This is just a random collection of half baked thoughts that occasionally turn into something useful. Read or even comment if you like but it's mainly for my own usage.
- 1 How to patrol new pages
- 2 Having time for sysop chores
- 3 Cabal
- 4 Newbies
- 5 Leet
- 6 Afd/Drv
- 7 Bloc voting
- 8 Out of Band communication considered harmful
- 9 Blogs
- 10 ICS
- 11 Provenance
- 12 Afds
- 13 Weight of editors
- 14 Significance
- 15 Notability is a religious issue
- 16 Why Afd/Drv is bad
- 17 "Black" v "white"
- 18 Binary Afd
- 19 Experiments
- 20 Cutting off communication
- 21 How to change policy
- 22 Conflicts of interest
- 23 Hmmm
- 24 Breadth vs Depth
- 25 Significance of groups
- 26 Doing vs Undoing
- 27 Afd preventing normal editing after the fact
- 28 Wikipedia is insane
- 29 Userboxes
- 30 Harm reduction
- 31 Personal attacks
- 32 Judgment
- 33 Process and privilege
- 34 Wheel wars
- 35 Community
- 36 Damage control
- 37 Choose your battles
- 38 I don't get it
- 39 Contradictions
- 40 the Truth
- 41 prod is a fumbling first step
- 42 Wikipedia IS an indiscriminate collection of information
- 43 Be careful
- 44 Schools
- 45 Wheel warring
- 46 Deletion
- 47 Listcruft
- 48 Afd doesn't work
- 49 Racism on Wikipedia
- 50 Forking
- 51 POV warriors
- 52 Admins
- 53 Elitism
- 54 Silencing dissent
- 55 The rapier and the club
- 56 Wikidrama
- 57 Disruption
- 58 Polemical and divisive
- 59 Adminship
- 60 Priorities
- 61 Policies
- 62 Trolling and tolerance
- 63 Contradictions
- 64 IRC and cabalism
- 65 Free Speech
- 66 degrees of disagreement
- 67 Checks and balances
- 68 Reasons and blocks
- 69 Free ammo giveaway
- 70 deletion
- 71 Afd is random
- 72 Trouble vs Value
- 73 Trolling
- 74 Wow
- 75 Maturity
- 76 The Mob
- 77 Criticism
- 78 Belligerence
- 79 Expectations
- 80 Unreasonable people
- 81 Culture war
- 82 Faith in consensus
- 83 Bullying
- 84 Consensus and fatigue
- 85 admins
- 86 Odd
- 87 sigh
- 88 dysfunction
- 89 Personal relationships
- 90 bullies
- 91 know when to say when
- 92 process
- 93 Get out of jail free
- 94 What is trolling?
- 95 Best thing ever
- 96 Reference desk
- 97 Fundamentalism
- 98 Judgment
- 99 Willfull ignorance
- 100 Experienced editors
- 101 Disruption and outages
- 102 Split?
- 103 The Buffalo through the window
- 104 Good faith
- 105 The Brute squad
- 106 Saying vs doing
- 107 Priorities
- 108 Tired, flawed arguments that nobody should listen to anymore
- 109 N and V
- 110 Fakes
- 111 Reform
- 112 Rights
- 113 Annoying editors
- 114 Lots of people
- 115 "Should" vs "must"
- 116 Double standards
- 117 IAR
- 118 WP:NOT
- 119 Density
- 120 Alignments
- 121 BLP
- 122 simple?
- 123 radical idea
- 124 Layers
- 125 How does this happen?
- 126 Time
- 127 Professionalism
- 128 IRC, again
- 129 Vanishing
- 130 Maturity
- 131 People you know
- 132 Evidence of lack of desire to collaborate
- 133 Alternate accounts
- 134 Simplicity and scalability
- 135 RFA
- 136 Wikiprojects
- 137 heretics
- 138 undoing adminship
- 139 Messes
- 140 Oh dear
- 141 RFA
- 142 Collaboration and being "left alone"
- 143 Kookery
- 144 Wheel war
- 145 RFC on RFC
- 146 Noooooo
- 147 Fish
- 148 RFA
- 149 Ageism
- 150 Clue
- 151 Allegiance
- 152 bah
- 153 Editors don't mean squat
- 154 reinventing adminship
- 155 Civility
- 156 Mentoring
- 157 Myspacers essay
- 158 Tolerance too far
- 159 "Because I can"
- 160 Teaching
- 161 Bad strategy
- 162 More mentoring delusions
- 163 Social contract
- 164 No admin left behind
- 165 Revealed at last?
- 166 Worst idea ever
- 167 RFA dramafest
- 168 Ganging up
- 169 Drama
- 170 AFD is broken
- 171 Axis of disagreement
- 172 Breaks
- 173 Limited options
- 174 Dispute resolution problem
- 175 Impossible standards
- 176 RFA made simple?
- 177 arbcom dysfunction
- 178 Training
- 179 "Not a battleground" misuse
- 180 Wow
- 181 new CSD
- 182 Communication breakdown
- 183 Different goals
- 184 Inexplicable failure
- 185 Instruction creep
- 186 Tolerance too much? or too little
- 187 In a few months
- 188 RFA broken, part XVIIIXLMC
- 189 Populism?
- 190 Dramaout
- 191 After-blocks?
- 192 the community is not trusted
- 193 volunteers
- 194 Smoking gun
- 195 could this ever happen?
- 196 new magic word
- 197 really?
How to patrol new pages
Don't just automatically slap a delete tag on something, just because the content is junk. Some things could be become a useful redirect, if there's an appropriate article that already exists. Redirects are cheap. Sometimes a tiny bit of research (a quick google) can tell you what something's about.
Having time for sysop chores
Opposing an adminship on the grounds of the person not having sufficient time for sysop chores is silly and pointless. We're all volunteers here; we have no right o demand a certain level of contribution from anyone. A person doing RC patrol for 20 minutes a week is better than not having them at all, right? A trusted editor is a trusted editor; any amount of time they have to contribute to the project is appreciated.
There is no cabal. We also don't really want people thinking there is, either. For this reason, ideally we should go out of our way to avoid the appearance of a cabal. Failing that, we should at least not go out of our way to give the appearance of a cabal. I would have thought this was obvious.
Related to this is the idea of a "two-class society". Many editors complain that this is the case on wikipedia, with admins doing whatever the hell they want while the "regular editors" are held to the rules. I don't see that this is particularly the case, altho I do quite often see surprisingly bad behavior from admins. I think we need to make a serious effort to de-emphasize the divide between admins and non-admins. We're all just editors.
Maybe this already exists somewhere. There needs to be a welcome page for newbies that explains that even though anybody can edit Wikipedia, it doesn't really mean anybody can put anything in it. Some kind of newbie-friendly introduction to the notions of verifiability and NOR is needed.
Any random person in the world can come along and blank a page or replace its content with "DICK CHENEY IS SATAN!!!!". We accept this. We depend on the wiki process to undo such vandalism. Why, then, do we attach bizarre rituals to deletion and undeletion?
"Voting" (or otherwise wiki-ing) in a bloc is supremely stupid. People should not support their wiki-friends because they like the person. Individual issues on content should be decided on their own merits, not because your friend wants it a certain way. Good, responsible editors should be able to disagree strongly on content issues without it becoming a personal problem. Taking content issues personally is a huge cause of wiki-stress.
Out of Band communication considered harmful
Maybe there is a cabal. Or rather, probably a handful of them. We should not have "wiki-friends". I mean, we should be friendly to other editors, but we should never give someone support on something as a personal favor. Every situation should be considered entirely on its own merits, not on whether your IRC friends are involved.
More thoughts on this
- irc channels as instruction creep: Let me get this straight.. I already have a Wiki username and password. The Wiki already provides logs and page histories so there's never room for disagreement over what was said or done. And you want me to use some other tool that has none of these advantages? why?
- if irc wasn't already ingrained, no sane person would suggest using it. So how do we break the addiction? The obvious first step seems to be stop adding more people to it. However, this has resistance because people believe the way to fix the broken irc culture is to add more responsible people, to limit the damage done by the irresponsible ones.
- Chat rooms are the armpit of the Internet. Wikipedia is so much better than that. Why drag it down to that level?
- How convincing is this: Some page: "Wikipedia is not a chat room". Some other page: "Come visit the Wikipedia chat room OMG!!"
- Is there really some sensitive data floating around in some chat room? Are people seriously suggesting that folks without oversight rights, for example, are seeing oversighted data? Why the fuck would anyone think this is a Good Thing? I think we can generally trust arbcom and oversight folks. Can we trust some dude in a chat room? Insanity.
- The fact that we spend any time at all arguing about irc logs should tell us something. Use the wiki, you fools.
- is it just a powertrip for some people? It sure makes it look that way when people say, "Little billy, you've been naughty, we're revoking your access". Another level of access rights and sanctions? Why?
- chat rooms create friends. and enemies. Wikipedia works better without friends or enemies. How much drama and stupidity would be avoided if people didn't have their little cliques? Why do we do extra work to encourage cliquishness?
- have we promoted inexperienced or clue-lacking admins because they made friends in some chat room? disgusting.
- reword this less offensively and put it somewhere useful some day
- any time you want to do something in the chat room, ask yourself, WHY? Why wouldn't this be better done on-wiki? People have their list of alleged advantages to the chat room, but all I see is a list of things better done on-wiki. Hopefully the people dealing with actual sensitive information are few. Nobody's bitching about them.
Alleged advantages of irc
- Coordination versus vandals. Why? What are you doing that's not better done on-wiki?
- Advice. Fuck that- when in doubt, post in the appropriate place. Some chat room is NOT the appropriate place. The related discussion is more useful when people can read it later. How is this not blindingly obvious?
Alleged disadvantages of irc
- Encourages cabalism and/or perception of cabalism. Despite what some apparently think, we want to discourage real or imagined cabalism.
- non-accountability. irc folks seem to always be ready to step right up and proudly say "I didn't see nothin." real nice, guys.
Blogs, and other internet crap in general, are overrepresented on Wikipedia. We often disregard WP:V when it comes to such things, and allow the website itself to be used as a primary source, with no secondary sources at all. Individual flash cartoons and videos having their own articles is rather silly. If a reasonable number of third-party sources aren't talking about a given blog or website, it's a good indication it shouldn't have an article.
