Template talk:Essay

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WikiProject Essays
WikiProject iconThis page is within the scope of WikiProject Essays, a collaborative effort to organise and monitor the impact of Wikipedia essays. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion. For a listing of essays see the essay directory.
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Shortened text[edit]

I've shortened the text - the essay template shouldn't be essay-length itself. I think it doesn't need any more than the category link and a note that it's explicitly not a policy or guideline. I guess the update link is good - essays not in user space are as up for editing as anything else - David Gerard 21:54, 27 September 2006 (UTC)

I disagree. In addition to hurting the aesthetics of the template for those essays with shortcuts (the small amount of text results in a box that appears oversized), the template no longer includes the fact that essays can have importance, even if they're not policies or guidelines. We all know there are plenty of wonderful and meaningful essays, per WP:SNOW. -- tariqabjotu 03:29, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
So fill in the following Wikipedia:Essays. There is no extensive guideline on how to edit or what to do with essays, the link is a redirect to a category! I should also note, incidently, that the converse is true. If we are going to note that essays are valuable, we should also note that many are not valuable. - Ta bu shi da yu 08:21, 30 January 2007 (UTC)

Problems seen with essay tag at WP:BRD[edit]

Essay is for everything else, right? But the wording is extremely misleading if that's the case

let's look at WP:BRD.

  • "this is an essay" : redundant, Dude, so is everything else in the project namespace
  • "this is not a policy or guideline": so we shouldn't use it? (but you are supposed to use BRD, it's a special subcase of Wikipedia:Consensus , a policy)
  • "it simply reflects some opinions of its authors": Technically "the sky is blue" also is merely an opinion, but... that's putting it a bit mildly. In the case of BRD, people often end up in it whether they want to or not...
  • "please update the page as needed" ... ok sure... but you wanna be careful not to add someones pie-making recipie in there, or someone adding their dream of how consensus *should* work if everyone had a pony and pink clouds lined the sky... we're trying to explain how something works here, with detail and precision... hello?
  • "or discuss it on the talk page", redundant, there's already a tab and/or sidebar section.

So I should remove the essay tag entirely... not a single word applies! And yet people keep re-adding. What's going wrong?

--Kim Bruning 23:32, 16 February 2007 (UTC)

Be bold.--Docg 23:46, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
I would, but be bold and do what? That is the question :-) (several things have already been tried...) --Kim Bruning 00:38, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
If it were me, I'd decide it doesn't matter and unwatch the page. (Actually, no I wouldn't, I'd get into a lame edit war - but the advice is still hypothetically good).--Docg 00:44, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Huh? That doesn't make sense. I assume you're not trolling. Could you please explain what you're on about? --Kim Bruning 00:48, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, I'm being flippant and silly. Ignore me.--Docg 00:59, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
  • The issue lies in your first point. You state that everything in the project namespace is an essay. That may be true under your definition, but it is not true under the common definition of the word. >Radiant< 09:22, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
    • We misuse the word 'essay'. 'Essays' are mono-authored in common parlance, ours are collaborative works. Essay should be a single user's view in userspace, the things in project space we call essays should be named (and I can't think of a concise title here) 'opinion pieces' 'partial views' or something such.--Docg 09:51, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
      • While I agree with the userfying, most of our essays haven't had all that much collaboration on them. While anyone could edit them, most are mostly the work of one person. >Radiant< 10:12, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
    • Fine, drop the first opposition, as required. Could you please state your definition of "essay"? --Kim Bruning 17:48, 19 February 2007 (UTC)
      • Page that's not actionable, regardless of whether it's consensual or not. Tends to be opinionated. And yes, I realize that several failed proposals are tagged as essays because their proponents want to thide the fact that they're failed proposals. >Radiant< 09:12, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
        • Ok, define actionable? --Kim Bruning 13:11, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
          • Recommending (or recommending against) an action to be taken by editors. "Be civil" is actionable; "we should have more readers" is not. >Radiant< 13:25, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
            • So a process to be used under certain circumstances ... would that be a guideline then? --Kim Bruning 14:14, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
              • Considering BRD boils down to making random edits in order to provoke people who have it watchlisted to make a response, and call that response their fault, I'd say no. WP:POINT and all that. If you must nomic about it, "hope that somebody responds to your actions" is not actionable. >Radiant< 14:20, 20 February 2007 (UTC)
                • Huh? Doing what? With a what? How? <kerblink> Ohhhkkaaaayyy.... that's not what that page is supposed to say. It's been wikinerfed, perhaps. Lemme tidy it and get back to you. --Kim Bruning 14:29, 20 February 2007 (UTC)


Can we remove "of its authors"? Or some similar change? Many essays receive contributions from users who don't necessarily agree with the point the essay is making. See, for instance Wikipedia talk:"In popular culture" articles. Mangojuicetalk 03:37, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

Not sure why this at all would be necessary. Contributions from people who don;t agree with the overall essay can try to modify it to be more clear, but the underlying point is that the authors of the essay are the ones with the opinion and that it's not the opinion of Wikipedia, the admins, the board, editors in general, etc. DreamGuy 06:56, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

New Syntax[edit]

Hello, I've added a filed so now you can use {{essay|your username here}} and it will display your username in it or if you wish not to do this you can still just use {{essay}} and it will just appear with its authors, any suggestions feel free to comment. Regards — The Sunshine Man (a.k.a Tellyaddict) 14:53, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

  • Does that not interfere with the common {{essay|shortcut}} notation? >Radiant< 15:21, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Oopps, it appears you are right, I have changed it now, thank for the heads up! — The Sunshine Man (a.k.a Tellyaddict) 16:02, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
That and it'd encourage Ownership, which is typically considered a Bad Thing on wikis :-/ --Kim Bruning 02:27, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Oops, suggestion of bindingness.[edit]

editors are not bound by its advice.

Suggests that editors are bound by other advice, which is not true. Removing that wording leaves very little left to go on though, so I've added wording that goes in the right direction (based in part on previous wordings of this template, I do hope I got close to consensus on this!). I'm not married to the particular wording though, so please see if you can improve on it. :-)

--Kim Bruning 02:26, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Longstanding wording[edit]

The changes in wording over the last few weeks were not to "inflate the status of essays" but to have it match the reality of what pages tagged "essay" are: non-rules. Many are not even essays, in the English language sense, and the whole business about "opinions of its authors" doesn't add anything useful.

If you object to the "may contain useful advice", I'll remove that. There's absolutely nothing in the changes that make essays somehow "inflated". What's inflated is the need to describe them as anything other than "not a rule", full stop.--Father Goose 00:18, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

What is the point of removing the word "Essay" and Category:Wikipedia essays from the template? I object strongly to that particular change. KillerChihuahua?!? 18:15, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
All of which belies the claim that there hasn't been a campaign by Radiant and others here and at WP:ATA, WP:POLICY to inflate the status of essays. Simply too much evidence for that to be believable. Odd nature 20:29, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
I can't speak to Radiant's behavior, but you seem to be accusing me of something that doesn't hold true. Your revert also undid changes unrelated to wording (including the category problem KillerChihuahua mentioned).--Father Goose 21:01, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
I am not, nor have I, accused you of anything. And yes, untoward changes often lead to collateral damage when people try to correct them. Odd nature 21:39, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, considering it's my wording changes you reverted, I am apparently one of the "others" who has been engaged in a campaign to inflate the status of essays. I assure you that is not the case. In fact, I may be an ally of yours, in that I want essays to be described as nothing more than "not policy or guideline". Anything more than that muddles their role.--Father Goose 23:20, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
Odd nature’s concern of the inflation of the status of essays is intriguing but difficult to understand. It would be good if he explained himself at WT:POLICY. Completely aside from that, I do not agree with the removal of the descriptor “essay” from what are historically and reasonably known as essays. Instead, the {{essay}} template should not be applied, or left applied, to pages that are not essays. As for what is and is not a reasonable essay, there is discussion on that at WT:POLICY. The discussion impacts guidelines, and probably other things as well, and so it is appropriate that the discussion is held at that location. --SmokeyJoe 06:27, 22 September 2007 (UTC)

There are no rules, only different levels of suggestion. I'm worried about a single template being singled out, there are many pages that use this template, not all of which can safely be ignored. --Kim Bruning (talk) 18:14, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

