this AfD message until the issue is settled -->." Also, the user who deleted the tag should be warned with {{Uw-idt1}} or {{Uw-idt2}}. That's what the Uw-idt tag is for.

INTERPRETATION B: The first editor who sees an article for deletion / not notable tag on the pope's BLB should delete it on sight, ignoring the above "do not..." warnings, and invoke [[WP:SNOWBALL]] in the comments. That's what [[WP:SNOWBALL]] is for. If any editor disagrees and wants a discussion, he should revert the tag deletion and the deleter should then discuss rather than deleting the tag, but there is no need for a {{Uw-idt1}} user warning after a good-faith application of [[WP:SNOWBALL]] in such a case.

So, gentlemen, which interpretation (or some third interpretation) is more correct? I personally can see good arguments for both interpretations. Guy Macon 16:46, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

To my mind your example would be a good example of when to use Speed Keep - it's either vandalism or they've failed to read the article. If it's less clear cut than that, then wait until there is enough discussion for WP:SNOW. Thryduulf (talk) 20:57, 9 February 2011 (UTC)
WP:SK does not apply to this particular question. It reads
"Speedy keep is the process of closing debates at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion and related pages with a result of 'keep' before the normal discussion period ends",
and thus cannot be applied before the discussion starts, as described in interpretation B above. The question is whether in such a clear-cut case an editor can delete the tag on sight. WP:SK also says that
"Specifically, a 'snow close' is not a speedy keep close and the two should not be confused."
Guy Macon 02:54, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Where does it say that you can't speedy keep something before the discussion starts? If it would be a speedy keep because of being an vandalistic &/or blantently erroneous or frivolous nomination after the discussion page has been created, then it's exactly that as soon as the AfD tag has been placed with such a rationale. If the rationale given (or the nominator's history) does not make it clear why that the nomination is in bad faith, etc then per WP:GOODFAITH a reasonable amount of time should be given to allow the nominator (who may be unfamiliar with the process) time to create the page with a rationale (how long this is depends on the prominence of the article, etc), at which point it can be speedily kept if appropriate. If it still isn't clear whether it's appropriate to speedy keep it or not, it isn't.
The point about WP:SK not being WP:SNOW is so that discussions that get closed because of a flood of keep votes but do not meet the criteria for speedy keep get closed as WP:SNOW not WP:SK (for exactly the same reason that discussions closed because of a flood of delete votes that don't meet the WP:CSD criteria should get closed as WP:SNOW not speedy deletion). To summarise a bit, the process is as follows:
  1. Article gets nominated for AfD
  2. If it's suitable for either speedy deletion or speedy keep, it's deleted or kept as appropriate
  3. If it isn't suitable for either speedy deletion or speedy keep, but there is such overwhelming support for either keeping it or deleting it that the outcome is clear before the 7 days is up, then it's closed per WP:SNOW
  4. If there isn't such overwhelming support for one course of action, then it's left to run the full 7 days.
In very few cases is it going to be harmful to leave a deletion nomination open longer than it could be. Being an article currently featured on the main page is one of those cases, which is why that's an explicit criterion in WP:SK. Thryduulf (talk) 11:30, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
I am having trouble determining whether the above says that it is or is not OK to delete an afD tag one minute after it is put up in cases where there is clearly zero chance of a "delete" decision.
Re: "Where does it say that you can't speedy keep something before the discussion starts?", the box displayed by the afD tag says "this notice must not be removed until the discussion is closed", and {{Uw-idt2}} is a warning that was (in good faith) placed on my user page after I did exactly that. Or are you saying that instead of deleting the tag I should have put up a notice that there was a (30-second-long) deletion discussion and that my decision was "speedy keep"? Guy Macon 14:37, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Hmm, I need to think a bit more on this so I'm sorry if the following is a bit rambling. I'm certain that whatever course of action is taken, it wont be a WP:SNOW close (pre-emptive snows are speedy keep/speedy deletion). If nothing else was available I'd WP:IAR a speedy keep for the pope example. If the nomination was unquestionably vandalism then no record needs to be kept of it imho (although you can if you want of course) and I personally wouldn't object to you rolling back the edit (I'd note why you'd done it on the article talk page and give the user a warning though so you don't get stung in good faith for removing an AfD tag). If it wasn't vandalism, then I'd say almost certainly to keep a record of the AfD (definitely if a nomination page had been created). Where it isn't clearly either vandalism or not vandalism, I'd use your judgement as to whether you need to record it. It was for situations like this that I put "whether or not a record is kept of the AfD on the talk page is at the discretion of the closing admin" when I wrote the initial draft of WP:SK, although I note that this as been removed at some point in the past year or so (with no blatantly obvious discussion about it on the talk page). Thryduulf (talk) 02:19, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Note: I've left a message at Wikipedia talk:Speedy keep asking for more opinions. Thryduulf (talk) 02:27, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! I will be watching both pages with great interest. Guy Macon 18:51, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