Between "Ignore All Rules" and "Use Common Sense", I think some people got confused. The idea is not "Ignore Common Sense", despite this being an apparently popular thing to do.
I don't care if Satan himself suggests a good edit. A good edit is a good edit. (This statement is not intended to suggest that I literally believe in Satan.)
Afds seem increasingly incapable of producing consensus. Unfortunately, this often means that verifiability gets put into a corner and forgotten. Try Afd'ing an trivial politician or political group, and editors will come out of the woodwork claiming bias. The arguments seem to be increasingly "this person is important because..." and verifiability be damned.
Weight of editors
Should editors's "votes" or arguments be given more weight based on how long they've been around? Absolutely not. (However, very new editors who show up in unlikely places are rightly seen as suspicious.) But, I see nothing wrong with weighing people's "votes" based on the strength of their arguments. Of course, this is very subjective.
I'm starting to believe that importance is a reasonable requirement, in addition to verifiability. Many think differently. If we had better standards for verifiability, I might think differently. But, considering a personal website a source for purposes of verifiability sometimes happens. This, to me, means we should ask for significance in addition to "mere" verifiability. Of course, if we had higher standards and actually required a number of reliable sources before a thing was considered verifiable, I would feel differently.
More thoughts on this: Importance is important, I think. If verifiability were the only criteria, my car, my girlfriend, my church, my employer(s), my band(s), any one of a few schools I attended, and probably several other things related to me might all have articles about them. Then, I could easily assert that with so many important connections, I should have an article too, right? Some of the things listed above already have articles about them, and I bet at least a couple more of them could have articles and enough verifiability could be asserted that they would survive. I'm not sure that such artciles hurt much of anything, if they're neutral and verifiable, but this sort of thing sure does open up the door for vanity.
Notability is a religious issue
Why Afd/Drv is bad
It produces a terrible environment for productive discussion. Cases that are obvious deletes don't need it, and cases that will be controversial would be better off being discussed on the talk page, with no particular time limit. There are few cases I can think of where current Afd rituals actually make sense.
"Black" v "white"
I'm rather dismayed at the apparently "black v white" worldview that some people seem to have. Wikipedia does not have "black articles" or "white articles". There are only "articles." This is an encyclopedia, not a forum for racism. Everyone needs to understand that while editors with opinions are most welcome (we'd have no editors otherwise), using Wikipedia to push your opinions is not welcome.
Afd should not be seen as binary, where everything is a "keep" (the article is just fine as it is!) or "delete" (everything is unsalvagable crap). If deletion discussions were on articelt alk pages nistead of Afd pages, maybe people wouldn't see it as binary. Sometimes the topic is encyclopedic but the article is bad. Binary Afd has no way of dealnig with such things.
On the other hand, people are using past Afds to argue against normal editing after the fact. Specifically, since some people say "merge" on Afd, people take this to mean the article should never be merged if it's gone thru Afd and not been closed as a "merge". If people just said "keep" or "delete" instead, this may help. Altho, I think if people understood Afd better this issue would go away also.
All of Wikipedia is experimental. The encyclopedia content and the policies and guidelines are a "work in progress".
Cutting off communication
As a general rule, if user deletes things from their talk pags regularly, and/or frequently finds themselves telling people not to contact them anymore, that's frequently a bad sign. Openness and transparency grease the wheels of the community.
How to change policy
If you're not sure how to create a new policy for the brilliant new idea you had, don't sweat it. Just start using it. People will let you know soon enough if it's good or bad.
Conflicts of interest
We have guidelines about people involved in Afd's and whatnot refraining from being involved in the "judgement" phase of such things. These are reasonable. A good rule of thumb is, if you could reasonably be seen as having a conflict of interest, don't do it. Let someone else with unimpeachable disconcernment do it. I see no problem with closing an Afd you "voted" on, for example, if the closure is certainly non-controversial. Let's not limit ourselves unneccessarily.
Sometimes Wikipedia seems to be coming apart at the seams. Admins behave like newbies, everyone gets pissed at each other.
Breadth vs Depth
Insofar as Wikipedia article space is a tree, there is the question of breadth vs depth. Some people don't understand this issue. The questions of what information to include vs what articles to include are seperate.
Significance of groups
The size of a group is a fairly ridiculous indication of significance. People in Canada who have brown hair would be a large group indeed, but what can be said about them that's verifiable?
Doing vs Undoing
Doing something and undoing that thing should require similiar efforts. If someone makes a 5-second decision to delete, and it's contested, it's downright silly to spend 5 days discussing the undeletion. What's easily done can be easily undone. This is not to encourage edit warring, it's to encourage common sense.
Afd preventing normal editing after the fact
I never would have imagined anyone would think so, but there's apparently a sizable segment of editors who feel that a past Afd prevents normal editing of the article after the fact. Specifically, people feel that a merge is prevented by a prior Afd, because if the merge were indicated, the Afd would have been closed as a merge. This is very bizarre reasoning to me. See Talk:Brian_Chase_(Wikipedia_hoaxer)#Settling_the_merge_issue for an example.
Wikipedia is insane
Wikipedia has gone batshit insane. Even some of the old experienced editors are apparently stark raving mad. Weird. I'm starting to think those who claim the project cannot scale are probably right.
Userboxes are fairly pointless. Spending time arguing about them is even more pointless. The bizarre thing is, many of the people spending so much effort debating the issue are the same ones who started by saying "these are not relevant to the encyclopedia". Well, neither is arguing about them, is it?
When dealing with problems or disruption, harm reduction is often a better goal than proving who's "right".
I believe there is an important distinction between a personal attack and a strongly worded condemnation of someone's behavior. This distinction seems to frequently be overlooked.
It's easy for your judgment to become clouded when you know you're in the right. Sometimes we forget how our actions might look to an outside observer who is not already convinced that we're right.
Process and privilege
Process is also the mechanism by which users can trust that others are playing fair, that the rules do not suddenly change, nor are they different for some privileged editors.
- This can go the other way too. By relying on specific processes over common sense, the "privileged" (here I mean "experienced") editors do enjoy an advantage. By knowing the "rules", they can accomplish what they want.
Idea to think about (and possibly suggest, somewhere): Wheel wars should be reviewed. Possibly, if reviewers determine there is prima facie evidence of inappropriate use of admin powers, the sysop rights should be temporarily revoked pending further investigation. This may be extremely controversial or do more harm than good. We'd have to think carefully about how to define a "wheel war" that is subject to review. The intent of those involved is important. A simple undeletion of a deletion someone thought was wrong is not a wheel war, for example. This is akin to what you sometimes see in old westerns: if there's a shootout in the street, all involved parties give up their guns until it can be reviewed by a judge. If someone is found to have been acting reasonably, the sysops rights are reinstated without prejudice. If someone is found to have been acting inappropriately, other sanctions may be applied.
There's been much debate lately about the community v the encyclopedia. I think most of us can agree that the encyclopedia is the desired end result here. However, another way to look at this is with the "give a fish/teach to fish" analogy. Making a good article is like giving someone a fish. It helps, immediately in the short term. Making the community more productive and functional is like teaching someone to fish. It continues to pay off over time.
It's great to have people contributing brilliant new articles. But, more and more, a lot of the work that needs done here is damage control. Reverting vandalism, fighting off POV pushers, etc. Those editors who focus on damage control shouldn't automatically be considered less or more valuable than those who quietly contribute new content.
Choose your battles
You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime... If something is not a very big deal, it's probably not worth putting too much time into fighting over it.
I don't get it
In Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Deeceevoice, the Arbcom cautioned me "to avoid suggesting to users who are the subject of Arbitration proceedings that they abandon Wikipedia." Yet, in the very same decision, they enforced a probation that allows the editor in question to "be banned by any administrator for good cause from any article or talk page which she disrupts. She may be banned from Wikipedia for up to one year by any three administrators for good cause." So, what the Arbcom is saying here is that they're specifically giving me the ability to ban her from particular pages, or even (with 2 others) ban her completely for a year, but my advising her to voluntarily leave the project was out of line. How does this make any sense? If the best thing for the project involves getting someone to not edit at all, how is forcing it better than suggesting it? Users who voluntarily leave seem less likely to return as socks than those who are forced out.
Policies and guidelines are no different from each other, and they're both mostly works of fiction. WP:NOT is allegedly policy, and it clearly says WP is not a dictionary or slang guide. But try nominating List of Internet slang for deletion, and see how that goes.
Whenever someone says that they're trying to put "the truth" into Wikipedia, and others won't let them, it almost always means they're a POV-pusher who doesn't understand NPOV and V.
prod is a fumbling first step
The community seems to be fumbling in the dark toward WP:PURE with this prod stuff. To me, it seems obvious that Wikipedia:Experimental Deletion/XD7 does everything prod does, and more, with less effort. It may take some time for other folks to catch on, though.
Wikipedia IS an indiscriminate collection of information
Let's face it, WP:NOT no longer applies. Individual buildings and bits of road have articles simply because they exist, and these things tend to be deletion-proof on Afd. Maybe this doesn't hurt anything, I don't know. I don't see that it adds value, and this stuff is only going to become more of a maintanance headache. Maybe it's not worth worrying about tho, and if WP 1.0 or some similiar happens, it will get left out.
Be careful about what's nonsense or gibberish. This means almost nothing to me: "Sean Denham (born April 29, 1969) was a much unheralded rover, who came to Essendon from Geelong in a swap that saw ruckman John Barnes sent the other way following the 1991 season. His style of play as a tagging run-with player, typified during the 90's the changing face of the modern game.."
To me, this is meaningless drivel. But, apparently he's some important footballer. Sometimes what looks like a speedy is not.
This is the best example I've ever seen of why it was a mistake to decide that all schools automatically get articles.
Wheel warring is dirsruptive and causes bad blood, just like edit warring but maybe even worse. But, undoing an action you disagree with once isn't much of a wheel war IMO. We need to use common sense. We shouldn't reverse other people's actions too lightly, but neither should be let something unreasonable stand simply because "Well, someone did it, and we shouldn't undo it without a one-week discussion." Generally there's not much reason to be in a hurry. But, it's probably less harmful, in the case of an inappropriate block, to undo it right away than to let it sit.
Deleting things seems to be becoming increasingly unlikely. Things that are speediable are usually fairly obvious.. I wonder if it's really worth spending the time and effort to delete things that aren't speediable.