I understand what you're saying, but bannable offenses are generally backed up by actual policies somewhere. I don't want to have to bloat the template's language with "not obliged unless it reflects acutal policy yada yada"; such things will come out in discussion during a dispute and if anyone tries to wikilawyer the wording of this template into meaning they can ignore policy, they deserve what they get. (If anything, IAR is the mother rule anyway.)
The greater danger -- which happily we have made some progress with of late -- is people mistaking essays as having some kind of authority. That mistake is fairly common, and something we want to do a much better job of avoiding.--Father Goose (talk) 23:21, 27 November 2007 (UTC)
But this is actually correct. Essays have as much authority as any other page in the project namespace. The problem occurs when people try to use the essay tag to try to deprecate pages, and make an end run around consensus. The best solution so far has been to simply be deliberately vague on the tag itself (a useful rule of thumb is that vague rules make for more reliable behavior) --Kim Bruning (talk) 21:55, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
No, that's not true. Some essays enjoy more consensus than others, but few if any have undergone the scrutiny and rigor needed to establish that they do, on the whole, represent a consensus position. Since consensus is what underlies any page's authority, we really do want it to be clear to users which pages are known to have a consensus and (and are therefore authoritative) and which pages are not.
I agree that vagueness is the best way to avoid making various wrong statements, and I have attempted to do just that with this template several times, but those changes met with resistance. However, as long as a user, when asking the question, "Do I have to follow this?" comes away with the answer "shrug", "generally", and "yes (but)" when viewing {{essay}}, {{guideline}}, and {{policy}}, respectively, then I'm happy.
Have we achieved "shrug", here, and would you agree that that's about the message we want to send?--Father Goose (talk) 23:32, 28 November 2007 (UTC)
Agree with FG! --Kevin Murray (talk) 03:07, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
as long as a user, when asking the question, "Do I have to follow this?" comes away with the answer "shrug", "generally", and "yes (but)"
I'm confused - I thought the whole point of the essays was that the answer to "Do I have to follow this?" is "NO!" The answer to "can I follow this" is yes, but.... but the answer to "do I have to follow this?" is "No". While there are some essays, as mentioned, that are more consensus than others, and have more authority, I thought the whole distinction of essays is that they are just one group's opinion on and are not things needing to be followed.
I also think the new "(unless it repeats content already listed in a policy or guideline)" is both out of place (having brackets in a template that is supposed to look official seems odd), and redundant. How is a user supposed to KNOW if it repeats something from a policy unless the essay specifically says "there is a policy", at which point, the user should be checking the policy page, not the essay for guidance.
If it is thought that this wording is needed (I don't think it is), I would suggest replacing it with something like (not in brackets) "...not obliged to follow any suggestions it may contain, unless the suggestions [already/also] exist as a policy or guideline" TheHYPO (talk) 05:49, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't think the extra words are needed either, and in fact I'm not sure anyone does; DreamGuy added them apparently to address an issue Kim Bruning raised, but I don't know if either of them actually want those words in there.
Kim does raise the correct point that while essays are not "official", you are generally obliged to respect consensus, and essays do spell out consensus positions sometimes, which may not even be explicit policy elsewhere. All the same, you're unlikely to get into immediate trouble for ignoring an essay -- though if a large group of editors stand behind some part of its advice, you should heed them. So "shrug" is more apt than "no", translating to something like "not by virtue of its being on this page, though maybe if enough people stand behind it". Wikipedia doesn't really do the bright line thing, which can be irritating, though we'd degenerate into a bureacracy if it did.--Father Goose (talk) 08:08, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
You are equally likely to get into trouble from ignoring an "essay" as you are from ignoring a "policy". This is a long-standing problem with that particular system in general. The problem starts to arise when people start using the "essay" tag in a wiki-nomic attempt to deprecate long-standing consensus. In theory, if the system were perfect, you'd always be fine. In reality things are not so black-and-white, and things can can get rather tricky when people are in some protracted war over ome controversial practice. --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:35, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't believe that's true. Most of the "really bad ideas" are spelled out in policy, and most Wikipedians will support their enforcement with little disagreement. Not so much so with essays. If any administrator blocked someone solely on the basis of violating an essay, they'd get desysopped, or at least, they'd deserve to. If there was a consensus underlying the essay, a block could be justified, but that would generally require discussion (and warnings) first. Consensus is what's enforceable; policy, and to a lesser degree guidelines, effectively have "precertified consensus", and that's why editors should heed them.
If there are cases where somebody's ignoring an essay that everyone wants enforced, then it's time to re-label it as a policy or guideline.--Father Goose (talk) 00:06, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

(late reply) Odd Nature: Radiant has held a successful campaign to implement the policy/guideline/essay system. He essentially invented the system. I'm sure he knew his own intentions for what each kind of tag does upfront. :-P --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:28, 5 March 2008 (UTC)


So, here we are again. Should this template use the word "opinion" at all? It doesn't match reality and is itself an opinion. Some essays are opinions, some are widely embraced by the community, some offer practical and uncontroversial advice, and some are dissertations on established policies. We should simply say, "This is an essay. It does not define a policy or guideline" and leave it at that.--Father Goose 18:13, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

I pretty much agree. But would say "This is an essay. It is not a policy or guideline" as more clear language. For now I reverted back to a stable version from May 2007, but support FG. --Kevin Murray (talk) 03:14, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't see the May version is any better, plus you reverted a whole bunch of transwiki links and other stuff along with it. Let's just talk about what it ought to be. The wording TheHYPO suggested over at Wikipedia talk:Policies and guidelines is a good starting point --
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 of its suggestions.
If I had my druthers, I'd further simplify it to this. Essay is a word we came up with when we were replacing {{notpolicy}}, but there are plenty of {{essay}}s that aren't essays, and insisting on calling them that just confuses the issue.--Father Goose (talk) 03:49, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't feel like retyping my entire opinion on this subject again, cause I've explained it pretty clearly already once, buut you can read my experience with the "essay" subject here. Thanks TheHYPO (talk) 04:00, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm going to be bold and post FG's changes. --Kevin Murray (talk) 04:04, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
  • FT2 has refined FG's proposal to include the concept of consensus. I've truncated some of the language, but hopefully retained the message. --Kevin Murray (talk) 13:11, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
Meh, that just complicates things. "It might contain advice, it might reflect the community" -- two conditionals and the end result is the same: editors are not obligated to follow its suggestions. I don't think we gain anything from trying to say what may or may not be on the page. However, I'm okay with switching to "obliged" instead of "required" and we could add a small conditional regarding whether it contains advice:
This page is not a policy or guideline and editors are not obliged to follow any suggestions it may make.
How important is it to mention that it may or may not reflect communal views if either way you can disregard it?--Father Goose (talk) 18:44, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
personally I don't see the need to include that language, but also I won't oppose it if is important to others. Also we have lost the word "Essay" in the current generation. --Kevin Murray (talk) 18:51, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

" Should this template use the word "opinion" at all? It doesn't match reality and is itself an opinion." -- How on earth can you say this doesn't match reality and isn't an indisputable fact. These are opinions, not policies or guidelines. The differences must be indicated. If you argue that some of these essays are more supported than mere opinions, then they'd be policies, but they aren't. The whole problem is people trying to portray these as policies when they aren't. We need clear language that makes that obvious to anyone looking at them. DreamGuy (talk) 19:15, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

Although most pages marked {{essay}} do contain opinion, there are still several that are essentially factual descriptions of Wikipedia, or summarize some aspect of it (such as WP:PORN, WP:SIMPLE, and Wikipedia:Text move), and some that I'm not even sure what to call, such as WP:TEA. Are these pages mistagged? Do we need a template for pages that are not-essay-not-policy-but-something-else? It's my hope that we can use a single template that says "This is not a policy, you don't have to follow it" and that's all you need to know. Each qualification or description we add just buries the message: this is not a policy.
So I certainly agree that we want it to be completely clear and obvious. It's my feeling than you can't get much clearer than this:
This page is not a policy or guideline and editors are not obliged to follow any suggestions it may make.
--Father Goose (talk) 23:31, 22 November 2007 (UTC)
My apologies, I was hasty and didn't see that the template itself had been further updated. The current wording is accurate and acceptable, even if I think your earlier arguments were incorrect. DreamGuy (talk) 01:28, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
Which wording are you endorsing, then, this one or the one I suggested immediately above? I think the conditionals in the current version clutter the message.--Father Goose (talk) 08:38, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm just gonna give my final opinion from this page into this thread - I prefer
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.
as Kevin mentioned. My reasoning is that, firstly, it is clearer if you begin with "this is an opinion essay" and then say "you don't have to listen to it", than if you start off with "this isn't policy" because then it still sounds like something official by wikipedia administrators, when in fact, it may have no support by the wikipedia "authorities". But as a new user, thigns on the WP namespace may seem like they should be official.
I also suggested on that policy/guideline talk page to have a color coding system - a suggestion was (in muted, not distracting shades of:) green for policies, yellow for guidelines and red for essays, to draw attention to the tag which new users might not bother to read since they might think these "top of the page" boxes are administrative stuff for editors that they don't have to worry about. TheHYPO (talk) 21:13, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
I like the current version (with "this is an informal writing") better than the ones that only said what the page was not without saying what it "is." However, I can't see from the above discussion the problem people have with calling these pages an "essay" (saying "this is an essay" instead). Currently, we have a misalignment with the Category:Wikipedia essays category; are we proposing a change to a new Category:Wikipedia informal writings category? UnitedStatesian (talk) 22:19, 23 November 2007 (UTC)
Well, as I've said before, "essay" and "opinion" are true of some, but not all {{essay}}s. Perhaps "commentary" would be a more suitable name. That would help to broaden the category to pages that are more analysis or overview than polemic (several such pages are already tagged as essays).
So how about a wording like:
  • This page contains commentary about Wikipedia. It is not a policy or guideline, and editors are not obliged to follow any suggestions it may make.
As for color-coding, that would best be tackled via a Wikipedia: namespace template standardization project. If we start changing the {{guideline}} and {{policy}} templates to better differentiate them from {{essay}}, a lot of people will have a lot to say about that. I expect such standardization will be done sooner or later, but for now, a degree of differentiation is still achieved through icons. Perhaps we could better emphasize the difference by switching the icon to something like this: Text-x-generic with pencil.png -- perhaps the pencil would better convey a "non-official", "someone wrote this" status.--Father Goose (talk) 23:37, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

The word "essay"[edit]

I have not tuned into this conversation before now. But I've been rather surprised to see the word "essay" dropped from the {{essay}} template; that's the one thing that's always been consistent about it. Yes, it's stuck on to things that aren't really essays, but it's always been associated primarily with essays and of course with Category:Wikipedia essays. So I really do think the word needs to be in there. It could of course be "This is an essay or commentary. . ." Chick Bowen 06:40, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Another option is to switch the category name from "Wikipedia essays" to "Wikipedia commentary"; though we adopted the word "essay" for this class of page a while back, it may never have been the right term. I'm not positive "commentary" is right either, though it strikes me as more apt than "essay".--Father Goose (talk) 09:33, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
I think people would be taken aback by that. This template affects a great many highly-trafficked pages--I really think you should try to gather some more consensus for this, perhaps at the Village Post. Chick Bowen 16:34, 24 November 2007 (UTC)


I am now reasonably happy with the current version. I think it could be improved a touch further by adding a pencil to the icon, as illustrated above. If anyone agrees (and no one disagrees), I'll create an .svg version and switch the icon.--Father Goose (talk) 08:05, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

