User talk:Jimbo Wales

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Debbie Does Dallas[edit]

Jimbo, I know you are a big advocate of freedom of speech and a tireless opponent of censorship. With that in mind, I would like to relate an issue I have encountered here on Wikipedia. "Charade" is a 1963 Stanley Donnen movie starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The movie is now in the public domain and has been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. The movie is embedded in Charade (1963 film) so that readers may choose to play it right in the Wikipedia article. "Debbie Does Dallas" is a highly successful 1978 pornographic movie that is possibly the best known porn movie of all time. The movie is now in the public domain and has been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. The movie was embedded in Debbie Does Dallas so that readers could choose to play it right in the Wikipedia article. For reasons I do not understand, an edit war broke out over whether or not to redundantly link to the movie directly on Commons or simply link to the Commons category. This has resulted in the article being locked and some very odd arguments being made on the talk page. My impression is that the reluctance to include the movie relates to the content of the movie, not policy. Do you have any thoughts on this? Right Hand Drive (talk) 17:37, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

It's pretty clear that that particular discussion is not going to settle anything. It was written with a fundamental misunderstanding of how embedding works. The question of embedding this particular movie in this particular article will remain. I'd like to hear Jimbo's opinion on it. Right Hand Drive (talk) 16:12, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
First things first. Editorial decisions are in an entirely different conceptual category from censorship. Censorship always involves force or the threat of force - for example, the threat of a fine or jail time for publishing something. Deciding not to publish something, or to publish in one way rather than another, is not censorship.
Having said that, there are very good editorial reasons why we might choose to handle certain controversial or potentially controversial content with some wise delicacy. Without declaring what I think we should do in this particular case, I can say that it seems quite clear that valid objections are possible and that citing WP:NOTCENSORED is, as is so often the case in content discussions, pretty much irrelevant.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 17:16, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
Comment Self-censorship may apply to the assertions above. Nocturnalnow (talk) 21:10, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Thank you for your thoughts on this. The NOTCENSORED guideline may be poorly named, but I think that it would only be appropriate to invoke its spirit in this situation. Having a copy of the movie in the article about the movie seems quite reasonable to me. The movie does not play unless and until the reader clicks on it. Some people may be offended by the content of the movie, but they should not be surprised at that content, since they are reading an article about a pornographic movie. Right Hand Drive (talk) 00:02, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
I think people would quite rightly be surprised that Wikipedia embeds a pornographic movie in an encyclopedia article. I daresay it will be the first time in the history of mankind that such a thing has ever been done. One way to think about this is: what is the upside? And what is the downside? I see virtually no upside other than making it 1 click instead of 2 clicks to watch it. That's not very important. But the downsides I see are many. First, some people may be surprised when a stray click launches a pornographic film on their computers. If you do that with the sound up and then leave your desk at work, the consequences could be unpleasant. I'd prefer that if people are going to get a pornographic film, that they very explicitly take action to make sure that's what they want to do - 2 clicks has merit here. Second, it is very easy to imagine a really stupid press story or campaign against us about this. "Wikipedia embeds porn movies in article content" gives people entirely the wrong impression of what we are about. Why invite that?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:11, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
I'm sorry Jimbo, but no one should be surprised that Wikipedia embeds a pornographic movie in an encyclopedia article. And it won't be the first time it has been done. For one thing, no one seemed bothered when I re-added the movie to Debbie Does Dallas in September. It wasn't removed until people started edit warring over a different issue. That article gets about 1,000 hits a day, so it seems unlikely that no editors noticed the movie was there. More importantly, there is a longstanding precedent here in the article about pornographic movie A Free Ride. That article has had a hardcore pornographic movie embedded in it since 2012. It is a considered a "good article". I don't see how Debbie Does Dallas is any different, except the movie is in color. Readers of an article about penises should not be surprised to see penises on Wikipedia. Readers of an article about a pornograohic movie should not be surprised to see a pornographic movie on Wikipedia. Right Hand Drive (talk) 14:32, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
"no one should be surprised that Wikipedia embeds a pornographic movie in an encyclopedia article"? I would be astounded to find such a thing in any encyclopedia, but does that just reflect my lack of experience of Wikipedia? MHAN2016 (talk) 00:49, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
If an encyclopaedia has an article on a pornographic movie then I doubt many would be surprised that the article links to a free copy of the movie. Or rather the surprise should be more that such a recent movie is out of copyright, and that the encyclopaedia has an article on a pornographic movie. Not that an article links to the subject of the article. ϢereSpielChequers 09:48, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
I know a fair amount about encyclopaedias in general, and other works of reference, and think you have it backwards. If this film is culturally significant it would have an entry, whether it is regarded as pornographic or not. (Lady Chatterley's Lover was long deemed obscene, but I would assume it is covered here.) But a reference work is not the same thing as an anthology, compendium or data dump. Do bear in mind that the discussion is not about "linking to" but about embedding as content in. MHAN2016 (talk) 11:07, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
I suspect we have different attitudes as to what "embedding" means. If the proposal was to have a clip of the film in the article in such a way that anyone reading the article had the clip played to them then I would regard it as more than linking and in this case would be opposed. But as long as embedding means readers "may choose to play it" then I don't see it as that different to an external link. OK it is in the article itself rather than the external links section, but that doesn't seem a big difference to me. Is there more of a difference between embedding and external linking than where we put the link in the article and how prominent it is? ϢereSpielChequers 11:34, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
For me, more relevant than "embedded vs not embedded" is the more practical question of "how many clicks to view the content". I would suggest that protecting people from a stray click (which happens quite often, and more so on mobile in my experience) launching a porn movie is a good thing. In our technical context, the simplest way to do that is to link to the film on commons so that you have to visit commons and then click on the play button. Another approach would likely be vehemently opposed by the POV pushers who want to push porn everywhere as some kind of bizarre "free speech!!111" campaign, and that would be to have a warning message upon that click.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:41, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Jimbo, it has occured to me that perhaps your earlier very strong comments were sarcastic ("I daresay it will be the first time in the history of mankind that such a thing has ever been done") - were they? Did you take a look at A Free Ride which has included a pornographic movie in the article since 2012? Can you explain why Debbie Does Dallas is any different? Right Hand Drive (talk) 16:31, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

JW's position is quite correct as far is goes. Beyond that, I can imagine a great many good arguments against keeping a copy of Debbie Does Dallas on our servers and embedding it in a Wikipedia/Wikimedia website. In my view, though, we shouldn't necessarily be keeping a copy of Charade on our servers and embedding it our article either. The fact that the film may have fallen into the public domain through inadvertence and a technical error on the part of a corporation that held the rights does not, in my view, justify denying the creative personnel on the film the rewards of their creativity that might otherwise be earned by them through more conventional dissemination of the film. Once again the maxim that not everything lawful is the right thing to do comes to mind. Newyorkbrad (talk) 22:15, 5 February 2016 (UTC)

I agree with this, and it takes a different approach than I was thinking about. I was thinking about the particular difficulties of hosting pornography versus hosting a very conventional film. Newyorkbrad's position is broader and interesting to me - the question is, should an encyclopedia host full length movies at all?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:11, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
One problem is the odd conceit that anything can or should be "the sum of all human knowledge" which some appear to view as "anything that has ever been done, or recorded, or written about should be in the project in its entirety." As I have opined before - the goal should not be to include every factoid or image or movie extant, but only to keep a summary of that which will be useful to readers in 50 or 100 years. Thus we need not make decisions just on moral grounds (which, to be sure, should be considered), but on the practical and proper goals we should have. Which is not "everything we can remotely cram in, no matter its utility or value." Collect (talk) 14:06, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
It *may* be educational to learn what some people have done with cucumbers and electric toothbrushes in their spare time. I won't bore you with the details, but some people have uploaded the photos to Commons in considerable quantity. It was inevitable that Debbie Does Dallas would be uploaded to Commons if it is not copyrighted, setting off the inevitable argument that "Commons/Wikipedia is not censored." My main interest was how DDD came to be out of copyright so early, and apparently this was the result of a court case in 1987.--♦IanMacM♦ (talk to me) 14:47, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
I agree that an encyclopedia should not be hosting a full length film, whether pornographic or not. An encyclopedia is not "anything that has ever been done, or recorded, or written about." Peter Damian (talk) 15:52, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
The remit of Commons is broader than just needed on Wikipedia, it also supports wikitravel etc. That said I'm not sure whether the film is educational, but could it possibly be mined for non pornographic soundbytes, clips and stills? At least one of the actors in it has a bio here without an image, another could do with an image from earlier in their career. Presumably we'd be OK with soundbytes and cropped stills from the movie being used to illustrate articles provided the clips were not pornographic? ϢereSpielChequers 20:17, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
Whatever we decide about the individual cases of Debbie Does Dallas or Charade, we should not decide on a one-size-fits-all-rule that potentially removes all useful, non-controversial video that is squarely in the public domain from Wikipedia articles like The General (1926 film) or Princess Nicotine; or, The Smoke Fairy. Gamaliel (talk) 20:55, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
That's right, good selective judgment can and should be exercised; not a lazy all inclusive rule. Nocturnalnow (talk) 01:19, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

"Primary sources" angle[edit]