"List of..." are generally very poor excuses for articles. Maybe there are some that make sense, but it sure looks like most of them are cruft. For whatever reason, we seem to have collectively decided that if you take a bunch of unencyclopedic stuff and put it all together in a list, it somehow becomes encyclopedic. This is bizarre. Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/List_of_United_States_shopping_malls_by_state should have been an obvious delete.
Afd doesn't work
Afd should just be ignored, I think. Things that can be speedied should probably be the only deletions we bother with. Deletion via afd is quite difficult, due to the large number of "everything that exists should be kept" editors. There is no comparable analog on the deletionist side- nobody says delete everything, the closest you come is people who want to delete what's unverifiable or insignificant, however you define significance. So there will be a natural imbalance favoring keeping- maybe that's ok if it's sufficiently slight, but the imbalance seems to be getting larger.
Racism on Wikipedia
Wikipedia has the tremendous advantage of nobody being able to tell the color of anyone else's skin. This helps cut down the trouble caused by those mentally damaged folks for whom such trivialities are a big deal. We should not undermine that advantage by going out of our way to say "I belong to this-and-such race!" These things are irrelevant to being an editor, and from what I've seen, they can cause much harm for no advantage I've been able to determine.
Larger articles providing better context are better all around than a collection of smaller articles. They tend to get more eyeballs, and thus tend to be higher quality. When in doubt, don't fork! Wait for the main article to become too long, then consider splitting off subtopics.
A few editors who look to me like obvious POV warriors, somehow attracted their own fan clubs. Some members of the fan clubs even appear to be reasonable people! Not sure how this happens.
I find myself increasingly embarassed to be an admin. In far too many cases, people wear it like a badge and assume it gives them more-than-normal influence over "mere editors". This is very very wrong. Admins are just people with a few more software features on the assumption they won't abuse them. We all need to remember also that editors don't have a magical way of knowing when someone is an admin, and even if they did, we should not want them to treat us with special deference due to our access level. We're all just editors here.
I've read the criticisms that say there's an anti-elitist culture here. This may be true, but there's a pro-elitist culture here also. Not in the case of subject matter experts, but in the case of longtime established contributors. There are editors here (reasonable people, even) who tend to support each other because of who they are. This is harmful to the project! Good people make mistakes, and we do no one a favor by standing behind someone's mistake due to their good track record in the past. There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling another editor (or admin), "Look, I respect your contributions, but I think you were wrong here." Judge each situation on its merits, not based on who's involved.
Free speech has nothing to do with wikipedia. But, for purely practical reasons, we do ourselves a disservice by trying to silence those who have complaints. Let people complain all they want (unless they're being disruptive). If the complaints are sound, this will be apparent. If they're not, this will also be apparent.
The rapier and the club
Editors (and particularly admins) should always try to be the rapier, never the club. Use the least invasive way of fixing things or dealing with problems. Using the club unneccessarily is counterproductive.
Wikidrama is annoying and counterproductive. We can help eliminate it by focusing on articles, not editors.
Disruption is a funny thing. I could go around deleting user subpages which aren't part of the project, but this would result in offended editors and disruption. I think we should follow the "principle of least drama"- if a thing is causing drama, maybe it should be deleted. But if a thing is just sitting there not hurting anything, remember that the deletion itself may cause drama. Proceed with caution. Don't be a fanatic.
Polemical and divisive
Isn't it ironic that certain campaigns against things that are "polemical and divisive" are themselves polemical and divisive?
Simplest way that could work: grant adminship to anyone who applies and possibly meets some basic criteria, as long as nobody objects in say, 5 days. Then, instead of RFA, it'll be requests for de-adminship, where if there's reasonable consensus that the editor has abused the tools, they lose them.
Why fight against unencyclopedic content outside of article space when you could spend your time removing it from inside article space?
All the rules, policies, and guidelines in the world are no substitute for human judgment.
Trolling and tolerance
Some people lose faith easily in new editors who show problem tendencies. This may or may not be good, it probably depends on circumstances. One thing I really cannot understand though, is why we tolerate trolling from established, longtime editors. I would have expected this sort of thing would be extremely frowned upon.
Doesn't it seem weird that many of the self-described "elite"- people with friends in high places (arbcom, the foundation, etc) are some of the rudest and most disruptive editors we have? Is it really that they're reasonable people facing unreasonable opposition, or is something else going on here? Or is it just a case of longtime contributors becoming less and less patient, and large parts of the community continue to support them no matter how rude they become?
IRC and cabalism
I wonder how strong a correlation there is between people who hang out on the wikipedia IRC channel and people who tend to support each other's actions on-wiki. There is a potential for harm here- if someone spends 10 minutes on IRC talking their buddies into something, that conversation is lost. If people do things on-wiki as a result of off-wiki discussion, that's not very transparent, and some of the actions may seem unreasonable to those who weren't in on the original discussion.
Free speech has little to do with Wikipedia- most of the people who mention it are trying to defend their "right" to post an article about their cat. However, we should not suppress dissent. Doing so does more harm than good. Criticism of any facet of Wikipedia- whether foundation issues, culture, policies, or actions of individual editors, should always be welcome.
degrees of disagreement
People can agree or disagree over a spectrum: there's "That's exactly what I'd have done", and "That's not what I'd have done, but it's not unreasonable". There's even "That's not what I'd have done and I think it's unreasonable for anyone to do that". finish this thought later.
Checks and balances
Admins should be expected to be a check on each other. We're all human and we all make mistakes. This is part of the reason we have many different admins. I should perform my duty as a check on other admins, and other admins should be a check on me. This is how things go. The culture of "never revert an admin action without prior consultation" may have been reasonable a coulpe years ago, with only a few admins. Now, with over 1000, trying to follow this rule would lead to bureaucratic paralysis. What's easily done should be easily undone. We could possibly help by accepting only admin candidates to indicate a willingness to be reverted, but what about the old timers? What can be done to help everyone see the harmfulness of the "never revert" culture?
Reasons and blocks
Often times, someone will be blocked on trumped-up reasons, and when this is questioned, the blocker will assert that there are also valid reasons for the block. Well, if there's a valid reason, why would you block for an invalid reason? Isn't it faster and more effective all around to block for the good reason first?
Free ammo giveaway
Don't give ammo to trolls or malcontents. This means don't insult them or pick on them. Surely we're all adults and can deal with problem editors in an adult manner.
I guess it all comes down to a simple difference in points of view: some people see no point wasting time trying to delete content if it's not harmful in same way. Some people, rather than just wanting content to cause no harm, want it to seem actively good or relevant in some way. (is this just the classic "write an article about your dog if it's neutral and verifiable" thing?)
Afd is random
Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of transgender-support organizations and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of transgender-rights organizations are very nearlt the same thing, yet gettiung vastly difference results. Conclusion: Afd produces random results, don't use it.
Trouble vs Value
Is it ever appropriate to make a practical cost/benefit analysis on deletion questions? I don't see why not, we apply similiar reasoning in other areas. This, if an article is of minor value but attracts major trouble, it could be deleted for being more trouble than it's worth.
Some people are fond of saying things like "no quarter to trolls". Well, nobody really disagrees with this, but the devil is in the details. If we had a magical way of detecting who was trolling, "no quarter" would be easy. But I've noticed that what generally goes along with being in the "no quarter" crowd is jumping to the conclusion that normal editors are trolls the minute there's disagreement. This is very harmful. I've seen established editors say things so ludicrus that I'd have thought they were trolling if not for their history. I bet this happens to everyone. So, while no responsible editor wants to help the trolls, pithy little sayings like "no quarter to trolls!" are stupid and unhelpful.
Wow. Rfa is a complete sham. We might as well do away with it. Is this just another example of the sick culture of insiders protecting their own?
Maybe most of the admin problems are caused by admins acting like junior high schoolers? The idea of everyone being either good or bad, and good people only do good things, while bad people do only bad things, is particularly childish. Real life isn't so simple- surely nobody could reach adulthood and not realize this?
There probably is a large number of editors around who aren't very familiar with how things go here. And, it's all well and good to give the reasoned opinions of experienced editors more creedance then the howling of the mob. However, that can be a dangerous route to go, because many people put anyone who disagrees with them in the category of the howling mob, even if some of those people are reasonable, experienced editors. In the end, we have to judge each case on its own merits, not based on who was arguing for which side.
Criticism of Wikipedia does not automatically not belong on the wiki. Project space and user space are both for exactly that purpose. If there's a problem, we should try to resolve it. Completely stupid or useless criticism isn't helpful, but people should be free to express their opinions of the project in their user space (or in essays in project space)- how else will we improve the project?
If editors want to make statements criticising Wikipedia culture- saying, for example, that admins can do whatever they want, and trample "mere editors" in the process, telling them to shut up about it (and blocking them if they don't do what they're told) is a supremely bad idea. I'd have thought this would be obvious to anyone with the intelligence of a brick, but perhaps it's not? Does one abhor a doctor for diagnosing a disease, when his only intention is to cure it?
I highly agree with recent comments here and there that we should expect good behavior from admins. Absolutely. We should expect more, not tolerate less. Anyone unwilling to be on good behavior has a temperament unsuitable to an admin.
Unreasonable people, subjected to harsh circumstances, often degrade into a sad parody of themselves. (Is this good, bad, or neutral? Maybe it's just an easy way to identify unreasonable people.)
Wikipedia culture seems to be at a crucial point. Some habits and expectations that made sense in the "there-are-only-a-dozen admins" days may make less sense now that there's a couple hundred active admins. It's been said many ways in many places, but the role and behavior of admins is particularly important. The perception of admins as being "above the law" is most troubling, and we need to do whatever we can do prevent this. The sad fact is, I see "mere editors" being blocked for the same kidns of remarks that many admins make with relative impunity.
Faith in consensus
Some editors have an almost religious belief in consensus- going so far as to think that anything that actually happens is supported by consensus, because how else would it have happened? This may or may not be a good thing to think, but it should be recognized as a religious, not rational, belief.
Some people enjoy being the biggest bully on the playground. It surprises me that people of this type would pick Wikipedia as their playground of choice, but it does happen.
Consensus and fatigue
Sometimes I think fatigue is mistaken for consensus- i.e. some people think consensus exists on an issue, where the real situation is that people on one side simply got tired. In particular, when dealing with editors with poor communication skills, this happens a lot. If people think talking to you is like talking to a wall, they'll easily tire of talking to you, right? (Hmm, maybe people do this on purpose to get those who disagree to go away)
We should be more conservative about giving out the block button. The damage and drama caused by a bad block is IMO significantly larger than caused by a deletion, protection, or rollback.