I like the pencil concept - shows work in progress at very least TheHYPO (talk) 10:17, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

"You are not obligated to follow this"[edit]

Turns the {{tl:essay}} tag into a {{tl:easy trolling tool}} allowing trolls to slap this on policy and.... (oops, let's not tell people how to stuff beans up their noses). At any rate, this makes the essay tag an even easier tool for disruption than it already has been. Let's definitely not do that. --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:41, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

I don't particularly care whether the statement in question is included, but I don't understand your argument at all. Users can perform all sorts of bad-faith edits to policy/guideline pages (with or without the use of this tag, and regardless of its wording). The solution is to revert such changes and address the responsible parties' behavior. —David Levy 18:28, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Exactly. The point of this template is to clarify what ACTUAL essays are for ACTUAL good faith editors. When I started editing, I assumed Essays, being on the wikipedia namespace, were part of the official policy and guidelines of Wikipedia, and that the namespace was only for official administrative stuff. The point of these changes is to make clear to actual good faith editors that essay pages do not equal policy/guideline pages and could be written by anyone, perhaps with no consensus, even if disguised in the form of well written policy-like pages. We can't nix that goal just because it allows the template to be used improperly. Anyone can add any template to anything. If I wanted to, I could goto any page - eg George W. Bush and utilize the wording of the [citation needed] template to note that citation is needed for every word. The first sentance,
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the forty-third and current President of the United States of America, originally inaugurated on January 20, 2001.
could soon look like this:
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946[citation needed]) is the forty-third [citation needed] and current [citation needed] President of the United States of America, originally inaugurated on January 20, 2001 [citation needed].
Truth be told, none of those facts are cited, and the wording of the fact template allows me to do it, but it's bad faith. As mentioned by David, you have to act to countermand bad faith; you can't hogtie a clearer wording for most of wikipedia just because a few vandals might do something wrong with it. TheHYPO (talk) 18:44, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
PS: I'm not sure why that first Fact tag breaks the line after 1946 - weird TheHYPO (talk) 18:46, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Kim, this just seems like more rhetoric in the campaign to perpetuate ambiguity at WP. You have opposed clear standards for creating policy, and now seek to muddy the distinction between policy and opinion. Why? --Kevin Murray (talk) 20:40, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Making strong distinctions between policy/guideline/essay introduces false clarity, which is somewhat more "dangerous" than the alternative where the ambiguity remains visible. Even so, I've tried it your way-ish with this newest edit. Better? --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:45, 1 March 2008 (UTC)
Trolls (not that I like that term) can be banned for ignoring consensus, and trying to wikilawyer the wording of a template to pretend that they can ignore it. I'm only concerned here about steering good-faith editors in the right direction, not about playing games of sophistry with trolls. This template presents no constraints on our ability to deal with them.--Father Goose (talk) 00:19, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

later edit[edit]

I've tried out this wording instead. It's a seriously bad idea to simply ignore essays. Some essays are very very obligatory. For example: WP:DICK, where you can be permanently banned for violations. :-P --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:38, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

I don't think anyone's going to get banned for ignoring an essay, except for those trying to do some very cheesy wikilawyering. The bannable portions of WP:DICK are spelled out in actual policies, and I believe people are generally warned when they are violating such policies prior to getting banned.
I believe the focus of most people who have worked on the wording of this template is to avoid the behavior laid out in WP:NOTPOLICY. The changes you have made work against that, so I've reverted them.
I do generally understand (and agree with) your view that a few (not many!) essays can be every bit as important to follow as policies, but I don't know of any important ones that don't parallel advice found in policies. I'm open to other rewording proposals, but I reject this one as carrying too big a stick.--Father Goose (talk) 02:33, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
I've thought for a while that we might need two classes of essays. Some essays have wide acceptance, even consensus behind their points, and perhaps are only essays because they don't suggest any action but just explain something. These essays should really not be ignored just because they are essays; the should be ignored just as anything else should when there is good reason. Other essays reflect a viewpoint held by some editors or criticism of other conflicting points elsewhere: those can safely be taken as nonbinding. Mangojuicetalk 05:48, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
I've tried to convince Radiant and others of this as well. The current categorization scheme is not actually very useful at all when you're trying to document wikipedia best practices. Both "Essay" and "Policy" have problems. With "essay" people tend to ignore the text, and with "policy" it's very hard to correct errors that have crept in over time. (meanwhile, the "guideline" category is slowly emptying out. ^^;;). Perhaps it's time for a sit down, a cup of tea, and a rethink?
I figure either we have to warn people that ignoring some essays can get them into deep doo doo, or we have to reorganize our categorization scheme. The former is easier, the latter is admittedly more thorough. --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:50, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

I think that elevating essays above opinion status would be confusing. As FG said above, the actionable essence of essays is generally a restatement of either a policy or guideline. I think that the process does better with fewer but clearer rules; thus hinting that essays are “rules” is counterproductive. --Kevin Murray (talk) 18:28, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

We are not elevating anything. There is no current clear-cut status for essays, and they do not magically gain such status by clicking our heels and wishing real hard.
Now, we can either stick our fingers in our ears and go "la la la" real loud and essentially lie whilst potentially getting people into trouble, or we can actually be honest and warn people that this is a real issue that does exist.
Once again, admittedly a complete reorganisation would be the more thorough approach, but who's going to do it? (especially knowing that certain people can, will, and already have dug in their heels to prevent it at all costs)
--Kim Bruning (talk) 18:48, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't have a problem with creating a new template for essays that are soundly supported by consensus. Unfortunately, that will make all those essays Important, and harder to fix (per your earlier criticism of policies).
Let's get specific. Which essays would you want to label as "not ignorable"? DICK doesn't count, as it's on Meta.--Father Goose (talk) 20:50, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
Off the top of my head, WP:IAR?, WP:DENY, WP:BRD, WP:ATA, WP:TE. There are probably lots of others. In a sense, these aren't policies/guidelines only because of WP:CREEP (ooh, another example) -- they really do describe the way Wikipedia works overall, but aren't things we expect people to learn and know until we point to it. Part of the problem is that guidelines have become too important: these should really be guidelines - they have consensus support and they offer guidance. But a guideline means something else now, and the distinction between guideline and essay is MUCH more significant than the distinction between guideline and policy. Mangojuicetalk 18:49, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
It seems that that essays are non-actionable and require no consensus while guidelines are actionable and require consensus. Why try to reinvent the wheel over semantics? --Kevin Murray (talk) 01:17, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
Because your convenient square box does not hold inconvenient round pegs. :-P It is very important to document how wikipedia works, but we don't have a category for this kind of documentation. All other documentation is really just either pure crap or at best icing on the cake, but DOES get all kinds of arbitrary categorization.
In short, it is extremely difficult to obtain the remotest clue as to how wikipedia works, until and unless one reads all the policies, guidelines and essays through systematically (preferably three or more times in case one misses something important on the first run). And that is assuming one finds a way to tell the difference between an accurate description of how wikipedia works versus some nomic-player's demented fantasy. This is not a desirable situation, especially seeing how many pages there are. --Kim Bruning (talk) 19:03, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
It's going to take more than changing the wording of the essay template to fix that problem. For what it's worth, though, the more useful an essay, the more often it's linked to.--Father Goose (talk) 10:03, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
Oh. Yes. Would there happen to be a wiki-variable that expresses how many incoming links a page has? --Kim Bruning (talk) 18:07, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
In general, that sounds like a good enough idea to request it on bugzilla, but discussions like this make me worry that it would be mis-used. — CharlotteWebb 18:21, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm wary of that inspiring people to abuse it, plus incoming links are far from the best metric. The more important an essay is, the more likely your attention will be directed to it when discussing a relevant topic. And the more often it's linked to, the more people are likely to edit it to have it represent a well-rounded position. So it's sort of a self-regulating phenomenon.--Father Goose (talk) 20:53, 4 March 2008 (UTC)
It's a better metric, and less prone to abuse than that which already exists, I guess. Did you have something even better in mind? :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 00:10, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
The status quo! All praise the status quo.--Father Goose (talk) 01:02, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Honor the wisdom of FG. Absent a compelling reason to make changes, status quo is the best solution for our processes. --Kevin Murray (talk) 16:04, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Erm, the previous situation sucked (policy/guideline/essay is fundamentally a broken system, and I continue to have words about it with radiant to this day), this situation ("you are not obligated to follow this advice") sucks even more. It remains extremely unwise to state that people should not follow advice, in the very namespace that is designed to provide people with advice. Nothing said so far has convinced me otherwise. Using actual metrics seems to be a good start, and less prone to abuse. Is there any compelling reason *not* to proceed? --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:24, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Kim, your premise is flawed. Since we allow anyone to write essays to express their opinions and do not have any review process for verifying that essays are good guidance, it seems inappropriate to require people to follow the advice. It is likely that there will be conflicting opinions among some essays; how can you require that conflicting guidance be followed? This is a matter of nomenclature; at WP “essays” require no specific measure of consensus but “guidelines” do. If you are trying to enforce compliance, then demonstrate consensus by having the advice adopted as a guideline. If you can’t demonstrate broad consensus to achieve guideline status then there is something broadly unacceptable in the advice. --Kevin Murray (talk) 18:56, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Ah! You need to know more about policy. Almost all project namespace pages are made in the same way. The Policy/Guideline/Essay tags are stochastic (but biased towards consensus) and discrete (only 3 values is pretty discrete). It might be interesting to show the "real" level of actual use and support. For instance by using some variant of the older google pagerank algorithm. The reported values would be a deterministic and more smooth. (smooth in the sense that there's rather more than just 3 values :-P). I think the results would be most interesting. I wouldn't be surprised if several essays would rank much higher than many policies. --Kim Bruning (talk) 19:33, 6 March 2008 (UTC)
Of course, linking to a page doesn't mean you agree with it. I swear, half the time anyone links to WP:LISTCRUFT they are pointing out that it's "just an essay." (Which, amusingly, tends to confirm its importance by denying it.) Mangojuicetalk 08:27, 9 March 2008 (UTC)