  1. Primary sources angle for Commons and Wikisource: there's no doubt in my mind that Commons and Wikisource will host entire primary sources as they do now, whether these primary sources are books, pieces of music, films, reproductions of paintings, autograph or printed scores etc. From this angle: the higher the quality and/or resolution of the file, the better, and also: the less it has been tampered with (photoshopping or whatever) the better. I see only a few reasons for not having a particular primary source at Commons/Wikisource: that is, apart from unsolved copyright issues (which is and remains a definite no-no for inclusion in any WMF project), when an external source does better in stability (of the link), accessibility (e.g. no pay-wall), and quality (resolution, but also other aspects, e.g. text search possibilities, etc.). An example: Entr'acte (film) presents an external link to the movie, but it is (currently) a dead link: for this external link instability it would have been better to have a copy of the work (assuming public domain copies can be had) at Commons. Another example: currently commons hosts an entire book (facsimile in multi-page PDF format) of File:Ermisch Das alte Archivgebäude am Taschenberge in Dresden.pdf: in this case it is reasonable to ask oneself: what is the added value when the same book is hosted at ? – maybe there is a slight inconvenience for non-German readers as the second webpage writes "Erscheinungsort" where Commons implies the book was published in Dresden in the "Description" field of the template. So the only reason for not having this book at Commons is imho a minor accessibility disadvantage (for non-German readers), as for the other criteria things seem more or less equal (hosting at the SLUB website being presumably stable, etc)
    • For File:Debbie Does Dallas.ogg: the file is kind of low resolution, but (without searching too hard for it) I don't see a more stable, more accessible link to a higher resolution version of the film being on offer, so I don't see much problem to keep the file at Commons (it being in the "ogg" format can be considered an accessibility advantage anyhow).
    • Other filters for what is kept or rejected at Commons/Wikisource (notability, self-promotion, common decency, etc) would best be sorted out at Commons/Wikisource. I support Jimbo's efforts to not let Commons degenerate into a porn site, but doubt File:Debbie Does Dallas.ogg would make a good poster child for that continuing effort.
  2. WP:PRIMARY angle at en.Wikipedia: as I had written at Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)#Should we move full-length movies from article space to Commons?, the Debbie Does Dallas article had and has some problems. My remark there "...about how it got in the public domain somewhat over a decade after its release: the info on that is rather sparse" has been handled with a new section Debbie Does Dallas#Entry into public domain, which is surely a step in the good direction, but overall the article is still a bit on the short end of WP:PRIMARY's "... be cautious about basing large passages on [primary sources]": I still see at least two entire sections of the article apparently being based on primary sources exclusively. That the plot of the film is apparently entirely unrelated to whatever "Dallas" mentioned in its title (see last paragraph of the intro) is probably one of the most remarkable features of that plot, but afaics unreferenced. The article currently gives the impression that no secondary sources ever saw anything remarkable about any aspect of the film's plot –I suppose in that respect the movie is rather run-off-the-mill– yet Wikipedia deems it necessary to add a 8-paragraph section about that plot... in which case I'd refrain from adding more primary source material in the form of of a thumbnail visible when using the [[file:...]] format for presenting the link. When given the choice, I'd largely cut down on the redundant plot description, and use the [[file:...]] format for the link, showing a thumbnail, instead. But anyhow, as long as cutting down on primary source material isn't done, I'd not use that type of link to the file.

As far as common decency is concerned (avoiding "in your face" for aspects relating to human sexuality in an encyclopedic context), I'm all for that, for instance a kid coming home from their first guitar lesson, having picked up the word "fingering" there, and type it in the Wikipedia search box to find out what it means not automatically arriving at the fingering (sexual act) topic is something I supported in the past. In this case however, once one has read past the Debbie Does Dallas intro, explaining this is an article about a pornographic movie, then I don't see a single click to start showing that movie, further down in the article, as problematic in the context. As for the hyphotetical kid seeing their first porn movie, I'd be rather sympathetic towards the idea that could hyphotetically be File:Debbie Does Dallas.ogg in an on-line encyclopedia, than whatever other clip or movie on whatever other site. --Francis Schonken (talk) 15:04, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

The section on the copyright status of Debbie Does Dallas actually uses a primary source (a legal decision) as its main reference. The article could use some work, but that seems secondary to the discussion about embedding movies. Right Hand Drive (talk) 16:20, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
The rewrite of the PD history showed, in fact, that the The Hollywood Reporter article is the "main" source for that content, not the primary source material derived from the court document.
I think I'm entirely correct in trying to refocus this to the over-all quality of the article, instead of non-discussions about WP:NOTREPOSITORY, WP:NOTCENSORED, WP:SOCK and whatnot that have lost whatever tangential importance they might have had to this topic in the handful of separate places where this topic is and has been discussed. --Francis Schonken (talk) 17:14, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the link. It looks like you are right. I would be pleased to see this article improved, but the discussions we're having came about because people objected to including the movie in the article. I'd like to see it added back in or at least have someone present a reasonable policy-based argument for not including it. There are now three layers of misdirection happening (talk page, Village Pump, and WP:NOTRESOURCE RFC). I thought that the reasonable thing would be to include the movie unless there was a reason not to include it, not the other way around. Let me ask you the question I've put to Jimbo - How is Debbie Does Dallas different from A Free Ride, which has had an embedded pornographic movie since 2012? 23:29, 7 February 2016 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Right Hand Drive (talkcontribs)
Re. "How is Debbie Does Dallas different from A Free Ride" — I think you've answered that question yourself somewhere else before: A Free Ride is a WP:GA article, i.e., according to Wikipedia's standards its quality is "good". By comparison, until recently, Debbie Does Dallas was a meagre excuse of an article to show a low quality porn movie. Hence my insistence on improving the quality of the article: including the primary source with the [[file:...]] tag will have become a non-issue by the time the article itself is top notch.
Let me be clear: I've set up articles where I lumped together some primary sources fair and square before providing much content for the article (I'm not too proud about that kind of work – it can be found here), but that can simply not be done for more sensitive topics like porn movies. --Francis Schonken (talk) 23:53, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
It is ok to embed a little known pornographic movie in a "good article" but it is not ok to embed a historically significant pornographic movie in a not very good article? I don't understand the logic of that. The movie is what it is, regardless of how bad (or good) the article is. Right Hand Drive (talk) 00:11, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, but there's the issue of balance: primary sources overpowering solid article content (based on secondary sources etc) gives a bad balance. When the article is about an almost completely forgotten hymn, that bad balance may be an intermediate step that is "stable" for some time, when the article is about a porn movie the bad balance will have become untenable within months.
At policy level this is expressed by WP:PRIMARY's "Do not base an entire article on primary sources, and be cautious about basing large passages on them." — Or you may prefer the same idea spun out into an essay (which I wrote long ago): Wikipedia:Wikipedia is a tertiary source, containing for instance "Illustrations and primary source material should not overshadow content based on secondary and tertiary sources". --Francis Schonken (talk) 00:22, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Thinking it over I just proposed to promote Wikipedia:Wikipedia is a tertiary source to guideline. Ideas (here or at Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia is a tertiary source#Current discussion)? --Francis Schonken (talk) 08:27, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Let's delete Wikipedia just to be nice[edit]

@Newyorkbrad: You say "The fact that the film may have fallen into the public domain through inadvertence and a technical error on the part of a corporation that held the rights does not, in my view, justify denying the creative personnel on the film the rewards of their creativity that might otherwise be earned by them". How is this different from the creation of Wikipedia? There used to be a rule -- if someone wants to have access to information about all kinds of topics, they pony up the $900 for a big set of Encyclopedia Britannicas. Wikipedia came in and trashed that market. "Sure, just because it's lawful doesn't mean it's right". You see the problem is, in our affections many of us had this notion that we should side with the reader who actually comes to our site wanting to learn something. This is a mistaken, radical, terrorist line of thinking. We need to understand that the world is run by a few men, and whenever we make it easier for a person to learn something, do something, see something without putting up whatever small disposable income he has to the purpose, we are denying a king carnivore his rightful meal. Because our readers, they are just mute flesh waiting to be devoured; to be taught and molded with only such facts and experience as it takes to be permitted to be a blue dishwasher, if that is their designated purpose, and to be phased out and sent to the camp should ever those with money run out of blue dishes to be washed. So we should see your wisdom, recognize that everything in Wikipedia that lets people look up random data is just a bunch of mental wankage, a cruel diversion of resources for which we must answer to the Ticktockman; we must delete it and leave it for Responsible Authorities to dole out that information and make the profit to which the laws of the cosmos entitle them. Wnt (talk) 18:48, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