Perhaps the problem is that we have an odd number of problem admins. If we had an even number of them, they'd all block each other for trolling and the problem would solve itself.
more drama sucks. Can we reduce drama by dramatically trying to squelch drama queens? Who knows.
Is Wikipedia dysfunctional? Yes, in some ways. In other ways it's usually functional. The culture needs to be fixed here and there.
Personal relationships with other editors (or even people otherwise involved in the project or with the Foundation) are a two edged sword. I happens to not know Jimbo Wales, for example- I've never even met him. This gives me the freedom to do whatever I think is best for the project without regard to aliances and without worrying about who's feeling might be hurt.
Wow. People accuse others of bullying. That's common enough. But, then the bullies accuse others of bullying? Seems bizarre. Is everyone a bully, or wtf is going on?
know when to say when
Note to self: if someone calls you a troll and takes to deleting your talk page messages without reply, it's probably pointless trying to communicate further.
If someone ignores "process" this could mean two things: 1) ignoring the letter of the rules. This is often OK. or 2) ignoring consensus and the objections of other editors. This is very rarely OK.
Get out of jail free
We need to watch that voluntary leavings, resignations, or other changes of access do not become "get out of jail free" cards.
What is trolling?
Trolling, verb (intransitive): to call someone's actions into question, if that person disagrees with you strongly enough. (This seems to be the commonly used definition here.)
Best thing ever
The concept is alright, but much of what actually happens there is crap. Relationship advice? Ideas for some school play? Please. Why are editors wasting their time on such rubbish? The RD could be conducted in a useful way that doesn't reflect poorly on the project, yet somehow in many cases this is not happening. A certain amount of irrelevant chatting might be unavoidable- as long as it doesn't hurt anything, it's not worth arguing over.
Some people commented that the RD is the first thing of wikipedia that some newbies see. This might explain a hell of a lot- newbies don't generally get what we do here. If the first thing they saw was the RD, this is perfectly understandable.
Wikipedia is not:
- a forum
- a how-to guide
- a place for our own opinons and experiences
Yet, the reference desk is these things. Why are we intentionally giving people such wrong ideas about the project?
I invite anyone to watch the various reference desk pages for a few days. This should clearly illustrate why a lot of the crap posted there is irrelevant to the project. It's nothing more than a chat board in some cases. This is about the best example we could hope for of how the reference desk is harmful to newbies.
The RD has somehow acquired its own culture, very different from Wikipedia. At least, among a few of the people who are active there right now. This is bad- these folks have little or no idea how things get done at Wikipedia, and they're very resistant to those who do. Discussions have been extremely difficult, because we can't use standard wikipedia practices as a starting point- instead we're starting from scratch everywhere.
Of course, examples of relevant uses of the reference desks are in abundance as well. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. I have a hard time believing it's so completely broken that it cannot be fixed.
I define wikipedian fundamentalism as having a strong desire to ensure the furtherance of that holy trinity of principals, WP:NPOV, WP:V and WP:NOR. Fundamentalists also tend to lean heavily toward WP:IAR. Fundamentalists give the encyclopedia' much greater value than the wiki. Fundamentalists give all editors their due respect, but have no love for people who's goals run contrary to producing a quality encyclopedia.
Fundamentalism in this case should not be assumed to mean a tendency to adhere to tradition. Traditions which do not advance the core goal of the project can be disgarded if there's reason to do so. Fundamentalists realize well that Wikipedia is not paper, but also remember that it is an encyclopedia and some degree of encyclopedic standards should be expected.
Some editors are "lovable idiots"- lacking judgment, disruptive, but friendly. Sadly, we often tolerate them too much because they're friendly. This is a mistake- if you lack reasonable adult judgment, you cannot be an effective editor, no matter how nice you are. Sad but true. Historical examples may come to mind for folks who've seen this before.
If someone demonstrates a complete disregard for Wikipedia norms despite people trying to educate them, what can be done? This is tricky. They see other editors as butting in where they're not wanted. But, experienced Wikipedians see that editor as someone who has barged in and demanded that things be done their own way with no regard for established practice. In short, both sides see the other very similarly, and as the enemy, and as inherently wrong. Very little understanding is possible between such opposed people.
I tried to make the case that "experienced editors" understood a certain thing. This is unsatisfactory because it comes off sounding like "Well, the people who are on my side all agreed with me, so we must be right." So in the face of nonacceptance of "how things work at Wikipedia", what's to be done? Obvious (and probably unsatisfactory) answer: focus on what you think should be done to move forward. Do not focus on other people being "wrong".
Disruption and outages
Some people seem to be defining "disruption" to mean "outage"- something that keeps Wikipedia from working on a wide basis. Where did this weird idea come from?
Split admins into two (or more?) camps: janitors and bouncers. Blocking often requires a different touch than deletions.
The Buffalo through the window
Sometimes, a talk page discussion is a little bit like a group of people inside, looking at a buffalo through a window. We're trying to decide what to do with this buffalo. Some people disagree so strongly that in their shouting, they get spit on the window. This builds up. Over time, people notice the grimey buildup on the window and start talking about the window itself, rather than the buffalo we were originally talking about.
Some people misinterpret "assume good faith" as "assume nobody ever makes mistakes". How is this possible? That's not at all what the words say. We absolutely can disagree with what someone did without saying they were being intentionally disruptive. Where's the room for misunderstanding here? Perhaps this is only common with children?
The Brute squad
Sadly, Wikipedia is a place where, sometimes, people you don't know suddenly show up on your talk page, suggesting that you do things differently. Sometimes, these people can even be pretty persistent- they may even become more demanding over time. We haven't figured out how to operate without this yet, but we try to keep it to a minimum. Ideally, this would never go past the "suggestion" phase.
Saying vs doing
This is a tricky balance. Sometimes, if what you want to say be be best done by doing (making an edit versus a talk page suggestion for en edit), you should do it instead of talking about it.
The good of the project always overrides any desire to coddle editors. If you can't stand your contributions being edited mercilessly, Wikipedia is not for you. Editors who require ego-stroking to go along with disagreement soon become tiresome.
Tired, flawed arguments that nobody should listen to anymore
I've just about had it with the "everything that exists should have an article" crowd. From what I've seen, these people misunderstand the concept of "encyclopedia" to a man. Usually what they're really arguing against is WP:NOR and WP:V but they typically refuse to frame their objections in those terms. The worst is when they go around deprodding obvious junk while paying no attention to the objections that lead to the prod.
N and V
(Surely this is already explained somewhere, but..) We're an encyclopedia, not a panel of experts. We don't make up our own stuff- we use sources. This is what WP:NOR is about. So, it's a violation of NOR to decide that "A building is notable if it's more than X feet tall". We don't decide this- we go by what the experts say. This subject-specific guidelines were always misguided for this reason (or, perhaps not misguided, but misunderstood. Intended as examples of things in simple terms.) Now, we've mostly "seen the light" and decided that "notability" is conferred by the sources, not by our own opinions as editors. If I say "Webcomic X is notable because it does blah blah blah", this is just my opinion. We use sources instead of our opinions, because Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.
Notability is just enough verifiable information about a subject that a non-permastub could be made about it.
Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Content that's not part of the encyclopedia or related to the work we do here can surely be removed without so much fuss? If people say these faked messages make their work more difficult, there's no offsetting argument in favor of keeping them. So the answer is to remove it.
Sometimes I think we spend too much time/effort on reforming problem editors. Has this worked, particularly? Would it be quicker/easier to just indef block them? This is basically a way of saying "You've irreparably damaged your reputation as editor X. You're ejected. If you can come back under a new identify and behave sufficiently well that nobody knows it's you, you're welcome to do so."
If someone is talking about their "rights" on Wikipedia, this is almost always an indication that they've gotten lost somewhere. Rights have very little to do with making an encyclopedia.
Is it proper to ban an editor mostly for the crime of being annoying? In some cases, I would have to say yes. Now, editors should not be easily annoyed- part of working on Wikipedia is being able to work with people you disagree with, perhaps even people you think are complete idiots. So let's be a bit thick-skinned. That said, if an editor very frequently annoys a large number of other editors over a prolonged period of time, this is disruptive. Not terribly disruptive, perhaps, but disruptive just the same. There are other editors who can do the same useful work without the annoying side effects. Editors who are consistently unwilling to abide by community expectations of behavior may sometimes need to be shown the door.
Lots of people
Anywhere you have enough people, you'll have a certain number of crackpots.
"Should" vs "must"
Are most of Wikipedia's problems down to the ignorance of the distinction between these two words? Guidelines frequently talk about what "should" be done, in recognition that there might be exceptions.
People sometimes complain of a double standard on Wikipedia. We generally don't want this, but there's one double standard we do want: unreasonable actions will be treated differently than reasonable actions. This is by design.
Would a simple statement satisfy all the people who object to this idea? "IAR is 1) a statement about priorities- producing a quality encyclopedia is more important than following a set of rules. IA is also 2) a recognition that no ruleset can ever be perfect- the written "rules" aren't meant to cover every case." Is it that simple?
Wikipedia is not for bizarre performance art.
A dense person might look at speed limits in a town, and notice that at some point it changes from 50mph to 30mph. The dense person might then say, "Well, this is completely stupid! They're saying I have to slam on my brakes and instantly go from 50 to 30!" If we're lucky, the dense person will then storm off in a huff, never to be heard from again. In practice, the dense person is more likely to protest loudly, perhaps even slowing down traffic in the process.
Perhaps approaches to Wikipedia could be plotted along several axis- things like Less information but more reliable vs more information but less reliable, iar vs always follow a rigid process, immediatism vs eventualism, wanting a bushy article tree vs not (mergism?), transparency vs secrecy, recentism vs long-term thinking, etc.
Some people might be mentioned in other articles. This doesn't always mean the person themselves should have an article. Or maybe sometimes the person should have an article to link together other things, but this doesn't mean we should go out of our way to dig up information about the person. (In general, is using primary sources on a biography a red flag?
Is it this simple? Is it true that editors who are difficult to work with almost always have a single thing in common? An unwillingness to put the good of the project ahead of their own personal desires? This may be unsatisfactory because these people would just say that their primary desire IS to improve the project (albeit in their own, idiosyncratic way.)