Should we not be working to form a consensus on here on the talk page before we keep editing in personal ideas and getting them reverted? with a day or two of discussion, I'm sure some consesus could be reached, but edit comments aren't the place for it - the talk page is (I'm talking to David, Kim, and everyone else) TheHYPO (talk) 20:39, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree in concept, but practically speaking we need to have a balance between being bold and getting a pre-edit consensus. --Kevin Murray (talk) 20:42, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
I'll note that my edit had nothing to do with the ongoing dispute. As stated above, I don't particularly care whether we include the contested statement. I merely reordered, streamlined and clarified the existing statements. —David Levy 21:50, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
Although the wording at times has been awkward, most of the variations I've seen this week are improvements on what existed before. I furthermore see willingness on everyone's part here to compromise and discuss, so I'm not too worried that a dozen permutations have been tried out "live" in the past week. I think we're zeroing in on it.--Father Goose (talk) 00:32, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
No. The consensus process on wikipedia involves *gasp* editing the wiki-pages using the wiki-process. A novel concept, I'm sure. ;-)
The developers have stated that no harm will come from directly editing template pages, and that we can feel free to do so if we so desire. --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:31, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

David Levy edits[edit]

I support David's changes to my version. I prefer mentioning that it is not policy sooner, but I do see how this makes better sense. --Kevin Murray (talk) 20:42, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

I further support Hypo's fine tuning. --Kevin Murray (talk) 20:43, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

TheHYPO's edit summary[edit]

I like your idea, but it's not accurate. An essay may or may not contain advice. Some essays are just commentary. The first statement in the template should not be "this is advice" TheHYPO (talk) 20:37, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Huh? It said "advice/opinions," not merely "advice." How does the word "opinions" not cover the essays to which you refer?
Your preferred wording is unnaturally divided. ("This is what it is, this is what it isn't. This is what it is, this is what it isn't.") My wording eliminates unnecessary verbiage and places the related statements together. ("This is what it is. This is what it isn't.")
Are you okay with "advice and/or opinions"? —David Levy 21:50, 29 November 2007 (UTC)
I guess I was reading that the same as "advice/suggestions" from before, which is what may or may not contain. I suppose essays ought to at least contain opinion, or else what's the point. I stand corrected there; but I do like the and/or you added better in terms of grammar than just putting "advice/suggestions". The only issue I had with your last part was that you killed the primary statement of the template: This is an essay (whether that ends with a period, or is just the first half of a statement such as "this is an essay which may contain..." TheHYPO (talk) 03:30, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't see how "this essay" fails to adequately convey the fact that it's an essay, but okay. —David Levy 04:19, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't make clear "this is an essay". A novice reader (the main target of these templates which explain wikipedia terms like what an essay is compared to policy), may not read "this essay has..." as "this is an essay- that is special". They might think essay and article are synonymous, or even essay and guideline/policy are synonymous. I think the goal is to call attention to "This is an essay." (and if you don't know what that means, click the link "essay") so that a new reader is quickly informed that this is a special type of article TheHYPO (talk) 04:45, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
At Wikipedia, an essay isn't an article at all. —David Levy 06:53, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
Five-yard penalty. Semantics. Still first down. ;-) --Father Goose (talk) 08:51, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

New Wikiproject[edit]

Just came across this: Wikipedia:WikiProject_Essay_Categorization_and/or_Classification. Might be of interest to the watchers of this page.--Father Goose (talk) 09:56, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Internal links in template[edit]

I changed the word "essay" to link to Wikipedia:Wikipedia essays rather than the Category:Wikipedia essays. I think this is clearer, and will give users a better idea of the purpose of essays. --Eastlaw (talk) 02:44, 25 April 2008 (UTC)


If the "obliged" wording is supposed to be kept, it needs to read:

...It is not a policy or guideline. Also, editors are not necessarily obliged to follow it.

You may be struck how significant a change that is: because the old meaning really did imply that editors were "obliged" to follow policy or guidelines, and when the clause is correctly phrased as here, it becomes patently superfluous.

Furthermore, if editors are not "obliged" even to follow guidelines, why would anyone be confused into thinking they are obliged to follow the "advice or opinions of some Wikipedia contributors" that is emphatically "not a policy or guideline"? —Centrxtalk • 21:32, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

Because they are confused. Despite IOR, articles are deleted based on guidelines and that is about the most important choices made at WP. Slaps on the wrists for policy violations are nothing compared to deleting peoples' hard work. For lack of a better word obliged conveys the message. --Kevin Murray (talk) 04:11, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Articles are deleted by administrators. Any administrator who is confused enough to think that an essay obliges him to delete an article should not be an administrator. People refer to essays in deletion discussions because the essay contains the reasoning they would otherwise write sua sponte. The essay is transcluded on the commenter's own authority, not as a mandate from on high. —Centrxtalk • 19:05, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Centrx, why do we need the part "It is not a policy or guideline" in the template? I don't think it's helpful to newcomers. I would get rid of it and leave only "Editors are not obliged to follow it." --Kubanczyk (talk) 08:27, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
That bears consideration.--Father Goose (talk) 10:49, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
This discussion went on a while ago (probably has a few times). Since an essay can be as little as the opinion of one editor who decided to write an essay, it seemed a good idea to distinguish the essay from a policy or guideline, which represents (or ought to represent) the apparent consensus of the wikimunity. Essays have no requirement to meet that standard, and it should be clear, especially to new editors, that unlike policies and guidelines, essays bear no weight.
While there are always occasions and circumstances under which wikipedia guidelines or even policies should not be followed due to common sense, in the majority of situations, editors are obliged to follow both. TheHYPO (talk) 17:01, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Essays, guidelines, and policies all bear equal weight (which is to say: not much one way, and quite a lot the other way.) --Kim Bruning (talk) 17:49, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
That's not what I understood. As far as I've ever been told, a Policy is written to make clear what the consensus is on wikipedia which is generally to be followed, while an essay is something I could write tomorrow on any subject and bears absolutely no weight at all. While noone HAS to follow any of them, policys are written and edited to present the policies that consensus says should be followed. Essays are NOT.
A Guideline is an essay that has been around a while ...maybe; a policy is a guideline or essay that has had a lot of politic-ing going on. If you ascribe any more weight to it than that, you're deluding yourself. ^^;; Welcome to the sausage factory :-/ --Kim Bruning (talk) 16:11, 2 July 2008 (UTC) Very important essays tend to stick around for a while and attract a lot of politic-ing, so there is a mild correlation between tag and importance, but it's not as strong as people would often have you believe.
We don't need either. The meaning of "an essay containing the advice or opinions of some Wikipedia contributors" is clear on its own, but "not a policy or a guideline" is a neutral, purely factual way of emphasizing a difference between an Essay and a Guideline.
"Not obliged to follow it", however, is misleading because, if the statement is not also present in the Guideline template, it emphasizes a false difference between the two types of pages; in addition, the statement itself is potentially false because, inasmuch as an Editor is obliged to do right on Wikipedia, an Editor is obliged to follow a perfectly reasonable Essay that need not be ordained as a Guideline. —Centrxtalk • 19:15, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
You are overthinking the thing. --Kubanczyk (talk) 08:21, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
People who read it will (wrongly) internalize that conclusion. If it shouldn't be over-thought, then it shouldn't be over-written: if the intended meaning is merely "Don't take essays too seriously", then we should merely write that. —Centrxtalk • 05:05, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
And, unfortunately, editors are not obliged to be reasonable. But disregarding consensus tends to come with consequences, and one difference between guidelines and essays is that the former tend to have an established backing of consensus. Therefore, saying "it is a generally accepted standard that editors should follow" in the {{guideline}} tag is sensible advice, and I think it is also sensible to note that the consensus for a given essay is unknown (and thus not necessarily compulsory -- up to a point).
Perhaps thus we should change the language of this template to talk about consensus (or lack thereof) instead of compulsion, so as to address your concerns, as I partly agree with them. But it is useful to note one way or another that essays do not necessarily carry any of the community's weight or support. This does make them different from guidelines (usually), and it is of value to emphasize what the difference is, especially in the face of possible WP:NOTPOLICY behavior.--Father Goose (talk) 00:04, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
My opinion is that it should be made explicitly clear that essays mean NOTHING to users. Users don't have to read them, know them or agree with them. The problem to me is that apparently anyone who feels like it can write an essay and stick it in the Wikipedia namespace... so that its title reads Wikipedia:Delete other editor's user pages. The namespace, in my opinion, gives any article some sort of sense of weight and importance. Unlike Essays, it's my assumption (I admit I don't know for a fact) that guidelines and policys go through some sort of vetting process before they are permitted to be policies or guidelines which as far as I understand it are generally agreed upon and usually edited by a whole host of contributers.
My previous issue with essays came when I read WP:Listcruft. I was considering a deletion issue and had my attention drawn to that page. It seemed more or less like a neutrally written article that seemed just like those guideline and policy pages. However, from there I linked to WP:Cruftcruft. This essay, on the other hand, read like a propoganda letter, and I couldn't see how on earth something written like that survive on wikipedia, let alone the wikipedia namespace. I still think it's quite stupid to have essays on the wikipedia namespace, in the same place as policy, but that's not the issue here. Without a strongly worded heading, had I not gone to Cruftcruft, I might well have gone on believing Listcruft was some official quasi-guideline with some backing behind it. I think this is a problem that must be strongly undermined any way possible, which as far as I know, is limited to this template.
I'm also unclear as to why people think policies and guidelines are not to be followed. WP:GUIDE says that policies are standards all users should follow, and guidelines are advisory in nature. It doesn't say users shouldn't follow them. It merely means that a policy might say "Do not do ___", while a guideline suggests "It is a good idea to do __" (eg: naming conventions). You can argue that users don't have to follow either, or that they certainly don't have to follow the guideline, since it's just advice, but the difference is clear to me... a guideline is a suggestion that has consensus that it would be in the best interest of wikipedia to try to abide by. An Essay on the other hand can be as little as what one guy thinks sucks about wikpedia. As far as I understand the system, a guideline or policy can never be that.
While obviously wikipedia has a policy to WP:Ignore all rules, that is not a literal policy. That means that if there is good reason and it makes good sense, you can ignore said rule. It doesn't mean that there AREN'T any rules, or that you can thus do anything you want whether it's good or bad for wikipedia. Policys are still written as rules that should generally be followed, as are guidelines. Essays differ markedly from this in my opinion. TheHYPO (talk) 03:00, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
IAR is a literal rule, the full text is: "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.". Following rules has a much much lower priority than writing an encyclopedia. If you have to choose between following the rules or improving wikipedia, you should opt for the course of action that improves wikipedia.
Note that people can, have been and will be *sitebanned* for continuously failing to follow certain essays once they have been pointed out (within reason). "policy", "guideline" and "essay" are all basically the same thing, they document best practices on wiki (with a few notable exceptions which are corroding the system. :-( ). The tag chosen at the top of the page is due to random politics and only very roughly corresponds to the importance of a page, it's typically more important to see (for instance) how many references there are to that particular project namespace page. --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:56, 2 July 2008 (UTC) Note that WP:POINT is often misunderstood. It is actually complementary to WP:IAR... it can be read as saying: "If following a rule would disrupt wikipedia, do not follow that rule." (and additionally, if you do it deliberately, We Will Have To Hurt You. I'm not sure why we need that "deliberately" escape clause... ;-) )
I still don't see how you can argue that essays are the same as policies. Policies can't become such without first being proposed and accepted. Anyone can write an essay. I could write an essay right now at Wikipedia:You are obliged to follow essays, but that doesn't make it a wikipedia policy. In my opinion, all policys are rules; ignore all rules doesn't make much sense if there are no rules. And in general, as far as I observe, while there are certainly occasions when it makes sense to ignore certain policies in certain situations, most policies are applicable 99% of the time, or they wouldn't have become policies. Essays don't have that factor, from what I've observed. While some essays DO make sense most of the time, the essay header is attached to ALL essays, not just the good ones. Many essays are just one person's opinion that may not be shared by a consensus. For example, Wikipedia:Avoid template creep gives two examples in screenshot form that I would think many users would feel is not particularly problematic. There's also the pointless ones like Wikipedia:Be a sweetums or Wikipedia:Don't be a fucking idiot which basically reiterate actual policies and guidelines. Seriously, Wikipedia:Be nice this one literally links to a guideline as its first phrase and basically adds nothing to that. It even bothers to have a "nutshell" for it's two sentances. I don't quite get why this stuff takes up space on the wikipedia servers when people are arguing at the same time about the notability of actual factual information pages.
On more academic side, there are disputable essays, like Wikipedia:You don't need to cite that the sky is blue. The general concept being pretty agreeable, but some of the topic area being arguable (such as suggestion you don't need to cite "a statement that can be casually verified by playing a game, visiting a location, or asking someone with a reasonable knowledge". I think at very least the latter is tenuous, as who knows who qualifies as someone with "reasonable knowledge", and how is one to know whether information that APPEARS obviously verifiable is true. There are also essays like Wikipedia:Expert editors that apparently were submited for proposal, and rejected as a policy or guideline. How can they be the same if a rejected policy/guideline can still be an essay? To nutshell myself, while many essays reflect consensus (and in fact reflect and cite other actual policys and guidelines, which is why they reflect consensus), others do not, and we should not design a heading template that is for MOST of the essays which are good; it needs to reflect ALL of the essays, some of which are bad. TheHYPO (talk) 18:39, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