@Wnt: I regret to advise you that someone has hijacked your Wikipedia account and is using it to post preposterous idiocy in your name. Newyorkbrad (talk) 19:30, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Without getting into whether I was thinking the same thing, what exactly is the difference between deciding not to point readers at public domain movies or Rorschach blots or whatever in order to prop up some heir-of-an-heir's profit stream, and deciding not to write an encyclopedia because it detracts from offline paid scholarship? Every time someone reads a Wikipedia summary, that's money snatched from the hands of writers who might have sold more copies of their copyrighted alternatives. One uses the sleazy loophole that someone who is required by copyright law to file a renewal has to file a renewal; the other uses the sleazy loophole of fair use/academic commentary to summarize and quote data from other sources.
All sarcasm aside, Wikipedia has always properly been an instrument against copyrights. It is meant to show that people can work together to build something awesome, without special knowledge or access, provided only that they allow each other to do so. It is not meant to be the be-all and end-all of encyclopedias - that zenith awaits the day when copyright is consigned to the dustbin of history, and people finally breathe free and work together as one grand collaboration. This requires an economic realization beyond copyright, one that makes it feasible for authors to write without controlling who reads what is written; not a hard one really. Wnt (talk) 19:44, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Since individuals no longer have any privacy, then it somehow seems to be reasonable that the products/work created by individuals should also no longer have any privacy. And anything not private is public ( or can be at any moment; e.g. Wikileaks ). Nocturnalnow (talk) 20:44, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Editorial discretion on Wikipedia, like good judgment in most of life, is a matter of balancing. Perpetual copyright would be stultifying to a culture and I would never suggest that we think in those terms. But for a society to reject all intellectual property rights would be equally stultifying, because it would deter the creation of much that ought to be created. Copyright law is where a society seeks to balance between these two principles, although I readily grant that for a lot of reasons, no legal code always gets the balance right. And US copyright law has become the starting point for analysis of rights issues on Wikipedia, partly for obvious practical reasons and partly because it saves us the trouble of grappling with issues that have already been through through extensively by others.
This is a broad topic and I don't think this is the place for a purely theoretical discussion, but if your premise is that the free culture movement should reject, in principle, the very idea of intellectual property rights—grudgingly accepting only the limitations that would be directly enforced against us at the proverbial barrel of a gun, and longing for a hypothetical day when no such limitations exist—then suffice it to say that I do not agree with you. (Am I right, incidentally, that some of the same people who push to construe other people's IP rights as narrowly as possible so that we can use their material on our projects, are among those who complain when a republisher ignores the license's attribution rules?)
And for those of us who do believe that, within limits, copyright laws do serve valid and useful societal functions, my point is that it is neither necessary nor satisfying to impound into Wikimedia policies the strictest letter of copyright law, particularly where IP rights are being disputed or have been inadvertently lost on the basis of legal (not wikilawyered) technicalities.
Put differently, I agree with you that the success of Wikipedia and Wikimedia comes from our decision to collaborate with one another in sharing and co-creating and collating free knowledge. But it is a voluntary collaboration: there remain limis, both legal and ethical, on how much collaboration into our project we can impound from those who have not chosen to participate with us. Newyorkbrad (talk) 21:54, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
About 20 years ago I read where Scott McNealy said; "There is no privacy, get over it." I'm thinking the same thing may be said about copyright pretty soon. The crushing of licensing laws by Uber and AirBnb and the tacit acceptance of China's infringements seem to be pushing in that direction too, I think. I'm not saying I like any of these changes. Nocturnalnow (talk) 02:54, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Newyorkbrad, I don't have any difficulty understanding that the idea of editorial discretion. User:Smallbones gave two examples which I think were obvious poor judgment in their part, but we are talking about embedding a pornographic movie in the article which is itself about that movie. And, as I keep saying, there is a precedent for this. I'll ask you the same question I've asked Jimbo - how is Debbie Does Dallas any different from A Free Ride, which has had a pornographic movie embedded in it since 2012? Right Hand Drive (talk) 23:50, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
So you're telling me that we are supposed to honor every last jot and tittle of copyright law, and then, honor whatever "ethics" you make up on the spot. This sounds like the Bundy school of "what's mine is mine, what's yours is mine" interpretation of the public domain. You're incorrect in saying that copyright law is the only way to reward content creation. Copyright law is just a sort of tax farming, a mechanism that seemed approximately workable when books were very expensive to produce, but which now is clearly inferior to other methods of awarding compensation to authors that don't require limiting distribution of a work. But here we see a more fundamental aspect even than its economic inefficiency - this goes back to the origination of the copyright scheme as a method of government censorship; as a way to place books under control of a limited set of publishers. The claim that housing this movie is "unethical" isn't really rooted in concern that the porno producers aren't making enough money to keep them making more. Rather it represents this sixteenth-century idealism that if there just isn't a public domain and a few rich publishers control what gets printed, then their concern for their reputation and future privileges will keep them making conservative decisions about what anyone is allowed to read. But I do not believe in that idealism or those ethics, not even a little. Wnt (talk) 03:17, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
So the synopsis version of your comment Wnt is "Embed the video to stop conservative values WP:CREEPing back into society"? Support! Especially for 'Mericans [FBDB] I'm honestly baffled as to your response and I currently think that you've either turned in a very civil and smart Internet troll recently, or you need to clarify yourself in simpler language – I'm leaning to the latter but ... well, the above is just plain unintelligible and screams "red herring" and "straw man". Conciseness means that we will understand your point. Then you can back it up with rhetoric which we will possibly read before responding. Cheers, Doctor Crazy in Room 102 of The Mental Asylum 06:26, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I wasn't reacting only about censorship the film, but to Newyorkbrad's far more expansive and far more damaging notion of not including PD material to be "nice" to the (not) copyright holder. (Unfortunately there is someone else making this argument on one of the other three talk pages where this issue is being discussed, though I forget which now) This reminds me of similar "moralistic" crusades like the push to censor Rorschach test several years ago. I am tired of seeing copyright being treated on one side like an unbreakable sacred wall at the foot of which we see people like Aaron Swartz sacrificed on Moloch's altar, yet on the other like it is a mere technicality with no weight whatsoever. I say if you sign a copyright transfer you don't own the movie, if you get sued in court you don't own the movie, so if you don't bother to renew a copyright... you don't own the movie! Wnt (talk) 11:55, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Wnt Now you've got me really engaged. The way the feds hunted down Aaron Swartz and pushed him over a cliff is an example of how these copyright laws can be applied in very selective and politically motivated ways by some U.S. law enforcement control freaks is the best point you've made. It is similar to letting crazy people get automatic weapons whenever any laws which are not absolutely required for health and safety are in effect in debatably non-democratic countries. I am ashamed to say I had forgotten about Aaron Swartz. That was worse than the old racist church burnings because it was carried out by government officials. Nocturnalnow (talk) 20:38, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Self-censorship is can be a slippery slope[edit]

When you've lived as long as I have, you've seen many, many awful things done to innocent people which were/are well known by media who apply/applied Self-censorship which indirectly perpetuates the awful behavior. The child abuse by some priests is just one example, another was the apparently well known for years by Washington media,the serial sexual use of underage pages by a Florida Congressman. Nocturnalnow (talk) 21:20, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

These things have nothing to do with what we were talking about. No one is supporting political censorship of Wikipedia. But not every decision not to include some piece of information on Wikipedia is a bad thing. Every day we delete articles because their subjects aren't notable enough. Do you call that "self-censorship" and believe we should eliminate the deletion processes? We don't (or shouldn't) include in Wikipedia information about borderline-notable people that infringes their personal privacy without an encyclopedic purpose; we don't (or shouldn't) include trivial information that distracts from what is important about the subject of an article; we don't (or shouldn't) reuse material whose use would infringe someone's copyright beyond fair use, although we do our best to find another way of presenting the information where we can. "Slippery slope" arguments, while given greater credence in First Amendment like contexts than others, are generally weak arguments, because almost any action could be characterized as the first step on a slippery slope to something. Ruling out good actions, out of concern they could in the future be extrapolated to bad actions, is a declaration that one lacks faith in the decision-makers. And to call every exercise of Wikipedians' collective editorial judgment "self-censorship" is to substitute an epithet for reasoning—a common fallacy that I wish I did not see any more. Newyorkbrad (talk) 22:05, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
I struggle to see the essential difference between what I would term sound editorial judgment (an implied good) and what nocturnalhow would characterise as self-censorhip (an implied evil). They are sides of the same coin. And actually this is enshrined in policy since WP:NOT says we are not an indiscriminate collection of information, and even the notoriously militant Commons community has no compunction about deleting an endless succession of entirely correctly licensed pictures of penises. Guy (Help!) 22:16, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
I did not communicate well. I am not calling every or even any exercise of Wikipedians' collective editorial judgment "self-censorship". I already said above that good selective judgment can and should be exercised; not a lazy all inclusive rule. Indiscriminate collection of info would be an all inclusive process/rule. And political censorship is not on the table in this discussion, I don't think. I am saying that there is such a thing as self-censorship, that it has been applied sometimes by media when it should not have been, and that it can be a slippery slope. I changed the wording above to replace "is" with "can be". When it comes to this film, I actually watched it earlier today and I think it is not important enough to make access difficult or have a big discussion about. Also, parents have the responsibility of overseeing what pops up on their children's computers from all the social media and educational sources. If we start trying to help them do their job, that just enables them to do a less capable job, imo. Nocturnalnow (talk) 23:51, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Yesterday I sent a retired science teacher a fyi link to Thought experiment. This is part of his response; "On another note, Wikipedia provides a wealth of valuable information for humans. We are very fortunate to have access to a website loaded with this kind of valuable knowledge and information." Not sure why that's relevant, but feels like it is somehow. Nocturnalnow (talk) 02:23, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
More nonsense. Censoring movies like Debbie Does Dallas *is* political censorship - it's politics of the worst kind, the politics of limiting what types of expression people feel safe to offer. To say that women shouldn't be allowed to show their breasts in film is little different than saying that people shouldn't be able to talk online without the NSA watching them. They're both arguments about speech, privacy, and propriety. But the only true propriety is to allow people to research what interests them without making them feel hunted and bullied. Wnt (talk) 03:26, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Everything is politics according to Thomas Mann. I think censorship or politics is not the primary issue here nor throughout our societies. The primary issue is poor reading/listening habits; e.g. none of the people promoting censoring DDD seem to have noticed Right Hand Drive's comparison of DDD to A Free Ride in the context of the DDD being embedded is something new as theorized by Jimbo. None have answered his question about "what's the difference" either.
And NewYorkBrad seems to have missed Jimbo's claim that "Censorship always involves force or the threat of force - for example, the threat of a fine or jail time for publishing something. Deciding not to publish something, or to publish in one way rather than another, is not censorship." which was the primary reason I brought up Self-censorship, to inform. Good communication requires taking the time to read or listen to the actual words of whoever one is communicating with, and that does not happen as often as it needs to if we are going to really communicate. These same bad listening and reading and scattered thinking habits are hindering our ability to deal with even a simple, almost childish, matter like Debbie Does Dallas; see how ridiculous it is? But at least its funny. And, Wnt, you are a good listener, imo.Nocturnalnow (talk) 04:59, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Well, the issue is, as has been said elsewhere above, whether the primary source overwhelms the article. It's generally not practice to include full length movies - it seems that is because it's too much padding to a text article, because other than to the synopsis/plot section it is not directly making the article's points (and even then only in specific part) - it does not provide its own critical commentary on itself, nor its own cultural or legal commentary on itself. Now perhaps, you could make the same arguments for not providing a short movie, but because they are short the issues are not joined to the same degree, and the effort at curation and editing the short to make the article's points may not be worth it. As to the "slippery slope", it rather runs downhill in the other direction because it is easier to add everything from the undifferentiated mass of information than it is to curate and edit-out, which takes sustained careful thought and effort in creating a tertiary source. It is also easier to then say every act of a person's expression is an act of self-censorship. As for making "safe expression", that's not the purpose for creating a tertiary source, which by definition is curated expression. Alanscottwalker (talk) 12:51, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Every single thing Alanscottwalker says makes perfect sense to me, especially that it "takes sustained careful thought and effort in creating a tertiary source." As he says, and Jimbo and NewYorkBrad have alluded to,this would be a demanding mission; to "curate and edit-out" the ever increasing quantity of incoming film material.So, now we have 2 additional questions. Assuming there is a consensus to take on the mission of curating and editing out, what would be the next step and is it even possible from a time and individual editing resource standpoints? Nocturnalnow (talk) 16:34, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
And what if the choice is between hosting porn or people having access to wikipedia? Some countries block sites that host pornography, or require an age verification system. Wikipedia may choose to ignore such laws, but local ISPs have to comply with court orders, and all it takes is one person to file a complaint and a judge to agree. Wouldn't be the first time, what was it on the russian version, a method to make hash? Prevalence (talk) 06:17, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
See censorship of Wikipedia - if you click on the "Cannabis smoking" link in that article you'll get to the Russian article, and as you see, it is not as threadbare as the Russian government originally seemed to demand. Because Wikipedia is continually edited, it is impossible to say that the article was unscathed by the threats, and the agency claimed it had been modified sufficiently when it decided not to block Wikipedia; but certainly it should not be taken as a precedent for surrender. The problem with this sort of issue is that whatever you don't fight on Bataan you'll fight on Corregidor, or in Sydney if that's what you prefer. If you pay ISIS a million now, they'll have ten times as many hostages on ransom next week, and if you censor an article on cannabis smoking today, you'll be censoring articles that put Putin in a bad light the month after. If you won't embed a frame with a porn movie, they'll come back and tell you you're not allowed to illustrate those vestigial penis spines some men have tomorrow, or to have the movie anywhere the day after that. Wnt (talk) 10:17, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

What a poorly chosen flagship ![edit]