How different a place would wikipedia be if all editors were over, say, 25 years of age? Would it be closer or further from an encyclopedia?
Layer 0: technical layer. The software and servers. Can usually be ignored.
Layer 1: pure encyclopedia. The articles. Can never be ignored.
Layer 2: intra-editor layer. interactions between editors
Layer 3: world layer. What does Wikipedia mean to the world? There may be pragmatic concerns about making Wikipedia a useful encyclopedic resource, outside of pure article issues.
How does this happen?
How does a simple issue of a merge turn into some bizarre "OH NOES MY RIGHTS ARE BEING TRAMPLED!11!" story? It's like people have ingrained belief that more pages always means a better encyclopedia? What's wrong with having one article that tells the whole story instead of a bunch of little tidbit pages? Or maybe these folks are very concerned with "the rules" and they believe that "surviving" an AFD means nothing can happen to the article ever again? I think I remember one rabid loon describing a merge attemp as an "attempt to destroy content by any means necessary". It's all very emotional and horrid sounding but there's no substance there.
We're volunteers, and editors come and go as they please. We have no right to expect or demand a particular level of contribution from anyone; we should be happy with whatever we get. If we respect that anyone can take a break from the wiki at any time when real life intervenes, then it logically follows that we cannot have a hard and fast rule about never undoing something another person did without first consulting them. What if they're not around to be consulted? It may often be polite and wise to inquire and give some reasonable period for response, but if they don't, we cannot wait around forever for one editor to do something. We're just bees- we really only do useful work as a group.
It's not quite right to talk about professionalism in a volunteer project. But, something approximating this is helpful. Compare the article volume on Pokemon and random Japanimation and it's easy to see how Wikipedia's editorship is biased toward young people. This may be unavoidable and it probably doesn't even hurt anything. But when it comes to areas that require good judgment, we want to avoid this. Wikipedia is a top 10 website now- we're raising our expectations. Under no circumstance do we want Wikipedia to be run by a bunch of high schoolers in some chat room. We don't even want to give the appearance of Wikipedia being run by a bunch of high schoolers in some chat room. Alleged adults who act like high schoolers are just as bad. Just say no to pettiness and immaturity.
Despite the well-known limitations of the medium, I have a hard time buying that IRC causes any immaturity or cliquishness. Some people are likely to act that way, many thankfully are not. However what I think IRC can do is provide a more nourishing environment for that sort of poor behavior, simply because it's less transparent and the expectations of maturity and civility are less. Throwing people into a chat room won't turn anyone into a 15-year-old, but it will allow the 15 year olds to flourish.
As near as I can tell right now: At best, IRC is as useful as someone setting up Wikipedia:Administrator's noticeboard 2 and suggesting that some discussion go there. At worst, it's a bunch of silly high schoolers sitting around and pretending they're in charge.
The so-called "right to vanish" is just plain silly. It should mean exactly one thing: You can click "log out" at any time, and nobody will chase you down. Simple. People somehow take it to mean all sorts of crazy things, like you should get some "last request" if you say you're going away. People who say they're going away should generally be ignored- they're just seeking attention.
This is probably a very unpopular opinion, but I think we ought not to give sysop access to children. We require maturity and good judgment, and if someone is not even an adult yet, this is too much to hope for. I'm not saying there's not the odd teenager who would use the tools responsibly, but as a general rule, this is a bad idea. I wonder how much drama we could avoid this way.
People you know
I suspect there's a big difference between how somewhat problematic editors are treated, depending whether they hang in the chat rooms or not. When people know someone from the chat room, sometimes the attitude toward disruption is "Well, sure, sometimes X causes problems, but he means well and is generally harmless." (examples come to mind.) People who are unknown in the chat rooms may find themselves viewed with more suspicion.
Evidence of lack of desire to collaborate
Making a habit of removing messages from your talk page instead of archiving them is "discouraged", but not disallowed. In and of itself, it's not necessarily all that harmful. This behavior is, in my opinion, sufficient for a cluebat whacking (read: indef block until they pull their head out of their ass.) Sound harsh? Probably. But: in every case that comes to mind, people who do this are disruptive and difficult to work with. Often, they're little children who never had anything positive to offer the project anyway. This behavior is a very good indicator of a lack of interest in working collaboratively. Anyone who is not interested in working collaboratively needs to be shown the door- we waste way, way too much time trying to "reform" these folks. I have little remaining patience for such fools.
These are often no big deal. If, for example, you feel that someone is harboring a grudge and thus dismissing whatever you say, being able to make your point without dragging along baggage can be a useful thing. Obviously, alternate accounts can be misused, but simple use is not abuse.
Simplicity and scalability
Almost anything that can be done by "normal wiki process" should be done this way. Things like arbcom are a last resort. We shouldn't depend on arbcom being the only way to ban a problem editor or remove access from a sysop who uses the tools inappropriately, for example. Why? Two obvious reasons that come to mind are simplicity and scalability. The community inherently scales. Arbcom probably scales less effectively.
Has RFA really become a lost cause? It sure looks that way. People are apparently supporting whoever their buddies are, regardless of competency. If someone has already demonstrated a tendency to misuses the tools, one would surely hope that the barrier to entry would be high. Second chances are all well and good, but let's not be ridiculous. Yes, people can learn from mistakes. But, if someone makes mistakes over and over for months, and doesn't learn from the feedback they get from other editors, this is not a promising sign.
Are they useful? Do they sometimes do more harm than good? I'm starting to wonder. Some of them become insular little groups whose agendas may not mesh well with the goals of the project as a whole.
Wikiprojects exist, apparently, to encourage and coordinate original research.
Maybe make a category of wikipedian heretics or something. I.E. people with "bad" opinions on some touchy topic. Potential heresies include perhaps not believing in notability (altho this can mean many things), not approving of irc, not believing that civility is important, pure deletion, not liking kids or those who act like them, supporting some process for removing adminship, probably others. (think about this more sometime)
problem looking for solution? Hmm, the problem is, we've got incompetent children running around wielding admin tools irresponsibly, reflecting poorly on the project. (Do we? Sometimes, sure, but probably not all that much. Still, I think acting like a kook with the tools is legitimate cause for concern.) Arbcom only rarely does anything about it. Is there a way to say this in a way that won't cause many people to just dismiss it immediately?
Don't make messes you're not willing to clean up. Should be obvious. If there's something that somehow can't be cleaned up (i.e. an action that's not reversible), common sense tells us to be extra conservative in doing it.
Yes, it would be ideal if nobody got bent out of shape about someone being a dick. However, the simple fact remains that people do get bent out of shape about it. Someone whose repeated dickery causes such strife should acknowledge their own part in the ensuing drama. Failure to do so and cut back on the dickery can easily be seen as intentional drama seeking. Drama seekers not welcome.
Removing discussion with a rude edit summary can't really be seen as an attempt to "move on". Simply ignoring it would be an attempt to move on. Being a dick about it is just a jab back at those you feel have jabbed at you. It's not considered blockably rude like replying with "fuck you, asshole" might be, but in a way it's even ruder.
You don't get to just say "leave me alone" to excuse your own bad behavior. As long as you're going to be an editor, you're going to get feedback from other editors. A collaborative project requires that people be reasonably competent at interacting with others.
There are some conflicts that do not need to be resolved. A good question to ask is, "is there an ongoing problem?" Chronic conduct problems are perhaps the toughest situation to do something useful about.
A good rule of conduct at Wikipedia is "even if you feel you've been poked, don't poke back". Ideally, nobody would poke at all, but it does happen. Of course people have differing opinions on who's "poking" versus "poking back". There comes a point where neither is acceptable.
Not everyone agrees on whether RFC is a useful tool for dispute resolution. However those who don't have confidence in it should probably either not get involved, or express their skepticism in a constructive way. Mocking or interfering with the RFC isn't constructive.
The general principal would be: editors must exercise reasonable judgment in editing, including in dispute resolution. If you cause problems by not being able to do this, corrective measures may be applied. Of course, useful corrective measures for incivility are non obvious.
When dealing with a good faith contributor, the best hope for getting them to change their behavior is to demonstrate how they make the project worse instead of better. Can this be done? Difficult at best.
The question of "how rude is too rude?" (or "how big a dick are you allowed to be?") has no obvious answer. People draw their own lines. If many people think you're being too big a dick, you're most likely being too big a dick. (even if others diagree.)
The insane irony that is probably so crucial to the situation: appeals to emotion like "stop telling me I made you feel bad! You're making me feel bad with that stuff!"
The hopefully, most important question is what to do with someone who is too much of a dick.
"Leave me alone" cannot be a magic incantation that instantly demands that all attempts at dispute resolution must stop. For those who see Tony's civility as a problem, this is obviously an ongoing problem. It's quite easy to see why we cannot just throw up our hands at chronic user conduct problems. The glib answer of "don't worry about it; move on" will likely only make people dig in their heels. Wikipedia has a code of conduct. Consistent failure to abide by it is not a problem that should simply be ignored.
Desired outcome? Don't be dense. Recognize the roll you play in these little dramas. If you're doing it because you enjoy the drama, well, that's called trolling and we don't appreciate it.
And editor should be able to reasonably expect to not be harassed. However an editor cannot expect to be "left alone". Wikipedia is a collaborative project. If you edit, you may get feedback on your editing from other editors. Editors are expected to be responsive to feedback from other editors.
even if this got to arbcom.. they'd have some tough decisions to make. (is he already on some parole from them or something?) you'd almost need something like 1 month or longer block (to send the "yes, people actually have to behave" message) plus a parole that he be blocked for shoter but escalating periods for further lapses.
To change a smooth upgrade path is helpful. We already have crats, chosen for their judgment for this very job. How to convince people to rely on them more?
It's a religious issue- some people say "Arbcom does a fine job of this already", others say "Arbcom does not do an adequate job of this right now." The problem is, showing examples of bad admins who Arbcom did nothing about introduces it's own problems- people will argue the merits of the case instead of the general question of "should there be a non-arbcom way of removing the bit?" It's very difficult to discuss specifics without opening up a huge can of worms.
What is the reason for the resistance here? Is it just the obvious problem of fear? Or is there something substantial there? The repeated "but then the mob would desysop people" seems entirely like a straw man.