and may not represent consensus on Wikipedia.[edit]

If it doesn't represent consensus, we have {{rejected}}, right? An essay still needs to be supported by at least a majority of people viewing it. (yes, majority !=consensus. And therefore "may not represent consensus" is strictly true, but nevertheless misleading) --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:56, 2 July 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, I'm not keen on the new wording either, though I'd rather find something better than revert it at this time. My problem with it is that it doesn't explain what "not representing consensus on Wikipedia" means, in practical terms. In other systems, rules are commonly imposed, and enforced, against consensus, so that line doesn't tell editors what they need to know: because it doesn't necessarily represent consensus, you don't necessarily have to follow it. Yes, there are some essays that are sound and generally held to, but when you come across any given essay, you should think of its advice as optional, unless you subsequently discover a great tide of support for it. (The same is true of guidelines and essays, though the likelihood of that tide of support is much greater.) This is the value of having an {{essay}} tag in the first place: to let editors know that if they disagree with what an essay says, they can in most cases disregard it without any negative consequence. One cannot as easily disregard guidelines and policies.--Father Goose (talk) 19:06, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Really, there are no practical requirements for any Guideline, etc. While a freshly new contributor should probably "do as the Romans do" and follow everything in all the guidelines, any Rational being should evaluate any Law independently and follow it or not because he determines it to be right or not. In terms of Wikipedia, see Wikipedia:Ignore all rules. —Centrxtalk • 04:16, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
"When the command is wrong, a son should resist his father, and a minister should resist his August Master." —Centrxtalk • 16:32, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Mmmm, no and no. Both your points are certainly not true. For the first one see WP:PG#Proposals ("A failed proposal (AKA:rejected) is one for which consensus for acceptance has not developed after a reasonable time period" - so {{rejected}} is a former {{proposal}}, not just any text) and the second in WP:PG#Essays ("Essays are pages reflecting the views of an editor or a group of editors. ... Essays need not be proposed..." - majority? hmm?). I believe these citations correctly describe current state of {{rejected}} and {{tl}essay}}. --Kubanczyk (talk) 20:13, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
Proposals are deprecated, essentially. For political reasons, the last holdout on the policies and guidelines page hasn't been removed yet. (or just reasons of Not paying Attention -- either way, see evidence in the sv, fm, cla68 arbcom case where you get to see the tip of the iceberg in the evidence vs Slimvirgin). Essays can be most certainly be marked as rejected, I've never had any trouble doing that (and in fact that's the correct procedure to end the use of a page in the project namespace , even if the page is listed at WP:MFD, most project namespace pages shouldn't be listed at MfD at all though.) . And on pondering, I guess dynamics do occasionally allow an essay to remain in place even when only a large minority supports it, but that means that a much-read essay might still have a significant amount of support. (The most famous example being WP:SNOW of course, I think they gave it a unique tag now. Politic-ing won't let them mark it with any other tag, even though it gets used all the time) --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:55, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
I've tried another wording... maybe this'll work. Kubanczyk is right about "supported by a majority" being wrong; it's more like "tolerated by a majority, even if disagreed with". Only the most inflammatory or misguided essays are generally deleted (or, more often, userfied). The rest are a miscellany of op eds, documentation, personal practices, and wishful thinking.--Father Goose (talk) 20:25, 2 July 2008 (UTC)
That's a much better way to state things, yes: majority needs to tolerate it, or large minority needs to support it *nod*.
I think the proliferation of different kinds of pages under the "essay" heading shows the general failure of the policy/guideline/essay system. It actually failed long ago, and it's actually causing huge amounts of work. People are actually *proud* that they get one edit into a page marked "policy" in 6 months at times these days. :-/ Like, wtf? (It's a wiki, try getting it done in hours at worst?) --Kim Bruning (talk) 14:58, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
In practice, Essays without consensus have remained in the Wikipedia namespace, and someone's essay should not be tagged as "rejected". In any event, it can be clarifying to include a minority position as part of canon in an Essay in the Wikipedia namespace. —Centrxtalk • 04:16, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Well, that's Fubar then. Certain essays are probably still more important than certain policies (if only because some policies are basically petrified, so an essay that improves at all will be able to pass a policy in importance :-P )
It's always been extremely dangerous to tell people not to follow certain essays (including WP:BADSITES for a while back there (I got burned by that one), and there was a recent AN/I proposal to ban someone based on Wikipedia:Tendentious editing), because of this reason.
The entire system is a confused mess, and at times we're actually outright lying to people, and telling them to do The Wrong Thing. Things are only becoming more and more hairy over time. It'd be nice if we could maybe consider to consider to pretend to consider to maybe overhaul the system? Though perhaps we need to terminate the community and start over or something. <pulls hair> --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:05, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
I don't think anyone should be told NOT to follow essays. What should be made clear is that essays, unlike policys or guidelines, MAY/NEED not represent the consensus, and therefore, there is no obligation to consider them/keep them in mind when editing. While BADSITES is a failed policy/guideline, it has content which IS among consensus, which is why the template mentions that some of the content was incorporated into actual policies. I'm not sure why it failed (I haven't read the proposal page), but I'd guess that it was felt too harsh to ban all links to attack sites when merely identifying them is sufficient (eg: linking to a bush hate site as a citation for a "Critisism" section on GW Bush, so long as it is labeled), but anyway. No personal attacks, which is a policy, covers the ill-intended use of attack sites, which is the real issue, imo. As I mentioned in the above section, there are essay that are 100% consensus... like WP:Be Nice, that probably should be followed... but the key to that is that the essay itself links to Wikipedia:Etiquette which is a guideline that outlines what "being nice" means on wikipedia, and since it's a guideline IS consensus and should be considered by all users. TheHYPO (talk) 18:50, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
In general: it's backwards from how you describe it: People don't have to behave in some fashion because it's a guideline. It's a guideline because people behave in some fashion. A subtle difference? Perhaps, but it's the rule at the basis of our p/g/e system, so the subtle difference gets magnified considerably.
If you try to alter people's behavior by proposing a guideline, you will fail. If you try to alter people's behavior by negotiating a new consensus, then -sometime later- someone, somewhere will write down a new essay describing the behavior. This essay can then become a guideline if someone puts a guideline tag on and no-one removes it, and it could even become policy if the behavior is such a good idea that nobody protests. (In theory. Alternately, it can happen if no one cares enough :-P, or if it's politically experient, or one or two other ways, but otherwise that's the main way it happens )
I hope that helps a little?
--Kim Bruning (talk) 20:14, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
"If it doesn't represent consensus, we have {{rejected}}, right?" Not as far as I understand it. An essay will only get the rejected template if it has been submitted as a proposed policy or guideline. If it's never proposed, it can't be reject and it will never be marked as non-consensus. I'm pretty sure an essay like Wikipedia:Cruftcruft does not represent the consensus, though it may have support. Since it's never been proposed, it has therefore never been rejected.
"An essay still needs to be supported by at least a majority of people viewing it." It does? How do you figure? I thought anyone could write an essay if they wanted. TheHYPO (talk) 18:42, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
Re: "that's what we have rejected for". Ruleslawyer much? :-P I was involved in editing that page, I'm sure I know what I thought it meant. (Not that this stops ruleslawyers ;-) )
Re: An essay needs to be supported by at least a significant number of people? Well... anyone is allowed to edit or even completely rewrite an essay. What do you think the downstream consequences of that fact are? --Kim Bruning (talk) 20:05, 3 July 2008 (UTC) What rules determine editing of pages?