The Righteous Fighters Against Censorship could have chosen a better battleship. Under-age looking cheerleaders encountering over-age Babbitts lead to a movie that is more about power than about sex. Using 352x240 resolution doesn't help. How to solve the controversy about the Stony Brook University Library without recognizable details ? And finally, the obvious de-synchronization between video and soundtrack suggests that either the Encyclopedists that are building the temple of All the Knowledge under Heaven are unable to resync a movie, or aren't judging the script being worth of their care. Pldx1 (talk) 14:30, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

You tempted me to google for quotes from the film.
Debbie - "Oh Mr. Greenfeld, you're so strong."
Mr. Greenfeld - "That's because I eat my Wheaties everyday."
I can see why some might find the script not particularly worthy of synchronization.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:31, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
It is unfortunate that the synchronization is off, but that can be fixed. It is easy to mock the silly dialog, acting and plot in this movie, but the importance of this movie to contemporaneous American culture should not be underestimated. "It is regarded as one of the most important releases during the so-called 'Golden Age of Porn', and remains one of the best-known pornographic films," according to the Wikipedia article. My quest here is not to fight against censorship but to address the hypocrisy and double standards of removing this movie from the article. Why is it ok that anyone can watch the movie on Wikimedia Commons but can't watch it here? Why is it ok to have the movie embedded in French Wikipedia but not ok to have it embedded in English Wikipedia? Why is it helpful to embed a copy of Charade in the article about that movie, but not helpful to embed a copy of Debbie Does Dallas in the article about the movie? Why is it ok to have a hardcore pornographic movie embeded in A Free Ride, but not ok to have it in Debbie Does Dallas]]? Right Hand Drive (talk) 17:33, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I believe your questions have already been answered for the most part, but for convenience I'll give my own answers. Note well, of course, that this page is a place that I hope is helpful in the community chewing over interesting and difficult questions, rather than a page where policy is set. The final resolution here is in no way up to me.
  1. Why is it ok that anyone can watch the movie on Wikimedia Commons but can't watch it here? In the minds of many people, embedding a pornographic movie in an encyclopedia article is a highly surprising thing to do, whereas linking to it somewhere else is not particularly surprising in this modern day and age. There is the additional issue, which I have raised more than once, that we should take care to not subject readers to unnecessary risk of something bad happening due to an accidental or stray click. Having the movie on commons rather than embedded does virtually nothing to prevent people who really want to see it from going over there to see it, but does a lot to prevent people who don't want to see it from accidentally playing it.
  2. Why is it ok to have the movie embedded in French Wikipedia but not ok to have in embedded in English Wikipedia? I personally think the same "one click" argument applies there as well as anywhere else. But it is also perfectly fine for different language versions of Wikipedia to take reasonable care for the needs of their readers, and to note that even within the realm of NPOV, those needs can different significantly. Finally, the entire decision making structure of Wikipedia means that consistency across languages is never going to be trivial - that one language has decided one way is not an argument in favor of another language having to decide the same way. This is particularly true where reasonable people may differ, as in the present case.
  3. Why is it helpful to embed a copy of Charade in the article about that movie, but not helpful to embed a copy of Debbie Does Dallas in the article about the movie? Again the "one click" argument leads us to a different conclusion. If you're a college kid surreptitiously reading Wikipedia on your phone with your parents in the room, then a stray click on a Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn movie isn't likely to cause you any embarrassment. The same can't be said of "Debbie Does Dallas". If you really want to watch it, of course it should be easy enough. But you should be warned appropriately.
  4. Why is it ok to have a hardcore pornographic movie embeded in A Free Ride, but not ok to have it in Debbie Does Dallas? I don't think it is, for the most part, and I'd like to see consistency here. But I will note that there is a distinguishing feature - A Free Ride is silent, and so accidental embarrassment is much less likely in case of a stray click.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:08, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I hope that you will recognize that these answers are not insane. You may not agree, and as I have said, this is an area where reasonable people may differ. But I repeat that I see very few downsides (and you haven't mentioned even one) to hosting it on commons only, and several downsides (which you haven't addressed at all) to embedding it. You seem hung up on the 'consistency' argument, but that argument fails because the film is different and so can and should be treated according to its own nature. So I recommend not climbing the Reichstag.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:08, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
The movie doesn't start with a porn scene - a single click gets you to a legal notice, title credits, and fairly ordinary scenes of cheerleaders on a football field. It is more than two minutes until the women hit the showers - and while some people might say they are 'surprised' to see such a thing, we should note that lesbians in high school are expected, nay compelled to view fairly similar scenes in person. So at least that scene is not unusual, or shouldn't be, by even conservative educational standards; and it's a fair shot across the bow for anyone still claiming to be surprised.
It may not be a good example, but we have to defend Wikipedia's content where we see it challenged. The people climbing the Reichstag (or burning it) are the ones pressing for policy changes at WP:NOT to make it officially rather than just unofficially a call to delete useful content from articles. I do agree though that we should have a higher-quality version of this film. Wnt (talk) 18:56, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Two whole minutes, eh? I mean, if it were only 90 seconds, that would be "surprising", but that extra 30 seconds makes it a whole different story. Seriously though, I don't think that's really the point. There is nothing wrong with making people click twice and/or give an "adult content" warning before they see something they may not want to see, or as Jimbo points out, they may not want everybody else to hear. (I actually would make it "AND" a warning, and if someone wanted (just for the sake of consistency) "two clicks" for "Charade" as well (but without the warning), I wouldn't have a problem with that either.) This would not be an issue of "defending Wikipedia's content" - the content would still be available. Neutron (talk) 19:50, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I see a slight intellectual paradox in such readiness to install extra clicks in the DDD matter while zero interest in a Rfc suggesting just a more prominent positioning or maybe requiring 1 click to our privacy policy so Readers will know how the policy applies to them. Its only natural I suppose but should we not be as interested in alerting people as to what they are about to be exposed to when they read our product as we are in what they are exposed to with other companies' products? Nocturnalnow (talk) 20:21, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I never saw that RfC before, but it looks like your proposal did get some interest - from two people who thought it was unnecessary. If it makes you feel any better, I have made proposals on Wikipedia that went over like a led zeppelin myself. As for your analogy between avoiding a single-click launching of a full-length pornographic film and providing more prominent placement for the privacy policy, the connection is not immediately apparent to me. Neutron (talk) 22:47, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Jimbo, I don't think your answers are "insane". I'm certain that as reasonable people we can disagree without becoming hostile. I agree that having a warning before the movie would be a good idea, but I don't think there's any way for me to do that. Nor is it done on other potentially offensive content (there's that dounle standard again). You cite an example of someone accidentally starting the movie playing, but that does not seem to be a serious concern. The movie can be stopped with one click or tap. The page can easily be closed. The browser can be closed. The phone or computer can be turned off. As people have pointed outm there is no objectionable content in the first few minutes of the movie, so there is ample time to take whatever action is necessary. And while there is a tiny risk of the movie being started accidentally, is that how we decide what content to include? Isn't there a risk that someone will accidentally load an article about sexuality which contains images of nudity while at work? Your argument about the embedded pornographic movie in A Free Ride seems specious. You have twice said that people would be surprised to find pornographic movies embedded in Wikipedia articles, yet when it is pointed out to you that this has been the case for years now, the best you can do is suggest that it is "different" because it is silent? I think people would be surprised by what they see, not by what they hear (or don't hear). Despite what you have said, I'm still seeing a double standard here. Right Hand Drive (talk) 05:21, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Ok. I've said my piece. You don't seem to be interested in listening, so I'll stop talking.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 17:58, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I listened, I just didn't agree with all of your points. Right Hand Drive (talk) 22:33, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

RfC about pornographic movie in A Free Ride[edit]

Jimbo, based in part on your comments here, I have started a "request for comment" about the hardcore pornographic movie that has been embedded in A Free Ride since 2012. I hope that this RfC will clarify how editors feel about having pornographic movies embedded in Wikipedia articles, so that perhaps we can have some consistency between A Free Ride and Debbie Does Dallas. You are, of course, welcome to participate in the RfC. Thanks. Right Hand Drive (talk) 00:23, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

This is what is known as disrupting Wikipedia to make a point. Johnuniq (talk) 00:54, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

Edit-conflicts still need 2-line separation[edit]

This is just FYI about same edit-conflict problems as years ago. I have just confirmed how wp:edit-conflicts will still occur if 2 editors modify consecutive lines (and the second editor SAVEs before the first editor) in the MediaWiki software. This means it is still good practice to insert blank lines between some talk-page responses (when busy replies are expected), to allow editors to insert replies either above/below an intervening separator line, as a 50%-50% chance to allow concurrent, interleaved edits without triggering an edit-conflict. This is the same rationale for teaching groups of students to put blank lines between the sentences in a group-developed page, so that editors can change separate sentences without edit-conflict; otherwise, 2 consecutive sentences/lines cannot be changed by interleaved edits (1st editor rejected if 2nd editor SAVEs before 1st) but rather requires a blank separator line between those sentences to allow group-editing in any sequence order. To make matters worse, any end-of-page newline or blank line of spaces will still be auto-removed when the edit is SAVEd. So to recap:

  • WP MediaWiki software still requires 2-line separation between interleaved edits.
  • WP MediaWiki software still removes a bottom blank line, to encourage edit-conflict with next topic added.