People are in two camps: Camp A is "Sysops are good. They need all the support we can give them. They stand in front of a firehose of crap, and we should cut them some slack." These people probably generally think the bit should almost never be removed, so of course they see no reason for a new way of doing it. They're actively opposed to a new way of doing it.
Camp B is "Admins need to be responsible and accountable. If someone misuses the tools repeatedly, maybe they shouldn't have them." Looking at the camp statements, they're mostly BOTH right.
Is there a camp C? There should be. This is the "it's not big deal" camp. Given them liberally, take them away when they're misused. Is there any way to get people from the other camps to see the value of C?
We need to get people to stop digging in their heels if they only think a new way is not needed. If YOU don't think it's needed, ignore it. Unless it's going to do some HARM, let other people come up with it if they want it. No plausible case has been made that it would be harmful. There's already a common feeling that people would be more willing to support RFAs if the tools were not almost impossible to take away.
People can look at the same information and come up with vastly different interepretations- this demonstrates that it's not the actual data they're using for their decision. Are people really just basing their opinions on patriotic "support your fellow admins" bullshit? Do people not see that our first allegiance should be toward the project rataher than specific individuals? Some of the anti-desysop crowd has supoported astoundingly bad behavior from other sysops, so I can't see why their opinions should be taken seriously.
It almost looks like people are making a leap from "This has never been done" to "this can't be done". How is this possible?
Is it really useful to name specific examples? Don't want the discussion to turn into a debate of the merits of each case. However, if we looked at history, we could find examples of admins with a pattern of bad behavior where arbcom either did nothing, or did too little, too late. Poor, Mongo, Betacommand, Sceptre, Martin, Sidaway, Philwelch, Alkivar, Gustafson, Zoe, are some examples from my memory. I strongly suspect others may have similar lists from memory. Mistakes are allowed; lapses are allowed. Being unresponsive to reasonable concerns is a problem. Continuing the same problems over and over is a problem. Unwillingness to compromise or recognize mistakes is a problem.
Is it even necessary or worthwhile trying to make the case that arbcom doesn't do this effectively enough? Probably, otherwise people see it as a problem in search of a solution. Will anyone be receptive to the argument that crats should be able to undo their mistakes on general principal? Perhaps not. Are the crats nervous about a perceived "power grab"? In the past when they've used their discretion noticeably it has sometimes gotten ugly. People keep reading this as a community process (i.e. a de facto vote.) This is exactly wrong. It's gotta rely on bold crat action. Frivolous complaints need to be dismissed quickly and easily. Maybe a crat could decide whether there's enough concern to have the discussion? (A middle ground, perhaps? Could be useful.)
Do the details need to be worked out? The naysayers now say "There's no proposal without details; nothing to decide on" but they will likely immediately say "Already been rejected" to any specific plan.
Why do people insist on some grand one and for all fix? Why can't we make small improvements as we see them? It's much easier that way. Yes, we should choose good sysops in the first place. Nobody disputes this. But making an effort to do so does NOT automatically mean we'll never make mistakes. Look at actual reality: mistakes are made. Insisting we don't need a way to correct them is unhelpful.
By saying "You must prove this is necessary in order for it to be OK" you're arguing against letting someone who made a mistake fix that mistake.
Can we somehow just make some proclamation to the crats that many people think it would be just fine if they took for themselves the power to desysop? Would they buy it? Would they be interested? If some were and some were not, that would be ok. The crats could decide some details themselves- do they just decide? Do they decide whether there's a reasonable prima facie case for misuse of the tools, and then there's a discussion? Can there be a discussion any time and the crats decide somehow whether there was enough evidence of misuse of the tools? Hint: make it as UNLIKE arbcom as possible. heh.
Many people seem to be saying "Unless you can show me X number of bad sysops, this is pointless". This is semi-reasonable. We don't go making a new CSD without examples of actual articles that need to go away and weren't already covered.
Alkivar may be a good illustration here. He's said he doesn't care what mere "other editors" think. He'll only bother with this if it looks like arbcom is going to actually DO something about it. The presence of arbcom as the only real way to do anything about it is what allows this attitude.
RFA has become a distasteful process lately? Where is the evidence for this? Does this really just mean "people I don't know are daring to comment" or "some editors I supported did not pass"? I know we've had some people fail and then angrily stomp off, but I always chalked this up to the candidate being a drama queen. (Maybe the secret is to subject everyone to 1 wrongful block and 1 failed RFA. If they don't get too bent out of shape about it, they're admin material.)
Collaboration and being "left alone"
It's good to know when to say "let's just agree to disagree". Many disputes do not need to be resolved. But, there are those that do, and wanting to be "left alone" is, past a certain point, fundamentally incompatible with working in a collaborative project. Maybe there's an essay in here somewhere. We're all human- mistakes are allowed. Occasional lapses are allowed. What doesn't work is continued sticking one's head in the sand whenever there's criticism.
Are there example of editors saying "leave me alone" for a legit reason? Perhaps; people do get harassed occasionally. But the vast majority of them seem to be people objecting to good-faith concerns of other editors. If you vandalize, you'll probably get warned. Saying "leave me alone" to the warnings doesn't excuse continued vandalism.
Acting like a kook is one way for to troll. It's probably very difficult to distinguish an actual kook from a troll acting like a kook. Luckily, we don't really need to. Consistent kookishness is disruptive, just like trolling is disruptive. We are right to demand good faith and basic competence.
Oh no.. I hope the pendulum isn't swinging toward regarding any reversal of a sysop action as an unacceptable wheel war. Yes it should be done very cautiously but this is hugely different than thinking it should never be done at all.
RFC on RFC
Why do people hate the RFC process so much? It generally seems reasonable.
I think a lot of people go around viewing individual cases as symbols. This is terribly unhelpful- we're all against vanity articles but never view a specific article as a symbol of that- it might be legit. We're all against trolls, but don't turn editors into trolls in order to oust them.
"No tolerance for trolls" is all well and good but it easily turns into "no tolerance for anyone who has ever annoyed me." This is very bad.
Give an encyclopedia an article and something something. Give an encyclopedia an editor and something even better.
Is it just me, or is the real problem with RFA that some people seem to take it very personally? Maybe it's mainly the younger crowd who do this, but many editors really seem to get upset if someone gets opposed, or (God forbid) doesn't pass. Figure this out and make a better case for this being true. This is the problem with removing sysop bit also (see the recent kurfuffle). People have an emotional reaction to this. They see the removal of the bit (or the not getting it in the first place) as some kind of personal insult. They think RFA is about personal validation, apparently. It's really supposed to be about who can use which tools to benefit the project. How did poeople get so far off track? Is it just people thinking with their emotions rather than with reason?
Weird thing is, some people appear to want to tolerate admins who act like children. This is inexplicable to me- the only way I can see it makes sense to tolerate admins acting like children, would be if we wanted admins who act like children. We don't, right?
It's become more apparent to me lately that my standards for reasonable behavior from an admin may be somewhat higher than is typical. If something throws a tantrum and runs amok with the deletion button for example, that's not just something I'm willing to let slide.
It's pretty obviously broken.. chat room kids supporting their chat room buddies will generally win out over well reasoned objections of other editors.. if it's a vote.
Maybe we need an essay on ageism. The problem is, if we see people making errors in judgment or reasoning, it's easy to say "See? This is how kids think. It's not good." But, there's an obvious observation bias going on. Also, I'm probably assuming people are kids based on certain behaviors. Is it really immaturity that's the problem, or are there just a lot of fuzzy-brained people around who seem like kids?
Things that seem typical of kids, to me: not understanding what "assume good faith" means. Not understanding what a personal attack is. Some people appear to be offended by any and all criticism. This is ridiculous! The project can only work with criticism. All editors are supposed to be a check on each other. Are we being dominated by emotional teenagers? It sure looks that way, at times.
Seems pretty obvious: when the problem is lack of clue, mentoring won't fix this. The best is can do is prevent damage, and it's more accurately called "babysitting" than "mentoring".
Do we see frequent trouble because many editors have more allegiance to their friends (or their egos?) than they do to the good of the project? Do you represent some philosophical ideal or do you be practical and improve the project?
Attempts to undermine dispute resolution procedures are really lame, misguided, immature, stupid, timewasting, insulting.. Why is this pastime such a common sport? It's trolling, pure and simple, yet we see experienced contributors who ought to know better taking part.
Editors don't mean squat
Is it time for a counter-essay to Wikipedia:Editors matter? Editors are sorta like bees. In aggregate they do great work but individually are they important? (Probably they are- there are any number of great content writers who have single handedly done great things.) Still, this idea is overblown.
Simplest thing that could possibly work.. probationary admin. Promote liberally to those who appear qualified, but with nothing like an RFA. For some period (3 months?) the adminship is revocable by any other admin, for good cause. (It would be performed by a steward upon request. But, we are expected to nudge the newbies in the right direction before we bludgeon them with removing the tools. If somone doesn't get it after a couple nudges, that's when we throw in the towel.
If something as critical to our mission as article edits can be done in a fairly anarchic manner, why should things of lesser importance get more pomp and circumstance? Hmmmmmm
More trouble.. blocking someone for being rude rarely seems to help.. Maybe we need to enforce a talk page ban. If peopel are having a useful discussion and someone tries to sidetrack it into a personal dispute, ban them from that talk page for a while. If they rant on their own talk page, ignore it; we're all supposed to be adults.
(turn this into an essay someday) Wikipedia has a learning curve. Naturally, editors who stick around and want to do useful work will have some learning to do. We should make every attempt to give newbies good ways to learn. This means clearly written policy and guideline pages, as well as more personal help. We should not lose site of our main goal: producing a quality encyclopedia. While our goal is not to teach people how to do this, a certain amount of that sort of work certainly helps advance the project. Any time we see a good contributor who just needs a nudge in the right direction, we should find ways to give them that nudge. But, on the other hand, if we're seeking out the least competent editors we can find, in order to teach them, what's really going on here? This Pygmalion-type activity concerns me a bit. I suspect some of the people involved are doing it just to prove they can (i.e. to feed their own egos) rather than because they think it's useful to the project. This should be discouraged in whatever ways possible.