An AFD nomination for The Pope would be a speedy keep, an all but obvious SK2. However, this was not a speedy keep and most likely not a WP:SNOW keep either. It needed to go the full 7 days.--Ron Ritzman (talk) 02:54, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

I am an exopedian, and thus when I am on talk:Snowball clause, I am only interested in discussions that might lead to improving and/or clarifying Snowball clause. That's why I formulated my question with the made-up example of the Pope - so that we can discuss what happens in a case that everyone agrees has zero chance of resulting in a deletion. If you think that I was in error when I determined that the BLP of the holder of 11 world records in competitive speedcubing is also such a case, I would love to discuss it on my talk page. There is even a nice trout template you can apply (smile).
Also, I cannot tell from your reply whether you are telling me that it is OK for the first editor who sees an afD tag on the pope's BLB to delete it on sight, whether it is OK for the first editor who sees an afD tag on the pope's BLB to mark it as closed on sight (leaving a "This page was nominated for deletion on [date] The result of the discussion was keep" box on the page despite there being no such discussion), or whether an afD tag on the pope's BLB must be left up for some short discussion period rather than being closed/deleted a minute after being placed. Could you clarify? Thanks! Guy Macon 18:51, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Don't think so much. Just revert it as vandalism if it's that clear of a case and don't worry about any AfD process. WP:IAR Gigs (talk) 03:32, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
I am not comfortable with defining a good-faith afD that has a snowball's chance of resulting in deletion as vandalism. The pope is a bit of a stretch, but some people really do think that the world champion at chess or competitive speedcubing is not notable enough to have a Wikipedia BLP page. They are wrong, but they are not vandals. Guy Macon 13:11, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree. But the pope or the president of the united states is disruptive enough to be considered vandalism. Gigs (talk) 18:35, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
An AFD for the Pope or the president of the US is one of two things. It's either "trollz and lulz" or a pointy nomination from someone whose article on the president of a micronation or an obscure religious leader just got deleted. --Ron Ritzman (talk) 19:04, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── It appears that no example is suitable for my purpose, which is getting an answer to the policy question I keep asking. Thryduulf being a big exception, most of the comments seem to focus on the example, leaving the policy question unanswered. So let me try again with no example:

Assume for the sake of argument that someone in good faith nominates a Wikipedia page for deletion that has zero chance of being deleted. Seconds later, another editor sees the afD tag. As far as I can determine, the following is a complete list of his options for applying Wikipedia policies and guidelines at that point:

OPTION 1: Revert it on sight. This leaves the page as it was before the afD. It also requires disobeying the message box ("this notice must not be removed until the discussion is closed") and the comment ("<!-- Please do not remove or change this AfD message until the issue is settled -->") put there by the afD template.

OPTION 2: Close it on sight. This leaves the page with a "This page was nominated for deletion on [date] The result of the discussion was keep" box on the page despite there having been no such discussion.

OPTION 3: Do nothing. Leave it up for discussion, possibly for the entire 7 days, possibly with a speedy keep closing after some short period of discussion.

OPTION 4: The described situation is impossible. Nobody has ever in good faith nominated a Wikipedia page for deletion that has zero chance of being deleted, and nobody ever will. Either it has a chance of being deleted, or the nominator is a vandal, so either let it run its course or delete it as vandalism and warn the user.

Guy Macon 23:40, 12 February 2011 (UTC)

Option 2. This leaves the box you describe on the talk page, not the article, and there's really no harm in that. There's also no harm in leaving the closed AFD page intact. Only in rare cases should the entire deletion attempt be shoved down the memory hole. According to WP:Speedy keep, if the AFD is created by a banned user, the AFD page can be deleted and usually no oldafdfull box is added to the talk page. --Ron Ritzman (talk) 00:22, 13 February 2011 (UTC)
Use option 1 if you are confident that no reasonable editor would challenge the action, if it's pretty obvious disruption, and they added an afd template without transcluding a debate page. Use option 2 if it's disruptive or blatantly obvious but it's a complete nomination which has been transcluded. Use option 3 if there seems to be any kind of valid basis for the AfD, and it's not so blatant as to constitute vandalism. If you want hard and fast rules you aren't going to get them. There's gray areas and it's OK to make mistakes. Almost nothing editors do here can't be undone. Gigs (talk) 18:26, 15 February 2011 (UTC)
The last few comments answered all of my questions, and I learned some things. I really do appreciate the clarification. Thanks! Guy Macon 22:18, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

Snowballs known to be in hell since 1300.[edit]

Dante tells us in his Divina Commedia that in the deepest division of hell, we find Brutus and Judas, locked in a block of ice. What can this be but a giant snow-ball surrounding these two traitors? --Koosg (talk) 10:43, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

Indeed, but how do you get the snowball past the 7th Circle to get to the 9th? --Philosopher Let us reason together. 07:54, 25 September 2011 (UTC)