If a bottom blank line were retained, then editors could choose to insert replies either above/below that blank line and 2 edits could be interleaved (2nd SAVEs before 1st) if they choose separate "above" or "below" replies. I am still not convinced that WP should demand the 2-line separation, and I think students should each be allowed to edit consecutive lines without triggering an edit-conflict. Hence, the developers should still change the WP software line-separation from count=1 to "=0", if that would not cause problems in some rare cases. Plus, remember some people thought edit-conflicts were a "good thing" because it let them know other editors were active on the page, as if the software could not warn them during edit-preview of recent SAVEs to the same page. -Wikid77 (talk) 19:12, revised 19:28/19:40, 6 February 2016 (UTC)

This is an issue worth trumpeting. Edit conflicts are one of the biggest problems on this site, not for us regulars who by definition are the people who have learned to handle them, but to the many bitten newbies who have an edit conflict and leave. There are several proposals on phabricator for reducing edit conflicts, some were on Bugzilla for years. Unfortunately I suspect too many developers see this as a good way to keep out non-programmers. It saddens me that less important projects like Flow, AFT and mediaviewer had resources that could have been more usefully used to reduce edit conflicts. ϢereSpielChequers 20:03, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
Do we know how edit conflicts are handled from a mobile device? I've had edit conflicts on my iPhone (I think while using the Wikipedia app, but I'm not sure anymore), and they meant I basically had to make the whole damn edit all over again. Talk about discouraging. Drmies (talk) 03:03, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
I have huge respect for those few editors who are able to edit from a smartphone, my own thumbs are too large. I'm assuming that you get edit conflicts in the same way but without some of the workarounds that traditionalists can use. But you raise a very good point, in the age of the smartphone resolving more edit conflicts is more important than ever. ϢereSpielChequers 09:39, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Some users write with a stylus on their phone-screens because their "thumbs are too large" to avoid numerous typos on the tiny phone keypads. -Wikid77 (talk) 06:02, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Edit-conflict in mobile phone Desktop-view: For simplicity, I have been editing sometimes using the mobile phone "Desktop-view [x]" which shows the typical edit-conflict differences screen, but I was changing about 20 cite templates, and knew the other editor was adding sections plus also revising earlier text, so I re-edited a 2nd time then got 2nd "Edit conflict" (of course), but re-edited less on 3rd try which SAVEd ok. So that's when I realized an edit-conflict resolution could save the non-conflicted lines then could say, "Saved but changes to lines 39-40 not saved due to edit-conflict -- see diff". Remember in general, to Show-changes just before Save-page to look for unexpected differences and perhaps copy-paste to the phone cliptray for re-edit. -Wikid77 (talk) 04:29, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
This is the first time I've seen this: <!--reply above/below this line--> while editing and figure it has something to do with this thread. However, it doesn't make any sense to me - do I edit above that line or below it, or maybe both? Maybe flip a coin? Just confused. Smallbones(smalltalk) 04:55, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
At a guess this could be down to section editing. If two editors are editing in different sections then the software can cope without an edit conflict - hence the importance of encouraging newbies to edit by section. If you would have had an edit conflict but you then ditch the changes you were going to make in the section that someone else had changed then that should save part of your edit and prevent the edit conflict. I can see how to do that from preview, not sure how to do it from the edit conflict screen. My preferred solution is to leave the tab open where you have the edit conflict, open the same article in another tab and fire up the copy paste buttons. I could probably do that on a tablet, but not sure if possible on a smartish phone (maybe this varies by smartphone?). Of course the problem with both techniques is that they are not intuitive to newbies, unfortunately the WMF doesn't publish stats on edit conflicts let alone edit conflicts that lose newbies. If they did collect such stats it would be a complete shock to some people, and if I'm right it would make resolving more edit conflicts the number two IT priority after keeping the servers running. ϢereSpielChequers 09:39, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
My own view is that this is merely a symptom of the bigger issue: building a threaded discussion system that retains the essential "wikiness" that is our strengths does not strike me as particularly hard. The notion that 15 years later, you still have to type '::::' and similar to respond in an indented fashion, is ridiculous. Similarly, virtually all edit conflicts go away once we abandon the notion that a talk page should be a plain wikitext page underneath.
What do we need? For the maintenance of civility and helpfulness, we need a discussion system which keeps track of individual comments (like any message board software) but allows people to delete other people's comments, to edit other people's comments, all with at least the same level of responsibility tracking. As a bonus, support for 'hiding' threads (as we often do with the 'hat' and 'hab' templates) rather than 'deleting' them - because sometimes that's the desirable thing to do. A lesser bonus feature that we have now, which I could do without but which others may prefer be kept, is customized signatures. But why should I, as a person joining a discussion, need to see (as the closest handy example) that WereSpielChequers signs using color #CC5500? It would be fine (but not that important) to keep even that level of functionality, but what is the point of having to edit everything raw?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:28, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
See below: "#Plain talk-page needed to show markup, templates, tables". -Wikid77 (talk) 06:58, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Re: "My own view is that this is merely a symptom of the bigger issue: building a threaded discussion system that retains the essential "wikiness" that is our strengths does not strike me as particularly hard. The notion that 15 years later, you still have to type '::::' and similar to respond in an indented fashion, is ridiculous. Similarly, virtually all edit conflicts go away once we abandon the notion that a talk page should be a plain wikitext page underneath". With a lengthy background in software development, I agree entirely with that. I know some of us like to edit raw markup (I do - but then I still like the Unix vi editor), but software that obliges non-technical users to use any form of markup just to make a comment (in 2016!) is, to be honest, incompetent software. Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 19:27, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Edit conflicts don't only take place on talkpages. I'll concede that some do, but busy active talkpages are not the best places for finding newbies. I would bet that many editors get edit conflicts on talkpages after they have learned to resolve them in Mainspace. My worry is more for the newbies who haven't yet learned to resolve edit conflicts, and in mainspace this isn't a wiki markup issue, if anything editors using the visual editor are more vulnerable to edit conflicts than those of us who use the classic editor. Last time I looked V/E was slower than the classic editor and didn't support section editing, the first of those means that V/E editors are likely to be the losers in edit conflicts and the second means they will get more edit conflicts. ϢereSpielChequers 19:39, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
See below: "#VisualEditor overrode edit-conflict years ago". -Wikid77 (talk) 06:22, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
On article pages it's harder to resolve, because comments on talk pages are discrete entities where article pages edits are not. But even with that, I've had massively more edit conflicts on talk pages than on articles pages - because the way talk pages work tends to attract multiple people to the same section at the same time, which tends to happen a lot less frequently on article pages. Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 23:51, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, but typing a bunch of colons is the least of my problems, and I doubt that it's that that drives editors away. Also, this wasn't--as far as I know--a discussion about what happens on talk pages; we're an encyclopedia, and it's editing article space that should be facilitated first. Let me reiterate: having an edit conflict on a smartphone (but again, this may depend on the application), in my experience, means the entire damn edit is lost. You can't copy and paste from the "your text" screen into the other screen; on my iPhone, I don't even know how to copy and paste from a screen within a screen to begin with. More than once I've just abandoned an entire edit. User:WereSpielChequers, the champion of mobile editing is Cullen328. Drmies (talk) 02:13, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Drmies, when I encounter an edit conflict, I just use the back arrow on my Android HTC One smartphone, which returns me to the edit screen before the conflict. I copy my comment or other content, return to the talk page (or article), open the edit window, paste in my content, and quickly save. That almost always works for me. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 02:32, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
"and I doubt that it's that that drives editors away." It's never just one thing that drives people away, it's the compounding of several issues that at some moment make someone give up. It's not one piece of trash in the street that makes you decide to move, but if people turn your neighborhood in a trash pile they will certainly move if they can afford to. And way before that, new people will no longer want to move INTO the neighborhood. —TheDJ (talkcontribs) 09:38, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Once someone has adopted editing here as a significant hobby or part of a hobby then I'd agree that it takes multiple minor irritants before a single straw is enough to drive them away (occasionally people get hit by whole haystacks but that is a different sort of departure). Edit conflicts can be the despair of some well established editors, one of the most useful lessons I ever gave at an editathon was to show a fairly experienced editor how to deal with an edit conflict. But for newbies things are different, and a single bad experience in someone's first few edits may well drive them away. It should be easy for the WMF to research this - unfortunately there are no public logs to test the theory that this is one of our biggest barriers to newbies. ϢereSpielChequers 10:16, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Re: "you still have to type '::::' and similar to respond in an indented fashion", why do we need a completely new and different talk environment to solve that little problem? Right below where I'm typing now I see:

Sign your posts on talk pages: ~~~~

which automatically inserts four tildes with one click. Why can't there be a Reply button beside that, which with one click inserts the appropriate number of colons needed to start an indented reply to the previous text above the current cursor position? Wbm1058 (talk) 20:44, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

In many situations that's actually the wrong behavior. I occasionally encounter editors with a shocking amount of experience (ten years or more) who still don't get WP:THREAD and think that every new comment on a talk page should be indented one level more than the last, regardless of to whom it replies. It's particularly problematic when they 'fix' my already-properly indented comments. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 23:03, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Absolutely. It's not the technical way of choosing the required level of indent that's the problem, it's having to think about that the requirement exists at all. Talk pages should have a "reply to" option for each existent comment that just does the reply correctly, without the user having to consider any technical details, and without edit conflicts - and nobody should ever have to even see a colon. Bulletin board software has been around for how long? It does not present edit conflicts simply because it is not trying to squeeze conversational interaction into the wrong model of a plain text file. Surely Wikimedia software devs can manage something that BBS managed more than a decade ago?! Boing! said Zebedee (talk) 23:53, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
I believe that BBS's have been around for more than 20 years. Nyth63 02:50, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

VisualEditor overrode edit-conflict years ago[edit]

I hope VE still forces that edit-save to overwrite the other user's edit (even though I dislike elitist tools), because imagine the pain if a person used VE one hour to put tedious keystrokes and then saw "Edit Conflict" to redo all those keystrokes during an additional hour. The only kind choice was to force VE to wipe-out the other user's entire (but faster) edit. Does VE still overwrite the other user? -Wikid77 (talk) 06:22, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

It would make sense if the system could do something clever, such as preferring a newbie edit over an edit marked as minor when the two were in conflict. It would need to say so in a tag on the edit summary, but I could live with that, and an awful lot of my edits are marked as minor. But we can't simply prefer newbie edits over those of regular editors as to do that would sometimes lose a lot of good work in order to prefer some vandalism. There's also the issue of synchronicity, it is one thing to get an edit conflict when you save and have an opportunity to resolve it, quite another to log on and discover your last edit was reverted half an hour later because it conflicted with some all caps spam from a newbie. ϢereSpielChequers 10:04, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't understand the envisioned scenario. In case of an edit conflict, why should VE lose anything that I've typed? I can see a number of easy solutions, none of which would involve losing someone's work!--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:54, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Google Docs allows multiple people to edit the same document at the same time. You see each other's cursors and what the others are typing. Jehochman Talk 13:56, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Indeed but my personal dreams are much more modest than that. :-) --Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:10, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
The Google Docs system described above does without partition tolerance (See Brewer’s Conjecture section below), which they can get away with because the document is in a single place in the cloud, and because Google's design assumes that both editors have a high speed low latency connection to the cloud. Wikipedia, on the other hand, needs to work through a satellite phone or from a third-world village sharing a dial-up connection. Wikipedia cannot do without partition tolerance. --Guy Macon (talk) 18:45, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
EC @Jimbo. If one person wants to change the sentence "the Earth is spherical" to "the Earth is an oblate spheroid" at the same time as someone else wants to change it to "the Earth is flat" you are going to get an edit conflict. Currently we get loads of other edit conflicts that could be resolved, including a newbie adding their second sentence and someone else tagging the article as unsourced and someone else adding a category. Most Edit conflicts could be resolved by various suggestions made on Bugzilla and phabricator over the last ten years or so. @Jehochman But the possibility of edit conflicts is always going to be there if we have a batch editing system, Google docs works by every key depression going live. Our system enables our edit filters to intercept a lot of vandalism and prevent it going live, it also means that people don't publish their submission until they have had a chance to preview it, and for readers the article looks like it isn't currently being rewritten. Changing to a Google docs style way of working would be a big and interesting change that has more repercussions than just changing the concept of edit conflicts. ϢereSpielChequers 12:46, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

Brewer’s Conjecture[edit]

I am going to try to explain why "No edit conflicts" is theoretically impossible.