It's recently been remarked on that the community falls all over itself trying to help obviously incompetent editors to fit in, because they look like they're "trying very hard". This is not good, actually. It's misplaced. Trying to be helpful is a given- we assume that. By itself, it means squat. What if we put in 10% of that effort into helping editors who might be useful instead? It might give far better payoffs. Are there good academics out there who could be tremendously valuable but aren't familiar with the bizarre culture Wikipedia has accumulated? Help those people fit in and do useful work. If they see that their own competent edits are being reverted by barely literate editors, who then get patted on the back for their "good effort", they may decide we're all crazy and Wikipedia is hopeless. And they'd very nearly be right about that. This may be a silly thing to worry about, if academics have already decided Wikipedia is not for them. Beware also of false dichotomy. We don't really need to chose between being a welcoming environment for incompetent editors versus competent ones. But, damn, encouraging the bad ones to stick around really does cause real harm. (But not if they turn into good ones.) This may be a tough line to draw.
This illustrates the problem exactly. Here we have an editor who ought to know better, coming right out and admitting that this views of another are now quite distorted due to him "doing everything I told him to." This cult-of-personality style of handling problem editors is harmful. Do we even want editors who are admitted meat puppets of another? What kind of editor would want to collect lackies in this way? It shows worrying tendencies all around. Is occasionally being able to do as your told really the sign of an editor whose judgement is maturing? This looks clearly wronghead to me.
no obvious solution
Getting rid of adoption, wikiprojects, user page decorations, and whatever other attractive nuisances we can think of, would probably help. But there just isn't going to be a way to accomplish this. Maybe there can be a way to encourage people to not help myspacers do things. Did someone ask you to help make their userpage pretty? Well, take a quick glance and see if they're a real editor or not. If they're not, don't help them- it only encourages them to continue to misuse Wikipedia resources. If we try to become less attractive to myspacers, maybe over time we'll get fewer myspacers.
(Put this somewhere useful when it's more complete.)
As Wikipedia becomes more popular, more and more social networkers seem to be finding their way in. You can tell them by their editing habits, and often even by their userpages. Blocking someone simply for editing userspace too much, for example, is probably likely to be controversial. People may ask the valid question, "Where is the disruption?" This is probably not a battle worth fighting. So, while it's probably not practical to outright block them, there are things we can do to discourage the use of Wikipedia as a personal homepage provider and social networking site. The general idea is that we should all look for ways to make Wikipedia a less attractive environment for the social networkers.
How do we do this?
Perhaps the most important thing is do not help them misuse Wikipedia. This by itself may make the problem much smaller. If they want help doing something useful, by all means help them. But if they want their userpage decorated or their autograph page signed, do not get involved. We cannot complain that so many newbies get the wrong idea about Wikipedia as long as we're actively encouraging these wrong ideas. If you see someone using wikipedia for a homepage and not doing anything useful, blank their page and ask them to please stop doing that. Again, it's probably best not to block them, but let's not make it easy and convenient to misuse Wikipedia either. Also, think twice before demanding that they get involved with article content. If someone is sufficiently clueless as to have mistaken Wikipedia for a social networking site, do we really want them messing with important things like articles? Also, rather than going to great lengths to mentor them, try keeping your interactions with social networkers to a minimum. If they find that Wikipedia does not give them the personal interaction and chatting that they desire, perhaps they'll wander off and find some place that does.
But shouldn't we try to teach and nurture newbies?
Sure we should! But our resources are limited. Which newbies should we spend time on? I think there's far greater value in spending time helping those who are already interested in editing an encyclopedia than those who are not. If someone is not, it's unlikely that some amount of mentoring will change this. Instead, focus your effort where it's more likely to produce a useful result.
One problem is, if clueful editors simply don't get involved in things like Wikipedia:Adoption or Wikipedia:Awards center, this will not make them go away. Instead, it'll mean they're simply populated only by clueless editors. This probably does more harm than good. So, while the best solution may be to get rid of these things entirely, this may not be practical. Keep an eye on them, and try to limit the harm they cause.
Tolerance too far
As long as we tolerate editors acting like children, we'll continue to have lots of editors who think it's OK to act like children. This seems like it ought to be extremely obvious.. What will it take to get people to see this?
Some people seem automatically opposed to any sanctions against an established contributor.. why would this be? Is the thinking that anyone who has been around a couple years must be useful? What would it take to get people to actually look to see if the editor in question is useful? Is this a sense of community gone too far? "Sure, Bob is a complete pain in the ass, but he's part of the community." So what? Are we an encyclopedia or the local boy scout troop? Editors should be considered welcome as long as they contribute usefully and not a moment longer. How do you get past these kneejerk "ZOMG witchhunt!!" reactions? Godwin's Wikipedia law: anyone says "witch hunt" or "lynch mob" and you can be sure useful discourse has gone out the window.
"Because I can"
An almost sure sign of a problem editor is someone who has "because I can" syndrome. You see this play out like this. Editor A notices something he thinks is a problem. He says "Hey, Editor B, please don't do this." Then editor B quotes some rule and insists that he's allowed to do whatever the controversial behavior was, and he'll keep doing it because he can. Editors like B need to shape up or go away.
Would this help? Maybe most (or all) teaching people how to contribute to Wikipedia should be done in the context of actual contributions, rather than schools, tests, or programs. There would be certain exceptions- it's good to be able to practice things that are technically tricky. But quizzes and tests may usually be going too far. If we train-by-editing, this not only teaches, but it produces useful edits while doing it.
The standard operating strategy of many editors seems to be "if the baby cries, give him what he wants." This only makes sense if your goal is to attract as many whiny babies as possible. If we don't like whiny babies, accommodating them is downright harmful.
More mentoring delusions
Why do people keep insisting mentoring is a good option for editors who are already known to be unreasonable? Is it pure hubris, and they're hoping to be the ones to finally turn that problem editor around? Fine, try what you want, but don't expect any reasonable person to see this as a reason to avoid sanctions. If someone is undergoing "forced mentoring" this is more reason to keep them on a short leash, not less. Block liberally at the first sign of trouble, let the "mentor" sort it out. Our best bet is they get bored very quickly and go and do something more constructive. Wikipedia is not therapy.
I'm sure this is already said in many places, but some people fail to get it: It's a code of conduct (5P) issue. At Wikipedia, you must behave generally the way we expect editors to behave. Sure, mistakes are allowed, and occasional lapses can be forgiven, and (perhaps most importantly) a certain amount of learning curve is to be expected. But, as long as Wikipedia is a collaborative project, the basic social contract holds true. Yes, "anyone can edit" is important too (see again 5P), but this can be more fully explained as "Anyone can edit.. and anyone who can not edit peaceably with others can be shown the door." Just as "anyone can edit" does not mean "anyone can write whatever they want", it also does not mean "anyone can be a dick and the rest of us have to put up with it." Anyone who is consistently unwilling/unable (we do not need to try too hard to distinguish the two) to behave reasonably well needs to go away.
No admin left behind
We probably need a guideline or essay about how harmful it is to try to train people to pass an RFA.
Admin mills considered harmful. Sure, RFA voters sometimes have very silly reasons. But the way to fix this is not to help people game the system. We have seen the results of standardized testing on education, and it's not pretty. Don't make Wikipedia go there. Teaching someone how to pass RFA is a waste of time and screws things up. Teach them how to be clueful about Wikipedia instead, and the RFA will (hopefully) succeed naturally. If RFAs of clueful editors are not succeeding naturally, fix the problem, don't add onto it.
We have encouraged a culture of people very interested in edit counts, userboxes, making friends, etc - things that are irrelevant to the work we do at Wikipedia. It's MMORPG mentality, in part. Anything that smells of this needs to be discouraged.
Since we can't read minds, we should look for behavioral indicators.
- Take blanking your talk page, for example. It's "allowed" but discouraged. Well, doing this can be an indicator that the editor is stressed, or even that they don't really care about feedback from other editors. These are problem signs.
- Totally out-of-place comet: I don't trust anyone who doesn't have 100 sections on their userpage prior to archiving. - brenneman
- Having vandal counters and userboxes is a sign that the editor is overly concerned with the trappings of editing. In general people so concerned with appearances care little about substance. This is another bad sign. These are the same boneheads who will spend time looking things up in rulebooks instead of actually considering the substance of a given issue.
- If (somehow) we know that someone is very young, this is another bad sign- children have notoriously poor judgment.
- If someone whines and says things like "leave me alone" this indicates immaturity.
- Someone who ever responds with "But the rules say it's allowed!" when someone says "what you're doing here is harmful" simply lacks judgment.
It would be insanity to ignore these signs. Since we are not mind readers, we should use all available information in evaluating candidates. Drama-escalating tendencies should be identified and watched out for. Immaturity should be identified and watched out for.
For reasons I don't yet understand, there's a huge bloc of editors who seem to oppose using behavioral indicators of this type. Do they not see that this is our best bet for divining the true nature of the candidate?
Revealed at last?
Maybe there have been only 3 trolls in the history of the internet. They just keep coming back...
- Has this got anything to do with me? The fact that I have 3 accounts and the timing of which you have added this to your misc section makes me think that this has something to do with me. I hope you can inform that it doesn't. 126.96.36.199 (talk) 19:41, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
Worst idea ever
"Courtesy" blanking. Who decided it was courteous to make pages harder to read?
I think this problem is not solvable. Anyone can participate in RFA. People with strong opinions of (or strong friendships with) the candidate are more likely to participate. A large chunk of the community is prone to emotional reactions rather than rational ones. As long as the entire community participates, this is the problem we will have.
Sometimes we see people saying "Stop ganging up on so-and-so!" What does this mean? Well, sometimes people do get ganged up on for no good reason. But, often, the complaints are valid. "Stop ganging up" should never be considered a good reason to stop discussing actual problems. Yet, when people make wiki-buddies, this is often what they want.
We see this a lot: problem editor A won't change their tune, so there's a proposal to ban. A's buddies show up and object. A continues with the bad behavior. Sensible people say, "yep, this is a problem. Editor A did badthign1, badthing2, badthing2.. time to show him the door." Then A's buddy shows up and whines "stop ganging up." How do we deal with such childishness? The defense of "if people stop ever criticising A, he can be a useful editor" is utter nonsense. This is a collaborative project. Criticism is allowed. An editor who can't take it needs to be shown the door.
People get criticized for participation in the "drama boards". It's true that we need to watch out for drama queens. However, just because someone operates in areas that tend to have drama, this isn't automatically bad. If someone participates there a lot, but is generally a voice of reason instead of a drama-stirrer, this is a good thing, not a bad thing.