Lol, Kim, settle down. If you pull your hair out, things will just get more hairy. The greatest problem, as I see it, is that people think of the rules as laws instead of as guideposts and points of agreement. It's hard not to see them as electric fences, as that's how rules usually function in other social systems. And since people tend to think of them that way, they often do function that way, even on Wikipedia. Now, the actual essay/guideline/policy distinction is more of a practical division than a formal one. It has value as a very rough indication of consensus, and considering that is the underlying mechanism for enforcement, each of the templates corresponds to "this is usually enforced", "this is commonly enforced", "this might or might not be enforced".

The last one's the trickiest, of course, which is why we're here talking about it. Now, I think it doesn't really matter that there's such a miscellany of pages in the "essay" category; it's become a catch-all, a substitute for {{notpolicy}} and the name is misleading but the consequences of it being misleading are usually minor. There are all sorts of outliers within the category: essays that are largely consensual but also largely inconsequential; ones that summarize or expand upon some Very Important advice from actual policy pages; very reasonable and authoritative-sounding pages that are in reality controversial or even outright harmful; outright rants; etc.

I think the single most important thing to do is remind people that essay pages are not Laws. It'd be nice if we could do more of that on guideline and policy pages as well, although a full understanding of how the "rule of law" (such as it is) works on Wikipedia, takes a while to grasp. Where BADSITES was concerned, the atmosphere around that was turbulent, and you misread it. No amount of tweaking the {{essay}} template or category would have changed that. But there were no lasting consequences to your having misread the atmosphere around BADSITES anyway. I think the greater danger is letting people think they have to tiptoe around Wikipedia and do this and not do that. Right now, {{essay}}s are "here's what somebody thinks, feel free to agree or disagree". If it turns out an essay has broad support and enforcement, you'll find out soon enough (through reverts and warnings); if you continue to ignore it in the face of that, you're an idiot. (And if it really is enforced like that, why hasn't it been made a guideline yet?)

P.S.: I like Kubanczyk's latest changes to the template very much. I suspect we're still not satisfying Centrx's concerns, however--Father Goose (talk) 21:21, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

The current version is a bit better than it has been in a while. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 22:09, 3 July 2008 (UTC)
I seem to disagree with your general premise of what a policy is, so I am respectfully bowing out from this discussion, on the premise that we're not going to agree. Since none of essays, policys and guidelines need to be followed, from what I'm reading here, I guess it doesn't matter what we tell people to listen to. I'll leave you with a final thought: Whether you want to call them rules or quibble as to whether you have to listen to any of them, the point is that at very least policys are articles representing what the consensus believes is generally acceptable wikipedia behaviour or content, exceptions aside. One of the most important reasons for policys and guidelines are to tell new editors what wikipedia's about. These are the people I think this template has to target to make clear that guidelines aren't the same as policys and guidelines which have consensus. As as been said, a problem with essays is that they are sometimes cited as an argument for (for example) deletion. If a new user has an essay thrown at them from a more established editor, they are likely to believe essays are proper policy if the essay page says nothing to the contrary. I believe this should be discouraged. TheHYPO (talk) 22:43, 3 July 2008 (UTC)


This template current automatically adds pages to category: User essays. However, that dumps all essays in the top-level cat, when they might be better off under a sub-category. I reckon this should be removed; if need be, a bot could go around adding it manually to pages which don't do so currently. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 18:24, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

re-enable auto-categorisation please - at least for project namespace essays (I tried to but couldn't) - this makes no sense.--Francis Schonken (talk) 06:24, 12 March 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps a parameter to disable auto-cats. Usage would be something like {{essay|cat=no}}. Jomasecu talk contribs 23:44, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

Mainspace message[edit]

Obviously, this should never be used in the mainspace. I saw it in place at Free trade and removed it, but it was there for a few hours. I'm going to add an #ifeq that will display a different message if this is used in the mainspace, which I tested by previewing this revision of Template sandbox. Jomasecu talk contribs 21:52, 22 February 2009 (UTC)

Bold and colored text; some people seem to miss the important facts[edit]

I am proposing that the important information on this template be bold text and bold red text. I am proposing this because many editors seem to miss the important facts. Many editors treat some essays as policies or guidelines. One essay that has been subject to such treatment is Wikipedia:Don't template the regulars. I figured that if I made the important information more noticeable, then people won't miss the important facts. I have in fact already implemented this edit, however, it was reverted. Also see my edit to the template sandbox. -- IRP 03:21, 5 April 2009 (UTC)

As I noted on IRP's talk page, I don't regard this as a viable solution. People fail to pay attention to all sorts of explanatory text, and if we were to give every instance this treatment, we'd just end up in the same situation (except with lots of needlessly ugly pages). Bold text used to that extent instantly loses its meaning, and red text should almost never be used. —David Levy 03:36, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
Agreed. What next, a series of exclamation marks? Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 09:35, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
How about using the bold text to a lesser extent? -- IRP 23:02, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
I oppose the emboldened wording, which incorrectly conveys that one should look to whether advice is a policy or guideline to decide whether it should be followed. —David Levy 23:18, 5 April 2009 (UTC)
I also oppose this -- the template is clear enough. — neuro(talk)(review) 00:40, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
How is it now? -- IRP 20:23, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
Are you reading our replies? —David Levy 20:41, 6 April 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I am and I made this edit based on them. -- IRP 21:58, 7 April 2009 (UTC)
It doesn't come close to addressing my concerns. In fact, you added underlining. —David Levy 01:18, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
I highlighted it instead and removed the bold and colored text (diff). If you still don't think it looks right, then do you have any idea of how I can make the important information more noticeable? -- IRP 20:39, 8 April 2009 (UTC)
1. That's just as bad (if not worse).
2. As noted above, I object to the "it is not a policy or guideline" wording.
3. As noted above, readers frequently fail to pay attention to a great deal of explanatory text, and visually altering all of it (throughout the site) to make it more noticeable would be self-defeating and uglifying.
"You know those balls that they put on car antennas so you can find them in the parking lot? Those should be on every car!" —Homer Simpson, advocating the creation of this
David Levy 21:39, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I'm going to request that more users become involved in this discussion. All you seem to be doing is complaining about how ugly my edits make the template and not telling me how I can make the important words more noticeable without uglifying it. If you think my edits are ugly, then you should also think that this is ugly (and I am not the one who inserted that bold red text). -- IRP 03:32, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

I oppose the changes as well. Have you ever considered that maybe people cite certain essays frequently, not because they're confused and think its a policy, but because they just think its a really good idea? Mr.Z-man 03:41, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
It actually does seem that some editors are confused because they are not reading the important details! As you can see from Thinboy00's comment, at TFD for {{Uw-rollbackremoved}}, it appears that user was not reading the details because even though there were plenty of reasons to delete the template stated above that comment, you can not use an essay as rationale for deleting a page. -- IRP 03:55, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
I also oppose the changes and think the template is fine the way it is; I especially agree with Mr.Z-man's comments above. --CapitalR (talk) 04:09, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict; reply to User:IRP) You can use anything as rationale for deleting a page. If it makes good sense, it doesn't matter where it's written down or whether it's written down. Making such a fuss over the distinction between "policies," "guidelines," and "essays" is a Bad Idea.

Please review WP:IAR and WP:WIARM. -GTBacchus(talk) 04:11, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Yes, especially when discussing the deletion of a non-article. While an argument that an article is useless is a bad argument at AFD, for a template at TFD, its perfectly valid. The important details are not that the page is not a policy, but the logic and reasoning behind the essay. Mr.Z-man 04:22, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
Indeed, IRP, you're simply incorrect in your understanding of what can and cannot be cited as a deletion rationale. It's because of the common misconception that something must be a policy or guideline to be deemed valid that I oppose the "it is not a policy or guideline" wording (which would reinforce this mistaken belief). —David Levy 14:17, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
1. My point is not merely that your edits render the template ugly; it's also that they are not a practical means of attracting additional attention to the text that you regard as important (apparently because of your mistaken belief that it was improper to cite an essay as a rationale for deleting a template that you created). You've complained that I'm not telling you how to successfully accomplish that, which ignores my stance that this should not be done.
2. You've cited a line of emboldened red text (documenting a very important piece of information) appearing once in a policy page. That is very different from a line of emboldened red text composing a large percentage of a tag (and conveying nothing beyond the tag's overall message) appearing at the top of every essay on the site. —David Levy 14:17, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

Well, if the text in this template should not be made more noticeable because we assume that users will pay attention, then how come this text is red and bold? Believe me, if you look around on Wikipedia, you will see plenty of users that treat Wikipedia:Don't template the regulars as a policy. -- IRP 04:44, 10 April 2009 (UTC)

1. Please see my above response to your citation of that page.
2. I don't believe that Wikipedia:Don't template the regulars is widely regarded as a policy. In line with what Mr.Z-man wrote above, my impression is that many people simply agree with its advice and cite it because they are annoyed when users behave in a contrary manner. —David Levy 14:17, 10 April 2009 (UTC)
If people treat "Don't template the regulars" as policy, it's because the idea behind it is almost invariably a good one. Templating the regulars is foolish, and accomplishes no productive goal. When you refrain from templating the regulars, don't refrain because of any essay or policy. Refrain because of good sense.