The CAP Theorem, otherwise known as Brewer’s Conjecture, was formally proven to be true in 2002[1]

Wikipedia is a distributed system. If you try to edit a Wikipedia page while I try to edit the same page, our two computers are a distributed system. If there was one computer somewhere watching what keys we each hit and constantly updating our screens, that would be a different story.

We know that, in any distributed system. you cannot provide Consistency, Availability. and Partition tolerance. You have to pick two and lose one.

Right now we do without availability -- the property that a request to edit the data will always complete. When I click the Save Page button after writing this, the write may fail and give me an edit conflict message.

We cannot do without partition tolerance. You and I are not using the same computer, nor are our computers in constant communication. Wikipedia needs to work through a satellite phone or from a third-world village sharing a dial-up connection. Wikipedia cannot do without partition tolerance.

We could provide guaranteed availability by dropping consistency. If you and I both edited a page at the same time Wikipedia could accept our edits and show each of us a different version. Not a workable idea, but it is at least theoretically possible.

What we cannot do, no matter how hard we try or how clever we are, is to provide Consistency, Availability. and Partition tolerance at the same time. Consider you and I reading the same Wikipedia page. If we each edit the page, our two versions become inconsistent, thus forfeiting consistency. If we could communicate we could get back consistency, but by doing that we just forfeited partition tolerance. Or Wikipedia could stop one of us from editing and instead give us an edit conflict message, thus losing availability.


--Guy Macon (talk) 18:45, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Why isn't there an article about it in Wikipedia? I know the answer. Someone needs to write one. Obviously if it is known as Brewer's Conjecture, it was conjectured before 2002 by Brewer. Robert McClenon (talk) 20:16, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
In this way it was correctly known before 2002, unlike the proposition known as Fermat's Last Theorem, which is really Fermat's Last Conjecture or Wiles's Great Theorem. Robert McClenon (talk) 20:16, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
We can't have Zero Edit Conflicts. We could tweak the details of how we handle edit conflicts. The current process encourages editors to push edits through, which appears to provide availability but can actually result in loss of the conflicting edit. I personally have found that it is easier to copy my intended edit to Word and back out of the page being edited and try again, but the software asks me if I really want to leave the page that I am editing, when I haven't even succeeded in editing it. Robert McClenon (talk) 20:16, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
While we cannot have what the WMF once promised ("No edit conflicts, ever") we can do far, far better than we are doing with our presents system, which from the standpoint of software engineering, is extremely crude and hacked together. Alas, there is no way for those of us in the Wikipedia community who know how to solve these sort of problems to help the WMF. We just get stonewalled.
We do have a (poor quality) article on this at CAP theorem. The CAP theorem was first presented the year 2000 by Eric Brewer as the keynote at the Proceedings of the Annual ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing. In 2002, Gilbert and Lynch presented a proof, and in the 14 years since nobody has figured out a way to get C, A, and P at the same time in a distributed system, so even if the proof is flawed from a practical standpoint it is impossible.
For those who are new to this concept and want to learn more, I recommend:
--Guy Macon (talk) 00:15, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
As stated above, I agree with User:Guy Macon that, first, No Edit Conflicts Ever is a utopian dream (and "utopia" means "no place"), but, second, our present way of handling them is much worse than is necessary. Perhaps the developers fail to improve the existing handling of edit conflicts because they are trying to figure out how to get No Edits Conflicts Ever, looking for utopia, rather than looking for a practical solution. The present interface encourages editors to push edit conflicts through, which can blow away the conflicting edit, and discourages editors from the practical step of backing out and re-applying the edit. Robert McClenon (talk) 17:32, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
That was one of the drawbacks of Flow, it was used to justify freezing attempts to improve the talkpage system, such as by recognising "#" and "*" as section breaks in terms of handling edit conflicts. There is always an opportunity cost to white elephants and abortive misinvestments. WMF software investments have been a case example in why evolution outperforms revolution in software development. ϢereSpielChequers 21:02, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Ah, flow... I tried so hard to convince them that they were on the wrong path, and as usual was stonewalled. I suspect that the reason why the technical details of Knowledge Engine are being kept a secret is so that people like me can't do what I did with Flow and Brewer’s Conjecture. --Guy Macon (talk) 11:46, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Lesson from the past[edit]

To see an example of how the WMF handled a similar problem, see Wikipedia talk:Flow/Archive 4#No edit conflicts? and Wikipedia talk:Flow/Archive 4#Brewer’s Conjecture. Key quote:

"[The WMF] wrote -- in the main document that presents Flow to Wikipedia -- that they think the final product will accomplish something that is not theoretically possible. Not just hard. Impossible. Perpetual motion impossible. Turning lead into gold impossible. Traveling faster than C (speed of light in a vacuum) impossible."
"Alas, this has an unfortunate implication. Anyone describing what they hope Flow will do must have at least some vague idea of how it will work. If I asked them to explain auto-signing, they would be able to give me a broad outline of how they plan on accomplishing this. Something like "user clicks on save button. Flow looks up the users signature. Flow appends the signature to the post. Flow appends the current time and date to the signature. Flow saves the comment." If you can't do that, you have no business editing the main document that presents Flow to Wikipedia."
"Nobody at the WMF (or anywhere else for that manner) can describe the steps that they hoped will get us "No edit conflicts ever" because no such sequence of steps exists or can exist. So unless you think that someone at WMF is a liar (which they are not) or stupid (which they are not), the only reasonable conclusion is that, in their zeal to market Flow to us, they wrote "Current plans indicate that there will be no edit conflicts, ever", which is impossible, without having any idea how to do that. And asked about this, they claimed that they do know how to do this impossible thing. That is a COMMUNICATIONS problem. And when I asked WMF to please address the communication problem, I was accused of claiming that they are here to "destroy everything you love" and "here to build something in a vacuum for the sake of riches and power". Then they accused me of violating WP:AGF!"

It has been well over two years, and as far as I can tell nothing has been done to address the communication problem I described on that page. --Guy Macon (talk) 18:45, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Plain talk-page needed to show markup, templates, tables[edit]

Again, many users want these plain-text talkpages to show the use of markup wikitext, parameters in wp:templates, and styles in wp:wikitables. Long-term, it is much easier to teach newcomers the plain-text talkpage format (with ":::" indent) and then someday discuss how "#::" indents underneath an auto-numbered line without resetting the line-counter back to 1. It might seem easier to have a special talk-page system, but after a few weeks, many new users would resent having to then learn the plain-text talkpage to ask about markup questions, template examples, and wikitable columns, etc. That is why wp:edit-conflicts in these talk-pages should be auto-merged as much as possible. -Wikid77 (talk) 06:58, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Ugh. I don't agree. This doesn't even seem remotely plausible to me. We have to keep talk pages sucky, because everything else is sucky too?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 13:57, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I like the Wiki-code editing paradigm for talk pages. I may be an extinguishing race, for all I care less than 10% of our current editors like it that way, and I have no problem with that. Let's keep oriented to the future.
Another paradigm for webdiscussions is that of forum-like software. I'm sure many editors would be intuitively more accustomed to that, so that may be an advantage. I have some doubts though. Last year we had an invasion of Reddit-people, accustomed to that kind of forum software for discussions. The thing didn't go well. Of course, they came here to Fight For A Cause, they couldn't get adapted to the way Wikipedians discuss article content, and ended up in WP:AE-like dungeons more often than not. Now here's the interesting question: if our discussion flow would have been more forum-paradigm oriented, would that have run differently? And if so: better? Or: worse? Maybe there are some advantages for the current talk page technical arrangements when discussing the improvement of article content? Or not? A scenario where regular editors to Wikipedia content would be run under foot by people more versed in "winning" forum discussions could be imaginable. Would that be a disadvantage (thinking about Geshuri's "next generation of editors, contributors, and users")? Have we retained any of that group of fresh Wikipedia editors (that came for a Cause, but maybe decided to stay longer)? Would that have been different if our discussions were formatted differently? And would that have been better? Or worse? ...
Anyhow I don't think either Wiki-discussion old style, or importing a forum software with minor adjustments (just enough to make it work on the site) would work optimally. So the discussion platform software would need some specifications that are probably unique in its kind, groundbreaking, or whatever.
I don't know: has this ever been written down? Jimbo maybe has a clear picture of what such software should and shouldn't do, how it should be inserted in our present structure with namespaces and their associated "talk"-namespace pages etc. If this has been written down, is there a place where we can find it? Or is it here the place to start summing up characteristics so as to get a more complete picture of what we may be heading towards? Tx for giving some sort of overview if possible! Also don't know to what extent VisualEditor would be an answer to this, or is that unrelated to these prospects? --Francis Schonken (talk) 16:03, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I don't know - ideas like this have been bounced around for years. To be clear, what I'm talking about could be implemented with a minimum possible fuss.
One of the things that forum software like reddit doesn't allow is for everyone to moderate everyone, with a clear path of accountability. So I agree with you completely - just importing some existing forum software with minor tweaks wouldn't really do what we need it to do. My idea summed up in a sentence is something like this: have the software keep track of individual comments and indention levels, and leave everything else more or less unchanged (including the bit where you can edit other comments using either wikitext or visual editor).--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:24, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Here's an idea that could be implemented with a minimum possible fuss, and has the software keep track of individual comments and indention levels. We're all familiar with the "[edit source]" links appended to each section heading, that initiate an edit of that section. Add similar "[reply]" links that are appended to each signature on a talk page. When "[reply]" is clicked, an "edit section" is opened on the section with the comment that it being replied to. In addition, the cursor is positioned on a new line immedately below the line with the "[reply]" that was clicked, and colons are automatically inserted at the start of this new line so as to indent the reply one level inside the line with the "[reply]" that was clicked. – Wbm1058 (talk) 17:06, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
@Wikid77: I tried to write something last year to give a one screen intro on basic talk page editing for newbies. It is at User:Jbhunley/How to edit talk pages. Anyone is welcome to improve it, I wrote it just as I was figuring things out so there is definitly room for improvement. The goal was to create a document that would explain the basics in about one typical browser screen of text / less than two minutes of reading. JbhTalk 16:29, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Reddit is meant as a profit engine and entertainment forum, but its model of upvoting and (especially) downvoting would be deadly poison to Wikipedia. Reddit doesn't care if people promote some posts shilling their products and cover up those they disagree with - but we should. For example, recently a network of paid editors was exposed that had been trying to shake down companies for money to get their articles not to be deleted. Deletion is the one kind of "downvote" we have and it was abused there, but imagine if every statement were at similar risk! Picture you go on Wikipedia to say that your company is being misrepresented, and within a couple of minutes it has the Lone Downvote of Doom that prevents almost anyone from reading it. Wherever you go, more downvotes accrue ... meanwhile, an email comes to you saying that for a fair price, you can get all your comments upvoted by a network of professional Wikipedia assistants! Wnt (talk) 20:17, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────It seems every other talk-forum software has some benefits but also terrible risks, including non-portable to the other MediaWiki-based wikis. I think we could focus on a few enhancements, such as some simple edit-conflicts being auto-merged, while still compatible with the separate wiki projects out there. For instance, I can edit the wikitext here and quickly count over "90" comments posted to this talk-page right now. -Wikid77 (talk) 22:11, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