AFD is broken
Case study: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/MKR (programming language) and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/MKR (programming language) (2nd nomination). First one was closed as a keep of "something notable" with no evidence for this at all. Should have been relisted with guidance on what the relevant questions were. People apparently only glanced at the sources. Now #2 is derailed due to "due process" objections that it's too soon. I suppose it should have been deletion reviewed or something, but clearly what's happening here is pretty much the worst of both worlds.
Axis of disagreement
Disagreements here often come down to people being in different places on a small number of fundamental axes. These axes include: 1) IAR versus following strict procedure, 2) how harshly or leniently to treat problem editors, 3) openness versus secrecy, 4) liberal inclusion versus setting a higher bar. Maybe more. Maybe some kind of "Wikipedian ideology test" can come of this.
We're all human- we all have personal matters to deal with sometimes. We all have the right to take a break from the project at any time for any reason. However, if you're here editing, you're responsible for what you do. Period, full stop. If you had time to do something that people complain about, "sorry, I'm on break" is no acceptable response to those complaints. If you had time to make a block, you have time to discuss that block as needed. Otherwise, don't do it.
I think when people oppose blocks, they're often not seeing that our options are quite limited. Sure, we should explain bad behavior, and try to talk people out of it as it occurs. However, once this doesn't work, a block is about all we have left. If the behavior is disruptive, this is oftentimes the best response. Sure, it's not ideal, but it's the best we can do.
Dispute resolution problem
We have a real problem here. There's a big chunk of the community who apparently oppose the very notion of dispute resolution. You can spot them easily. If a small number of editors bring up a concern with someone, these are the folks who say "Look, it's just a small group of complainers. Ignore them." If a large number of editors bring up a concern with someone, the same crowd says "Oh look, it's a lynch mob. Everyone, put down the pitchforks and get back to work." Is this really possible? Do we have a huge chunk of editors who think that criticism is automatically bad? That's sure how it looks to me.
Sometimes at RFA people don't seem satisfied with any oppose unless the opposer can "show me how the candidate will misuse the tools". Well, this is automatically impossible, isn't it? This can only be known after giving someone the tools. RFA is a guessing game, yet some people want to treat opposes like a criminal conviction, requiring proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
RFA made simple?
Is it as easy as this? The single best indicator of a probably-not-disruptive candidate at RFA is: are they responsive to corrective feedback from the community? This is hard to tell- not everyone has even gotten it.
If arbcom doesn't want admins overturning their actions, the simple way is to stop making astoundingly stupid decisions.
Whatever happened to good-old on the job training? Have we forgotten that people learn how to do things by doing those things? People at RFA seem to be expecting admins to spring fully-formed out of nothing. We should expect that new admins won't know all the things they'll eventually know, and we should expect them to play it conservative with the new buttons while they're learning how to use them.
"Not a battleground" misuse
People are tending to trot out this old cliche whenever there is a conflict. "Not a battleground" is supposed to mean "Don't go seeking battles for their own sake." Instead, people use it to handwave away anything they don't like. If an admin has been incompetent and needs to lose the tools, "wikipedia is not a battleground" is not a reasonable response to people who say "so-and-so should lose the tools". What's next, not blocking vandals because "Wikipedia is not a battleground"? Disagreement is allowed. Sanctions are allowed. It's OK to discuss disagreements as long as you're being reasonable and seeking a way forward, rather than merely fanning the flames.
The whole BC debacle is a great illustration of everything that makes Wikipedia dysfunctional- he's pathologically incompetent, yet we never run out of people saying "it's not his fault, give him a break". I can only assume these people are not adults and have no experience trying to work with people in real life. In real life, competence matters. Wikipedia should not be so different.
Any article that contains the word "awesomest" 3 or more times, can be deleted on sight.
Person A: "I can't believe Bob! He walked into the grocery store, and pissed on the floor!"
Person B: "What? Don't say bad things about Bob! He's been driving for 15 years and has never crashed his car!"
Clearly, there is some communication failure here. But what is the solution?
Is it really possible that some editors don't want Wikipedia to be seen as a reputable source of information? It sure looks like there are plenty who think childish nonsense is not a problem at all. Does it seriously not occur to people to care about how things look to the readers? Is this really the base problem- people think in terms of editors and forget that the intended audience is readers? Figure this out some day.
Is it really true that we pretty much have to suffer kooks to get articles written? It would surprise me, but I suppose anything is possible.
How did this go so weird? People remove inappropriate stuff from user pages all the time. I think I can identify at least a couple reasons people would get upset over this. 1) There's the knee-jerk "anything an admin does is bad" crowd. These folks are waiting to jump on anything, for the thinnest of reasons. I suspect they resent the existence of somebody with buttons that not everyone has. These are the same wiki-anarchists that Larry Sanger identified. 2) There's the "free speech" crowd. These folks just don't get that Wikipedia is not about free speech. Often they seem to think "you should not find nudity offensive", which is fine, but completely misses the point. 3) There's the "we should vote on this" crowd, who appear to think that Wikipedia is or should be a democracy. They appear to not understand that Wikipedia is disproportionately populated by juveniles, and thus the last thing we should take into account is popular opinion in cases like these. In the real world, juveniles don't get put in charge of dealing with juvenile behavior, for obvious reasons. 4) as always, there's the "arguments are fun" crowd, who may in fact mostly be the same as #1. finish this later
(Which crowd wrote Wikipedia:Why do you care? ? )
Analogy: Let's say someone drives their car, always with a left turn signal on. They say that the left turn signal is about some statement they're making. They defend their right to drive this way, as free speech.
They're completely ignoring the problem that this behavior is confusing and unhelpful to other drivers. These other drives have very little choice but to share the road with the turn-signal-as-free-speech person. Wikipedia is a share resources, not unlike a road. If you're intentionally engaging in behavior that's annoying or confusing to others, this is not the proper attitude to have.
A thing or two that was generally forgotten here: thinking about our audience, and being pragmatic.
I think too many people went down the knee-jerk path of "OMG censorship! If we censor this, we'll censor everything!" Having spouted thus, they thought no further than this facile response. Maybe I just haven't been active enough lately to see how things go when many people become involved , but the generally piss-poor level of discourse on this issue surprised me. Wikipedians, you owe it to yourself and to the project to think things through a bit more thoroughly.
These things work better if nipped in the bud. Look at  - edit warring, name-calling. He should have been blocked then, and I cannot imagine it would have been controversial. Has wikipedia actually changed in that year, or is it just random, depending on who shows up and gets involved? Clearly there is a history of the project not finding such juvenile userpages acceptable. What went wrong?
Is instruction creep useful in dealing with the "show me a specific rule" crowd? Previously I've always concluded no, because this simply results in an arms race with ruleslawyers. solution?
Tolerance too much? or too little
In a few months
The most puzzling RFA stuff I ever see are "Oppose, but I'll support in a few months". What is that about? Time going by will change whether or not someone will be competent? How is this possible? Maybe we need to emphasize on the job training more for admins. Accept that they'll figure out how to use the tools well by actually using them. (This is a problem until we have some painless way of removing the tools when needed.)
RFA broken, part XVIIIXLMC
It should be less of a big deal. There's a couple things that need to go with this: 1) an easy way to remove the tools from those who misuse them, and 2) get this of this mind-numbingly crazy idea that it's automatically wrong for one admin to undo another admin's actions without "permission". Admins as a group should act as a check on individual admins. But that becomes more difficult with so many people yelling "OMG wheelwar!" every time a mistake gets undone.
Michael Jackson fiasco.. people whining about protection, voting, and quoting rules instead of doing what's right. populism run amok?
A couple different groups of people were bleating about how evil this was.. misguided all the way. Along with the usual suspects, in a high profile case like this we get lots of other people wandering by to bleat too. Commonly seen bleat camps include: 1) the "anything an admin does it bad" crowd. These people oppose protection because it means only the evil admins in their evil club can edit the article. They're highly offended that their right to edit Wikipedia has been trampled on. A related club is the "protection is OK, but now those who edit have to full out forms in triplicate and follow weird rules" club. They want to vote on things.
I think the common error among all these groups is that they're worried about the dozens (or maybe even hundreds) of editors far more than they're worried about the millions of readers. They fail to see that doing what's best for the readers is far more important than any individual's "right" to edit. Wikipedia does not need to have the latest scoop. Wikipedia should be cautious and accurate. Maybe it should simply be routine for articles and talk pages to be full protected for a few days in high profile cases.
The dramaout is misguided. Sure, the idea is nice in many ways. But it's just a short-term stunt. And, it ignores something important: Wikipedia's biggest issue in 2009 is not a lack of people running around making new articles on every bit of pavement they can find. Damage to content is a serious problem, and it's one that people should not take a break from dealing with. It's just as important to have people doing damage control as is it to have people making active improvements.
Why are people so keen on disregarding childish nonsense from editors after they've been blocked? If someone is blocked for legit cause, and their response is "fuck you, I'll do whatever I want", is this not all we need to know about that editor? It should be clear from that alone that they're not someone we want around here. Such a response is a completely legit reason to go ahead and increase the block to indef, but lots of people seem willing to say "golly, anyone would be upset after a block". All this does is prolong the inevitable.
the community is not trusted
People are asserting in various places that the community is not trusted. is this such a bad thing? What is the biggest problem facing Wikipedia today? Is it that some article somewhere is not-yet-written? No, that's small beer. The biggest problem is disruptive editors, hands down. It's not sensible to trust random anonymous people on an Internet that's full of kooks and malcontents.
How do you respond to the line of argument where people say "We're volunteers, therefore anything goes"?
There's a problem with this notion that blocks need to happy quickly after the objectionable behavior, otherwise they're "punishment". We want the gun to still be smoking.. but sometimes, it just happens that nobody comes along to do the block until later. We're all volunteers and we try to fix problems as they come up.. this does not always mean it happens right away.
could this ever happen?
It seems clear that people who play politics should be very unwelcome at wikipedia. They're a huge time-waste, and the damage the project in many ways. But how could such a thing ever be accomplished? By the nature of the game, people play politics to get themselves protection from things that "seem clear".
new magic word
People shut up any discussion they find inconvenient by labelling it "drama". Now it seems "McCarthyism" is the popular conversation-stopping-magic-word. Are people really this foolish? Asking legitimate questions about actual misconduct is not some terrible crime.