All of that said, I've never thought of DTTR as policy. Policy tends to deal in much broader strokes. DTTR is like a nice lemma; it's no foundational document, but it's still smart. -GTBacchus(talk) 02:01, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

I hope you can see the difference in severity between "this might reduce the weight of your argument" and "you're heading for administrative action". Like the others here I see no pressing need to draw more attention to the wording in this template. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 22:13, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

Consideration replaces heeding[edit]

I changed the line

"Heed them or not at your own discretion"


"Consider these views with discretion"

My reasons are:

  1. "Heed" is a concept related to obedience. Essays are often written as suggestions, and as such its a bit improper to use in this context. "Consideration" is a better concept, from both proponent and opponent points of view.
  2. "them" in this context (in referring to someone's suggestions or opinions), is adversarial; particularly when used in the original sentence between "heed" and "not" and "your own discretion." "Heed them (concepts)" is too similar to "heed them (persons)" and as such gives the wrong impression.
  3. "or not" is also adversarial, per above.
  4. "at your own discretion" is oxymoronic, even if its colloquial. It is not typical that one uses "someone else's discretion" and not their own. "With discretion" says all that the original wants to say, but with more accuracy and civility.

Regards -Stevertigo 17:55, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

  1. PS: "Views" may be changeable. "Concepts" would be best, but people often don't like that word. "Opinions" is inaccurate, as an essay does not just express opinions. "Suggestions" would work, but I would prefer "concepts" or just "views." -Stevertigo 17:58, 30 April 2009 (UTC)

Categorization broken?[edit]

This template does not add articles to the essay category! Ex. Wikipedia:Get over it or [1] (I've had to manually add the category).--Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 00:08, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Right. I've noticed that too. Anyone know why? -- OlEnglish (Talk) 08:52, 16 May 2009 (UTC)
Should be done now. [[Sam Korn]] (smoddy) 09:18, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Why different in userspace?[edit]

When I try to use this template in userspace, it transcludes as if it were the {{essay-like}} template! Why? --Jubilee♫clipman 18:22, 17 March 2010 (UTC)

Ignore that: I was in mainspace not userspace... oops! Makes sense, now, obviously! --Jubilee♫clipman 18:34, 17 March 2010 (UTC)


SilkTork (talk · contribs) recently changed the template; I reverted. I really don't see that as an improvement. Essays on Wikipedia very considerably. Some are so highly regarded they are practically policy; some are dissenting minority opinions; some are just one person's opinion. Some essays should probably not be consulted for assistance. It's best to make that clear, using few words. Brevity generally improves clarity. In particular, I found the part about "The degree of consensus that went into creating this essay (a potential measurement of the reliability of the advice) can be judged by consulting the history and talk pages." to be highly cumbersome. I think that sort of thing is best addressed at Wikipedia:Wikipedia essays, not in this template. —DragonHawk (talk|hist) 17:04, 4 April 2010 (UTC)

Similar wording has been used on related essay templates for quite a time - see Template:Wikiproject notability essay, Template:Civility essay, Template:Notability essay, the change was to bring this template in line. SilkTork *YES! 12:27, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
What's done on other templates has no relation to what's done on this one, if the templates have different purposes (and they do). ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 06:00, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
The addition of "It is not a Wikipedia policy or guideline, though it may be consulted for assistance" clarifies the standing of essays on which this template is placed. Essays may be consulted for advice, and often they are. They are not, however, policies or guidelines. Our community puts a greater form of trust on policies and guidelines as they have achieved a wider consensus than ordinary essays. However, that doesn't mean that people cannot use the advice contained within the essay - but editors would like some indication of how much they can rely on the information within an essay. The phrase: "Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints. Consider these views with discretion" is an empty phrase which does not give advice on how to assess the advice. "The degree of consensus that went into creating this essay (a potential measurement of the reliability of the advice) can be judged by consulting the history and talk pages," gives more pertinent advice by indicating both how to assess the reliability of the advice, and a link to the appropriate policy on consensus. SilkTork *YES! 12:38, 6 April 2010 (UTC)
"...the standing of essays on which this template is placed"? This template is acceptable for any essay. Including humorous ones, or ones not written to interpret or supplement policies/guidelines. We have templates for those kinds of essays specifically. "Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints. Consider these views with discretion," is not an empty phrase. It is a warning and advice that just because it exists in WP space, that just means 2 or 3 editors supported it. On the other hand, it may have a lot of support. You say:

"The degree of consensus that went into creating this essay (a potential measurement of the reliability of the advice) can be judged by consulting the history and talk pages," gives more pertinent advice by indicating both how to assess the reliability of the advice...

For one, consulting the history and talk pages is not necessarily a good indicator of the reliability or the level of consensus. If I wrote an essay that everyone saw as 100% true, and everyone agreed with, it would never be edited, and there wouldn't be any comments on the talk page, and thus those would be a poor indicator. Separately from that, you state (above): "indicating both how to assess the reliability of the advice..." and by doing so, show that you have a basic assumption that all essays exist to give advice. We have a category for essays that give advice. That's not what all essays attempt to do. I think the suggested language is inappropriate to essays which do not give advice, and also may give a false sense of legitimacy to essays which have little to none. The tag (prior to the most recent edit) is a disclaimer that warns people to be careful and not assume consensus exists one way or the other just because this essay is an essay in WP namespace. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 06:00, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

SilkTork: I think Noraft identified what I was trying to get at: There are a *lot* of different essays on Wikipedia. The other essay templates are very specific in their application. The generic essay tag is more like a content disclaimer, saying "Hey -- this could be anything". I think it is very important to clearly identify that, especially for newcomers. • As far as wording goes. I think "Essays may represent widespread norms or minority viewpoints" is not at all empty; it succinctly and accurately portrays the situation. "Consider these views with discretion" is rather weak, I agree, but given the nebulous nature of essays, I can't think of anything better. But at the same time "it may be consulted for assistance" is similarly weak. Sure, it may be consulted -- or it may be ignored. Or it may be used as a hat. ;-) • I think the idea of giving advise on how to gauge consensus has merit, but as Noraft articulated, it isn't always as easy as looking at the history and talk page. Some essays are just way out there and just never got any attention; others simply document consensus already well-established elsewhere. That's what I was trying to get to when I wrote about treating at WP:WES. Thinking about it, that goes beyond just essays, though. Do we have a page anywhere about "how to gauge consensus?" (Maybe we should have an essay on that. ;-) —DragonHawk (talk|hist) 13:12, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Consensus on Template:Essay[edit]

This template has not materially changed since April of 2009. That means the previous version has the assent of everyone who has applied the template to their essay, or at least the consensus of every editor who has edited the template since April of 2009 until the material change. I think the burden is on the editor proposing the change to show that consensus favors his/her version, and I think that's going to take a lot of work... ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 08:11, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Adding the Portal to the Template[edit]

Okay, so I added WPEssayportal to the template, and it got reverted, so let's talk about that. The reverter, in the edit summary, said: (RV - You noted that "this is the first use of a portal for something that dwells in Wikipedia namespace." You seek to significantly expand our portals' scope in a manner contradicting WP:P, and there is not yet consensus that this is a good idea.)
First of all, it doesn't contradict WP:P. Its new, but it in no way twists, perverts, or otherwise hurts WP:P or the encyclopedia. In fact it provides an organized way for editors to be exposed to new content (which I expound on below). Secondly, there IS consensus that this is a good idea. Where did you get the idea that there was not consensus that this is a good idea? Just because that isn't stated here? Third, if you think the portal isn't a good idea, then removing it from the template isn't really the right move...you should MfD it. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 17:51, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

1. As you note below, it's stated at Wikipedia:Portal that portals "are meant for both readers and editors of Wikipedia, and should promote content and encourage contribution." At Wikipedia:Namespace, the Portal namespace is described as containing "reader-oriented portals that help readers find articles related to a specific subject." These are accurate descriptions of the community's current understanding of portals.
Wikipedia essays are largely irrelevant to non-editors. As a community, we don't seek to "promote" or "encourage contribution" of essays in remotely the same way that we do encyclopedia articles.
2. I "get the idea that there [is] not consensus that this is a good idea" from my inability to find any discussion in which this was determined. (I'll address your specific claims to the contrary below.)
3. I don't seek to delete the portal, but unless and until consensus to expand the Portal namespace's scope is established, I believe that it belongs in the editor-oriented Wikipedia namespace (possibly merged with Wikipedia:Wikipedia essays) and should not be presented as a "portal." —David Levy 19:57, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
My point is, if your issue is that the content is in the wrong place (i.e. portal namespace), you should address that, not placement of a link to in in the essay tag, where ONLY those reading essays (editors) will see it, which has nothing to do with your points above. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 02:09, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
In my opinion, both the location and presentation are improper and potentially harmful (by conveying an incorrect impression of the Portal namespace's purpose).
But it isn't my opinion that makes the link inappropriate. It's the fact that there has been almost no discussion of whether the portal is a good idea, let alone one worthy of advertising on every essay page. —David Levy 03:24, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