Better diffs are key to avoiding edit conflicts[edit]

I've used tools like ClustalW and BLAST, which solve issues similar to edit conflict on a much vaster scale, accurately aligning the conserved regions between multiple genes or even thousands of genomes almost instantly. So I feel there is no excuse at all for 90+% of most edit conflicts, where the server should be able to take the two submitted versions, compare them, and establish regions of conserved homology where it can do homologous recombination between the submitted and current texts. If you add a word to the beginning of a sentence and I add a word to the end of the sentence, there's no reason why the software can't combine the two for an accepted edit.

Then the software can have a safety feature, reporting back the unified changes and have you sign off on them, at least when they are close to one another. For each section there can be three to four radio buttons: computer-combined text, their text, my text, and a customize button that opens a subpage with an upper and lower text area only for that non homologous segment. The computer-combined text should be the default, except when it can't do the recombination because you literally typed a different word at the same spot as the other guy.

Note that there should be no reason why an edit conflict should not automatically be resolved when a paragraph (or other snippet of text) is moved and extensive revisions done throughout the section, provided that substantial homology can be found in the text at the beginning and end of the paragraph with your edits confined to a section in the middle of it.

But the key to all this, to ending edit conflict, is that the "diffs" have to be better. Right now you open up a diff and more often than not it has entire paragraphs misaligned, even though their order has not been swapped in the original. Making that display better is a good thing in itself, and it is the first vital step to make progress toward ending edit conflict in general. Wnt (talk) 09:57, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

The above improvement is so blindingly obvious that one has to wonder why it wasn't done years ago. There is absolutely no reason why I can't fix a typo in the first word of a sentence at the same time Wnt fixes a fix a typo in the tenth word of the same sentence with whoever saves last being given a one-click option to accept both changes. Another blindingly obvious improvement would be to allow me to search for "A = B" without getting every instance of "A B" in the results. If needed, I could create a page where I, Wnt, and a few others here who understand software development could make a list of a hundred such obvious improvements. The WMF wouldn't have to do any actual work to make the improvements, either; they have plenty of money and there are some really great software developers they could contract the work to. Alas, I have shown on multiple occasions that it is absolutely impossible for any software improvement I or anyone else suggests to get to the point where the Wikimedia software developers evaluate it and together we have a discussion about whether to implement it. Oh sure, there are a few dozen places where I can post such a suggestion and either get stonewalled or end up in a discussion with someone who has no ability to actually make the change, but a substantive discussion about the merits of the proposed change with someone who might actually say yes and do it? Not gonna happen. --Guy Macon (talk) 18:17, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
Incompetence in everything everywhere is epidemic and getting worse by the minute. Flint Michigan is just the beginning, I fear, of terrible results of such incompetence. Its almost gotten to where the only things that are worth trying to get done is what you can do yourself. Consensus driven projects are maybe the last best hope of promoting and encouraging competence. Nocturnalnow (talk) 01:30, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Perhaps we need more volunteer-developers to provide the personnel needed to explain, implement, test and deploy the software to auto-merge many wp:edit-conflicts. -Wikid77 (talk) 14:55, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

I am a volunteer-developer who is willing to explain, implement, and test software. I have found it to be impossible to start a discussion about any change I might suggest. I even tried suggesting a small and noncontroversial change (speeding up page load times by using a Unix Newline (LF) instead of a DOS linefeed (CR+LF) in the HTML we serve). As I expected, I was unable to get into a conversation with anyone who had the ability to understand what I was talking about and/or the power to either tell me "no" or to make it happen. --Guy Macon (talk) 15:08, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I don't claim to be a software developer, but I do think we could generate good ideas. I suspect part of the problem is that when you have people who are well paid (potentially) working alongside volunteers, careerist considerations are going to overshadow the tasks at hand. I'm not sure what the best way is to improve that social dynamic. Wnt (talk) 21:16, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I wonder if skype would help with the communication? Bit of a personal touch? Nocturnalnow (talk) 21:33, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Again weave merge and diff3[edit]

I searched to find the June 2013 discussions about considering "weave merge" and improving the merge utility called "diff3" to allow changes to adjacent lines. See talk-page archive: "User_talk:Jimbo_Wales/Archive_136#Status of edit-conflict technology". -Wikid77 (talk) 14:55, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Jimbo - Time to consider protecting your page on a more perm basis?[edit]

While its nice that you have an open door policy, the reality is that as you are a magnet for discussion, its more of a sometimes ajar policy. Someone who has time to do the math can probably work out the % of the last year that this page was unprotected... Only in death does duty end (talk) 16:05, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

I'm happy to follow normal policy for other talk pages on protection levels as an experiment for awhile. Let's see how that goes. There is an important function here to allow for "whisteblowing" or people to come and raise concerns to me that have no other venue. But that function, while important, also has to be balanced against people who are simply trolling or being disruptive.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 16:26, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Might I suggest that a second talk page be started User talk:Jimbo Wales/IPs for IPs to edit. Most of the IP posts are pretty much real appeals, only some of them are really disruptive. There is only one banned editor that edits as an IP that I would systematically revert. Others could show whether they are disruptive on the IP talk page, which most people (other than Jimmy, I hope) would ignore. Not having an audience beyond Jimmy would limit the appeal to the trolls. In short, protect this page and create the new unprotected IP page. Smallbones(smalltalk) 18:09, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
That's a very clever idea. It could be advertised at the top. What do others think of it?--Jimbo Wales (talk) 18:11, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Most "IPs" do not know that that is the term for them <g>. Perhaps "User talk:Jimbo Wales Open Forum" would work? I know it sort of creates a new username of sorts, but most folks would not care at all. Collect (talk) 18:59, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
"User talk:Jimbo Wales/Open Forum" would definitely work with no new user name required. In the explanation at the top of this page we could put "If you can't use a registered account name to edit this page, please use User talk:Jimbo Wales/IPs"
Thinking about it a bit more, I'd say almost all IPs who wish to edit this page would know what an IP is, since they (almost) all are familiar with Wikipedia. Most IPs who want to edit here are either banned users, or folks who are afraid of getting banned or harassed if they sign with their user name. About the only exception to experienced Wikipedia users (that I can think of) who would want to edit this page are those folks who have just discovered Wikipedia and have heard the name Jimbo Wales and want to say "Wow Jimbo, this is a really great site, thank you." Smallbones(smalltalk) 20:00, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
  • How about creating User talk:Jimbo Wales/Parlour and semi-protect it. There could be an invite at the top of this page for any autoconfirmed user to enter the parlour for troll-free discussion. Jehochman Talk 20:33, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I'm just trying to get the same result as user ODDE would get, but in a gentler way. I wouldn't want to give up this page, though, along with all the folks who watchlist this page. That would be telling the trolls that they've won. Smallbones(smalltalk) 21:01, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Re an open-door page, what is going to happen when trolling starts? What about our Russian friend who wants to tell the world about the Beatles? Or the refugees from Wikipediocracy who want to point out what a dreadful website this is? Or the WP:IDHT banned users who believe they will win if they repeat themselves often enough? Johnuniq (talk) 21:59, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
What happens when a troll blathers in the woods and only Jimmy hears him? Of course others could join in if they wanted to, but only the trolls would hear them. The Wikimediocrities could pretty much do what they want and nobody would care. Of course Jimmy would have to wade through the nonsense to get to the worthwhile IP appeals, but I think he has to do that anyway. My feeling is that almost nobody would bother, except for the true IP appeals, after the first couple of weeks. Smallbones(smalltalk) 23:16, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
I'm not convinced that permanent semi protection is needed, but if it is my vote is to call the unprotected page User talk:Jimbo Wales/Unprotected ϢereSpielChequers 16:41, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I'm also not convinced that permanent semi protection is needed, but there are enough times that IPs are locked out that an unprotected IP page would be a good thing. Unless I hear otherwise from Jimmy or others, I'll start the page in about 2 days. I'll put a notice near the top of this pages saying:
Could somebody eventually set up an archive if it looks like it will be needed? Smallbones(smalltalk) 05:03, 10 February 2016 (UTC)


Hey Jimbo! How do you feel about the amount of questions on Quora asking about you? There are plenty of them. Winterysteppe (talk) 21:55, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

I enjoy Quora. There are a lot of nice people there. :)--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:59, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

The Signpost: 03 February 2016[edit]

December editing numbers soften[edit]

I've just noticed that the editing numbers are up for December 2015 in THE USUAL PLACE. While Dec. 2015 continues the trend of marked improvement over previous-year statistics (with the 3,269 Very Active Editors showing at En-WP topping the figures for Dec. 2014, Dec. 2013, and Dec. 2012), the number showing is actually somewhat soft — with the total in the 31 day month of December failing to top the total for the 30 day month of November. The number is something like 154 people short of what would ordinarily be expected. Over all projects, this softness is even more pronounced, showing a 7% decline over the short month of November and (barely) failing to hit the December 2014 total. German WP was down by about 80 people over the previous year and French was down by more than 100. This marks the first time in 12 months that the count of Very Active Editors for all projects combined has failed to advance over same-month figures for the previous year.

It is unclear what caused the hiccup in December editor count. Over all projects the hiccup shows a Very Active Editor decline of something like 10% from the expected number — there was something significant that happened. Carrite (talk) 16:47, 9 February 2016 (UTC)

I think we need to double the number of recruiters we have out in the field. The globe is a large area to cover though. Liz Read! Talk! 20:34, 9 February 2016 (UTC)
I think epidemic Own, (usually by 2,3,or 4 embedded editors), is a huge and widespread problem and turn-off, especially when reinforced by attached administrators. Its not by intent, which makes it even more of a problem, I think. I'd like to see some sort of objective audit of our most read articles, especially BLPs, to see what evidence of "Own" exists. I could be wrong. Nocturnalnow (talk) 01:18, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
  • I'm trying to rack my brain what big event happened in December that would have turned off a really huge percentage of core editors. On En-WP we had a vibrant ArbCom election with heavy participation. I don't think there was a software rollout that would have put off a big section of the old timers and don't remember any big controversies with WMF. The Heilman sacking didn't come to Dec. 28 — which would have been too late in the month to impact morale and editing output in a measurable way. The simultaneous drops on De-WP and Fr-WP are huge, perhaps that has to do with some software change there. It's a bit of a mystery. Carrite (talk) 04:44, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
    • Christmas/holidays. Harrassment survey (most likely to have been completed by 'core' editors) indicates age of wikipedians to be higher and in the range for having family/commitments at that time of year. Only in death does duty end (talk) 08:51, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
It is a "December Dive" that we haven't really seen in previous years. The January numbers should be very interesting when they are released. Carrite (talk) 14:46, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
  • I've been collecting stats for the last few months since my signpost article to test out a couple of theories of mine. December was not as good a year on year growth as the previous few months, so it could be that whatever gave us the 2015 rally is petering out. One of the many theories for the 2015 editing rally was that it started in December 2014 with some work to speed up saving of edits, so December 2015 would be the first month where we are comparing post speed up with at least partial post speedup. Another thing is that November was a five Sunday month and that may have helped make it an unusually strong month. Now it used to be that peak editing was in the week, I think Weds. But my suspicion is that the rise of workplace filtering software and monitoring of internet use has reduced worktime volunteer editing, though obviously not worktime spam editing. If I'm right, and very active editors, those who save over 100 mainspace edits a month, are more active at weekends, then a bit of the November spike will simply be that November 2015 had four Saturdays and five Sundays whilst December had only four weekends. January 2016 is again a five Sunday month so maybe it will help show the pattern. Though if the WMF er misfortunes have demotivated or distracted core editors we might see Jan looking less healthy than the double digit year on year growth of July to November 2015. ϢereSpielChequers 15:51, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Interesting theory. Carrite (talk) 23:22, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Other WPs low Dec 2015 but U.S. elections raise edits[edit]

The edit-counts for many languages in December 2015 are 7-14% down, as much lower than November, as also among 5-99 edit-counts (see: stats-table >5 edits). However, beware the strong December edits for enwiki might be high due to the primary season of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election (as seems the case every 4 years) for the Iowa caucus or New Hampshire primary, while the underlying edit-count might also be weak as most of the other-language wikipedias. -Wikid77 (talk) 19:59, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Even the En-WP number is soft, given the fact that it is a 31-day month up against a 30-day month. The numbers you cite for 5-or-more-edits show Dec. 2015 was the weakest month for the entire year and represent a number that didn't even get to the 2014 total (whereas of late we have been trending way up and blowing away same-month totals running several years back). On top of that there are a couple Wikis showing really big hits and there is probably a reason for that out there. We'll see if January straightens out. I personally suspect Visual Editor is a factor. I wonder how hard it would be to do A/B testing of the two editing systems on De-WP or one of the other non-English WPs showing a big hiccup. Something is up. Carrite (talk) 23:04, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Who on the WMF Board of Trustees bullied/threatened James Heilman?[edit]

Mr Wales, it is with great regret that I come to your talk page to have you address this issue.

James Heilman (Doc James) has now published the October 7, 2015 email from him to the WMF BoT. You can read that email at Wikipedia:Wikipedia Signpost/2016-02-03/In focus. I am, however, more interested in James comments relating to November 7, 2015 (emphasis my own):

The board approved the Knight Foundation grant. I supported its approval following pressure which included comments about potentially removing members of the Board. Assurances were provided that the Knight Foundation and Wikimedia Foundation were on the same page regarding the grant.

During this whole debacle I have found that James has been very upstanding and there is no reason to doubt what he is saying. I believe that he was indeed threatened with removal from the BoT if he did not cave in and support a motion that he had very serious misgivings about. Your "utter fucking bullshit" response to James' earlier comments is noted, and on the evidence now in front of us your response is simply not credible.

Just recently the WMF conducted a Harassment Survey due to harassment of editors on WMF projects. One would never have thought that this harassment also extends to the BoT members being bullied by fellow BoT members.

My question for you Mr Wales, is: Did you at any time place pressure on James in relation to the Knight Foundation grant by way of threatening his removal from the BoT?

A succinct yes or no answer would be appreciated. (talk) 04:13, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Absolutely not. The very idea is ridiculous. Based on everything that I have seen from the rest of the board, this is a complete impossibility. I am specifically checking with every board member to try to get some idea of what, if anything at all, this accusation could be based on, and I have so far come to a preliminary conclusion that it is a flat out lie. If I do find out that any board member made such a threat, I will be astonished. The discussion of the Knight Grant, except in James' fantasy misrepresentation of it, which was fully refuted to the degree that -without any pressure or coercion of any kind - James himself moved that the board accept and voted in favor, was not in any way controversial with the board nor the kind of disagreement that would have in any way led to any concept that someone should leave the board. Given James enthusiastic endorsement of the grant at that time, as is clear in the voting record but to which I can also attest based on his words and behavior in the meeting, it is mind boggling that he expects anyone to believe this nonsense now.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 09:40, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Well to address the last question re 'nonsense' (ignoring the truth of it or not): He would reasonably expect the community who voted for him on the basis of his trustworthiness, past record etc, to believe his statement absent evidence to the contrary. Given the wider community's feelings and generally adverse relationship with the WMF, that is a pretty good expectation. The question could be turned around to 'Why should the WMF (by extension the board) expect anyone to believe them?' Well, given the history in the last few years, there is no reasonable basis to expect the community to trust them over one of their own. Only in death does duty end (talk) 09:58, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
At 22:15, 13 January 2016‎, the Administrative Assistant of the Legal Department of the WMF put in written that "On December 9, 2015, the Minutes were approved by the Board of Trustees ", with a link to
But this page was only put in written at 01:42, 14 January 2016. Therefore one cannot see what was the formal immuable document that was approved on December 9, 2015 by 8 members of the Board (James Heilman among them) while two were not present. In between, the page has been renamed, and some links edited.
It remains that, according to all the versions, from 2016-01-14 to nowadays, "Pursuant to the Gift Policy, the Board voted to approve a gift from the Knight Foundation after a motion by James seconded by Denny". So that story of should be rewritten either into The approval was falsified or into Not only JH was threatened to the point of voting the grant, but in fact, he was threatened to the point of introducing himself the vote in favor of the grant". And the trust question becomes: how much does one need to distrust the WMF in order to trust this kind of story ? Pldx1 (talk) 11:44, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2016-02-03/In_focus several questions left unanswered by WMF Board...IMO--Ozzie10aaaa (talk) 13:27, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
@Only in death: You know that James wasn't the only community-appointed member of the Board, right? You know that he was not the only "one of their own" on the Board, given that there were other community-appointed trustees, and other Trustees with a background in the community? MartinPoulter (talk) 16:26, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Indeed, but those are irrelevant to the question of why Doc James would expect the community to believe him. Its relevant to the question of why those board members might expect the community to believe them, but since the info coming out of the board has been less than transparent, they might need to take a firm position before anyone can start to believe it. Only in death does duty end (talk) 16:42, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Although I am rather bemused why anyone is asking Jimbo who threatened Doc James, instead of asking Doc James... It seems rather pointless. Only in death does duty end (talk) 16:53, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I'm glad to see people finally getting to the meat of the matter... unfortunately, these first vague statements still leave a tremendous amount to the imagination. The statement about "pressure" above can be taken many different ways - it doesn't say who is pressuring who, which "same page" they were on, etc. So we can have a situation where James is telling the truth that he heard and Jimbo is telling the truth that it never happened, simply because what people are saying is so damn vague.
The notion that WMF could get into searching is ambitious and interesting, and it also needs a lot of skepticism. A lot of people want to be Google and aren't. I get the feeling that James' actions could present a sense of division on the board that could scare off donor money, but I'm not convinced that a sense of division, in the context of open debate and discussion, wouldn't have more benefits than a forced unity.
So far I see no allegation in that above discussion that the Knight Foundation did anything but offer money to support an idea Wikipedia came up with (apparently a pet project of Jimbo Wales for years) on the basis, presumably, that new independent mechanisms of "knowledge acquisition" are in the public interest and improve the research, relevance and reach of journalists. If the Knight Foundation has done, or is suspected of doing, anything untoward, the burden is on User:Doc James to explain what. Otherwise, it would be a step in the right direction if Doc James and another board member, such as Jimbo, could work up a joint statement they could sign explaining that the Knight Foundation did nothing wrong here and that their support of Wikipedia is immensely welcome, regardless of whatever office politics is going on at the Wikipedia end. Wnt (talk) 16:55, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Evidently James was behaving in gadfly role, which was not appreciated. In this instance he appears to have questioned the Foundation accepting a grant, which would understandably rankle the board. If he was threatened or menaced he should substantiate that. Frankly, while not nice, such behavior is not considered improper board conduct. I have to say that this airing of dirty laundry doesn't make anyone look all that good. It's hard to understand why any nonprofit would turn down a grant it has already applied for. Coretheapple (talk) 17:20, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
To clarify I do not believe that the Knight Foundation did anything "wrong". The WMF pitched a project they wished money for and were awarded some funds. The issue I had is with those who made the pitch without there first being community awareness and discussion.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 19:29, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Do note that the emphasis in the article on seeing the Knight Foundation grant, and bits like the $250,000 Knight's Grant is the emerging part of a Trojan iceberg, tend to give the wrong impression. Whatever internal dissension goes on at Wikipedia, the people involved have a duty not to drag an innocent third party through the mud with them. I also see from the comments there that you also don't blame the discovery team. The problem that this raises is -- if you have a group of developers who want to work on a Google-like search, and a nonprofit that wants to fund their salaries to work on it, then what exactly can the community or a good administrator add to that situation, except maybe some matchmaking services before prudently removing himself from the honeymoon suite? Wnt (talk) 21:11, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I guess first would be verify that we have a group of staff that want to work on a Google-like search engine. And as most of the project will be funded by general movement funds, a movement that supports paying for the rest of it.Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 01:29, 11 February 2016 (UTC)