I think having this portal is acceptable. If anything, it may bring more interested people into actually productively contributing to the encyclopedia, and that's not a bad thing. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 21:08, 26 February 2010 (UTC)
The comment above is from a bureaucrat who weighed in on the whole issue when I put it up for RfC. Nobody from Wikiproject Portals protested, and I commented about it there specifically to get their feedback. Then it got nominated for MfD, and everyone who voted unanimously voted to keep it, including the nominator. User:OlEnglish suggested a featured essay at the portal. How much more consensus do you want? ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 17:51, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

You refer to this thread as an "RfC," but it wasn't tagged as such. As you note above, you instead advertised it at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Portals. A total of four individuals (including the quoted user and you) participated in the exchange, with the other two agreeing that the Portal namespace is intended to showcase encyclopedic content.—David Levy 19:57, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
The other two didn't "agree" that the Portal namespace is intended to showcase encyclopedic content. Martin shad a couple questions. He said that was "generally" how the P namespace was used. I answered his questions. If he had problems with it, he would have said so. The other guy (Father Goose) was under the faulty impression that Portals were some sort of "master table of contents" of the encyclopedia, and his conclusion was based on that premise. So he doesn't count. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 02:09, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
1. Martin clearly expressed an objection. That he didn't post any follow-up messages doesn't mean that he changed his mind. We don't know one way or the other.
2. I'm flabbergasted by your attempt to declare that Father Goose "doesn't count." There is nothing unreasonable about his description, of which "encyclopedic content" is the key wording. You've acknowledged that "this is the first use of a portal for something that dwells in Wikipedia namespace," and you seek to discredit the input of someone objecting to this undiscussed deviation.
3. That we're even debating the above is disconcerting, as the most important fact is that the discussion had four participants (including you). You seek to disqualify one and cite the opinion of another (in agreement with you) as evidence of consensus. Even if all four participants agreed, this would not establish consensus to fundamentally alter a namespace's purpose. —David Levy 03:24, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
The MfD listing was based entirely upon the assertion that the portal was inactive. The matter of whether its content is a suitable addition to the Portal namespace wasn't even addressed. —David Levy 19:57, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
That's right! Content location was accepted and not even in question. Nobody said Keep and Move. Nobody objected to the content as in the wrong namespace. Logic that says "the content location issue wasn't addressed" and implying that those people have a problem and didn't bring it up is faulty. And if they don't have a problem, that's consensus. (One even said he had no objections). ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 02:09, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Noraft, you're referring to a discussion in which the nominator, you, and one other person formally commented before its speedy closure (upon the nomination's withdrawal). I certainly am not "implying that those people have a problem and didn't bring it up." I'm saying that the discussion tells us absolutely nothing of relevance to the issue.
And even if we jump to the highly unreasonable conclusion that all participants were familiar with the Portal namespace's traditional scope and silently determined that it should be expanded, that does not constitute consensus for the change. —David Levy 03:24, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
You call the above "consensus that this is a good idea"? —David Levy 19:57, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
No. I call that plus the guy who suggested a featured essay "consensus that this is acceptable." And it is. Think about it: There is you clearly opposing. There is one other person opposing on faulty logical grounds (that P namespace is a table of contents). There's me User:Nihonjoe and User:OlEnglish supporting. There's two more editors who said he had no objections to the portal as it is. There's the fact that lots of people saw that MfD and didn't object. There's the fact that the portal has been viewed over 300 times since it was created and just two of those people have opposed the content's location. I think there is way more acceptance of the portal as it is, than there is opposition. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 02:09, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
"Consensus" ≠ "more support than opposition among a tiny number of people, including those whose disagreement I unilaterally disqualify."
Please see Wikipedia:Consensus#Level of consensus. —David Levy 03:24, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

The following quote is from WP:Portals:
Portals are pages intended to serve as "Main Pages" for specific topics or areas. Portals may be associated with one or more WikiProjects; unlike WikiProjects, however, they are meant for both readers and editors of Wikipedia, and should promote content and encourage contribution...The idea of a portal is to help readers and/or editors navigate their way through Wikipedia topic areas through pages similar to the Main Page. In essence, portals are useful entry-points to Wikipedia content.
So first of all there is a bit of ambiguity in the above quote, as the second sentence says "they are meant for both readers and editors," while the third says "readers and/or editors." If we can accept that Wikipedia essays are not only meant for editors to read, then a portal seems fine. If we cannot accept that, then we must debate.
To me, a Wikipedia Essay portal provides a helpful service to individuals interested in Wikipedia essays. It provides needed navigation to an almost unnavigable pile of over 1,000 essays (not counting user essays). It provides an introduction to Wikipedia essays for readers and/or editors that are unfamiliar with them. And I think letting readers see the man behind the curtain (i.e. "There is such a thing as an essay written about the inner workings of Wikipedia, because such inner workings are complex) if they choose to do so is beneficial. Really, if someone is scrolling through the portal directory and they come upon this one and click it, if they decide they aren't interested, the back button is easy to hit... But for those interested, they will have found something new and useful.
I don't think that not having a portal on something like this in the past is a good reason in an of itself to not have one now. Why stand on tradition/status quo for tradition/status quo's sake? ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 17:51, 13 April 2010 (UTC)

1. I disagree that Wikipedia essays generally are of value to non-editors.
2. No amount of ambiguous wording will change the community's clear understanding of the Portal namespace's intended purpose. And as noted above, Wikipedia:Namespace unambiguously indicates that it contains "reader-oriented portals that help readers find articles related to a specific subject." —David Levy 19:57, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but as you also noted, WP:P also indicates that portals are for readers and editors. Further, I think essays give readers a look behind the curtain, which will convert some of them to editors. I mean really, the first thing in the portal is a description of what a Wikipedia essay is, and its purpose. That's a great thing for reader to see, to start to understand the inner workings of the machine. ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 02:09, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
1. Yes, portals are for readers and editors, not readers or editors. No one has asserted that portals aren't intended to benefit editors. But they aren't intended to exclusively benefit editors.
2. By all means, present your argument to the community and seek consensus that the fundamental change you advocate is justified. —David Levy 03:24, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
3. This is not to say that the community is bound by tradition and cannot decide to expand the Portal namespace's role, but this has not yet occurred. —David Levy 19:57, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
Oh, I think it has... ɳorɑfʈ Talk! 02:09, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
And I remain baffled by this. —David Levy 03:24, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Proposal to add another option[edit]

This essay contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors but at the same time reflects current policy and guidelines. For this reason, it can not be dismissed as being "merely an essay".

I believe an optional variant similar (at least in spirit) to the above should be included. There are several essays that talk about policy and/or guidelines in an illustrating rather than interpretative way. The standard essay template does not fit them for obvious reasons. The wording above is intended to capture the spirit of the option I'd like added, it clearly isn't print-worthy like that. If you are against including it as an option into this template, please state whether you are for or against creating a dedicated template for it. -- (talk) 09:20, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, hadn't found {{Supplement}}. My bad. -- (talk) 09:35, 9 July 2010 (UTC)


Can we get a parameter that allows editors to specify the appropriate subcat of Category:Wikipedia essays? WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:31, 7 October 2010 (UTC)

Template-protected edit request on 26 April 2018[edit]

I would like to request that "not one of Wikipedia policies or guidelines" be changed to "not one of the Wikipedia policies or guidelines", as the current form (lacking the the) is ungrammatical. Changing it to "not one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines" or "not a Wikipedia policy or guideline" would also work. Whoop whoop pull up Bitching Betty | Averted crashes 16:51, 26 April 2018 (UTC)

 Done Galobtter (pingó mió) 17:07, 26 April 2018 (UTC)

Use of this template on user essays?[edit]

I'm curious about what standard procedure is here.

Inclusion in the high-level Category:Wikipedia deletion essays is presumably reserved for essays in the Wikipedia namespace, not user essays, since the subcategory Category:User essays on deletion exists, but there are currently eleven user pages in the former. I considered just changing the categories for those eleven pages to put them directly into the subcategory, but then I noticed that they were not actively included in one category rather than the other, but instead happened to be tagged with a derivative of this template that automatically added them to a category for which they are apparently inappropriate.

Obviously the wording of this template and its derivatives doesn't, by definition, apply to pages in people's user spaces (all such pages represent only the views of their authors, and when others happen to agree the authors are usually encouraged to move the pages into the Wikipedia namespace), but having the template automatically miscategorize such pages would seem to add another layer of problems.

Should this template and its derivatives just be removed from user essays? Or am I missing something?

Hijiri 88 (やや) 00:03, 11 July 2018 (UTC)

You want to remove the temp from 2000 pages because of a miss categorization of a few pages? It's designed to put the category according to the namespace.... if there is a problem with one category perhaps this can be fixed.--Moxy (talk) 02:58, 11 July 2018 (UTC)
@Moxy: You want to remove the temp from 2000 pages because of a miss categorization of a few pages? Umm ... no ... nothing in what I wrote above implied that. Did you read my question before replying? Anyway, if you are certain that the problem is only with that one category and not with all categories affected by this template and its derivatives, please say so. I came here assuming good faith on the part of the eleven users whose user pages were in question, but if you think the template should simply be removed from those pages because it was placed in error then I'll do that. Hijiri 88 (やや) 04:26, 11 July 2018 (UTC)
To display all subcategories click on the "►":
User essays(9 C, 1,761 P)
Yes, it should replaced with {{Essay}} which auto-categorizes user essays as such. Additional topical essay categories can be added at page bottom as regular categories. See, e.g., User:SMcCandlish/Notability and Deletion policy, which has {{User essay|cat=User essays on deletion}} (to pick a subcat of user essays instead of the main one; it is also a subcat. of the main cat. on deletion-related essays), then a [[Category:Wikipedia essays on notability]] for a topical cat., which has no user subcat. for the same topic. Done this way, they get categorized and template-identified as user essays, but we don't lose the topical categorization.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  17:06, 15 July 2018 (UTC)